Welcome!

If anyone ever reads this, I will be extremely surprised, as chances are that 1) I will never give anyone the link and 2) I will probably forget to updated this after a while But hey, if by some chance you do stumble across this, feel free to poke around. Not sure that there's much to poke, but that's life.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

I just went out for the most amazing meal. The restaurant advertises itself as "Steak and Seafood" but that really doesn't even begin to cover it.

It's a japanese-style place, but most of the food is done without sauces, so it's hard to notice. You order from a selection of different combinations of meats (including steak, chicken, fish, scallop, prawn, calamari and tuna), and the rest of the meal comes included in that. One table can seat up to eight people round it - we had seven round ours (my family, and another couple). You're arranged in a semi-circle round the centre of the table, which is basically a large grill.

You start off with a soup - ours was onion and mushroom, which doesn't sound terribly appetising, but the soup was intensly flavourful. Then the chef arrives with a trolley full of interesting things. After being given an impressive display of dexterity with the chef throwing several of his implements round each other at alarming speeds, the first dish to be cooked is the fried rice, which everyone gets. It consisted of chicken, eggs (the chef obviously had a sense of humor, as he threw the eggs down onto the grill in such a way that he could draw a chicken with them), vegetables and, obviously, rice. Some soy sauce and garlic butter got thrown into the mix someplace as well.. We also got served with salads at this point, which had a very interesting (nice!) sauce on them.

After the rice was done, prawns were fried in garlic butter. We all got given a small portion as an appetiser, and then those who had ordered prawn as one of their main course meats got given a larger portion. Then, the rest of the meat and fish was cooked (in no particular order that I could see) along with some courgette and onion rings. Were were also, at some point, given two different sauces (one for seafood and vegetables, one for meat and chicken). I only tried the seafood one, but it went very well with the prawn appetisers and the scallops that I ordered.

The other meat I had was steak, and I think it's not hyperbolaic to say that it was the best steak I have ever had. It was first cooked as a whole, then it was sliced up into chunks and fried further in garlic butter. I have no idea how they did it, but it was tender, juicy, delicious...I'm drooling at the thought of it, and I ate it less than an hour ago.

We had ice-cream to finish up - I went terribly conventional and had chocolate.

As far as drinks went, we got served water (obviously!) and I had what was effectively a Pina Colada, but with mango instead of rum/vodka. More like a fruit smoothie than anything else, I guess, but it was very good, if a little over-sweet. We also got served some very good Green Tea at the end of the meal (before the icecream) but I got a mouthful of the dregs by mistake and had a bitter taste in my mouth for about ten minutes afterwards.

The other "fun" thing was Dad mentioning to the waiter that it's my birthday on friday. This resulted in me being sung "Happy Birthday" in English and Japanese, and getting a nice cheesy photo to take home with me.

Off home tomorrow...feels a bit weird. We've been here for so long it almost feels like home. And I'll have an 11-hr flight :-(

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Back again

Got back from Yosemite Park yesterday (http://www.yosemitepark.com). That was an amazing weekend - the scenery is incredible! I think I just about filled up my camera with pictures - I'll put the best ones on here:


This one's actually about 4 photographs that I pieced together to make one big one. It's the view from one of the millions of lay-bys we stopped at on the way to the hotel. You can see my sister's head on the far left of the shot - I didn't realise it was there until I got the images onto my computer. It didn't come out quite perfect yet - there are still some lines and changes in brightness between the different photos - but I'm too tired to do any more. If I get a better version I'll post it here.


This one's an upward shot of some trees near one of the stops in the park I took whilst I was bored and waiting for a bus. I didn't get it quite right - the angle's off by a bit - but it's not bad. The pine trees were really impressive - I thought theres were tall at the time, but we visited the giant sequoia grove the day after and I got to see what a big tree REALLY loooked like.


This is Yosemite Falls. It's actually two waterfalls - an upper one and a lower one - but the lower one's in shadow, so you can't see it as well. I'm really annoyed with this, actually, becuase I took about 4 shots of this and in all of them, the upper falls are slightly to the right of the centre of the gap between the trees, but it would have been difficult to get it right without losing the lower falls into the trees.


There were hundreds of these little squirrels running around all over Yosemite. They were fairly tame, so I managed to get quite close to them. I thought this shot was particularly cute.



We went swimming in one of the river-pools - I swear, this one was filled with melted snow. It was absolutly FREEZING - my feet were numb (literally) by the end of it, and really quite sore when they defrosted. But it was definitly worth it - for one thing, it was about 36 degrees centigrade on the day and the water was kinda theraputic in that it seriously cooled you down.

I've got some more photos from other trips I've been on since I last posted, but right now it's 11PM and I'm going to sleep. The pictures can wait.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Yay!

My Buffy DVDs arrived yesterday! :-) Havn't had much chance to watch them yet - we spent all of yesterday with the Jameses in San Francisco. I'll post some of the pictures on here later, but basically we went on a cablecar, had lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe and then went on a boat tour of the bay. I'm now slightly frazzled on my face and neck as a result of no suncream, but it's not bad.

Kinda had a lazy day today. . .didn't get much sleep last night and so lay in 'til nearly noon. We went to Santa Cruz this evening, and had a picnic on the beach. . .seagulls stole some of the grapes and there were a few amusing incidents with sand blowing around, but it was fun to eat outside when it wasn't roasting hot. We think we saw a sea otter, too - just swimming around between us and the pier. Very cute.

Only downside to today is that with the half hour car journey back from Santa Cruz, I've been listening to music all evening and have That's All (Genesis) going round my head.
I could leave but I won't go,
though my heart might tell me so,
I can't feel a thing from my head down to my toes.
so why does it always seem to be
me looking at you, you looking at me,
s'always the same, it's just a shame, that's all...

Monday, August 21, 2006

On the up again...

Finally stopped feeling ill :-)

Still tired, though. Probably because I'm staying up every night watching films we're rented from the complementary DVD library we just discovered we can use. So, we're watching a series of action/comedies at the moment - watched Men In Black 2 tonight, Showtime last night and probably A Knight's Tale tomorrow night. Currently, I'm watchin Ice Age becuase it's on TV.

Not really been doing very much - had a look round the mall today, found some jeans I want and some cheaper converses that I might get as my current ones are starting to look worn. No luck finding proper shoes of my size, though. I'm also miffed that my Buffy DVD set hasn't arrived yet, but that's life. Should be turning up in the next few days.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Bored now.

Being ill sucks. I get to sit (or lie, actually) in a bedroom (not mine, since I'm sleeping on the sofa while we're in America) and be bored. The only consolation is that I have my laptop, so I can re-watch Firefly and Buffy, or just mess around online. Which I am currently doing.

One of the nicer things about our apartment is that just outside (well, out and down about 3 storeys) is a restaurant/bar/whatever that has live music most night. So last night, I got a musical version of Hotel California, and I'm currently being serenaded by a jazz saxaphone.

On the bad side, Tom's gone to Cambridge. Which means

a) I miss out on seeing him. Again.

and

b) I have no-one to talk to for 3 days.

But we're off to the beach tomorrow, so if I'm not still feeling ill, I can drown my sorrows in sun, sea and sand.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

First Post...

..whoo. Actually, I'm not feeling particularly ecstatic at the moment. I'm mostly fed up, on account of my school and/or local post system screwing up, meaning that I was supposed to have my A-level results e-mailed to me while I'm out here in America, but they so far have failed to materialize. Which is, to say the least, annoying. And I'm also feeling sick, probably on account of eating under-cooked burger last night.

Other than that, I'm still feeling a bit weird about being in America. No offence intended to any Americans - it's just slightly surreal to be sitting in an apartment when it's 30 degrees outside and I can see a palm tree out my window. It's not really something I ever thought I'd be doing in the near future. But then, life's full of surprises. And benevolant companies willing to pay for their employee's families.

I went to an Imax cinema yesterday to see Superman Returns - it was awesome. Probably the combined effect of a very good (visually stunning) film and an 8-storey wrap-around screen. The title sequence alone was probably the most amazing thing I'd seen all week. Until I saw the rest of the film, that is.