Tag Archives: Scotland

Feeding our wanderlust: honey, lavender, pepper oatcakes; photos of Iona

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Sometimes, a phrase, an image, or an object triggers your memory and it’s as though you are transported back to another place. Last night, reading Laura’s blog, Laura’s Mess, I remembered standing under Western Australia’s big, open sky, with its sense of so much space, feeing the warm wind and warmer sun, and ouch-hot white sand under my feet.

Earlier that evening, we were planning a dinner party for 12 (!). Cheese and oatcakes got on the menu. And I remembered the oatcakes we had in Scotland. And that story on a packet of oatcakes, solemnly explaining that oatcakes began from the Scottish people’s frugal habits, when they would save their morning porridge by drying it into a cake for supper.

Dried leftover porridge. Yum.

So it was that I found myself making oatcakes that evening.

I used a recipe from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall who introduced it thus: “This recipe is Bill Cowie’s, island manager of Rona in the Inner Hebrides. He made a batch when we were filming and fishing with him in July. We devoured every last one, with cheese and homemade chutney.”

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I almost followed the recipe, the only changes I made were adding a bare half teaspoon of crushed lavender, and an overflowing teaspoon of honey, into the oatcake mix. I’ve been reading about lavender pepper spice mixes, and oats just love honey, and the whole thing just came together.

The oatcakes had a healthy back of the throat kick from a mixture of black and white pepper – I’d like to use the sweeter pink pepper next time – a bare hint of open grassland from the lavender, and the barest mellowness from the honey. Their flavours played off each other and made me want to use the lavender, honey and pepper combination in other things. 

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Scotland (1): Edinburgh and the castles

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We had more than 2500 photos from our holiday in Scotland and Germany! This is the first of four posts, featuring some of the highlights, that will be published over the next few weeks. There was so much to see, so many things to remember, ranging from sweeping landscapes to the corner of a room, these photos are only a fraction of the sights I want to tell you about.

Let’s start with our first sight of Edinburgh. The summer sun still lingered at 10pm as we walked to our B&B. In the dust, the tall stone buildings around Edinburgh Waverley station looked even more imposing, forbidding. The dark, almost black stones looked austere, yet many had unexpected gothic ornamentation that gave them fantastical profiles, etched against the sky. The next day, the buildings looked less forbidding, but no less fantastical.

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The mixture of austere, fantastical, brooding and romantic also characterised many of the monuments of Scotland. Starting with Scot’s Monument and Edinburgh Castle, we also visited many others. Some are household names, others relatively unknown but no less interesting: Stirling, Alloa Tower, Blackness Castle, Inverary, Kilchurn, Duart, Kisimul, Urquhart, Blair, and of course the romantic Eilean Donan.

One day, we found ourselves alone at Kilchurn Castle, on Loch Awe, near Inverary. Sure it was raining, but even Sir Walter Scott would have been impressed by this Romantic view.

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Castles bring out our inner child. There is something about crawling through dark, narrow passages, ducking to walk through doorways, and exploring steep, shadowy staircases. The buildings speak of strange times and unknown lives, the very stones seem mysterious, heavy with the history of the Jacobite rebellion and invasions from McDonald, Lord of the Isles. (Often, the stones were also heavy with moisture, moss, fern, and constant gusts of wind. Such is summer in Scotland)

 

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