It's Better to Travel than Arrive?

"To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive"

Robert Louis Stevenson, Virginibus Puerisque, 1881.

"Robert Louis Stevenson speaks utter tosh and has

obviously never flown long haul economy class"

Kristy, first ever blog post, 2011.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Restaurant Review : Castle Terrace, Edinburgh, Scotland

Last time we were back in Glasgow, my lovely hubby surprised me with a night out in Edinburgh, and dinner at Castle Terrace, a seriously good restaurant in the city centre.  Edinburgh chef Dominic Jack heads up the Michelin starred team, and their philosophy is "from nature to plate",  involving only the freshest seasonal produce.  This is high end, special occasion dining - you'll need to dress up and book in advance.

The entire evening, as you'd expect, was first class.  The staff are lovely and the food is amazing.  We had the tasting menu and hubby had the wine flight to match.  Each dish and wine was explained to us as it was served, but not in a long-winded way, just good interesting information.  The pourings in the wine flight are very generous, so prepare yourself for that - you certainly won't be driving home!

No dish stood out for me more than the others, they were all wonderful.  Even the starting canapés in the bar were fabulous - the caesar salad bite was mind blowing.  Here's what we had:-


Caper and cumin burger
Salt cod barbajuan
Caesar salad

Baked potato with cheese

Tartare of North Sea red gurnard with Yorkshire rhubarb

Seared hand-dived Orkney scallops served with a light curry sauce

Black Truffle
Risotto of organic spelt from Doves Farm served with black winter truffle

Roasted fillet of North Sea hake served with an Asian style broth

Fillet of Ayrshire pork served with braised fennel, smoked aubergine puree and basil gnocchi

Yorkshire rhubarb panna cotta served with a yoghurt sorbet and caramelised oats

The canapés in the bar.  That little green thing is the caesar salad bite.
You put the whole thing in your mouth at once and it explodes into a warm
liquid that tastes just like a caesar salad - I have no idea how they did it.  YUM!

If you're celebrating a special occasion, or just want to give yourself a real treat, head along to Castle Terrace in Edinburgh - you won't regret it!

Castle Terrace
33/35 Castle Terrace
Edinburgh EH1 2EL
Phone:- (+44) 0131 229 1222

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Sleeping Whilst Away From Home?

I don't sleep terribly well when I'm actually at home, and that escalates when I'm travelling.  Even if it's in roughly the same time zone, I don't sleep well the first night in a new bed, though that improves a fair bit on the second night.  Of course, jet lag adds a whole new dimension of "yuck" to it, though I do take sleeping tablets the first few nights in a new time zone to help "get into the groove".

We're just back from four nights away - four nights in three different beds.  That means three nights of addled sleep.  It was fabulous to be back in our own bed last night and I slept like a stone, waking to sunshine and blue skies today - yippee!

Does anyone else have sleeping problems?  I didn't ever have an issue when I was younger, it only really kicked in when I hit my thirties.  Any tips or tricks for getting through it?

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Kitchen Tip : Egg Shells

Please tell me that I'm not the only one in the world who's just learnt that the best way to pick a piece of broken egg shell out of your just cracked eggs, is to scoop it out with the big bit of egg shell that's in your hand?  I've only just read this tip, and I was baking yesterday so I got to try it out.

I was cracking raw eggs into a bowl to beat them and a little bit of egg shell fell in.  Usually, I'd get a long handled spoon and try and hook it out that way, which usually takes a while whilst I poke it around and around and it eventually decides to come out.  No more!  I tried "the egg shell tip" and scooped it out with the half egg shell that was in my hand - it came out immediately!

Thrilled!  I'm thrilled.  Really, it doesn't take much to make me happy.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

I know I've posted before that my favourite poem (The Road Not Taken) is by the fabulous Robert Frost, but he's actually my favourite poet as well.  This year we didn't really have a "proper" winter, only a few hours of snow that melted pretty much straight away, but in previous years I often thought of another of his gorgeous poems, especially riding the horses back through the forest in the gloaming as big, fat flakes of snow are falling quietly around us.

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.   
His house is in the village though;   
He will not see me stopping here   
To watch his woods fill up with snow.   

My little horse must think it queer   
To stop without a farmhouse near   
Between the woods and frozen lake   
The darkest evening of the year.   

He gives his harness bells a shake   
To ask if there is some mistake.   
The only other sound’s the sweep   
Of easy wind and downy flake.   

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.   
But I have promises to keep,   
And miles to go before I sleep,   
And miles to go before I sleep.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Travel with Carry-On Luggage Only?

It's entirely possible that I've done this before ...

I keep seeing all these great articles about how to travel overseas for a few weeks using only carry-on luggage, and frankly, I don't think it's possible.  I know that in the USA, people are allowed to bring much more carry-on luggage on board with them than in other countries - and thank heavens for that if you've ever seen me trying to fit all my shopping in after a trip back to the US - but in most other countries, carry-on luggage limits are very strictly controlled.

We fly a lot within Europe on Ryanair, who are well known for being astonishingly vigilant with their carry-on allowances - weighing, measuring, and generally making your life unpleasant.  Easyjet have a strict size limit, but no weight limit, to their carry-on.

Click HERE to find out more about Ryanair's limits, and click HERE to explore how much you'll be able to lug on with Easyjet.

I can certainly do 3-4 days in another country with just one carry-on bag, but any longer than that and I think you're running out of clothing options, and you've certainly not got any room to buy anything to bring home with you.  I think it'd be easier if you are a guy travelling with just carry-on luggage, but us girls have to heft around shampoo, conditioner, mousse, moisturiser etc., and all of that stuff has to be able to fit into the little resealable plastic baggie that has to be scanned separately at the airport.

That said, if you're determined to take only one carry-on bag to your destination, and have discovered that you've wedged your bag full and there's no room for your shampoo, conditioner etc., think about buying it at your destination and just leaving it behind when you depart.  I know it's a bit of a waste, but if it's a case of paying $100 to check a bag in (and this is becoming normal on the cheaper airlines), or spending $20 on arrival at the nearest pharmacy to stock up on a few things, I know which way I'd be going.  Pharmacy, here I come!

Remember that not everyone has the same level of income, so if you're going to leave things behind in your hotel room on departure that are still good, e.g. shampoo that's 50% full, make sure you put it next to the bin (not in it) so that the maid knows you've not forgotten it and that it's available for taking home if they wish (or are allowed to).  Maids are paid appallingly in many countries, and I often leave clothing, books, etc., next to the rubbish bin (and a cash tip on the table with a "Thank You" note) in case they need it.

I've also read a couple of articles on rolling versus folding your clothes to go into your carry-on, to make more room.  I was dubious about this practice, but since trying it, I think it's better.  People say that it minimises creasing, but I'm not convinced about that.  If you roll things up nice and tight, you can certainly fit more in, but it does get creased - there's no way around it.

The diagram below provides some handy ideas on how to wedge all your belongings into your carry-on bag, and I also recommend wearing a coat with lots of pockets for other random things that you might not be able to fit into your carry-on bag (e.g. I've come home with bacon, pottery, spices, Vegemite, camera, chocolate, paperback books etc. in my jacket pockets).

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Recipe : Quick Cheese Straws

I must declare that I have a more than passing affection for party food, and Cheese Straws are right up there with my favourites.  I've always bought them before, but we had friends coming for dinner and drinks so I thought I'd try and make some.  There's oodles of recipes out there requiring you to make your own pastry (sigh), but I found this fabulously easy one that uses store bought puff pastry - yippee!

Store bought puff is easy to keep in the fridge and cheap to buy.  I pimped it out a bit by grinding some cracked pepper and dried chilli on top of the cheese before I folded it, and that just added to the yumminess.  Just warning you that these are scrumptious, but even better when they're fresh and warm out of the oven, they've very hard to stop eating once you start.  Okay, let's cook, as usual my notes are in italics.

Quick Cheese Straws

  • 350g ready rolled puff pastry
  • 4 handfuls of grated parmesan (I used less)
  • Handful of flour to roll pastry on
  • Cracked pepper/dried chilli if you wish
  1. Heat oven to 220c
  2. Unroll puff pastry
  3. Scatter over a couple of handfuls of grated Parmesan and fold in half (I ground cracked pepper and dried chilli over the top of the cheese, and then pressed it all down a bit into the pastry with my hands before folding it over)
  4. On a lightly floured surface roll out to the thickness of a one pound coin (any fat coin will do)
  5. My puff pastry came rolled up in non-stick paper so I did everything on that paper, I didn't use a floured surface (much less mess!)
  6. Cut into 1cm strips, then twist each strip 3-4 times
  7. Lay on a baking sheet and scatter over more cheese
  8. Bake for 12 minutes, or until golden
  9. Eat one, burn your mouth, eat another one, and then maybe another one ...