Scribble & Scran

A sideline project for an IT guy who likes to cook

California Road Trip – Weekend Coffee Share

California Road Trip

A double coffee this morning in an attempt to put the body clock right. We are eight hours out and all out of sorts. Back from a dream holiday, one of those that are planned in the head for years, perhaps even as a child. Locations you see in films, the holiday brochure that sits on the bookshelf in the one day section. A holiday we’d been planning long before Covid was even mentioned anywhere. The trip to coincide with my wife turning 50 and school finishing up before university. In amongst those years of dreaming, we booked flights and then all that obviously got blown out the water and essentially it became a roll over trip a year on.

The run up was fraught. Work was crazy and knowing I was going to be taking 3 weeks out meant I wanted and needed to do more in order to make sure the ship ran smoothly whilst I was away.

Add to that I got COVID just in that panic period. I was petrified it would be me that stopped us from travelling. I was petrified I’d pass it on to the boys or my wife and that we’d end up cancelling again.

Although I was functioning I felt that I lost 2 weeks of my life in a fog, separated from the family. Kept at a distance for meals. Remote working to keep the plates spinning. Willing the ailment to leave my system so we could travel. Amazingly days before, the tests started to turn negative and the rest as we say is history.

I can’t quite believe the time that has passed and we are back from California. I hope to write more about the trip which covered off:

  • San Francisco
  • Napa
  • Kirkwood/Tahoe
  • Yosemite
  • Santa Cruz

We kept our tour very small in the grand scheme of things. An attempt to enjoy our days, to not be in the car everyday and in an effort to do quality, not quantity.

I kept a tiny jotter through the journey and although mentally I’m committing to writing this up I know that Monday is just around the corner…..and that reality will bite!

Time to get back to it.


The #WeekendCoffeeShare is an informal weekly link-up hosted by Natalie the Explorer that serves as weekly heart beat and sort of of a mind-dump. Helps me reflect on my week, with a list of achievements, thoughts and rambles normally whilst drinking a beverage probably listening to music.

Peonies

I thought I’d follow the theme that Natalie started with her post in Cork Town and the Don River Post for the weekend Coffee Share.

These flowers are amazing.  Starting off like miniature golf balls, and then an explosion into beautiful colours as they enfold.  The wind is unwelcome as it batters the long stalks trying to pry the petals away.  If these were fireworks then peonies to my mind would be the rockets.  Short big bursts of powerful colour.

Our garden is starting to explode along with neighbours gardens. Mid June is an amazing time for colour.

London Jubilee

This weeks share is from London. Her majesty has given us an extra bank holiday! Bolted it onto a Friday, shuffled one from the end of May and joined them together in order to celebrate her Platinum Jubilee. We were ahead of the game on our travel plans. Trying to time it best with coming out of lock down, in the end deciding to stay on the home turf and soak up some of the atmosphere about the capital city.

Can you imagine being in the same job for Seventy years!  I’m in admiration, albeit I know it’s come with a certain amount of privilege and support.  I’m definitely in the camp of it being something the nation should join together on, be it through a street party, watching the spectacle on TV or just sitting in the garden on a Friday afternoon because of the extra days holiday.

We took the train Wednesday and even that was a treat.  A Four and a half hour journey, the four of us at a table enjoying a picnic, some reading and the company.   On arrival, some sense of familiarity with Kings Cross Station, but also the feeling of being new, the bearings slightly disorientated as we topped up our old Oyster cards for the London transport system.   Next stop Hammersmith, where home would be for the next few nights.

Wednesday evening was really just about settling in, I cooked tea, supplies from the Little Waitrose round the corner.  Fresh bought Pasta (it cooks really quick), a tub of sauce (it’s allowed when travelling), some greens and a few diced thighs to satiate the protein crazed teenagers.

Thursday, the trooping of the colour.  We were just there to soak up the atmosphere to try and get close and enjoy what London had to offer.   It started with the bus in to town, where at some point the bus and traffic were all brought to a halt.   A luxury vehicle cruised by sandwiched by Police motorbikes, the bus whispers confirming it was William.  All I saw was someone’s hat!  We got off at Wellington Arch and managed to get into the top part of green park.   At which point we weren’t going to get any closer and went for a quiet coffee and a pastry.   A little explore of the streets, soaking up the sun.  My main ask was to see the fly by, which I thought would maybe the red arrows or a couple of jets.   Seventy aircraft flew over, from helicopters to big old birds, spitfires, jets in formation of a Seventy and the red arrows showing the signature red, white and blue colours.   The streets of London coming to a halt as they looked to the skies, cheers for the spitfires and cheers for the red arrows.  A great sight, and then to be part of the crowds dissipating as folk passed by in both refinery and union jacks in equals measure.   Princess Eugenie also drove past us at one point.

I’d booked a table at the River Café a few months in advance, knowing it was a stones throw from where we staying leaving the boys with Pizza for tea.  The Café as it’s name underplays the quality of the Italian food (and the cost) on offer. It’s a well known institution so commands a steep price.   Jamie Oliver famously started his career off here with a chance documentary.  Numerous cookbooks and enhanced folklore in amongst the food scene and I can see why.  I thoroughly enjoyed a crab starter (after I’d stopped embarrassingly spilling it over myself with a knock of a fork!), followed by a spatchcocked Pigeon and the infamous chocolate nemesis.  My wife, buffalo mozzarella, Monkfish and an almond tart.  A suitable bottle of wine alongside, even after I ordered it I couldn’t remember where it was from!

Friday, was about Kew Gardens, although knowing the boys wouldn’t surface for a little while that morning we went for a run along the River Thames.  My wife is the main runner in the family and she was desperate for a change of scene.  The stomping ground at home stale.  I myself was just determined to make 5k my goal.  The sun was shining and being by the side of the river and on the flat was a great help.

Saturday, more culture the boys wanted to hit the Science Museum, and my wife and I thought we’d tackle the V and A.  What a place, I’m so annoyed I’ve never been before.  The architecture itself is just astonishing, before  we even started looking at the collections.  We also came across a street party with some great food stalls a wide open park where we just soaked up the vibe and the sunshine.  Listened to a few tunes by the guys on the steel drums.  Some nice covers of Michael Jackson and David Bowie. 

Next up the bikes that frequent every corner,  £2 for 24 hours with every half hour free as long as the bike is checked in we got ourselves back home in one piece to catch the evening concert that would be going on a few miles down the road.

Sunday, the train back home. We have all taken our own individual naps at some point. My son has just shown me a photo of the both of us sleeping….is there no respect!


The #WeekendCoffeeShare is an informal weekly link-up hosted by Natalie the Explorer that serves as weekly heart beat and sort of of a mind-dump. Helps me reflect on my week, with a list of achievements, thoughts and rambles normally whilst drinking a beverage probably listening to music.

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Academic Wrap

Wedding Buses

Yesterday I was struggling to think about what I might write for this post.  I put a few words down, deleted them and then put a few more words down and then deleted them and gave up and carried on with my day!

This morning though whilst having my coffee I picked up the phone to find the big man had texted, a picture,  proof that he’d started his packing. The sign that his first year at university had come to an end.  There’d been a big build up to this point, the end of exams a couple of weeks ago allowing him to let his hair down and with folk gradually leaving for home he was starting to feel a little melancholy.

Offering some fatherly advice back I texted back.  Looking forward to having you home.  It’s come round so quick.  Make the most of your day today, but don’t be sad 🙂   Just enjoy the calm, the peace, reflect and success of completing your first year!  What an achievement! See you tomorrow.

Going to be odd being back to the four of us, I’d like to say I’d got the portion control right  on the cooking front whilst he’s been away.  I haven’t, so it will be good for the waste line to have the fourth mouth to hoover the extras up.  I have though,  got used to the milk not disappearing and cereal not disappearing so quickly.  You think a plague of locusts has attacked the Muesli when he visits…I’m now thinking we should have got more in.

My youngest son finishes his first set of exams for this Monday, and as the resident IT manager in the house it’s been my job to go through the computing science past papers.  I’m amazed at the level and how relevant it is to the day job.  I don’t remember my equivalent exam back in the day and certainly don’t remember my dad sitting beside me as we tackled the past papers.  It’s been a slog but we’ve got through it.

So although it’s the end of May…it feels like the start of something new, the boys both coming to an end of their academic years and the idea of a break sounds nice.

And the red buses? It’s random I know. they were just so cheery seeing them just round the corner near the church today. Big old red London buses in Edinburgh. I had to stop and take a picture! Happy weekend folks.


The #WeekendCoffeeShare is an informal weekly link-up hosted by Natalie the Explorer that serves as weekly heart beat and sort of of a mind-dump. Helps me reflect on my week, with a list of achievements, thoughts and rambles normally whilst drinking a beverage probably listening to music.

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Dates, Dates, Dates

Aonach Beag
Aonach Beag

Up early this morning, coffee and straight to a notepad.  My head buzzing, a consolidation of all the things that have been whirling around my head.  The project I’ve found myself in, it’s not moving forward due to too many people asking what we need to do, why aren’t we progressing, maybe we need another project manager to manage the discussion around what needs to be project managed.  I want to scream out…..the project manager doesn’t actually do the work you know.  Dates, Dates, Dates….raggghhh. Deep down, I’m making a difference there is movement and we are starting to gain traction.

Welcome, lets do coffee!   It’s Friday and Natalie does a fantastic job of hosting the weekend coffee share.  I dropped off the rails for a while now.  I’d made a good fist of it from the start of the year and then bam….return to office, the new project, the bathroom and the kids exams kind of hit us big time.  The space in my head albeit filled to bursting.  Then to  escape, rather than write  a dose of sunshine comes along, a change in the season so time to get out in the garden and out into the mountains.

Last Saturday I made a solo trip to Dalwhinnie and covered four Munro’s (roughly 18k) plus a 16km cycle in and a 16km back.  There was an option of taking in two more which some people do. Some people walk the 16k, camp do the 4, sleep, do the 2 and then walk out. For me staring up at that 5th mountain with a cycle back still to do, and not to mention the 2 hour drive home….it was enough.

The Aonach Beag Four, Cairn Dearg, Geal Chàrn, Aonach Beag, Beinn Èibhinn. In old money a round trip of 32 miles.  Which doesn’t feel too bad written down…but Saturday eve and Sunday I was sore.  

…..it’s Saturday afternoon now, and a feeling of calm starting to come over me for a couple of days. Rather than heading out into the hills, we are spending the time at home. A few jobs to catch up the house in restoring a state of calm about the place. The downstairs loo completed on Tuesday, a disruption of a good six-seven weeks. It’s nearly over (the radiator still to go in).

Farmers Market, Beach

A cycle about town doing the messages, the butchers the farmers market and a coffee down by the beach.

Menu looking a little something like this:

Saturday: Sweet Potato Gratin, a little Salmon, and Samphire as a main for dinner

Sunday: A quiche of squash, and ham for lunch. Then Beetroot and mince patties for dinner.

Thanks for popping by and reading the rambles of a cook and a wannabe munroist, hoping to the tame the resistance of writing!


The #WeekendCoffeeShare is an informal weekly link-up hosted by Natalie the Explorer that serves as weekly heart beat and sort of of a mind-dump. Helps me reflect on my week, with a list of achievements, thoughts and rambles normally whilst drinking a beverage probably listening to music.

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Stormzy In Glasgow

Stormzy

This week we’ve had music pounding in our heads and our hearts.  We finally got to a concert that I think I’d booked tickets for back in December 2019 at the launch of his album Heavy is the Head.  It’s not music for the faint hearted and not the kind of thing I normally go for.  However with two teenage boys in tow who like to challenge my music tastes!  At the time of booking he was hot off the heals of his Glastonbury show and Brit awards, it made for a great Christmas present.

The concert got moved twice, and eventually he made it to Scotland!   The boys two years older.  One at uni and the youngest now older than the eldest when I bought the tickets.  Feels a little crazy saying that!  It was a great night and nice to see them bonding, fist pumping and generally soaking up something that had been a long time coming.

One of my highlights had to be the whole audience singing together. Bob Marley’s, don’t worry about a thing in the pre show warm up. Made me think of my dad who was a big Bob fan and can picture him looking down on us.

Has to be said the concert made me feel old given the demographic in the audience!  And on that note It’s now 40 weeks until the big birthday that feels like a real marker in the sand life wise.  I’m thinking of breaking the 10 weeks into 4 pseudo sprints.  Using a little bit of Agile methodology.  A way to focus on some pre big 5 ’O’ goals.  One of them being to remove the winter/Covid pouch that’s appeared of late. 

Trying to eat more of a Mediterranean diet, no pasta, no rice if I can help it. With uni boy back for the Easter break though, these things make good plate fillers and every time I look in the fridge it’s like the locusts have been! So it’s a battle around cooking for a family vs cooking for me. Add to that, I like cooking!


The #WeekendCoffeeShare is an informal weekly link-up hosted by Natalie the Explorer that serves as weekly heart beat and sort of of a mind-dump. Helps me reflect on my week, with a list of achievements, thoughts and rambles normally whilst drinking a beverage probably listening to music.

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Gorse

Getting to that time of year where I’m conflicted time wise.  The outdoors are calling, the garden starts needing attention.  My free time starts being diverted to different things.  Those that were important in the dark months no longer feels relevant.  

I’ve also been asked to look at something new at work, parts of the tech world that have been moving on whether I was paying attention or not.  Data and the move to the cloud.  Now I find myself hitting the books again.  Listening to new podcasts, new ideas and new technologies that I’m finding invigorating.  The more I dip my toe in the more I want to learn.  As a consequence I know my writing is going to take a hit…..it really doesn’t take much.  I might be more sporadic!

I missed last week’s share, my excuse a long overdue visit to my mum who lives a good few hours away.  Time to stop the fear of COVID getting in the way for us.   So I carved the time out and made the journey.  Cut the grass, did a couple of things and mainly I was there.

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the dust and the toilet refurb.  It’s progressed, but at a snail’s pace.  The plaster is finished and the floor is up.  It’s a crying shame the floor tiles from 1890 are in desperate state, concrete and glue, several years of occupancy taking its toll.  I’m grateful our hall that leads onto the room is still in good shape, albeit cold in the winter.  It would have been nice to have a flow, continuity.  We will, cover and screed placing our own mark.  I’ve got my fingers crossed for better progress this week.  A small room with tradesmen making an impact on my schedule that is compounding  my conflicts time wise.

With the brighter days, I’ve been out on the bike, a circuit around Arthurs seat that really gets the heart going.  The hill becomes a beacon of yellow, a welcome sight as the town really steps out of the doldrums and embraces the change to British summer time.

I also upgraded my phone this week and have been checking the camera out. Snow Thursday, which didn’t stick around too long, the garden is awakening and the apple trees are waking up and the Gorse I’ve mentioned!


The #WeekendCoffeeShare is an informal weekly link-up hosted by Natalie the Explorer that serves as weekly heart beat and sort of of a mind-dump. Helps me reflect on my week, with a list of achievements, thoughts and rambles normally whilst drinking a beverage probably listening to music.

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Dust & Pesto

Everywhere we look there is a thin layer of dust, barely visible in the air but I can feel it.  I lift the coffee pot off the ceramic hob, its been sat there patiently since breakfast to be included in the evenings washing up.  There is a ring, a nice clean circle surrounded by dust.  It confirms what we are feeling and seeing.  My wife has that habit of running a finger along something to call out how dusty things are.  I just nod, it’s annoying me just as much.  I’m in that place of acceptance that this is what comes with having a bathroom re-fitted and trades in the house.

We mop and sweep at the end of each night just in an effort to create a sense of normality.  To be able to walk through the hall without kicking up more dust and transporting it to the rest of the house.  However, I know it’s made it up the stairs, into the study, where I’ve been hiding whilst the drilling, bashing, crashing has been going on.  The tell tale signs are there when the monitors go dark, the dust staring at me, taunting me.  I swear this is the last big thing we are going to do in this big old house!

Wild garlic and fresh oregano appeared in the veg box this week.  I feel a pesto and some sort of tomato sauce coming on in my head.

The pesto was easy to make, and now I’m left thinking what to serve it with.  A Brie and Bacon style toastie or perhaps a nice slice of Cod with a drizzle of the pesto.  I feel I now need to do some shopping!

Another Celeriac, big and gnarly is also there.  A small red cabbage, sweet potatoes and a cauliflower….the mind teasers for the weekend of what to do ever present, forcing me to think out the box.  It’s a nice problem to have.

Made a trip to the Osteo this week, which gave me the final push to track down the MRI scan on my hip from last year.  No back cracking until I produce the paperwork.  Still it was another step into trying to stop the decay on this aching desk constrained IT manager.

The weekend looks bright and sunny, but still a nip in the air….the mountains are calling but we aren’t quite there yet, it’s coming and I’ve already got my sights on the first Munro’s of the season.  Ben Wyvis and Gael Charn for when the time comes.

Time is short this week, I’m determined to make the rounds though to check in with the other shares and apologies for missing you last week.


The #WeekendCoffeeShare is an informal weekly link-up hosted by Natalie the Explorer that serves as weekly heart beat and sort of of a mind-dump. Helps me reflect on my week, with a list of achievements, thoughts and rambles normally whilst drinking a beverage probably listening to music.

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Wild Garlic Leaf Pesto

Pesto

An experiment on my part, the veggie box came with a bag of leaves and I think they were wild garlic. Probably could have picked a smaller jar or froze into ice cubes.

Really quick and simple to make:

Ingredients:

  • 30g Walnuts, briefly toasted in a frying pan
  • 80g Wild garlic leaves, washed, any strays removed
  • 30g Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 50ml – 80ml olive oil, plus extra to cover
  • Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper

I started this off by trying to do this by hand using the pestle and mortar to find I’d overestimated the size of the mortar required.  Room to move is the key so I ended up with mini chopper.

In a mini blender, pulse the ingredients until you get the consistency you require.

Use as a filling on a brie and bacon toastie, or as a pasta sauce.

Yo Yo

The broadband has been up and down like a yo-yo today, lots of frustration and context switching working from home trying to rapidly respond to instant messages and email in the small window that seems to appear where normality resumes.  It felt like there was a pattern, and I was able to navigate my productivity in four minute chunks before swearing profusely at the ceiling.  Waiting for the next cycle to appear, the Cytrix countdown clock becoming my friend for the day.

It’s been a strange week weather wise, extremely cold from a wind chill point of view but full of light and sunshine like a corner has turned.  The sunrise, is welcome in the mornings casting strange light across the house. I’m desperately trying to become active again.  Cycling and Walking into work for the odd day and as a consequence my hip and back remind me of all the time I’ve spent sat down.  I just can’t jump to it like I used to.  I’m trying to form a daily habit of 15 mins of yoga which I genuinely think helps.

Despite the cold, I’ve had the BBQ on with a view to quickly cooking Aubergine, Courgette and Peppers rapidly for the week ahead.  An attempt at getting a more Mediterranean diet on the go.   Soft and velvety aubergine mixed through a bag of salad is the way to go and very comforting.

I’m late again to the share, consequence of the yo yo on Friday and trying to pack so much in.  I’d tell you about the Batman, but if like me you don’t want to  hear or see a thing until you’ve seen it then I’ll stay stum and just tell you I had an enjoyable day across in Glasgow with both my sons.  We went to the cinema and saw a very long, dark, film, which we all enjoyed.  Followed by a coffee and a chat in Starbucks.

The Batman Trailer

Today has seen us clear the hall down so the bathroom fitters can get through without catching something.  Amazing how books on a bookshelf can catch dust, so they have also had a light touch with the hoover.   The boy has gone up to the dry ski slope with some pals meantime.  It will be a relief to know he’s done ok as I think he’s got a shock coming about the difference from real snow.   Meanwhile we are in the garden, trying to remove the signs of winter, sweeping and weeding.


The #WeekendCoffeeShare is an informal weekly link-up hosted by Natalie the Explorer that serves as weekly heart beat and sort of of a mind-dump. Helps me reflect on my week, with a list of achievements, thoughts and rambles normally whilst drinking a beverage probably listening to music.

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