Instagrammers Anonymous: Tied to the Kitchen & Boxes

Whilst the weather outside isn’t frightening it is a touch on the bloody freezing side. Monday’s ice managed to partially melt by Thursday it was back this morning with a vengeance; the number of Christmas trees is also rising almost exponentially. As they say in the song: it’s winter time, in the city.

Although whilst I have encountered my fair share of the ice whilst walking the dog, I have spent a lot of this week in my warm kitchen, going on various baking adventures. So here is this week’s quick round up of festive fever – Instagrammers Anonymous.

Last weekend I went up to Perthshire and took lots of photos of the frost. I also took advantage of Historic Scotland’s offer of a free trip to Edinburgh Castle.Edinburgh Castle from the Esplanade

I bit the bullet and finally made good on my pledge to attempt to make macarons. Sure, they weren’t even in the slightest bit successful, however, the newly-branded dark chocolate and almond bites taste lovely, and go really well with the white ganache. This is what they looked like, before they didn’t quite rise in the oven.Chocolate macaron ready to go into the oven

And finally this week I have the excuse for not writing a post for Monday.The key to my new flat!

Yes, this is my new front door key! I’m (finally) moving house this weekend and consequently don’t think I’ll have much time for anything that doesn’t involve lots of cardboard boxes. On the plus side, my new flat is less than two minutes walk from a cheese shop; that can surely only be a good thing.

Enjoy the weekend!

Cr

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A Weekend of Frozen Adventures

I think we can all agree that winter is now well and truly with us. But, on the plus side, it’s now CHRISTMAS TIME!!!!!!!!!

I’ve ditched my “It’s not even sodding December yet!” hat and replaced it with one of festive excitement and (bad) singing.

This weekend I definitely got well and truly into the festive spirit, and then promptly got back out of it by attempting to do some Christmas shopping. However, with a mince pie in hand and the Michael Bublé Christmas album on in the background I’m getting back into the mood.

Frosty leaves on atree trunkI went on a bit of an adventure on Saturday up to Perthshire, to go visit my great uncle. I don’t get up nearly as often as I’d like, but when I get the chance, I don’t hesitate on breaking free of the city and head of to more rural lands; so with the dog in the backseat we headed up the A9 for a day out. This is where most of my festive spirit came through – it was beautifully crisp and clear day, and the hills were all dusted with frost and snow. With the Christmas music drowning out my tuneless singing it was hard not to wish it was the 25th already.dog looking at river

To give her Majesty a bit of a walk I stopped off at The Hermitage, near Dunkeld. This turned out to be both a lot of fun and a bit precarious as it was, for the most part, a large ice rink. Keira had a whale of a time, of course, and I only had one unscheduled sit down, so I would definitely call the walk a success. It also gave me plenty of opportunity to take photos of frosty things. I don’t know why I’m so fascinated by them, but each time I’m out and about I end up taking more photos of them.

Once I’d ditched the boots we headed off to the village of Blair Atholl for a few hours of coffee, cake and chat (he still thinks I’m slightly nuts for going to Moscow, but we put pretty much everything else in the world to rights and I learnt a lot about Burma during the second world war). By the time we got round to leaving it was pitch black, but we were just in time to make a quick visit to one of my favourite shops – The House of Bruar. Whilst I would love many of the jackets and boots they sell there my salary doesn’t quite cover it, so I made do with a visit to the foodhall. On the somewhat transparent excuse of ‘looking for Christmas presents’ I managed to come out with some roast duck pâté, claret-infused cheddar and some honey and whisky smoked salmon. Definitely the best shopping I’ve managed so far, and definintely not one I’m keen on sharing. Our drive home was pretty uneventful, but I can confirm that my singing abilities did not improve.

Front of Edinburgh CastleSunday was another bright and early start, but this time to make use of my free Historic Scotland weekend pass and go have an up-close look at Edinburgh Castle. I only discovered last year that Historic Scotland do this pass each year on a weekend around St Andrews day, but some friends and I decided to monopolise on their good will and take a look at the most famous landmark in Edinburgh. Very little has changed since I went last year, which I guess isn’t hugely surprising but it was a lovely morning to stare at every horizon. One thing I did observe though, is that people are rather dim and were definitely waiting for the One O’Clock Gun to be fired, despite the large sign that says that it isn’t fired on a Sunday.

After our trip to the Castle I went on an unsuccessful attempt to buy others presents and have established that I am not a fan of festive shoppers. I am also very disappointed in the selection of Christmas jumpers on offer! Even the Jeremy Kyle recruitment centre (aka Primark), which has many in its window, couldn’t provide me with something for the office party. And even more upsetting, Whittards had sold out of Mulled Wine tea! I did get an orange and cinnamon rooibos, but it was the icing on the cake of a spectacularly bad (even by my standards) shipping trip. Time for mulled wine and Amazon shopping, I think.

Click on one of the photos below to see the slide show.

Cr

Instagrammers Anonymous: Preparing to Light the Lights and a Sunrise

The sun is shining, the sky is a bright blue. And it feels about -5 degrees outside. Uh huh, that proverbial goose is definitely getting fat again as the festive season draws near. But not quite yet, in my books. Today is the 30th November, which means that I am still in Bah-Humbug-Scrooge mode – it is not time for Christmas quite yet. All that will change tomorrow, of course, as the 1st of December is the time for singing Christmas songs, wearing Christmas jumpers (the more horrific the better!) and, of course, having as much mulled wine as I can without falling over.

Someone asked me other day if I was writing a special post to celebrate the fact that today is St Andrews Day, and the short answer is no. I don’t subscribe to hand-on-where-your-heart-is-not patriotism, I prefer the British reserve for such occasions  so I will not indulge in public consumption of whisky or Irn Bru (partially because they’re both horrible) nor will I be eating haggis or be wearing tartan. Hopefully we’ll not be treated to too much pro-independence bullsh*t and can all get on with our lives. Perhaps we won’t be so lucky, but at least we have Instagrammers Anonymous!

Ahead of all the Christmas lights being turned on in the centre of Edinburgh, there has been a flurry of pre-Christmas decorating going on. With the wheel up, the tree here from Norway and in place on the Mound, the only real thing left was to string the lights across George Street. I was beginning to wonder if they’d forgotten about them, but in the time between me leaving work on Monday evening and coming in on Tuesday morning, the street was festooned with snowflakes and icicles.The Christmas Lights on George Street before the big switch on

The other addition to our little part of town this week was the annual St Columba’s Hospice Christmas tree In Charlotte Square. The hospice are running the campaign again this year where you can ‘Light a Light’ in honour of someone close to you who is no longer with us; all donations, of course, go to helping the hospice care for those who are soon to join the people who have had lights named after them. If you want to get involved, here is the Light a Light page.The St Columba's Hospice Tree in Charlotte Square

Finally this week, I – for some unknown reason – was exceptionally organised and in town half an hour before I needed to be this morning. Coupled with the crippling temperatures, we had a beautiful fire-y sunrise, which lit up West Register House like, well, a Christmas tree. This definitely put a smile on my face this morning and reminded me just how amazing a city Edinburgh really is.West Register House in the sunrise

I have a very busy (and exciting) weekend lined up, which I’ll no doubt share next week. It will also be December, so expect many pictures of lights, trees and the occasional Christmas jumper.

Have a great weekend.

Cr

Piers, Water and Hills: An Unplanned Cycling Adventure

Winter is the season that you tend to huddle up indoors, looking out grimly at the howling gale; but just occasionally you get out to have a little adventure. On Saturday I was a bit bored; I’d already walked the dog, put off all things I probably ought to be doing, the rugby hadn’t started (although missing that would not exactly have been a tragedy) and I was waiting for the wonders of technology to update themselves before I could progress any further on the blogging front (I really, really don’t get computers). As it was a nice enough afternoon – and by that I mean dry and light, those were pretty much its only redeeming features – I decided that it was time I went out on my bike and did a little exercise.

Bike at Granton Harbour, Edinburgh‘Adventure’ is possibly the wrong word to describe my trip; I didn’t actually go anywhere I hadn’t been before, but it was a case of “I’ll just go a little further this way” and “perhaps I’ll go right here”. But whilst I know my little corner of Edinburgh quite well I’d never actually cycled down to Granton. Urban regeneration – and other such buzzwords – have treated that part of town pretty well over the last decade or so, and on a calm day the whole place becomes rather peaceful.

We tend to think of Newhaven as the area for boats, with its stone harbour and lighthouse, but I always tend to forget that most of the little boats are kept along at Granton Harbour. It’s also substantially bigger than I realised, with its old (much more cobbled together than its neighbour) stone pier reaching out far into the Firth of Forth.Panoramic Looking down the pier Granton Harbour, Edinburgh

Once I’d sat and pondered my ‘discovery’ for a minute or two (it was a little too cold for sitting on stone for very long) I got back on my bike and went along in the direction of Gypsy Brae and Silverknowes.Looking out from the promenade between Granton and Silverknowes, Edinburgh

Back in the comfort of the well-known I went along the sweeping promenade, dodging inbetween dog walkers and old grannies loudly moaning about “yooffs” cycling along a walking path (I can only assume she left her glasses at home with her false teeth, as I don’t think I really come under that category any more and neither do the other adults cycling along the front, which coincidentally is also a cycling route).Crammond Island and up the Forth estuary, Edinburgh

By the time Crammond Island and its submarine-proof causeway came properly in to view I decided it was time I braved the cycle home. Whilst the shoreline might suffer with global sea level rises, the rest of this part of town really won’t; by the time I got to the top of the succession of hills and paused to catch my breath, the sun was well and truly beginning to fade away for the day. I got back in time to watch the majority of the rugby – and wish that I’d left the hill for later and taken the protracted trip back by Crammond and the river Almond.

Cr

Instagrammers Anonymous: A Busy Week In Edinburgh

Friday has come round again, which thankfully means it’s an end to a really busy week in the office. It also means it’s time for Instagrammers Anonymous!

The Instagramming week started on Saturday, when a friend and I decided at the last-minute to get tickets for the rugby. Whilst neither South Africa nor Scotland can really call it a triumph of a match, it was still a fun afternoon. Given that this week’s match is up in Aberdeen, I think we’ll just have to watch it on TV.Scotland Vs South Africa at Murrayfield

Charlotte Square seems to be going through another run of appearances on the blog (it seems to do this every so often, and not just because I work nearby), so here’s this week’s lunchtime wander photo.Sunlight in Charlotte Square, Edinburgh

Much as I think Christmas should be kept firmly to December – I heard Christmas music blaring from someone’s car yesterday evening and immediately turned into Scrooge – there are certain things that I realise need to be prepared for in advance. Edinburgh launches its Christmas markets and associated frivolities at the end of November (just in time for proper Christmas shopping to begin), one of the most famous parts of this being the giant ferris wheel that sits beside the Scott Monument in East Princes Street Gardens. Obviously a giant wheel is quite hard to miss, so when I was wandering about town at lunchtime the other day I decided to ditch the Scrooge hat for a couple of minutes to acknowledge that it looks quite good set against blue skies and Thunderbird 3 (aka the Scott Monument).The Christmas Wheel and the Scott Monument, Edinburgh, Christmas

Whatever you do this weekend, I hope you can resist the Yuletide lure – just one more week then we can all be so excited we’re bored of it by the 15th!

Cr