Friday, July 30, 2010

"For the secret of man's being is not only to live . . . but to live for something definite." - Fyodor Dostoevsky

Two Tasty Tidbits

This past weekend in the Cotswolds, we discovered several delightful things. Here are two that will interest your sweet tooth:

First of all, let me introduce you to Spot Loggins ice cream.

Spot Loggins is called the "supernatural dairy" -- and rightfully so. I've never tasted such delicious and rich vanilla ice cream. We were bragging to our friends about the delights of Scottish ice cream, especially Mackies. Their reply? Wait until you try Spot Loggins. And it's true. This ice cream hailing from the Vale of Evesham is a family-run business. Though generations old, the family still lives and works on the farm. If you're headed to the Cotswolds, make sure to have a bowl of Spot Loggins at the Fleece Inn -- the only pub owned and operated by the National Trust. (And if you try the asparagus flavor, let me know how that goes!)


Let me also introduce you to The Pudding Club.  Now this is a fun idea!  Allegedly called the Eighth Wonder of the World, the Pudding Club was founded in 1985 at the Three Ways Hotel. With a concern for the disappearing "British Pud," the Pudding Club was established to "raise the spoon to the British Pud." Here's how it works - the club hosts weekly meetings where anyone can join in by paying a fee and sampling all the pudding delights. A vote is later taken on the best pudding of the night. The Pudding Club now is quite the entity. It boasts a hotel, restaurant, recipe books, and products sold to Waitrose. Now that's a good excuse to go peruse the dessert aisle at Waitrose!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Walk Through the Cotswolds

Join me on a walk through the Cotswolds to a nearby village ......

Walking through the fields of wheat

....  and through the gentle, rolling hills dotted with sheep

Cast your eyes on very old trees

.... trees with little guys hanging out beneath. Have you spotted him?

Is there another word for "heavenly"? I think I need it in my vocabulary. 

All the gold hues does my heart good. 

And the flowers! All the flowers are practically therapeutic, too!

It doesn't get more charming than this.

Would you like to move in to this one?

Or this one?

I'll take any cottage on that street!

Even with gray skies, this place is alluring.

More cottages & charm!

Ready to pack your suitcase?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Without Further Ado ......

We spent the weekend in the Cotswolds visiting some dear friends. Here's just a glimpse:

Lovely! That's the Cotswolds in a nutshell ... absolutely lovely! Flowers everywhere. Charming cottages made of golden stone with either thatched roofs or old slate roofs. I always feel so relaxed and refreshed after spending time there. I'm not sure there could possibly be a more pleasant place anywhere!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

I Thought I'd Seen It All in Edinburgh .....

.... until this!
During the month of August, you can dine at 100 feet over Edinburgh in this flying contraption (it doesn't seem to have a name). The "luxury table" ascends into the air and rotates so that you and your 22 dining partners have panoramic views of the city while you lunch on "pressed pork and caramelised shallot terrine with baby capers and whole grain mustard." What I'm curious about is how this will work in the Scottish weather. They claim to have an "all-weather roof" but rain in Scotland doesn't fall directly down -- it blows vertically (the joys of living in Scotland!) -- hence, the need for wellies and goretex jackets and not just an umbrella. For more information, here is 'Festival in the Sky's" website.

So tell me -- would you be up for dining at the flying 22-person table? From the pictures it looks like your feet would be hanging, much like they would on certain kinds of roller coasters. Appetizing? Appealing? Do tell!

Monday, July 19, 2010


My thoughts are all over the place this rainy Monday morning, so here goes:

Did you know that my sister does not lead a normal life? At. All. She was cast as a "good-looking hipster" last week for Gossip Girl. To hear about her not-so-normal life, you should read her most recent blog post. Feel free to live vicariously through her.

Next random thought:

If I was a stand-up comedian, one of my sketches would definitely be on landlords. Have you ever met a totally normal landlord? I have had my fair share of interaction with landlords, and let me tell you -- whether in the US or the UK, they are all a little bit out there (nice -- but out there [except for the one that owns Lynchburg Realty, LLC -- I have good reason and evidence to tell you not to rent from him ....]) . My most recent landlord, a retired orthopedic surgeon, thinks he can fix something other than knees --- like a water heater. As of this morning, let me tell you, orthohopedic surgeons should stick with bones and ligaments and not pilot lights.

On to other random things in my head ........

What's up with all these literary and film characters that are the newbies on the block but possess superior knowledge to all those surrounding them that have way more experience than they do??? That's not the real world. Whether it's the little architect student in Inception or the maid in A Girl with the Pearl Earring, life does not work that way. If Oscar Wilde was correct when he said that "life imitates art more than art imitates life," then some people need a reality check. The deal is, is that you're going to have to work hard and learn a lot of things through experience before you are better at and have more experience than those surrounding you. 

In case you haven't guessed it, we saw Inception this weekend. If you like creating alternate universes in your head and feel comfortable existing there, or perhaps reading a few books that exist there, then you'll likely really enjoy the film. It's creative. It's well done. It's definitely one to see in a big movie theater. 

Other fun things from the weekend: I split a lobster with a friend. YUM! Gordon Ramsey highly acclaims the Scottish lobster, and he even ordered Scottish lobster for his Parisian restaurants. That's big stuff. I also tried a vegan cherry pie this weekend, and it was amazingly good. Who knew a pie without butter or eggs could be so good??? 

And finally - my friends and I had tea at Anteaques on Clerk Street yesterday afternoon. This tea shop serves an incredible selection of 63 teas alongside exquisite antiques ranging from sets of china, to Edwardian desks, silver butter knives, and more. While perusing the gorgeous antiques, you can treat yourself to a generous pot of tea and a yummy scone served with jam and clotted cream. How much better can life get???

P.S. - Don't miss the video on Anteques website that's in Welsh! (Yes- people really do speak that language still! Amazing!)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

So This is What They're Calling it These Days .....

The fanny pack has made a reappearance as ....
... the global travel belt! An identity crisis?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Birthday Spent at the Old Course

Today my husband is here:
The Old Course at St. Andrews

I surprised him with a ticket to the British Open for his birthday. For the past 24 hours, he's been pretty ecstatic. 
 Here's MBA with his dad at the Old Course back in November. Just taking a little practice swing!

Here we are on the famous 18th Hole.

What a way to spend a last birthday in your twenties! I am hoping he has an absolutely fabulous time. The rain hitting our sunlight makes me think I would not have had a fabulous time there. Ha! But he was sent off with waterproofs, extra layers of clothing, numerous granola bars -- and his accompanying friend was bringing no less than six American Smucker-style PB&J's. Sounds like the makings of a great birthday. 

I wish I could promise pictures, but cameras are not allowed. Neither are cell phones allowed. Had he brought his mobile, they would have confiscated it!

Three cheers to MBA! May he have the best birthday ever!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Wee Highland Dancers

Quite possibly one of the cutest things I've ever seen:

Check out the faces on our competitors. From left - we have "I don't want to be here. I'm terrified." Next up, we have "Are you ready to watch me perform? I'm good at this!" And all the way on the right, there's "Lucy in la-la-land."

And off they go .......

For being so little, they were so talented! The highland dances can be quite complex and have many steps for the little girls to remember. They were great little dancers and oh so darling!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Stirling Highland Games

This week has been filled with normal work plus grading papers and a variety of other tasks pulling me in many different directions. Yet, I could delay no longer in sharing a quick picture of MBA and I in Stirling this past Sunday for the highland games. After living in Scotland for almost three years, I decided it was high time to make it to some highland games. After getting rained away from the highland games in Cupar last weekend, I was really determined to make it to these games! 

Until I can post the full report, I'll leave you with one of my favorite things at the highland games: 
 This piper band was awesome! If you can ever get only a few feet away from a piper band, do it. Being really close up changes the whole experience!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

A Dangerous Discovery

Madeleine Patisserie in Stockbridge

5 minutes away + deliciousness = danger

Friday, July 9, 2010

A New Supper Club: The Gastronauts

Have you heard of the the Gastronauts in New York City? I think my friend Rebecca and I could (a) either join them on their culinary adventures in NYC, or (b) be the founding members of the Gastronauts in Edinburgh.

The two of us just tried out YO!Sushi at Harvey Nichols this past weekend, and we absolutely loved our conveyor belt sushi. Unlike Mr. Garrison - when we tried octopus last weekend, ours wasn't squirming!

P.S. - The Gastronauts were just written up in The New York Times. Do have a read!

P.P.S. - YO!Sushi is opening another location at Edinburgh's airport. A good reason to arrive early and hungry!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Word in Small Boats

"Faith grows into sight, and as it takes root in us, so it outgrows its beginnings as a mere conclusion from premises, the result of a train of thought. It becomes the basis on which we live, the shape that our mind gives to new experiences." - O. O'Donovan in 'The Witness'

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Craving Lucky Charms?

Not for that price! As spotted at Harvey Nichols on Saturday. Should I start importing myself? At $11.38 a box, that profit could be life changing!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Berwick-upon-Tweed, England

This past Friday my office in America was closed for July 4th, so in celebratory fashion I took the day off as well and headed south into England. Berwick-upon-Tweed is the northernmost city in England and has switched hands from Scotland and England over twelve times. A city filled with history, this charming little English town is also a city filled with the most friendly folks I've encountered in all of Great Britain! In the queue to get off the train, a local gentlemen was giving my friend and I a bit of advice about what to see while visiting Berwick-upon-Tweed. Kind indeed! Upon exiting the train station, this same gentlemen pulled up (in his very nice, light blue Jaguar, which seemed so fitting for this seaside town) to offer us a ride into town since it was a half mile away. He dropped us right off at the Elizabethan town wall and our adventure began!

Berwick-upon-Tweed boasts the only intact and remaining Elizabethan town walls in all of England

These walls were designed to keep the out the Scots to the north. Allegedly, the town walls were the most expensive undertaking during England's golden age.

Next we headed over to an English Heritage site to see the Berwick-upon-Tweed Barracks & Main Guard and accompanying museums. Here are the Barracks:

After perusing the museums, all of which pertained to the British military from the 13th century to the 1960's, we walked the walls and saw some great sites!

A little gardening going on in the coastal town

It was a gorgeous day seaside

We then headed beyond the walls and into the town:
I really appreciate all the lovely and bright colors of Berick-upon-Tweed. So cheerful!

The town is filled with charming, locally-owned shops.

Above is a picture of the Town Hall, which gives tours at 2:30 only. So if you don't want to miss out, make sure to be there by 2:30! (We missed out on the tour!!!)

We then winded our way down this street to the best treat in all: Cafe Curio -- a precious little French bistro with fare that could compete on the streets of Sainte Germain!

Cafe Curio not only has the best French food, it also sells gorgeous antiques. Can one establishment get any better???

Katy and our yummy food!

So happy to be there!

What's a proper blog post without a food picture? We split my plate of brie, ham, & chutney and Katy's plate of smoked salmon, prawn salad, smoked herring, and crab salad. Delish! 

And of course Cafe Curio is on the cutest street in all of Berwick-upon-Tweed, complete with tons of flowers:
Next thing up, we headed to the pier to soak in the gorgeous views and sun. Yes - I said 'sun'!

First we had to stop by and see Berwick-upon-Tweed's famous bridge.
This isn't the famous one, but it's still a cool looking bridge.

 The Royal Border Bridge

Pretty sure this blog post could be an ad for Berwick-upon-Tweed. Isn't it pretty???

Berwick-upon-Tweed is also known as a site L.S. Lowry loved to visit and paint. Above is one of the scenes he once painted. I believe the painting now resides in Manchester at the Salford Quays.

Here's another one of the scenes Lowry painted. And could you ask for more perfect and puffy clouds?

Now to head to the pier and the beach!

River Tweed entering the North Sea:
Who would have ever imagined England looking so tropical?

Check out the hues of the water! Amazing!

Here's where it doesn't look so tropic:
There's nothing balmy and tropic about the winds on the northeast coast of England!

Even though the winds were whipping at a minimum of 40 miles an hour, the views were stunning!

All in all - an absolutely fabulous day at the seaside town of Berwick-upon-Tweed. I am smitten with this town and completely enjoyed my day out here!
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