A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about barbecue

Manchester: Deer, dear?

Derby, Manchester and Dunham Massey Hall


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On the way north to Manchester Mum and I stopped in Derby to have a cup of tea/ coffee with my great-aunt, who I hadn't seen since January. It was really nice to speak to her and show her my engagement ring.

Mum and I carried on from Derby up to Manchester, where we spent a lovely weekend with Dave, his parents and extended family.

Yesterday we visited Dunham Massey Hall, originally built in the 17th century though some alterations were made in the following three centuries. Although it would be interesting to visit at any time, we went there this weekend for a specific reason. During WW1 Dunham Massey Hall was converted into Stamford Military Hospital; to commemorate the centenary of the start of the war, they have temporarily reconstructed it. We walked round the ward, recreation room, operating theatre, an extremely atmospheric Georgian library, complete with a carving by the famous woodcarver Grinling Gibbons (I'm not sure if the soldiers were allowed in this room) and one or two other rooms in the main hall, and then the kitchen, laundry and others in a separate building next door.

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There was lots of very interesting information given in each room, including background information about some of the soldiers and also the family who owned Dunham Massey at the time and worked in/ ran the hospital once it was constructed. There were also some actors playing the roles of one or two of the soldiers and nurses; at the start of the tour we were told that as far as they were concerned they were just going about their everyday life in 1916 - 1918 and could not see us, the visitors from 2014, so they would not 'see' or acknowledge us in any way. Every now and then they would do a small sketch of an interaction that could have actually taken place because they were based on the background information known about the soldier or nurse they were playing. They never announced any of these, of course, because officially they were not aware of any audience. If you didn't happen to be in the room at the time, then you missed it. I loved the way this was all set up.

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In the building next door there were two actors playing kitchen-maids who were also just going about their everyday jobs, but this time did acknowledge visitors if they were asked a question. They still replied in character, though; I thought they were excellent. While I was in the kitchen they were resting a little, sitting by a table doing some sewing.

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Dunham Massey also has a deer park. We saw some wandering around in one field and then a small herd/ group of them lying down close to the entrance to the main hall. I'd been very keen to see the deer so I was really happy I managed to see them so close up.

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That afternoon/ evening we had a family barbecue in the back garden; great company, lovely food (special mention to the delicious marinaded steaks) and sunny weather. Just before we went to bed there was also time to see the cricket highlights of England's amazing victory over India in the 4th Test.

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Today Mum went to Salford with Dave's dad to see the Lowry Centre, whilst Dave and I went into Manchester city centre. We popped into Manchester Museum for a bit...

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...had some lunch at a South-East Asian restaurant called Tampopo...

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...and had a quick drink at Temple Bar, a tiny underground bar famous for formerly having been a set of public toilets. Dave asked about their souvenir Temple Bar cigarette lighters, because although neither of us are smokers I'm thinking of taking some incense sticks with me to Bulgaria (I've accepted the Bulgarian job I had an interview for in Mindo), but their machine was broken.

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Posted by 3Traveller 13:13 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged united_kingdom museum dave manchester mum barbecue derby dunham_massey_hall Comments (0)

World Cup Final, leaving drinks and my last day at work

Guayaquil


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Earlier today we all met up at someone's flat to watch the World Cup Final and have a barbecue buffet at the same time. Germany was my seeded team in the teachers' World Cup sweepstake, so I ended up winning $50! Thanks Germany!

Yesterday evening I went out for my leaving drinks with my now-ex colleagues. We started off at Arthur's Café in Las Peñas. Although the food took a long time to arrive, it was good, and we had a fantastic view of the river and the lights of Guayaquil round the curve of the bay. A supermoon was out and we also caught sight of the Captain Morgan ship (which turns into an all-you-can-drink floating bar on weekend nights) sailing up and down.

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From Arthur's Bar we climbed to the top of Cerro Santa Ana next door, going up the steep steps and paths round the side and back of the hill rather than the main ones at the front. My idea was to take some photos from the terrace at the top before stopping in at different bars on the way down. I remembered the only time I had tried to do this on a night out before, the terrace turned out to be closed to the public after midnight, so I was keen to get to it before then this time around.

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To my joy, when we got to the terrace the lighthouse was still open, so I climbed to the top of that and took in the amazing views of the terrace and chapel directly below me and then spread out before me the lights of the city, the bridge joining Guayaquil with Daule and the darkness of the River Guayas and Isla Santay.

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The upside to the often oppressive year-round hot and humid daytime temperature of Guayaquil is that after dark, even in the middle of the night, it is never ever even the slightest bit too cold. Permanent t-shirt weather. The humidity goes down and when there's a bit of a breeze going, like there was tonight at the top of the hill, it is pleasantly balmy. Although I was happy and having a great time with the rest of the group, at the same time it felt slightly poignant at the top of the lighthouse because I knew it was almost certainly the last time I'd be in that position with this view.

From the upper terrace we moved on to the lower one and found seats outside on the terrace of the wooden Puerto Pirata bar, 'the pirate ship'. We spent quite a while there, with the lighthouse looking over us, before we moved on down the hill.

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We stopped at a succession of small quirkily decorated bars, including one where I saw two dressed-up clowns in full makeup sitting in a corner having a drink together (!). Our final stop was slightly bigger bar with a dancefloor we took advantage of for a while before heading home in taxis.

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On Friday 11th I had my last teaching session; my Friday class of public sector English teachers from 5 - 9 pm. It was quite touching at the end because the students were all really nice, despite the fact that I've only had them for three once-a-week classes. One of them even said "you're a best teacher!" (sic)... during the break halfway through the lesson, one of them (who is a head teacher, out of interest) told me she loved the activities in class because they were funny... I wasn't 100% certain what she meant, because something I've noticed a lot of students do here is use the word 'funny' when what they mean is 'fun' - but I didn't think it quite appropriate to make her elaborate in that situation. I suppose it was still complimentary whether she meant 'enjoyable' or 'amusing'! I just smiled and said thank you and that it had been a pleasure for me to teach them, which is true.

It was an eventful class in other ways as well. Within the first hour I looked up at one point because I saw through the window out of the corner of my eye two people standing on the staircase outside the classroom looking down; standing there were two ex-students of mine that I had in FCE (First Certificate of English) prep classes on Saturdays until I went on holiday with Dave! It looked like they really wanted to speak to me, so I put my head outside the door to have a quick word. They seemed startlingly excited to see me. It turned out that they were just about to take the speaking part of the FCE exam. A few encouraging words were in order before I returned to my class.

Not long after that, 'I' from receptionists/course co-ordinators came in with a phone to take some photos of me and the class to put on the school's Facebook page to commemorate the fact that it was my last teaching day here. After the official photos had been taken, some of the students made her take photos with their phones as well.

During the class I had them doing role plays to practise doing the different parts of the PET (Preliminary English Test) speaking test. Lots of moving chairs around and changing between being the examiner and one of the candidates. Hopefully they are a lot more aware now of what type of activity they have to do for each part, and how to do them.

I leave for Loja tomorrow; I won't be in Guayaquil again until the 24th.

Posted by 3Traveller 09:30 Archived in Ecuador Tagged parties night football barbecue ecuador guayaquil explorations english_teaching cerro_santa_ana las_peñas Comments (0)

Dave's here!

Guayaquil


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Dave arrived late yesterday afternoon. He's here with me in Ecuador for three weeks of holiday... tomorrow we head off to the Galápagos Islands and once we return from there on Friday, we carry on to Cuenca, Baños and finally Quito. In Quito we're going to go on a couple of day trips to Otavalo Market and the hot springs at Papallacta.

I met Dave at the airport. I'd been following his flight on flightaware.com ever since I'd got back from my five-hour Saturday teaching stint in the morning. I knew his connection time in Amsterdam was tight so I did worry that he'd miss the plane to Guayaquil, but he made it thank goodness! We took a taxi to my new flat, rested for a bit and then joined in the barbecue that I and my flatmates and colleagues 'A' & 'T' had decided to put on. Many bottles of beer, pieces of chicken, sausages and steak & vegetable skewers were consumed, though neither Dave or I had any beer (Dave didn't feel like it due to feeling the jetlag a bit; I'm not keen on beer at any time).

This morning we had a lie-in. After getting up at about 10.30 we had some breakfast and took a bus two minutes down the road to the bank so that I could get out my rent money and also money for the Galápagos Islands; we could have walked, but it would have taken at least twenty minutes in the heat each way and I wanted us to preserve energy for later.

On our way to the bus stop I took this photo of Dave next to graffiti near my condo block - tribute to a photo I took of Dave in front of a similar wall in Santiago, Chile, on the day we arrived in South America on our round-the-world trip 5 years ago.

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An ice cream man passed us on our way down.

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Before we got another bus back again I bought Dave a bottle of chilled water from a bakery because he really needed one - he's finding the heat and humidity of Guayaquil quite hard to deal with so far.

We left the flat again at around midday and took a bus into town. We went to Iguana Square first, then a walk along half of the Malecón (including the botanical garden and a trip up one of the viewing towers over the river) to Las Peñas and Cerro Santa Ana.

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Dave has brought his DSLR camera with him to Ecuador and took it with him into town today, so he got some really good pictures of the iguanas, amongst other things.

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In Iguana Square the turtles had arranged themselves in a pile, which we both thought looked quite funny.

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At the Malecón I noticed that they have recently installed drinks vending machines, so I bought myself a Pepsi and Dave a bottle of water. Due to today being a Sunday, the Malecón was absolutely packed.

It was cloudy by now so it wasn't as hot as it could have been, but it was still pretty humid. We both got extremely hot and sweaty climbing up Cerro Santa Ana. Before climbing the hill I made sure to get a photo of Dave underneath the 'Barrio Las Peñas' plaque.

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Dave took some photos from the terraces at the top with his DSLR.

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Before we descended the hill I bought us another cold drink each from one of the metal-grilled shops that are so common in Ecuador.

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On the way back to the flat we stopped at a supermarket and I got a 5-litre bottle of water for Dave for 82 cents and a litre of Fanta Naranja for myself. Whatever we don't drink today we'll save for when we get back from the Galápagos Islands on Friday.

After a rest for a couple of hours we headed out and had some dinner at one of the Lebanese shawarma places nearby, before going on to a morocho café. Morocho is a delicious Ecuadorian pudding that I only discovered a couple of weeks ago - it's a lot like rice pudding but made with a certain type of white corn, broken up, instead of rice. The taste and texture is a lot like rice though. They even add a little bit of cinnamon to it. It's amazing! I can't believe I never came across it before. Dave loved it, like I guessed he would.

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Posted by 3Traveller 13:31 Archived in Ecuador Tagged airport buses botanical_gardens dave iguanas barbecue ecuador guayaquil explorations cerro_santa_ana las_peñas malecon_2000 ecuadorian_cuisine river_guayas Comments (0)

Party by the beach

Montañita


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Yesterday I went to the beach town of Montañita for our staff Christmas party.

We Guayaquil staff had to go as superheroes, and the staff from Quito had to go as supervillains. I went as a female Thor, as I had a plastic horned helmet and drinking horn to use. I plaited my hair and made a hammer out of cardboard and foil.

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Some of the other costumes I saw were very good - Superted, Wonder Woman, the Joker, 'Supermaxi' (Supermaxi is the name of a well-known supermarket in Ecuador), The Incredible Hulk, Lara Croft, Captain America and many more. Before we had dinner we all had to show off our costumes. The field was then cut to six semifinalists, from which the overall winner was chosen. I didn't make the semifinal unfortunately... Supermaxi won!

For dinner we had a barbecue. There were loads of steaks, chicken pieces and sausages, as well as a table filled with bowls of salad and small cheesy baked potato halves. As well as the meat, I had some delicious pasta salad and coleslaw. There was a bottle of Argentine wine on each table as well.

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After dinner the dancing got started! There was a small cocktail bar set up with Zhumir aguardiente (firewater), vodka and rum, soft drinks and orange juice.

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I had a lot of Zhumir & orange, drinking from my drinking horn! In between the bar and the pool was the dancefloor. After everyone had been dancing for a while some firedancers appeared and put on a show for us. One of them twirled around flaming balls on strings and the other one had flaming torches. At one point the latter balanced one of the torches on his nose!

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There were two other guys there, hired for the occasion I think, who had dressed up in what I assume is traditional tribal costume from either the highlands or the rainforest, with colourful masks and straw-fringed clothes. They were the life and soul of the party.

After some more dancing some people decided to get in the pool fully clothed... I got in after a while but I got changed into my bikini and board shorts first. It felt quite surreal to be in the pool so late at night. The water was very warm. After a while two tied-together giant bamboos were put across the pool and some of us tried to walk across it without falling in... I managed it but some didn't.

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When the party eventually started winding down in the early hours, some of us paid a visit to 'Cocktail Alley' in town. This leads out onto the beach and has tiny cocktail stands lining it on both sides. I had a Maracaibo cocktail, made of passionfruit juice, rum, coconut liqueur and condensed milk, and an Alexander cocktail, made of very finely crushed ice, brandy, condensed milk, cinnamon and créme de cacao.

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I got chatted up by a Peruvian guy who wanted to give me a free surfing lesson in exchange for an English one and insisted that Peruvian men are better than Ecuadorian ones because they are gentlemen and don't hassle girls. I politely declined and mentioned Dave, which resulted in the Peruvian thinking I was married, so I didn't enlighten him to the fact that I'm not yet.

Soon after I went for a quick look at the beach. It was quite crowded and the lights spilled onto the sand.

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Then I rejoined the group for a bit before some of us went back to our accommodation - it was now between 3 and 4am. I'd had a really, really good night.

Late morning, today, after a lovely English breakfast laid on for us, I went back into town to do some Christmas shopping. I also bought my bus ticket to Guayaquil (we had to make our own way back). As well as some Christmas presents for family, I bought myself a present too - a lovely polished stone ornamental knife. After I'd dumped my shopping at the accommodation and changed into beachwear I went back out to meet up with the others at the beach. It was perfect beach weather, at least 34 degrees and barely a cloud in the sky.

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The sea was quite warm - no 'getting used to it' period of time needed at all - yet refreshing, and the waves were big. Montañita is a centre for surfing and I could see why. It was exhilarating to bodysurf and to swim out to beyond where the waves broke. I worked out that technically, if I carried on swimming in a straight line, I would just miss the Galápagos Islands and would eventually hit the coast of either Indonesia or Papua New Guinea on the other side of the Pacific!

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After a nice swim or sunbathe some of us went to a coffee shop in town. I had a frappacino mocha - exactly what I needed.

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Once I'd got back I only had about 15 minutes before I had to go and get the bus back to Guayaquil with some of the others. The journey took about two and a half hours.

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Posted by 3Traveller 03:04 Archived in Ecuador Tagged parties coast beach market buses cocktails barbecue ecuador montanita cocktail_alley Comments (0)

Christmas is coming...

Guayaquil

So Christmas is creeping up quite quickly now, but I have to say that it feels a little bit peculiar being here in hot and sticky Guayaquil at this time of year when it is so alien to what I'm used to in the UK. Last Sunday I went to a Thanksgiving party two American colleagues of mine held at their condo and it felt surreal to be swimming in their pool in 30-32 degrees on 1st December, knowing that in the UK it was freezing cold!

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The party was great, by the way. Company was typically amusing and the pool, weather, food and drink were all lovely. I brought fresh green beans as my contribution, fried with chopped red onion and leek in herby butter. Roast chicken, stuffing, mashed potatoes, mini empanadas, shrimp ceviche, massive shrimps barbecued in their shells and sweetcorn made up the rest of the savoury dishes; there was lemon meringue pie and chocolate cake for dessert.

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Last week I took a few photos of what I see on a typical day here in Guayaquil. I haven't included here any of the school, but here are three of Alborada Sexta, where I'm living - my street, the main street where I catch the bus, and a local hole-in-the-wall empanada counter;

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There are a couple of others from my typical day - the place opposite where I get off the bus, and the outdoor food court where I often get lunch.

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I began teaching three new classes three weeks ago, due to several teachers' timetables being moved about at the same time. My five-hour Saturday intermediate 1 class of public-school English teachers has been replaced in my timetable by a four-hour Friday upper-intermediate 4 class of public-school English teachers; in the evening I now have a pre-advanced 1 class instead of the intermediate 1 class I had before; from Tuesday to Thursday I now have a pre-intermediate 3 class between 4-6pm. Four of the students in the latter class are also English teachers. The Ecuadorian government recently said that all Ecuadorian public school English teachers have to attain B2 standard by a certain time next year, so that's why we're teaching so many teachers.

With the exception of a pre-advanced conversation class I had once a week for a month, in my first six months I was almost exclusively teaching pre-intermediate and intermediate 1 classes. I do enjoy teaching those levels but it's good to be getting experience of different levels now too.

I'd had my intermediate 1 evening class right from when I first arrived here in May. They were pre-intermediate 1 then. I was a bit sad to lose that class because I enjoyed the rapport and observing the dynamics between different students. I felt really touched in the last lesson I had with them but also a bit embarrassed because they were saying some really nice things and for a few seconds I didn't know how to react. Then, a few days later when their next course began, I happened to be passing through reception when two of my now -ex-students stopped me and gave me a present which they said all of their class had contributed towards. It was a wooden painted model boat and a doll from Esmeraldas province made from a coconut husk. They said that they got me those because they remembered me showing them a little llama keyring handmade from twisted reeds that I bought from a market in Cuenca and guessed that I liked handicrafts. I had not expected this at all so it was a really lovely surprise!

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When I got back to my flat after work that night I put them on my bookcase. Now they have been joined by a little Christmas display, courtesy of an amazing parcel I received from Emma and Kate the other day! This was the contents (sorry to make another list of food, but I want to record this for posterity, so here goes!);

An Advent calendar card
A Christmas book ('Why was the Partridge in the Pear Tree? The History of Christmas Carols')
Two glass snowflakes that unfortunately got broken in transit
Three robin decorations
Strawberry milkshake poppets
Revels
Strawberry bonbons
Two Chocolate Orange bars
A bag of rum balls
Treacle toffees
A mini box of Quality Streets
A white chocolate Lion bar
Sweet peanuts
Two boxes of candy sticks
Candy cane
Chocolate coins
Two Dairy Milk mousse snowmen
Two 'Merryteaser' chocolate reindeer
Chocolate Father Christmas
Smarties chocolate penguin
Lindor Chocolate Moment
Milkybar chocolate penguin
Bag of 'Popping Puds'
Tube of strawberry Millions (a bit like Dweebs, but chewier and softer)
Dairy Milk Chocos (like Rolos)

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I've just put the card, robins, snowflakes, candy cane and chocolate coins in the display. The book will join them once I've finished reading it! I'll eat the candy cane and chocolate coins on the day I fly back to the UK (the 20th). Everything else will probably have been eaten by then!

Posted by 3Traveller 15:31 Archived in Ecuador Tagged parties christmas sisters barbecue ecuador guayaquil english_teaching ecuadorian_cuisine Comments (0)

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