Monday, 20 April 2009
Right. If, like me, you have about 10p with which to go on holiday, where you stay is a really big issue. Hotels are well expensive, camping is okay, but it's darn chilly at Easter still, and bed and breakfasts are a right mixed bag.
Here are a few things I learned on this past two week break.
a. If you want to go camping, remember the poles.
Yes, we tipped up on Easter Saturday night at this lovely campsite called Side Farm, which is in the Independent's top fifty campsites of all time. It was full, so we drove on, and found another one near by, whose name escapes me, but which resembled a place where cars go to die. They were parked everywhere, as if abandoned. It looked like the scene at the start of M Night Shyamalan (who, incidentally, wrote the Sixth Sense!)'s The Happening, only with tents.
Having found a place to abandon the Passat, we started putting up the tent, only to discover that the poles were not within. This was really disappointing to everyone, and we ended up huddled not around a camp fire, but around a Ginsters pastie, and sleeping at the Premier Travel Inn at Junction 44 of the M6. It wasn't a good start to the trip.
b. If you want to stay in a hotel, book in advance.
The Radisson hotel in Glasgow is five stars, and it's lovely. It's got these amazing lifts, which you can look out all around, and over to Glasgow Central Station from. It's pretty good, and it's under £70 a night, including breakfast, I think, if you book it as one of the 'mystery hotels' on lastminute.com. The same applies to Manchester I'm told. Apparently, you often get the Radisson as the 'secret hotel'.
c. Not all B&Bs are the same.
Ohhh no. We stayed in two; this one just outside Oban, and an almost completely unmarked one in Tobermory (pictured). The first cost £171, somehow, and the second cost £30. Despite the fact that the towels smelt vaguely of fannies, I would head straight back to the Tobermory one in a flash; the old owners left their door open for anyone to walk in, and had these cute, woodlined loft rooms - ours had an amazing view over Tobermory harbour (incidentally, Tobermory is where they filmed the forementioned BBC series, Balamory. It can't do wrong, in my book) - and it was very good value.
The Oban one was clean, with good views, but it was located in, what I suspect is a barely converted 80s-style old folks home, and it was extremely expensive for what you got. Dinner, for example, was £20 a head, for what amounted to some soup, and a very average chicken casserole and some overcooked vegetables, while the room was £85, which was more than the five star Radisson in Glasgow.
Monday, 13 April 2009
Oh aye, Arthur and I are in Scotland this week, visiting my relatives. We are staying in Glasgow and the highlight of the day has to be seeing two items from Balamory; Edie McCredie's van, and Spencer's tricycle at the Museum Of Transport.
Number two on our list of joy was the Tenement House museum. This is basically a flat, preserved, as it would've been in the 1950s when my mum was growing up in one.
It kind of made me appreciate why she is so into kitchen applicances and mod cons, while I'm there, pretending to keep it real with my hand whisk.
They had an Easter egg hunt around the house, there was loads of stuff you could kind of touch (although i don't think you were strictly supposed to) like an old straw mattress, and beds in all the cupboards off the main rooms as well as an amazing old fashioned bathroom.
We discovered that in the old days, they really crammed people in. My mum and her mum and her dad apparently lived behind a curtain in one of these city central flats with some wealthier people. I never could quite imagine how their living arrangement worked, but now I have a much better idea: it was cramped, and that's about all you can say about it.
Monday, 6 April 2009
Why not make some blueberry pancakes? I've spent absolutely ages wanting a recipe for fluffy Amercian-style pancakes, and I finally found this one, which is remarkably similar (in method at least) to my Mum's 'drop scone' recipe.
She's Scottish and she used to make these bad boys in an electric frying pan when we lived in Papua New Guinea as youngsters. They tasted of somewhere else entirely, somewhere where they had fireplaces, snow, sweaters and cream. Mmmm.
Anyhow, making blueberry pancakes from the above recipe is simple - just throw in a few blueberries. It works well with bananas too, and we often have these for breakfast with orange juice, greek yoghurt and honey.