Weekend Wandering – Sunshine at Foodies and a spot of Cliff Jumping

SUNSHINE!

Yes actual sunshine – what a wonderful surprise! The weather this summer hasn’t been great so to get some actual sunshine and on a Saturday was pretty good. I did get a little bit sunburnt on my neck (apparently I will never learn) but it felt so good to be out and about enjoying nice weather, eating tasty treats and spending time with very good friends. We were at the Foodies Festival  in Inverleith Park in Edinburgh on Saturday.

This year:

I sampled some blackberry gin (I bought a wee bottle, very tasty)

Ate Paella (YUM)

Shared a Twisty Chip (not as tasty as it looks),

Tasted some Peppermint Tonic (Peppermint helps my migraines so will see how this works out)

Tried Peppercorn Sauce (bought some and had it with steak for tea last night)

Loved a jar of Salted Caramel Sauce (Stashed away in the cupboard for a naughty pudding sometime)

And I bought a smoked garlic bulb (to keep vampires away)

We had a great time, Ice Cream was also consumed, obligatory when the sun is out and this year they had allowed a bit more space for the festival which was much better. My friends had brought a picnic rug which was excellent thinking on their part.

Afterwards The Boyo and I arrived back at my friends house early so we stole their dog…. well we took her for a wee walk, then enjoyed a pleasant evening eating pizza and yakking away. My friends only live an hour away but with busy lives we don’t see each other nearly as often as we should. I always enjoy good times in their company and their little 2 year old is the best wee person I know.

On Sunday we got up bright and early with my Dad in tow to go Canyoning with Nae Limits in Perthshire. We got all kitted up with full body wetsuits (not exactly designed for those well endowed in the chest area, breathing was tricky!), hard hats, life jackets, trainers and a climbing harness. Unfortunately when we got to The Falls of Bruar there was just too much water in the river. The rather dismal Scottish Summer scuppered our plans. Instead we went cliff jumping near Soldier’s Leap in Killiecrankie.

My Dad did really well jumping off the various sized cliffs. The Boyo and I did so badly with even the smallest jump that we were banned from doing any more jumps. This caused great amusement to both us and the rest of the group. The Instructors were glad we saw the funny side as really the way we were jumping we were going to hurt ourselves eventually. We did enjoy a swim in the river and watching everyone else tackle big big jumps. My shoulders are suffering today after swimming with all that kit on but the fresh water in the river was really rather nice to swim in. I love the water and I’m happy to jump, I just can’t do the required hop/leap needed to safely clear the cliff and to be honest both the Boyo and I are daft eejits anyway – well suited!

We will go Canyoning another time but I would encourage you to check out Nae Limits if you are in Perthshire and fancy some adventure. They do all sorts of activities, I’m really keen to try Tubing and Whitewater Rafting and they do mini adventures for kids too. The cafe and centre is just off the A9, South of Pitlochry and we enjoyed a good lunch after our activities, so even if you are not the adventurous (MAD) type then the cafe does good food too.

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Weekend Wandering – Splashing Around on the Causeway Coast

At the moment I’m hopping between work in Fife and Northern Ireland, where my Boyo is from. He is staying over there just now with his family and I’m flying over to spend weekends with them. The family includes a very lovely dog called Maggie.

Maggie likes to get a good daily walk. The Boyo is lucky that he grew up right on the North Coast and has wonderful beaches, cliff top paths, ruined castles and of course the Giants Causeway right on his doorstep over there. Plenty of lovely places for walks, especially when the weather is fine. On Sunday it was even warm enough for both Maggie and I to enjoy splashing around at Portballintrae.

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Recent Wanderings & Summer Planning

Today as I looked out my office window (this was written during a quick lunch break) I see grey skies and lots of rain. It was very stormy on Sunday and today again, it is very soggy indeed. We are hoping to sneak in a quick camping trip up to Aberdeenshire this month and my College also has a big fun day planned, and, at the very end of the month there is a big County Guide Camp. So I’m okay with it being damp and dreich just now if the sun decides to shine over the next few weekends. In particular the last weekend in May, the 8 Guides I have from my unit attending the county camp have never really camped before and I would like it to be a really good experience for them…. soggy sleeping bags might put them off!

We’ve managed to sneak in a couple of walks in recent weeks, Dunkeld in Perthshire, Balmerino in Fife and Boddin in Angus. As usual when in Dunkeld we called in at our favourite cake spot; Spill The Beans but we have no new fabulous cafe finds to report.

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 We have however booked our Summer Holiday! The Boyo has a conference in Australia to attend at the end of June and whilst we did consider a holiday in Australia we decided it was not the right time of year and too expensive for all the things we would like to do. We’ll save for a holiday in Australia another time (it also gives me more chance to get over my fear of spiders). Instead I shall fly out and meet the Boyo at Bangkok airport. 1 night in Bangkok then 6 nights in Koh Samui. We are very excited indeed. I’m stocking up on books on my kindle. I’ve bought a new swimsuit and I have the factor 50+ suncream ready. Have any of you been to Thailand? I’m on the hunt for a beach dress, something to throw over my swimsuit, I may even consider making myself one. I have sandals ordered this Merrell Pair for all the walking about we always end up doing and I think I will buy these M&S sandals, I got them last year in a pinky colour and there were great. Footwear is really important as we are never still for very long and I have a knee condition, usually referred to as dodgy knees so my shoes have to be supportive. I had a Merrell pair of sandals for a few years that were not very pretty but they did an excellent job. I unfortunately lost them during a flat move when lived in Hong Kong. I’m hoping this pair will do just as good a job but look a bit nicer as well. I don’t think I really I need any more clothes, although an extra swimsuit would probably be handy. I am finding them to be pretty expensive though so I may just make-do with what I have. I’m trying to stop myself getting too carried away with excitement. Do any of you have summer plans? Our original plan before all of this was a week camping in Skye so this is a bit more exotic and warmer than originally anticipated for this summer.

Now I hope you have a merry day… I’m going home for a cosy evening in, maybe even a wee hot chocolate, in weather like this it is almost obligatory!

Merry in The Ferry..

Weekend Wandering – London Calling

I’ve had a pretty busy couple of months with various things, work, Girl Guides, and other things which have not really caused too much stress but when it gets round to Spring I am usually ready for a little break from work. Unfortunately the University spring break and the College spring break do not match up at all. The Boyo and I really wanted to have at least a weekend away together and by chance he managed to find reasonably priced flights from Edinburgh into London City and a Monday that we could both had off. So we flew down to London for Easter weekend. I have never really been to London – apparently I was at London Zoo when I was very small and I have a fuzzy vague recollection of some penguins and I have been to Heathrow airport many times but I had only ever seen the proper sights of London on the tv.

We did not make any proper plans – our aim for the weekend was really just to wander and to see some of the main sites. We had a really good weekend but boy were my feet and knees sore afterwards! I would not say that I have fallen in love with London but I would definitely be quite happy to visit again.

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What’s the time?

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On the way to find the Queen.

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The Boyo & I were upset the Queen was away. We had hoped to have a wee cup of tea and a scone with her.

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The Boyo requested this visit, I was not so enthused.

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We managed to get tickets to a sold out performance in the Royal Albert Hall. Fantastic seats and a really wonderful show.

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I wish I could go to Hogwarts.

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Street Art.

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Inside the British Library

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I was quite excited to see Tower Bridge.

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Discovered that not only that my sister is a Saint she also has her own docks.

We had a really great weekend, we had late night food in Chinatown, a wander around a very busy Camden Market, coffee in Hyde park, admired the houses in Kensington, a small look at the massive British Museum, and, stood on a glass walkway above the Thames on Tower Bridge. I have probably missed a few things out as we really crammed as much as we could in. It was a bit of a different type of weekend wandering compared to our usual stomps around the Scottish Countryside but once in a while a city break is jolly good fun.

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Ps. After we got back we discovered a big jewellery heist had taken place just a street away from where we were wandering on the Saturday. We never noticed a thing but I was saying to the Boyo at the time it could be a scene from a Die Hard movie with an unknown heist taking place by fake workmen because the offices etc were deserted due to it being a holiday weekend!

Weekend Wandering – Dunfermline & Auchterarder

Last weekend I had a training session for the Girl Guides in Dunfermline on the Saturday morning. We used that as an excuse to have a wander around Dunfermline later in the day. I was quite pleasantly surprised by the town. With some wonderful historic buildings and a fantastic park it was a very pleasant wander indeed.

I was particularly taken on that Dunfermline Abbey happens to have my middle name as part of the impressive tower. Not because of me I hasten to add, King Robert The Bruce is buried there. The Abbey wasn’t open for us to look inside but the grounds were quite impressive and we enjoyed looking around.

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We then went to the Andrew Carnegie Museum. It was free of charge and quite informative. I of course especially liked the information regarding the public libraries he founded. The wee lady working there was lovely and would have quite happily answered many questions, she gave us a toffee each when we left which was rather nice of her.

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We then had a wander around the large Pittencrieff Park, through woodland and over bridges and then out into the open, there is a lot of this park to explore. I found a train so I was happy.

For a late lunch we went to a lovely Italian restaurant called Carluccios on the High Street in Dunfermline. The food was very tasty and the pasta dishes were offered in half portions. We shared a garlic & mozzarella bread between us and it was ideal for lunch. I’d definitely go back again.

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The next day we went for a countryside walk around Auchterarder. We met some interesting creatures on a woodland section of the walk and enjoyed a good dose of fresh air.

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Muddy shoes are a sign of a happy weekend!

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Merry in The Ferry..

Weekend Wandering – The Castle of Gloom.

This weekend we ventured to Dollar, a small town in the Clackmannanshire region of Scotland. From Dollar you can venture up into Dollar Glen which is a very pleasant with wooded Glen. You climb up and down through the woodland over bridges and up steps and follow a tumbling Burn up to the Castle.

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Castle Campbell as it is known today is owned by Historic Scotland. Originally it was called Castle Gloom which comes from the Gaelic word glom meaning chasm. Personally I like the Gloom name more than Campbell but as the venue is used for weddings now I can see why Campbell may be more wedding friendly.

 

 

 

 

From the other side of the Castle you follow the other Burn down the Glen. The Burns are named Care and Sorrow, which I rather like. Dollar Glen, Burn of care, Burn of Sorrow and Castle Gloom would all rather well lend themselves to a dramatic story or two. Just after the Castle you reach a little viewing point to the Chasm where the two Burns meet and this splendid feature would have given the Castle its original name.

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On this walk we had a favourite little furry friend accompany us. We were dog sitting for a night which we were very happy about. Our little friend enjoyed the walk a lot and as an obedient wee dog she was able to be off the lead for the majority of the walk.

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We left her for a snooze in the car whilst we grabbed a quick bite to eat. Dollar had a couple of very nice looking places to choose from. We picked The Bridge Street Kitchen. We were both impressed with the menu. After a big breakfast  that morning something light for a late lunch was in order but another time we’d have ordered a few different dishes tapas style to share. We both had a pizzette and they were very tasty. The cabinet had a few very delicious cakes on offer but we resisted as I knew I would be baking later in the day.

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We stopped at woods near our house to let the doggy stretch her legs before heading home for a cosy evening on the couch, reading and watching tv whilst the dog took turns to snooze on each of us. She was like a little hot water bottle. She did wake up when The Boyo did a little fart though, she sniffed then whimpered then turned away! Poor dog.

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My doggy friend & I were quite content with snoozes on the sofa. 

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The next day I baked, I had intended to do it the night before but was too lazy. My vanilla and chocolate loaf turned into hint of mint and chocolate loaf though as I picked up the wrong bottle. Oops. Tastes okay though. We took our doggy friend a wander around the local countryside before my friends came to collect her at lunchtime.

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We did a little bit of housework but I mostly spent Sunday afternoon drinking tea and reading the latest Alexander McCall Smith book I bought at an event before Christmas. Happy Sunday afternoon Indeed!

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Foodie Friday – Chocolate Brownies

So today I am going to share one of my never fail recipes: Chocolate Brownies. Chocolate Brownies are always popular. I suggest that if you are going on a picnic then you make them the night before then you must test one warm out the oven with ice cream. – yum yum yum. The rest once cooled are great little picnic treats, or great to bribe work colleagues into liking you. Or just making friends in general!

Makes around 10.
Ingredients
75g Mixture of milk and dark chocolate (whatever you prefer, I use about half and half, all dark is too bitter for my sweet tooth!)
75g Butter
2 Eggs
Splash of Vanilla Essence
250g Caster Sugar (no one said these were healthy!)
100g Plain flour
½ teaspoon Baking Powder

Method
Melt the chocolate with the butter over a pan of simmering water. Meanwhile switch the oven on to warm up, 190c Gas mark 5.
Whisk the eggs and sugar together until the mixture is pale and creamy. Add the vanilla essence and stir in the melted chocolate into the egg mixture.
Grease a tin. I suggest a 20cm square tin. Line the tin with baking paper. Our the brownie mixture into the tin and smooth so it is roughly even, remember the corners.
Bake in the oven for around 25 minutes until the brownies are firm on top and a skewer into the centre comes clean. I like my brownies slightly gooey but if you like them firm leave them a bit longer, but keep an eye on them so the don’t burn.
Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before cutting into pieces – the size is up to you!

I don’t have a photo, by the time I remember they have all been eaten. Oops! I don’t have much more to post today as it is way too hot for my brain cells to work. I long to be by a pool with an icy drink, alas I’ve spent all week in front of a computer and my eyes hurt, my brain is sweltered and once again the sun is supposed to go over the weekend when I’m off to enjoy it, typical!

Have a good weekend folks!

Merry

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