June 12th, 2011

Fishy Circumstances

Adventures in cake, time travel, Oxford, the antikythera mechanism, Slough, Whitchurch, & Wincester

  • I went to a cake decorating demo with black_faery at the Waitrose Cookery School (who knew it had one?), featuring the woman who decorated the Royal Wedding Cake, lots and lots of sugar paste flowers, and cupcakes, fruitcakes, and champagne. Previously, I knew almost nothing about decorating cakes. Now I know slightly more than nothing.

  • The time travel panel at the BL on Friday took some time to come together, but ended up being a very satisfying exploration of different kinds of and purposes for time travel, making good use of all of its panelists, plus occasional film clips about time travel. Paul Cornell, picked on first by an audience question, would, if he could time travel, go back in time to see what Edward the Confessor was like. Audrey Niffenegger did a lovely occasional job of tactfully mediating between panel and audience member whose question hadn't really been misunderstood. Now I know who John Gribbons is, and would like to read some of his work. Jo Fletcher did a good job on structure, and Steve Baxter was, entirely by accident, the source of my comp'd ticket to the sold-out event.

  • I met up with despotliz and N for ice cream at G&Ds in Oxford. The Amaretto was definitely an experimental flavor: almondy, smooth and pleasant, but not really amaretto-y at all. The chocolate, on the other hand, was a lovely, well-rounded one with restrained richness. I do feel like I spent too much time complaining about educational systems and not enough really catching up with either.

  • SHMTS's June lecture was on the antikythera mechanism, featuring Michael Wright's recreation of it. Really nifty object and content in a really overheated room. Very well attended, including the rare attendance of children. I took photos. I will put lots of them up, really truly.

  • Slough has the most amazing Tesco I have ever seen. It is enormous even by US standards. I wish I had brought roller skates. I yearned through the World Foods aisles, but the soft drinks selection was generically Tesco-esque, so I returned to World Foods for ginger beer. Clearly, I need to learn more about Caribbean cooking, as it was that section which most caught my eye and I felt wrongest about stocking up on: I don't know I currently have recipes for yam flour or powered cassava root.

  • pennski had a very pleasant birthday party. I was introduced to caterpillar cake (which may be a confection which has different proper names in different grocery stores. Sainsbury makes Wiggles). It was good to catch up. Plus, olivia_circe was wrong about which one of us would see them again first.

  • I went to Winchester for what was, to the best of my knowledge, my first time. It rained heavily the entire time. It was a satisfying first visit: the Great Hall (the remains of Winchester Castle) with "Arthur's Round Table", and a lovely little medievalesque modern garden behind it; the archeological museum, with really nice cityscape recreations, the better the track the changing city and the rearrangements of the river Itchen; the cathedral, a glorious one, especially with the organist practicing and lots of bone-deep chords, gorgeous medieval tilework, an echo of St. Swithun's shrine, fantastic chantry chapels throughout, and Jane Austen's grave; and the city mill, hard at work demonstration, along with local beekeepers. I have never seen a watermill operating at such high water; magical, really, in an industrial sort of way.