Drawing Class at CERA

Drawing Class at CERA

This past week, a poster caught my eye as I left my advisor's office. It advertised a free drawing class this weekend on the prairie with artist Tara Shulka, whose artwork is currently on display in the Smith Gallery at Grinnell. Not one to miss a chance for free art lessons, I signed up!

This morning, about twelve of us hopped onto the shuttle to CERA (the Conard Environmental Research Area), a huge plot of natural prairie the college owns and uses as an outdoor classroom/research area. We spent the morning learning some drawing practices, doing a few blind contour drawings, walking among the prairie plants, and working on a detailed drawing. It was a really enjoyable experience; Tara was an excellent and patient instructor, and my “classmates” and I shared some great conversation as we worked. It was also perfect weather, which made the prairie even more breathtakingly beautiful.

We finished the morning with a delicious box lunch, and then rode the shuttle back to campus. It was a great experience, and certainly a good use of a Saturday morning! Enjoy some pictures below!

Getting Set to Sketch

The Educational Facility & Windmill

Beautiful Stone Sculpture on the Prairie

 

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The Final Banquet

The Final Banquet

Tonight, we gathered as a group for the last time to celebrate finishing Grinnell in London.

The papers are in, the bags are (nearly) packed, and the last little things are finally being done. The banquet was a nice cap to the semester. It was so nice to get to get together with all of the wonderful people who made this semester what it was. Not only did I get to dine and chat with my fellow Grinnell-in-Londoners as a large group, but I also got to say some final goodbyes and thank yous to the program professors and staff.

It was a wonderful evening filled with great conversation and fantastic food. We dined at the Clerkenwell Kitchen, a little restaurant right by our flat. We each received a three course meal. I started with a delectable English Onion Soup. It was rich, hearty, and wonderfully seasoned. I quickly gobbled it up and eagerly awaited the main course. I had opted for the roasted sirloin served with vegetables, which turned out to be parsnips, potatoes, and sprouts. It was a delicious and quite filling entrée. Finally, for dessert, I opted for the toffee pudding, which was scrumptious and not terribly heavy, a sweet way to top off a fabulous meal.

After the meal, we convened to snag a final group shot. It is somewhat crazy to see how much we've grown together on this semester together. We've bonded over an incredible experience and it's been wonderful to make so many new friends. We said our goodbyes see-you-laters and headed back home to polish off some more packing. All in all, a good day. My final day in London is tomorrow. Pictures below.

Teddy and I

 

Soup!

 

Fresh Sourdough! Yum!

 

The Main Course

 

Delectably Delicious Dessert

 

What a group!

 

The Best Fish and Chips in London

The Best Fish and Chips in London

The contest is over. Today's combatant blew away the rest of the field. The best overall fish and chips experience in London (by my criteria) is Poppies, an establishment just off of Bricklane. I visited Poppies for lunch today as a study break from writing my paper. Definitely a great decision.

Let's break down the criteria.

1. The Fish: Perfectly fried, brought hot and fresh to the table. Crispy but light breading covers a massive hunk of beautifully white cod. The fish was flaky, and utterly delicious. Also, the homemade tartar sauce was perfect.

2. The Chips: The best traditional chips in London. (Exmouth Arms was a close contender, but Poppies keeps it closer to the traditional steak-cut fry, giving it the edge it needed.) Crisp on the outside, and totally fresh, these fries were a great complement to the fish. They tasted good without vinegar and salt and absolutely phenomenal with the classic two toppers.

3. Mushy peas: Poppies advertised its mushy peas as “homemade.” They certainly taste like it, and it makes a huge difference! The sweet, fresh peas complemented the heaviness of the fried fish and chips nicely. Best mushy peas in London.

4. The atmosphere/overall experience: Poppies is an old-fashioned chippy, and it shows in the best possible way. From the waitstaff wearing 50s era white short sleeve button-ups with a black tie to serving the takeaway fish and chips in newspaper, Poppies captures a lost era. Huge lines and friendly staff, coupled with a cohesively fantastic and classic fish and chips meal, make this one London experience you absolutely cannot miss.

 

It's been an amazing adventure trying the various fish and chips restaurants all around town. Each one had its own twists on the classic meal, so my favorite fish and chips may not be your choice. Either way, with a good batch of fish and chips, everyone's a winner!

 

In any case, even though Poppies won, many restaurants deserve acclaim for a delectable meal as well. I can highly recommend any of the following fish and chips restaurants in London.

1. The Golden Hind

2. The Fryer's Delight

3. Fish!Kitchen

4. Exmouth Arms

 

Check out the winner below:

 

Poppies' Fish and Chips

 

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

As the days left in London shrink rapidly, I've been finishing off a few “must-see” sights and events around London. Today, I visited the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland.

 

It was a beautiful evening outside, and after walking down a dark park path for a few minutes, my eyes and ears were met with the sights and sounds of a full-blown festival! The whole section of Hyde Park was filled with festive wooden booths selling food and holiday gifts, as well as full selection of carnival rides and games. It was fun to walk around and see all of the sights and people enjoying themselves. I enjoyed a delicious pork sandwich with stuffing and walked around the whole park. It made me even more excited that I get to be home for the holidays. It's just around the corner! Pictures below!

 

 

Long Exposure of the Ferris Wheel

 

Hampstead Heath

Hampstead Heath

Today, I visited Hampstead and got to enjoy a nice bit of nature just outside the city.

 

I began my morning by visiting with Professor Prevost about my paper at her flat in Hampstead, then enjoyed some great conversation with Professor Guenther as well. After all of that, I made my way to Hampstead Heath, a massive park right outside of Hampstead.

Though it was pretty chilly, I was well-protected from the elements. I walked all around the park, seeing lots of beautiful paths, and catching some great shots of some of the birds. It was a very hilly area, but I was rewarded with climbing by a spectacular view of London from one of the higher hills.

After my adventures around the Heath, I decided to warm up with a nice cup of warm cider from a nearby pub. It was nice and toasty, and I enjoyed reading the news in a comfortable armchair as I waited. Later tonight, I will head via bus to Edinburgh, Scotland. Stay tuned! Pictures below.

Seagull

 

Swans

 

The Fields

 

Bench with a Tree-Window

London from the Heath

Trekking through the Forest

 

Hot Cider Reward

 

British Museum, Yet Again

British Museum, Yet Again

After a morning spent organizing and sorting out details, I made my way over to the British Museum for a quick visit before class. I ended up spending my time on only two artifacts, but it was time well spent. Today, I looked at the Rosetta Stone and an Easter Island Head.

I first examined the Easter Island statue. It was immense. Even though I have previously seen pictures of such statues, and even passed by this particular one to get to the Asian exhibits, it wasn't until I stopped and really looked at this statue at its feet that I realized how impressive and beautiful it is. It is so simple, yet elegant, without superfluous carvings or details. Just a timeless, simple stone face, watching for eternity. It also amazes me how little we know about these statues. They are famous around the world, yet no one has much, if any, information on their origin or meaning. It's so incredible knowing that this mystery just sits in front of us, a forgotten people with a forgotten culture.

The Rosetta Stone is another amazing relic, one that unlocked what could have been a mystery for ages, the secret of the Egyptian Hieroglyphics. This single slab of stone, marked in three languages and discovered by chance, was the key to understanding the Egyptians. In a world of “what ifs” where the Rosetta Stone remained buried and hidden, one can only imagine the frustration of the historians and archaeologists who could see and record the hieroglyphs, but could never understand their meaning. Another whole civilization would have been lost in the sea of time, leaving only the monuments and tombs as a beacon of their existence.

It's always interesting to reflect on our own time after seeing these incredible relics. What will survive of us? Thousands of years from now, what will the relics be? Will the generations that follow us be amazed by the primitive communication devices we carry? Will the iPhone sit in a glass case for viewing? Or will it be something else? Perhaps a Twinkie, still wrapped in its plastic? (…or perhaps not anymore, in light of Hostess closing down.) No matter what the object is, it would be interesting to see what little pieces of our modern world survive.

 

Easter Island Statue

 

The Rosetta Stone

 

Detail of the Rosetta Stone

 

Markets Galore!

Markets Galore!

Though the name implies a vast amount of shopping, I actually only bought a little bit of food at the markets today. It was more of an exploration/window-shopping day! (If one can window-shop without windows…)

 

I started my day at the Old Spitalfields Market, a pretty massive covered market right by the Liverpool Street Station. There were some pretty nice stands there with some especially cool clothing designs, but nothing that really could justify the London-style prices. Looking was really enjoyable, and I also picked up some interesting ideas for jewelry designs after seeing some of the metal manipulation by some of the artists selling their works.

Next, I made my way to Bricklane Market, my personal favorite market. After checking out some of the vintage clothing stands, I decided to treat myself to some spring rolls from one of the Thai food stands. They were excellent! Wrapped in rice paper, they were filled with cabbage, vermicelli (thin rice noodles), carrots, and other veggies. I topped them with some HOT chili oil and ate them right up! Totally delicious and actually pretty healthy. I was pleased.

I continued to browse around for a little bit, then finally made my way back to the tube station, which took me to the gym. One long workout later, I swung by the grocery store for some sausage and cherry tomatoes to make into dinner tonight. I ended up using them in a pasta with a creamy tomato pesto sauce. It turned out pretty scrumptious and disappeared rather rapidly. All in all, a good day. Picture below!

 

The Street Outside Old Spitalfields

 

Rosie the Riveter?

 

Old Spitalfields

 

Spring Rolls!

 

 

Southbank Christmas Market and More!

Southbank Christmas Market and More!

Today was a wonderfully fun-filled day!

The day started with a fun trip to the Southbank Christmas Market, a fun menagerie of food and craft stands of the bank of the Thames. Although the weather was the London specialty of breezy, drizzly, and grey, we had quite a fun time exploring the various stands and seeing the entertainment. I picked up some roasted peanuts and cashews, which were scrumptious. I also couldn't resist the amazing cheese from one of the vendors. I had to get this spectacular cheddar with hot peppers embedded into it.

After the Christmas Market, I went to the Southbank Centre to check out an awesome exhibit on photojournalism. There were some absolutely stunning pictures on display, and it really made me reflect on all of the major events of 2012. There were some breathtaking shots from the anti-Gaddafi protests that I couldn't stop staring at. It was an excellent exhibit. Another exhibit at the nearby national theatre featured stunning landscape pictures from the United Kingdom, which were some of the most beautiful pictures I have ever seen in my life.

After all of that, I came home, went to the gym, visited my favorite pub with my flatmates, then cooked myself a fun dinner. It consisted of a batch of quinoa, a dish of fried shrimp with egg, some wilted spinach in balsamic vinegar, a garlic cheddar roll, and a small portion of my newly-acquired cheese! All in all, a delectable meal to top off a busy day!

 

Why, yes, that man is playing a tuba/flamethrower combination!

 

Absolutely Delicious

 

Cheese? Please!

 

Happy to see the exhibit!

One of the many displays.

 

Dinner, Mistry-Style.

 

Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving!

What a day! Some good, some bad, but overall, a day to be thankful!

The good: Thanksgiving with my Grinnell-In-London friends hosted by Professor Vinter and Family and chatting with my family around the world!

The bad: My cousin, Alyssa, had her apartment broken into and she lost a lot of valuables. Luckily, she wasn't home or hurt, and is being extremely brave about it.

 

I'll begin with Alyssa's apartment. Apparently someone had gotten into her building during the day, kicked down the door to her apartment, and made off with the visible small electronics. As soon as I heard, I rushed to her apartment, spoke with her, her friends, the police, and the locksmith. The police were very thorough and the locksmith promised he'd bring some materials to augment the door to prevent this from happening again. Luckily, no one was hurt and nothing totally irreplaceable was taken.

After the burglary was all sorted out, I made my way to Professor Vinter's home for the Thanksgiving Party! Everyone had made a dish, so we had a broad range of delicious foods to fill up with! Professor Vinter and her family made a phenomenal turkey as well, which really brought the holiday spirit to the party. I made my special Mac and Cheese, filled with sautéed garlic and four types of cheese, including pieces of Brie atop the noodles. Some of my apartment-mate soffered to take it for me when I told them about Alyssa's incident, so it made it to the party safely. I arrived to a wonderful spread of food and filled up promptly. It was all so delicious and it was wonderful to get together as a full group to really enjoy the holiday. After the food settled, we set out another spread of desserts! Luckily, the second-stomach (the one reserved for desserts) was available, as we had a ton of delicious options to choose from. We laughed, shared great food and conversation, and enjoyed an awesome Thanksgiving!

It was a good day to remember and be thankful for the bonds of friendship and family. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Alyssa's front door

 

A closer look

 

The Spread

 

Desserts!

 

Group Shot!

 

Baby Grace, Adorable as Usual.

 

How many plates, Teddy?

 

Sharing Conversations

 

Sharing Dessert

 

Lorraine and Aniela

 

Greg and Vilma

 

Lunch at Bibibam Cafe

Lunch at Bibibam Cafe

Today, as a special treat, I decided to pick up some Korean food for lunch at a little place I had passed whilst on my way to the British Museum.

My classmate Evan had also recommended this place, the Bibibam Cafe. I decided to stop in and grab a little takeaway for lunch. I got the Korean pork and a little potato hash brown thing as a side, all atop a bed of rice. The pork was delicious, melt-in-your-mouth, and exploding with flavor. It was extremely rich, and the sauce soaked into the rice, leading to even more deliciousness as the pork was slowly depleted. The potato cake helped mop things up and was a pleasant and simple complement to the intense flavors of the pork. I will definitely be exploring the other delicious options the Bibibam Cafe has to offer. Cheap, convenient, and delicious? Count me in.

The Cafe

My Meal