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!


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 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.


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.


Instagrammers Anonymous: Winter Appears to Have Begun

Yes, today it is the highlight – I think I can safely say – of everyone’s week: Friday. For millions around the world this is – obviously – because it’s Instagrammers Anonymous day, and for a select few it is because it marks the start of a couple of days of being even busier than you are the rest of the week. At least I think that’s the way it works.

It’s been another busy week, last weekend vanished into the kitchen and dog walking, whilst Monday involved a game of Scrabble that got too competitive (can you use a French word if it’s one we would use in cooking here? It was quite a close game), Tuesday a wine and food tasting at Valvona and Crolla (it was a charity thing my parents were going to, but I managed to wrangle a ticket), I was going to write a post about it, but I completely forgot to take any photos – I may or may not have taken advantage of lots of the good wine and port that was on offer. Wednesday saw another trip to see Skyfall – it’s still incredible, can’t wait for the DVD to come out – and Thursday, well Thursday I decided it was time for a little exercise and TV watching. Emphasis on the TV watching.

Of all last weekend’s exploits, I managed to take photos of none (perhaps I’m losing my addiction to Instagram? But I very much doubt it), I did however, take photos whilst out walking the dog. The sunset was pretty amazing on Saturday down by the shore, so naturally the addiction kicked in.Sunset, firth of forth, instagram

Apart from that, the only other photo I’ve taken this week was one snapped on a lunchtime stroll through Princes Street Gardens. You can tell that winter appears to have begun, there are fewer and fewer people out and about, and (shockingly) barely anyone sitting on the benches to eat their lunch.Benches and bare trees in Princes Street Gardens

I’ve less of a kitchen-dwelling weekend planned for the next few days – I’m off to the Scotland Vs All Blacks match at Murrayfield on Sunday, so so so excited – so who knows how it’ll all end up (well, I’ve a pretty good idea of what’ll happen on Sunday, but team spirit is a wonderful thing). Hope you have a great weekend.


PS. On a completely arbitrary note, does anyone know where I can buy roll-out brown icing in the Edinburgh area/the internet?