Sunday, February 24, 2013

La Barca, Helensburgh

Last night was birthday night, celebrated with drinks and dinner at La Barca, Helensburgh.

33 West Clyde Street, Helensburgh
A happy, birthday girl
Newly opened in December 2012, La Barca is evidently popular and understandably so, serving delicious, fresh tapas with great service.

First up, a sharing spread of olives, anchovies and fresh olive bread.

Followed by a main course of vegetarian paella, manchego cheese with chutney and mixed deep-fried seafood.

Finished off with "Flan Casero de Huevo", caramel custard with cinnamon and vanilla ice cream to you and me.

Part eaten caramel custard 
A lovely night enjoyed by all, with nothing negative to say at all.

Thanks La Barca, keep up the good work.


Saturday, February 23, 2013

An Important Day (?)

This is date of great significance...or not.

Did you know on this day in 1896 the American sweet, "Tootsie Roll", was invented and it was the first wrapped penny sweet? According to Wikipedia, in terms of food, that's about as exciting as it gets on this date. On this same day, many, MANY years later sometime shortly after lunch, I was born. This may explain why I'm always thinking of food, I missed lunch.

This morning I ventured out for a run in my new running gear (birthday presents). For a change I could actually see, it helps running in the daylight you know, which reminds me I must get that head lamp...

Hello Sailors
Hill view

Loch side

Due to the recent move I could have easily (and quite conveniently) forgotten my birthday. As they are clocking up, to have missed one may not have been a bad thing. However, I will be celebrating over dinner tonight at a local Tapas restaurant. It was a toss up between the known and loved Riverhill Deli and the unknown. I opted for the latter, after the scallops and west coast fish stew on my last trip to the Deli, it will have a lot to live up to.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Craigard Tearoom, Helensburgh

My pursuit of the best local scones (in the name of market research of course!) continues. Today, was the turn of Craigard Tearoom, Helensburgh.

Craigard Tearoom, 51 Sinclair Street, Helensburgh
A traditional Scottish tearoom, recently re-branded as a restaurant as it now caters for private evening functions along with an extensive daily menu and an array of cakes.

First up was lunch, I ordered the "world famous" Cullen Skink. It looked delicious and I was about to take a big spoonful when, uh oh, I noticed pieces of bacon (I don't eat meat). I had wrongly assumed it would follow the traditional recipe of haddock, onions and potatoes. Without fuss the friendly staff swapped it for the Scotch Broth, luckily today's version was meat-free, phew! Delicious it was too, served with thick slices of homemade bread and butter.

Vegetarian Scotch Broth 
Next up was the fruit scone and very nice it was too, served with raspberry jam and butter.

Craigard sells various delicious gift goodies including home-made chocolates, shortbread and tablet. We couldn't leave without pocketing a bag of tablet to take home (not that it made it home). For those of you that are yet to try tablet, it is a sweet similar to fudge with a "melt in your mouth" texture made from sugar, butter and condensed milk. You can't seem to get away for it here, its is ever-present on shop counters, too tempting to refuse as you settle up.

Craigard Tablet
Craigard is definitely somewhere I plan on lunching again and again. Tasty, rustic and very reasonably priced Scottish food.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Paint, paint and more paint

If plans fail, I'll become a decorator...

I am clocking up quite a lot of experience, feels as though it has become my job since moving here. I have now started on the tearoom/breakfast room, running out of "Candyfloss" wood paint today already. More to be bought online, can't afford the time to do the 30 odd mile round trip to the nearest Homebase.

The rooms are beginning to take shape and we are making good progress, more on the business ventures to follow.

I am gradually working my way around the local cafes sampling scones, for market research purposes of course. Today, Mum returned from the shops with warm scones from Humbles in Helensburgh and very nice they were too. A welcome break from the paint.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Wee Kelpie - Fabulous Fish Suppers

First night in the new home, possession-less (waiting for removal firm to arrive the next day), ravenous and exhausted. Fish suppers were well and truly deserved and well needed. "The Wee Kelpie" was the chippy of choice, having sampled their fish suppers before, we knew they would not let us down and believe me, we were looking forward to it.

An impressive choice of fried foods including black pudding and haggis bites, scallops, monkfish tail and no deep fried Mars bars (still eludes me, thankfully).

A snapshot of the menu - The Wee Kelpie, West Clyde Street, Helensburgh

They offer a gluten-free curry sauce, also a tasty sounding whisky and grain mustard sauce.

I opted for traditional haddock, chips and mushy peas with plenty of vinegar and blooming lovely it was too.

Haddock, chips and mushy peas -  much better than it looks
Thanks " The Wee Kelpie", see you again soon.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

I made it! Scotland, my new home.

I made it, just...

Finally, I arrived at my new home in Scotland last week. The drive up was quite a battle with snow, a dying car and two restless dogs to contend with.

It was such a relief to get the keys to the house last Thursday and it has been a long, busy week of settling in since. It feels as if I have been here for months and certainly feels like home already. I absolutely love it, it has so far lived up to my expectations and more.

The first night in the house we were possession-less, so fish supper was the obvious choice and a box of wine from the local Tesco (I swear Tesco are aiming for world domination, you can't escape them can you?!). Blooming marvellous fish supper from the "Wee Kelpie", more on that great little establishment to follow.

Haddock, chips and mushy peas -they tasted much better than they look
My little car (a.k.a. Go-kart) was on her last legs (wheels) before the journey and I had been saying to her for months, "Please just get me to Scotland, then you can die". Guess what? This is exactly what she did. Literally the next day, the head gasket blew and off she went, towed away to car heaven.

Thank you little car - you served me well
I have been without internet until today, hence the lack of blogging, the local Wi-fi hotspots are fairly few and far between. However, upon venturing to the local pub for the first time last night, I noticed they do free Wi-fi. If only I had known, would have been a good excuse to spend many hours in the pub.

Well Scotland, I have arrived and its feels amazing to be here. I believe my love affair with you has just begun.

Coober & Olive enjoying the garden and the snow

View from my bedroom window - I now open my curtains when I go to bed, bliss.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Farewell England, Hello Scotland

The move to Scotland is nigh.

The journey begins on Monday, heading North to stay with friends near York, then on to Cumbria for a night. Finally and at long last, arriving in Scotland on Wednesday, all being well...

The last week or so has felt strange, leaving work and saying farewell to loved ones, not before making them all promise to visit.

As more and more boxes are packed, the house feels less and less like home.

On the plus side, I have found myself in many a café and restaurant over the last few weeks for good-bye lunches and catch-up coffees.

The fridge and cupboards are nearly bare, meal times involve using up what is left. A desperate urge to head to the shops (I hate an empty fridge) has led me to think about my new stomping ground. What will replace my farm shop? New favourite restaurant? Nearest supermarket?

According to good old Google the nearest supermarket is a fair few miles away. However, they are building a new Waitrose in our town. I can't wait to start exploring, getting to know the local shops, restaurants and markets.

Expect it to be quiet on the blog over the next few days. Needless to say I'm going to be pretty busy, on the road, and then who knows when I will get an internet connection in the new home, hopefully very quickly. Otherwise, I will have another excuse to while away hours in cafés drinking tea, eating cake and tapping into the Wi-fi.

So long fair England, bonnie Scotland here I come. Wish me well.