Sunday, September 14, 2014

Things To Do In And Around Edinburgh

I recently spent a couple of weeks in Edinburgh and managed to find plenty to do:-
[Please click on any photo to see a larger version.]

Afternoon tea and cake at Henderson's at St John's. I have to say that this was not a very good experience, although I have enjoyed lunch there in the past. The teapot barely held enough for one tea cup and the gluten free cake was about 2 inches square when it came out of its packaging (bought in, not made on the premises). Not very good value for money. However, it is an interesting place to sit and they do a good range of vegetarian food.

 The Scottish Gallery of Modern Art, housed in two buildings on opposite sides of Belford Road.

There are two interesting exhibitions on at the moment:- American Impressionism: A New Vision; and Generation: 25 Years of Contemporary Art in Scotland. The views above show some of the sculptures in the garden of Modern One.

I enjoyed early morning coffee and cake in the restaurant at Modern One before it was busy. A very nice place to sit and excellent gluten free cake choices!

The Royal Botanic Garden has two great cafes, glasshouses with exotic planting, and 70 acres of landscaped grounds to wander around in. This time I particularly enjoyed the mixed vegetable and flower borders, the wildflower meadow and the alpines area.

The National Portrait Gallery is set in a beautiful building that I believe was the Museum of Antiquities at one time. The library houses a rather gruesome collection of death masks. There is a John Ruskin exhibition on at the moment, and also one of John Byrne's work.

The National Museum of Scotland is well worth a visit. There is so much to see, including the 'Ming' exhibition, which is on until the 19th of October.

A short walk away is Mother India's Cafe, where you can order a variety of small dishes. Since I was on my own, I limited myself to two dishes with rice, poppadom and coriander chutney. I ate dal made with split peas, and okra with tomatoes. Everything was very tasty, with fast and efficient service.

When I had had enough of walking, I went on an open-top bus tour with Edinburgh Tour. It costs £14 for a 55 minute trip around both new and old towns. The view above shows the Scott Monument with Jenners Department Store in the background, seen at the start of the tour from Waverly Bridge.

 There are lots of East Coast beaches near to Edinburgh. The view above is of a beach near Aberlady.

 Brock on the beach at North Berwick.

 A view of boats from the beach at North Berwick. This was our favourite beach and town.

 A panorama of Portobello beach.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Moth Caterpillars

On our walk today we came across several caterpillars. Rob took photos of two of them:-

 Elephant Hawk Moth Caterpillar

White Ermine Moth Caterpillar

These both turn into beautiful moths that we had no idea were living in the area. The Elephant Hawk Moth Caterpillar feeds on willow herbs (of which we have plenty in the area) and the White Ermine Moth Caterpillar feeds on a variety of herbaceous plants.

Friday, August 15, 2014

A Trip To Alnmouth

Rob, Brock and I had a few hours at Alnmouth, Northumberland on Wednesday.

It is a very attractive seaside village, with a marina, golf course, lots of restaurants, pubs, hotels and cafés (for its size). There are also a few gift shops and delis to browse in.

We enjoyed lunch at The Red Lion Inn: a 'starter' of crisps, followed by Stilton and red onion sandwich for Rob; omelet and salad garnish for me. (The latter was a special request that they kindly cooked for me, since they didn't have any vegetarian, gluten free dishes listed on the menu.) The food was tasty, and it was a nice place to sit and relax. I see from their website that they do Bed and Breakfast, and also have a beer garden overlooking the sea, which we didn't spot. The Inn allows dogs into the bar area and beer garden, which is useful if you happen to have one with you.

[Click on any photo to see a larger version.]

Next we had a walk on the beach, which is beautiful: wide sandy expanses and very few people, even on a sunny day in August.

Brock found a new friend to play with: Becky.

We enjoyed an ice cream and Brock showed quite a bit of interest in getting some. And succeeded.

The nearby market town of Alnwick is also worth a visit for the shops, Alnwick Garden and Alnwick Castle.

The Beach - Folksy Front Page

My Pinterest Board, The Beach, has been chosen for the front page of today :)

To see links to the items for sale, please visit the original board via this link, then click on the pictures twice to be taken to the sellers' pages.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Etsy Shop Recommendation: The Spartan Table

My latest purchase on Etsy was from The Spartan Table. I am a great fan of Greek cuisine having enjoyed holidays in Kos, Kefalonia, and Corfu in the past. The herbs especially are very pungent. My favourite dishes are Greek Salad and Tzatziki.

I make Greek Salad with tomatoes, cucumber, onion, black olives, feta cheese, olive oil, a pinch each of salt and black pepper and a sprinkle of oregano. So delicious served with bread to soak up the juices.

For Tzatziki, I use a very thick Greek yoghurt with finely chopped or grated cucumber, lemon juice, crushed garlic, salt and pepper and chopped fresh mint, again served with bread, or with vegetable crudités.

I bought some olive oil, olives, savory and oregano from Jehny and George's wonderful shop and it arrived within days. They had also included samples of the shepherd's tea (a herbal infusion, which is refreshing and claims medicinal properties. It will be on my shopping list next time); chamomile tea; and currants (sweet and delicious, sprinkled on breakfast cereals, yoghurt or porridge).

Here is a glimpse of a few of the items available:-

Olives - Kalamon Variety - 210gr in Glass Jar


Sun dried Tomatoes in oil with wild herbs


Shepherds Tea - 30gr - Wild Greek Mountain Tea from Mountain Parnonas

I really recommend this shop - the products and customer service are second to none.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Day Out In Newcastle

Rob and I had a day out in Newcastle yesterday, parking down by the Tyne and walking along the Quayside area to the Malmaison Hotel for morning coffee, before crossing the bridge to Baltic.

French artist, Daniel Buren's, work is on exhibition at the moment. You can see the diamond patterns of coloured film added to the windows at Baltic in the photo above. In Gallery 4, the skylights had squares of colour added. The light floods through them and they are reflected in the angled mirrors at ground level. It was a beautiful experience to walk around in the Gallery and see the every-changing segments of colour reflected back at you: something like being in a giant kaleidoscope.

 A collage of views in the Gallery.

Panoramic view from the outdoor platform at Baltic. (Click on image to see a larger version.)

Gateshead Millenium Bridge

We headed up the hill into the centre of Newcastle for lunch at the Scrumpy Willow & Singing Kettle Cafe. It has a good choice of vegetarian and vegan meals and also some fish dishes.

 Downstairs at the SW&SK cafe.

 Polenta with goasts' cheese, green salad and creamy mushroom sauce.

Dahl with fresh baked bread.

I enjoyed the polenta with mushrooms. It was very tasty and a large portion. Rob was less keen on his lentil dahl, which he found salty and rather undercooked. The bread, however, was fresh and delicious. With a mineral water and an earl grey tea, the bill came to £17.50.

This cafe is apparently about to change hands, so it will be interesting to see what the new owners do with it. In the meantime, I would recommend it, although be prepared for fairly slow service.

Grainger Market is a great place to shop: we bought blue corn tortillas from mmm-glug - a deli specialising in Mexican food; nectarines (8 for £1!) from one of the green grocers; and healthy dog treats for Brock. There is also a lovely coffee and tea vendor (Pumphreys).

There are numerous other shops in the centre: we just browsed in a few: Fenwicks, Waterstones, Hotel Chocolat, and TK Maxx. Then it was a walk back down the hill to the Quayside for an ice cream, before heading for home.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Pot Fest In The Park 2014

Rob, Brock and I enjoyed our annual trip to Hutton-in-the-Forest for Pot Fest on Friday.
[Click on any photo to see a larger version.]

 First, we had a walk around the grounds and the walled garden.

The theme of the exhibitors' competition this year was "Out of This World". I picked the three pieces below as my favourites.

 "Let us boldly go and see if there is intelligent life on earth" by Meri Wells.

 "Rocket Dog" by Paul Smith.

"Leading paleontologist Professor Jardine's ideas on the disappearance of the dinosaurs were quickly ridiculed by his peers" by Professor J Jardine.

Then it was on to the exhibition tents to browse.

We bought some more bowls and side plates from Charlotte and Sigi Böhmer to add to our collection.

 Rob's choice (above) ...
and mine.

The smallest bowls cost £12 or £13, the soup bowls are £18 and the side plates are £21.

Pot Fest in the Park is still on today 27/07/14, with Pot Fest in the Pens on 1 - 3 August.


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