22nd October 2011
Breakfast With Mother
The magnificence that is Grangemouth

Mum came for a visit this weekend. Hurrah!
She took me to a show too - which I suppose is the kind of thing Mothers are supposed to do for their offspring.
In P. G. Wodehouse novels.

ScaryAss Clown
Fortunately Slava's Snow Show is brilliant. A fantastically deranged modern take on circus clowning; these clowns have evolved a long way beyond hilariously tiny cars and squirty buttonholes (though there may still be squirting).
See it if you can, and take the kids. The younger the better. They'll be traumatised for life!

Mum's visits usually follow a simple formula: some mild exercise visiting local Scottish sites of interest, drinking (to excess), and eating (to excess).

For this visit (like the last one incidentally) we took our token exercise in the picturesque Royal Burgh of Culross, making sure we arrived in time to sample Bessie's Tearoom's Haggis Creggans, about which we had heard good things on our last visit (you see; even during our exercise we find the opportunity for eating), and also time for a fairly thorough examination of the Palace.
The Palace is well worth a visit - both for its surprisingly authentic, dingy interior and the pleasant gardens to the rear; which offer both excellent views across the forth to the magnificence that is Grangemouth, and an extensive collection of very reasonably-priced garden vegetables that are for sale at the exit.

The hilltop Abbey is also well worth a visit, and we spent some time scratching our midge bites in its ancient graveyard where you will find gravestones sporting some very interesting tradesman's symbols from the 18th century, many of which we have been unable to interpret.
Such as this one, for example (thanks Castaway Cottages!):
A third visit may be in order.

But enough of this drivel - what, you ask, is Haggis Creggans?

The version offered at Bessie's Tearoom is basically haggis stew, moistened with whisky and cream and topped with melted cheddar. It's nice enough, but I wouldn't travel all the way to Culross to taste it. I haven't been able to discover other references to exactly this dish, but have found Graham Harvey's A creamy Velouté soup of Haggis laced with Glenfarclas 15 year old [whisky] at Craggan Mill Restaurant at Grantown-on-Spey, so perhaps that's the origin of the dish?

Mum and I got a little more exercise on a Forth-side walk to Cramond, and I got rather more than I had bargained for having to lug car batteries around. The problems started when I came to start the car for the short drive down to the river, only to be greeted by a dismal churning noise, and no engine action. We got the car push-started by enlisting the help of a couple of game young ladies who happened to be passing - Thanks Girls! (Thank God too that the car was pointing downhill) I decided to immediately splash £80 on a new battery at Halfords (conveniently open on a Sunday) on the assumption that it was the most likely culprit given that I hadn't left any lights on overnight, the clock had reset itself to 1997 suggesting complete power loss, and the starter motor did appear to be turning. Just very slowly.
Good call as it happens - I had to use the battery and a pair of jump leads to get us back from Cramond, and just had time to swap in the new battery before (succesfully) driving to dinner.
When Mum comes I usually try and book a meal somewhere a bit posh (it's nice to have an excuse) and this trip we went for our second visit to Ondine.
Our first visit was so disappointing that I couldn't believe we hadn't just caught them on an off day, and all the raving reviews I read convinced me to give them a second chance.
Which just goes to show that other reviewers are complete idiots.

In pursuit of further fine dining I had a second, and much more satisfying, bash at making Eggs Benedict for Sunday brunch (or Eggs Hemingway for my smoked-salmon-munching Mother).
From muffins to... er... something indicating the end of a meal that starts with m? Massively stuffed? Munched out? But I digress...
A truly awesome meal - I have finally cracked the perfect Eggs Benedict. Cracked! And it only takes about 3 hours. Now let us forever go out for brunch and never make this again!

So that and a long-overdue return to the Kalpna covered the excessive eating (oh, me guts!).

Unfortunately, since I'm on the dry until Christmas the excessive drinking will just have to wait. For another 2 months, 2 days 7 hours and 37 minutes. To be precise. Sigh!
Yep, I'm having my annual abstinence in a desperate attempt to lose some gut before the onslaught of festivities.
So far so pointless.
Next up - dieting?

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