Sunday, 17 November 2013


Saying I really need a holiday will make a lot of people want to punch me in the face since I went to Budapest in September and only work part time. BUT I do volunteer as well and that makes me sort of a full time worker. And when you get home at 9, it seems more reasonable to complain. Maybe/not really. Anyway, mainly it was pleasant because it was the first break from the job application process and wasn't interrupted by the prospect of losing £1400.
Upon arrival (the first set of doors will not open) I was struck by how cold it was. Really, I stood still in the middle of Waverley station with my hands in alternate pockets, huddling with myself for warmth. Then the Explorer revealed that he'd decided not to bring the key because he thought that would make getting to the house just too easy. We called his uncle away from jury duty and I ran into Primark to buy some layers (green, fluffy, kind of fugly) and some poorly elasticated tights. We had planned to go to Milk for lunch but what with finding out the bus ticket place had moved and also that we didn't even need to get Ridacards, I had to run into Greggs and stuff a sausage and bean melt into my mouth in three mouthfuls while bits of pastry flaked down into my new itchy snood like dandruff. Finally, we got to the house for 5.30 leaving us half an hour for a quick whisky soda before heading out into the bitter cold (but better wrapped up by the Explorer's mother's cardigan this time) for dinner again. We ate at The Dogs. (I can't seem to find the photo.)

We were met by an indifferent waiter who informed us we'd have to wait fifteen minutes before ordering. A slightly more droll but quite scary waiter took our order. I went for the lamb chop with haggis patty and cabbage. The Explorer had the rabbit with creamy mash and a mustard sauce. The rabbit was so wonderfully moist it's hard to believe that it's difficult to achieve that every time. The lamb chop had a crisp caramelised fatty edge but unfortunately was slightly let down by the fact that the meat wasn't quite as tender as it could be. But it was still very well flavoured and I am just being picky! Our respective potatoes were full of buttery creaminess. Mine was slightly saltier, I think because of the haggis, but the slightly sweet mustardy sauce cut through that and the kale managed to add a freshness even though it looked fried.

After eating and drinking for the winter, we hibernated for the day. No, really. We went outside to collect supplies and then looked ourselves away with only The Bridge and masses of food (steak sandwiches with a shallot-mushroom-redcurrant reduction, Indian food) and wine for company. We emerged the next day wearing sensible, fleecy boots and decided to go to the seaside. We'd visited Cramond before so the plan was Portobello. However, at the onset of the 1.5 hour journey there, we decided that was too ambitious. We weren't really used to movement yet. We alighted at Leith and looked for fish and chips. We found it in a more luxurious place than we intended, The Ship on the Shore, and went mad. Seafood, prosecco and some fish and chips for good measure. OK - the tartare is the best I've ever had. This is going to sound like an insult but I certainly don't mean it as one: it tasted like a pimped up version of the McDonalds filet-o-fish tartare. (I know what that tastes like because when we first came to England my mum only ordered those from McDs as she was still vaguely trying to stay halal.) Seriously though, it was probably the highlight of my side-sauce-tasting life. The langoustines were big and gruesomely fresh looking. Delicious. The bearnaise was rich but light. All the chips were just so - dry but slightly wet and most of all CRISP. Haddock was had a sturdy batter leaving it a wide berth and tasting separate to but all at one with the flesh all at once. I don't remember the peas and the salad so well now but I remember making the extra effort to get lots of meat out of the langoustine all at once so I could eat it with all the condiments so you know it was good. I don't know how we could have dealt with anything but prosecco to wash it down.
After wandering around Edinburgh town slightly tipsy and distressed at not finding the Zara coat I wanted even in Scotland, we headed home for mince pies and fire and other warming treats. Determined to be more active the next day, we set out on a quest to the Botanical Gardens and that vintage shop that Earnest always mentions as being good for cashmere. Brunch first though, Leo's Beanery.
I'm pleased to report that the coffee was strong but the foamy milk uncurdled. It irritates me so much when places get that wrong and it's all slightly sour and yucky. My cheddar American-style biscuits were so crumbly and salty that they inspired me to make more baked cheesy things (starting with cheese souffles, we hope). The ham that went with it was punchy and flavoursome, however, it was all a little heavy so I was glad that the Explorer had gone for the lighter option of salmon and cream cheese and also that he's always so willing to eat all of my leftovers. After a leisurely walk to the Gardens, we didn't play hide and seek but did smell some flowers (I definitely have a slight pollen allergy.) and generally enjoyed the country (relatively) air. Of course, as you're by now so used to reading, we didn't make it to the vintage shop. But who cares when you pretend it's Christmas (roast with all the trimmings) and then fall asleep by 9?

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