Is it a Bird?

January 30, 2010

Is it a plane?

Or is it just the charming – and only faintly disturbing – haggis table decorations made by the village primary school kids for the Burns Night Ceilidh last night?

Obviously, we released ours into the wild once the evening was over – they’re getting quite endangered in these parts, due to the local habit of putting haggis in absolutely everything. I just hope the local shoot don’t mistake it for a pheasant…


Some Customers are more Right than Others

November 8, 2009

Ah, home. We stopped off on the way down for a spot of second breakfast and as we were placing our order, the other half decided to investigate some unfamiliar aspects of the local cuisine:

OH: What’s blackheart sausage?

Man in Cafe: It’s made by our butcher – a lorne sausage with a heart of black pudding running down the middle (at this point, he went so far as to draw us a little picture on the order pad). There’s also braveheart sausage, which is the same thing but with haggis* in the middle.

OH: oh right, well could I have a slice of blackheart sausage in my roll?


OH: No?

MIC: No. It only comes in the full breakfast. Otherwise it would be complicated

OH: ?

The other half, poor thing, has only lived in this country for getting on for 20 years and still harbours fond delusions that some faint echo of a service culture will emerge. But, frankly, when you run a cafe at a beauty spot on a remote road with no other cafe for 40 miles in all directions, you get to make the rules.

And I get to eat my breakfast to the accompaniment of a disgruntled American muttering ‘No? Whaddaya mean “No“?’ at five minute intervals.

* There is nothing – nothing – the Scots will not put haggis into given half a chance.

Burns Supper: Lessons Learned

January 19, 2009

Well, you’ll be excited to hear I survived my first encounter with haggis on Thursday night. It wasn’t too bad, actually, if you don’t think about what’s in it or, indeed, what it’s in. I learned a few other things too:

  1. if bagpipes were originally designed as a weapon of war, then played indoors they’re a weapon of mass destruction. They certainly make for very poor incidental background music while people are chatting before a meal
  2. on the other hand, watching a tallish piper with a taller set of pipes limboing through a low door while piping in the haggis adds to the evening’s gaiety
  3. Scots derive great entertainment from making Englishmen recite Burns. Apparently they don’t mind their national poet being mangled.
  4. However, when the bard’s verse is read by someone who actually knows what it means – and does the actions – it almost makes sense. Almost
  5. a full plate of haggis, neaps and tatties is possibly the stodgiest meal in the world. Fortunately, they diverged from tradition for the pudding course and I didn’t have to tackle a deep-fried Mars Bar to follow.
  6. you’re not supposed to cross your hands until the last verse of Auld Lang Syne. First you have to sing all the verses in between the one you think you know the words for (Should auld acquaintance be forgot and tumty-tumty mind…) and the last one. There are a lot of verses.
  7. when someone asks ‘Should we try a couple of sets of strip the willow*?’ the correct answer is ‘gosh, is that really the time, we should be going …’

There was probably more, but by this time there had been drink taken and if I had any other words of wisdom to share with you, I have forgotten them.

*It’s a dance. Get your mind out of the gutter. Honestly…

Unhappiness is…

January 16, 2009
oh dear

oh dear

… a cold rayburn.  We had to administer the coup de grace last night as it was stuttering to a halt. Now all we can do is wait till Tuesday when help will come.

Fortunately we’re going out to eat tonight at least. Unfortunately, it’s for an early Burns supper. I have a feeling haggis will be unavoidable.

Suggestions for non-haggis related meals that can be cooked in an electric frying pan gratefully received.