Penguin Parade, Broughty Ferry

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Penguin Paradise

OH and I had lunch in The Ship Inn, Broughty Ferry yesterday and it bored me. Over the last few food blogs I have realised that I am getting more and more fed up with bar lunch menus and the food that then appears in front of me.  I realised if I was going to write my usual blog the ‘highlight’ would be ordering Venison Lasagne and getting a beef one instead. You see? Boring. There’s nothing new happening unless you want to spend loads of money on lunch so I think I’m going to give blogging about bar lunches a miss for a while.

In fact, the only interesting aspect of lunch was the elderly woman (dressed in a multi-coloured,

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Captain Scott

striped jumpsuit) sat at the table next to us who had set her stall out for the day with a bottle of Rose wine in a cooler and a glass of lemonade. Over the course of our fish pie and beef lasagne lunch she steadily poured herself glass after glass of wine each time topping it up with the lemonade. Her husband was on the pints and was making loud conversation with 2 others in the bar, the kind of mundane chat that only locals can have. I could see why the wine was a must.

 

Filled up yet again with too many carbs we went along the waterfront to walk off all the potatoes and pasta we had just consumed and to do some penguin spotting.

Yes you read that right. Just now until the middle of September, Dundee and its surrounding areas are having a penguin parade.

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R2Dundee2

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Bonnie Dundee

As a way of raising money The Maggie’s Centre and Wild Art have produced 80 giant, individually designed penguin sculptures, which are scattered around Perth, Tayside and Fife and will then be auctioned off on the 24th of September. We had already seen the 2 that are in St Andrews but DD had said there was an invisible one in Broughty Ferry so we thought we’d try to find it.

As it turned out OH spotted it from the pub we were sat in so it wasn’t a hard hunt.

If you live in the area and are at a loss for something to do with the kids at the weekend I can recommend tracking down the penguins. There’s a map of them all here Maggie’s Penguin Parade.

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Absent Penguin

. btw king prawn starter, 2 mains, 2 pints and 2 cokes = £37.60

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Old Uncle and New Deer Abbey

When my great Uncle Jim died, approxiamately 12 years ago, my mum and her sisters were left with the task of clearing the house that he had shared with his brother, Tom, in Old Deer, Aberdeenshire. As they slowly emptied the house into black bin liners my mum came across a book she had heard Tom talking about with her mum many, many years before. It turns out Uncle Tom was the Custodian of New Deer Abbey and it was being closed to the public. What she had overheard was Tom telling his sister he had taken a book for safekeeping as, like the Abbey, it would go to rack and ruin if left unattended. The book he had been talking about was a 1st Edition of A Book of The Parish of Deir dated 1896.

My mum, obviously, spared the book from the bin bag and it’s been on her bookshelf and her IMAG0001conscience ever since. Inside the book was a newspaper cutting with a story, “He looks after historic ruins”, and a photo of Uncle Tom  tending to the grounds of the Abbey. The newspaper was dated 1962.

This weekend, OH (other half) and I were intending to head west for a weekend of camping but as Sean Batty was forecasting a very wet Tayvallich we decided instead, to head north to a hotel, The Saplinbrae Hotel in Mintlaw. The hotel is very close to New Deer Abbey so I mentioned this and the book to my mum who jumped at the chance of finding a new home for the book.

When we arrived at the hotel I explained about our dilemma and was told that although the Abbey was once more open to the public, no-one actually ‘manned’ it. I was also advised to go to the farming museum in Aden Country Park and if I couldn’t find someone to talk to about the book there, the chap who does the pat tests for the hotel was a historian and they could contact him for me if needs be. I think they were just as eager as my mum was to find a new home for the book.

OH and I went first to the Abbey and had a IMG_20180811_163530_231look round. It was easy to work out where my great uncle had stood in the newspaper photograph since nothing had changed since 1962 but not so easy to picture the Cistercian monks as they wandered around what would have been an amazing abbey in 1219.

As no-one else was around we headed off to Aden Country Park and the farming museum. In there we looked at old pieces of farming equipment and black and white photographs of people who used to live in the area. Disappointingly, I saw none that could have been relatives of mine. In the Horseman’s House, where you could see how people used to live in the 1830s, one of the museum curators chatted to us about the difficulties of living in a house with no electricity, running water or indoor toilet (I was immediately reminded, and thankful, I wasn’t camping) and whilst chatting I decided to share the book with her. She was in awe. She told me she should be wearing gloves but this did not stop her fanning the book open and gasping at the photos inside it. She then radioed her Supervisor, Pam, and asked her to come and see the book. Pam was entranced by the book and said she could sit and read it all day. She asked if my mum would want to donate it to the museum and then went onto explain that we would need to go through the proper channels and take the book to HQ and get a receipt for it. With no other plans I said that would be fine. We then went back to reception and she phoned HQ.  It turned out it was only admin on site and the woman who would normally deal with donations doesn’t work Saturdays.  Pam then wrote down all the woman’s details and asked me to phone her on Monday. Basically this meant taking the book back home, making a phone call and then having to post the book back up. Due to red tape I could not simply leave the book at the museum.  IMAG9988

Pam then asked if she could photocopy the newspaper cutting of my great uncle and the front of the book. She explained she wanted to have something to share the story with the public as the book would possibly sit in HQ and her and her staff would have to make appointments to go and see it in HQ after I had posted it up.

She then took me into the back room where the photocopier was stored. As we waited on it heating up she told me she was just back from Colonsay where her and her husband had been on holiday. Her husband was a minister so he had taken the sermon and she had written the address for the children. She said although the walk up to the church had been covered in sheep poo she was surprised to find 30 people in the congregation as well as 2 dogs plus her own. She said the atmoshpere was amazing.

As she looked through the book, picking things to photocopy, she showed me a picture of her house in the book and told me other interesting anecdotes. I could tell she loved it.

Copies made, we said our goodbyes and I walked away with the book under my arm. As I spoke to OH I told him about my conversation. How she had completely appreciated the book and how much hassle taking the book back home was going to be. We both knew what we were going to do. We turned round.

I went back in to reception and said, “I’ve been thinking. My mum would want this book to go to a good home, to someone who appreciates it so I want to gift this book personally to you Pam.”

Pam looked stunned but really happy. “Do you want to donate it to the farming museum?”

“No, personally to you and then you can do whatever you like with it. If you then want to donate it to the museum that is up to you but I am giving it to you.”

She made me sign a piece of paper saying I was gifting it to her and got her colleagues to witness it to ensure everything was above board. She said she was going to share the book with her staff and the woman who was in charge of The Book of Deer Project and she could not have looked happier.

I left feeling like I had done the right thing, it felt great.

My mum now also feels really good, knowing the book is now going to be appreciated and not hidden from view but most of all because her conscience is now clear.

The Saint, St Andrews, Fife

Yesterday OH and I were in St Andrews to do some research for my new book – a murder mystery set in St Andrews (if you’re interested my last book is available to download here The Same Individuals) Anyway, it was lunchtime and I remembered that the West Port Bar had undergone a revamp and had changed its name so we decided to try it out.

We discovered it was now called The Saint. Inside it was still the same layout but there was new fancy wall paper and some lovely lighting. We were sat in an intimate little niche, which would have been great if I wasn’t such a nosey bint and wanted to see what everyone else is eating. Immediately we were offered a jug of water and when the waitress returned with it she asked us if we wanted any other drinks. And when she returned with our drinks she took our order for food. It’s a simple way of attending to a table but it works really well and more restaurants and bars should do this.

The menu was big and had the same old pub food – fish and chips, burgers, scampi and pies but additionally there was duck, salmon and pork chop. To me it was a pretty boring IMAG9975menu and nothing jumped out so I ordered the  fish and chips. However, I asked if I could get some Bloody Mary Ketchup on the side, which was offered with the scampi. It was the only thing that did stand out and I really fancied trying it. The waitress said it wasn’t a problem at all. When my fish arrived I was disappointed not to see tartare sauce as well but as I had asked for ketchup it was justified. Initially, the fish melted in my mouth but then it got a bit greasy. The chips were a big hit, chunky and obviously hand cut. The ketchup wasn’t as spicy as I thought it would have been and lacked any kind of kick. Overall it was an okay plate of food.

OH ordered the IMAG9974Fish Pie – Scottish peat smoked haddock, leek and garden herbs, topped with creamed mash. Surprisingly, the waitress asked if he wanted potatoes or chips with it. Automatically OH asked for chips.

When the pie arrived I could see they hadn’t taken much time in piping the mash on top and had went for the dodding it on method instead. It took ages for OH to eat his pie as it was so hot, which meant he ate all his chips and veg first so there wasn’t a lot of room left for the pie but he battled on regardless. OH said the potatoes on top were dry but this wasn’t a criticism. Inside there was loads of smoked fish within a nice creamy sauce. He enjoyed his pie although he felt completely stuffed after overdosing on carbs.

When we asked for the bill the waitress appeared with it and the card machine at the same time. More service bonus points!

2 mains, 2 pints and a coke = £34 so not the cheapest bar lunch we’ve  had recently but OH did get the opportunity to waddle for the rest of the day and complain he could no longer see his feet.