Maps make a wonderful gift.

I love maps, the Boyo loves maps. In fact maps and geography are one of the little threads that connect us. He is a Geographer and my first degree was in Geography. Actually thinking about the fact that I live with a Geography lecturer makes me feel a bit naughty, it does get a bit weird when he mentions colleagues and it turns out I was taught by them many moons ago.

Anyway I digress the point it we both love maps, old and new. Last year we were given a complete set of Ordnance Survey maps from the last 1950s. They are in pristine condition and cover the whole of the UK. our plan is to use them to wallpaper a wall when we have a more permanent home. We also have maps from various locations about the world. Seeing maps in other languages or other perspectives (Australian upside down world map!) makes you think a little about the big world we live in and all the different places and cultures.

It was our anniversary recently and I had seen some lovely map related gifts on Not on The High Street. The Boyo and I are not big gift givers, we prefer to go for nice meals or away for a weekend but this year I decided I really wanted to give him a wee something. However as many lovely gifts that there were I couldn’t find quite the right thing. So I decided to make him something instead. My crafty and arty skills are not great but I thought that he would appreciate the effort and thought and that we’d be the only two who would have to see my efforts anyway.

The end result is not as polished as many would do but I am not a perfectionist and the Boyo was very happy with my random gift. I thought I would share what I did and I fully expect that if any of you do something similar it would result in a more polished but just as thoughtful gift.

I wanted to frame a selection of maps of places we have been on our weekend wanderings. We have been many places now so it was hard to narrow it down to 12. I stuck with Scotland and tried to choose some of our favourite walking locations. I printed maps from a service I have access to online. For this it really is worth contacting your local library to see what they have subscriptions to and also the National Library of Scotland (for example) has a wide range of digital resources that anyone who has an address is Scotland can get access to.

I bought the large frame (very cheap) and small cream picture mounts in Dunelm Mill. I bought black card to mount everything on in Hobbycraft. I chose black as I wanted the colours in the maps to stand out.

I bought glue dots in a local stationery shop and I already had scissors, pencils and a ruler in the house.

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The first step is to choose how many maps you want and what size. Then pick mounts for them and a frame as big or as small as you need.

Lay all the maps out and look at the orientation. I played around with mine, placing the mounts over them to get an idea of what the final project would look like.

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The next step is to place the mount on the map then draw around so you know where to cut out. Remember the mounts do cover a bit of the map so be careful that the area you want to be shown is visible. Use glue dots in each corner to stick the mount to the map. Trim any bits of the map sticking out from mount with your scissors. When they are framed against the black card it will be obvious if any bits are sticking out and it will be annoying.

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The next step is to take the frame to bits, use the bit of paper inside the frame to mark and cut the backing card to the right size.

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Finally the part I found the hardest, use your ruler to work out where to place each mounted map. You will want them to be equally spaced. I had used a mixture of scales so I fiddled about with where I was placing each map until I had them all looking the way I liked.

When you are 100% satisfied with the placing of each map use the glue dots to stick them down in place.

Then put the frame back together again.

Ta dah……

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So there we go an easy map related gift! The Boyo was happy and we both enjoy looking at it and remembering the walks and places we have been, it makes a change from photos and appeals to a pair of map geeks like us.

 I do apologise for the photography. I will get my camera fixed soon and I have been reading up on how to improve my photography skills.

On the eve of a moment in History.

Don’t worry this isn’t a pro independence or even a pro-Union post. I decided a long time ago not to discuss my views publicly. In fact to this day I have only discussed my own voting intentions with the Boyo, my sister and my Mum.

Tomorrow every eligible adult in Scotland will have the opportunity to participate in a historical vote. We have had other similar moments in the past but this is the opportunity of this generation to have a say in the future of a wonderful country. I just want to pause at that statement and think… think not about what to vote for but about the fact that we are able to have this vote.

That we are able to have a say, that we are able to participate in discussions and debates and speak our own minds and think about our opinions. Do you know this makes us incredibly lucky?

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Recently a colleague implied that this vote was trivial compared to some of the other issues in the world right now, I do understand what she means but I feel that the ability to have a say in how we want our country to be run is hugely important because our daily lives are what informs our actions and that in order to change the world we need to start on our own doorstep and unlike many countries around the world we have this right (that was long fought for) and that we should use it.

Regardless of the outcome I hope this is a time of change, time for all politicians to hear the thousands of voices all over the UK (and the world). Change can be a good thing.So many people are unhappy in the UK. Many of the changes in recent  years have impacted on the most vulnerable and disadvantaged them further.

The amazing thing about this referendum is the level of engagement. A huge number are expected to vote tomorrow. Many more have engaged in conversations, debates and actions around the UK. Personally I think that is rather great, if only that level of engagement continues think about what could be achieved! Our politicians have to listen a bit harder when a huge proportion of the UK are shouting on their doorstep.

I will finish by saying I love Scotland. I think we live in a beautiful country with fantastic traditions. I spend my weekends wandering the wilds and admiring the stunning landscapes Scotland has to offer. Also don’t forget we are the land of the magnificent Tunnocks Teacakes. teacake

When I vote I will be thinking about the current situation and my hopes for Scotland in the future. This doesn’t mean an outright yes nor does it mean and outright no. The waters are very muddy on both sides. Whatever the outcome I hope we see changes for the better. If we can remain engaged and optimistic then maybe just maybe we will have the opportunity to work towards a better future for all.

Scotland

Foodie Friday (well Monday!) – Simple Bread Rolls

These little rolls might not be the prettiest but they are great for picnics and now that the weather is getting a bit cooler I think they would be perfect dunked into some nice soup. I have a pot of leek and carrot soup ready at home for lunches this week. They are very versatile as well, I think next time I might try them with some sweet flavours for a breakfast treat.

Bread Rolls (makes 12 rolls)

500g Strong White Bread Flour (Tweak: I used a little wholemeal flour to give some more flavour & goodness, overall still added up to 500g)
1 tsp salt
1tsp fast action yeast
1 tsp sugar
300ml water
25ml oil

Flavourings: eg. Pesto, sesame seeds, fresh torn up basil, poppy seeds

I confess I have a breadmaker! So whilst I did bake these rolls myself I did the first knead in the breadmaker… just to save a little time.

Place the flour & salt into a mixing bowl. Mix the yeast, sugar, water and oil in a jug. Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and mix together until it forms a dough and comes away from the bowl. For this you need to use your hands.

Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and knead for 5 – 10 minutes. As my chef cousin once told me ‘Bread Kneads Love’.

Pop the dough back into the bowl and cover with cling film. Leave it for 30-40 minutes in a warm place.

Switch the oven on to 200c to preheat . Give the dough another light knead on the floured surface and then divide up equally into how many ‘flavours’ of rolls you are making. I went with 4 types.

So I got each lump of dough, stretched it out a little then sprinkled my flavour over, eg. Sesame seeds. Then I roll it up and repeat, kneading lightly until the seeds/basil are distributed evenly. I then cut the dough into roll sizes, shape a little the place on a parchment lined baking tray.

For the pesto or if you were using a spread (I think something like lemon curd or Nutella would be yum) I stretched the dough out until a rough rectangle, then rolled up the dough like a swiss roll then cut into smaller rolls.

Bake for 20 minutes until golden on top and hollow sounding when tapped on their bottoms.

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Adieu to Summer Sunshine

Well folks I have to apologise for my lack of posts. I know this little fledgling blog is of little interest to most but I feel bad. As usual the start of term took me a little bit by surprise. You know it will be busy but somehow over the year you forget about just how manic it is. Work is challenging at the moment and my poor head has suffered this week but this morning I woke up and reminded myself about all the things I should do to make both my head and myself feel better and blogging is definitely on the hit list. Autumn is my favourite time of year, in fact when living abroad I missed seasons, particularly autumn a huge amount. So I always make an effort to get out and about in October to make the most of the beautiful season.

I have a few ideas and half written blogs written so I’ll jump back in with a weekend wandering post. This week I chat about beautiful Perthshire.

The Boyo and I managed to sneak away for a night a couple of weeks ago, both as an anniversary treat and a little moment of relaxation before start of the academic year hit (he’s in Higher education I am in Further education). When thinking about where to go we thought about Ardoe House in Aberdeenshire. We went there last year as a birthday treat for me and it was excellent. Probably the best hotel we have stayed in for the food, service, facilities and atmosphere. However we felt that it was a bit too far away for us this time (about 2 hours from our current abode) and we wanted to go so we had a think and we both decided on the same place. It was not a hard decision, Perthshire is a beautiful place and Dunkeld is one of our very favourite spots. So off to Dunkeld we went.

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We decided to do a walk that we have done before but it is a lovely walk and one I’d definitely recommend. It is called The Hermitage and features Forests, waterfalls, interesting buildings, a bridge which is very appropriately named Rumblin Bridge and a few fields as well. We use this book. But you can also find a route on the very excellent Walk Highlands website. This website has walks for all abilities all over Scotland.

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We were lucky that we also got to see the Fire and rescue services doing training in the river Braan. We’ve seen them once before here as well and it can be fun to watch.10612939_10153104072052334_5818435380321577386_n

 Fire and Rescue – it looked like fun!

When we arrived back in Dunkeld we stopped at our favourite café; Spill The Beans for refreshments, this involved Rose Lemonade and a big slice of cake. The café does do great food, their version of a Croque Monsiuer is delicious and the Boyo recommends the local Dunkeld smoked Salmon that is offered but the real reason we visit everytime we are in the vicinity is the cakes. There is always a magnificent display of cakes that tempt you as you walk in the café.

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Photo does not do justice to these delicious cakes at Spill The Beans.

Afterwards we realised that the Dunkeld & Birnam Highland Games were on so we wandered over to take a look. We were a bit late in the day but saw some cycling, dancing, bagpipe playing and haggis. It was a nice bonus and the sun was shining, I enjoyed telling the Boyo all about my former highland dancing days (many years ago).

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Dunkeld and Birnam Highland Games

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We checked into the Dunkeld Hilton – well we did want to spoil ourselves a little! The hotel itself was pleasant, the staff were very good and everything was very efficient which was impressive as they had 2 weddings, an anniversary party and a lot of ‘normal’ guests in. The room and pool were fine but they could do with a bit of tlc just to match the splendour of the surroundings. The surroundings are really magnificent. On the banks of the River Tay with large lawns and forest above you can’t really compete. Scenery like that just reminds us of how lucky we are to live where we do. The food in the restaurant was very good. Nice portions, sophisticated but still friendly menu (does that make sense?). After dinner we went for little 5 min walk outside. The restaurant does get very warm and after 3 courses you need a little blast of fresh air. I had got dressed up for dinner but my heels were not really suitable for moonlight wanderings, so a wee twirl by the Tay and in we went for a nightcap at the bar.10639637_10153104075772334_2809614412657423890_n Moonlight Twirling by The River Tay

 

Breakfast was good and plentiful (including tattie scones, yay!) and set us up for the day, it helped that we went swimming before breakfast so had worked up an appetite again! We sat outside to finish our cups of tea when lo and behold a birds of prey demonstration started, something else we hadn’t known about so it was another wee treat to have a close up look at some magnificent birds. For those worried it seemed like the birds were well treated, it runs as part of a conservation charity that rehabilitates and looks after injured wild birds as well as doing demonstrations.

 

When we checked out we headed over to Angus County for another walk, this time a path on the route of an old railway line around Newtyle. This was an easy walk for us; more or less flat the whole way and excellent activity to help digest the big breakfast!

 

We headed home via Dundee where I popped into a couple of shops to get fabric for sewing classes I have just started. It was a lovely weekend of wandering and good food. Now that we are in the midst of complete chaos I am very glad we had a couple of days just ourselves and relaxation. I’m in front of my computer for about 43 hours a week at the moment so time outdoors is very, very much appreciated!

 

I’ll be back soon with a Foodie Friday post.

 

Merry