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Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Around Edinburgh

You know that I’ve been following the Paleo way of eating since January?   Well, two of my “gurus” have been Jeremy and Louise Hendon, of websites, PaleoMagazine, and the Ancestral Chef, who just happen to be husband and wife.  Jeremy is American, the one who is more involved in the science side of Paleo, and Louise is of Chinese descent though brought up in England, and she tackles the cooking side of things with many delicious recipes on the website and an ebook or two available on Amazon.  Recently they combined their blogs to become Paleomagazine.com

I was interested recently to see that the two of them were in Edinburgh, so I emailed them saying I would like to meet them.  After a few emails back and forward we had arranged a meeting for last week.  I met them and their Californian friend Jen, at their rented flat in the city, and took them on a tour of some of the places they wouldn’t see on a tour bus. cramond jeremy louise and jen zm So here are the three of them at Cramond on the shores of the River Almond where it meets the Firth of Forth (the estuary of the river Forth).  Jen, with the sunglasses, was visiting from US for a few days, so was surprised to be on an unexpected tour!

cramond me with Louise and jeremyand here are Jeremy, Louise and myself in about the same spot.  Tide’s out!  Way out!  causeway to cramond islandThe causeway out to Cramond Island in the Forth was  clear all the way, but not knowing how long it would be before the tide came back in, we decided not to risk the crossing, though there were a couple of people out there!  The causeway was built during the second world war as a deterrant to boats and potential German submarines from passing on the landward side of the island.  There are far better photos and a bit of history on the website I keep going back to – undiscovered Scotland.  Take a look here.

cramond gallery bistroThe main village of Cramond is facing the river Almond and is now a popular spot with visitors.  Again. looking at this website I learned more than I knew before about the village.  It had quite an industrial past, as well as having had prehistoric and Roman settlements.  I wonder if these buildings were part of the industrial past.  Normally I’d expect a little village on the shore to be a row of single storey cottages!  There’s an upper part to the village too, where the road descends to the shore.  a cramond laneSteps connect the two parts, which may well have been built for workers in the village to reach the ironworks more easily.  Now the white buildings are little galleries and restaurants, though I expect some parts are now residential.

So, onward, to South Queensferry to see the Forth Bridge.  It was very busy with visitors even on a Monday.  at forth bridgeHere are Jeremy and Louise posing beside an old Victorian post box, with the Forth Bridge , the railway bridge, in the background.  For a while it was having lots of repairs done to it, but now the “bandages” are off and the old girl is back to her former glory.  I love it!  Once again I turn to Undiscovered Scotland for info and photos.  See herequeensferry towers for third bridgeOf course there’s the other bridge too, the 1964 road bridge, which I watched being built when just a kid, and now you can see beyond it, to the pillars for a third bridge, another road bridge because this one was never expected to have to cope with the amount of traffic there is today!  It is to be called the Queensferry Crossing – the Queen was Queen Margaret, wife of the Scottish King Malcolm Canmore and is how the village got its name.  I remember the old ferry boats before the first road bridge was built.  Here’s a bit of info from the BBC on the progress of the new crossing!queensferry 3 bridges

I had to laugh when I saw the front of this old building, a restaurant and hotel.  lIt used to be “The Two Bridges”  but they’re way ahead and the 2 has already been changed to 3!

queensferry ferry tapWe managed to park the car for a short while  in the village of South Queensferry itself, and took a walk along the main street.  Yet again Undiscovered Scotland comes up with the goods, but here are one or two of my photos too.queensferry and forth bridge

queensferry terraces

We had a giggle looking in through one of the gift shop windows on the terraced walkway.  It purported to be selling “haggis teeth! queensferry fred's shop Now that’s something I haven’t seen before!!!!!  queensferry j.l and j with fredWe had to find out more, and met Fred who showed us the “teeth” he had for sale on leather thongs.  He told us the usual stories we Scots tell of the Haggis, and of how they live a very long life, with their teeth growing all the time.  He showed us long “teeth from a very old haggis” and some shorter ones which were “from a young haggis”!  Can you make out what they are?   haggis toothI zoomed in to my photo of Fred to see if it could appear clearer, but it hasn’t, so I think I am going to have to shatter the illusion that these are actual haggis teeth and tell you that they are tips of deer antlers!  There, I’ve given the game away!  If you see Fred yourself, don’t tell him I told you!  Just enjoy the fun, just as we did!

blackford_arthursOnwards once again with “tea to go” from a Queensferry cafe, for a drive round the outer city – up to the Braid Hills, past the back of the late 19th century Royal Observatory on Blackford Hill (photo by Dave Henniker Edinburgh Photography), and eventually to the hill in the background of Dave’s photo, Arthur Seat, which sits right in the middle of the city that now encompasses so many small villages that were once considered well out of the town.  We drove around the hill on the Queen’s Drive (designed by Prince Albert for Queen Victoria) , past Holyrood Palace, and round to man-made St Margaret’s  Loch, below the ruin of St Anthony’s chapel.  The Queen’s Drive continues uphill and round to the south of the hill where, once you pass the second artificial loch, Dunsapie Loch (pronounced as if there were two Ps – Dun-sappie), you get wonderful views to south and east. Once more I recommend you  look at the Undiscovered Scotland website for more photos and information here. jeremy louise and jenl.j and j arthur seat looking east

That’s Salisbury Crags in the background of this photo on the left, while on the horizon behind the trio is the Royal Mile.  You can probably see some of the steeples of the Old Town.  The photo on the right is the view to the east, right down to North Berwick in East Lothian, at the point where the Firth of Forth is becoming part of the North Sea.  If we had had time we might have climbed to the top of the hill, but there were tickets for an Edinburgh Festival Fringe show in Louise’s wallet, and time was getting on.

We headed on down to the street  called The Pleasance where the show was taking place in one of the University theatres.  I managed to get a ticket to join them at “The Only Way is Downton”, a one-man show based on the characters of the TV series Downton Abbey.  There’s a revue and clip from the show on this website.  Luke Kempner was very funny in all the parts - The Dowager Duchess, Lord Grantham, Cora, Mary, Matthew, Miss O’Brien, nasty Thomas, Mr Bates, Mrs Patmore and Daisy – holding conversations with himself from different angles, depending on who he was at any one point!

To finish off the evening we all went for a meal at the Mosque Kitchen – a lovely curry with kebab, mostly Paleo but with rice which we don’t eat too often.  It had been a lovely day, and as I dropped the three off at their flat, I felt I had made three new friends that day.  Hopefully we‘ll meet again before they head off back to the US.  Louise did suggest they might come down to look at Peebles when Jeremy’s mother comes to visit.  Now which of our lovely tearooms will I take them to?

Talk again soon.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Norma’s garden

I was visiting my friend Norma in a village not far from Edinburgh the other day.  She has the most gorgeous garden, which I love to walk around.  There is always something at every season to admire.  At this time of year the herbaceous plants are still looking great, and I just had to take lots of photos!

norma's troughLooking from the back door you see ahead of you the garden shed, with this beautiful trough in front of it.  norma's meercats 03Turn to your right and the garden opens up in front of you, guarded by these guys…………………….

The large flowerbed is comparatively recent.  norma's back gardenThere was a large tree in the corner of the lawn, that had to be cut down so Norma’s husband created this bed around the old tree stump.  norma's..norma's toadstool

IMG_2395 Here are some of the plants and more of the quirky little ornaments around the whole garden.norma's                     

The butterflies hadn’t  appeared yet to flit around the buddleia, but the bumble bees were buzzing around instead.norma's bee2

norma's bumble bee





and this baby robin came to perch on the old tree stump, and allowed me to take several photos of it! norma's baby robin  No red breast yet, just a speckled brown.  He was so cute! norma's baby robin7norma's honeysuckle


The honeysuckle too was in bloom winding up over the old washing line pole.  The scent was delicious!

Looking across the large flowerbed are Norma’s two greenhouses, or as she says, her greenhouse and her detached conservatory!norma's greenhouses from arge bednorma's greenhouses and pond 

One is a working greenhouse where she grows seeds and plants cuttings, while the other has chairs and a table where she and Malcolm sit with their cups of tea to admire the garden.norma's fuchsia  Pots of fuchsia also sit in the sitooterie ( a place to sit out), norma's raspberry ripplealong with this geranium with the delicious name of Raspberry Ripple.norma's sitooterie





IMG_2377Here’s the view to the large flowerbed from the greenhouse.  IMG_2382There are tomatoes too, still green, but accompanied by three large wooden toadstools!

norma's wild gardenTo the left of the greenhouses at the back of the garden is a thin wild stretch where poppies had been blooming not long before.  The petals had fallen leaving just the pepper pot seedpods.IMG_2402  The Himalayan balsam is very pretty but has the habit of spreading its seeds in an explosion of the seed pods.  However, Norma has it kept well under control.norma's buddleia

Soon the butterflies will have hatched out and be covering the buddleia.  I saw one in my own garden yesterday.Norma's01

norma's pondIn front of the greenhouse is the pond, probably full of frogs, along with flag irises and reeds.  Norma's treeNorma has a lot of little garden ornaments in the rockery behind the pond, and hanging from the wiggly branched tree.  There she also hangs bird feeders.

norma's hydrangea corner

In the corner behind the kitchen are the most gorgeous hydrangeas.  IMG_2367You can’t grow them in Peebles apparently but here they do extremely well.  More buddleias and some grasses help to adorn this charming corner. norma's bonsi Then there are Norma’s bonsai trees, with their smaller than normal leaves.  The five fingered horse chestnut leaves here are probably six inches across whereas a fully grown tree would have leaves three times the size.

I hope you  enjoyed the tour of Norma’s garden as much as I did.  Next time I will be right in the centre of Edinburgh at night!  I wonder what you make of that!

Talk again soon.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Bus trip

It was a beautiful morning when about 40 members of the U3A and the Tweeddale Society left Peebles on a hired coach on route to Fife.  elie2

It was still beautiful  when we stopped at Elie (EEly) in the East Neuk for morning coffee.  elie bayWe sat outside with our cups of tea or coffee and admired the views of the harbour, the small town, the beach – incidentally the beach where my parents met many years (70+) ago! 

It was still beautiful and getting hotter when we arrived at Pittenweem where a number of us left the bus to take the coastal path to Anstruther, or Ainster to the locals.  The rest of the group stayed put, to continue on the coach to Anstruther ,  where it was arranged that we would all meet up at the fish’n’chip shop near the harbour. So, the walking group set off to find the start of the coastal path, and as we walked down one old street I found the actual former fisherman’s house that I have a drawing of, and wanted to make into a dollshouse!  I tried to take a picture of it but the iPad locked itself and I couldn’t take the picture, nor could I let the group get out of my sight, so I pressed on.  Next time!  It was a typical two storey house with storage below and living space above reached by an outside stair.  Now I think the storage downstairs has been made into another flat/apartment.  Wish I could find the drawing now.  It wasn’t one I did, as you can tell.

pittenweemWe walked through a couple of streets and IMG_2220down  by the harbourIMG_2221 before setting off along the path above the sea.

 IMG_2224So lovely, with wild flowers in bloom, the cry of larks soaring above,  and the squawking of seagulls dipping into, and rising from, the gullies beneath us.IMG_2235IMG_2222 

IMG_2234Enjoy the views with me.



It was so nice just wandering along the path, exchanging hellos with people and their dogs going the opposite way.  The sound, the smell and sight of the sea was almost intoxicating.  IMG_2256It was gentle that day, but I wouldn’t care to be walking that way on a stormy winter day.  It wouldn’t be safe, for one thing! IMG_2229



stoney beach




red campion


nearing Anstruther






And suddenly Anstruther was ahead in the distance .

By this time the group had got further ahead of me – as I was always stopping to take photos – so I had to find my way to the harbour and the fish’n’chip shop to meet everyone.  I took one or two wrong turnings, and found that a river crossing had to be made first! ainster noost Still the wrong turnings were interesting. e.g. I came across this little boathouse and “noost” (a place where a boat can be pulled ashore and moored for shelter from the sea).ainster2 


Then I walked down the lane between two fairly old buildings and found myself  in a smaller harbour with the river flowing from the left into the bay. ainster churchyard


In front of me was where I wanted to be, and behind me the attractive little church and burial ground.  ainster houses by the riverI had to retrace my steps a second time and cross the river by the bridge that carries the main road. 

The gable end of the house on the left had some designs made of seashells,more shell detail and the window was bordered by more.  ainster shell houseOn the corner opposite was another house, with more shell decoration.  I remember it from previous visits to this corner of Fife, but thought it was looking slightly the worse for wear, with missing shells here and there.  Still pretty impressive though!ainster chalmers birthplace

Walking towards the town centre I spied a wrought iron gate with the words CHALMERS BIRTHPLACE written into the design, and with a pretty cottage at the end of the close or pathway between two buildings.220px-Thomas_Chalmers'_birthplace,_Old_Post_Office_Close,_Anstruther  The only famous Chalmers I knew of was the Reverend Thomas Chalmers, who became the first leader/Moderator of the Free church of Scotland in 1843.  He and other ministers and members of their congregations left the established church 220px-Thomas_Chalmers_by_David_Octavius_Hill,_c1843-47in protest against landowners choosing who to was to preach in their churches.  The Disruption, as it became known, meant that a congregation could now choose the man they wanted as minister.  I had to look up Thomas’s birth on the internet, and found this was indeed the Chalmers I thought it was.  Strangely enough he also has a tenuous connection to my family, in that one of my 18th century ancestors married into the Pratt family, and a daughter of that marriage married Thomas! ainster3 

This photo is looking back to the old church and houses I had seen across the river, while the last one is the little harbour again, from across the sand  –ainster small harbour and it was here where the battery on my iPad gave up the ghost!  I had forgotten to charge it up overnight!

So eventually I found my way to the shore where the rest of the group were already eating or were queuing up for fish suppers – that’s what we call our fish’n’chips here, no matter what the time of day.  I and some of the others  had brought our own lunches, but I treated myself to an ice cream cone before we all climbed back on the coach for the second part of our outing, a visit to Kellie Castle before our journey back to Peebles.  Not having any more photos, I can only refer you to this website and to my blogpost of 1 August 2011 from the last time I visited.  I’ve tried to do a link to the post but it’s not happening, I’m afraid……  Well, it actually might work now, now that I’ve fiddled some more.

Anyway, what a day!  The weather couldn’t have been better, and the scenery was magnificent.  I think we all had a great day!

Talk again soon.