Monday, 24 August 2015

I'm not from here.........

So where am I from?

              And where is home?

 I was born and raised in Wales but moved to Edinburgh to study and stayed for thirty years;  now I've relocated to the West Coast of Scotland to start my own business.

My first memory of Edinburgh was not the castle but the wet, grey tenement buildings looming outside  the windows as my train drew into Waverley;  it seemed a forbidding place.  I grew to love it as I came to know it better; regular Saturday afternoon walks taking me to the neighbourhoods of Bruntsfield, Morningside and Stockbridge with their shops and cafes.

Bruntsfield tenement, in the sun

 I learned about its past too,  discovering where there used to be factories and before them farms.  I moved many times,  lived in a basement and up in the eaves, in the footwear department of a converted store  and a house built for shoemakers, above a doctor's  surgery and  in a former hospital, and next door to an ice cream cone manufacturer.
I developed favourites among those shops and cafes, knew which were the nicest  playgrounds and the best places to walk a dog.

picnicking on the Links

at HN again !

Edinburgh was home......though I went home for the holidays

                                 Edinburgh was home.........I'd lived there nearly all of my adult life

                                                     I was from Edinburgh..... I'd lived there longer than anywhere else.

                                                          And then I didn't.....

                          Now I live here......

We came here on a rainy day, not expecting to like the house.....

We've been busy, there's a new area to explore and many skills to be learned. I'm particularly seeking the dual grails of the perfect poached egg and the ability to launch and steer the  boat. We've researched  the development of our house as it's grown from a croft, become a  tearoom for a while and is now due to undergo our  changes (watch this space), and learned about the history of the island   MrS has been doing some work with our local museum, helping with their archives. In fact that what he was doing when I started to think about this post.

old postcard view

So where was I? Well the sun was shining and it was a day off so I was out having lunch. I've started developing new favourite places,

ok it was August not April, but this is Scotland

because as the French say..ça_change,_plus_c%27est_la_même_chose

But for every move there are the things you take with you and things you leave behind.

And so I make Welsh cakes to welcome our guests.



Sunday, 16 August 2015

and tries not to burn the toast

Well there have been no more arachnid assaults on the breakfast table, though I had one crawling on ME the other day - ugh! And I think I've managed to remember everyone's order, either that or guests have been too polite to complain. This week's challenge has been the toast. I can't seem to get it right. It's like Goldilocks's porridge, either not toasty enough, or so past toasty it's  burnt! And our toaster can only take two slices at a time,  which get cold while I do the next set, or three.



Both raw and burnt

An extra toaster was called for and duly bought for £8 in a local bargain store.

 Big mistake. A totally false economy.  I didn't notice that it has absolutely tiny slots for the bread so either it gets jammed and the toast can't "pop up" or I have to  trim the slices before they go in. Which gives me the choice of  burnt toast,  or something that looks as if I've trimmed the burnt bits  off. Luckily MrS is managing much better with the more complicated bits of breakfast. You know, eggs, sausages, bacon the works.

I did once have a very expensive toaster, you know the type; sturdy,  retro styling, no automatic pop up, a dial to choose the degree of toastiness, a reputation for durability and repairability, a little switch allowing you to choose one or both sides toasted. Somehow it must have taken to heart the song because that little switch just didn't work but as I'm neither an Englishman nor in New York  I like mine done on both sides. We never did find anyone who could repair it.
So what now? Scouring the review sites to try and source a reliable four slice model. And if not breaking with tradition and offering, bread. After all my first attempt at home baked wasn't too bad. And MrS is currently brewing up a sour dough starter, apparently it all starts getting dramatic tomorrow, when I  seem to recall he'll be out........

I did better with the bread 

End of complaints though, we've had a lovely sunny day today, and no sign of  the promised 5pm rain shower (It's 6:15 pm as I type). That means that several loads of laundry have been washed and then line dried outside. You may not be familiar with this but  laundry dried on the line outside beats anything you can add to the tub to give freshness.  We are lucky that we can do this, though we have to call on the tumble dryer too.
It's tiring work but enjoyable,  I love welcoming our guests and helping them to discover our beautiful  area,  and I think they've been enjoying themselves. Oh I do hope so. One thing I've found though is that when your home is also your work it's quite hard to switch off; it's too easy to check emails and social media, do a bit of accounts, bake up some cookies, sort laundry.........
And as for poor little Dogstarke, it's all a bit confusing for her as she's banished  from guest areas and tormented  by the smell of foods she's not allowed but would love. We're being extra nice to her when there's no one here, with lots of fun walks and playtime. She's never short of cuddles.

having fun on the beach 

It means I'm extra looking forward to my next trip away. And I'll try to keep it that, a leisure trip, not a fact finding mission. But you can be sure I'll tell you all about it.

Until next time,


spot the "just right" slice

Sunday, 9 August 2015

and tried out some new ones

Sorry a text heavy post because I didn't take any photos of my most recent stay, but it was very much a "what you see is what you get" kind of place,  so you can trust the pictures on the website. "Yes,  well where were you? "  you may be asking -  Holiday Inn Express,  Riverside, Glasgow. Not my usual choice but we needed to be in Glasgow fairly early for a (family) business meeting and so we had to find somewhere which wasn't too pricey.

And for our needs it delivered;  the room was a decent size with better hanging space than in some more expensive places I've stayed, and a more generous supply of hangers*. Even if they were of my bete-noir "fixie" type, but again I've come across them in four star hotels too. The bathroom was small with no tub but a decent shower, very clean, good lighting and a well designed use of space. If you are choosy about your shower gels etc then do as I  did and take your own, hair/bodywash is supplied but I find some detergents really drying so didn't use it. If you're travelling by air and subject to liquid restrictions there are plenty of places nearby to pick up supplies.

We booked direct so breakfast was included, the hotel was full and peak breakfast time was very, very busy. The offerings are so-so, fine if you like cereal (I don't),  but the pastries were underwhelming and the toast machine under pressure. There's a selection of hot foods, eggs, sausages, beans which seemed popular but after a week of cooking breakfast for my own guests, well they didn't really appeal!  I think if it wasn't included I wouldn't bother, there are plenty of cafes around.  I like trying out cafes for breakfast when I'm in a new city. There's the option to grab a coffee and mini muffin from reception if you're in a rush.

The staff were all very friendly and helpful, printing us off a map to find our chosen dinner venue and advising on areas we could access with our dog. Oh yes, number one on our search filters, dog friendliness, and this one is.

Car parking is readily available nearby. There is a fairly lively pub a few doors along but we weren't disturbed by any noise. The shops and bars of the Merchant City are just a couple of blocks away. Not the most luxurious, but if you want somewhere clean and functional to sleep while you explore Glasgow then you could do a whole lot worse.

So how did we get on with our own guests?  Well, I forgot two breakfast items on our first morning, even though they were cooked! And then there were the spiders emerging from my garden flowers! Luckily both sets of guests were very kind. In fact with all my fingers and toes crossed, they have all been lovely.  I haven't had the confidence to put us on Trip Advisor and ask for  reviews yet,  so no feedback. We both agree that it was a good idea to test ourselves out with the one room this season. It's difficult enough trying to coordinate just two different breakfast orders. It's been fun though and great meeting new people. I've enjoyed giving recommendations and helping people explore our lovely surroundings.

I just wish I could fix the weather.

Table set for breakfast, and THOSE flowers

*One memorable time, a  4* hotel in Oslo, staying for a week, a varied social programme including a formal dinner, FOUR hangers!

PS, this mega ship was docked at Greenock the day we visited. How do they cope with all those breakfasts? *gulp*

MS Royal Princess and of course, the sun shone the day we didn't have guests