Sunday, 7 November 2010

Wondeful seasons

What a great week it has been: autumn sunshine, gardening, wildlife, cycling, satsumas and gingerbread syrup.

On the first Saturday of every month, Portobello plays host to a market, which takes place in the local Brighton Park. This was the fourth such market, but it was the first for me. How wonderful it was. Little blue and white striped roofs sheltering tables selling all manner of interesting, curious and occasionally, edible, goods. 

This wasn’t some eclectic mix of bric-a-brac of unwanted items from someone's dusty attic. No, far from it. Big names were there, including Real Foods. Some stalls sold home made candles and jewellery, while others had a more farmers market feel to them. From mouth watering venison pies and organic soups, to my old deli, with the new owners, selling some great cheeses, the variety was terrific, and I'm already looking forward to December's one. All the locals were out, wandering in the sunshine, and it was very pleasant to often stop for a friendly little chat with people I know.

The blue skies and the diminishing colours of autumn just had to be further enjoyed and I took off on my bicycle, through the royal park and on to the far side of the Meadows in the centre of the city. Turning for home I decided a reward had been earned for my efforts and a latte at Starbucks sufficed nicely. This was not just any latte though. As if you didn’t know from the annoying TV commercials already on our screen, Christmas is coming. However, some things show a welcome return in the lead up, such as satsumas in the shops and individual christmas puddings. On this occasion it was the return of Starbuck's gingerbread syrup flavouring for my latte. Bliss.

On the subject of food, I was very disappointed recently to discover Patersons have stopped making their bran oatcakes. This was serious. I have a veritable dairy-load of cheese in my fridge, and nothing to put it on. So it was that this weekend I experimented with making my own. Guessing at the ingredients and quantities, I threw together a little wholemeal flour with oatbran, wheatgerm and butter. First attempt was a disaster. Second attempt was getting close but still too dry and fragile. A slight adjustment and I am proud to say that I now have oatcakes for my cheesy comestibles that are even better than Patersons. Wallace and Gromit would be proud.

Something I’ve been putting off for a few weeks now is to clear the leaf litter in the garden. I don’t normally bother and just let the worms get on with it, however, the level of soil they have produced over the years is slowly starting to turn the gravel into a lawn. I have been putting it off, not out of laziness, but because the leaves from the Rowan, Birch and Honeysuckle had created a wondrous golden carpet and it was a pleasure to behold. 

But it is past its best, and this afternoon I set to work, on my hands and knees, picking up the leaves by hand, for two hours. It was very therapeutic and all the more enjoyable as I was not alone. Occasionally the Robin popped down to have a look and see how I was getting on, curiously cocking his head to one side, most probably thinking I was quite mad.

To round off my week just nicely, my friend Pauline was in touch to say she’s reached Brazil on the container ship and all is well. Between the two of us we were able to update her blog with news and maps of the crossing. If you’ve lost the link take a look here:

Pauline’s blog

The autumn colours are now past their best, but it has been an autumn to remember. I noticed on the BBC weather forecast last night that snow was to fall over the mountain tops this weekend. We are about to enter another wondrous time of year in Scotland and instead of gathering piles of leaves I will be gathering piles of snow to build a snowman.

I love Scotland's seasons.

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