Tag Archives: England

Thanksgiving Recipe 2014

London Thanksgiving Dinner
1 Portuguese
1 Australian
1 Briton
1 Irishman
1 Dutchwoman
1 American
8 supermarket trips
3 hours of cooking
5 Thanksgiving dishes (divided)
2 holiday candles
3 bottles of wine

Mix for 3 hours, stirring in 20 minutes’ worth of stories explaining the origin of Thanksgiving holiday and traditions (Optional: add 1/2 cup skepticism and a healthy dash of snark).

To make gluten-free or historically accurate, may substitute alternative Thanksgiving accounts.

Serve hot.


Waiting for Godot

“Have you not done tormenting me with your accursed time! It’s abominable! When! When! One day, is that not enough for you, one day he went dumb, one day I went blind, one day we’ll go deaf, one day we were born, one day we shall die, the same day, the same second, is that not enough for you? They give birth astride of a grave, the light gleams an instant, then it’s night once more.” -Pozzo, Waiting for Godot, by Samuel Beckett

Time is a funny thing. A week can pass by in an instant and an instant can seem to take a week. In this rushed and busy city filled with rushed and busy people trying to keep one appointment before striding purposefully off to the next, time is always on the mind yet never considered.

There just never seems to be enough of it.

Last night a group of us went to see Samuel Beckett’s classic drama Waiting for Godot at The Cockpit Theatre in Marylebone. Just as Beckett himself intended, the play encouraged me to stop – for two hours – and ponder time. Time and existence and sanity and boredom and human rights and striated society and companionship… But mostly time.

As I have felt overwhelmed by the speed of time’s passage these last few weeks, it was refreshing to be afforded a chance to pause and reflect.

“We have time to grow old. The air is full of our cries. But habit is a great deadener.” – Vladimir

Without a place of my own until this week, I have struggled to develop routine – that great structure to which I cling for calm and comfort – and yet I am grateful for the spontaneity that six weeks of wandering has offered. I am grateful for London theatre and friends who will invite me along. I am grateful to be in a rushed and busy city, but too, I am grateful for my flat that offers me a degree of sanity and security. I would hate to wait for Godot night after night after night.

“Nothing happens. Nobody comes, nobody goes. It’s awful.” – Estragon


Critical Caffeine Cartography

Scottish Referendum

Watching the results roll in all day today!

Lesotho in the Commonwealth Games

[Note: This is a cross-post. The original can be found on the TTL blog]

(photo cred:AFP)

The 2014 Commonwealth Games are happening right now in Glasgow, Scotland!

This is a pretty exciting time for everyone with a vested interest in Commonwealth nations as they watch the different countries compete for prestigious medals and prizes.

But you might find yourself wondering about a thing or two. For instance: ‘What exactly are the Commonwealth Games?’ or ‘What do these games have to do with Lesotho?’ Valid questions, to be sure. So to help ease your mind, I’ve compiled a short Q&A below!

1) What is the Commonwealth?

According to its founding Charter, the Commonwealth of Nations is a voluntary association of 53 independent and equal sovereign member states that collaborate through economic support and political strengthening to champion several key values, including: democracy, human rights, international peace and security, and more. Read the full charter here.

Moreover, all the participating Commonwealth nations share a certain degree of common colonial past with the United Kingdom, whose reigning monarch is currently their official head of state or perhaps was at one time. Today Queen Elizabeth II is recognised as the head of the Commonwealth.

2) What are the Commonwealth Games?

In 1891, an Englishman named Sir John Astley Cooper proposed a “Pan-Britannic-Pan-Anglican Contest and Festival…as a means of increasing goodwill and good understanding of the British Empire” – which it was at that time. The idea took a few years to organise, but since their initial round in 1930, the international athletic competitions now called the ‘Commonwealth Games’ have been held every four years (think British Olympics).

The events have expanded and changed over time, but the Games currently boast 21 able-body sports and 7 para-sports, which the host country sets with official approval from the Commonwealth Games Federation. The 2014 Glasgow Games include: Athletics, Badminton, Boxing, Cycling (Mountain Bike, Road, and Track), Diving, Gymnastics (Artistic and Rhythmic), Hockey, Judo, Lawn Bowls, Netball, Powerlifting, Rugby Sevens, Shooting, Squash, Swimming, Table Tennis, Triathlon, Weightlifting, and Wrestling.

3) How is Lesotho involved?

Wouldn’t you know it – Lesotho is a member of the Commonwealth, having joined in 1966.

Since 1974, Lesotho has attended the Commonwealth Games and sends most of its competitors to the running events (where their successes are no doubt a result of high-altitude training). For the 2014 Games, 27 athletes traveled to Wales where they trained and prepared to represent the Mountain Kingdom. Most of their events are scheduled for this week, so tune in to cheer them on with Basotho pride!

4) What else do I need to know?

Like many friendly competitions, the Commonwealth Games are an opportunity for the host city to put forth its best face and exhibit its unique history and amusing quirks. Certainly, Glasgow is not short of quirks, nor shy about celebrating them.

Dancing Tunnock’s Tea Cakes (a half-biscuit, half-marshmallow, non-dancing Scottish treat)

The fabled Loch Ness Monster herself in tartan (plaid)

But Lesotho has its own claims to fame, some of which the Basotho athletes flaunted when parading in the opening ceremony.

(Photo cred: AFP)For instance, the conical shape of the mokorotlo, or Basotho hat, is inspired by Mount Qiloane, one of the peaks in the Maluti Mountain range that give Lesotho its harsh climate – thereby justifying those beautiful Basotho blankets – and unique status as the country with the highest low point in the world: 1400m!

And because Lesotho is not lined up to host the Commonwealth games in the near future, I thought I’d highlight some other Basotho trivia worthy of your attention:

  1. Lesotho is a landlocked nation and the only one in the world that is completely surrounded by one other country – South Africa
  2. The most common mode of transportation is horseback
  3. The country motto is ‘Khotso, Pula, Nala’ meaning ‘Peace, Rain, Prosperity’ and respectively represented by the white, blue, and green of the Basotho flag (which also features the indigenous Basotho hat.
  4. Lesotho is home to one of the only two ski resorts in Sub-Saharan Africa. #AfriSkiFTW
  5.  Lesotho has its own dinosaur – the Lesothosaurus discovered in 1978 by Peter Galton

And now you know.

Taster Trip 2014 | Howick, SA

2014-04-11 13.57.43Start your morning off with a cuppa Earl Grey – named after the second earl of that distinction, whose family seat was Howick Hall, Northumberland, England.

Now turn the world upside-down to find another Howick, situated in eastern South Africa (and another in New Zealand and another in Canada). Turned into a bustling European settlement by Early Grey, who had been recently awarded the title Lord Howick, and taking its name from that same Northumberland ancestral home, the town of Howick holds a place of no small significance in South African history. During the Boer War, the British established a concentration camp near Howick from 1899-1902; and, most popularly, Howick represents the site of the late Nelson Mandela‘s arrest on 5 August 1962, just off the R102.

IMG_6147But lest we be drawn into that story, which merits more time and an authoritative voice to do it justice, let’s instead turn to Howick: Tourist Destination. Its key highlight being the impressive Howick Falls.

The Umgeni/Mgeni River, sourced from my own Drakensberg mountains (home to Sani Pass), tumbles 95m before continuing its journey to the Indian Ocean, exiting the continent at Durban. The Zulu prefer their own name for the impressive falls, kwaNogqaza, which means ‘Place of the Tall One.’ At its base lies a serpentine creature – the inkanyamba – rendering it unsafe for anyone but powerful sangomas to approach and offer prayers to the ancestral spirits. This beast’s anger is believed to be the cause of many summer storms.

As a tourism highlight, Howick Falls is certainly beautiful and a welcome stop after a drive through the Midlands Meander. One can wander the many craft stalls and kitchyshops lining the streets and haggle down the ‘fixed prices’ of some beaded nick-nack.

IMG_6143But I was struck less by the falls and commerce, than by the sudden sense of orientation granted by a nearby signpost. To stop and read the distances between my feet and other well-known waterfalls around the world, suddenly I had an understanding of place in a way I hadn’t before. Just a little geography nerd-dom shining through 🙂