24 Jun 2015

Foxtail Travels: Oxford

Radcliffe Camera: the coolest library ever! I would have liked to visit it.

I've previously made one travel post about Japan (in Finnish, you can find it here). This time I want to tell you about my day trip to Oxford, which I fell in love totally ❤ I spent some days in London at the beginning of July last year (gasp! it's almost a year ago) and had decided to make a day trip to Oxford (I usually prefer visiting small towns). They seem to open up easier and faster than big cities (I hated Tokyo for the first few months I lived there). First time I noticed my preference to small towns when I visited Milan in 2006 and made a day trip to Lago di Como.

Early in the morning at Paddington Station
I had bought the train ticket to such an early leaving train I was a bit worried I might not be able to get to Paddington Station in time (on time? I never know if it's on or in time, someone help!). After some heart-quickening moments at Aldgate Station I took the right train (tube?) and arrived at Paddington with plenty of time to catch the train to Oxford. (The previous night I had spent at least 20 minutes at Aldgate Station deciding which train to take to get back to Liverpool Street Station so as to get to Aldgate East Station. When walking to Aldgate Station early in the morning (around 5 a.m!) I realized I could have just exited the station and walked across the road as the stations were really close to each other.)

Here is a collage of my day in Oxford (scroll down for the list of places I fell totally in love, the absolute must -places in Oxford IMHO)

The totally crazy big bread some fellow travellers (Americans) had bought! They had a crazy big knife too! And they ate it as breakfast lol on the train lol (one of them was so cute and smiled at me constantly :P )

This time it's not me, it's the house (although I have a tendency to take crooked shots)!
Morning light <3

Despite the bad photo I want to post as it's the Thames Valley Police Station
(every Morse fan must know it^^)

Pembroke (!) Street

Well, Oxford is definitely a Uni town :D

The houses are so cute!!!

Places I especially fell in love with in Oxford:

The Covered Market

The Bodleian Library

The statue in front of the entrance was either Petrus Paulus Rubens or Thomas Pembrochiae (!)

In addition to this "schola" they had entrances to others schools too in every corner of the library: Schola Metaphysicae, Schola Logicae and Schola Musicae. One could really feel the atmosphere of old books and scholars there. I visited the Library shop too and had to buy a sign saying "Silence please" as it seemed like a real thing standing on the shelf there. I got even a bit startled after noticing it: had I been noisy???

The University of Oxford Shop

I would have wanted to buy every item on sale there :D

Tolkien DIY tour

Tolkien's grave (Wolvercote Cemetery): Please borrow a bicycle or ride a bus (not the one to Wolvercote, but the one riding on Banbury Road. Number 2 is such at least). Otherwise I like walking, but if you've walked miles on the hard streets of London on the previous days, it might not be the brightest idea to take the wrong bus and end up walking already on the way to the cemetery... You can buy a cheap bus pass (it was something like £4/day) which saves you money, if you're going to ride the bus more than twice. I had slight concerns how I would be able to find the grave from Wolvercote Cemetery but that turned out to be the least of my concerns.

Apparently some others have been looking for his grave too...

Balloons on the graveyard?

Beren and Lúthien

My map was a bit inaccurate and after visiting the grave I decided to walk (again, not the brightest idea) to Tolkien's former house. What I thought to be a little over 1 km walk, turned out to be 3 kilometers and in the middle of a hot day, phuh... I think I got stung by the sun as I was feeling really nauseous at the time I got there.

See the blue sign? It says that he (author of the Lord of the Rings) lived there 1930-1947.

There is an easy bus connection to his house from just in front of the cemetery (at least the bus number 2). I'd be interested to know who now lives at 20 Northmoor Street. Do they get bored of fans making "pilgrimmage" there? I was so nauseous then I really didn't want to stay in the sun anymore, so I took only this photo (otherwise I probably would have wanted to peek in the garden *^^*). I continued back to the center by riding a double-decker (first time on this journey) to Tolkien's favourite haunt:

The Eagle and Child (Bird and Baby!)
I wasn't at all hungry as the day was very hot, but the beer I drank there was thirst-quenching (I had just walked from at least 4 km in ballet flats, read the previous chapters). The place was quite full despite it was a Monday afternoon. Many were having their lunch there and the dishes looked delicious.

Vaults & Garden Café

I mean, seriously, how cool is it to have tea in a church. It's situated in Radcliffe Square so you can admire the beautiful Radcliffe Camera building if the weather is enough nice to be seated on the tables in the garden (not sure if there were any tombstones, as the garden is surrounding the church...). It had rained just before I got there, so I sat inside (so no tombstone spotting for me then). Their cream tea was delicious: the scone was still warm, crispy on the outside and fluffy inside, served with clotted cream and fresh-made raspberry jam with a slightly tangy taste. The tea was excellent, too (I even tried it with milk! Consider me converted :D <- well maybe not so... I wrote this part of the post last July and haven't had tea with milk even once after that... It's not bad, I mean... I just prefer my tea without it :D )

Christchurch College

After having the tea I noticed that Christchurch College would soon close and decided to run for it! I had passed the College early in the morning after walking in the fields and by River Isis, but it had been too early to enter the College then. During the hot day I had started to think I might be too tired to return there, but the tea gave me some stamina.

When I got at the ticket booth the lady told me I had no rush as the place would be open until 17.00 (the entrance is until 16.15, but you should check the timetable before you visit, as there are changes depending on the schedules of the College (that's the place where the students really live and study, so...). If you walk to Christchurch College, you'll be likely to pass Alice's Shop on the other side the road. And if you still have some stamina left, you could go for a walk in the fields which are facing the College from the south and east (? not quite sure about the directions though...)

Do you recognize these stairs?

The main reason I went there was mainly to see the Hall which was replicated for the Potter films. Of course I wanted to see at least one College from the inside too. I could easily imagine that the candles would soon start floating in the air or the Sorting Hat would emerge any minute or Dumbledore would walk around the corner :D A must place for any Potter fans out there!

21 Jun 2015

Kuusenkerkkäsiirappi - Spruce Sprout Syrup

It's Midsummer weekend! How have you been celebrating it? This year I spent the Midsummer in Helsinki (it was my first City Midsummer in Helsinki, and it was awesome). I went to Suomenlinna Fortress on Midsummer Eve and walked around the empty streets of Eira on Midsummer Day. The city was so empty! Everyone has gone to their summer cottages and the streets of Helsinki have been left to some odd tourists to wander (and wonder where everyone has gone... I think they must wonder how come there are no people!!!).The weather has been very typical for Midsummer: +10-15 degrees Celsius and a bit of rain here and there...

Recently it has become so popular to pick wild herbs from the forest. Spruce sprouts are the newly-grown parts of the spruce twig: they are light bright green in colour and much softer than the older needles. They should be collected early in the spring when they are still soft and light.
Spruce sprouts have been used from the ancient times. They could be called "Hyperborean lemons" as they are high in vitamin C. Traditionally they have been used as e.g. flavourings to the beer and for making cough syrup.

Even though everyman's right states that you can collect berries and mushrooms from the forests in Finland, one should bear in mind that it doesn't apply to spruce sprouts. One does have to have landowner's permit to collect spruce sprouts (as it might harm the tree's growth). Don't collect sprouts straight for the upper parts of the tree, as it will damage the tree.

Kuusenkerkkäsiirappi - Spruce Sprout Syrup

1 liter spruce sprouts (the newly grown bright green part of spruce needles, to be picked in the spring while they are still small and soft)
200 g sugar

Rinse sprouts with cold water. Put them in a pot and cover with cold water. Let them soak overnight. Next day, put the pot onto mild/medium heat and let the water-sprout -mixture brew for two hours. Take away from heat and leave the brew under a lid to cool for an hour or so. Strain the sprouts away and pour the liquid into a clean pot. Add sugar and let it dissolve on mild/medium heat while stirring constantly. Remove the foam, if formed. Cook for 20-30 minutes. Bottle the syrup in a clean, sterilized bottle. It will keep years in a dark-coloured bottle. Enjoy with pancakes or ice-cream. You could also use it as it is (a spoonful to treat a cold).

Adapted from http://lautasella.blogspot.fi/2011/05/kuusenkerkkasiirappi-snapsi-ja-likoori.html 

14 Jun 2015

Ketunhäntä tutkii: Helsingin korvapuustit

Kuulin jo jonkin aikaa sitten, että Nyt-liitteessä oli ollut alkutalvesta juttu Helsingin korvapuusteista. Tietysti kiinnostuin asiasta, sillä olenhan korvapuustien suurin ystävä (vrt. aiemmat jutut täältä ja täältä). Ja kuten kaikki varmasti jo tietävät, niin korvapuustihan on kaikkien aikojen paras leivonnainen (ja makuasioistahan saa kiistellä ;) Kaivoinkin artikkelin esiin ja päätin syventyä aiheeseen enemmän (luonnontieteellisesti kiinnostuneelle itselleni en mahda mitään). Tein testin  korvapuustien ominaisuuksista Excel-taulukon (ks.alla) ja jalostin testidatasta lisätietoa, jolla saattaisi olla vaikutusta korvapuustien makuun. Näiden tietojen nojalla muodostin sitten eräänlaisen ennakkoasetelman omalle tutkimukselleni.

Tykkään ennemmin ali- kuin ylipaistuneista korvapuusteista (tosin pinta saisi olla kyllä paistunut), sellaisista joissa on käytetty kunnolla kanelia ja joissa on kunnolla kierteitä (jotta sisin osa olisi slightly underbaked ja mehevä!). Niinpä olemassaolevan testidatan perusteella laskin testiin päätyneiden korvapuustien tiheyden (tosin tässä täytyy tyytyä melko raakaan approksimaatioon, sillä korvapuusteista on tiedossa vain korkeus, leveys ja pituus). Laskin näiden perusteella puoliellipsoidin kaavalla tilavuuden, mutta jahka pääsen itse testailemaan, aion kyllä määrittää niiden pullien tilavuuden ihan oikeasti (todennäköisesti kappaleen syrjäyttämän veden määrän perusteella...). Eli tutkimusasetelmani nro 1 on, että mitä tiivimpi, sen parempi :D

Testidatan perusteella ykköseksi tällä asetelmalla sijoittuu Café Aquamarinen ja Konditoria Hopian puustit jaetulla 1. sijalla, hyvänä kakkosena Kanniston puusti (joka olikin alkuperäisen testin voittaja). Ero ei ole kovin suuri näiden kolmen kesken ja oikeastaan tämä laskennallinen tiheys pyöristyy mittausepävarmuudesta johtuen samaan näiden kolmen kesken (vrt. taulukko 1).Tiheydeltään pienimmän puustin titteli menee Ekbergin puustille, joka sijoittuikin viimeiseksi testissä. Tosin lähes saman tiheyden omaavat Gottland Delin sekä Avikaisen puustit, joista toinen ylsi peräti hopeasijalle alkuperäistestissä. Jaa, melko mielenkiintoista, vai mitä? Pitänee päästä itse testaamaan (en pistä hanttiin haha).

Olen jo aikaa sitten tullut sellaiseen johtopäätökseen, joka pätee ainakin omatekemiini puusteihin, että mitä rumempi lopputulos, sitä parempi maku. Jos taikinaan laittaa riittävästi jauhoja pullien ulkomuodon maksimoimiseksi, lopputulos on KUIVA ja kova! Siksi korvapuustin ulkonäön ei pitäisi mielestäni saada ainakaan kovin suurta painoarvoa testissä. Tätäkin haluan testata tutkimusasetelmana, mutta en tiedä tarkkoja periaatteita joilla ulkonäköpisteytys on annettu: onko ajateltu vain ulkonäköä, vai onko arvosanaan vaikuttanut tuomareiden mieltymys siitä, mikä on herkullisen näköinen puusti (koska jos näin olisi, niin itse antaisin korkeammat pisteet sellaiselle rumalle, likilaskuisen oloiselle :D )

  Taulukko. Nyt-liitteessä testattujen korvapuustien ominaisuuksia.Tummemman sinisellä suurin arvo, vaaleammalla pienin.

Alkuun ajattelin testata nyt ainakin testin lupaavimmat yksilöt, jotka valikoin omien henk.koht. preferenssieni mukaan.  Testi alkakoon ;) Haasteeksi saattaa muodostua se, kuinka saan puustin kotiin mitattavaksi ennen kuin syön sen lol
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