Saturday, 30 October 2010

Edinburgh Diaries Day 4

We had intended to go swimming this morning on the camp-site but Holly didn't put in an appearance until 0915 hrs - At home she is usually up by 0700 hrs. All the walking around is knackering her out!

Anna's sister text me the directions to drive to her house this morning - It looked complicated but when we got going at 1100 hrs. it was a doddle! It only took 30 minutes instead of over an hour by bus! I've got to hand it to the bus company in Edinburgh (Lothian) they are brilliant. Frequent, punctual and cheap! £1.20 to do a 20 mile journey is not to be sniffed at. The £3.00 all day ticket (unlimited travel) is also fantastic value!

After leaving Anna's sister's house, we went into the town centre and had lunch - Jacket potato with cous-cous for me (no butter) so that should have been Harcombe-friendly! After that, the family decided to go to 'Chocolate Soup'.. I declined and went back to Princes Street, to the Starbucks I was in yesterday, to type up this diary. 

I think I have finally got used to the bed in the caravan now as I slept like a log!

It feels weird that I'm going back home tomorrow and I will miss being here to be honest. I came here not expecting to enjoy it at all and as far as I am concerned; a city is still a city and I'm a rural boy at heart, If you like gothic architecture you'd love Edinburgh. The people are incredibly friendly and very helpful and the weather has been pretty good - I haven't got drenched yet and I have only needed a light jacket on top of a t-shirt! We have done something good each day and have had a good time as a family!

I'm now on my second 6-shot Americano! - It is delicious! I think Anna and the kids are coming over here soon to get a coffee and then we are going to get some tea at a restaurant somewhere in the city - I really want to have haggis but I don't think it is Harcombe friendly.... I may have to have some anyway and not worry about it.

2000 hrs.
Just got back from a lovely pub / restaurant right at the end of Princes street. I had haggis with neeps; they swapped the tatties for a side-salad which was nice of them. I had forgotten how delicious haggis was!

Anyway - got to get the kids in bed as we have to get up early to pack up and go.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Edinburgh Diaries Day 3

A lazy day for me today! The kids have gone to the zoo and I'm currently sitting in Starbucks typing up my Edinburgh diaries. I've just had another 6-shot Decaf Americano - With the Starbucks card; you get the 2 extra shots free - I think I'm in heaven!

I actually managed to get a better night's sleep last night - Despite the fact that the mattress was really uncomfortable (I think I may have mentioned this in another entry... But I feel it needs saying again!) and woke up feeling refreshed, ready for the incredibly dull hour-long bus journey into Edinburgh. 

I need to go to a supermarket later on so I think I'll get the bus back to the camp-site and then drive out the supermarket.

1530 hrs.
Just got back from the supermarket! - I can't believe I had forgotten to buy eggs - Of all things to forget - it had to be the thing I eat most of! - Off to the camp-site shop to get them!

1830 hrs.
Just had a phone-call from Anna to say that her mum and sister are coming back to the caravan for tea.. This should be interesting as there is only two relatively small saucepans and a frying pan.

I'll have cheese and roast pork loin - They can all have a pasta dish. Onions, peppers tinned tomatoes, herbs and cheese all cooked in the frying pan.

Incidentally, I managed to snap the large knife that they provide in the caravan.. How the heck do you cut a Spanish onion with a tiny knife with a 2 inch blade?

I must be a miracle-worker because apparently the pasta was delicious!

Righto - Off to bed; Laterz!

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Edinburgh Diaries Day 2

After practically zero hours sleep due to the mattress being lumpier than badly-made bechemel sauce and me ending up on the couch; the kids woke me up at 0530 hrs. They were swiftly dealt with and put back to bed! They were brilliant and slept in till 0730 which allowed me to turn on the heater and combat the arctic temperatures that seem to be prevalent here.

Making breakfast was an interesting matter. The grill barely got hot enough to cook the bacon and the fried eggs went rather hard due to what seemed like an ice-age in the pan! (do you see what I did there!) Breakfast was finally choked down at 0830 and another coffee (decaf) was had.

We are planning to go into Edinburgh today and see some of the sights. Apparently there is an excellent bus service that runs right from the camp-site to the centre of town; it is pretty cheap too!

2131 hrs - Just finished washing the puke out of my jeans and t-shirt! - We went for a carvery near to the zoo that Anna's sister works at and Reuben managed to choke on half a piece of carrot! Happy days - we were only an hour and a half's bus journey from the camp-site...

Before this we had an excellent day! Anna's sister, through her work, had managed to procure some passes to get us into Edinburgh's finest attractions... free... We made the most of it and went first to the Camera Obscura which was brilliant - Very interesting indeed. After that we stopped in the middle of the city to eat our packed lunch and I got a 6-shot decaf americano from Starbucks. Very nice indeed! After that we walked down the Royal Mile and ended up outside the Scottish Parliament building. What a monstrosity! It is so out of keeping with the rest of the city, which is beautiful!

Next on the itinerary was the Dynamic Earth centre. I was convinced it was going to be a liberal-lefty, tree-hugging, Guardian-reading, sandal-wearing, quiche-eater's paradise.. I was pleasantly surprised! It was a fantastic, interactive look at the earth from big bang to modern man and beyond (astronomy etc.) We spent a good 2 hours in there and Reuben even sat still, transfixed by the astronomy film - well it was in a big dome with the screen going all round the ceiling and walls! Before that there was a 3-D film where we flew all over the world to different 'Biomes' which was very well done. Reuben slept through it but Holly was fascinated!

Tomorrow, Anna and the kids are going to the Zoo and I'm going in to Edinburgh and planting myself in Starbucks and taking full advantage of their free wifi connections. (Which will be the first time you get to hear any of this!)

Peace out.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Edinburgh Diaries Day 1

Well we arrived at the camp-site in one piece - physically, mentally was a totally different matter! Despite the kids being really well behaved in the car; my nerves were still shot to pieces! It may have had something to do with the kids' CD that they insisted on listening to to.

The camp-site is just row after row of identical static caravans - All pretty bland and characterless. I haven't had the chance to look around the site as yet. All I know is that there is a Spar shop and a chippy on the site as well as an 'entertainment area' that thankfully we are well away from.

I think there may be an event going on as there seems to be a great deal of people walking round with identical tracksuits on. I'm hoping it is not the 3rd annual highland band-camp reunion...

Driving up past Geordie-land we passed the Angel of the North - I honestly thought it'd be bigger than it was! Most unimpressive!

We are currently unpacking (well Anna is anyway - I'm typing this drivel!) and awaiting a phone-call announcing the arrival of Anna's mum and sister. When they arrive, we are going to meet them and walk over to the chippy. Anna and the kids will have chips etc. I'm going to have roast pork loin and some cheese.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Mad dogs and Englishmen

2 days and counting! - Till we make the arduous journey north and brave crossing the border into 'bonnie' Scotland!

We are visiting Anna's sister who works in the Chimp enclosure at Edinburgh zoo and we are staying in a caravan... In Scotland... In October... I am starting to think we are mad!

I have read nowhere on the literature, that came with the booking, that there is wireless access on the campsite (Seton Sands). This could be a long 5 days..

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Fun at a health benefits fair

At work today I visited the Staff Health and Benefits fair..

Not a big deal.. However,

The New Leaf (Stop Smoking Service) had left their stall unmanned!

This gave me the perfect chance to leave a lovely little note on it..

I am so childish!

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Dairy-free Veggie Lasagne

This is a twist on an old favourite. I wanted to create a lasagne that could be eaten by people with a dairy intolerance.

Here it is:

1 tin (400g) chopped tomatoes
1 thingy of passata. (500g)
1 courgette
2 medium carrots
1 onion
1 leek
1 pack quorn mince
a load of oregano (or Italian seasoning or basil)
Salt and pepper
half a tube of tomato puree
a dash of tabasco
some lasagne sheets (whole wheat)
3 garlic cloves - pummelled in a mortar and pestle

Chop the leeks into rings (5mm thick)
chop the carrots, onion and courgette into 5mm cubes
Fry off the veggies in a wok with a little olive oil until
Add the garlic, herbs and chopped tomatoes
Season to taste
Add the quorn and a little water if necessary
Simmer for about 10 mins until reduced and the sauce is thickened (not too thick - You will want the liquid to help cook the lasagne sheets.
Whilst this is simmering, put the passata in a saucepan and add the tabasco and some pepper
Heat until boiling and then remove from the heat.
Build the lasagne in a lasagne dish and bake in the oven 200℃ for for 40 minutes (or until the lasagne is cooked)

Monday, 18 October 2010

One happy bunny!

My car passed its MOT Test today!

(not my car...)

SO this means that at that moment in time; a mechanic decided that my car was roadworthy. Everything could fall off it tomorrow but it would still have and MOT certificate.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

That dreadful time of year...

Yup - The car's MOT Test is due.. As the car is now 7 years old I do feel a little nervous about it, especially as I know there are a couple of things that need to be sorted out.

  • New rear tyres (they were swapped from the fronts last time it needed tires) the problem with heavy diesels is that they all seem to eat front tires - My driving style (If you can call it that) cannot be solely responsible!
  • Reverse light is intermittent. Quite why Mr Ford put the reverse light in such a stupid place is beyond me! It is right behind the wheel where rain and dirt get kicked up all over the place - I'm sure the holder has corroded beyond repair!
In fairness, the car has been brilliant - It is smooth, for a diesel, which to imitate Clarkson, is like saying "he is polite for a psychopathic serial killer!" The only thing that has gone wrong with it, in the 7 years I have owned it has been the fuel computer broke which was a known fault - The 'range to empty' would show as blank every so often. Oh and there is a bit of rust on the inside of the rear, nearside door - a weak seam-weld..!

Anyway, I'll post tomorrow with either a happy face or a sad face!

Thursday, 14 October 2010

My Passive Aggressive Daughter

Last night Holly was dithering when she should have been getting ready for bed. I decided that I would listen to her read but I wasn't going to read her a story.. She got a little upset about this and after I had said prayers with her and tucked her up in bed; she got her whiteboard and did this:

I was totally pee'ing myself laughing when I read it! She is a legend!

I'm particularly loving the disgruntled face she has drawn.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Friday, 8 October 2010

Working in Mordor

Sometimes I think I am working in Mordor!

This is the view from the window of the Techie's workshop..

Granted - Nottingham is foggy all over today but there have been numerous times when I can leave the house in pleasant sunshine and by the time I get to junction 28 of the M1 the weather darkens and the fog closes in.

Then you read your emails and your mood darkens with the weather...

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Soup Recipe

  •      Parsnip
  •      Swede
  •      Leeks
  •      onions
  •      Courgette
  •      Peppers
  •      Tin of chopped Tomatoes
  •      Red lentils
  •      Pearl barley

Put all the ingredients in a pressure cooker with some salt and pepper and some (can't remember how much exactly) stock made from a Kallo Organic stock cube.

Bring the pressure cooker up to pressure and continue to simmer it, maintaining pressure, for 10 minutes.

Turn off the heat and leave it long enough for the pressure to reduce and allow the pan to be opened.

To make the dumplings, take some wholemeal flour and add some bicarbonate of soda and salt. Add some water and mix until a dough is formed Cut up into small dumpling sizes (2 inches in diameter) Then put them into the soup and turn the heat on again and gently boil them for 7-10 minutes.


Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Electrical Safety Fail

I thought that I was being a wee bit irresponsible trimming the hedge in the rain..

These guys take it to another level!!

Looks like a Darwin award in progress!

Monday, 4 October 2010

Attention coffee lovers!

I have just bought one of these.

It is called the Aero-Press and I can honestly say that it makes the best coffee I have tasted outside of Italy!

I'll admit, I was sceptical when my friend, Richard, bought one but then I used it and first had an espresso - It totally blew me away. So smooth and strong. are selling them for £17.99.