Tea and Sympathy

Today is a typical day in Edinburgh.  It’s pouring, of course.  And the wind is blowing so hard that using an umbrella is utterly futile.  I head out, sans umbrella, to the supermarket (I’m getting a bit tired of eating all the random combinations of whatever food I can scrounge up in my fridge).  By the time I get there I’m soaked and can no longer feel my face (and it’s only around the corner).  The store is strangely empty—surprising since we are all so used to this weather that I wouldn’t expect it to keep anyone from doing their shopping.  I stock up on the usual suspects, and also pick up a few “ready-meals,” for those days (like today) that I’m feeling lazy.  Now, ready meals are a curious staple of the UK diet, which I feel I must pause to explain.

I know we have pre-made meals in the States, but in most UK supermarkets the ratio of pre-made meals to old-fashioned prepare-it-yourself ingredients is approximately 50-50.  There are entire aisles devoted to pre-prepared meals, and one can find absolutely any kind of cuisine; Thai, Indian, Chinese, Italian, French, English.  To be fair, if you examine the ingredients, they are usually simple and straightforward.  “Corn syrup” and “enriched wheat flour” are names I’ve rarely come across here.

As I lug my heavy bags home, I whine and complain (inwardly, for the most part).  It’s term paper time again, and I have a whole afternoon of work to look forward to.  I can’t believe how fast the year is going.  Classes finish in exactly 3 weeks, excluding one reading week, which they’ve given us to work undisturbed on our term papers.  As I believe I’ve mentioned (i.e. gloated about) before, I only have 2 days a week of class, meaning that in total I only have 6 days of actual teaching time left.

I come home and make myself a nice hot cup of tea.  Later I’ll have to venture out again, of course – flat parties call.  But for now, I enjoy my tea and grudgingly wonder how I will ever be able to leave this place.

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