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


We were having coffee – Autumn Scones

If we were having coffee it would be served with a fresh batch of buttermilk scones. You might have just come in from the rain, you may have done a 3 mile run and have the runners glow about you despite what the elements have thrown against you.

I’ve had the luxury of time to throw the scones together, random flours in the cupboard, amid of wholemeal and some 00 pasta flour just past it’s sell by and the buttermilk crying out from the fridge.

The week has seen us move well into autumn, the early morning starts are now in the dark and the idea of getting out and running before work is a real struggle. I left it a week and I noticed that I was starting to feel dark with my mood dipping. Friday I broke the mould and got out after watching a programme the night before on body age versus birth age.

I love autumn because of the hunkering down, the comfort food and the harvesting spoils. I’m determined though to keep the exercise up and face the blues that winter brings by being in the right place mentally.

Weekend Coffee Share – The Routine is Back


And breathe….If we were having coffee I’d tell you we’ve got the routine back, the schools went back on Wednesday and a sense of normality has been restored!

Porridge has been established as the breakfast of champions as the boys now have ownership for making it themselves  (My recipe and version of events).  Not sure you can class it as a recipe as such but a definite alchemy as heat turns two ingredients into a wonderfully creamy bowl of comfort to start the day.  I once went to India for the week with work. In the space of 4 days covered 3 cities with two companies providing various amazing meals. To say my constitution was turned upside down is an understatement…. all I craved was a bowl of porridge to put me right! Marvellous stuff.

As an end of holiday treat, bagged the movie Valerian a Luc Besson, a CGI fest.  It was good, probably not deserved of the bad reviews.  Just something missing… the boys loved it.  Cinema and blockbusters just seem so ever present and accessible now I don’t think the boys realise how big a deal going to cinema was for me as a boy.  The 4 year wait for something to come out on video….getting to the cinema to see a blockbuster was important!

How’s the organisation challenge going I hear you ask!  So week three has arrived and nearly gone.  Monday Tuesday, I covered the last days of the school holiday.   Wednesday I was in the office, then Thursday out on a course and then back in the Friday.  So despite the routine of school being back, establishing my daily journal has been difficult… it’s only really going to kick in again this Monday.

Despite this though I did manage to take a look at a concept called “Don’t break the chain”, google will provide you with all manner of links, Lifehacker has a good one.

I’ve set a rudimental version in my journal and now have a habit tracker up and running. No pun intended!

  • I managed a run 3 times this week with stretches Not enough for my physio, however a big change for me and my mental state.
  • I’ve sat down at the ivories for 10 minutes a day as an adult piano learner it’s a biggie.
  • Finally got my head round a system for a dedicated tackling of 5 chosen cookery books.  I hope to write more about the adventures in the kitchen later. 5BooksSep17
  • I started reading…how to have a good day from Caroline Webb.  So far the three As are key:
    • Aim: What matters most today, what should be the priority
    • Attitude: Get your head right
    • Attention: Given your real aim…what you going to give your focus

So the push for me to really stop procrastinating is finally on…although I’m feeling a bit fraught!  Please don’t read this as man who’s really got his stuff together.  It’s a man trying to balance his aspirations and sharing the approach hoping that this might help someone else.  If you take one thing from our coffee chat today…..I think breaking the chain is a real biggie!

Thanks for stopping in and sharing coffee.

The Weekend Cofee Share is hosted by the Part Time Monster

Weekend Coffee Share – Week 2 of the challenge

Saturday and we woke to the sound of rain on the cupola.  Peeking through the curtains confirmed it and essentially made our decision on a stay at home day……homemade scones were in the offing and this just tipped the decision in their favour.

Come on in, you have arrived just in the time….the smell from the oven is lingering in the hall.  The scones have just come out the oven, the coffee freshly made.

We had a late night last night, I’ve lived in Edinburgh 20 years now and never seen the Tattoo and finely scratched it off the list.  The cost had always put me off and I never seemed to be in the right place when the tickets go on sale.  This year the stars were obviously in alignment and I put the money thoughts aside.  We all had a great time, such a great setting up on the castle esplanade and the bands were just pure brilliantly rehearsed.

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#edinburghtattoo great show @edinburghtattoo

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So where I am at with my thirteen week get organised challenge!…..well I’m back here having coffee, haven’t managed to get a recipe up and my daily journal has had some sporadic entries.  I have sat down and thought about things though.  Resulted in biting the bullet on a few things rather than procrastinating.

  • Had a knotted hamstring for some time and went to see the physio….crumbs to say I’m a bit in a mess when it comes to stretching is an understatement.  I’ve been given 20mins exercises a day for 6 days a week…..not sure how I’m going to fit those in!
  • I signed up for a beginners cookery course – vegetarian India, mainly to catch up with a pal once a week.
  • Time to start the DIY season again….open for business with such an old house the list is mounting.  This morning, I took out the dead water tank……..grim
  • I’m starting to sort out my recipe system……….I know the new cookery books are going to start appearing on the shop shelves….I don’t need any-more honest, except they are a guilty secret, except they are not being used and I need to do something!
  • My daily photo has been kept going, think my favourite from this week is the Olympic torch that was hung on the wall of the Physio

Thank you so much for popping around, I’ve given you too much of my chat!….Hope your doing OK and your keeping your chin up.  I’m going back to looking at a few more recipes and the boy and I are going to harvest the miracle basil that grew in the summer before it turns black….too late for some of it…..Pesto for the freezer.

The Weekend Cofee Share is hosted by the Part Time Monster

Weekend Coffee Share – Week 1 Challenge

If we were having coffee, we’d talk about the weather in Edinburgh the last few days and how the tourists are getting a rough deal. One minute it’s sunny, the next torrential down pours and then hours of dreich sticky mist that hangs in the air and just clings to you.

I’ve woken up early for a Saturday, normal time for a weekday, I’ve snuck out of bed, so you were passing just at the right time.  The house is quiet for a few minutes and I can tell you about my week.

I started a 13 week challenge for myself, mainly taken the ideas from the self journal approach, and I’ve high jacked it to work with a bullet journal.  The self journal would create waste for me in a journal, I just don’t think I could be that fanatical about my day (yet), whereas the bullet journal is more random and suits the nature of the beast that is my working week and my random head.

My main goal is to get myself organised, you could say it’s the prequel to being able to take the self journal approach.  And the 2nd goal was to really give my a blog a stretch of its legs.

I started writing a piece for the weekend coffee share whilst on holiday but then something got in the way….probably a child.

The thing about holidays…you start to think differently, the daily demands of the mind start to unravel at the edges.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s still the constant demands of the boys and I’ll be going back to work for a rest on that front.   It’s the moments where your mind gets to drift, the first coffee in the morning (if your left in peace) or the moments when we are all on our bikes in harmony.

I’ve been trying to hang onto that feeling of holidays, freedom, harmony and mindfulness.  The boys are still off school and I’m 2 weeks back in.  There have been a few ups and downs, hence the challenge and the daily focus has helped both keep my work and life priorities on track.

So here I am two weeks in a row now enjoying your company!  I’ve been looking forward to it wondering what I’d tell you.

  • I’d set myself a goal of getting at least one recipe up this week and I managed it.  Bolognese EdinburghCook Style
  • Loving Rachel Roddy, if you are into podcasts, great intro to the book from Honey and Co Food Talks   With the Honey and Co Podcasts here
  • The eldest had seen SpiderMan, and I’d promised I’d take the youngest one night.  A school night for me, the timings sucked in terms of lateness but I went for it.  Pleased I did he was so grateful and it was great.  I’ve started to become tired of the adventure hero genre and really didn’t need to see another reboot of SpiderMan.  Marvel have done a good job, and so much better than I thought it would be.
  • Discovered this great playlist on Spotify Music for concentration 
  • Really inspired by the I Am Bolt documentary
  • Despite the weather, manged to cycle to work every day plus a Monday run
  • As well as the 13 week challenge.  I’ve started a  365 photo challenge…for no other reason to try and capture a moment in each day.  Something that made me smile, react or think about my place in the world, a wannabe cook and his iPhone!  @EdinburghCook Instagram

Thank you for sharing coffee and saying hello,  The weekend coffee share is hosted by the PartTimeMonster




#weekendcoffeeshare – Swiss Memories

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If we were having coffee it would be outside in the morning sun, served with breakfast.

The cares of the working world left behind, the list of chores around the house slowly fading, there is nothing I can do about them, so they slowly dissipate.

I have access to the world on my phone, work email is a thumb press away.  It takes huge resolve on my part not to just take a peek. A habit, a need to know everything is ok or give something a nudge if it’s not.  The intermittent Wi-Fi locations and the need to be in a vicinity of a Wi-Fi antenna at the campsites we stay at has helped me break a habit.  The only thing I crave is an Instagram hit, or a Facebook check.

The thing about holidays…you start to think differently, the daily demands of the mind start to unravel at the edges.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s still the constant demands of the boys and camping comes with its own heartbeat of chores.  I’ll be going back to work for a rest on that front.   It’s the moments where your mind gets to drift, the first coffee in the morning if your left in peace and those moments when you’re first up.

The campsite is at peace and the sun is just stretching it’s legs, different shadows and a freshness about the air.  TCS Bönigen – Interlaken is just on the corner of lake Brienzersee with the magical colour of turquoise on the door step of awe inspiring mountains………and breathe.

This was a few weeks ago and I’ve been desperately trying to get back into the rhythm of work this week at the same time as keeping my mind free.  The garden is helping and I came back to glorious sun flowers in the garden……

I’ve been working through a few resolutions that are putting my brain into overload and wrenching my time management skills into action…….I’ll leave you with one thought that is sticking in my head.   What you do, gets done!

Thank you for sharing coffee and saying hello,  The weekend coffee share is hosted by the PartTimeMonster

Weekend Coffeeshare – Coffee and the Boat

This morning we are having coffee on the ferry between Newcastle and Amsterdam. An overnight crossing that gets us into Amsterdam at 9.30 so plenty of time to ease ourselves into being ready before we are allowed on the car decks.

The night was fraught with tossing and turning. It was hot, the air dry with no ventilation. I’m glad I didn’t partake in any beers last night as today would have seen grumpy dad…big style, I feel hungover as it is due to dehydration in the night.

Breakfast buffet is 17 euros each, so we have blatantly broken the bring your own food rule, the forbidden sign staring us in the face, supplemented by a coffee from one of the many bars at marked up price so I don’t feel that bad. The coffee, It’s surprisingly good, hot to the right temperature I like and I was able to add that dash of milk that makes it just right.

Thanks for joining me for coffee…very short and sweet, like ships in the night!

Thanks to Nerd in the Brain who hosts the Weekend Coffee Share.