Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Weekend Away

Just had a divine weekend with the lovely Badger and Janus, and a welcome gate-crasher in the form of Koios.

We kicked off Friday night with gin. There may also have been some tonic involved, but it wasn't quite as noticeable. After my first I was feeling the warm glow of fuzziness - so I had another. So did Koi and Fisher, but Janus and Badger were being sensible. Although, not that sensible. The course of the evening saw wine flow freely. I'd ordered a case of Two Hands shiraz, and we made some impressive headway into it.

With head a-buzzing from gin, I plonked some deliciously delicious smoked salmon down as a starter. It was caught by Shah when he fished up in Helmsdale, and smoked in Dunkeld, and it was devoured in an instant. The plate was then stared at angrily when it yielded no more.

For a main course I cooked a pigeon casserole with cider and apples, which was pleasant but I made some tactical errors. Firstly, I'd managed to get it into my head that we were 4 in number, so I only bought 4 pigeons. There were, of course, 5 of us. This wasn't a catastrophe, as 4 pigeons between 5 are a perfectly acceptable meal. Secondly, I failed to recognise that the sauce would look quite as like vomit as it did. Thirdly, and in my state of fuzziheadedness, I failed to think the plate situation through. Instead of serving the casserole and sloppy sauce in bowls, which would have contained it and made it look far less like someone had thrown up on half a pigeon, I served it on a plate. It was not attractive. Fourthly, I'd forgotten what irritatingly bony bastards pigeons are.The meat is worth the effort, but only just. I'm not sure I'll be repeating the recipe, and pigeons will be safe from my gun (when I buy it).

Pudding was Stewart Tower ice cream, in two flavours: Ferrero Roche and lemon meringue pie. There was also some lemon cake. This was lovely, but very lazy on my part.

We then went through to the sitting room, drank more, talked (there are no donkeys with hind legs in the general vicinity) and eventually retired to bed feeling ... well, drunk, frankly. At 2am Fisher asked whether I thought Koi was all right, as her light was still on in her room. I waved a hand blearily and said I was sure she'd probably just passed out with it on.

'Just' passed out?

I woke with a hangover. Not exactly a surprise. It took me a couple of hours to get myself together enough to get up and dressed, but once I did it was to be greeted with lovely sunshine and everyone else raring to get out there and go - in young, hip and energetic fashion - antiquing!!


So that is what we did. We went off to Abernyte, where Janus and Badger found a new dining table. We had lunch there in leisurely fashion, then moved on to Rait where Koi found an old egg box which will serve her well for storage purposes. I think there's an issue with Protagoras's papers. Anyway, after that it was time to speed back to Perth and put Koi on a train back to Reekie before the rest of us headed north.

Our destination was Kingussie and The Cross restaurant. It's what people are now calling a 'restaurant with rooms' which may, or may not, just be a way of saying 'good restaurant, sub-standard hotel.' When we arrived in Kingussie my heart sank a little as the website does try and make it look very much like The Cross is in deepest countryside. It's actually right in the midst of Kingussie - but surrounded by trees and down in a little dell, which gives it a sense of privacy.

The hotel itself was very basic - all pine wood and white bedding - but perfectly comfortable. We settled in, gave the dogs a quick wander beside the burn, and then went down for supper. The food was good. Very good. The choice is limited, with only two options per course, but there was something there for everyone. I made the mistake of ordering fish when there was wild boar as the second option, but in fact the hake was light, fragrant with spices and truly delicious. I just coveted Janus's and Badger's crackling - a lot.

After our meal we retired upstairs to the lounge and played a game of Scruples. This is a bad idea. There's little more irritating than you telling people how you'd react in a given situation and then being told you wouldn't - unless it's educating someone in the way they actually would react and not being believed. Ptcha! People. What do they know of me, or themselves?

We went to bed at the pathetic hour of midnight, but I was still reeling from the effects of the night before (owing to my aged crapness) and needed to sleeeeep. The pooches weren't allowed in the hotel, so Fisher had to go out and walk them, then tuck them up for a night in the car. This she did while the hotel proprietoress stood and waited. I thought this was so she could lock up after, but Fisher suggested it was actually to make sure we didn't sneak the pooches in behind her back. It never entered my head. I did, however, drop massive hints about how 'cooooold' they would be and how wet and adorable they were, but to no avail. The fact that Janus laughed in my face at my blatantness suggests the proprietoress also saw right through me and found me irksome.

Next day, we partook of a deeply unhealthy breakfast (haggis, good - sausage, good - poached egg, gooood - home made baked beans, booooo! Why bother? Baked beans aren't worth the trouble, especially when everyone just wants Heinz anyway) and headed out to find a suitable walk. This we did in nearby Loch Insh, where there was a sculpture trail.

The sculptures were ... well, outdated is what springs to mind. They were all very worthy an' everything, but we live in a post Band-Aid world and the issues they raised were pretty tired. Also, I was amused by "Inner Man" - which reminded me of Total Recall, and caused me to growl "open your miiiiind" to Badger, who smiled tolerantly. He was more amused by my comment that "Two Patriots" was actually a man doing a charade of "Bangkok".

*Pause for audience applause. Not a sausage.*

At the end of it, Janus turned and said:

"So, what did we learn from this?"

I'd like to point out at this point that she'd been having a real run on Mumsiness, and this was only one in a long line of Mummish phrases - but it raised the question. We thought about it. There really wasn't anything new to bring to the table, but it did make me realise that, since the 1950s when these sculptures were made, the issues remain exactly the same. We've had 50 years of public awareness and nothing has changed.

It was a melancholy start to our walk - but we shook it off admirably, ably helped by the vast breakfast still warming our tums, our warm clothing, our on-hand transport, our physical health and general well-being.

We then embarked on one of the trial walks which claimed to be 4km long. We were advised to leave 2 hours. 2 hours?? For 4km?? An average speed of 2kph????? Look, I'm a fat biffa and everything, but even I can gird my loins to a greater pace than that!

2 hours later, we returned to our car.

Ok, I'd like to point out that we actually went a bit off-piste (as usual), having become confused by the blue posts we were following suddenly appearing in 3 directions at once. We, naturally, chose the wrong ones and ended up taking a detour which put a good couple of miles on the total. We reckon we walked around 4.5 miles, which is still an incredibly slow pace - but it wasn't as if we were on a route march or anything. We breathed the fresh air, nattered and let Baffie wander free (which annoyed Bridie no end). We also got a bit lost, which slows the pace a little. Anyway, it was a lovely walk and left us feeling less guilty about our breakfast.

Next stop was the Highland Chocolatier in Grandtully, where we had lunch in the scarily eccentric coffee shop. It's got a witch's theme, and there are dolls. Need I say more? But we ate pleasant panninis and stuff, then Badge and Janus went and poked the chocolates next door before deciding on a little bag of 6. I'm off chocolate for 3 months so I couldn't have any.

Oh - yes, the chocolate fast. I'm not eating chocolate for 3 months. Or sweets. But there are exceptions. If I go out for a fancy, expensive meal I can have pudding if I have fish for a main course. This stops my dietary restrictions being annoyingly party-pooperish for others. And I'm NOT allowed cheese as a substitute. Cheese is NOT the 'low fat' option. Cheese is fat. Fat is cheese. I love cheese. I am fat. As our American cousins would say: "Go figure."

After the chocolate interlude, there was nothing left to do but return homeward. Janus and Badger wended their weary way back to Edinburgh so they'd have a decent amount of collapse time on a Sunday evening, and we just collapsed. We were tired, but well pleased with a sociable, delightful weekend. We'd consumed much, but also been quite active, so it wasn't as bad as it could have been - and the craik was grand.

I was going to go on a long bike ride yesterday, to further keep the weekend's excesses in check, but to my annoyance I remembered I had a tennis match. This involved a 45 minute drive to Duffus, followed by 2.5 hours on a tennis court. This sounds like good exercise, but it's really not. It's mostly just standing around. It is hugely tiring, but it's not really very beneficial. It doesn't work the muscles, or require any cardiovascualar effort, but it does take up a day's exercise allocation. I can't do exercise before it, otherwise I'm just too tired to play at all, and afterwards I'm zonked so I don't really fancy doing anything the next day. Plus, I get back home after 10pm. Yesterday I was back by 10, but that's the first time it's ever happened. Usually it's closer to 11, sometimes 12. It just wipes me out. And that's playing for the 2nd team! Next Monday I'm with the 1sts, which means a better standard of tennis and therefore more exercise over just as long a time.

I'd also like to point out that I'm 32 years old. The next youngest person in my team last night was 42ish. The other 4 were in their 50s. They bounce around like mountain goats at the end of the night, making vast vats of tea, cutting cake and doling out sandwiches - and then doing all the washing up at the very end. They are all, also, half my size. I mean, literally. If that's not an example of the benefits of staying slim and light, I don't know what is. Those chicas are going to live forever.

And so the diet begins.


Thursday, 23 April 2009

The Question of Good

I was having a thought the other day, about what it means to be a 'good' person. For someone of religious conviction it's quite a simple matter to be able to follow the rules laid out and be able to call yourself a 'good Christian/Muslim/Jew/Insert Faith. Yes, there are some tricky moments as society moves on from the times in which your religious tenets were created, but on the whole there's a useful guidebook to help formulate your definition of what it is to be 'good'.

For those of us without religious faith, or at least with more questions than answers regarding belief in a deity, 'goodness' is a little more difficult to quantify. We all follow a basic Christian set of ideals, which are pretty much identical to most other faiths, but I actually don't think most people stop and think about it. We know that 'good' people don't lie, cheat or steal, hurt others physically or mentally, or generally behave in a way that upsets the delicate structure of society. We all have to live together, so we have to get along - or at least ignore each other as much as possible.

But is adhering to the basics really 'good'? Is it enough to not steal? To not start a punch-up with a guy in the pub? To not lie to your partner about where you've been and who you've been shagging? Surely not doing bad is not the same as doing good?

If I had been asked, at the moment all this was going through my head: "Are you a good person?" I would have had to stop and think. I'd always presumed that, while I do some bad things, I am a good person on the whole. Don't most people think that? But actually - am I 'good', or am I just 'not particularly bad'?

I thought about it. I realised the only way to try and figure out whether I'm good or not is to think about the good things - if any - I'd done in a single day, and weigh them against the bad. So, today I'm looking back over yesterday and making a list.

1. Got up and discovered a parcel had been left at our house. It should have been delivered to our neighbour. I took it straight round. - This isn't really good. This is just what a person should do. I suppose it may edge towards good because I took it straight away.
2. Got cross because Fisher fielded a call which confused the issue of my mother coming to stay. She'd said she was coming to stay with us, going away for a weekend. Then heard she was coming over only to go stay elsewhere for the whole time. Felt we were being used as a B&B, and that we were being bypassed - especially when a flight was booked meaning we weren't being given any time with her at all. Felt world was revolving solely around others. Felt fed up. - All can be filed under 'not good.' Bad? Not sure. I think it's understandably disappointing to be told your mother's coming to visit you, and then be told she's actually using you as a stop over on her way to see others. Bad is feeling angry, though.
3. Went to Gloagburn for brunch. Felt grumpy and sad owing to above. Was not much fun to be with. - Not good. Probably bad.
4. Went to Tesco and bought weekly shop. Fisher feeling slightly ropy so told her to go back to the car and unpacked, packed and paid for shopping myself. - Again, this is how human beings should behave. Don't think it deserves the accolade 'good.'
5. Helped an old lady with her shopping. - No big deal. I only helped her pack it into her trolly, so it was hardly any skin off my nose. Still, I suppose I noticed she was struggling a bit, which is good. Others might not have cared. But does this deserve to be considered 'good'?
6. Cooked supper for Epona and Shah - teriyaki sea bass and pavlova. - I think this is good. Shared food and broke bread with neighbours. Took bother of cooking away from Epona, who is very busy at the moment.
7. Went to bed without doing the washing up. - Bad because Fisher was left to do it.

So that's a list of my actions yesterday. Hardly inspiring, is it? And yet I would consider myself a 'good' person? I think not.

I'm not a good person. I'm just a person.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Friends, Frolicks, Fun in the Sun

Fisher and I have a new pact. We're going to get a calendar and mark each sunny day as it comes. We're then going to either tick it or cross it, depending on whether we use or waste the sunny day. We can then look back on all those missed opportunities and feel depressed throughout the following winter.

Hm. Is this a good idea?

Anyway - where was I? Ah yes, Easter Sunday. Well, that was a whole heap of fun, followed by a day's entertainment with Spar and Blar, who came our way to do some antiquing and buy a kitchen dresser we'd seen at Destiny Antiques. Now, I'm afraid I have to begin this anecdote with a little cautionary tale. You see, the night before, Blar had told Fisher that our original plan - of meeting at Abernyte at 10.30 - might be subject to whether they could gird their loins and leave Edinburgh that early. Fair enough. Who am I to begrudge folk a few precious minutes more in the cosy, cosy goodness of the duvet? So Fisher told Blar to call us when they left in the morning, so we could head over and meet them.

Next morning, there was no phone call. There was no message on Fisher's phone - which has been acting funny for a while anyway. My own phone was AWOL somewhere, but I figured that if Blar didn't get a response from either of our mobiles, she'd have the common sense to call the house phone.

11am rolled around. Nothing. Then, eventually, the phone rang.

Spar and Blar were at Abernyte. They had been for 20 minutes. Where the hell were we??

It turns out that common sense and Blar aren't necessarily easy bedfellows. Huh! Who'da thunk?? She'd left 4 text messages on my mobile (which I tracked down in the car), including a voice message. None of these had garnered a response - but instead of thinking it might be wise to actually speak to one of us and make sure we'd received her messages, she blithely texted on. I'd also like to point out that Spar didn't think to make sure, either, so he's hardly blameless.

Not that it really mattered to us. We missed out on a trip to Abernyte, but we'd been there recently so no skin off the old neb. We just met up at Destiny Antiques and had a nosy (discovering the kitchen dresser had been sold), got some lunch in Perth (ah, faithful Breizh) and had a jolly good chinwag. We've planned to go antiquing some time in May, to furnish the new Maison SparBlar, and all was jolly.

So why mention the phone message mix up? Why, because not long after that incident, we had another of similar ilk. An old school friend of Fisher's had been invited to dinner, and she accepted. She was due at 7.30 on Friday night. 7.30 rolled around - no sign. At 8, Fisher sent a text - and then decided it would be sensible to call.

A baffled voice at the other end of the line said she was very sorry, that something from work had come up, and she'd sent a message - on Facebook - to cancel. The message, it appears, did not go through. There was no sign of it on Fisher's profile. So, of course, the friend had received no reply from Fisher, but despite this, hadn't though it practical to make sure everything was ok. Facebook??? I mean - come on! Presuming that someone's received a mobile phone text is bad enough, but Facebook????!!!??? That's just taking the piss. So, anyway, we're stuck with a whole bunch of food, which I'd spent a considerable amount of time - and money! - preparing (including making a goat's cheese and tomato tart) and suddenly there's only us to eat it. Don't get me wrong, we could have managed it. A challenge like that is nothing to us. But when you're expecting an evening of breaking bread and convivial chat, it's a bit of a downer to be left kicking your heels with a mountain of chow.

We thought swiftly. I phoned our neighbours Shah and Epona to see if they'd eaten yet, but got no reply. Then Fisher said:

"I know who won't have eaten yet."


"Arrow and Lu."

Hope glowed in my heart, then flickered to an ember. "But they're miles away."

We decided it would be a shame not to at least try and see if we couldn't turn a downcast evening into one of merry conviviality, so I phoned - and go Lu as she was wandering around B&Q with Arrow, seeking garden-y type things. And, of course, because they're people whose enthusiasm and ability to put themselves out for pals is unbounded, they said yes and were with us in 40 minutes. We had a delightful supper, despite it being a very tomato-heavy meal and therefore not entirely to Arrow's taste (not, naturally, that he complained) and were very, very happy with our lot. But the moral of this tale, people, is this:

Communication works best when vocal. Don't leave messages. TALK to people. And if you do leave a message, for Christ's Sake be certain it was received!

Other than the aforementioned fun, did I mention Ceegar and Meeper came to see us before Easter? Well, they did, and we went for a wonderful walk from the Cally Loch, across country and - on the way back - considerably off piste! We strayed from the path and got so embedded in woodland and boggy ground that we started using the sun to guide us. It was brilliant! We emerged at the other end tired, muddy and happy, with dogs bouncing joyously and tums grumbling in hungry complaint. We returned to the house to book a summer holiday I'd been long researching - namely a barging trip down the Canal du Midi, which we'd all decided would be wondrous.

So, back home we went and I plonked myself in front of the computer, ready to pull up all the info I'd gleaned and get dates firmly in the diary. At which, after a few minute's discussion, Meeper said:

"Why don't we just go to Greece instead?"

This was greeted with such joy on all sides that my hours, days, weeks of barge planning was callously discarded and a hotel on a Greek island immediately coveted. I threw my hands in the air and washed them of the whole affair. Not that I'm not delighted to be going to Greece, I hasten to add! I've never been, and it looks cracking, and who wouldn't squeal with delight at the thought of a week in luxury apartments with a pool, a sea view, food and natter to sustain us? But I firmly announced that I was taking no part in the arrangements, that I would be very happy with whatever was chosen, and that they were all a bunch of flighty bastards. This I said with love.

I believe the only other thing to report is a beautiful walk in Little Glenshee with the pooches yesterday, followed by a cracking evening to celebrate Ceegar's 30th birthday. And so the last of us bids farewell to their twenties. Frankly, I don't mourn their loss. I like being in my thirties, even if people can't tell whether I'm older or younger than my sister any more. There's no shame in that. My sister is not an age-ridden hag, although now I know she occasionally peruses these entries, I ought to add - she's not an age-ridden hag yet. She does have 3 children and hasn't had a decent night's sleep in 5 years, but why should that trouble me? So what if people who think I'm older therefore must put me somewhere around 40? I care not a whit.

Not a whit.

A whit ...

Anyway, we went to The Villager bar on George IV Bridge for a swift G&T, but I was happy we weren't there very long. It was really loud. And they were playing their 'young' music.

Next stop was the Witchery, where we had a fab meal. I think the food was fine, although nothing special, but the chat was great, and the two guys from Ceegar's work were both good company. I particularly enjoyed nattering to one of them about food, wine, restaurants and general gastronomy, and ended up sharing most of my food with him. He's leaving Scotland in 3 months, so I'm going to take him on a culinary tour before he goes. The other guy just got pissed off with us taking so long with the wine list. It was huge! And done by region! We had to try and remember which region all the wines we like are from, which I'm rubbish at, and then I couldn't find the Loire page ... anyway, we did take quite some considerable time, but everyone got enough to drink in the end, and at the right time. It was a really lovely evening which Ceegar seemed to thoroughly enjoy, and we were back home for the pooches by 2am. Fab all round.

It's another beautiful day today, so with our new found spirit of 'waste no ray of sunshine' we're off to try a different walk in Dunkeld. Hurrah!

(And I'm recoring Spurs v Newcastle).

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Easter Sunday Joy

I've really had a lovely day today. Yesterday was hard work, but it definitely paid off. Basically, we spent all of Saturday either shopping for food, or working in the kitchen - and today we harvested the fruits of our labour with much delight.

The neighbours came round at around 1pm for a spot of lunch. They're a wildly entertaining bunch, and certainly like their food and wine, which is always a pleasure. They're also the sort of people who are genuinely enthusiastic about things. Great shouts of glee greeted each course, especially the pudding - which (and here I glow with pleasure, so forgive me) was called 'inspirational.' There was much banter, a spot of politics to get the teeth into, but mostly the tellings of tales. They stayed until 6 - which is a pretty good innings - and we sat outside in the sunny, warm garden for ages. It was about as idyllic as you can get, and Fisher and I are nauseatingly pleased with out lot.

I must just note down my menu for future reference, before I forget what I did. Not that that's likely, considering the time and energy it took! But here it is:

Main Course: Roast lamb stuffed with: figs, prunes, apricots, walnuts, celery, onions, breadcrumbs, egg yolk to bind. The fruit was steeped in apple juice for several hours, then strained, and the reserved juice used to make a zesty gravy. Fisher made the stuffing to perfection.

Pudding: Quails' eggs stuffed with chocolate. This involves blowing 12 quails' eggs, washing out the shells, then inserting melted chocolate into the teeny tiny hole. This is not something I will be repeating in a hurry. More chocolate ended up down my front than in the teeny tiny holes, and I had no idea how much had actually entered each egg until they were devoured on the morrow. Fisher and I actually weighed each one and made sure everyone had a heavy one and a light one, in the hopes that at least some of them had worked. Luckily, they all worked, and because you can eat the shells of quails' eggs, they were a crunchy, chocolatey joy.
Also: One duck egg each, blown and stuffed with home made cardomom and ginger ice cream. I served the egg in an egg cup (obviously) and this was accompanied by Fisher's genius idea of caramelised brioche, cut into soldiers. Basically, it was a bit of Easter egg fun, and I was SO pleased that everyone squealed over it. It was a 50-50 effort from Fisher and me - real team work - and when everything worked better than I ever hoped, I actually found myself punching the air with delight. Not, you understand, in front of anyone. I was on my own in the loo at the time. Not ON the loo, you understand. That might have caused seat-slippage, and we don't want to go there.

We got through quite a bit of booze, too. 5 bottles of red wine, a bottle of champage, a bottle of Pimm's and a couple of drams of Chateau d'Yqueme Edradour (which is just the most glorious whisky ever - or so I think at the moment). After everyone left to feed their animals, I was left with alcohol-fuelled energy coupled with alcohol-fuelled brainlessness. I really do hate being tipsy in the middle of the day. I want my brain to work. It's one thing if you drink in the evening, then go to bed; it's quite another if you drink when you actually need your brain. I can't imagine ever becoming an alcoholic. Being befuddled and energised at the same time is a most distressing sensation. You want to do things, but you can't do all your usual entertainments because your mind won't focus.

Bah! Sober is better.

So that was Easter Sunday. Relaxed, chatty, tasty, funny, triumphant - what more could I ask for?

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Exercise and Fatness

Having done nothing at all in the weight loss game, I've decided I need to get my head down. Yesterday's food intake was ridiculous. We went to Gleneagles for lunch with some doggie friends (people - they own dogs - we didn't sit in a restaurant with dogs) and I had 3 delicious tapas dishes: chorizo, patatas bravas and fried courgettes - crispy crispy goodness. This was followed by a hot chocolate with marshmallows. Then, because I'd got the chocolate bug, I decided to eat my way through 250g of peanut M&Ms. Yes, 250g. That's about 1,500 calories right there. So, to make some kind of amends I went to the pool and took a leaf out of the impressive Janus's book and did a 1km swim. I usually do front crawl, but I've learned that breast stroke actually uses more calories, despite seeming much easier. Now, I am really, really shit at breast stroke. I don't really know how to do it very well - but I struggles on and did around 34 minutes of swimming. In our crappy 17 metre pool, that's 59 lengths. BOOOOOORING!!!

BUT - over 500 calories burned, so worth it.

Now we're off for a salad - and also to buy a small mountain of food for our Easter Party - eek! Will just have to be sensible.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Quick Blog

I'm just killing time before Ceegar and Meeper turn up for a walk and lunch. It's a bit grotty outside, but they still seem keen - so I've got my walking trews on and am brim-full of determined enthusiasm. Hurrah for wind! Hurrah for rain! Hurrah for grey skies and the feeling you'll never be warm again ...

No. It'll be great.

I had an active Monday. I actually managed to run for half an hour, followed by half an hour on the cycling machine. I have no idea exactly how long the run was, either in time or distance, but it was at least 30 minutes and it hurt like a bastard. My fitness levels are shockingly bad, but quelle surprise when I've done nothing but sit on my lardyarse fatbags all winter. However, I was pleased to do the run and then not wuss out on the cycle, which I completed on the 'hill' setting. Highest resistance was 19, and my average time was ... well, shite, but 10.8mph. I did 5 miles.

Later that evening I drove all the way to Cupar for some tennis. Unfortunately, when I arrived there was only one other person there and it was raining. We have all-weather courts, but people still expect only to play in perky sunshine, a gentle breeze setting their starched little tennis dresses a-waving while they giggle their way to drop a dainty little shot over the net.

Ok, I'm not sure I've ever been more unfair in my life. My tennis club is made up, almost exclusively, of retired - or nearly retired - people, all of whom dress with extreme practicality and most of whom are never afraid of chasing down difficult balls - almost exclusively to your own, much younger humiliation as the 64 year old grandmother whistles a backhand smash past your wobbling arse. On that evening I was miffed to have turned up after a 50 minute drive to discover I might be going home without a ball hit in anger. Luckily, the one other person who was there gave me a knock - and then another 5 people showed, so we got some doubles in. Alas, I guess I hadn't hydrated properly (as Fisher would say. I prefer the term 'drunk enough water') so I got a stonking great headache after my 8th game. I called it a day, drove home and chowed mightily down on Fisher's chicken fricasée.

So that was Monday. Yesterday we decided to go antiquing for Spartan and Blarney, to see if there were any bargains out there that might adorn their new house with original pieces, at prices not dissimilar to IKEA. We found a few bits and bobs. We then got home, cooked up some shepherd's pie (I added haggis for a touch of originality) and took it down to see them. I mean, we saw them. We didn't take the shepherd's pie to see them, as if we were two crazy Sapphics with a surrogate baby.

Hm. I now have an image of a shepherd's pie dressed in a frilly baby hat, perched in a high chair with me cooing over it. And then eating it. Freaky. I'm going to have weird dreams tonight.

I gave massages, then we ate the food. I think the pie was a success, and the Stewart Tower ice cream with chocolate Malteser cake certainly was. Champagne generously provided by Blar - whose vast bellied state dictates she could only drink a glass - was also very welcome. There was some footie on the telly, so while watching that we also looked at photos of the interior of their new house in Nitten and gave generally useless advice they didn't need or, quite probably, want. We've also threatened to come down in May and stay for a few days and just blitz the place - a promise that will stand. And now I've written it down for all to see, and everyone knows how I feel about promises, so I can't back out now.

*Finger hovers over delete button.*

*Finger retracts. Reluctantly.*

Aaanyhoo (an expression I use too often to be quite as tongue in cheek as I intend), it was a really lovely evening, and I hope my massage skills will be called upon every Tuesday or so, thus thrusting our company on them on a weekly basis. Heheh.

Oo. I think I hear a car. Time to go and walk.

Yay!! Hurrah wind! Hurrah rain! Hurrah picnic in wind and rain!

(If I don't return from this walk, let my tombstone read 'Here Lies A Victim of Determined Enthusiasm - A Lesson to Us All'.)

Sunday, 5 April 2009


How wonderful home is. Of course, we've spent the last week going out every evening, so haven't properly had the chance to just chill, but it's been great to catch up with everyone. We got back on Monday, leaving poor Sister with a full 5 days before Islander returned. We'd thought he was arriving the day after we left but there were problems with either his visa or a volunteer's and he was delayed. Sister still wasn't feeling great, so we both felt bad about leaving - but couldn't stay longer owing to various appointments we had to keep.

On Tuesday we went out with Janus, to keep her lonesome mind off being without 'her' Flâneur. Now, I love Janus - but when, on her blog, she refers to him in this nauseating manner, it fair gars ma grue. This I told her, in no uncertain terms. She said it was better than 'the fiancé'. I contemplated arguing the point, but each to their own. Anyway - this small bout of teasing aside, we managed to pass an extraordinarily delightful evening at Kitchin in Leith. I was impressed to see Tom Kitchin himself working hard in the kitchen - which you can see from the rather darkly decorated dining room. I can't imagine you see Gordon Ramsey very much any more.

Anyway, I can honestly say that the food was divine. I had sweetbreads to begin, with a teeny tiny kidney kebab and some lamb, er, stuff (forgotten) and it was delicious beyond delicious. The sweetbreads were tender, the lamb fragrant, and the kidneys little mouthfuls of heaven. I followed this with pork belly - also divine - and a pudding of chocolate gateau with a sorbet of seabuckthorn. It was goooooood. I'd never even heard of seabuckthorn before, which Fisher thought a great example of ignorance on my part. For those who may be as ignorant as myself (difficult to comprehend, I know) here is a picture.

Apparantly it's very bitter in its natural state, but made into a sorbet it was both refreshing and palate cleansing - a perfect accompaniment for the spicy chocolate of my sorbet. And then, because we're greedy and can't pass it up when it's offered, we had a plate of cheese as well.

A wonderfully decadent evening, with good natter as well.

The following day we took Arrow out for a birthday meal. We tried Castleton House near Glamis - a small country house, very much in the middle of nowhere. It was well worth the drive, being cosy, comfortable and tasty. Not quite The Kitchin, but very decent restaurant fare. Pleasant service, and not over attentive. That's the one thing I'd say about The Kitchin, ackcherly - the waiters were far too eager to pour wine. I really can't stand wine waiters. I don't see the point in them at all. If I want wine I'll pour wine. They always screw it up some way or other - giving too much to one person, not enough to others - and the fact that their purpose is to ensure you drink as much as possible and therefore order another bottle just pisses me off. Maybe I should start a campain to eradicate wine waiters? I mean - not off the face of the planet or anything, I think execution is going over the top - but as a career. If you can't be a sommelier then you're just an annoying little shite interrupting my conversation and unfairly doling out a drink that costs a pound a sip.

So. On Thursday we had a Cheese Board meet up. This was of limited success. It was fantastic to see the girls, but the restaurant was way too noisy. We went to La Favorita, which was a good choice on the surface of things. We'd been there before and had a good time, and we knew the Italian food was good and reasonably priced for everyone's pocket. Unfortunately, by the end of the meal, after people around us had been boozing just enough to make them think they were hilarious, and that the louder they shouted the more everyone would just adore them, Janus and I couldn't hear a word that anyone at the other end of the table said. I'm afraid I have a serious loathing of crowds, and this goes for packed restaurants too. Not because of the proximity of people, which is where I go a bit bonkers in large gatherings, but because the noise just overwhelms every other sense. I can't concentrate on one person's conversation if Fat Bob, out on a work-supper with the Crazee Girls from Admin, starts bellowing with laughter in the hopes that Karen-the-Slapper will notice and sleep with him. Possibly not in that order. Anyway, I felt myself growing more and more crabsticks, and the evening was saved (for me) by going to a quiet pub afterwards, having a final drink and actually getting the chance to speak to Koi, Blarney and Phid without the aid of my ear trumpet.

And on the Fifth day, she rested. Also on the sixth and - currently - the seventh. All I have to do today is cook Fisher her promised roast chicken with "aw the fixins" and try not to sulk over yesterday's appalling display by Spurs. Yes, once again we managed to blow a 1-0 lead in the dying moments of the game, losing 2-1 to Blackburn away.