Monday, 18 July 2011

Things I learned while in Leeds.

First of all, ZM16I'm back from Leeds, and I got or did everything that makes a conference: a conference pack (though it didn't include a pen, nor a writing pad), meeting new people, a few mindboggling papers, ideas for future projects, too much caffeinated hot drinks, book buying, and one night where I stayed up way, way past bedtime to chat with colleagues. That said, I'll give a more extensive review of the academic part in another post.

And I also learned things about Britain. For example that they have developed a really nasty habit of adding sweeteners to sugary soft drinks. And why on earth does anybody want to add sweeteners to a sugary drink? I just don't get it (and it tastes nasty). I like to have one of these sugary soft drinks once in a while, even if they are bad for you. But let's take one. There are two reasons why people drink it: To get the sugar or to get the taste. Or both. (The liquid is an added benefit, yes.) So I understand having a drink with sweeteners for those who only want the taste, even though that changes with the substitution. (In that case, I personally would choose a different drink then, but that's me.) But sugar and sweetener? Please. That's just stupid. Sweeteners are bad for the system, and I believe they are even worse than the sugars, who are undisputedly not the healthiest thing to consume (as one of the Leeds papers also showed with a nice graph correllating caries cavity frequency and sugar consumption over the last three or so centuries). They'll tell your body "calories come here! calories ahoy!", which then proceeds to get some insulin ready for the sugary bounty - which never comes, making your blood sugar levels plummet to new depths and the body react with the feeling of hunger. Which will lead to exactly the opposite effect of what the "diet" drinks promise you.

It took me several drinks to find out that they really do it to every sugary soft drink, after which point I stuck to either water or pure juice.

I also learned, unfortunately, that it is not possible to buy teabags at Manchester Airport. There's no real supermarket there (nor at the airport station). So I had to go home without a stash of teabags to replenish our quickly dwindling supply of Yorkshire tea (which really, as it promises, works splendidly in hard water), and we'll have to buy PG tips or something in a turkish grocery store when we run out. I also did not get lemon curd, because I was not willing to pay almost 6 quid for one glass - thanks, but for that price, I'll cook it myself. (Hint: it's not really hard to do.)

And I learned even more. That I'm not your classic conference-going medievalist, because then I should have checked my email about daily on the conference. (I firmly believe that the Out-of-Office autoreply was invented so that I can have times without having to check my email. And that includes conferences as well as vacation times.) That I'm not able of doing basic grocery shopping after doing bookshopping in a proper, large Waterstone's. That has bought (those *insert nasty new favourite swearword, also learned in Leeds, here*!) and I thus have to find yet another supplier of books. That the English rail system and especially their way of showing platforms and destinations on the tables in the station is really, really special and not at all what you are used to as a German. And that I really like duck with cherry sauce (part of the medieval theme dinner).


Anonymous said...

I was at leeds too, at some elcture and at the soc fair and craft fair. although I live locally. try to drink roses lime cordial,(no sugar) or fentimans botanically brewed soft drinks (rose lemonade is to die for) the sweeteners thing is beyond disgusting.

and someone tried to rip you off for the lemon curd, £2.50, tops, even in waitrose

Chris Laning said...

The main reason sugar is added to already-sweet drinks is because they sell better that way... but you knew that.

The other reason is that, for some people, artificial sweeteners have a bad aftertaste, which is masked by the sugar.

What I do when faced with too-sweet drinks is to find a clean empty bottle and fill it 1/2 to 3/4 with water, then add the sweet drink. Diluting it really helps.

a stitch in time said...

opus: There was no Fentiman's to be had where I had my haunts, or I'd have stuck to that (I like that stuff, probably too much for my own good); and when you look at lemon curd in the airport duty-free shop, you can count on being ripped off (and it was Scottish lemon curd, anyways).

Chris: I can understand sugar only, and sweetener only, but why make something sweet even sweeter with sweeteners? And for me, diluting these drinks won't work - it will make the yucky sweetener taste stand out even more. I tend to dilute un-sweetenered things, though.

Anonymous said...

So I had to go home without a stash of teabags to replenish our quickly dwindling supply of Yorkshire tea (which really, as it promises, works splendidly in hard water), and we'll have to buy PG tips or something in a turkish grocery store when we run out.

Yorkshire Tea is actually blended differently for different water tables, so if you live in a hard water zone, you need to buy from a hard water zone. They take it seriously! But PG is a next best if you're buying bags at all rather than loose leaf.

Alwen said...

I have often jokingly rejected diet drinks by saying "No thanks, those things make you fat!"

And guess what! They do:

(Now, who would like to fund a study of my hypothesis that driving in convertibles makes men go bald?)

Anonymous said...

Have you tried Yorkshire Tea decaff?

Just back from two weeks in Poland and spent the whole time drinking it. Tastes a bit odd with UHT milk. My hosts couldn't stand it so I got the box to myself. I tried it with normal milk but even with the same hard water and possibly lead pipes it didn't taste quite like it does in Britain.

Is it possible to post tea internationally? Or to order online?