A sideline project for an IT guy who likes to cook

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Ski 22

It’s been a week since I’ve sat in the chair, taping away on the iPad keyboard and a coffee the way I like it.  Fresh from the stove top rather than a conference style flask that we’ve been having at breakfast. 

I’ve been away for a week, blowing away the cobwebs skiing in the French Alps.  I’d have told you in the run up to the trip but I really didn’t want to tempt fate.  Petrified of catching Covid and not being allowed to go.   The run up to a fit to fly test was nerve racking, even more so when we were waiting for the result. 

One of those things that I shouldn’t have worried about.  We were squeaky clean and fit to fly.  An early 3am Saturday start to make one of the first flights out of the airport.  We got into resort around 4pm, where we needed to pinch ourselves.  Couldn’t quite believe we’d manage to travel, to escape into the mountains of a different country.  Tignes and Val d’Isere, our home for the next seven nights with six days of skiing ahead of us.

Sunday morning we rose to blue skies, we couldn’t believe our luck.  My youngest son, kicking off where he’d left off a good three years ago.  Think of Sonic the Hedgehog on skis at every turn he collected gold coins.  My wife and I a little more cautious, however we were caught up in the beauty and the thrill of gliding down the mountains.  We forgot our fears, and grown up worries and our crazy computer led lives and soaked up the awe.

Tuesday morning, the alarm set for a 7am start in order to hit breakfast at 7.30am hoping for more of the same.  It’s a different story, my body aches, muscles that haven’t been used in a long time, shaken and full on fresh air they are wondering what’s happened.   I pull back the curtain in the room.  It looks brutal outside, a metaphor for my muscles.  I can just see the lifts in the distance.  No movement as yet.  My son, ba-bing…up and ready!  The dull clouds aren’t going to rain on his parade there is a day of skiing to be had with no homework in sight.

Wednesday….there is more snow, it’s hard to see.  The disorientation is too much for me.  My muscles are not in a fit state of defensive skiing and I ask myself why I’m doing this.  I agree with the boss we’ll do a couple more runs but I need to call time.  Today it isn’t for me.  The boy needs this though,  this is a salve,  his happy place a way from the pressure to learn and to do well.  Here he is king of the mountain.  Fuelled on Chocolat chaud and another protein bar he’s keen to convince his  mum they’ve got this and stay out together.  I say goodbye at the chair lift and take my rest. I get back to the hotel.  I’m not the only one taking a breather.  Later my wife joins me and we walk to the next village along,  amazingly the walking helps the body.   We walk over a frozen lake, we see huskies and dream of buying new skis and boots.  Our last purchase was before the boys were born a good twenty years ago so they have had their money’s worth.

Thursday…. the forecast indicates some blue skies in the afternoon.  So it was a case of a leisurely breakfast (which was a real shame!). The boy went off to put some time in on the slopes, myself some reading that I’d promised myself.    As the morning went on the clouds started to lift and low and behold we could see again.  An afternoon of skiing ensued and through our enthusiasm we missed one of the last lifts back to resort and ended up on the local ski bus back to the resort.

Friday and our last day.  The mountain range decided to put on its charm.  The warmest day of the week was about to happen.  We were practically on the first lift up at 8:50am….straight up onto the empty slopes that yesterday had been busy.  These slopes were hard, and worn, pisted into grooves that are brutal on the body.  Amazingly empty due to the time of day.  We broke ourselves in and enjoyed the peace before taking a Funicular even higher and close to the glacier.  Here the snow was soft and reminded us why we were here.  We ended up doing the run about eleven or so times.  Plus we found the best restaurant of the holiday right at the top of the Grand Motte.

Eventually all good things to come to an end though.  We needed to get back down the mountain and across the range.  We were glad we’d stayed so high, the lower slopes were showing temperatures of 12°c/53°f, the snow forming sticky clumps that really wasn’t nice to ski on.  My wife calls it bone breaking snow.  Taking a few moments as we drifted back to town….in all an amazing week and a break from the norm.

Sunday, and back to it.  My brain though is thinking differently at least for  a while, before I log into work and check for any damage whilst I’ve been away.  I already know though as I’ve been peeping as the days went along the temptation to great to know if there are any gotchas waiting for me!

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.

220220 – 7 of 52


With a Bump

Woke to find the BBQ upside down.  So kind of the wind to make a visit and take the BBQ on a trip.  Amazingly didn’t hear it in the night or perhaps I did but didn’t realise.  On inspection it looked ok and other than a dust off  and the longing for warmer days it looked ok.

First full five day week in a while and it’s been ok.   The dark mornings have been hard, beaten by strategically placing an alarm (my watch) on the other side of the room in order that I have to get out of bed to switch it off.  If I’m not quick enough this will awaken the teenage beast. With it the peace in the house which is to be enjoyed at this time in the morning.  The early routine has given me time to do some stretching, reading, fresh air and an attempt at writing before the work starts.   I’ve lost track of the length of time now working at home and it’s going to feel strange when finally we return to the office. 

Until then though, coffee is served early with the view of the sun rising through the trees.  A gradual orange hue that merges into a crisp blue.  As my wife pointed out the birds are tweeting in the background if you listen carefully.  Surely a sign of breaking the back of the short days.  I’ve seen the first snow drops of the year, always a good sign and we have a bunch of daffodils on the kitchen table that are definitely brightening the mood.  A tiny bit of happiness, a snip at the price of a pound.

I’ve got my head around a few recipes that I intend to try this weekend catching the online shop so I’m well prepared this weekend. 

From the Home Cookery Year.  A couple of winter dishes. 

  • Mushroom (no meat) balls.  
  • Chicken with Prunes Stew.

The veg box came with a huge ugly looking thing called a celeriac, so I’m going to be a little creative in the soup department by adding a few Cannelloni beans and Pancetta.  

In amongst that there will be a quiche, a salad and the browsing of Grannies Recipe box. After collecting some dust in my virtual filing system I need to get on with bringing them up to date, and writing them up.  There are never enough meals or hours in the day!

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.

220114 – 2 of 52

Nanopoblano Week 1

View from Arthurs seat to the pentlands

Woke to a strange sky this morning, Edinburgh enveloped in a shrouded mist with patches of blue. The sun was welcome as a source of heat, slowly working it’s magic. Inspired me to a long walk around Arthurs seat to take in a the fresh cold air. A welcome day away from the office and a chance to soak up the last of the Autumn colours.

Brunch out with the boss, a masked affair that saved us having to worry about making lunch, and then a few bits and pieces to supplement the menu for this evening.

  • Leak and bacon buckwheat pancakes, served with a rocket, sweet potato and avocado salad.
  • Hazelnut chocolate pots to follow.

With such an early lunch, there was time to crack open the fruit cake (we are not mentioning the C word yet) with a cup of coffee…..which I would gladly share if we were having coffee.

While we were having coffee I would tell you about WordPress and its constant need to tell me about my daily streak. I made it to 7 since last week, the start of nanopoblano regardless of quality! I’d tell you that a daily blog habit is quite hard if you want to provide meaningful content, at the same time as keep to the daily grind of a project that has a major milestone in the next week.

Having missed yesterday’s post I’m now wavering around the journey that I have put myself on. It’s something to add into the mental health stakes of both working from home all day on a computer to add in another item that I need to do. I’m trying to reframe it on the basis it’s something I want to do…..but with an active mind there are another million and one things I would like to do as well.  On a postive, My Nanopolblano challenge has given me focus though, making me think daily alongside visiting some other great blogs.


The #WeekendCoffeeShare is an informal weekly link-up hosted by Eclectic Alli 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.


It’s all I can muster, it’s been a long week.

The cookies are freshly baked complements of the head chef. The smell amazing.

A cheeky one whilst watching the new episode of Star Trek.

Breathe….a day is dawning


Inspired to post this after seeing a post from Dina at withangelsandelephants : Being reminding us just be.

Some days I have a great motivation to get up and get out, breathe in the sunrise, and with it the amazing colours that creep up and can quickly disappear.

Apologies, so the post is short for nanopoblano2020……..It’s been one of those days….and it’s time to just breathe!


A little more organisation a little less conversation

The Table Blackford Hill

Up early with a start at 5:30 am this morning, no turning over waiting for the alarm.  The world in motion, I needed to know what was happening, needless to say it was still pole posturing.

What to do from a Nanopoblano perspective?…..I decided to add a dedicated page in order to list the content I was producing for the month.

I’ve updated the header from some of the early pictures I took Monday,  keen to bring the blog more in-line with the season, the view from Blackford Hill out towards Arthurs Seat.

A short entry for the day, no doubt it’s going to a busy and thought provoking one.

Learn to cook through making soup

Tins of Soup

The word Soup conjures up so many feelings and memories.  Just thinking about it, it probably was one of the first things I made for myself in relation to helping my mum out. ‘What would you like for lunch, why don’t you nip to the shop and buy a tin of soup?’ It was a treat, I got to pick the flavour and at the time I didn’t realise how I was helping my mum out. It was always a tin of Heinz Big soup, probably ham or chicken.

Then there was a year where Mushrooms seemed to be everywhere, and every meal seemed to consist of mushrooms, including a milky soup. I shudder at the mention of this, the taste is so unique it instantly takes me back in time. I can eat mushroom soup it just stirs something deep inside me, probably something I had no choice over.

As a student, I probably went back to my favourite tinned variety and then my best pal introduced me to Chicken and Sweet Corn soup from the local Chinese takeaway. At one point we tried to make it ourselves where whisked egg whites meets chicken stock became a complete disaster and we didn’t try it again!

30+ years on for me the humble tin of soup still lives on, both lunches over the weekend consisted of soup purely for convenience at the time. The boys can get it going and we all sit down with a loaf and some cheese. That said the boys can also reheat stuff we’ve made, pulled out the freezer.

I’ve bought many learn to cook books over the years. They usually start with eggs, or start with a cartouche or some other unworldly technique within a couple of pages.

I’m suggesting home made soup for the wannabe cook as a starting point. It’s an amazing place to start, a great way to learn about foods and simple techniques, it can be forgiving in so many ways. It really doesn’t matter how you chop your onion or your carrots if you’re going to blitz it. At the same time it can be healthy and tasty.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be posting various Soup recipe ideas, recipes to make your own, or just to fuel your ideas. I’ll add the links here, you can either bookmark this or click on follow so you get them in your in-box as they are added.

Would love to know your favourite soup, or whether this is a great place to start as a cook.

Day 1- Nanopoblano

You can do that thing is an apt starting point for my Day 1 of Nanopoblano and I thought I’d share my goal of committing to 30 days of blog activities and essentially trying to post something everyday for the next 30 days.

A post a day in some shape or form might sound easy, I’m both excited and worried. It really means committing to something that I’ve tried to do for so long on and off……but in the spirit of doing that thing I’m giving it a shot.

One day I’d like to pull a cookbook together, it’s a dream that started probably when the boys arrived a good sixteen years ago. I’d wanted to chart the food that helped them to become good eaters. Then it was the food that I would cook that enabled us to move house a couple of times, sustaining us through the fixer uppers. Then it’s Scotland, the walks the exploration, then it was the summer holidays, the camper van. Then it was the box of random recipes that got passed on some time ago. With so many twists and turns, life has a way of happening and time passes by.

The recipe book isn’t about seeking fortune or fame, more a way of collating ideas over the years, the recipes for life and perhaps something that might get passed on at some point. It’s also worth pointing out eight or so home economics classes as a thirteen year old boy doesn’t constitute catering training and neither does a brief stint of washing dishes as my Saturday job before getting fired for dropping a milk crate! That was a good 30+ years ago; my career is in technology and so my experience really is as being a home cook, a family guy who lives in Scotland.

Woefully in fits and starts I’ve posted something every other week to the #WeekendCoffeeshare, nothing that would really move me forward with my purpose, my writing or to push my dream forward. Lock-down and the Covid situation saw me producing even less despite working from home. For a little while I fell into that trap of thinking I’d have more time being at home, that there would be more hours in the day for that side line project. An illusion that disappeared quickly as I realised working from home is harder, time management even more complex from both a physical and mental health point of view.

The ramble and the woe is me is over…….the next 30 days is going to see me put some effort in.

As you can see I’ve put a personal kind of Kanban board together:

  • 30 Days down the side
  • New Ideas
  • In Progress
  • Ready to Post
  • Done

Let’s do this!

Tier 0 – Nearly Normal

Coffee and Notebook

It’s 6.15am, pitch black outside and that’s before the clocks change tomorrow. Saturday morning and I could be lying in, instead I’m keeping the bread machine company as it whirs and wobbles. I’ve gone for a peppermint tea when really I wanted a coffee, which means I can get one a little later!

The wind has got up, which will be stripping the trees of their amazing colours and I’m pondering how to face into the last 9 weeks of the year as the half term holiday comes to an end and the days become shorter and shorter.

To add into the pondering we are still in a strange kind of loch down here in the UK where it’s hard to know what is coming next instruction wise. I’m trying to stay away from the news as a way of controlling my mental state but it’s hard. There’s mention of a 5 tier system in Scotland, cited to come into place from the 2nd November and I’ve no idea what that will mean travel wise.

I can thoroughly recommend taking up podcasts or audio books and walking as solace. Getting out into the day light when you can. Movement is key and I can thoroughly recommend this podcast from Rangan Chatterjee : How to Keep Your Immune System Healthy with Dr Jenna Macciochi and The Surprising Truth About Exercise with Professor Daniel Lieberman

I hope where you are you are safe, thanks for joining me at the weekend coffee share.

How to Keep Your Immune System Healthy with Dr Jenna Macciochi

The Surprising Truth About Exercise with Professor Daniel Lieberman


The #WeekendCoffeeShare is an informal weekly link-up hosted by Eclectic Alli 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.

A cheeky one

IMG_4044Coffee this morning is served in a flask, we are up 6am sharp to get a march on the day.  The mountains are calling and in this case its Ben Vorlich one of the Arrochar Alps

We hit the car park around 8:30 and it’s already full to bursting of about 30+ cars.  The car park used for a number of focus points not just our hill.  I’m stumped for a few minutes at the pay point, not accepting cards today which is frustrating in contactless world of COVID.  I haven’t had any coins for months.  Our emergency supply in the van is flush for once and a blessing.

Breakfast is an overnight soak of muesli with raspberries and blue berries and we watch the excitement as people are getting their boots on.  Good to see folk meeting with friends and there is a general jostle to get out on the hill.  Amazingly the toilets are open with plenty of hand sanitisers on tap.

We are off, opting for our bikes on a part way in.  It’s not far before we hit a steep bit and there is a friendly chap meeting my pace just walking.  We discuss plans and how this his first hill this year, just wanting to start with a cheeky wee one.  He’s heading up Ben Vane a neighbour to Vorlich.  I wish him well and then I decide to catch the boss up.

It’s not long before we hit the juxta position for getting off our bikes and just as we start the long slog the rain comes in and goes out and comes back again.   A brief glimpse of the magic that surrounds these hills, before it really came in.


After 2.5 hours we made the top with probably the quickest selfie in history.  About an hour into the descent it dried up allowing us to get a sandwich.   The bikes a welcome sight as we covered the last mile or so freewheeling.

With a nice kind of synergy, we passed the same guy we met going up.  With a cheery wave, we were all pleased with the goal being met for the day.

The sun shining in the car park and I’m reminded of the quote ‘Better a bad day on the hill than a good day in the office’.   My mind was taken to a different place of reflection and wandering.

The #WeekendCoffeeShare is an informal weekly link-up hosted by Eclectic Alli 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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