Delightful assistants star in glossy paperback

The Delightful Assistants

2016 brought many enjoyable outings for the delightful assistants.

Having fallen down on the job of recording these on her blog in recent months, their chauffeur has instead produced a glossy paperback relating some of their adventures.

Containing over 60 photographs interspersed with text spread across 58 square pages (measuring approximately 17cm x 17cm), the book features the dynamic duo up to various shenanigans in their native Scotland.

OCTOGENARIAN OUTINGS

You can see a larger image and flick through the entire book by clicking on the red title or cover above. (When you get to the Blurb website, click on the front cover of the book to scroll through).

Although the book was created mainly for the amusement of the delightful assistants, extra copies were ordered for dispersal to family and friends.

Thanks to the technology of print on demand, the book is available to buy in single copies direct from the Blurb…

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Travelling hopefully

Lorna's Blog

Welcome to my writing portal.

“… to travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive, and the true success is to labour.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

I’ve been labouring over my fiction for the past four years, in which time I’ve completed one novel, more or less completed another one, and started another two. Although four years seems a long time sometimes, I know it’s relatively short in the writerly scheme of things.

Becoming a successful published author requires a number of attributes, among them patience and determination. I’ve been getting quite a lot of practice in both of these areas. I initially sent out my first novel to several agents in 2013. The rejections left me feeling demoralised and dispirited, and were almost enough to persuade me to give up. After a while, however, I regained confidence and decided to keep going.

I’m still getting rejections, but they don’t upset me as much as they…

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The best carrot cake in Edinburgh?

Another blog? Surely not. But yes, dear friends, I’m afraid so.

Lorna's Blog

If you happen to be in Edinburgh wondering where you can get your teeth into a tasty bit of carrot cake, you could do a lot worse than popping into Cafe Modern One at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. In fact, I’m not sure you could do much better.

I’ve had carrot cake there on more than one occasion and it’s always been delicious. It may be a little drier than some versions of the treat, perhaps a little denser, but it is undoubtedly packed full of interesting ingredients and decorated in a magnificent manner.

Here’s a piece I had a few days ago, topped with a superb orange-flavoured icing and decorated with pumpkin seeds, grated carrot and candied peel.

Modern Art Gallery carrot cake

While I’m on the subject of the Modern Art Gallery, it is, to my mind, one of the best places in Edinburgh to get a decent cup of tea.

There are a number…

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Scones I have known – no.9

I had quite a few scones on holiday in Cumbria last month, but the best was saved till last.

After leaving our holiday home at Red Hall Farm, on our way back north we took a detour to Lanercost Priory, about half a mile from Hadrian’s Wall.

We didn’t have time to visit the priory itself, but we did visit the award winning tearoom next to it.

Lanercost Priory tearoom

Lanercost Priory Tearoom, gift shop and information centre.

The delightful assistants opted for coffee and a slice of lemon cake between them.

lemon cake

Pleased to find there was leaf tea on offer, I chose a pot of Darjeeling accompanied by a fruit scone.

fruit scone with jam

The scone hadn’t been long out of the oven and was still slightly warm. With a little butter, it was absolute bliss. The poor old jam that came with it didn’t have a look in.

Lanercost scone

The Waterwheel Tearoom

Following on from the previous post, we pulled up at the Waterwheel Tearoom in Philiphaugh, a few miles from Ettrickbridge.

The tearoom was housed in a sort of wooden chalet.

waterwheel

entrance to waterwheel

Entrance to the Waterwheel Tearoom.

Inside, it was warm and welcoming with fresh flowers on the tables. We picked a table and made ourselves at home.

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It was a raw and chilly day, and the idea of hot food was especially appealing. Delightful assistant no.2 and I both went for spicy parsnip soup, which came with a crusty poppyseed roll. The soup was hot and thick and almost eye-wateringly spicy.

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Delightful assistant no.1 opted for a bacon roll.

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As I ate the the spicy soup I became aware of it doing a very efficient warming job.

After the soup delightful assistant no.2 felt an urgent need for ice cream and opted for a small tub of award-winning mango and coconut.

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He also chose a fruit scone.

fruit scone

The fruit scones looked very nice, but when I saw the apple and cinnamon ones I had no problem deciding which to have. I was chuffed to bits when the one that was brought to me came complete with tail.

Apple and cinnamon scone with tail

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The scone contained big chunks of apple and plenty of cinnamon, just the way I like it.

apple and cinnamon

Across the room from us was a table looking out over a field of sheep. I took this picture quickly between one couple leaving and two more punters arriving.

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As we were leaving the tearoom, one of the ladies sitting at the table above stopped me and asked if she had seen me in Ettrickbridge earlier. I admitted that we had indeed been there, and that we’d been drawn by the knitting after seeing an item on the TV news.

She seemed pleased to hear this, and much to my astonishment proceeded to tell me that all the little people and animals I had been photographing in the morning had been produced from her own busy needles. Apparently the only bit of yarn bombing in the village not done by her was the decoration of the telephone box, but she did everything else – the bench seat, the spider, the poppies, etc.

As you might imagine, I was very pleasantly surprised to meet the creator of this splendid spectacle, and I quizzed her about the business. I learned that prior to the yarn bombing she had never knitted without a pattern before, and that it hadn’t cost her anything as she’d used up old bits of wool she had lying around. One of the things that had particularly intrigued me was how the knitting had fit so well in its various locations. Surely someone must have measured the lion water fountain, the bench uprights, etc. to make sure the knitting was the right size. Indeed, this is exactly what had happened. Under cover of darkness to avoid arousing suspicion, this admirable knitter had snuck around Ettrickbridge, measuring here and there and making notes. She had then gone home and knitted like mad, hoping that her measurements were accurate. The result, as you can see in the previous post, was truly magnificent.

The little lady on the horse attached to the bench seat that I had so much admired was a model of a local lady who has a horse and wears a tabard and boots exactly like those in the knitted version. The knitted lady with the fluffy white hair and the teapot was a model of the knitter’s own mother (who was sitting across the table from her in the tearoom as we spoke), and the teacosy was a replica of a real teacosy knitted by the knitter’s mother and used at village coffee mornings. Each of the little models on the bench represented someone or something in the village, which made the whole thing even more fascinating.

I asked what happened if it rained and the knitting got spoiled, and learned that it was regularly attended to and tidied up after bad weather (I’m not sure what this involved, but perhaps more knitting to replace damaged pieces?). I also discovered that after the knitting had been on display for a month it was all going to be taken down and undone, and made into bedding for a pet charity.

Meeting this lady, responsible for such an inordinate amount of incredible knitting, reminded me of something my sister once told me. During a discussion about knitting in a nursery she used to work in, one of the children, a little girl of 3 or 4 years old, proudly piped up: “My mum’s a great knit!”

I take my hat off to the great knits of Ettrickbridge, and thank them kindly for providing such a wonderful day out for me and the delightful assistants.

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The small village of Ettrickbridge, home to a number of great knits.

Thousands of mornings

My dad has been thinking about starting a blog for quite a while, as a place to air his thoughts on various topics and to share some of the things that have happened throughout his life.

The post below is the first one on his blog and will, I hope, be the first of many.

Bennet McInnes

It was a frosty morning at the end of January 2012.  An old man sat comfortably in his house, with a mug of tea in his hand.  As he looked out over the white roofs of the houses nearby, he thought about how many mornings he had experienced in his life so far.  A rough calculation showed that the number had already passed thirty thousand.  He was relieved that he did not have detailed memories of all these mornings, but he knew that they had all happened, and that the events of the thirty thousand days that followed them had been woven into the tapestry of his life.

What was his earliest memory?  He had seen photographs of himself as a toddler, including one taken in a photographer’s studio where he was standing with his hands on a small stool, possibly because he would have fallen over without its support. …

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Autumn Colours

The autumn colours in Perthshire are particularly good this year and, thinking that the Scottish Borders would be putting on a similarly spectacular show, I took the delightful assistants down there for a gawp at the weekend.

We were most surprised to find that, despite being further south, it felt like winter rather than autumn in the Borders. Many of the trees were completely bare and most of the leaves that were left on the trees were well past their flame-grilled best.

However, I’m happy to say that at our destination of Dawyck Botanic Gardens, nature’s loveliness was abounding:

A couple of beech trees had curious wrappings round their trunks:

There was a poem, entitled The Bandaged Trees, attached to one of the trunks, but I found it a tad depressing so I won’t burden you with it.

Looking up into the trees was beautiful with the sunlight on the leaves:

Dawyck (more or less pronounced Daw-ik) is a beautiful place to walk around, and even though there were a lot of cars in the car park, we met very few people as we strolled through the gardens.

Here are a couple of tiny assistants perched atop a lovely bridge:

The air smelled very fresh and I took lots of deep breaths. The amount of lichen on the trees was perhaps a good indicator of just how pollution-free the atmosphere was. Some of the birches looked as if they were dressed in furs and feather boas:

Bits of the garden were in the shade and quite frosty, an ideal hiding place for ice nymphs and frost elves. Apparently, if you run backwards making chirpy little whistling noises they sometimes pop out. I tried this, but I didn’t see any. Mind you, I find that trying to stay upright while running backwards takes up most of my concentration.

My camera battery died just past this bench,

which was a pity as I had been hoping to take photos of the lunch we had after our walk.

However, I wouldn’t like to sign off without a small morsel to share with you, so here’s a Christmas pudding scone* I made yesterday instead:

*so called because it was inspired by Christmas pudding, and contains sultanas, mixed peel, slivered almonds, cherries, dates, mixed spice, cinnamon, nutmeg and treacle, as well as the standard scone ingredients