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text 2017-08-21 00:04
Edinburgh - Bookfest Mini-haul

As I know that some of you are awaiting an update from Edinburgh, I've spent much of yesterday and most of today at the Book Festival - because Simon Callow and Ali Smith. OK, mostly because of Ali Smith. You all know I love Ali Smith, so I don't need to go into that again. Except, that I will do exactly that ... but in a separate post.


Anyway, for those of you rolling their eyes already at my fangirling over Ms Smith, below is a picture of my (very restrained) efforts at the Book Festival this weekend. They are all signed by the authors, tho, so extra credit for that. (Tho, Thin Air and Unspeakable I managed to just pick up - no queueing for autographs.)




And, ahem, "Autumn" is a fantastic book. I've read it when it was released last year, but got it as a kindle version (because who can really wait for their favourite author's work to arrive by post?!). This new little treasure is just so I can love looking at it on my shelf at home.


"Unspeakable" looked really interesting: It is a novel based on a real event: the last person in Britain to be tried and executed for blasphemy. It is set right here in Edinburgh.


"Thin Air" is one I have read lots of reviews (rather mixed) about. It also is a ghost story, which means that I will have to re-shuffle my Halloween Bingo plans already. But as one of the local(ish) bards has proclaimed "The best-laid schemes o' mice an 'men 
Gang aft agley,"


Lastly, who can resist Simon Callow? This looked really interesting and Callow's talk at the Fest yesterday just meant I wanted to know more about Wagner. So, friends, prepare yourselves for some upcoming posts that may feature some pompous and extravagant musical accompaniments. :)


Other noteworthy sightings were Tracey Chevalier and Roger McGough, but I didn't get to see either of their events. :( I was booked to see a discussion with Jackie Kay and Margo Jefferson, but Ms Kay was not able to attend at the last minute.

Still, it has been a great trip. (Even for meeting Ms Smith again...but you might have already guessed that, right?).

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text 2017-05-28 18:38
The Sunday Post - May Festival and Food

Despite this post's title, this is more about Saturday than Sunday because apart from a quick venture outside this morning to see the last of the events I had checked into at the university, I have done the bare minimum this Sunday, or, I should say I have minimised any interruptions that might interfere with my reading. 


Apart from the poetry session in the university botanical gardens, there was little to get out of the house for because I had already achieved all my weekend goals yesterday. In particular:


1. Go to gym/training. - check.

2. Meet up with friends. - check.

3. Learn something new. - check.

4. Enjoy the (rare) sunshine. - check.


After playing tennis for a couple of hours on Friday, yesterday's early morning workout was just enough to make me not want to move much, not that my Saturday allowed me to crash on the couch for a bit either.


The University of Aberdeen's May Festival took place over the last three days. The May Festival is a series of events, lectures, walks, tours, readings, etc. that centre around the very beautiful university grounds and are somewhat tied in with the university faculties. So, there were classes and talks at the sports centre, experiments by the science department, lectures on history, bookish talk, food stalls, lots of other things, and beer.


It's an event that I look forward to every year because it is such a fun way to spend a day with friends. Yesterday, I met up with a friend i hadn't seen in a few months for a morning lecture, and in the afternoon I bumped into another one who was happy to have found someone to have a beer with on the lawn. The university had provided lawn chairs that were so comfortable that we nearly forgot the time.



I'm not sure what my favourite part of the day was, because it is hard to decide whether spending time with friends can ever be beaten by the events themselves, but one of the events was really rather special:


I had been looking forward to a talk about The Suffragettes in Aberdeen. As you may know from other posts, this is a topic that I have an interest in. What made it extra special, tho, was that the lecture was being presented by one of the lecturers that I knew from own undergraduate days. And I had not seen her since. So, I was excited by both the topic and by the prospect of saying hello after. 

Needless to say, it was a thoroughly interesting talk and I am looking forward to reading up on a few points about the differences between the movements for suffrage in England and Scotland - and on some of the characters who dared to defy Mrs. Pankhurst. It sounded like even tho the story of the Suffragettes is widely known in a general way, some of the individual characters and side-stories have already been brushed over by the more general story of the big-hitting (in more sense than one) organisation led by Mrs. Pankhurst. And it is worth remembering that some of the success of the Suffragettes was due to some other colourful characters.


The other fabulous event yesterday was a lecture by the department of psychology on The Science of Swearing. You always know that you are in for a good time when an academic starts of the talk with  disclaimer and a request for anyone that is easily offended to leave right away and the announcement that there will be live audience participation.

I took away many interesting points about swearing, but mostly I loved that they had prepared graphs to show the use of swearwords through the ages, that showed that the Victorians again ruined everything. ;D



Altogether, Saturday was a great day but I was on my feet from 7:30am (way too early for a weekend day) until about 8:00pm, at which point the sunshine and beer had taken their toll and sent me straight to sleep.


As mentioned, today I mostly chilled, but I was also reminded that it was Soup/Salad Sunday, so I figured that sounded like it might just need little enough effort to feed me and be delicious:



There is no particular recipe for this. It's just some chickpeas, peppers, quinoa, tomatoes, and sweet pickled gherkins, olive oil, salt, black pepper, cayenne, and smoked paprika - i.e. stuff I found in my kitchen - with some homemade tzaziki (garnished with a bit of dill).


I hope you are all having a great weekend, too!




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text 2017-05-14 16:53
The Sunday Post: Clachnaben

Happy Sunday!


In a spontaneous turn of events, a couple of friends invited me to join them on a hike yesterday. I was at their house waiting for the tow truck to take my broken down car to the garage when they came up with the idea of walking up one of the many, many, many hills around this part of the world. So, of course, I was delighted - even tho the prospect of getting up early for outdoorsy exercise after a night of drinks and nibbles (it was Eurovision night last night!) was a bit daunting. 


I needn't have worried. I woke up freakishly early (you know that waking feeling when you're trying to decide whether a hangover will develop or not?), made sandwiches and coffee, and dug out my hiking boots.


I haven't been hiking properly for about two years (and am not the fittest of people), so this really was a bit daunting but the company was great and we got there early enough to have a lot of time to make our way up the hill.



Clachnaben (Gaelic for "rock on the hill") looks pretty impressive but it is still classed as a "hill", not a munro. The ascent, however, was pretty challenging - well, it was for me - and changed between wide paths to very narrow ones on the edge of steep slopes, from smooth to rocky steps and rubble.



By the time we made it to the top, I was done for.



The views made up for the effort, tho:


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text 2017-04-17 00:50
NUART Festival

It's Sunday. 


I could have read all day. I could have made soup. However, on the spur of the moment, I met up with a friend for tea, gelato (somebody had to taste my favourite gelateria's new mojito flavour), and a wander around an art exhibition. The twist was the artworks were mostly murals and graffiti that has been commissioned all around town.


It was a lovely way to spend a Sunday, scavenging for art. There were lots of other people who had the same idea, and after a while we delighted in seeing the same groups all over town. It meant we were close to another exhibit.


We also discovered a few works that were not part of the current NUART project, but that was equally astonishing.


I'll add some of the pictures I took below without further comment.


Happy Sunday!












(This last one, Emile Sande, is probably not part of the current project, but I thought it was beautiful. Right in the city centre, in a park that was recently saved by public vote against refurb into a glorified car park. Love it.)


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text 2017-04-02 19:45
Sunday Soup

Time for another soup post, me thinks.


The last few weeks have been quite odd and somehow the sodding cold I caught while travelling provided some unexpected relief from thinking abut my father's passing a couple of weeks ago.

Now, the cold has finally buggered off, and not only am I finally getting back to sleeping and exercising, but I can also taste delicate flavours again.


So, what better way to celebrate than with some home-cooked cream of mushroom soup?!


I used the following recipe (which I first found here):


Ingredients ~

  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup chopped mushrooms
  • ½ cup chopped onions
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk, warmed (depending on your heart condition, feel free to substitute whole milk, half and half  or whole cream–any combo adding up to 2 cups is fine)
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Method ~

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and onions and sauté until the onions release their liquid and are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the flour and continue to cook for a minute or two (mixture will be very stiff). Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly. Add the cayenne pepper and the salt. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cook for about 2 minutes, or until the soup is slightly thickened.


And this is how it turned out:



N.B. I like my soups thick-ish, but a little more milk would thin this down further if needed.


Happy (Soup) Sunday!


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