Liberated

Sunrise from Arthur’s Seat

A sense of liberation today.  All the things I wanted to achieve, I either have or haven’t!  The world kept spinning and for 50 of those revolutions I’ve been but a small grain of sand in the cosmos.

The only thing I wanted to do was to catch the sunrise, to look into the awe of the world and admire its majestic nature.  The last few years I’ve been doing this but pretty sure I’d set off in the dark last time.  The sky already had tinge of pink and orange that merges into what I call a space blue.  The kind that a pilot might witnesses day in day out at 20,000 feet.  We set out the door with a little bit of panic in our stride.  Let’s say I did and perhaps a little too fast!  It was so bright and crisp that I was worried that I’d missed it, that my data was wrong, or perhaps the definition of sun rise was something else.

It’s a good 45-minute walk and despite the below zero temperature I was roasting by the time we’d hit the foot of the hill.  Thirty minutes in with a twenty-minute climb to go.  Perhaps my pace and the new pair of long johns!  I bought my first pair last week, feeling that for a man of my age it’s a kind of investment!  That and a preparing for ski trip we’ve got coming up.  I thought I’d give them a try….wow, where have they been all my life!

At this point I was starting to feel comfortable that the sun hadn’t hit the horizon yet.  The rocky steps cold and icy.  Part of the rock that doesn’t see any sun at this time of year.  I’d stop momentarily to take a picture and secretly catch my breath.

A little bit of a false summit as you turn back on yourself on the final way to the top.  A well-trodden path.  Relief to see a little community at the top, waiting eagerly.  Mainly students, folk with time on their hands, the odd tourist.  The locals too crazy to tackle the ice at this time of year!

I felt blessed as we sat down, despite the cold and my fingers raw from taking photographs on the way up.  Keen to mark the moment and capture that sky.  First a chink, next a slither with a pace that didn’t hold back.  The tips of the new town, the tenements bathed in a sprinkle of light.  A different definition to the city streets that I wanted to memorise.  Miles of cars on the daily grind oblivious to the change I was witnessing from up on a high.   A spectacle in itself.

The sunrise was just beautiful as the well wishes started coming in on my phone.  I was able to share a selfie in response.  Proof I’d made it to the top, proof I’d hit the milestone, proof that I could still climb the hill.  Proof that the world keeps spinning.


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.

No lie in

We both woke at alarm time this morning without the alarm! It’s like a law of physics, when you don’t need to get up you can’t sleep and then when you do need to get up you can’t.   If it had been a school day we’d have been flat out.  Both in need of that extra hour to refresh.  It’s elusive and for no reason.

We decide to get up and make the best of the dry morning the rain is due around 11, in search of a second coffee perhaps something to go alongside.  We end up at old haunt, nothing taking our fancy on the way.  Soderberg, a Swedish bakery and we know we won’t be disappointed from an eats point of view.  The coffee is good just not big enough.  The service slow, it’s ok there is no rush today.

We swung by the bookshop, I was hoping to check out the new book by Anja Dunk, Advent.  Unfortunately not in stock.  I was also hoping to pick up some wheat gluten, which I’d checked on line to see if the store sold it.  Again though not in stock.  So not very successful.  Then the rain came, with a howling wind to the bite we didn’t hang around.

Back home pre lunch is unusual on a Saturday and I as watch the leaves dance on the wind, the rain at a diagonal with the wind crashing against the windows I’m glad I can stay in the rest of the day.

Dinner this evening is already in the bag, I made a slow cook aubergine and lamb stew Thursday evening so I’m hunting around for a dessert to perhaps fill my time.  The trouble is it will come with a bout of guilt.  There is a tub of sour cream in the fridge crying out to be used and I’m wondering about a cheesecake recipe and wondering if I’d be able to freeze half.  I feel I’ve left it too late in terms of cooling down.  The veg box came with a couple of beetroots almost the size of foot balls so I feel a chocolate beetroot combo might be the way to go.


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.

It All Started on Friday…

Happy Halloween – Bakewell Tart

I can’t believe it’s Friday already as it suddenly dawns on me the weekend coffee share is upon us.  The beauty of a four day week as I’d taken Monday off as part of last weeks half term. 

Monday felt so refreshing, a blue sky day, and I was productive.   The exhaust and new tyres on the van.  Cycled here and there, topping up on a few health (nuts and grass) store essentials along with returning some library books.   The library round the corner is still being used as a COVID test centre, so it’s a hike across town to a different branch holding strange hours that I’ve not got my head round.   I’m just glad it’s back and in operation, having it closed for a book junkie was like having my right hand cut off.

The weather since has been dark and dreich, constant rain.  Enough said!

On cooking front,  I’m tackling the Rye Bread from the guardian.  I’m in the final stages and it’s looking good so far.  My sourdough starter bit the dust a while back when we sort of gave up bread as a low carb diet experiment.  So to be able to build something up over the course of a few days using a slow ferment like this might be a revelation…..At the same time, I can’t go back to the high carb diet! 

Veg box had potatoes in it this week despite us specifically being on the list for no potatoes (that low carb diet again).  I’ve got a great chickpea and potato recipe inspired by Dishoom for this and the relatives are coming round for an overdue visit so mischief managed.

Halloween seems to be the theme of the weekend with a pumpkin/squash also in the box.  I’ll be hunkering down trying to avoid the cobwebs pairing the squash with a piece of Cod or Haddock.   The boy has a couple of parties to go to so there might be a bit of hair a makeup required, but as a teenage boy the days of lightning on the forehead has long since gone and we are now talking about curfew times as opposed to which face paints to use.  Oh for simpler times!

Thank you for those folk who came for coffee last week, really appreciated those battling with my comments section on the blog.   I think I’ve got a cache problem with the host service.  Which is really frustrating, wasted a lot of time for me which meant I didn’t get round to other folks posts.  Apologies.

…..and then Saturday came, I hadn’t managed to post this. The squash and Haddock soup was amazing. The bread….hmmm the jury is out, showed so much promise but may have been in the oven too long.

…..and then Sunday came and I’ve moved host again! A lot quicker this time, a little bit less stress (but not stress free). JetPack looks to be firing on all systems and no caching problems. There’s a media problem, but nothing I can’t handle and needs to coincide with a content review generally. …..and windows 11 available for my PC has popped up……I may be gone for some time!

On that note…..Happy Halloween!


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.

Lagom, One Pot, a week in the Peak District

It’s been a week of tumbling leaves caught on the wind, dancing on the change in season. The air not quite in Winters grasp as the feeling of Autumn try’s to hold tight to it’s the colours in the trees. There are moments of bitter cold that cut through to the bone. Another layer of clothing is required to make the best of the day.

A week away from the four walls has been a welcome a break from living at work. The change of routine has been great for the mind and despite the cold and the wet we’ve explored the area with our bikes. The old railway tracks now used for recreation and wonder. Cutting through the hills and a great way to get the heart going. There are tunnels that take you from one valley to the next and a reminder of the industrial age in which they were built. Still coloured by coal and although it’s been a long time since a train passed through I swear I could hear the clatter of the pistons and the noise of the steam engine chuffing along, the ghosts of yesterday playing with my mind.

There are walkers too, making the most of the footpaths. The odd one sat by the side, annoyed as another cyclist flies by and doesn’t ring their bell. Some stare like a bike is a new invention, I want to shout out the train will be a long in a minute just to try and add a little humour to the day. I keep it to myself. This trail is amazing and I’m out the office exploring the land and that’s enough. Pheasants roam the fields and I’m reminded that the game season will be upon us soon.

The kitchen at the place we are staying is small and a little disappointing for the cook in my soul. Only one saucepan, a wok and an oven to table roasting dish that isn’t hob friendly. I know I’m spoiled and it’s given me a bit of a challenge as I fry and decant to the roaster. The thing I missed the most was a set of oven gloves. That oven to table pot gets mighty hot! The kitchen a minor niggle, otherwise the place has been great. Minutes away from Bakewell, an old marketing town a short distance away from Sheffield and famous for it’s Bakewell pudding although I prefer the tart.

Chatsworth house is a stone throw away.   We tried to cycle to it via safe traffic free roads but we were foiled by the rather impressive gates!  The estate farm shop is a beauty and a real treat for the foodie.  A butchers, a fish counter, a cheese counter and all things in between.  I couldn’t resist the various sausages they had on the go,  Venison from the estate along with an Old Spot (heritage pork breed) sausage.

When we go away and space isn’t a problem I like to bring a big plastic box with us.  Easily holds a couple of cooking books, a few pens, a couple of notebooks (my current bullet journal and my writing journal), the iPad along with cables and a set of headphones.  If I’m lucky and sometimes by design I manage to carve some time out and land myself in another world.  I read the introduction of the new book and allow the premise to flow into my thinking.  I’m a bit of an intro junkie.  There are some cookbooks, that just leave it there, the usual sections ensue.  Typically follow a set standard, glossy photo and then a recipe. Page turners for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  These definitely have a place in my heart and they are great when I don’t need to think and all I can do is skim read. 

Then there are those books written and carved by time and toil by a cook who cares enough to share their world, to take someone on a journey themselves to impart wisdom and wizardry.   I love these books and I want to give them time and attention.  Skim reading is so easy but wrong! So I try and find time and carve out a moment where I can give the book my whole attention.

A bit like when a new album is released or a new film. Time is specifically given to listen for the first time, to watch for the first time and in my case read for the first time. Bringing the books on holiday is my way of trying to take my mind on a journey a quest for knowledge whilst I dive into something that will transport me to another kitchen, give me a new way of thinking and the chance to embrace new ideas.

This week I’ve brought One Pot, Pan and Planet (a greener way to cook for you. Your family and the planet) by Anna Jones and Lagom (The Swedish art of eating harmoniously) by Steffi Knowles-Dellner which was recommended by another weekend coffeeshare, Thistles and Kiwis

Needless to say the week has flown by and I want to give a special thank you to Natalie this week. With moving my host provider for the blog have I’d had trouble with comments section, along with the followers. I thought I’d nailed it with a Jetpack re-install to find they were still not working. The re-install tweaked the settings I’d been playing with! Natalie has been really patient and helpful with regarding testing my comments. I don’t know if they are fixed yet and without being back at base I haven’t had the chance to get stuck in with my desktop. I may need to go nuclear and do a complete re-install. Hopefully though, I’ve fixed it. If you did attempt to leave a comment and I didn’t get back to you, please accept my apologies and thank you for stopping by!


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.

Rajma with a friend

If we were having coffee I would tell you about the highlight of my week.  Which was cooking over zoom with a friend.  We’d agreed a new approach of cooking together online, having found out that our local adult education programme wasn’t running its courses in its traditional style of ten weeks on premise in the school.  Instead lessons were being run online, a mix of 5 weeks watching a demo and 5 weeks of online conversation.  It just didn’t appeal.  So we hatched a plan to catch up ourselves, picking a recipe each to concentrate on with the premise of it being tomorrow night’s tea.  We’ve managed twice so far in the space of six weeks.  Home and work interruptions making it impossible to do  more.

This week we took on Rajma, a really simple recipe of spiced onions and Kidney beans.  A recipe I’d been meaning to try since I got the Dishoom cookery book in 2020!  Perfect for the Vegan family at the other end of the screen and a great way for me to exercise the flexitarian in me.   I also couldn’t help myself and added an aubergine and a pepper.   Slow cooked in the oven after the call ended and left overnight.  A warm and velvety affair perfect for the dark nights that have crept in.   A delight to be able to have tea ready in the time it takes to cook rice. 

Really noticing the dark mornings.  So much so I’ve mixed up my schedule to start my writing first in the dark, before taking in some daylight.  It’s a real struggle to get out of bed now,  but the watch buzzing at more than an arms length away and sometimes in the next room really pulls me out of bed like an invisible chord.  The snooze button on the bedside clock is redundant.

The other exciting news is that exercise bike has arrived, which I started to assemble last night.  It shouldn’t have been so tricky to assemble and no mention of the tools I would need when I bought the bike.  My wife popping in at those perfect moments where a bead of sweat is about to appear.  Helpful comments like, don’t do it now if it’s going to take this long.   Just as I’m threading a hexadecimal locking nut whilst balancing on my head holding a torque wrench.  Amazingly I managed to walk away half way (at a good point), not my style as I’m a compulsive completer when it comes to things that need building.   Just need to install the little computer and it should be good to go.  

I’ll finish up with a few pictures from my walk this morning,  the low sun a tonic for the day ahead, the trees shedding their leaves and bedding in for the winter.   The rhododendrons hanging on in there, the cycle of autumn kicks in.


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.

Curry and a Movie

No Time to Die – Bike from the Film in the Foyer

Aside from the first four hours of the night my sleep was broken, more from excitement….today we finally get to see the new James Bond film. It’s been a long long wait! It’s a full family affair, the first son coming home for the weekend, with seats booked at a local independent cinema, it’s going to be a real treat.

The Saturday Guardian is covering fish and I’ve made a note to follow up on Rachel Roddy’s Cod with tomatoes and capers.  I’ve recently been struggling to write up some thinking on fish after my son asked how he could get more into his eating.  Will try and scale this recipe down for him.

On the menu this weekend is a couple of curries, and a dahl.  Youngest son has a couple of friends over to stay and stipulation from the boss was that tea needed to be easy post the film.  A reheat so to speak.  So I made the lamb rogan josh last night.  A slow cook affair with aubergines.  The chicken korma I made this morning along with the dahl.  Followed by an apple and summer berry crumble.

Time for blogging this weekend has been short, that and the fact I switched web host providers this week.   A renewal was going to be a bit like daylight robbery which would give leading insurances providers a run for their money.   Any glitches please let me know,  I’ve had a few gotchas as the new provider installed various annoying freebies rather than a vanilla WordPress install.  The archive and historic categories appearing and disappearing with no rhyme or reason. Images have disappeared on some, so there was some sort of glitch on the migration. A little autumn clean-up is ongoing!

It’s Sunday as I finish this post, the film has been watched and I promise no spoilers in case there are any JB fans out there. The eldest is being given the curry left overs to take back to university, a couple of re-heat meals to keep the wolf from the door with a portion for us and the prospect of using the remains of the veg box up.


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.

October 21

Muesli

Scribbles for the weekend #8

Wow, here we are in October.  Sunrise at 07:16 and Sunset at 18:48!

The blueberries are local,  from Fife just across the water.  They are rugged not conforming to the military pea size shape that I’m used to, with a taste to the bite that bursts in the mouth. This always seems to wane with air miles and I wish they could be like this all year round.   I’m also finishing off the Greek yoghurt which feels decadent for breakfast and I remind myself it’s been a tough week with back to back teams calls, be kind to yourself!

This week’s morning routines have been effected by rain, the most we’ve had in a long time marked by the fact I had to do a school run, which happens once in a blue moon, or in this case Monday morning where the skies just opened up.    Everything feels fresher for it, but with a cold that starts to bite if you’re not moving.  The Tuesday morning run is certainly a lot colder and a mental note needs to  be taken, I really need to get the gloves out for the next time.

This is the month of pumpkins and apples, with the leaves turning, gathering in piles as the wind swirls them into position.   The veg boxes are typically a little heavier loaded with a squash, a Savoy cabbage and a Cauliflower in this weeks one. 

I’m hoping to cover a couple of recipes this weekend, but still haven’t got myself organised as to what they might be.  Although I’m definitely inspired by this parsnip and ginger loaf that popped up in my Instagram feed.  I’ve currently got my head in the same book that the recipe comes from which is a bonus.

On the writing front, this six months of ‘Writing in Community’ has come to an end and I’ve decided to enrol straight into the next starting on the 11th which means I’m feeling a little in limbo, at the same time as excited.  Every day now I try to write a few words and as a consequence I’m on my longest streak with the weekend coffee share!  It’s all about the practice.


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 Watched Apple

Chopped Apple

Scribbles for the weekend #7

I’ve been pleasure delaying for weeks, could almost say months.  In direct view of the kitchen, down at the bottom of the garden is one of our apple trees.   It’s only produced about six apples this year so I’ve had my eye on one particular one and then to my horror yesterday morning just before breakfast I saw it there lying on the grass.  I didn’t have time to go get it there and then and made a mental note to go get it and then completely forgot!  The trip over to Glasgow and meet my son after his first two weeks away was more important.

As I walked down the garden, I wondered if I’d beaten the wood lice. They take really well to the other tree’s windfalls and I’ve lost out to them a couple of times.   Thankfully as I turned the apple over I found only a mild skirmish and internally shouted yes to the skies.  It’s the little things!

This morning the apple sustains me, a post run fuel boost and a pre late breakfast as I take my other son to his Sunday game of soccer.  I so enjoyed it,  more in a Cookie Monster way than in a mindful way.  I tell myself I have five others to do that with, which I’ve plucked from the tree so as to not lose out.

My son was so pleased to see us that it brought so much to the weekend.  I’d made a beef cheek stew and batched it up for him, along with some brownie (man I can’t believe how much butter and sugar goes into a brownie).

Took him to the supermarket and set him up again for the weeks ahead where he asked me about cooking fish and potatoes.  I’m no expert, and it’s one of those moments where your adult-child has lowered his guard for help that you just want to treasure the moment.  Without getting too technical we looked at what was on offer from the counter, salmon, haddock and mackerel.  We went for a piece of mackerel.   Later when we got home a picture came through.  Pure gold for the day.

On the writing front I wrote a little about September as a month which has more morphed into Mid September……I’d been playing around with it for weeks and with last weeks coffee share as the inspiration I’ve managed to pull something together that I’m happy with.

The week has flown by in general, I try and capture my creative side, an use my will power to do some exercise first thing otherwise my day will be filled with back to back teams calls and no energy to do anything after that.  By Friday my head is fried so the late autumn sun is a tonic for the soul not to mention the apple that I got to take a big bite from. 

I hope you all had a good week and finding those moments to take good bites from and thank you for the coffeeshare.


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.

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.