Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Edinburgh Festival and Museum Visit

Rob and I were up in Edinburgh Fringe Festival for the whole of yesterday, until well after midnight. We had booked three shows: Mervyn Stutter's Pick of the Fringe at 1.00 pm; James Acaster at 7.30 pm and Joe Lycett at 10.30 pm (actually started about 15 - 20 mins late).

We just made it in time for Stutter. The host is the most annoying part of the show, but he sometimes gathers together 7 decent acts: a range of musicians, actors, comedians etc. This was about our sixth or seventh visit to one of his shows - have to say it was not one of the better ones. I think they had had a couple of acts pull out and people had filled in at the last moment.

1. Roulston & Young: Songs for Lovers (And Other Idiots) [Cabaret]
2. ? Replaced Act
3. Scorched [Theatre]
4. Patrick Monahan: That 80s Show [Comedy]
5. Bubble Schmeisis [Theatre]
6. Justin Moorhouse: People and Feelings [Comedy]
7. La Poule Plombée [Cabaret]

None the less, the singers who performed in two of the slots (1 and 7) were very good - talented and original. The two comedians: Justin Moorhouse and Patrick Monahan were both quite funny. The excerpts from plays: well, I liked one of the three: Scorched - performed by one actor playing an old man with dementia who has flashes back to his earlier life, including fighting in the second world war. With very few props, and some great sound effects he told the story very well and captivated the audience. That would be my recommendation from the line up.

We headed to the National Museum of Scotland, in the gap between shows, to look at their new galleries.

Rob took these photos from the rooftop gallery...

You can see the seating for The Tattoo in the centre of this image.

These were some of the exhibits that caught my eye:-

 Phoebe Anna Traquair, Biblia Innocentum, 1897 - 98 (embossed leather)

 Transfer printed pot lid, c. 1850 - 1875

Michael Powolny, Traubenbock (Grape Goat - what the?), c. 1907 - 10 (glazed earthenware). Not something you see every day.

 Gilbert Marks, charger with dolphins/waves, 1901 (pewter).

 Jasperware paint box, late 18th century.

Male figure, blolo blain, Baule People, Ivory Coast, early 20th century. Represents the spirit spouse of the owner. Look at that adorable face!

Leopard mask pendant, Benin, Nigeria, 19th century (brass). Worn at the waist by military officials.

Tunjos (votive offerings) and figurines, Central and South America, pre 1492 (gold)

Martin Bros, Bird Jar (stoneware, wooden base). I like his wise expression.

After an early dinner (excellent!) at Mother India, we went on to the Pleasance for a drink and to spot the celebrities (Dara O'Briain, Alex Brooker, Matt Forde, Lucy Porter, an actor that I recognised, but could not name!).

James Acaster's show was really good - plenty of laughs: he has quite a strange sense of humour - sets about his honey business; things that annoy him (including people pretending to hold up the leaning tower of Pisa); his extra-large shirt pocket, to name but a few topics covered.

Another long break in which we wandered down to Princes Street and Rose Street and had a large cup of hot chocolate sitting outside The Rosehip restaurant.


The queue for Joe Lycett's show was interminable. The show was running late for some reason, but we finally got into the venue at the Assembly Hall. Nice, very large, venue inside, but the bar area outside was a bit dark and depressing. The show, though, was hilarious and worth the wait. The hour passed in a flash as he went over some of his email and twitter correspondence with officials such as parking fine administrators (a lot funnier than it sounds!), talked about some of his strange friends and people he had met. We both said afterwards that he was the sort of person you could have a great night out with - one of those people who is naturally funny.

Just a half mile walk, twenty minute bus ride, short walk, and two hour drive to get home. Finally went to sleep at 3.00 am!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Penpont and Kier Mill Walk

Rob, Brock and I took a picnic with us and made the most of the warm weather today with a walk at Penpont and Keir Mill, north of Dumfries. A similar walk can be found at #2 in this walk leaflet PDF.

 A capsid bug with unfortunate passenger (scarlet parasitic spider mite larvae, we think)

 River Scar

The walk leads you along an overgrown pathway next to the river.

 Keir Mill Church

Kirkpatrick MacMillan's grave (this is found in a separate graveyard in the village, not the one next to the church). He invented the bicycle in c.1840.


 Walking back along the road towards Penpont

The blacksmiths where Macmillan grew up and worked

There is a café, and a shop in Penpont, where we bought a drink and ice cream. Afterwards, we drove on to Thornhill for a look around the lovely gifts in the Thomas Tosh Art Gallery/Café, and bought a couple of novels in the Canine Defence League shop.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

PotFest In The Park 2016

Rob, Brock and I had a fun day out at Potfest at Hutton-in-the-Forest, near Penrith on Friday.

We had our usual tour of the grounds and walled garden first, before a drink at one of the cafes.

Then it was on to the competition area: the theme this year being "Bird Bath - Flight of Fancy". Here were my favourites:-

 Bath Time - Christine Hester Smith

 Bird Bath - Chiu-I Wu

Sea Bird Bath - Julian Jardine

We bought two more dinner plates to add to our collection of Sigi & Charlotte Boehmer's work:-

Afterwards, it was off to the nearby UpFront Gallery for a delicious lunch of ploughman's for me; homity pie for Rob; cakes and drinks. Brock was allowed to sit with us at an outside table. The coffee shop was extremely busy, with many reserved tables, so we were glad we got there early.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Fruit From The Garden

One thing that always grows well here in our garden in Southern Scotland, is blackcurrants. We planted two bushes when we moved in 17 years ago, and now we have half a dozen or more, taken from cuttings, or self seeded (with help from the resident blackbird community, who eat at least half of the crop!).

I used a very simple recipe from my Vitamix 'Recipes To Inspire' book, which is basically to:-
  • Liquidize 240g of fruit with 320 ml of water
  • Pour it into a large jug and make it up to 600 ml
  • Pour the mixture into a saucepan, bring to the boil
  • Add 400g of jam sugar (granulated sugar with pectin added), stir until the sugar is dissolved
  • Then keep it at a rolling boil for a few minutes until it is ready*. 
*Check for this by putting a little of the mixture on a cold plate, letting the jam cool, then running your finger through it to see if it wrinkles (or use a jam thermometer).

The book says it will be ready in 1 minute, however, mine took more like 10 minutes at boiling point. Either way, its a quick method and you end up with an opaque jelly that contains the whole fruit, without the need for straining the pulp.

It is lovely on toast, porridge or pancakes, or stirred through plain yoghurt or vanilla ice cream.

The rest of the crop is washed and frozen for use in smoothies, or more jam, or dessert-making throughout the year.

Next job is to make some gooseberry chutney...

We only have one bush of gooseberries, so this is the whole crop.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Walk at Temple Sowerby, Cumbria

A beautiful day for an outing, so Rob, Brock and I headed off for a new walk for us, at Temple Sowerby in Cumbria. It is about 3 - 3.5 miles long, alongside a river to begin with, through fields and on quiet country roads.

Lunch afterwards at the UpFront Gallery, Unthank. Perfect day out!


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