Thursday, 18 July 2013

A 'fair fortnight' - (part 1)

In Scotland, the trades (as they're known) tended to have two weeks off in the summer when the factories shut down. And, if I'm right, they tend to be a different times of the summer depending on where you live in Scotland. In Dundee, where I was born, the historical fair fortnight is the last week of July/first week of August. These days with school and childcare etc, I'm sure that most folks aren't grappling with 'enforced' holiday closures, but I'm sure some folks still do. Our holidays always start the same way. We head to Auntie's Hoose  and just flop. I love this house, it runs like mine, on coffee and lots of love. Its less chaotic than ours I suspect, but we supply amply chaos to make it seem like home. They also took me to a lovely antique place where I quite fancied this 'Peedie' look a like. Dogs on trains, how exciting! They also call us 'Hobbit's', which I guess is fair for my stature but the young adults are now towering over me.
For us, our 'fair fortnight' is usually (out of choice) the first two weeks of July. Its a good time to spend time with the kids (or young adults as they prefer to be called) before they head off to central France and spend the summer with their Dad on his far. Its also during Mr F's birthday celebrations so we tend to take those two weeks most years and just have fun, catch up with chums and generally go off exploring somewhere before the kids are waves cheerio to at the airport for 6 weeks.
This year was no exception, but with a twist. The cellist needed to do a weeks work experience in a non-island hospital, so we had to venture down to Aberdeen. I needed to help decorate Mr F's flat in Fife. So, being a semi-feral Dundonian myself there's never a shortage of a bed in that area so the cellist travelled and was ensconced at her Auntie's for the week.  The dogs quite enjoyed both the garden, the burn, the native sticky willies (Gallium aparine) adorned his face quite magnificently and didn't get in the way when he ate most of the resident cats food. The newly resident chameleon was a bit more of a novelty than much else. I've never, in his whole life, seen Haggis quite so still. Well, once out of the burn, anyway and how cool is it to have a burn at the bottom of your garden?
Now usually we have a summer adventure too, last year it was returning to my early school days in Cyprus to have a wee nostalgic look around. However, this year, Mr F's flat is requiring a bit of TLC and decorating so the adventures were put on hold and a paint brush, a cloot and several thousand bin bags were required. Not quite buckets and spades, however, needs must. If we are to return to the lands of Scotland, we need to sell his house. Not enough room in the current flat for me, two dogs, a sit on mower and several (soon to be located) chickens. So off with the shorts and on with the boiler suit. Cellist abandoned in the land of jute, jam and journalism with a train pass in one hand and her Aunty's in the other, I headed off to wield a paint brush in Fife. I told you my life is just all glamour. But, fear not. As I'm generally a lightweight when it comes to chores, there was a lot of skiving off. This is quite easy when you have two dogs who JUST need walked several times a day. Also easy when you've traded your own homeland beaches for the Fife Riviera. So adventure we did.  We also stalked native elder tree's and made a whole heap of Elderflower cordial for ourselves.
Stalking local elderflowers is quite easy when they're in bloom and once you're eye's in you see them everywhere. For a good ten days, I'm afraid many blooms (all below the 5ft high level, I'm very short) were sustainably taken from many a local elder. I left enough for the birds/bees and the natives both human and insect like too.  I'm not that greedy. Lucky for me elder is used in so much town amenity planting that there was barely a corner without any in.
I also indulged in a fair bit of cooking displacement activities. I've been trying to get my dim sum dumplings right for ages, now I seem to have cracked it. Holidays are good for a bit of extra cooking.
I even managed to salvage the 'turned' milk into something edible. Sour milk makes for excellent scones. Yum.
So with as bit of painting intersperced, mainly when skiving off, we walked and walked those hounds and I. We walked from the flat to the esplanade of Mr F's native Kirkcaldy. A project in the depression to give work to locals, its a fine long walk beside the beach, which is quite lucky as often the tide is so high, its beachless.
And, when at the furthest west point of the esplanade, the beaches reappear and the lands of Edinburgh are very nobly resplendent over the water. 
 It's always good to find the beach again as that means a bit of paddling, always good before breakfast. The dogs agree.
Further inland along the coastal pathways that traverse the edge of Fife,  which are stuffed full of lovely wild flowers in places. The brambles are looking splendid at the moment, a real hope of things to come.
But it wasn't all walking with sandy toes. I even indulged in a pair of new shoes (not waterproof, not garden related, I nearly had to lie down.) so I could go out for a birthday dinner with Mr F, whilst I'm sure our host's wouldn't have minded wellies, sometimes a bit of feet dressing up is required.
 We headed to a little hidden place in Aberdour recommended by some foodie chums, called 'A Room with a View' a truly beautiful location and an amazing eating experience. So lovely I'll do a wee blog about it all by itself, its worth the efforts as it was one of the best eating experiences I've had in Scotland. And, so reasonably priced too.
'A room with a view', Aberdour. A truly stunning sea food restaurant.
Pan seared halibut with a smoked mackerel risotto. Delicious.
So, it wasn't all painting and hard work. There was a bit of fun, a bit of walking and a bit of retail action. One of the missions when down this visit, aside hospital internships and decorating, was to find a bit of a posh frock for our impending wellie-fest in the autumn. Having been to what seemed like a million scary dress shops. A local visit to a charity shop in Dundee might have been the most fruitful of all. The right size, the right colour, the right fit and all for £20. OK so it had some rather hideous buttons on it, but if you can see past what's right infront of your paint splattered nose, often a gem can be found. A good half hour of snipping carefully and unpicking said horrid buttons, they are no more.  If this does turn out to be 'the one' then I'll be more than a bit chuffed at finding something recycled and quite pretty.
 However, with a potential frock sorted - time to wash it and hang it safely away from the emulsion. No rest for the wicked, this was a working holiday after all.

Part 2 of the eating fest which was our holiday will follow, there's far too much food in it to do it all at once. You'd think we were piggies.


1 comment:

  1. Lovely to read about your holidays :) And hooray for a welliefest dress! I've been eyeing up some fab wellies - red and white polka dot - but they're in a charity shop near work and it's always shut when I go past, and now I won't be there for a fortnight!