Category Archives: Literary

Poetry in Motion

 

Last night we attended the magnificent untraditional Burns Supper at Giffordtown Village Hall. It was every bit as good as anticipated. For readers from afar I should point out that the point of a Burns Supper isn’t really the supper itself, but the celebration of the bard’s contribution. As I have said before (see my last post), I think the celebration tips over all too often into adulation, and the formula can become tired and boring.

Doug and Jan Wightman and the Giffordtown Village Hall committee put a marvellous event together. What I’m going to do in this post is perhaps a little cheaty; but it was so good I want to share the joy! This is a selection of the inspired ‘slides’ that went into their shadow puppet rendition of Burns’ epic poem, Tam O’Shanter. Doug read the poem, Jan made the puppets, unseen helpers backstage manipulated the puppets and Steve Gellatly (silent movie pianist) did a dashing accompaniment on the keyboard. The poem title link takes you to Brian Cox reading the whole poem. This will have to do you until Doug gets a recording contract!

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When chapman billies leave the street,
And drouthy neibors, neibors, meet;
As market days are wearing late,
And folk begin to tak the gate ….

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While we sit bousing at the nappy,
An’ getting fou and unco happy …

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O Tam! had’st thou but been sae wise,
As taen thy ain wife Kate’s advice!
She tauld thee weel thou was a skellum,
A blethering, blustering, drunken blellum;
That frae November till October,
Ae market-day thou was na sober;
That ilka melder wi’ the Miller,
Thou sat as lang as thou had siller;
That ev’ry naig was ca’d a shoe on
The Smith and thee gat roarin’ fou on;
That at the Lord’s house, ev’n on Sunday,
Thou drank wi’ Kirkton Jean till Monday,
She prophesied that late or soon,
Thou wad be found, deep drown’d in Doon,
Or catch’d wi’ warlocks in the mirk,
By Alloway’s auld, haunted kirk.

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… And at his elbow, Souter Johnnie,
His ancient, trusty, drouthy crony:
Tam lo’ed him like a very brither;
They had been fou for weeks thegither.
The night drave on wi’ sangs an’ clatter;
And aye the ale was growing better …

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… Weel-mounted on his grey mare, Meg,
A better never lifted leg,
Tam skelpit on thro’ dub and mire,
Despising wind, and rain, and fire;
Whiles holding fast his gude blue bonnet,
Whiles crooning o’er some auld Scots sonnet,
Whiles glow’rin round wi’ prudent cares,
Lest bogles catch him unawares;
Kirk-Alloway was drawing nigh,
Where ghaists and houlets nightly cry …

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… The lightnings flash from pole to pole,
Near and more near the thunders roll,
When, glimmering thro’ the groaning trees,
Kirk-Alloway seem’d in a bleeze,
Thro’ ilka bore the beams were glancing,
And loud resounded mirth and dancing …

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… As Tammie glowr’d, amaz’d, and curious,
The mirth and fun grew fast and furious;
The Piper loud and louder blew,
The dancers quick and quicker flew,
They reel’d, they set, they cross’d, they cleekit,
Till ilka carlin swat and reekit …

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… To sing how Nannie lap and flang,
(A souple jade she was and strang),
And how Tam stood, like ane bewitch’d,
And thought his very een enrich’d …

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Now, do thy speedy-utmost, Meg,
And win the key-stone o’ the brig;
There, at them thou thy tail may toss,
A running stream they dare na cross…

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For Nannie, far before the rest,
Hard upon noble Maggie prest,
And flew at Tam wi’ furious ettle;
But little wist she Maggie’s mettle!
Ae spring brought off her master hale,
But left behind her ain grey tail:
The carlin claught her by the rump,
And left poor Maggie scarce a stump…

 

The performance was ace. So were the haggis and neeps and the Tunnocks Teacakes and the alternative address to the haggis; and all the music; and finally, as if we hadn’t had enough pleasure to last a fortnight, a wee dram gifted by an absent friend. Matured in sherry casks so less peaty than you’d expect of a fine Islay. Bliss. Happy Bardic Celebrations, everybody. Keep it fresh.

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Jean Armour Supper

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This is the time of year when everyone in Scotland starts honing their recitations of Tam O’Shanter and the Address to a Haggis, Holy Willie’s Prayer and the like. It hardly seems a year since we last celebrated Robert Burns’ birth. And if I’m honest, I’d say a year is perhaps not quite long enough. Don’t get me wrong, I do like Burns’ work (most of it anyway) and a good plate of haggis and neeps is a fine thing on a winter’s night. But in my humble opinion, we should all be showing a bit more creativity in setting out our Burns night parties.

The standard programme (Selkirk Grace, Toast to the Haggis, Immortal Memory, Toast to the Lasses and Reply etc.) certainly offers a good dose of the Bard’s best work. But it’s a hard thing to keep fresh year after year. So for Burns Night 2019, I’m delighted to say I’ll be at Giffordtown Village Hall watching a shadow puppet rendition of Tam O’Shanter and raising a glass as various musicians and poets give us their best. By order of the organiser, there are to be No Speeches. Sounds good to me.Image result for burns poems

A good number of years ago, I helped devise a Jean Armour Supper. Jean Armour was Burns’ long-suffering wife and it seemed like a good idea to give her centre stage for a change. Sadly I haven’t kept any record of those proceedings but I do remember it was a great event, in the best Harpie tradition.

This year I’m thinking cocktails, having read an inspiring book recently entitled ‘Free the Tipple: Kickass Cocktails Inspired by Iconic Women’. What would JA like to drink to enhance her enjoyment of her supper? Well I have a few suggestions and will be glad to hear yours too. How about:

tomato breakfastBLOODY MARY: Basically vodka and tomato juice with a bit of spice, and maybe a dash of dry sherry. It’s one of my favourites as it feels so healthy! Especially with a nice long stick of celery to stir it with. It feels like at least two of your five a day, with a good alcoholic undertow to brace you for whatever life has in store. Obviously Jean Armour had a lot to contend with, and I reckon a good Bloody Mary or two would help her put her philandering husband in his place. All those vitamins!


ESPRESSO MARTINI: Coffee was well known in Scotland by the late 18th ceImage result for espresso martini images�ntury. Many coffee houses had a No Women rule, but our Jean I’m sure would have challenged this absurdity. Or she might have taken the opposite tack, as a 1674 ‘Women’s Petition Against Coffee’ complained that

… the Excessive Use of that Newfangled, Abominable, Heathenish Liquor called COFFEE …has…Eunucht our Husbands…

In Jean Armour’s shoes, a eunuched husband would probably have been a better behaved husband. A difficult call to make? Sex or loyalty? Nowadays of course we know she shouldn’t have to choose. In any case, a smoothly bittersweet blend of Aqua Vitae, Kahlua, cold espresso and sugar syrup would lend a sophisticated edge to Jean’s revenge.

SILVER BULLET: the only kind of bullet effective against a werewolf. Or any other howling macho  charmer. The sort of thing that might prove useful in your handbag when you read in the paper that your husband has written a prizewinning love poem for some other floozie. Or meet the mother of his other brace of children down at the school gates. The Silver Bullet cocktail takes no prisoners – a bracing mix of gin and whisky with a wedge of lemon, shaken with ice – and that’s it. No mixers. No messing.

 

Birnam Book Festival

Today the Troubadour and I had a brilliant visit to Birnam and then Dunkeld (joined on, as you cross the Telford bridge) – a cold walk in the town, a bit of culture, a heart-warming book-signing, a very typically Scottish lunch, and a bit of retail therapy. This photo may not be the cheeriest view of the town, but I wanted to capture the way the cloud lay across the valley like a cat with no intention to budge.

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Briefly let me explain my absence from the blogwaves for the last month – I’ve been writing a novel! I signed up to NaNoWriMo, an online challenge which involves writing 50,000 words of a novel during the month of November. So I have become a bit of a hermit. However this morning I reached 43,800 words and am well on course for finishing on time, fingers crossed ; hence taking a day off for a fIMG_0363.JPGun outing.

Birnam, for those of you not local, is well known for its mention in Macbeth – one of the witches assures him of his brilliant future: “Be lion-mettled, proud, and take no care/Who chafes, who frets, or where conspirers are./Macbeth shall never vanquished be until/Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill/Shall come against him.”

In other words, never. But alas, Macbeth fell for a dastardly witches’ trick as we find out later in the play. Nowadays, Birnam is a small southern Highland town with lots of pleasant amenities, only about 20 minutes’ drive north of Perth. This weekend they are hosting their first ever book festival, and we managed to get tickets to see Peggy Seeger being interviewed about her book by Fiona Ritchie (Wayfaring Strangers).

IMG_0356.JPGThe title of Seeger’s memoir ‘First Time Ever‘ comes from the song written for her by her long-time life partner Ewan McColl, and made famous by Roberta Flack and a host of others who have covered it over the years. In interview she was open, charming, honest, witty and downright entertaining. Now in her eighties, she informed us that back home in London, she wears a community alarm pendant in case she falls; and yet she clearly had the courage and drive to travel north to a (today at any rate) freezing foggy Highland town, and talk for over an hour then sign books – and tonight she’s on stage, singing. This is a woman with absolutely no claptrap in her veins. She has a strong record as a feminist and environmental campaigner as well as being a key figure in British and Scottish folk song revival. Folk isn’t my first choice of music, but I’d heard her recently on Radio 4 singing her great song about not being allowed to be an engineer, and I was hooked. Even better, she told us all that she had read Stephen King’s book ‘On Writing’ to prepare herself for writing her memoir – exactly what I did a couple of months ago – so now I feel I am standing on the shoulders of giants.

Fiona Ritchie was an excellent interviewer, and the dialogue flowed like a spirited conversation, with nothing forced and nothing held back. There was time for just two questions from the audience at the end – both of which were inspired, and generously responded to. I’m including them here because they really added to the experience: Q1 was asking her to relate her experience as a child when she met Elizabeth Cotten, the black singer (‘Freight Train’), in a department store; and Q2 was about the place of folk and traditional song in politics. I won’t rehearse her answers here; buy the book!

IMG_0361.JPGI mentioned lunch and retail therapy. Oh dear. I have at last succumbed to the lure of the (I blush to admit it) deep-fried Mars Bar. It was that cheery, scrubbed-face, clever waitress at the Dunkeld Fish Bar who enticed me. And the Troubadour who made me. Well maybe not exactly. We shared it (his half was bigger than my half, honest!) What really worried me was that I’d enjoy it so much that I’d want another one. Well, it was gooey and sweet and I couldn’t honestly say I didn’t enjoy it. But its similarity to a deep-fried sausage in batter was less than prepossessing so I think I have now laid this ghost and it’ll never happen again. Unless we have any more cold Scottish November days, and how likely is that?IMG_0366

Retail therapy involved a browse round a great second-hand book shop where I purchased ‘From Petticoat Tails to Arbroath Smokies: Traditional Foods of Scotland’ by Laura Mason and Catherine Brown. I will review this book further in due course; it fits very well with another historical tome I’ve been working my way through. Further shopping entailed a new wok from Kettles of Dunkeld, a great ironmongery emporium. Also a potato-shaped potato-scrubber (clever), a vinegar bottle, Christmas napkins and one or two other wee delights. The wok needs seasoning so I’m away downstairs now to get on with that. Stir-fried veggies coming up. And wish me well for my final 6,200 words!

 

 

 

Dinky Eggs

2017-07-21 10.41.15.jpgRecently I was gifted half a dozen quails’ eggs, by my friend Anne who is on bartering terms with the quailkeeper. They’re such pretty wee things and remind me of The Borrowers. About 25 years ago, my friend Marian and I took our collective Wunderkinder to the Cottiers Theatre in Glasgow to see a staged production of this lovely 1952 children’s story by Mary Norton. It features a family of tiny people who live in the rafters and crannies of an ordinary house, and ‘borrow’ things for their daily use. Anyway, as you can see from my photos2017-07-21 11.33.40.jpg (that’s a cherry tomato in the second one, to give a sense of perspective), quails eggs are dinky but just one would probably feed a whole Borrowers family handsomely. I’m slightly embarrassed to admit I ate all six myself at one go, the Troubadour having declined. They taste just like hen eggs.

I had a look online to see how quails are produced. It seems they are quite nervous, flighty birds and according to the Farmers Weekly, there is only one intensive quail farm in the UK.  Those quails selected for egg-laying are kept on a ‘free to fly’ basis which I guess means free range. Lots of quails and their eggs are imported so I don’t know what the animal welfare concerns might be there. As usual, I would look for UK or even Scottish birds and eggs, if I were in a shop.

However I haTheBorrowers.jpgve the joy of knowing that mine were produced by a cheerful wee flock pecking around among the backwoods of Newburgh. Thank you ladies, I enjoyed your eggs very much, and also the Borrowers memory they invoked. And thank you Anne, happy bartering!

 

 

EAT YOUR WORDS

Brilliant outing yesterday to the newly -extended Carnegie Library and Galleries, Description: Hard Drive:Users:marthabryce:Desktop:Screen Shot 2017-05-17 at 10.15.03.pngDunfermline. Award-winning architecture, opening up huge new vistas over the Abbey and Abbot’s House to the west, and the Forth bridges to the south. And a hugely engaging collection of artefacts representing many of the trades and townspeople of past and present. The actual library section is mercifully preserved pretty much as was. When Captain Wunderkind was a baby I used to push the pram up St Margaret’s Street and get lost in the aisles of books, shoogling the pram with one hand and balancing the books with the other, trying to devour a whole chapter before the WK woke up and wailed.

2017-05-23 11.36.10.jpgIn those days there was no tea or coffee to be had in the library – the very idea! Now however there’s a spanking new café with an outside terrace and leafy views through the treetops. The café contract was awarded to a (relatively) local food business, ‘Heaven Scent’ of Milnathort – a nice change from the corporate Costas that seem to take over. Not that I have anything against Costa – except for the global creep which makes it so hard for the local food story to survive. We arrived at lunchtime and I had a creamy, soothing pitcher of lentil soup with a nice crunchy salad with roasted vegetables, and a pair of seeded mini-rolls. The menu was a notch above predictable, with lots of familiar lunch-type options, livened up with little quirks. Pity that, at 12.30 in the day, they’d already run out of  cream of mushroom – but since they only opened last Thursday, I guess it takes a while to bed in. The queue never went down throughout our visit so clearly it’s going down well.

I’ve always been a big library fan, and fortunate always to have access to some good ones. Right now, I’m in the AK Bell library in Perth – on the spacious and silent upper floor, tapping away. Great study space, good book collection in my field (food and drink, mainly), friendly and helpful staff, and a nice, but slightly pricy, café.

My first library was in what had once been someone’s front room at the top end of the Main Street in Ochiltree – a few doors beyond the House with the Green Shutters. I finished the single shelf of children’s books in a matter of months, so my mother and the librarian conspired to find things from the adult shelves that they considered ‘suitable’. Of course they occasionally got it wrong! And thank goodness for that, as my sex education was badly in need of augmentation.

I won’t go on at length about all my libraries but have decided to do a scoresheet, with points out of 5 on the above features, for all you other booknerds out there:

Name and location of library, and the dates I used it Book collection

score 0-5

Study space

score 0-5

Staff helpfulness

score 0-5

Refreshments

score 0-5

Ochiltree, 1964-68 2 0 2 0
Carnegie library, Ayr, 1974 3.5 3 3 0
Glasgow University Library, 1974-77 5 (but all so BORING!) 3 1 0
Langside Library, Glasgow, 1977-86 3.5 1 2 0
Public library, Stonetown, Zanzibar, 2010 3 – but eccentric! 3 2 0
Carnegie Library, Dunfermline – opened 1883, closed for renovations 2015 4 4 4 0
Duloch Community Library, Dunfermline 4 2 4 2
Laing Library, Newburgh, Fife 4 but specialist – local and family history 1 4 0
AK Bell Library, Perth 4 4 4 3
 Carnegie Library and Galleries, Dunfermline – reopened 18th May 2017 4 4 4 4

So the top scorer is …. drum roll … Dunfermline Carnegie Library and Galleries! Go as soon as you can, it’s a brilliant visit and does the townspeople proud.

Mellow at Hogmanay

Greetings to you all. My damson gin is all finished, in the happy pursuit of sampling and gifting. It was delicious. Must make a bigger batch next year.2016-12-31 18.24.42.jpg

Also, as I have been nursing a heavy cold, I am well fortified with Benylin, Lemsip, Strepsils, and hot toddies. So I’m coasting gently towards the Bells, and depending on whether or not it rains tonight, I might foray out and take part in the Oddfellows’ Parade – a surreal and well-named event that happens here each year. I think it has masonic connections, so it wouldn’t normally attract my attention. The Oddfellows, dating from four or five centuries ago, I think (pardon the mellow approach to historical accuracy), were the unskilled labourers who weren’t eligible  to join the craft guilds. Their march involves someone riding backwards on a Clydesdale horse, up the high street, with a band following; and revellers dressed up in pretty scary costumes dashing around terrifying the populace and collecting money for charitable causes. Follow the link to get a 5 year old account of the event by another Newburgh blogger, with good photos. This photo isn’t the Oddfellows! it’s from Bourdain’s book.

2016-12-31 18.22.11.jpgQuickly before the parade sets off, I’m going to talk about two good food books I’ve read recently. The first was a gift from a fellow blogger – thank you so much, FoodinBooks! This is ‘Appetites’ by Anthony Bourdain. I’d read his ‘Kitchen Confidential’ and ‘Cooks’ Tour’, both of which had me laughing and gasping with horror/delight – all about his coke-fuelled path to chef stardom. This latest book is about so-called family cooking – with his appreciative comments about the unconventionality of his own family. The book, like his others, is completely irreverent yet dedicated to good eating. Very meaty, with graphic photos not much enjoyed by the Troubadour. Great fun though. Inspired by some of his recipes, and the donor of the book who, I discover, hails from New Mexico, I cooked up a bit of a Mexican storm a few weeks ago – huevas rancheros and patatas bravas, quesadillas, and stuffed peppers, sweetcorn fritters and so on. I suppose it wasn’t anything like authentic Mexican cooking so I apologise for what is probably a highly clichéd menu. As if haggis, neeps and tatties were the only thing Scots eat. But it was hugely enjoyed. An old song came to mind, plucked out for me by the Troubadour – El Paso by Marty Robbins. Again, probably clichéd (Donald, whaur’s yer troosers?) but I love it.

(A slight digression – here’s a video of the Troubadour using the tune of this song for a wee ode to Scottish artist and sculptor Tony Morrow. This is a picture of his pie and bridie, cast in bronze).2016-12-31 20.50.37.jpg

Bourdain has a French parent; and the author of my second book has been living in Paris. 2016-12-31 18.25.01.jpgAnd both are chefs. That’s the similarities dealt with. David Lebowitz’ ‘The Sweet Life in Paris’ is a book I’d  been aware of because I follow his blog – in his blogsphere I am the flea that sits on the hide of the elephant – he has thousands of followers. Anyway his book is very entertaining – I saw it in the library in Perth when I was studying for my recent exam (yes thank you I passed) and have loved reading his full-length work. He describes how the Parisians hate Americans, and his efforts to kind of blend in. Like, eating with your hands, in the streets? Very no-no to Parisians apparently. He describes how a Parisian eats a banana – with knife and fork and napkin … Hilarious, even though I suppose it’s exaggerated and maybe Parisians don’t recognise this view of themselves. His eventual acceptance was very much aided by his prowess as a patissier and chocolatier.

Incidentally, do you like the background surface under the books? Still in New Mexico mode. Happy new year to all my friends around the globe, I will be drinking to your health this evening; here’s to a brilliant 2017.

Hands across the water …

OK I am responding to an invitation to link my blog with another Hallowe’en one, entitled ‘Pumpkins and Togetherness’, by an American blogging lady who calls her blog ‘Recipe in a Bottle’. She has a great way of embracing the season and its little people, I might try it sometime. I hope the link works … sometimes I’m a bit witless about how to make this thing work at its best.

It’s been nice reading about other people’s Hallowe’ens but now it’s more or less over so I’ll leave you with a picture of yet another batch of apples which came my way on Monday; I’ve spent part of this morning turning them into chutney. Won’t know for a month whether it’s any good, but hey, what’s not to like? Apples, dates, sultanas, onions, root ginger, mustard seeds, cider vinegar, sugar … boil and simmer … I’m sure it’ll be just fine.

For those of you across the pond who might not know, the photo on the left features the Troubadour and his companion Maw Broon, famous matriarch of the Sunday Post. I’d really quite like to cook like Nigella Lawson (only, obviously, without the pouting) but sad to say, I think I probably cook more like Maw Broon …

Just Food

Last night our short-story-to-film group met to watch ‘Sweet Land‘, inspired by Will Weaver’s short story, ‘A Gravestone Made of Wheat‘.  I had loved the short story – small and perfectly formed in that unique way of the best short stories, with a tight little plot and a beautiful, small cast of characters amazingly well-drawn in such a few (13) short pages. The film was okay too and if that sounds a bit grudging, I’d have to add that in my view, it was a bit blowsy and in places not-very-believable compared with the book. But don’t let that put you off. There were some good performances and gorgeous midwest prairie camera work, and an entirely surprising support role played by Alan Cumming, the Scottish actor.

One of the main features of the story is that Inge, a German woman who has been living in Norway, travels to the prairie for an arranged marriage with Olaf. The action takes place in 1920 and she is met with intense anti-German hostility by the wider community, including the legal systems responsible for her immigration papers, and the church. Happily however she and Olaf hit it off swimmingly and she learns some useful prairie skills including scything and threshing the wheat, and cooking. Olaf can’t get enough of her and at one point, mouth filled with pie, asks, ‘Is this German food?’ She shakes her head and replies, ‘just food.’stuffed-dumplings-coltuna%C5%9Fi[1]

It seems that when her nationality had been used to ostracise and vilify her, she didn’t want her nascent domestic skills to be pigeon-holed, but instead appealed to the universal need to eat, for survival as much as for pleasure. We all need the same things, really. And as this scene also played out in the context of Inge and Olaf’s mutual desire and attraction, the ‘just food’ message acquires the warm sauce of seduction. Yum yum.

 

‘Anything worth thinking about is worth singing about’

My title comes from Mary Oliver’s poem, ‘And Bob Dylan Too‘.  We read it in our discussion group after the service yesterday, and like all her poems it shouts out ‘Inclusive! Connected!’ I love Bob Dylan too but I don’t recognise the quote, will have to go seeking. One of the lines in the poem is about the sheep ‘honouring the grass by eating it’, and we had a good wee blether about nose-to-tail eating and not wasting food and being lucky to be so well-fed.

I told them about my previous day’s outing to Loch Leven’s Larder with Hilary. We’d been for a (short and windy) walk along the lochside and then needed sustenance while we caught up with all the news. After said sustenance (egg mayo sandwich, very good indeed) we were strolling back to the car when we spotted a new hut with a big sign outside, ‘Smokery! Welcome!’ (or words to that effect’. In we went for a nosey, and met Andrew Miller who has just started up his business with four shiny new smoking towers and a pile of fabulous fresh Scottish produce. The towers look a bit like gym lockers; I half expected a pile of smelly trainers to fall out when he opened the door to show me – but instead there rested a side of coral pink salmon, quietly absorbing some gentle fumes. I like to think it’s a nice place for such a proud beast to end its days.

I bought some smoked cheese, hailing from Aberdeenshire and nearby Anstruther – Andrew has Scotland cornered – and enquired about the three gleaming salmon he had been pin-boning as we arrived. Well, to be more specific, I asked what he was planning to do with the heads. With a certain embarrassment he said he was just going to throw them out, as he doesn’t have time to deal with all the extras at present. So I offered to take them off his hands, and very generously he filled a bag for me. And here is their portrait.
2015-05-16 17.23.39 I poached them up with some fresh and dried fennel, bayleaves and peppercorns, and came up with a good plateful of salmon-endy-bits which for the present I have frozen and will in due course concoct into some kind of a mousse.

The cheese also was a delight so well done Andrew on having the courage and vision to set up a new business in the tail end of a recession. Your produce is great and I wish you well. So long and thanks for all the fish …

Wee Moosie

Recently I went on a Food Hygiene course and the instructor showed us this … not nice, is it? I asked if it was a computer mock-up but apparently not. Some poor soul actually bought this loaf of bread, with hidden extras.

Free-gift-with-every-loaf-!And then it’s been Burns’ day recently and I’ve just come back from a weekend away with a group of friends, celebrating the bard’s anniversary in a small-scale but vigorously authentic (sangs an clatter) event. One of Burns’ most famous poems is of course ‘To a Mouse’ – it seems that he was out in the field ploughing one day, and inadvertently turned up a mouse’s nest. ‘Thy wee bit hoosie, noo in ruin / Its silly wa’s the winds are strewin / An naething noo tae bigg a new ane …’ etc. It’s probably the best known poem in Scotland because we were all made to learn it at primary school! In fact I think I won a prize in Primary 5 for reciting it at the annual Burns Federation competition.

I recently found a poem written in reply, by Liz Lochhead, entitled ‘From a Mouse’. She explains that she comes home one day to her ‘slattern’s kitchen’ and finds a cheeky wee mouse sitting up in her wok, washing its whiskers and boasting about its fame:

Plockton to Peebles, Dumfries to Dundee,

If a wean kens ony poem aff by hert, it’s Me!

Will greet ower ma plough-torn nest, no see

The bit o’ a gap

Atween the fause Warld o’ Poetry

An baited trap.

Lochhead is right. Sentimentality about mice? No thank you, Rabbie.