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These last few weeks have been insanely awesome. Easter Sunday I caught the train down from Edinburgh to Harwell, where my friend MissMarkey lives. I’ve known MM since she came to stay at my place before the 2009 Christchurch Convention. Luckily for her, we all got on like a house on fire, but I’ve only had the pleasure of her company once since then, when we spent a week in New York, and then went to the BC in DC convention in 2011. She was definitely one of the drawing points of my move to Scotland, although it’s not that close to where she lives, it’s definitely a LOT closer than New Zealand!

So I was pretty excited to go visit her. But first, the train trip. I had thought about getting the bus down the night previously after work, but by the time I finally booked, the train was about £4 more expensive, during the day, and still got me in to Oxford in time to get the last 2 buses to Harwell. So train it was. I’d acquired the latest Doctor Who episode to watch on the train, but I only got as far as the first 15 minutes or so and was distracted by the gorgeous view going along the Forth of Firth. It was stunning – lots of green, and a few falling down dwellings that had probably been there since the beginning of time! So I turned on an audiobook (What I Saw and Why I Lied by Judy Blundell, which I still haven’t finished, I need to put it onto my ipod instead), and spent a glorious couple of hours appreciating the view of Scotland and England. I got off the train in Burmingham to transfer over to a train to Oxford, and spent just less than an hour at the railway station. Sadly I left my box of nuts (for snacks) on the train. I really need to remember to check under the seats!

I got on to the train to Oxford fine, but had a small freak out moment when there was someone sitting in my spot, and I thought I had got onto the wrong train! I wandered around for a while trying to find the train conductor, and ended up sitting next to a slightly skeezy, drunk guy who tried to hit on me *shudders*. Luckily he got off before I had to do anything drastic, and then we were in Oxford!

The train got in to Oxford right on time, and I got off with minimal fuss, then had good fun first putting money on my phone so I could let MM know when I was on the bus, then trying to find the bus stop. It wasn’t too bad, I just had a bit of difficulty matching my written description from google maps to the streets, and whether I should turn left or right. Luckily I looked suitably lost with my book of useful information that a cyclist asked if I needed some help and confirmed that I did indeed need to turn left. After that slight kerfuffle, I made it to the bus stop just as the bus was pulling in (admittedly there was a small amount of running when I realised I had 10 minutes to do an 8 minute walk – I don’t trust buses not to leave early!). I was the only passenger until we pulled into Didcot Railway Station (where my train was going, so next time I’ll get off there instead and save myself the walk). From there it was only about 10 minutes to Harwell where I had asked the driver to give me a yell a few minutes before we got in so I could organize myself. Luckily I saw MM on the side of the road signaling, because he hadn’t yelled and it didn’t take me too long to get off the bus!

We had a nice hug, and then walked a few metres down the road to MM’s place. It was so nice to see MM, who I hadn’t seen since 2011’s trip to the USA when we spent a week in New York and a weekend at the BC in DC convention. We had a nice catch up while the soup for dinner warmed up. After dinner we had a delicious flan that MM had whipped up, and then knitted, and hung out on the internet till about midnight.

The next day (Easter Monday), we were part of the village Easter egg hunt, so we headed off to the church after lunch (after some more knitting and internetting). I was the Easter Bunny and had to hide somewhere in the church for the kids to find me and claim their Easter eggs. The first hiding place I had wasn’t that great, but after 2 kids found me I moved into the pulpit with the door open a smidge, so I could see out and sat in there for what seemed like a long time! When my legs started going numb I moved across to somewhere with a bit more space, and sat there for a bit. It wasn’t nearly as good, so once a few more kids had found me I moved back to the pulpit, and then ended up back in my third hiding place for the last (cold) hour or so. I had tried to text MM to ask if there were any more kids, but didn’t get any reply (there wasn’t much cell reception in the church), and eventually the last kid did come and claim their eggs. It was lots of fun!

The chicks were all over me

Once we’d had a cup of tea and a bit of a chat with the people still there we drove around and picked up all the Easter bunnies scattered around the village (as part of the scavenger hunt) then got dropped off back at MM’s place. More soup for dinner, and some more knitting, hanging on the internet, and warming the chicks up. Janice has lots of chickens, and she’d taken a few of the eggs in to school so the kids could watch the eggs hatch, and brought them home with her in the evenings/weekends. She had also decided to take them into the church for the kids there to look at and had cleaned their warming lamp which then didn’t want to work in the church, and I thought the fuse must have blown, but it turned out to just need a new lightbulb. In the meantime the chicks were being heated by hot wheat pack, and we’d taken them out in the evening for a bit of a romp.

Tuesday we caught the bus into Didcot and did a bit of shopping in the charity shops. I bought two long sleeved cotton shirts for Turkey, and Janice might have bought some books. I’d been looking for cotton shirts in Edinburgh’s numerous charity shops and hadn’t found anything I liked/fitted/was the right weight so I was really glad to find these 2, especially when I thought I’d miscalculated how many tshirts I’d need and that I’d brought one less (I hadn’t!). Then off to a yarn shop with a slightly scary Swedish woman who helped us make a few purchases, mostly for yarn bombing on my part. Then we made our way to the supermarket to get things for quiche (which I had promised to help make). We caught the bus back to Harwell and MM got potatoes in the oven to roast and I made 2 (yummy, if I say so!) spinach quiches, one for dinner and one for lunch the next day when Skyring was supposed to be joining us. We realised when we unpacked the groceries that we’d accidentally gotten one sweet pastry crust and one savory, and of course I then made the mistake of taking them out of the packaging and then we couldn’t figure out which one was which, but I’m pretty sure we ate the sweet one (filled with spinach and egg and things!) for dinner that night. It was still nice! Followed by the last of the flan. More knitting/internet/chicks until around midnight when we snuck out into the village and yarnbombed a couple of the bus stop poles on MM’s street. Lots of hilarity there when we thought we’d stuffed it up and ended up with one side much higher than another, but it was just my fairly average holding together. One ended up inside out, but I think it still looked fine! Then back home to bed.

I didn’t sleep well, I kept waking up early in the morning wondering if Skyring had got in yet, his flight was supposed to have arrived in London about 5am (but was delayed), and eventually got up about 8.30am and hung around in my pajamas for a while. After what seemed like ages (but probably wasn’t!) he arrived and we all had a massive hug. He needed to rejig his suitcases because his big BC tote bag had the zip broken in transit and no longer did up once he’d opened it so brought some of his stuff inside. Janice and I made a pavlova while he did that. It turned out pretty good for my second ever attempt (and first on my own without Mum!). Had the rest of the quiche (the savoury one!) and the pav for lunch, and then went off for a tour of the church tower as MM had very kindly arranged for the head bell ringer to give us a bit of a tour. He showed us a bit about the bells, and even lowered one (which involves ringing it) for us! Then we went up on the church tower roof which had amazing views over Harwell, but was incredibly windy and a bit cold. When we’d had enough, we climbed back down, and went on a small snarfari around the village. I probably got about 30 before we’d all had enough of the wind and we went to MM’s book tree book and created a book tree. Then back to MM’s place where I packed all my stuff up. Lytteltonwitch arrived about 5, and we all headed out to dinner at a pub in a neighboring village with Molyneux and her son. Lots of fun had (as tends to happen when BCers meet up!), and we might have convinced Molyneux to come to Leeds in September for her birthday, which happily coincides with the BC Unconvention happening there. About 10 we left, Skyring dropped LW and MM back at MM’s place, we picked up my luggage, and drove in to the airport hotel at Heathrow.

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The second ever road trip Skyring and I did together, I somehow got put in charge of snacks, so the wonderful Tzurriz and her 2 kids (at the time) took me to Trader Joe’s to load up on yummy things like dried banana slices (not like banana chips, much more moist), mango slices, biscuits (cookies), and, possibly the coup de resistance, chocolate coated peanut butter filled pretzels. I don’t think we came close to eating it all, but ever since then, the chocolate coated peanut butter filled pretzels have been the in joke for road trip snacks.

So when I figured out that Skyring and I were going to be doing another road trip in Turkey, I was determined to try and find them to take with me to Turkey. My first attempt to get them was to ask Linda (last visitor) to see if she could find them in the US before she came over, but she couldn’t find them. Next, I had a look at the American Candy Store in Edinburgh. I found chocolate coated pretzels, which would have been fine if they hadn’t been £5 for about 100 grams. So then I decided I should just make some.

So, for your perusal/deliciousness: my road trip peanut buttery chocolate pretzel goodness*

Makes 11.

1 bag of hard pretzels
300 grams of dark chocolate (I used cooking chocolate)
2 big spoons of good peanut butter**

Melt the chocolate and peanut butter together over a pot of boiling water (you can use a double boiler, but I just used 2 pots of the same size with boiling water in the bottom one), stirring constantly.

In cupcake patties, put a small handful (about 6-8) pretzels.

When the chocolate and peanut butter are melted together, spoon 2-3 spoons of the mix over the pretzels, making sure you coat the pretzels so they stick together.

Leave to set.

Enjoy! They’re quite rich, and I don’t think kids would like them, they might prefer them with milk chocolate!

*feel free to call it something else if you like eg dlrtpbcpg***

**I bought mine at real foods, and I think it’s organic and just has peanuts in it

***no I don’t know how to pronounce that either, especially with my New Zealand accent!

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