Warsaw

It turned into a very unusual week and after Krakow, I had to dip up to Warsaw for two nights. Lots of running around to do (not the typical tourist activities), so I don’t have much to share except photos. I stayed at an Airbnb about a 10-15min walk straight (literally) from the train station (excellent Airbnb with a great host too). The train from Krakow to Warsaw cost 199zl ($54) for first class, and I think it was 129zl for standard – the whole journey took about 3 hours.

I’m going to gloss over the snow flurries that occurred right as I was arriving at my Airbnb after I took the picture of the arts and cultural building below (built in 1955 and now housing a variety of museums).

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Old Warsaw was destroyed during the war, with many of the buildings just shells of their former selves. The restoration work was amazing (see the header photo), with this part of the city being granted UNESCO world heritage status! (Between this, the salt mines outside Krakow, and old Krakow itself, I got 3 sites in 1 country!)

I wish I’d had more than 48hrs to spend in Warsaw – it is a city with lots of potential for a great vacation! (Ok, it snowed again a second time the night I arrived with big fat flakes.) It’s also a city filled with a mixture of period architecture, communist-era, and new, shiny modern – sometimes all on the same street. And from what I can tell, it is a huge, sprawling city with wide sweeping boulevards – fitting pedestrians, buses, trams, and cars throughout the city centre, lots of parks for recreational activities and relaxation, and amazing restaurants for a variety of cuisines and budgets (and like Krakow, McDonald’s everywhere). I need to go back (maybe when I’m better prepared for fluctuating weather)!

That being said, to head to the airport, I picked up bus 175 at the plaza between my Airbnb and the train station – it only cost 4.40zl ($1.15), took 30min, and dropped you off at the front doors of Chopin Airport! You can’t ask for easier than that, right?

Overall, go! Go to Poland! I was leery at first, but after one day there, between Krakow and Warsaw I was pleasantly surprised and you certainly will not be disappointed!

English Heritage Day Trip

Back in the autumn, I waxed lyrical about my English Heritage membership and all the historic sites across the country you can visit… Well, in the newsletter they email out, I learned Wrest Park (Bedfordshire) was hosting the largest St. George’s Day festival in the country! For a nominal fee (on top of the membership fee), we could go and enjoy all sorts of activities over the weekend! Even better – if tickets were pre-purchased online, you could save an additional 10% – excellent.

So, what did we do? There were a tonne of “living history” re-enactments – everything from Vikings and Romans who lived in England long ago, to Medieval/Renaissance knights and folk, Crusaders, and 18th-century lords and ladies! Plenty of food choices (though an equal amount of people brought picnics as the weather turned nice), activities for kids of all ages, falconry demonstrations, the ability to enjoy the amazing grounds and gardens, and the house was open as well!

My dad really enjoyed it – he’s still talking about it! For Americans, since there’s no “national holiday” like we’re used to with 4th of July celebrations, this was a fun substitute. I even got a little St. George’s Cross flag for that patriotic vibe!

Overhearing a worker when I was having lunch, I learned Wrest Park was expecting 9,000 – 10,000 visitors over the 2-day event! Easily comparable to many of the Civil War or Revolutionary War re-enactment events you’ll find on the east coast of the US.

There are over 300 English Heritage sites to visit across the country – a membership can easily pay for itself in about 4-6 visits.

Artist (not really)

So, remember how I went to Emma Bridgewater a few weeks ago with my mom and did the design your own mug? Well, 2 weeks later, guess what arrived at my door?

I’m not quitting my day job anytime soon 🙂 Nonetheless, I think my dad is secretly jealous he didn’t get a mug of his own.

Would we take the drive up to Stoke-on-Trent again and do another day at Emma Bridgewater? Absolutely!

Collecting Europe

Here are the results from my sugar sculpting workshop at the V&A this weekend. It was done in part with Tasha Marks of AVMCuriosities and Jon Beck of Scan the World. Sugar sculpture was quite the art form beginning in the 16th century and was a way to show off enormous wealth and prosperity. Elaborate sugar displays often featured architecture and design elements with the pastry chefs showing off design skills, as many carved their own exclusive hardwood moulds. For the workshop, Tasha and Jon spent time taking photographs of objects around the museum to turn into 3D printed moulds for us to use (and with an approximate cost of £0.20 each, it was much less expensive than making moulds by hand)!

The basic recipe:

  • 454g icing (powdered sugar)
  • 28g gum tragacanth
  • 61ml water (or rosewater)

This Weekend

So, a few weeks ago, I waxed lyrical about my new membership to the V&A museum. Woot! I decided to add my dad to my membership for a small fee so he can go to the museum whenever he wants too since he’s retired. We had a very productive, and educational, one-hour tour of museum highlights for the “members only.”

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This weekend, I am going to a free workshop on sugar sculpture as part of the Collecting Europe exhibit/event:

“Renaissance sugar sculpture and 3D printing are combined in this one-off workshop. You’ll learn about the history of sugar sculpture with food historian and artist Tasha Marks, have a chance to make your own 17th-century sugar paste, and cast a sugar centerpiece using one of the 3D printed moulds from Alabaster Ruins. Alongside this taste of history, My Mini Factory will showcase some of their 3D print technology, culminating in a guided tour of the museum where you’ll visit the works that were transformed into AVM Curiosities’ installation, Alabaster Ruins.”

You know how much I like anything free! Stay tuned next week and I’ll let you know how it went!

Lazy (but easy) Cooking

The weather has been downright nasty these last few days. I did manage to get down to Winchester on Sunday for their Christmas Market. The weather, despite the storm that raged through the night before, held off and it wasn’t too bad to walk around! The market is much smaller than Bath, but honestly, it felt less chaotic despite the crowds and it seemed to work well with the regular Sunday market on the high street. Parking is also free on Sundays at the city-owned lots!

That being said, cold, rainy weather needs decent, cosy food, right? Waitrose Weekend paper recipe to the rescue again!

Recipe is here too (obviously geared towards Waitrose branded products, but use what you have, right?):

Serves 4 – cooking time approx 20 minutes

  • 450g pack beef mince
  • 1 onion (I omitted this – I hate onions – I used a dash of onion powder)
  • 2tsp chilli powder
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes (I used passata instead – I hate tomatoes in chunks!)
  • 400g can kidney beans, drained & rinsed
  • 150ml vegetable stock
  • 250g dried Tortiglioni pasta (I used 1 package of spiral pasta that I had in my pantry)
  • 75g mature cheddar cheese, grated

Brown the mince and the onion until cooked. Stir in chilli powder and cook for another minute.

Stir in beans, tomatoes, and stock. Cook for another 10-15 minutes.

While this is mince, beans, etc. is cooking, cook the pasta for about 10 minutes or until tender.  Once done, drain and add to the mince and tomatoes mixture. Thoroughly mix, then transfer to an oven-proof baking dish and place under a pre-heated grill for 3-5 minutes or until cheese is melted and browned!

Easy peasy! Now, put cosy sweats and thick socks on, make a plate, and chill with a Netflix binge…

 

This post is not sponsored by Waitrose, but I use them more often than not because it’s within walking distance of my house and their weekend paper often has some hidden gems of recipes inside!

City Techie – the results

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Here are (some of) the photos from the workshop I took at Apple Covent Garden store today! I learned a few new tips & tricks for the phone I never knew about previously – which came in handy. I was really impressed with the 4 gentlemen from Apple who guided about 10 of us around various locations near Covent Garden (and answered all our questions), and I got a tonne of pictures!

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On the ghost front, I learned there are lots that haunt the theatre district, including WWI soldiers, a man who was stabbed to death, severed heads, Charles Dickens’ old publishing warehouse, Diagon Allen (yep, like from Harry Potter), and so much more! It made for a very interesting time too, because our little group was out on a rather balmy Saturday with typical London scenes, tourists, the theatre crowds in the evening, AND all the Halloween craziness I never thought I’d see outside the US!

Extra bonus – the city walk tour/workshop is not a one-off! Apparently, Apple does these events at least twice a month and so does the shop on Regent Street; Cambridge is starting them too! The next one is a Charles Dickens theme on 2 November! (I sooooo wish I was able to go but I’m packing for a trip to the US!)

 

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London from the Waterloo Bridge at dusk