Cafe Circa, Abernyte, Perthshire

There’s an antique and arts centre in Abernyte, which is on the road between Perth and Dundee that OH and I often visit on wet weekend days. It’s a big building full of different antique dealers, new furniture, clothes and a kitchen/deli section. Yesterday, after checking the weather forecast, we decided it was one of those days to visit.

As we wandered around we were stopped in our tracks when we spotted a beautiful chaise longue that would go really well in our living room. It was a good price and it’s a piece of furniture I have always wanted but did I really need one and did I really need it right now? We decided to have something to eat at Cafe Circa the restaurant in The Scottish Antiques and Arts Centre to discuss and mull it over.

The menu was in sections Breakfast, Light Lunch, Mains, Cakes and Bakes. There was also a special boards. In the mains sections it was listed as a set 2 or 3 course meal and didn’t have individual prices so a set 2 course lunch it was. Smoked Haddock Chowder with baked seeded crusty brown bread and butter jumped out from the list of starters, which included tomato, mozzarella and parma ham, salmon bon bons and salad.

The chowder was far too hot but tasted fabulous. It was so thick and creamy you could stand your spoon up in it. It was jam packed full of fish, peppers, potatoes and sweetcorn and the smoked haddock pieces were so big I think I had a whole fillet in my bowl. The bread was also far too tasty and I really wanted to eat both slices but I knew I was already going to struggle with my next course as the chowder was so filling but ever helpful OH didn’t see it go to waste.

For my main I had Tempura Battered Sea Bass and King Prawns
on a rocket and pea shoot salad with lemon and thyme potatoes. The plate arrived with half a field of potatoes and a jungle of green.

The batter was light and crisp and the sea bass and prawns were obviously straight from the fryer. The accompanying soy sauce dip was the coldest thing on the plate so it immediately cooled the king prawns, which were chunky and tailless (that’s a good thing btw, the contrasting cold dip not so much). Unfortunately, the abundance of potatoes were on the hard side and the jungle was in such a tangle there was no delicate way of eating it so both were left on the plate. This was not really an issue though as I was needing an excuse not to eat anymore.

OH had Pulled Beef and Wild Mushroom Wellington
with port gravy, roast potato, green beans and mashed turnip. The pastry was golden and crisp (he says there was no soggy bit, which is my favourite bit ) the mushrooms were under the pastry and around the pulled beef, which melted in the mouth. He had no complaints about his potatoes, which were roast and the veg went well with the dish. He too was struggling to finish (and remember he’d also had a piece of my bread) but to his credit (and thickening waist line) he managed.

There was a dessert menu but for once OH didn’t even want to look at it. However, what jumped out was a Chocolate and Cherry Tartlet with creme fraiche sorbet, which sounds divine.

I would definitely go back but next time I would only have the chowder….and maybe a sandwich.

Two 2 course set lunches, a bottle of locally brewed Abernyte Festbier and a Ginger beer – £40.80.

And in case you are wondering. We didn’t buy the chaise longue.

The Edinburgh Fringe – Darren Walsh

The Edinburgh Festival is the world’s biggest arts festival where thousands of artists from all over the world perform on hundreds of stages across Edinburgh. OH and I always try to have at least one day in Edinburgh during the Festival as I love the free shows, which highlight new comedians and musicians.  I always keep an eye out on Twitter for recommpunderboltendations as I have discovered some wonderful acts this way. This year, prior to the Fringe, I had been bantering with a comedian on Twitter. Well, I say bantering, I think what I actually done was bully him into giving me a free ticket for his show, which is on most evenings at the Pleasance Courtyard at 8.30pm. Darren Walsh – Punderbolt (£9). Therefore, this year that became my focus and everything else had to fit around it.

OH and I set off nice and early to the train station and waited patiently for the train to arrive. We both had that sinking feeling as the train drew up next to the platform as we could see it was already packed. With standing room only we pushed ourselves on to the train and leaned against an out-of-order toilet for the hour-long journey. Normally the train ride up the Fife coast and over the Forth Rail Bridge is one of the most scenic and interesting rail routes to be had but today it was difficult to enjoy as, like animals being transported, we were penned in with all notion of maintaining personal space forgotten.

We spilled out on to the platform at Waverley glad to be out of the claustrophobic carriages. From there it obviously didn’t take us long to find out first pub.

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Matt in the Tron

2015-08-15 12.47.44As the day wore on we manged to see a few street performers and free acts, Freddy Quine and Benji Waterstones were 2 that stood out. Music in the Tron was also a hit and it was really interesting watching artist Louise Giblin make a plaster cast of a hand.  The bronze torso of Dame Kelly Holmes she has sculpted and is on show at Urbane Art Gallery is a must see!

35 Louise Giblin Olympian Series IV Dame Kelly Holmes Cold Cast Brass 1MB

Bronze torso of Dame Kelly Holmes

Deciding we should add some food to our diet of cider and ale, OH and I started to argue about where we could eat. I wanted somewhere to sit down whilst OH preferred something from a stall. We then both had the idea of going to The Potting Shed. Unfortunately it was fully booked all evening, which although was disappointing is a good sign so it is still on the list. We then decided to go to Usher’s just round the corner. Although we hadn’t ate there before, it’s a favourite of ours for Craft Beers. We went in, ordered our drinks and sat down and perused the menu. Having made our decisions I ordered at the bar and sat back down. As we had both nearly finished our drinks and there was still no sign of our food I went up to the bar to query it. The barman said he’d check. He returned and asked if it was 2 burgers we had ordered. Nope, lamb curry and chicken with noodles. Oh. Who did you order from? I told him. His face said it all. He left and came back and said the chef hadn’t received the order but if we wanted to wait he would make it as there was no other food orders in. We told him to forget it, annoyed at the poor service. The barman then looked at our drinks and asked us what we had been drinking. I thought he was going to buy us a free round but no, he was asking if we had already paid for our drinks. Even more annoyed and now very hungry, we left Usher’s, which is no longer on the list.

After that OH got a hog roast roll (£4.50) from a stall and I sat at a picnic table in the Pleasance Gardens and ate Pad Thai (£6).   2015-08-15 18.39.47Both filled a hole. Enough said.

Shortly after that we headed to the Pleasance Courtyard and picked up the tickets for Darren Walsh. The courtyard was buzzing and within 5 minutes of arriving we saw John Hannah, Hal Cruttenden and Carl Donnelly (go on, google them then).

The queue to see Punderbolt was a good laugh as we chatted to others also waiting for the show. It was funnier than some of the shows we had seen earlier! Eventually the doors opened and in we went. The show was puntastic! Darren obviously has a quick wit and had put a lot of effort into the show – preparing photographs, drawing pics, making videos and recording voices.  There were visual jokes, audience participation and obviously, puns galore. OH and I laughed (and groaned) from start to finish. One example was when he gave a large photo of an elevator to a woman in the front row because he thought she could do with a lift.  OH said it was the best show of the day and he’s hard to please when it comes to comedy.

If plays on words and puns are your thing, then Darren is your man. Be sure to check him out if you’re at the Fringe or if you see him advertised elsewhere for that matter.

Obviously we couldn’t end on a high…the train on the way home was just as packed so, yet again, it was standing room only. It’s a pity that the train operators can’t get their acts together for the month of August. It’s not like they’re taken by surprise with the festival now being in its 68th year.

The Kelpies, Falkirk.

Today we went to The Helix in Falkirk to see the Kelpies. You should too!

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This is how you get there

  • From Edinburgh – take the M9 towards Stirling, exit at Junction 5 for Falkirk/Grangemouth and take the first roundabout exit; follow the A9 to Etna Road Roundabout, where you will see the entrance to Helix Park
  • From Glasgow – take the M80 towards Stirling, exit at Junction 8 for M876 and join M9 , exit at Junction 6 for Falkirk/Grangemouth. Follow the signs to the A9. Turn right at Westfield roundabout to Etna Road roundabout and the entrance to Helix Park.
  • From Carlisle and the South – M74, M73, M80, M876,M9,  and follow the signs for Falkirk as above.
  • From Perth and the North – A9, M9 towards Edinburgh, exit at Junction 6 for Falkirk  as above


We went into the first car park we saw and managed to get a space quite easily but it was a cold, grey day and we arrived around 12.30. If it had been sunny or a tad warmer I think we would have been struggling. By the time we left people were queuing for spaces and with kids, dogs and ferrets (yes we saw a ferret on a lead!) running around it didn’t feel like a safe place.

It was a short walk to where the Kelpies were and as we walked we noticed it was an ideal place for bikes, scooters, skates and buggies as the paths were all smooth and wide. A lot of the grounds are newly planted so it is still a little sparse just now but you can see the potential and how great it is going to be in 6 months. The bonus of the freshly sown grass is seeing signs that say “I Want To Be A Lawn so don’t stand on me”2014-05-24 12.40.43

When you see the Kelpies for the first time you just can’t believe your eyes. Yes they really are that amazing. Two 30 metre high steel constructions of the malevolent water-spirits that are reputed to inhabit the lochs and pools of Scotland.2014-05-24 12.47.28

2014-05-24 12.45.50Once you’ve drunk in the vision you then spend the next hour trying to take the most perfect photo of them but of course you can’t but it doesn’t stop you and every other single person around you trying.

There are plans for a visitor centre but in the meantime, next to the immense structures, there are 2 outlets where you can get things like venison burgers, fancy cakes and other refreshments. I think because they have added the word ‘gourmet’ it allows them to charge extortionate prices or maybe I’m just a typical Scot and hate paying over the odds for what ultimately is a
burger from a van. I mean, £2 for a paper cup of hot water with a teabag in it?2014-05-24 12.54.43  Mind you, the park is free to get in and there were plenty of people who had come prepared with picnics so next time I will definitely have a flask. And there will be a next time! I’m going to give the plants a chance to grow and then I shall return just so I can take the perfect photograph.  2014-05-24 12.56.29

One thing I’d recommend before you go is to have a good look at the website to see the layout of the park and other places you may want to go. The one thing I felt was missing today was leaflets with maps or a big sign showing the walks and cycle paths, which would have been really handy.