Forgotten Photo Friday: Arran Jumper

In November, Honey and I ran a craft stall for the day for my mother in law; we spent a lot of money at the other stalls!

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We both left with new wool Arran jumpers made by Squiddly Bean. My jumper is a bit more teal than it looks here and it has become my winter uniform, getting use nearly every day.
We also brought home some plants, as we tend to do wherever we go…

Inside Cambuskenneth Abbey

On Sunday, Honey noticed a lot of traffic around the Cambuskenneth Abbey so we decided to wander over. We hadn’t realised it was a doors open day. On doors open day each year, many historic sites across Scotland either open or open areas that are not generally accessible to the public. Since we didn’t pre-book, we were free to listen in to the tour but not able to join them when they went up to the bell tower. When I first moved to Stirling eleven years ago, it was possible to go up to the top for something like £2. I had planned on heading up at some point but then Historic Scotland closed the bell tower stairs to visitors. We never quite managed to hear about the Doors Open Days in time to plan any visits, so it was amusing that we had stumbled into one.

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We asked about verbally booking a later tour, but they were completely full. Five minutes later, the tour was ready to head up and the tour guide counted those present and there were three free spaces so Honey and I, as well as another walk-on, were invited to join in!

I had pictured the bell tower as a set of stairs and an empty room and could not believe how beautiful it actually was. It was a September highlight.

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Sweet Spot, Early September

Right now, it’s that sweet spot between summer and autumn that feels calm and slow. A place where I can still be barefoot and the sun rises and sets at perfectly agreeable times. A place where all I want to do is sow, pot up, harvest or preserve plants and these efforts are turned to bringing indoors as much of the outside as I can while the barrier between the two remains fluid. I don’t want to cover up or close up the house, but I know it is coming so I take this moment to give thanks for the summer we’ve had and dream up ways for it to fill our hearts, stomachs, and homes in the seasons to come.

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Gather, preserve, remember, savour.

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Current soundtrack: summer songs (campfire songs) or Rites of Passage.

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Potatoes

We grew a bunch of volunteer potatoes (from last year’s patch and a compost trench) in the veggie patch and intentionally planted ones in the quasiallotment plot.

Although so far I’ve only plucked a few from the soft soil in the veggie patch (top photo) and harvested about 8 small plants from the plot, those from the veggie patch yielded larger potatoes.

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This could be for several reasons because the veggie patch soil is softer and richer and the plants were also ‘ planted’ earlier.

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The first harvest was dug up on the last week of August and the rest are soon to come.

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Forgotten Photo Friday: Let’s Eat Glasgow

In September 2015, Honey and I headed to Glasgow on a beautiful Saturday for a food festival. Entry was free and you bought tokens for preset taster plates. There was a farmer’s market, live music and food trucks from top Glasgow restaurants and the atmosphere was truly festive.

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I had a gluten and dairy free dosa dish that went down very quickly and led us to Mother India by the Kelvingrove for dinner!

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I took more photos on my camera that may make it here some day…

Winter Sun Holiday

I had always rolled my eyes at the idea of a winter sun holiday, thinking it wasteful and extravagant. I’m not sure why though, because I get S.A.D. pretty hard at this latitude in the winter.

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After a nearly constant rain last summer and fall, we booked a sun holiday for the end of January into February. February is my least favourite month- the one during which I almost give up hope of spring ever arriving- we thought we’d try to recharge before that lethargy and apathy set in.
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Well, I am a complete convert. I would have been sold on the idea had we simply had a bit of sun, but to have steady and unwavering sun and warmth for 10 days was just about the best feeling ever.

We went to Tenerife and were relieved to find that the touristy tat is easily escapable. I loved being able to speak Spanish on a daily basis, be outdoors exploring, and knowing that if we took a siesta we’d not be wasting the sunlight in order to do so!
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My top learning from Tenerife:
1. The Spanish there is lovely and much more Latin American than Spain. They drop their ‘s’es so that buenos dias becomes bueno dia. They also call their Euro cents céntimos instead of the centavos that I expected from the Americas. They use zumo and look at you like you’re from another planet if you want to drink jugo. My Mexican was clearly understood, except for localisms such as ‘mande’ and they don’t really say ‘vaya bien’, just adios or hasta luego. The first few days of getting funny looks when I said mande or vaya bien made me doubt my disused Spanish, but then a shopkeeper asked where I was from and when I said USA, she das surprised and then asked me where my Spanish was from. I took the opportunity in that conversation to ask about accent and words, etc. She told me my Spanish was very good and clear and she could hear a Latin American sound to it and I was just getting those occasional looks (usually at the supermarket at the end of a conversation in which the cashier just chatted to me like normal and I’d bomb it with an unknown word/phrase) because some of the words I was using were not used here.

2. If you’re vegetarian, and especially if you’re gluten and/or dairy free vegetarian, self-catering is the way to go. We had a self-catered place and I ate dinner before Honey and I headed out to get her meal.
Fortunately, restaurants do understand intolerances to proteína láctea y gluten, but not all can cater for it. One great place was Bahia in Los Abrigos. They brought me through to discuss my needs with the chef, made me a delicious tortilla and even surprised me with freshly baked gluten free bread to have with the mojo!

I ate many servings of the delicious local papas arrugadas. They’re delicious with mojo, although the store bought sauces are not gf. If the restaurant makes the mojo sauces in-house they can easily tell you if they are. The other thing I had a lot of was salad. The salads were interesting because they were invariably some vegetables and then some fruits added.
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3. The volcanic landscape creates really neat black beaches, but there is also a very interesting range of plant life on the island. There are many, many succulents along the south coast and in the volcanic centre, with pine forrests and agricultural land in other areas.
4. Watch the local television with the news ticker at the bottom. We found out about a local festival that way.
5. The Tinerfeño (Tenerifean) flag is a saltire and looks exactly like the Scottish saltire. Apparently, they have different Pantone shades to differentiate.
6. I wore thin cotton trousers, sandals, and layers on top (ranging from tanks and tees to long sleeve button shirts overtop with scarves, depending upon time of day.
7. I would definitely go back to Tenerife.

Mid-August Garden

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The drying runner beans are flowering but we’re still waiting for something to set. They’re determined to grow into the sky; the top of the poles is about 10ft!

The p

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urple climbing beans are podding up.

The sweet

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peas have come up. I’d love to be able to give Honey some flowers before the plants die back.

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Turnips yielded a decent crop. Pick smaller next year for more tender roots.
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e soup peas are beginning to dry and the flowering has stopped. I have another few harvests waiting on the plants.

The peas are ending and the asparagus peas have given us a modest harvest for

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a few weeks. I picked the last major blackberry batch this week. They’re soft, juicy and sweet and I realised I picked some too early a few weeks ago!

And here’s a beautiful sunset we’ve had recently.