Table #13 – Galloway Forest

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The coffee has been poured and I’m struggling.  I have a bit of stiff neck and a few aching muscles this morning.  The effects of a 36 mile big country loop on the mountain bikes and a solid 9 hours sleep in the camper van afterwards.

We camped at the Glentrool campsite which was just under a mile away from the Glentrool trails and all part of the plan to be in situe for the big loop.

Managed to get to the visitor centre for 10.10, to find it didn’t open until 10:30.  Plan was to have a coffee and hopefully sample some local produce.  Those precious minutes were going to be costly, it was too cold to hang around and we had a plan B in the pannier.

By 11, we were ready for our stonking chunks of choc banana loaf that I’d baked at Christmas.

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Lunch half way at the 18 mile mark, nice to see…Old Edinburgh Road.  I was certainly starting to feel broken.  The trouble with forestry routes like this, is that you start to feel like you in some large construction site.  Mile after mile trees have been felled for timber use, to make room for the new.  On reflection a tree graveyard.

Post lunch the boys miraculously switched personas, energy levels transposed, the youngest up front with zero moans starting to sing Disney songs and the eldest now at the back.

The 2nd half felt the best part of the loop in terms of scenery and lack of forestry work, a mixture of lochs and hills.  We also came across one of the seven stanes.

Can’t beat a campsite that plays radio in the shower block, but annoying to hear tales of blue skies and BBQs when we had dreich mist and fog for most the day.

In terms of a rewind (which sadly I’ve just found out will not be continuing, all good things come to an end!)….living off the wall was playing in the shower block and couldn’t help tapping my feet whilst waiting for my boys to free up the showers.

I’m grateful for the head-space that the countryside and fresh air gives you, even through the moans there are moments of tranquillity where you get to put your troubles into perspective.  The office is miles and away and the DIY is parked for those precious few moments.

On the table was a broken sausage and pasta dish….so easy to get on the table when your on two hobs.

Two pans….Pasta in one pan cooked to packet directions.  In the other, soften a diced onion, throw in  5 de-skinned herby sausages which you can break up into bits. Stirring until colour changes, add sliced mushrooms, a glass of white wine if the bottle is open! Add half tub of crème fraiche.  Stir through.  Drain the pasta and add the sausage mix

Back to the coffee at the weekendcoffeeshare, the aroma fills the camper van and a day of adventure awaits. The stirring of the boys up top and the promise of a real mountain bike trail. We move camp today as well….a visit to Port Patrick and the Mull of Galloway….most southerly part of Scotland apparently.


Table #11 – Black Ice


Coffee is ready and we’ve cracked open a Christmas cake from the Bourke Street Bakery cookery book….come on in it’s snowing again!

The streets here in Edinburgh have been in a bad way, sheet ice on the paths and the side roads fairing no better. The weeks exercise constrained to walking and the bus. To say we were going a little stir crazy is an exaggeration.

Fortunately the weekend saw a blue sky day and we were determined to get out. I love Braid hill, close to home at the same time a feeling of escaping and a way of looking at the world in a different light.

Inspired and in protest at the world I’ve signed my self up for a triathlon sprint in August. Apparently great for the beginner. 20km cycle, 5k run and 750m open water swimming. Cycle, not a problem and running I’ve finely got that distance in the bag without too much of an issue. The swimming….fills me with dread. I’ve not covered that distance since I swam for badges back in the 80’s.   Then add them together in succession…..I’m starting to realise I’m going to have to get a training plan in place…..fortunately it’s 7 months away and that’s the point right.

Retro movie re-wind time and what did I torture my boys with today?  The Last Starfighter!

Music playing on the kitchen stereo….a little bit of INXS.

I’m grateful for root vegetables and soup, just the ticket for these cold days and trying to be a bit more healthy.

Thanks for popping by, A nod to the #weekendcoffeeshare and a #DSFWeeklyrewind, thanks for hosting.

Table #10 – The dark week


Come on in we have a chicken and bacon pie on the menu…(still to find the recipe/make it up) a fresh pot of coffee just made and a slice of flapjack.

Its been a long hard week, Tuesday saw a real back to routine kick in with the house coming back to life in the early morning.   The once still house at 6:30, is now back to having familiar noises, the shower, the clunk of bedroom drawers. The bleary eyed pleasantries of two boys ready to catch up with there pals again. Still in shock of having to jump out of a cosy duvet.

The 2 days of ice that had built up on the car windscreens has gone, my signal to say that it might be safe to cycle. It may have been safe ice wise, however wind chill wise sharp to the bone on the fingers despite the thick gloves.

So we made it through a tough week in January, the back to reality week where the January blues kick in. I started reading the Human’s by Matt Haig as a way of relax before bed….I’m mightily impressed by the new year challenges that folk are doing to read 50+ books this year. I was hoping cookery books counted…..alas…..maybe I need to start my own challenge!!

Granny’s recipes are challenge enough, now roughly categorised into 150 sweet things (desserts and bakes) with 140 mains and savouries.

I’ve also been Indexing The Mountain Book Café cookbook for the Eat Your Books website that I often use.

Introduced the boys to Ferris Buellers day off, there were even chuckles from the eldest which was nice to share. So this week in amongst the toing and throwing of work I’m grateful for the laughter. Thanks for stopping by and have a good weekend.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) Official Trailer – Matthew Broderick Movie

A nod to the #weekendcoffeeshare and a #DSFWeeklyrewind, thanks for hosting.

Table #9 – The New 2018 Year

2018-01-07 16.26.35Come on in, coffee is ready and there is a chilli on the hob. First week of 2018 in the bag, with a mix of renewal, some of the same and a bit of the old. A short working week, unpredictably cold wet and windy, I’ve managed to get into work dry, but the home slog wet and cold.

It’s that time of year the annual re-org of my head in relation to the cook books that have entered my life, the recipes that I’ve cut out collecting dust in my in-tray. The screen grabs from my iPAD taking up valuable iCloud space and the un-touched recipes from Granny’s black box…….you get the picture….something needs to happen!

So despite my no more cookbooks ever and then the one in one out rule it never seems to happen!……what can I say, I can’t help myself.

The four that entered my life over the last couple of months:

Christmas Chronicles – Nigel Slater (A cook who writes)

In the end I couldn’t resist. From the man who really brought me on and inspired me into the world of cooking a homage to the winter season, a diary, a bunch of winter facts and seasonal recipes.   This will be now be parked and put to bed for next winter.   Not quite into the decorations box as it starts in November.

The Mountain Café – Kirsten Gilmour (A Kiwi in the Mountains)

An early Christmas present, due to the fact I drive the boss bonkers, I was about to take it out of the library (to be fair I’d had it on the reserve list since August). Getting it early was a welcome godsend meaning I could do some cooking in the lead up to the big day rather than being given a book that I don’t have the ingredients for or can’t get because the shops are closed.   This has definitely got some miles in it.   In the lead up to Christmas I did both chowders, the veggie burgers, the pancakes a couple of times. A chunky sweet potato salad. This is before I get anywhere near the cake section that the café produces.

The Art of the Larder – Claire Thomson (The 5 O’Clock Apron)

A self bought Christmas Present (any excuse). I’m hoping to get some tips on store cupboard recipes. Used the Cavalo Nero recipe for New Years eve which worked a treat with the Stroganoff recipe from One Knife, One Pot, One Dish.

One Knife, One Pot, One Dish – Stéphane Reynaud (Villa 9 Trois in Montreuil)

Great inspiration for some cooking that cooks itself whilst you get on with life, the jobs, the garden etc. This will be my slow cook side companion and I’m pretty sure will be used throughout the year.

Typically at this time I choose 5 books for the year….from experience this doesn’t work….I get distracted, the season, a new discovery, a twitter link, instagram feed, the paper and the best browsing in a bookshop … so this year I’m going to work monthly and not kid myself.   The three above are in and then decisions, decisions…

Family Superfoods – Jamie Oliver

The cheeky chap from essex, who really grew on me when he started his philanthropy….cookery books for the masses the leading uk author. Can’t really avoid him or get away from his enthusiasm for food.   I’d love his new book….but really did I do his last one justice….no. So this is the one!

Two Kitchens – Rachel Roddy

A resident in the food section of the guardian. An expat who spends her time in Italy and the UK. I just love her language with food. The memories she evokes in her writing. Not just recipes…discoveries and life stories.

I expect I’ll carry them through the year, my thoughts here though are just to focus and concentrate on these books, use them to stay focussed and learn.

I’m also going to get back to my pet project of organising granny’s recipes from the black box. I managed to scan them all off the index cards and I struggle to read some of them. Others have been passed on and some are in the teenage writing of my wife. There recipes of a time, some are recognised and some are just aspirational hand me-ons from a friends perhaps post a dinner invite.   I hate the idea of them collecting dust and somehow I can bring them back into our time and our lives.  They bring granny and grandparents into the conversation at the dinner table and that has got to mean something

Thanks for joining me for #weekendcoffeeshare and a #DSFWeeklyrewind, in the background I’ve been playing a little bit of Pete Tong and I’m grateful for the warmth in my home. The cold spell that’s being shown on the tv across the northern hemisphere makes my heart sink.

Table #8 – New Years Eve

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I’m up first in the house for the first time in a long while (6:50am), the house is still dark with storm Dylan rattling the cupula like crazy.  Normally it’s a clear sign to dig in deep under the duvet.  However there was a niggle in my head about work and despite the holidays, it also being a Sunday I couldn’t quite shake it.  I’m wondering though if I’ve finally caught up on my sleep after the whole hullabaloo that is December.

The blog has had a bit of a break through December, I decided it was time to move the house on a little bit as all the builders had let me down this year….desperate to see some progress I took on the main bedroom and in amongst the work nights out, the school performances and trips to relatives I managed to finish the week before Christmas. Amazingly how a nice gentle cream and the removal of a large MDF wardrobe can make a difference to the calm of a room.

As you can imagine Food has been big on the agenda throughout December….and I’m struggling with a belt notch, the routine bike into work hasn’t happened with ice wind and rain being the main detractors.  I have managed the odd run and a walk where there has been a calm and dry moment….it gives me hope that I can pick up in the new year without having to create wildly unrealistic new years fitness resolution.

I like to think everyday you can start again, or a new journal, the end of summer, the start of a new season….however 31st December is the biggy….huge expectation. For me as a child growing up it was my dads big earning night as a DJ so great was the demand to have a good time.  In reality the world keeps spinning with all its good and bad.  It’s a state of mind thing.   Tonight will be really low key….Just the four of us and a gradual ease into the new year.  Yesterday I proposed a family quiz at tea, 10 questions each….which prompted a discussion on teams and format…..We’ll slip it in between main and dessert.

For main I’m going to break myself into a book my brother in-law bought me for Christmas (One Knife, One Pot, One Dish)…. Beef Stroganoff, followed by a chocolate fudge cake I spotted in the January edition of Olive.   The cake I can prepare this morning and the beef a short stand by the stove affair with a glass of wine in hand obviously for the sauce!  Add to this I’m going to tackle the Cavolo Nero recipe from the Art of the Larder.

In order to adhere with the #DSFWeeklyRewind guidelines: I’m really grateful for the food and warmth over the festive period.   My music contribution has to be taken from the CD (Short Stories Vol 1) that I asked my mum to get me for Christmas.  It was released in September and I could easily have plugged into Spotify…..I decided to pleasure delay, every now and again I want to listen to an album old school way on a Hi-Fi rather than streamed in pieces scattered amongst the busy moments in life…..I wanted to drink it in and I was really pleased I had,  Mr Ricky Ross didn’t disappoint.

The Table #7 – Advent

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Happy December! This has crept up on us in terms of time and how we came to be starting advent. On the other hand it’s not a surprise, Edinburgh has been gearing up since mid October.   At least now the lights and the glitz has a place and I can reconcile with the fact that we need to do something to send the dark days packing. The boys get to start the daily tea time ritual of lighting a candle, and we slowly count the days down.

A welcoming red is served this Friday alongside a curry, we have pals round for tea.   My friend who I’ve been going to the Indian cookery class with and we’ve both picked a dish that we picked up. He’s cooked for the kids, Chicken Tikka Masala and myself I doctored a recipe for the adults to cover fish for the lady who doesn’t eat meat.   The same recipe for the Tikka sauce which worked really well.   Served with a sweet potato, butternut squash and a chickpea number.  Breaking away from a traditional Indian dessert we followed by a pear and chocolate crumble.

A great evening kicked off with the Brandy nectar of the Apricots that have been soaking for a while introduced to us by Nigel’s Christmas Chronicles.

It’s a short table this week and my cooking exploits are cut to a minimum, I’ve started the winter DIY, some wall paper stripping and just as I was coming to the end I’ve put my back into spasm!  I’m reaching for the Ibuprofen and hoping that a good nights sleep will put me to rights.

Music wise this week I’ve really gone back catalogue and found myself listening to Nik Kershaw.  Takes me right back to Daly’s records……long since gone in the high street of Kendal.  My mum took me for a birthday treat to spend a record token and I listened to the album before I bought it just to make sure it was what I wanted.  My dad going mental because I’d bought a tape rather than LP… would I have played it without a record player and a strict no touch policy on my dads stereo.  I did however have my mono tape player used for loading computer games.   Not hi fidelity….it didn’t matter it was mine!

I leave you with ‘I won’t let the sun go down on me!’ Apt for these short days.

My nod to the Daisy Smile face who hosts the weekly rewind and helps add some blogging motivation to a crazy week.

The Table #6 – Get Back Running


Sunday morning, the frost has arrived, the tell tale sign on the car windscreens that I can see in the street. I’d told myself that this weekend was the weekend I was going to crack the fear of running that was building up in my head. Two weeks ago I ran a 10k and for days after I’ve been suffering. First it was the shock absorbing muscles and the movement of going down stairs really put my pain receptors into a fancle. Then when the muscle ache wore off my right knee seemed to be complaining of something a little more severe. I was feeling relatively fit for the run, I felt like I’d put the miles in, not quite enough to say I’d run 10k in one, but enough to know I could make it around the route. Which I did in 52 mins or so. I’m putting it down to the cold day and running probably at a pace I’m not used to…..however since then I’ve not been able to face the strides, the cold mornings the dark on either side of the working day.

Something however clicked, the boss got up and put her running stuff on and I was left there reading thinking how am I’m going to crack this…..the Christmas events are going to start, the comfort food is going to kick in and I’m going to appear out the end of February wondering what happened. Add to that the last few days has seen my mood change and I needed to do something about it. From my bedroom window at this time of the year the sun creeps up above the houses and I can see the chimney stacks basking in the sun whilst the rest of the houses are in the dark with expectation in the air that some warmth might come if only they could grow a little taller. The sky was blue and really there was no excuse, there was time and it was time.

By heck it was cold…..but I was moving and my legs still worked!

Welcome into the kitchen, we had a Venison stew last night. Funny we had one vegetable, an Aubergine, left over from last week and it dictated the main meal for the weekend. That and a Celeriac that turned up in the veg box. For me at this time of year Aubergines, belong in slow cooked stews and casseroles with a tomato and red wine based sauce. I’d intended to buy stewing lamb at the butchers and then I saw a tray of stewing Venison and a deal was struck.

Disappointed with last weeks cook section in the Guardian being solely dedicated to Pasta, this weeks is much more interesting with much more writing and thought for the food reader. Less is more from Sue Quinn…Love the name of her blog Pen and Spoon. A mushroom soup that’s definitely worth a shot from Rachel Roddy. And a Brownie Recipe that will put the chocolate lover in a spin.

My Indian cookery course covered off Chicken Tikka that the boys just wolfed down. I really need to get some of these recipes up on the site! This weeks blogging resolution!!

Highlight of the week was an early train ride through to Glasgow, a window seat, a coffee and Piano music on my phone. It was 45 minutes of uninterrupted time to me and my thoughts The Fields being laid for the winter rest, and the sun low in the sky. It was a nice change that I was grateful for and gave me the nod that I really need to get away from my desk at work to plan my time, think and feel.

Big shout out to Daisy Smile face who hosts the #DSFWeeklyRewind. Thanks for popping by and spending some time at my table.



The Table #5


Come on in and take a seat, it’s a weekend of no plans…perhaps a cup of tea or coffee and some afternoon reading. The morning chores have been done….the shops are starting to get a little bit busier than normal with the extra items appearing in the basket.  I managed to find the bottle of British Cassis that’s going in the Christmas hamper.   I picked up the Guardian with my favourite food section and the new Waitrose magazine, which shouldn’t have the new year calendar attached but it does!

I managed the Edinburgh 10k last Sunday and I feel I’ve been suffering muscle wise since.  It was a cold cold day, blue skies and the city had its best face on for the event.   Starting at the castle it winds down to Princess street, the gardens and then back onto the Royal Mile heading down to Holyrood palace, the bottom of Arthurs seat and then a long hike to Murray Field stadium taking in the Grass Market.   It’s full of history and a genuine city run…..(Not like the Edinburgh Marathon!).   Did I tell you it was cold and that my muscles have been aching all week!

Psychologically I need to get back in the saddle.  Not been able to face running since.  I’ve been on my bike though, a means of getting to and from work quickly….strangely no aches and pains.

Weekend foodie wise…..the Guardian is covering Pasta and Waitrose the big roasts under the guise of ‘How to Feast’ over the festive period.

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Sausage casserole on the go. #food #cooking #sausage

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Myself, I took on Nigel’s bonfire sausages, except I really made it my own, I made too much in case my in-laws wanted to stay after the pre tea fizz.   I made two types of bread, a wholemeal and a white, to serve with Olives, Serrano ham, Melon and crudités (Carrot, Pepper and Celery) with Hummus.   The white was really an afterthought to keep the kids happy by making dough balls.

Music wise….this week I’ve gone back catalogue with a little bit of Deacon Blue and the album ‘Whatever You Say, Say Nothing’ an album that I loved at the time and only revisit for the odd track that appears on a best off.  Probably the last 12 inch vinyl that I bought a good 20 years ago.

The city is really starting to prepare itself for the Christmas Market the Dome having had its lights on since October is starting to feel like a welcome beacon when I leave work for home.   I’ve been tracking the progress of the big wheel and although it doesn’t add any class to the proceedings the lights do add some razzmatazz as the dark and cold hits the lungs on my cycle home, especially over the Mound.

Thanks for popping by and spending some time at my table, and my nod to the weekly rewind #DSFWeeklyRewind


Table #4


Welcome into the kitchen, we’ve made it to the end of the week and a glass of wine has been poured.  The menu for tea is a quick pull it together for the boys and I.  The boss is out with a friend and a very rare occasion for a Friday night!  Rice and a tub from freezer containing left over frozen lentils and lamb curry, served with broccoli and a spoon of mango chutney before some boys tv.

I got the boys to bed an hour ago and I’ve been shamelessly procrastinating, clicking and looking through Pintrest…man that can zap time!  And the irony of it is that I’ve been clicking through organising oneself…..until I got a hold of myself and went to play the piano for 10 mins.  We have the easy play version of La La land….the pieces are very evocative of the film and a joy to play.  I take it slow and remarkably they sound ok.

My blog has been calling me despite the fact when I sit down to write it’s a struggle….and finally starting to type and explain how the evening has gone is a help.  Spending time on something un-interrupted is a luxury and so sitting here with my mind to roam free is taking all my will power to concentrate!

The clocks changed last Sunday and my plans to revolutionise my weekly habit were going to kick in…easily bounding out of bed at 6, fresh and ready to take the world on… didn’t happen!   It happens to be pitch black at that time (obviously) and the last thing my brain wants to do is wake up!  Add to the that there’s definitely been a dip in the temperature,  the sporting gazelle did not appear and I just wanted to pull the duvet over my head when the wakeup call went.

The new Honey & Co Foodtalks Podcast appeared in my stream today.  This edition held with Ed Smith creator of the Blog Rocket and Squash (another recent discovery) has been blogging for 7 years or so.  He talks through how he came to blogging and how food became his calling rather than being a lawyer.  For a guy in IT with a passion for cooking well, this really struck a chord.

My challenge with Nigel continued,  one recipe I followed to the letter.  From the chronicles, taken from Three dried fruit drinks for winter Apricot, orange and anise (which doesn’t do justice to the brandy and sweet wine.  The other recipe, Lamb ‘osso buco’ with pappardelle which I really made my own, a slightly different cut of meet, an addition of tinned tomatoes (my Indian cookery class has annoying half tin tomato recipes so there was a half that needed using up) and I used port rather than Marsala.  Also made my own pasta…..which is a labour of love despite what anyone tells you.  I always forget how long it takes….enjoyable when you have the time…not when you have spent the day dismantling an old kitchen for the tip.   This Sunday nights tea involves a pan, a pork chop, and some pears

The table is my weekly review,  with a nod to #DSFWeeklyRewind and with that in mind I need to mention what I’m grateful for this week.   It’s music, this week it got me through some moments…I’ve discovered a new pianist, Yann Tierson (he’s not new), his music is new to me and I love this album, from track 2 it’s exquisite.  My favourite track of the moment though is Everything Now by Arcade Fire

The Table #3

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Welcome into the kitchen, come on in this week we are serving up Roast Pumpkin and Polenta Salad with Hake.  I enjoyed it the fish so much last week that we had it again this weekend with the boys.  I gave Nigel Slaters Hazelnut chocolate cake with sultanas a go from his 2018 Autumnal recipe selection.  A labour of love…but definitely a keeper.   If you were staying for tea we’d be having braised lamb with home-made pasta, followed by a slice of the cake.

I’ve got two books on the go at the moment…a novel.  The Memory Stones, Caroline Brothers….one of those rare moments of luxury where you get to browse a bookshop, feel the covers, check the shelves and choose something new and inviting.   A welcome change from some of the management books I’ve been reading of late.   Then I broke my promise to myself around the new Nigel Recipe book – Christmas Chronicles.  In my defence it was on offer and starts from November in terms of the recipes.

I’m grateful for the extra hour today….the clocks went back!  Imagine what you could do if someone gave us an extra free hour every weekend!

I’m now counting days rather than weeks to a 10k race I entered months ago.  The last 10k I did was the same race last year!  I’ve been training on and off and got myself up to the 7.5k mark, hopefully it’s enough.  Have to say my back is twinging at the thought of it.

For the cinema goers amongst you….I can definitely recommend Thor: Ragnarok.  Full of good humour and a great addition to the Marvel Studios range of films.

Enjoy your week, and hopefully see you next week at the table as part of the #DSFWeeklyRewind.