Saturday, December 29, 2007

Forgive Me

Forgive me Father

For I have sinned

It's been 2 years since my last MacDonald's

Maybe more

I can't remember for sure.
It wasn't my fault.
I was tempted.

I said no initially.
Even turned my nose up at the thought.
Made some comment about the horrible nutritional value.


Then someone said those two words ...

Hash browns

I LOVE those hash browns. I know I shouldn't. They're deep fried, oozing grease. Any resemblance to an actual potato is purely coincidental. I looked over at John who was taking the office orders and gave in. I asked if they did the meal deals like they did in Canada. My favorite was the sausage and egg McMuffin with cheese, hash browns and a coffee.

They do that here too


So I had a MacDonald's breakfast. My first one in years I'm sure. And I'm embarrassed to admit I loved it.

The sausage had a slightly different flavour to it, almost seemed like a hint of anise spice perhaps and the cheese seemed tangier. The coffee? Well I forgot to mention to John that I take it black so it came back looking a little creamy but I drank it anyway.

I didn't need lunch (and I felt guilty) and by the time dinner rolled around I hooked up with my flat mate for a movie and we went to a pub for dinner. So what did I have?

Bangers and mash with onion gravy and a pint of Guinness.

It was a pork and potato kinda day I guess.

Friday, December 28, 2007

8:32 PM


Thursday December 27th

It's pitch black outside

The ice cream truck has just made his second pass around the block.

This is a strange country.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Keeping The Tradition Alive

Mention the vegetable 'Brussel Sprouts' to many people and they turn there nose up at you and make a face and say something along the lines of BLECH! But my thoughts on this reaction are one of wonder. As in, I wonder how your Mom prepared these little mini cabbages for you? Were they boiled within an inch of their life until they were a gray green mushy mass on your plate with nothing but butter and salt for seasoning?

That is just wrong.

Brussel Sprouts can be a tasty side dish. This is how my Mom has always prepared them and I say give this a try before you completely write off the vegetable.

Brussel Sprouts A La Mom

Trim your sprouts by removing damaged or bug infested outer leaves, cut a small slice off the bottom, and cut a small X in the bottom stem. This helps them to cook evenly so you don't end up with mushy leaves and hard centre cores.

Place sprouts in a steamer basket and steam until just barely tender - they should be 'tender crisp' to be perfect.

Rinse with cold water to stop them from cooking, and set aside in the pot until your sauce is done.


Chop bacon (that would be smoked streaky bacon here in the UK)

1 slice bacon for each 1 cup of sprouts
Brown bacon in fry pan on medium heat, until it starts to crisp up
Add 1/2 cup onion, diced finely
Stir onion and bacon until onion is translucent and bacon is nicely crisped but not burnt !!

Add 1/4 cup white vinegar and 2 tablespoons white sugar to the bacon and onions. Stir together until sugar has dissolved.

Toss sauce over sprouts, put pot back on burner
Add some fresh ground salt and black pepper to taste.
You can also add a bit more vinegar or sugar, depends on how strong the flavor of the sprouts are.

Once the sprouts have reheated and flavor is right - serve with a smile (Mom added that bit)

Now, after you've tasted this recipe and you still turn your nose up at brussel sprouts then you can always play this game.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

'Twas the Night Before Christmas

'Twas the night before Christmas
And all through the flat
A wee creature was scurrying
Because we don't have a cat

Yes the little critter is back.

A while back when I returned from one of my business trips my flatmate had informed me she saw something brown, furry and moving one night in the lounge. That was months ago and I never saw it so I was starting to think perhaps she'd imagined it or something.


On Sunday we were sitting in the lounge and we both heard it. A wee little scurry sound and we both looked at each other, then towards the corner we heard it. But couldn't see anything. Again I started to doubt and said, it must have been a leaf falling off the plant or something.



Yes, the night before Christmas

B was in the kitchen when she saw something scurry out of the corner of her eye move from behind the fridge to behind the hob. Then a little later she saw it again, something moving, brown, furry and wee move from out behind the hob back to behind the fridge again. This time she stood a bit further back from the edge of the counter and waited and watched. Then she saw it, quite clearly this time scurrying on the floor along the length of the bottom cupboard back to behind the hob again.

We have a mouse.

It doesn't surprise me really. This place is so old I'm sure they have quite the network of paths all throughout the tenement. This week the temperature has really dropped outside, we even had frost on the ground Sunday morning. So I'm sure the wee little critters have moved in and up to try and keep warm. There must be access holes to the walls in behind the fridge and hob and that's how the little guy is moving around.

B the fastidiously clean person that she is got in the kitchen right away with the vacuum to make sure there is nothing for our friend to eat (our kitchen is usually very very clean, but you can never be too sure). And also hoping that the noise of the vacuum would scare him away.

I've still never seen him, but somehow it just seems a little appropriate to have a Christmas mouse this day in our flat.

But boxing day, he needs to go away back to where he came from.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Things To Do In York

I apologize for the lateness of getting this posted. I've been drafting it for close to 2 months now and just can't seem to finish it. So enough already here it is in all it's incompleteness...


Continuing on with the October vacation. Took a 4 day mini-break and travelled to York, England. Pretty easy to get there via train, Glasgow to Edinburgh, then switch trains and it's a direct line to York.

We booked a B&B that was a convenient 15 min walk to the city centre. But to get there initially we grabbed a taxi from the train station as we had no idea where we were going. Got a great cabby who gave us some fabulous commentary as he drove us to our destination. Tips on what to see, which pub to check out etc.

Now I'm not going to go into a day by day detailed analysis of everything I did but I will highlight for you the things you really should see & do.

Under the 'To Do' list, have a cheap lunch by grabbing a Cornish Pasty and sit on a park bench to people watch. (notice how beautifully displayed it is, I should be able to sell this as a print ad or something).

The river Ouse runs through the town and you cross it as you walk towards the old town from the train station.

It really is such a cute little town, every block there's something picture worthy. Be it something as mundane and ordinary as a mailbox..

Or something as spectacular as the ruins of St Mary's Abbey .

Or something as quaint as a line of bicycles.

But the big draw is the York Minster.

When I was eating the above mentioned Cornish Pasty the church bells started ringing so I shot a wee video (the quality is horrid I know)

The weather wasn't all that great while we were there for our little city break. I think the sun came out the day we arrived and then again the day we left but cool cloudy days are good when you're on your feet all day.

A lovely, lovely town. I'd go back in a heartbeat.

Sunday, December 09, 2007


Well there's no denying it now. Winter is upon us.

I picked the wrong day to forgo the long wool coat. I went on a little excursion out to Ikea yesterday with the idea that I'd then walk down to the Braehead shopping mall afterwards. When I had walked out the store to the darkness (it was only about 4:00) I was greeted by blowing wet snow.


The intention of getting to the mall was 1 - to be indoors, and 2 - to try and finish my Christmas shopping. But I was just not having any luck. I had my mental list written but couldn't find anything. Oh for The Bay or Zellers where I know where to find what I wanted in the store. I'm still not all that familiar with the shops here so that was a bit frustrating.

So after walking around the entire mall the first time I gave up on Christmas gifts as I wasn't able to locate anything on my list. So second tactic was to attempt to look for some boots. As you've heard me say before I have very small feet so finding shoes is almost impossible. But with a boot I can get away with something that is perhaps a bit on the larger size as I can wear some thick socks and then also as it surrounds your leg it won't fall off. But that was a bust as well. Seems most stores don't have anything under a size 4 when it comes to boots.

So spend the whole day out, got chilled to the bone and came home with nothing other than a box of light bulbs for one of the lamps in the lounge.

But it did get me out of the house.

Thursday, December 06, 2007


Walking to work this morning the light was eerie. The sun had started to come up but it was the first morning where the street lights were still on, so is seemed strange.

It only took 2 blocks and they turned off and then it seemed normal again. But it once again reminds me I'm in a different part of the world. As I'm further north than Vancouver in the summer it's great as the days are soooooo long. But in the winter it's the opposite, the days just keep getting shorter and shorter and shorter. And it's not even the winter solstice yet.

Walking out of the office tonight I noticed that there is already a Christmas Tree behind the reception desk. Picking up some vegetables at the Sainsbury's store I heard Elvis crooning how he'll once again be having a Blue Christmas without me (so why doesn't he call?). B&Q has their live potted Christmas Trees for sale in the parking lot.

Last year this time I think I had more time to prepare for Christmas as I hadn't even started work at this point. Now I'm just so consumed with monthly statistical reports, training plans, reference manuals I just have no time or energy to think about writing Christmas cards, or wish lists and I realize I'm running out of time.

I know Christmas is NOT about gifts and materialism. But there is something about taking the time out to think about those you love and wanting to give them something just to remind them that you do care. It's not about how much money you spend, but (and I know this sounds cliche) but it's the thought you put into it. And that's what I feel bad about, I just don't seem to have the brain power enough at the end of the day to be able to do that. But I'm trying not to stress about it.

So if you're expecting a card or a gift from me, it might be a bit late.

Other thoughts. I was going through my flickr photos. There is this great tool where you can click on Archive and look at what pictures you took on a particular day. I looked up my shots taken on Dec 6, 2006. I hadn't started work yet so was still into my daily routine of just walking out the door and wandering the city.

This was the day I found the Science Centre and walked the River Clyde into City Centre. It was a beautiful sunny day, I watched a 3D Imax movie, got lots of exercise walking. It was a good day. Some day (soon) I hope to have the freedom and flexibility to have a day like that again.

Monday, December 03, 2007

A Macaroni Pie, 2 Sausage Rolls and a Haggis Pie

Culture is a funny thing.

When you think of culture, what's the first thing that pops into your head?


How about lunch...

I frequent a sandwich shop called Greggs pretty much every day. It's cheap, quick and the food isn't half bad. I can get a spicy Chicken wrap and a cup of tomato soup for £2.64 which is good for the budget.

Today though I started thinking about those cultural differences when the guy in front of me ordered a macaroni pie, 2 sausage rolls and a haggis pie. The haggis reference is a given, but then there is the fact that this is a carb grease & pork product laden meal. Not a vegetable in sight. And did I mention the Iron Bru to wash that nutritious meal down with?

Other offerings that are common in the various sandwich shops are prawn cocktail sandwiches, i.e. small prawns swimming in mayonnaise in a roll. Tuna and mayo, chicken and mayo, cheese and mayo. In fact when I think of it pretty much every sandwich is swimming in mayonnaise, and don't forget the popular sprinkling of sweet corn, (I still don't understand that one).

There are TV commercials dedicated to the promotion of getting people to eat there 5 portions of fruit and veg per day. And no, chips don't count as a portion of veg. In a country where everything is either deep fried, greasy or covered in mayonaise I'm amazed I haven't gained 20 pounds.

Must be because I drink Guiness - it's good for you ;>)