Coffee and the Forth Rail Bridge

Scribbles for the weekend #6

Today our coffee is by bike, the sun is shining, one of the nicer days of the week.  It’s a T-shirt kind of day. The last of the years sun, the warm September days that should be bottled in order to carry them through into winter.  There are people swimming in the sea, the usual noises of children playing on the periphery.  The tide is in and the sound of the waves crashing over the sand is a tonic for the soul.

Portobello beach front meets a number of demands, a clash of cultural differences.  Kim Wilde the ‘Kids in a America‘ blasts out the small arcade which feels like a small part of the 80’s wrapped in a bubble, outside an upmarket coffee van tapping into the coffee culture.  Further down the promenade next to the boat huts is the beach house café serving great food, great cakes and where we pick up our scone to go with our flasks.

From here we cycle along the promenade towards the old port area of Leith and the north Edinburgh cycle route which is just a brilliant network of disused repurposed railway routes.  Our ultimate destination is iconic Forth Railway bridge taking in the village of Cramond along the coast and through the country grounds of Dalmeny House.  A 30 mile or so round trip which my wife called out as one of her best ever days cycling.

We make it back in time to catch the last of the days sun in the garden, a small beer and a gin and tonic.  So if you prefer that to your coffee, your welcome to an aperitif.

Dinner this evening…. Sea Bass, picked up from the high street in Portobello (a wonderful little fish shop) served with samphire, warm mixed grains and z’atarr roasted squash.

The apples are starting to fall from the tree in the garden, a clear sign they are ready for the taking and with my son having a pal staying over a perfect opportunity for a crumble without feeling too guilty or eating too much as there is an extra teenager needing the fuel!   Apple and Rhubarb.  An excuse to use the spoils in the garden.


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.

Scribbles for the Weekend #5

tomatillos

The veg box brought us a little bag of tomatillos,  amazing tomato like balls of green wrapped in delicate little green paper lanterns. I’d never seen these before and fortunately the bag came with a recipe, a green chilli and a bulb of garlic to make a salsa.  Using the lime and a little sugar to dampen the acidity of a diced onion and then blitzing in a food processor.  Very refreshing, zingy flavour.

 

Piano started again and although I’m not thrilled at having to do scales I feel alive and excited about the fresh start.  The teacher has made me feel better than I thought I was and given me a renewed confidence that as an adult learner my efforts will be rewarded.

We’ve had a mixed bag of weather, a mini little heat wave and the wasps nest that I can see from my study window has been going crazy with activity.  Sometimes makes my stomach turn and then there are moments where I have to marvel at the runway to the entrance and how they just get on with it.

The main activity of the house has been revolving around the boy and his imminent departure to University.  As some folks read this we will be no doubt have dropped him off with his PC, a new wok (with a lid), a supply of staples on the food front and I mustn’t forget the lasagne in the freezer!  There will no doubt be a tearful goodbye as he starts a new adventure and I mustn’t forget a good podcast for the drive home to take our minds elsewhere.!

I’ve put my thoughts on playlists down into another post and if you’ve ever wondered how to create a spotify QR code, export the playlist itself the links are there.

It’s going to be odd just the three of us in the house and the signals have already been given that I need to cook less!  That fourth portion eater that we count on to hoover up the calories is going to be missed.  Menu wise we haven’t got much planned, I think we’ll all be in shock.

Hope you have a good weekend, and thanks for Coffee.


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.

Scribbles for the Weekend #4

Apricot Pie

September crept up on us this week, and it’s starting to feel dark when the alarm goes off.

Prom night came and went and I’m left reflecting where the time has gone.  It felt like yesterday when I put on a black tie and went hunting for adventure.  Amazed at the young man who stood before me and was more than happy to help with his tie.  It took me a couple of goes since it’s been a while living at work.

Success in the kitchen included an open apricot pie made with wholemeal flour.  The vultures came and went and even a request for it being made at their birthday a good eight months away.   To say it was a keeper is an understatement.

The small roast shoulder of lamb from organic Combe Farm worked well in a one pot of potatoes, carrot, parsnip and  fennel.  Slow cooked for a three hours, the fennel wasn’t in a good state towards the end so while the meat was resting it got blitzed into a gravy…or the word velouté feels more appropriate.

The polenta/corn meal eat downtown continues and I found a new technique of roasting from Anna del Conte.  It went well, so much left over though, which got fried and used for lunch with salad.

This weekend has a bit of a BBQ instore, the boy has got his pals round, another fair well with friends (I do not remember this build up!).  The usual burger and grilled veggies, a peanut butter cheesecake and I’m planning to get the pancake balls machine that we brought back from Denmark out.  Hopefully there will be leftovers!  Definitely planning to get a slice of that cheesecake!

Younger brother is quietly getting on with things in the background, trying his best not to rock the boat.  The house is emotional as we work through our last 8 or so days together before university starts.

Hope you have a good weekend, and thanks for Coffee.


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.

Scribbles for the Weekend #3

Meringue

 

It’s that time of year in Edinburgh, waking up most days to mist or is it rain or perhaps somewhere in between.  I don’t think it’s quite dreich either.  By mid after the sun burns it off and we are left with a glorious warmth.

Start of the week we all got up grumpy, trying to get our heads round the new routine.  The first Monday morning back to school.   We are silently clashing heads, no arguments are required we are all struggling with the fact it was Monday morning.

I vowed to start the new exercises the physio gave me for my hip.  The ones that have been sat on my computer for a week or so now.  As I write this though I can claim to have 3 days in the bag and although I’m sat here drinking coffee, feeling guilty for not doing them this morning I can pat myself on the back for starting them.

With the back to school routine kicking in, I’m going to choose a few cookery books to work through for the next 12 weeks.  I thought about having 5 on the go, but as I type up my selection I’m reminded about spreading myself to thinly and not achieving.  Why not dig deep and really learn from these books.

 

Dishoom – From Bombay with love (a 2019 Christmas present!)

Home Cookery Year – In order to scratch my seasonal cooking itch

Nigella – Cook Eat Repeat, for inspiration both in my writing and cooking

 

Last weekend, I spent a lot of time in the kitchen, with a variation on the lentil soup I posted using a small squash from the garden and a sweet potato rather than carrots.   Made a Hazelnut meringue and after a few minutes of presentation it felt like it had been visited by locusts, gone in one sitting.  A classic Beef and Ale stew, doctored with Kidney Beans and Aubergines.  Dabbled with anchovy’s and spinach as well as tackling the bag of polenta that I’d brought back from Italy a good 18 months ago.

I’m left thinking about this weekend…and only a couple left before the big man heads to Uni to find that my thinking around menu’s (I use the word loosely) is blown out the water.  In part the kids routine a last minute I’m going wild camping with my pals from son number one who’s trying to stay clear of folk so doesn’t miss his prom next week!  Also some self sabotage in that I’m going to meet a colleague from work for dinner tonight, a last minute impromptu, it’s been too long kind of decision.  In fact it’s been 18 months too long.   I’ve declared Sunday evening as a family tea and banned any other line of thinking.   It’s the only way I’m going to tackle the small frozen shoulder of lamb that’s been sitting in the freezer for some time.

At the back of my mind I’m thinking how do I squeeze in Gary’s Blackbean stew (a regular poster to the coffeeshare).  I’ve not been able to source the key ingredient from the local supermarket I frequent….so need to source/track them down at some point.  I’ve also got a book to pick up….and I’m ashamed to say it’s another cookery book.  My excuse is that it comes with the tickets that we bought as the authors are doing a promotional tour.

Nearly forgot to tell you that I kicked off the weekly veg box delivery and already feeling the pressure around what to do with some of the items……….rest assured it will all get eaten one way or another.

 


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.

Scribbles for the Weekend #2

What a week,  the implementation went to plan but a BAU issue hit the ropes.   Confusion reigned, the support rota kicked in as it was felt it was weekend related and caused me to get called out.   Then ensued a roller coaster of tiredness.  I was on high alert for the next few nights causing me quite a bit of angst.  Cancelled a camping trip, too tired and depressed to contemplate hitting the hills.  Add to this the eldest who was in self isolation because he happened to sit next to a pal at the cinema who’s just been confirmed COVID positive.

Fortunately I’ve still taken the days off we were going to take and we decided to play tourist in our own town.  Caught up on a bit of shopping and found a new book shop Topping & Co, which was just an amazing find and wish I’d known about it sooner.

We had lunch out just the two of us for a change.  The Olive Branch Bistro Edinburgh and couldn’t resist trying the:

  • Crispy shredded duck leg, watermelon, pomegranate, orange salad with dukkah and passion fruit
  • Roast aubergine, pepper and spinach katsu curry, coconut rice and dukkah flatbread
  • Cheese cake of the day, Dark Chocolate and Baileys

Today as I write this the sun is shining through the window (it was supposed to be raining) and my sons PCR test has come back negative.   A sense of normality is resuming in my mind as I take it easy and think about the day.

With the rollercoaster of the working week my excuses for not tackling any of Grannies box of recipes seem valid.   I’ve not really got myself in the frame of mind for writing full stop although amazingly I did finish the header for a soup recipe that has been keeping me sustained for the last couple of weeks.  Definitely a keeper and a recipe for life.

Lentil SoupI’m a big fan of a hearty soup and this one I come back to time and time again.  It’s very versatile and great for tweaking in relation to any vegetables that might be left over in the fridge. Initially it started off as bacon and lentil and then I found a chilli languishing with the carrots.   Mainly because the supermarkets don’t sell single chillies and so with a little ginger and some mixed spice it became a spiced lentil soup.  Then with a little leftover chicken from the BBQ I added another tweak to make bbq’d chicken soup.  Mainly keep to the core and then add your own touches and enjoy playing with it.

As we meet over coffee we are heading into the last week of August, which means autumn is definitely approaching for us in the northern hemisphere.  I’ve been thinking about what I might like to achieve as the new academic year starts.  It feels like a good time to knuckle down to something.  I managed to pick up a couple of music books for some fresh inspiration on the piano.  There are a few new cook books taking my eye, but I need to really hit the ones I’ve already got and promised to study.  I’m going to try choose 3-5 and really get the most of them rather than just turning the pages and looking for the next!

 


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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Courage to Continue

Cup, Whisk & Keyboard

I made the mistake of checking my mail before going to bed last night and one email haunted me through the night. It wasn’t personal, at the same time it rocked my sense of purpose and integrity. Just one thing after another yesterday and this frustratingly broke the camel’s back in terms of me thinking why is everything so hard, like being asked to move a truck by the same person who is sat in the front seat pulling the handbrake on saying go faster. I’m there at the front of the truck ropes around my shoulders straining with the weight like the world’s strongest man putting one foot in front of another. Then someone throws a couple of logs in front of me like a bunch of Ewoks trying to take down a Scout Walker.

It’s all in my mind I know, and I can choose where to go with this. I’m sat upright in bed looking out the window with my coffee, the rainclouds drifting over the top of Arthur’s seat. At the same time as staring out the window I’m checking in with the writing community and I come across the words ‘Sometimes the courage is to continue. To choose to wake up again and face the process of leaning into life and love’. It’s a southing balm for my thoughts as is the quote that dropped into my mailbox from the James Clear bulletin:

Writer Jeanette Winterson on the connection between art and an open mind:
“Most of us spend a lot of time censoring everything that we see and hear. Does it fit with our world picture? And if it doesn’t, how can we shut it out, how can we ignore it, how can we challenge it? We are continually threatened in life, it’s true. But once you are alone with a book, and it’s also true with a picture or with music, all those defenses drop and you can enter into a quite different space where you will learn to think differently about yourself.”
Source: Women at Work Vol II: Interviews from the Paris Review​

It’s rained through the night, a much needed down pour for the garden and a sense of a new day shapes in my mind. I’m inclined to post my thoughts with courage and with my imperfections.

 

 


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.

The Front Door

Front Door and Coffee

Last time we had coffee I wrote about the porch door and the small repairs I was making along with a fresh lick of paint.  What I didn’t mention at the time was that this was all prompted by having the front door replaced.  Which in some ways broke my heart.   The door I’m sure had been the original I’m sure from 1890.  A beast of a thing, in two halves.  Unfortunately, it really had bowed.  Let in all manor of the elements and didn’t really close properly and therefore didn’t lock properly.  This was back in November and we’ve had nothing but trouble with it since it being painted, and it started to warm up.   Being made of wood it started to have a mind of its own trying to burst free.

The good news is that it got it’s final lick of paint on Friday after several calls and emails.  Only took a couple of hours.  So infuriating.  As time goes by we will forget this drama in our lives.

Again the gap between us having coffee has been too long and I can’t believe Natalie has hosted 22 of them, which is amazing!  April was the last time I contributed, so I feel I need to bring you up to speed.

I’ve cheated on you!  I’ve be writing elsewhere which I’m sorry about and I hope you forgive me!  The cookery book that I wanted to write just wasn’t happening.  I was disappointed with myself and the realisation that lockdown hadn’t afforded me the miracle of more time and the power of magic.  Miraculously I felt the weight was going to drop off and I’d be able to play all those piano pieces I’ve always wanted to play!  I’d wanted to come out of it hoping to have achieved something more.  Instead I probably worked more and dreamt more.

So since that last blog post in April I’ve signed up for a writing in community project.   Six months to write a book which in reality is more like 6 months to show up daily and write something and we’ll see what happens.   Some days it’s a sentence, some days it’s page of the things running through my head and it’s been really good.  I also found myself a piano teacher who is willing to take on an adult and 3 lessons in it’s been so liberating to feel I’m back at the keys with a goal each fortnight.  Let’s not mention the piano scales, however with the more conventional set there has been a slight improvement.  A minor lifestyle change of trying to live a more Mediterranean diet with less carbs has seen the loss of a kilogram (a 2lb bag of sugar) which has given me more energy.

On reflection though lockdown did achieve these things by allowing me, mentally to go on a journey.  I listened to many podcasts in the self help space.  I succumbed to an audible subscription and everyday I try to put something into play from the learnings.  Start small, show up and do the essentials.   It’s a theme that gets repeated over and over again.

Back to the coffee…a lovely weekend here in Edinburgh.  A treat to get a scone in with a takeaway coffee, sit on the links and watch the bustle of the city come back to life.

 


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.

Inside Porch

The Castle, Arthurs Seat

I’m on my 2nd coffee of the day, which is standing between me and a duel with the 2nd coat of paint and finishing touches to some of the doors in the house that we’ve been in for 5 years now. I’ve finally gotten around to painting the porch door.  It’s a beast of a thing so I know why I’ve been putting it off.  I replaced the draught excluder a couple of weeks ago and I was telling myself that needed to bed in before I went any further.  Now the handles need to go back, being replaced with shiny new ones that we purchased from our favourite Iron mongers.  I have no idea if the screw holes match and it looks like I’m not the first owner to replace the handles.  I’m wondering how many years this door has seen, how far it goes back and how many faces have been welcomed in.   The question of when we will welcome folk back in unanswered.

Scotland has eased some of the measures and we are back to being able to have folk come round as long as it’s outside.  We had our first guests round since last November in the back garden Friday evening, co-incidentally the same folk who were here last.  With the reverse spring we are having just as bitterly cold.

I’ve been trying to get my mountain legs back, Scotland is opening up with movement between regions starting again  and I’m ready for adventure in the hills.  My son and I have a roll over trip from last May.  The Isle of Skye in our sights and to bag a couple of Cuillins with a guide.  There’s an element of scramble and a ridge to traverse, which comes with an element of intrepidation and excitement at the same time.

I’ve already bagged my first Munro of the season the same day the green light was given so I know I have some level of fitness but the legs are still recovering a week on.  Keen to stretch the legs, yesterday I headed up Arthurs Seat.  Great views of the city with the gorse bushes in full throttle, the hill covered in a sea of yellow, against a blue backdrop of sea and sky bringing great hope into the heart.

Valentines Coffee Share

Valentines Coffee
Coffee is served with chocolate and Charbonnel truffles, a gift waiting for me at breakfast this morning.  I’m a sucker for this kind of chocolate and thankfully in small boxes not to disastrous!  Fortunately I’d got my card ready, written with a few meaningful words and was able to reciprocate the thought.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted on the weekend coffee share.  My attention has just been elsewhere and I have to admit that I’ve been struggling to write.  I’ve started a couple of times and then events have conspired against me.  I’ve struggled with being at my PC all the time and not taking enough breaks.

The days are getting longer  and more than a welcome relief where I’m hoping for light at the end of the tunnel with this pandemic but I know we still have a long way to go.  It’s been the half term break this week so no on-line lessons and a huge dump of snow at the start of the week has been a huge god send in terms of not having to twist their arms to get outside.  The lure of a sledge and the mention of hilly golf course the only nudge required.

For me though work is even more pressured, project milestones ever closer and although working from home is allowing me to consider self-learning and more reading.  There is an underlying feeling of being trapped.  The papers are constantly mentioning the subject of mental health relating to the reader.  The  shared feelings of angst helps on some level, that we are all going through this, but on another level there is a feeling that its adding weight to it.  The irony of my writing this isn’t lost on me.   At this point I put my head in my hands and wonder why am I even writing this.

I can’t help thinking we are eating more, even though we are trying to eat less.  It’s a coping mechanism and my constant need to feed us must be some underlying cave man thing going on my subconscious.  Food though is my way of sharing and getting through the dark nights and worrying times. Tonight’s meal is an attempt at making a cassoulet that will last a few meals followed by a cherry and apple crumble.

The last months reading included the really thought provoking ‘Atomic Habits’ James Clear and Downsizing by Tom Watson.   If you are podcast listener I definitely recommend the following podcasts where the authors are interviewed.

How to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones with James Clear
From Sugar in Tea, To Butter in Coffee: Tom Watson’s Weight Loss Story #542

 


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.

The Footprints of 2020

Footprints in the snow

The sun slowly sneaks and creeps around the corner of the house illuminating the back of the garden wall, the start of a new day, the start of a new year.  Even though the footprints of yesterday’s trip to the bottom of the garden are still there; they are slowly melting. At the same time though they have grown bigger somehow.

Perhaps a metaphor for the path that we walked last year….through the steps that we took we have all grown and although we are keen to embrace the new dawn hopefully with some reflection we can all take some inkling of the learnings we made even if it was just about being.

The footprints will disappear, either they will be replaced with fresh snow or melt and like the marking of a new year it’s a chance for renewal, mentally that is. Remember the world hasn’t suddenly changed, it’s still spinning in the same motion, the politics are the same and physically and mentally we are all just the same…..but as the sun rises and the new day dawns the path we set on yesterday will help us grow and if hasn’t then today of all days we have permission to change direction.

I’m looking forward to this year more than any other, despite the politics and the craziness that lies ahead, there has to be improved health for the world and it can’t come soon enough.

On a personal level, working from home has on reflection renewed my quest to keep learning. Even though I know that I’m in that honeymoon period where the office has closed for the holiday season and I’ve had time to reflect. That’s the thing though; I have had time to reflect and I know that the hour that I gave to myself first thing in the morning really helped me….the footprints of 2020.

So I’m ready to start the footprints of 2021…..let’s go!

 

 


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.