1. Holiday in Scotland
Having packed a suitcase with mostly clothes and accessories better suited to the ski slops, it was slightly galling to find that our week in Scotland was besieged with sunshine! Who’d have thought. Particularly when our visit there in August had produced little more than rain and wind (okay the odd day of sun as my OH keeps reminding me). This has led me to think that Spring is the new Summer. Well at least on the British Isles. July and August seems to produce a lot of rain. So much so there is often flooding in parts of the country. Whereas Spring is sunny with only the occasional shower. Anyway, enough of the weather (wow I really have been here too long…).
Ardtornish Estate where we stayed is directly across from the Isle of Mull and is quite rightly described in the visitor’s book as something out of a Kiera Knightly movie. A step back in time, Ardtornish House was built in the late 1800’s and retains a large portion of its original features. On the ground floor, the servants entrance at the back of the house contains a wall of about 50 bells. Each one has a well-worn, almost illegible plaque underneath it that contains the name of the room it corresponds with. In each room is a small metal button (much like a “doorbell”) that rings down to one of the bells. They still work. Although, unfortunately, no servant is waiting to bring you your tea in bed!
We were joined on our break by two other families and between us there were 17. Seems like that would be a lot of work with all those mouths to feed. It wasn’t. We all pitched in with the cooking and the washing up. In fact one aspect of the trip that I will always cherish is the dancing and singing that accompanied all the kitchen activity. With the iPod blaring some great tunes it was hard not to find yourself carried by with the slightly “Big Chillesque” moment.
After a few days the six adults were planning our permanent escape from the madness of real life and setting ourselves up in a commune with nothing but “the land” to live off. What is it about no television, newspapers and computers that makes you suddenly feel released from the chains of the modern world? For a few fleeting moments it all seemed so simple. We spent an entire evening over a few (okay maybe a few more than a few) bottles of wine discussing our roles, who else we would include, why it didn’t matter if everyone else saw us as “drop-outs”. We knew better. We were pioneers! It didn’t last long though. (Cold light of day and all that…) As the week drew to a close we all began to lose our resolve and face up to what we knew was coming.
Once home I realised how just a short break away from everything was enough to rejuvenate and restore. With great weather, family & friends, and a picturesque setting it was a no brainer. Hope you liked the pics.
2. Sweet Cream Biscuits
A little bit of heaven is the first thing that went through my head as I bit in to these gorgeously soft and flaky biscuits. I knew that very phrase would have to be the title of this post. Lathered with clotted cream and thick fruity jam it was simply sumptuous. An alternative to the usual scone, these were definitely a worthy competitor.
The recipe comes from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours (page 23) and she suggests that they can be served as savoury or sweet accompaniments. Sweet biscuits eaten with a meal is very much an American idea and in England they are normally served as a part of afternoon tea (and called scones). If you’ve never had your biscuit or scone with jam and clotted cream as a part of afternoon tea you don’t know what you’re missing. I highly recommend it. Served late afternoon, it’s not lunch and it’s not dinner. It’s tea. Anyway, it looks a bit like this…
and here it is all put together…
Now tell me that isn’t the closest thing to food heaven you’ll ever find. Go on just try.
For the recipe check out Love at First Bite by Melissa.
NB They are best eaten straight from the oven as by the next day they were quite hard.