Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Heart of Midlothian

Ooh look! A pretty heart! What could I possibly write about that?

This heart before you is the namesake for both a famous Scottish Football club and a Sir Walter Scott novel as well as the site of public executions and the Porteous riots of 1736.

You will find a deviation in the classic cobblestone streets on the west side of the High Street, just outside the very ornate St. Giles Cathedral, in the form of a mosaic heart. The heart of Midlothian, as it is called, marks the spot upon the Royal Mile where the 15th century Old Tolbooth once stood. The building since torn down was once a prison as well as the city's administrative centre. Inmates and Administrative Assistants, sounds like a rollicking reality series showcasing office gossip and neck tattoos! But seriously, it is said that the heart signifies the door to the Tolbooth which was once spat on as a proverbial 'Damn the Man' in its day to show ones detest for the Institution known for collecting taxes and its hangings without a trial. This tradition persists, carried on today with the Heart, pictured above, as the modern day target.

From a geographical, if not local government standpoint, the heart in the middle of the road happens to have originally marked the centre of the Midlothian District or county.The title remains today, but no longer marks the centre being as though of the Edinburgh Council separated politically from the Midlothians several decades ago.

More reasons to send some saliva onto the streets of Edinburgh include:
  • As romantic tourist legend will have it, to spit on the heart is to one day return to Edinburgh
  • Spitting to bring your football team, the Heart of Midlothian or simply the Hearts, good luck
  • Spit to spite the Hearts your local football club's rival, especially if you are a Hibernian or Hibs fan
  • Expel some sputum if you are anti-establishment
  • For general good luck (probably the watered down interpretation told to the kiddies)
  • Spit out of tradition for the sake of tradition
Whatever the reason, go hock-a-lougie at the Heart of Midlothian and locals likely won't bat an eye.

Here is a little video recap of what you just read to help us get to the heart of the folklore surrounding the Heart of Midlothian. (thank you PeterPiperPeppers)

In future I might be more inclined to take into consideration that a simple heart on the road might not be so simple after all.

expectorate on edinburgh, erin x

Monday, August 1, 2011

A Little Weather Report

Shortly after being asked by a friend/ recent transplant of Edinburgh, why I do not carry an umbrella, I was reminded of just that. Note the threefold brollie carnage in this here bin.
I am also reminded of a quote:

"In Scotland, there is no such thing as bad weather-
only the wrong clothes"
-Billy Connolly

* Disclaimer: It should also be noted that the same Billy Connolly was quoted saying that "There are only two seasons in Scotland: June and Winter!", so moral of the story? Dress wisely and when in doubt, assume it is going to rain! Why? Because it is going to!

* note: I would like to amend my post today. Upon further research I have found my quote by Billy Connolly to have been incomplete. So I leave you with the full quote and a life lesson on how to make your Edinburgh exploits more enjoyable:

"I hate all those weathermen, too, who tell you that rain is bad weather. There's no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing so get yourself a sexy raincoat and live a little."
-Billy Connolly

Thank you for that chestnut Billy, where were you and your wealth of information eight months ago?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Erin goes to Arran, almost

Stay tuned for the tales of where I got this badge (aka pin)...
Since my trip to the West Coast Scottish Isle of Arran, one might call me an Arran Advocate. I will post my meal made of entirely Arran foods, show the pictures from the top of Arran's highest peak, and talk about the lessons learned amidst midgies (aka  noseums) and cheese makers.

Soon, but first...off to Sweden
erin x

Saturday, July 9, 2011

So long Scotland...

Bye bye Edinburgh, I am leaving you!
I am off to Sweden for five days! This Canadian has never said that in a sentence before. So off to the Continent for me and my Lumberjack where: eating cinnamon buns, Stockholm people watching, searching for skinny jeans, drinking of Swedish coffee, eating herrings for breakfast, enjoying the adventure, snapping of pictures, appreciating the architecture and meeting of Swedes is sure to take place!

Have a great weekend too! Hej då!

erin x

Friday, July 8, 2011

Farmers Market: Round two

We had a mission! Go to the Edinburgh Farmers market for two things and two things only- minced(aka ground) lamb to make minted lamb burgers with the mint we have grown, and milk to make cheese. We found neither this time around, but enjoyed ourselves as always. The meatiness of the market hung in the air and surrounded us with the rich, heady aroma of the mingling of cooked meats. We snapped a couple pictures, snacked on a couple samplings and went home with a full basket.  A strange mix of wares this time around, but another wonderful, and this time not so wet, afternoon spent at the market nonetheless. See for yourself!

It is a little later in the growing season now, which was evident in the increase of greens present at the market. We managed to find two pots of organic basil to plant in our window boxes for use in future pestos. We got a half dozen eggies from rare breed hens, two pre-minted lamb burgers and a kilogram of rhubarb. My favourite buy was  a book by Nichola Fletcher, the wife of the venison dealer who makes his own haggis. The book, titled Charlemagne's Tablecloth, is about the history of feasting and seemed to be rather fitting given my recent intrigue with the history of local food and the traditions surrounding it. At 3 pound 50 it was a steal.

What is at your local farmers market right now? What has been your favourite find so far? 
Looking forward to another fascinating farmers market soon,

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Farmers Market Round Two: There is my charity shop carry bag in action, filled to the brim with organic rhubarb!
Those crunchy, oh-so-sour stalks became this...
Rhubarb Ginger Jam mmm (Lumberjack jam helper not included, sorry)
So simple, I can't believe I have been buying jam all these years! Grow, pick or buy 2 pounds of rhubarb. It tends to grow like a weed, so if you ask nice, people tend to just give this stuff away! Cut it into chunks, add 2 lbs of sugar, the zest and juice of an organic lemon and place in a bowl. Leave it over night.
Bruise (just like it sounds) an ounce of fresh ginger and wrap it in a muslin bag. If you don't have a cheese cloth type material, a blue jay cloth wrung out with boiling water works fine. Look closely for the blue tint in my pot hee hee! So, add the bag to the pot with the now juicy fruit and bring to a boil. After 30-45 minutes the mixture should be pulpy. If it sticks to a plate that you swing upside down, its ready!
Add an ounce or two of chopped stem ginger, or crystallized ginger at the end and stir. Remove the sticky bag of ginger and pour the liquid into jars how out of the dishwasher. Cover with lids or wax circles (available at UK kitchen stores), and store in a cool, dry cupboard. And best of all, Enjoy!
To dress up my hodge-podge of recycled jars, I placed a bowl on pretty fabric I brought over from a quilting shop in Alaska, traced around it and cut out the circles. I then placed the fabric over the mismatched lids and secured them with an everyday elastic. Done!

Serve it on scones, alongside some cheeses or gift it over the summer.
A super cute way to serve this Super food. Sweet!
I hope you like jammin' too!

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Key

What is this a picture of?
I thought I would write a bit about one of the first things I noticed when I walked into my new flat (apartment) in Edinburgh that day!

First I made fun of the ancient looking skeleton keys that were handed to me. Granted, it is a 170 year old building, however key technology has changed quite a bit though apparently not in the UK! I found this pretty amusing, and a bit of a security issue actually. How safe would you feel if you had to lock your door at night with what girls adorn necklaces with in North America?

Second, this is the inside of my door. The INSIDE! I can't even count how many times I have locked myself IN my apartment! Dead bolts didn't make the cut in the UK it seems, so instead, you literally lock the door behind you when you come in. Which is all fine and dandy until the pizza man comes and you can't find the keys! 'Just a sec'-fumble, fumble. Heaven help us if there is ever a fire.

Our lock does happen to be a CHUBB brand lock however, the same I had back home. Hmmm. I guess I was under the assumption that there would be some kind of standardization amongst international locksmiths. Nope, there is not! Apparently after the war, America changed to the 'pin tumbler' lock we know and love, while the Brits stuck with the old faithful skeleton key system. So now I know.

Any how, who would have thought such simple things could be so different not so far from home! I can't exactly claim to be in a foreign country here! But, I thought you might like to know, perhaps it will prepare you the many charming idiosyncrasies that will confront you if you move to this country. Being aware of these differences has been key in helping me be open and tolerant to the less subtle diversities.