The Original Commute

I’ve just got on the bus, a mixture of being caught up later than expected at work and being timing ideal as it arrived at the same time as I was passing the bus stop. Rude not to take it, and it gives me a moment to reflect on today’s writing prompt around the good old days.

The commute back in high school was quite a convoluted affair before my sister started the same school.  One week I might be catching a lift with a teacher, the next I might have a bus pass. Both required a mile and a half hike at each end of the day. There was one solid period though where I would take my bike on the train. Trains were fitted with huge parcel bays (not like today) where you could stash your bike and not worry about there being a space. I remember them being dark and dirty, the guard would usually sit in there.   Sometimes the nice one, other times the grumpy one who couldn’t wait to shout at you for the smallest misdemeanour.

The journey from the train station on my bike to school was a fast 5 – 10 mins downhill in the way and if you timed it right you could get across a roundabout without stopping. Back the way was a painfull 20 mins uphill cycle. School finished at 15.50 and the train left at 16:07. You can imagine my state of mind as the bell rang, I’d be high tailing it out of there and cycling at top speed….usually to be greeted with the horn of a train leaving the station. I’d be praying for the train to be late leaving and most the time I’d have to wait for the 17:07.

The cycle home from the train was quick and painless apart from the time I went over the handle bars (another story) and the time the police stopped me because the batteries had gone on my lights (the days before LEDs and good rechargeables!). Come to think of it the time I came over my handle bars was the time I was turning my lights on whilst cycling!

Tea time was a mixed affair, If I’d come home to an empty house it would be my job to start the tea, either pork chops or fish fingers under the grill with usually chips or potatoes. My job would be to start the potatoes by peeling them. Dad would buy the big sacks of potatoes. I remember the smell as I opened the sack and peered in trying to grab the potatoes that were going to be easiest and quickest to peel. Most were covered in mud and you could never tell if you were getting the odd rotten one out, which to hold was pretty grizzly. Getting new potatoes was a real treat….but came with a different technique of peeling. Dad was a great believer in scraping the skins off!

Nice to be taken back to simpler times. Getting myself to and from school in the country was a simple affair, no smart phones and no texting. If things had really gone badly there was a call box at the station and I’d be in big trouble if I didn’t use it!


AutumnChoked up with cold this morning, a sign of the November cold nights or the close encounters of messing around with my 2 year old nephew!

I had a productive weekend in the kitchen, set my self a recipe list on Friday evening and by in large made my way through it.

Finally got myself organised and tried Nigel Slaters Christmas cake. Hoping for an early December tasting. We typically go for a good house keeping recipe, year in year out and never fails us…always room to try something new. The addition of ground almonds, hazelnuts and an orange twist will be adding to the excitement.

I was also going to try Nigel’s no nonsense brownie…..however the boss sidetracked me and suggested I try Green and Blacks version. If your looking for a good sized brownie to feed the masses, this is the one. None of your little square baking tins, this one fills the battleship roasting tin!

On the savoury side, I made a new soup inspired by Peter Jackson and a variation of Nigel’s Osso Bucco that just hit the spot for a Saturday night meal for two.

Set my eldest a challenge on the Sunday night tea front. I was browsing through the options when his eyes lit up on spaghetti carbonara, I thought I’d tap into this excitement with a shopping challenge. Gave him his list, a mere 4 ingredients and whilst I did my messages he hunter gathered bacon, eggs, mushrooms and a packet of spaghetti. The mushrooms were my idea to try and make it a little more healthier.

I also got around to writing last weeks recipe up Lamb Topside Stew

Bold Over by Inspiration

Scot monument in amongst the pop up Christmas villageBold Over by the number of likes that I received over the last few days by blogging directly on rather than self hosted.  Which fits neatly into todays #blogging101.   Quite an inspiration to feel that positivity.

Came across Fragile and Blowballs, on my neighbourhood travels.  I know blowballs as dandelion clocks where I come from and I loved the metaphor that the author introduced around the seeds covering large distances just like a blog.

I thought I’d try and introduce my own bit of wisdom, inspiration.  As I walk in each day to work the pop up Christmas Village is starting to grow, bit by bit, everyday there is something new.  My observation is that this doesn’t just happen in a matter of minutes….a bit like blogging.  It takes hard graft and time and over time you build something great!

The First Recipe

tattiehash letterWhen I left for university I wasn’t hapless when it came to food.  I could boil an egg just as well as the next guy, and better than my dad who was the only person I’ve known who’s burnt a boiled egg!  I knew how to grill a chop, boil a potato and cook rice.  A sauce was a luxury item that you bought in a jar and as a student you could make last over a couple of meals.  Looking back now….I knew how to survive, I learnt to shop for myself and I remember the long walk back from Tesco with too much to carry back to my digs after the first shop.  I learned to use a basket rather than a trolley after that day!

The first recipe I consciously remember asking for was from my Gran whilst at university in Sheffield.  This was long before e-mail and I wrote to ask her for it!  She must have thought it strange as this was probably something that was second nature to her.

Back in 94 though, I needed a prescriptive guide that would teach me to cook and if I could crack Tattiehash the world would be my oyster on the culinary front.  My Gran did send me the recipe and I had to interpret a couple of things and in a micro movement that gave the game away….for that small moment I became a cook and I created a little bit of alchemy.   It tasted ok, and now armed with a box of OXO cubes I made it a few times.

I wish back then I’d paid more attention to her notes, and whether she had a recipe collection.   I’d be all over it now!

Do you remember your first recipe?