Sunday, February 28, 2010

Tales of Bangor #12 (rhif un deg dau) - About hiking, hitch hiking and other sports

Another weekend, another forecast for sunshine and another attempt to get to some of the summits of Snowdonia. And... yes, another failure.

This time our destination was Llyn Ogwen [hlin ogwen] - a lake situated in Ogwen Valley, in between mountains, secluded from civilised Wales, and also almost sealed off from all means of public transport. The first (and only) bus in the morning was scheduled to leave at 08:10 in the morning. We got up early, went to the bus station, and waited. It turned 08:05, it turned 08:10, it turned 08:15: no sign of the bus. Another bus approached the station and I decided to ask the driver for details and reassurance.

Good morning. Excuse me,..
Dach chi medru siarad Cymraeg? ...or something similar, which got me confused for a second, but then I responded:
Dw i ddim yn siarad Cymraeg.
No? Ok, how can I help you?
Finally: A situation that had prompted me to try my new language! (If only to say that I don't speak it....)

The bus driver phoned the driver of the bus we needed and found out that it was not due until 08:20. In the meantime he sold us a Red Rover ticket that afforded us a day of unlimited travel in the whole county of Gwynedd. Brilliant! Why did no-one tell us about this before?

Finally we reached our destination and set out for what turned out to be a very ambitious tour.

Llyn Ogwen and some mountains on the other side

The Tryfan - getting up there is the ultimate goal of my stay

Snowdonia is still partly covered in snow and ice and the tour of the five summits that I had planned turned out to be a bit problematic due to a lack of visible paths. But we were not defeated that easily and went up a short path that led to a lake.

Elze: "What are men, compared to rocks and mountains?"

On our way up we met a few other hikers, perfectly equipped with professional sportswear, hiking sticks and what-not, and saw a few wild ponies nibbling at the grass that peeped out of the icy crust here and there.

We reached the frozen lake (check).

Next, we needed to find the path that connected the five summits of the Carneddau (the name of the mountain range). From the lake there was no access to this path that ran along a ridge about 100 metres higher up. We aimed roughly and chose to scramble up the side of the hill/mountain: I went first and dug a kind of ladder into the ice with my boots. Elzelien, Rebecca and Fiepje followed in my footsteps (please marvel at the beauty of this expression).

After about half an hour of moving in this manner - draining us of our energy - we reached the path. Or at least we assumed that we had (that assumption based on a double-check with my map) - it was not visible under the cover of ice and snow. Moreover, a thick blanket of fog had crept down from the mountain top and after a short period of indecision made us turn tail and skip down again.

... yeah, alright: we did not skip. We just stepped down as quickly as we dared without slipping or spraining our ankles.

1 1/2 hours later: Back in the cold and windy cluster of houses (it was definitely NO village) at the banks of Llyn Ogwen our premonitions were confirmed: No bus due in the next 2 1/2 hours. And no pub or warm place of any kind around.
Cold and hungry, we decided to hitch a ride to Bethesda to get a bus to Bangor from there and I stuck my thumb out. Fiepje started a discussion about how to best to get a ride and while we were still discussing tactics, the first car already indicated, pulled up and a student opened the passenger door: his car was tiny but after he had heaved his bouldering equipment into the boot of the car, all four of us fitted with a little squeeze . It turned out he was going right to Bangor and we did not even need to get a bus from Bethesda (oh yes, we had paid a lot of money for the Red Rover ticket *sigh*, but that's life) but were back in our lovely home-town in no time and in the Yellow Pub for food just 5 minutes later.

I was so tired, I could have fallen asleep right there, but I made it home, had a shower and even managed to load the washing machine with my laundry. Just when I wanted to make myself some tea (with the perspective of curling up in bed with Under Milk Wood), Tom stepped into the kitchen and asked me if I wanted to come to the pub with him to watch Rugby, the Welsh national sport. The 6-Nations tournament is being held at the moment and England was playing against Ireland. I had announced my interest a few days earlier - I consider it part of my programme in becoming acquainted with the Welsh culture etc - and felt honoured to be asked. Therefore, I switched off the kettle, tried to push the fact that I was tired to the back of my mind and off we were to the pub.
There I saw men sliding and rolling around on the grass (not IN the pub, mind), after having been taken down with a well-aimed tackle by at least one opponent, jumping on top of each other, getting muddier and muddier during the course of the game - it can be quite violent, but it's definitely more interesting than football (and also 10 mins shorter!). I asked lots of questions and by the end of the game I had roughly grasped the most important rules, and I have to admit: I like it. It is fun to watch. And I know what I'll be doing next weekend.... or would be, if we were not going to Caerdydd.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Rendezvous with hooded Bob

Having lived in Wales for an exact month, with mountains limiting my sight on one side and sea (or rather Anglesey) on the other, I thought it was time for a change. I had not seen Katie for a month either and therefore booked train tickets to Nottingham to visit her in her temporal residential town of choice.

The public transport system disappointed me once more and an hour late I arrived in the well-known city in the heart of England. And quite a culture shock it was, too! So many cars! Streets with two lanes in one direction! And lots and lots of red brick-houses. For the first time I became aware of the differences between a small city in rural Wales and a typically English one: no sheep here.

After the intake of some refreshments (pasta with delicious, home-made pasta sauce) we went straight to the first pub, The Salutation Inn. There, I finally found something I had been looking for during the past 4 weeks: Welsh cider! I ignored the fact that I was in England now and rather enjoyed the paradoxical situation of having a pint of Black Dragon (7.5% alc.) outside its natural habitat. Tastes interesting...

After a long night of dancing, drinking and chatting, we finally went home where I rolled out my sleeping bag and tried not to freeze to death in my sleep. Tom had kindly lent me his camping mat and Katie gave me an extra warm, furry cardigan, so I managed to survive.

The next day, Katie took me on a uni-themed exploration trip around Nottingham and I have to admit that I have rarely seen a uni campus that I liked so much: A vast park area, complete with pond and various water birds and the occasional uni building. Peaceful and quiet.

Part of Uni Nottingham

I also want a park like this just 2 minutes from university!

Mad, aggressive goose who had a go at us with its tongue out, hissing...
we ran - first away, then (with new courage) past it and out of its sight.

The other campus (forgot its name): wouldn't mind studying here either

Aspire : with 60 metres of height the tallest free-standing sculpture in the UK
- aesthetics can be debated, but it definitely goes well with the red uni building next to it

Strolling around on campuses can be exhausting, especially if they are as vast as here, and after some three hours we were hungry and wanted to sit down at a warm place. Our search for a suitable eatery finally took us to Cape, a South-African restaurant. Imagine my joy! Welsh cider yesterday, South African food today - it was getting more and more interesting. Ever since writing my essay on the South African Braai* I had wanted to try the food I had chewed on in theory. The Chakalaka Burger I was served by the friendly waiter definitely satisfied me in all respects and, although it did not leave me hungry for more (I was so stuffed!), it certainly made me curious for all the rest. YUM!

*like a barbecue, but with slightly different dishes - very South African

We passed the rest of the afternoon in the Pit and Pendulum, a very dark and wood-panelled place, reminiscent of an alchemists lab. Sipping our Pride (one of the cocktails named after the 7 deadly sins) we took in the atmosphere and observed the customers - most of them long haired rockers, clothed in leather jackets. Especially entertaining was the appearance of a colourful hen party, a phenomenon that I still cannot quite grasp - before the music got too loud to communicate and we left.


Nottingham seems to be a city of superlatives. Besides the highest free-standing sculpture they also claim to have the smallest cinema in the world: The Screen Room. A long and narrow entrance way leads to a small and narrow foyer. No popcorn machine, just tea, coffee and cake available. (And Ben&Jerry's. Alas, only vanilla.) One door leads to the (doubtlessly narrow) toilet, the other one to the actual screen room.

We purchased two tickets for "The Road" and took two of 22 seats that form 3 1/2 rows. Tiny.
"The Road" is - I can savely say - the most disturbing movie I have EVER watched. Feel too happy? The Road will take you down to depression immediately. We left the cinema, barely able to speak. Not to mention smiling or laughing.
Back home a nice glass of wine and some chocolate restored our humours and we managed to distract ourselves from what we had seen.

The next day we did some more walking around - this time along the canal...

... past the castle on the hill-top and some cave-entrances in the hill-side... the oldest pub in the UK (city of superlatives - there we go again): Ye olde trip to Jerusalem.

Crusaders used to have a final drink there before they sat out on their cruel mission to the Middle East - at least that's what legend says. The pub is halfway built into the castle rock and connected to the system of tunnels and caves that prevents Nottingham from getting a subway (They have trams instead).
It goes without saying that we popped in for a pint: Aspall's cider (not a bad choice at all), accompanied by the best Sunday roast I have ever had. This way I was also introduced to a new vegetable that immediately became a favourite with me: the parsnip. I'm not yet sure what potential this beetling has, but I bought some today and will experiment.

With falling darkness we entered a cinema yet again and treated ourselves to Avatar and a pair of 3D glasses, so that I finally got my fill of cinema-visits for a month. (Have I mentioned that Bangor's only deficit is the lack of a picture theatre?)

Thus the weekend found an end, but I still had Monday. Katie deserted me and went to uni and I set off in the opposite direction with the plan to visit the castle. The site was closed, though, and a friendly passer-by informed me that this was the normal state of things on Mondays. Great. What now?
Half-heartedly I trudged around in town trying to find something equally interesting. I followed the ubiquitous signposts, visited a church and finally found the tourist information centre. It did not take long to find an alternative to the castle and soon I had a badly-fitting helmet on my precious head and an audio-guide in my hand and stepped down to The city of caves, where I was sent on a journey through Nottingham's past.

The caves were home to poor people, underground taverns and settings for gambles and cock fights, hiding places for criminals and plotters, and shelter from the bombs in WWII. Not all of them have even been discovered yet, some have been blocked and most entrances are fenced off to the public, so that it is only possible to enter in designated areas.

Tannery for the preparation of leather for further usage: thank Time the caves do not smell of it anymore...

After more than an hour I emerged from Tugguo Cobauc, the underground city, and met Katie again. We had a final coffee, before I made my way to the train station, where my short visit ended and I went back to a place that I now quite naturally call "home".

Good-bye to brick city, good-bye to Robin Hood and good-bye to England: Rural Wales, here I come again! (I and my pair of absolutely perfect new shoes!)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Tales of Bangor #11 (rhif un deg un) - Making pancakes with panache

Tuesday February 16th: Shrove Tuesday - The day before start of Lent.

While people back home get into their fancy dresses and get a grip on at least one Krapfen before it is too late, the British get out some flour, milk, fat and eggs and make pancakes. After all it is Pancake day, a last day of feasting and celebrating before the supposedly sombre season of Lent commences and brings along many restrictions regarding food, alcohol and other (more modern) luxuries. Pancakes can be found many pubs and cafés as a special offer on that day and, coming back from a morning run, I saw that even the church kindly serves pancakes to any hungry passer-by. And of course pancake day is just another excuse for people to gather and have fun and therefore another tradition I was happy to learn about.

This special day did of course not pass our house unnoticed - on the contrary: It was going to be our second cooking session (this time with self-made batter) and after procuring the right ingredients (an awfully hard task, considering the extravagant nature of pancake batter) the flour was weighed carefully (I would have guessed at the right measure), salt added and the eggs splitted - they left that to me, for whatever reason - milk poured in, slowly and carefully, and the whole mixture stirred hard and long: ta-dah. Ready to be baked.

We took turns using a big pan - later-on two pans simultaneously to keep people from waiting - and with extra care and some suspicion we started: Sam was the first to try. He poured and waited for the mixture to set. That being done it came to turning the floppy disk and he became brave and decided to try to flip it in the air. Everyone watched. There was a tangible moment of suspense. Nobody breathed. The air turned icy cold and... ahem... sorry, I got carried away there... Anyway, the moment of tension was ended by the flying pancake finding its way back into the pan. Round of applause. Of course, elevated by the adrenaline rush, my flatmate now insisted that all the others do it too. The whole business was turned into a pancake-flipping contest on the spot.

My go next. Great. I am not good at doing big shows when cooking and usually something goes wrong when people watch (like too much oil in the pan, vegetables rolling off chopping boards, avocadoes flying through the air... ok, that was a bit of exaggeration...) and so I tried to wind my way out of the situation, but it was hopeless: They urged me on and would not quit until finally, I had gathered enough courage and pride to give it a go. Nervously, I let the pancake slide to and fro in the pan, took a deep breath, and.... quickly moved my hand: flip.

Despite all my fears and foreboding the pancake took a nice turn in the air and landed in its original place, on the right side, ready to get browned evenly. Happiness was back for me. And so was breathing. That had felt really good!
Emboldened by my success I managed to do the next couple without fear, but with equal style (All the others' flippings went well too, but half a pancake didn't make it and landed first on the floor and consecutively in the bin).
Perfectly flipped pancakes drizzled with success taste extremely nice. Moreover, I had been able to find "Quark" of surprisingly dependable quality in Morrisons, mixed it with raspberry jam and thus produced the most delicious filling. (It was undeservedly scorned by the others who stuck to fake maple syrup (i.e. golden syrup), Nutella, Jam and ice cream.)

We decided that the amount intended to serve four people hardly catered for three and started the whole procedure all over again. The result were four (temporarily) full stomachs and lots of dishes to clean. But it was fun and I am happy to be able to now list pancake-flipping amongst my cooking/baking skills.

Unfortunately there are no pictures to commemorate the pancake event BUT my new camera arrived today and I will therefore, hopefully, soon be able to supply you with visuals again.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Tales of Bangor #10 (rhif deg) - Krötenwanderung und -zubereitung

Gestern Abend war es also soweit: Toad-in-a-hole-evening

Diesem ging eine fünfstündige Wanderung durch die Sümpfe und entlang den Stränden und Klippen von Anglesey voraus, bei der ich nach kochbaren Amphibien Ausschau hielt, mir allerdings außer hübschen Muschelschalen und Schafen nichts Verwertbares unterkam.

Der Sumpf von Traeth Coch, der roten Bucht
-> Schuhe schafthoch im Matsch

Sheep and Ship
(Klingt wie ein Übungsbeispiel im Aussprachekurs...)

Nach langer, rastloser Wanderung und Besichtigung des Klosters in Penmon (mitsamt riesigem Taubenkobel, der mich irgendwie an die Owlery von Harry Potter erinnerte), gaben wir - gezwungen durch längst aufgekommenen Hunger und schmerzende Beine - auf und nahmen den Bus nach Beaumaris, wo wir unseren Lieblingstearoom (cf. Tale #5) leider verschlossen vorfanden und uns mit einer der vielen Alternativen begnügen mussten.

Irgendwann später, war ich dann daheim, frisch geduscht und todmüde, als man mich zum Essen rief. Und da kam die Überraschung.
Ich hatte ja gedacht, dass wir gemeinsam kochen wollen, doch die Burschen hatten da offenbar andere Vorstellungen: aus Kühlschrank und -truhe wurden Würstel, fertige "Giant Yorkshire Puddings" (Durchmesser etwa 20cm), Bratkartoffel und Gemüse gefischt, alles mithilfe verschiedener Medien (Grill, Ofen, Mikrowelle) aufgewärmt - während wir Kartenspiele spielten - und dann zusammengepanscht: Würstel in die Yorkshires; Erdäpfel, Gemüse und baked beans darüber. Voíla: Toad in a hole.
Aha. Das ist also "Kochen".

Ich fand die ganze Sache mehr lustig als wohlschmeckend, hielt mich mit Sarkasmus und Kritik aber zurück, sponserte ein paar Dosen Cider und machte lediglich Andeutungen bezüglich der gemeinsamen Essen in der Zukunft und wie ich diese zuzubereiten gedenke. Frisch, nämlich.

Conclusio: Ein recht witziges gemeinsames Erlebnis gespickt mit Gesprächen über die Essbarkeit walisischer Hunde und den kläglichen Versuchen meines griechischen Mitbewohners das Wort "Würstchen" auszusprechen (Er wollte es ja unbedingt wissen!). Ich stellte fest, dass die britischen Würste so ungenießbar gar nicht sind, wie ich sie in Erinnerung hatte (Von "gut" dennoch weit entfernt.) und erlag schließlich dem Kampf mit meinem giant yorkshire pud - ohne gravy ist das nämlich eine sehr trockene Angelegenheit. Auch von den Würstchen blieb eines übrig, aber beider Dinge erbarmten sich die Burschen schneller als ich schauen konnte und so wurde alles gegessen.

Geregnet hat's heut trotzdem.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tales of Bangor #9 (rhif naw) - Brettgespräche

In einem großen Haus mit acht Bewohnern - alles Studenten - ist es nicht immer ganz einfach miteinander in persona zu kommunizieren, da

  1. Alle komplett unterschiedliche Schlafgewohnheiten und -zeiten haben und man deshalb aufpassen muss, wann man wo anklopft
  2. Jeder zu einer anderen Zeit nicht zuhause ist
  3. Manche sich mehr und andere sich weniger "integrieren" (womit ich meine, sich zu einer Gruppe zusammenschließen) und letztere dann noch einmal um ein Eck zurückhaltender sind (so wagen sich beispielsweise die zwei aus dem Erdgeschoß kaum zu uns in den ersten Stock)

Aber für jedes Problem gibt es natürlich eine Lösung und so können auch für dieses sehr leicht und effizient Mittel und Wege zur Beseitigung geschaffen werden: Immerhin gibt es ja jenes weiße Brett an der Küchentür (es ist jetzt übrigens angeschraubt... weise Entscheidung) und dessen Bedeutung und multiple Funktion hat sich mir in den letzten Tagen immer mehr erschlossen: Es dient zur Aufzeichnung von Spielständen, als Medium für Hangman, als Ort der Publikation interessanter Aussprüche und Gedanken und der Austragung von Rivalitäten (immerhin sind einander letztes Wochenende England und Wales im Rugby begegnet und da kommen natürlich Emotionen hoch). Vor allem aber dient das Board der Kommunikation.

Mittels Brett hat man mich in der ersten Woche zum Ausgehen aufgefordert (siehe in einem der letzten Einträge).

Das Brett hat alle erinnert, wann welche Summe für die Nutzung des Internets zu berappen ist.

Um meine Integration voranzutreiben, beschloss ich, mich ebenfalls dieses populären Mediums zu bedienen und fand schon sehr bald Gelegenheit dazu: Sonntags habe ich (bekannterweise) eine Torte gebacken und da am nächsten Tag immer noch recht viel da war und ich nicht gedachte, das alles alleine zu essen, fühlte mich veranlasst, meinen Mitbewohnern die Scheu zu nehmen, sich einfach zu bedienen:There's still cake in the fridge... Meine Kommunikationsbemühungen wurden honoriert: 2 Tage später kam die Antwort: ...not anymore!

Vor ein paar Tagen (nach einem Abend der Kartenspiele) hatte das Notizboard dann folgende Information für mich: Thursday -> Pokernight - ein gar gemeines Vorhaben, das sicher nur meiner vorher bekanntgegebenen Aversion gegen Poker entsprungen ist. Toll. Ich war also vorgewarnt und hätte mich rechtzeitig verdrücken können. Oder auch nicht, da klar war, dass das Ganze dazu dienen sollte, mir mein Missfallen an dem Spiel zu nehmen. Also habe ich dem Unterfangen eine Chance gegeben und überraschenderweise, wohl dank der Bemühungen meiner Pokerpartner, sogar Freude daran gefunden (und obendrauf einmal gewonnen!!). Aber ich schweife schon wieder ab.

Wie gesagt, das white board ist enorm wichtig für ein funktionierendes und effizientes Zusammenleben.
Um jedoch diesen dezent unpersönlichen Gesprächen entgegenzuwirken und mehr direkt miteinander zu kommunizieren, am Besten mit einem kulinarischen Nebeneffekt, wurde im Plenum (d.h. von Sam und mir) beschlossen, einen gemeinsamen allwöchentlichen Kochtag einzuführen. Diese Idee ist ein ledigliches Aufgreifen alter Traditionen, die scheinbar ausgelaufen sind, als die Vorbewohnerin meines Zimmers ausgezogen ist. (Offenbar muss da ein Mädel dahinter stehen oder es wird nix.) Dieser Plan scheint jetzt Form anzunehmen, denn als ich gestern die Küche betrat um mir wieder mal einen halben Liter Tee zu machen, in der Hoffnung damit meine Verkühlung zu vertreiben, fand ich schwarz auf weiß (wie auch sonst?) den ersten Vorschlag: Toad in the hole with roast potatoes & veg for Saturday's joint dinner?
Erste Reaktion: Leichte Verwirrung ob des Namens: Was ist "toad in the hole"? Und was haben Kröten damit zu tun? Klingt irgendwie recht abstoßend. Freund Google wurde umgehend befragt und hat mich sehr schnell aufgeklärt, dass es sich dabei um eine wohl typisch britische Kreuzung aus Yorkshire Pudding und Würstchen handelt. Letzteres ist nicht unbedingt meine absolute Lieblingsspeise, aber immerhin bin ich jetzt in Großbritannien und kann mich dem Neuen nicht verschließen. Schon gar nicht, wenn es einen derart kreativen Namen hat. Why not give it a try? Also habe ich meine Bereitwilligkeit der Konvention entsprechend sofort verschriftlicht kundgetan und blicke mit Spannung und Vorfreude dem morgigen Abend entgegen.... aber das wird die nächste Geschichte...

P.S.: Das Kameraproblem wird mit ein bisschen Glück nächste Woche ebenfalls gelöst sein, also gibt es bald wieder frische, selbst-gemachte Fotos.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Tales of Bangor #8 (rhif wyth) - Of different hikes and chocolate-laden redemption

This Saturday the wonderful sunshine inspired us to pay a visit to Mt. Snowdon (aka Yr Wyddfa), head of the vast national park of Snowdonia. Its height of 1.085 m makes it the highest mountain in Wales and that's why it must be "climbed" at some point during my stay.
After a chat with the former occupant of my room I decided to take the challenge as long as the mountain is worthy of its name: as long as there is snow on top.

3 brave companions were found quickly and Elzelien, Fiepje, Rebecca and I dressed in our hiking gear (some had newly-purchased boots, others their own - sent by loving parents) and got on a Welsh bus that took 50 minutes (!) to get us to our destination: This is British efficiency! (Llanberis, one of the villages at the base of Snowdonia, is only ~8 miles from Bangor.) Feeling slightly sick from a lot of brake slamming and rapidly taken sharp bends (my dad would have yelled at me if I had hit the kerbstones with a frequency like that!) I was happy to step out of the vehicle and breathe some fresh mountain air.

About 6 paths lead up Snowdon and for people who are unable or, more likely, unwilling to walk there is a railservice that offers to take them up to the café and down again for the ridiculously high sum of £25 - bad luck for these at the moment, though, as the tracks are still covered in snow.
This being our first hike in the area and 2 of us never having hiked before we chose the "tourist-path" (much as I abhor these well-trodden ways): broad and easy but still beautiful, though quite crowded. The tarmac-road that took us up the first few hundred metres was disappointing and we feared that it might stay with us all the way to the top, but after a while we left it for a rocky path that winds its way through sheep-specked green pastures and affords the most amazing views over the lake, the slate quarry (right, that's not really beautiful, but kind of impressive nevertheless) and the velvety ridges and green valleys of the national park. The mist that bathed the mountains in the morning and added a mystic touch to the area lifted around noon and we were able to take in the beauty of more distant mountains, peeping over lower ridges, too.


The top right peak, covered in snow is Snowdon.
(No-one would have guessed...)

And the beautiful backsides belong to me, Rebecca and Elzelien.

Two hours we hiked in that manner until the path and the grass gradually became wetter and soon were covered in snow. At the beginning we took snow and ice light-heartedly and marched on towards the top. Eventually, only a narrow (~40cm) path of slip rock was uncovered by snow, steeply sloping to our right. Walking on the snow was not much better, as it was frozen so hard that we could easily have slid down, despite our hiking boots. (Other people had been more foresighted and brought crumpets for their boots). Apparently one or two people die trying to climb Snowdon each year.

..trying to keep balance..

We could not progress without carefully pre-testing every step on ice, trying to keep balance and not to get distracted by watching other people struggle. This would not do: approximately 10 minutes from the summit we chose not to get killed in the first three weeks of our stay, turned round (which did not quite work THAT fast) and carefully retraced our steps. We would come again in spring!

A miracle to me is how the two German girls with tight jeans and sneakers (without any profile AT ALL) managed to get up there. But some people seem not to think or care much.

Miraculous also sheep's tendency to appear from nowhere. Zero sheep anywhere in sight at one point of time and a whole flock an hour later! As if they can just beam themselves from one pasture to another... weird woolly specimen...

~ ~ ~ ~

The following day, Sunday, lived up to its name and was equally fine and I enjoyed being woken up by the sun shining into my room.
After attending a Baptist church service in the morning (with a good deal of singing, dancing and jumping around - quite different to what I am used to) Elzelien, Fiepje and I decided over a cup of coffee/hot choc that the weather was too precious to dully sit around inside and therefore spontaneously made up our minds to walk up Bangor mountain. (This "mountain" is probably not even as high as Cobenzl and therefore hardly deserves the name "mountain". Likewise, walking up can hardly be called a hike.)
We phoned Andrew, an American student who studies German in Bangor and is going to spend next summer term in Vienna, and he joined us readily. So up we went and strolled around the perfectly mown lawn of the golf course, always watching out for balls flying low and careful not to trip over the rim of the little "craters" that marked the holes.

Bangor mountain, low as it might be, offers brilliant views over all of Bangor, Menai Strait and Anglesey on one side and Penrhyn castle, the shores of Llandudno and the first front of the Snowdonian mountains on the other.

Having bathed in sunshine for two hours and taken in as much of the scenery as we could we went back down to Bangor town, soon to fill my kitchen with the thick scent of chocolatey Sachertorte: this was an attempt to atone for the excruciating samples of Austrian folk music I had made my flatmates suffer a couple of weeks ago.
Sift the flour and fold into mixture of sugar, butter and melted chocolate.

Fiepje tirelessly whisked the egg whites without getting a cramp.

Fold egg whites into the mixture.

Despite the lack of a scale, a second large bowl and an electric mixer we managed to produce an edible result, welcomed by my flatmates and their friends. No-one died, no-one complained. Quite the contrary. Everyone was happy and I have plans for follow-ups to this event.

Lets see...

(Pics for this entry were kindly supplied by Fiepje)