Tuesday, 26 April 2011

More advice needed, please

Another wonderful weekend at the Corbies. Mum and Dad brought the boys down and we had a lovely couple of days wandering around, drinking beer (not the boys), having barbeques and doing a bit of gardening. The weather was most untypical for Scotland - warm, sunny and lovely. The swallows have returned to the cottage too and are intent on nest-building. We therefore spend any time outdoors with those beautiful birds swooping around our heads as they invade the pig sty with its lovely dark corners, so perfect for raising a family in.

I think we have broken the back of the garden and it is now starting to look a little more respectable.
We spent a lot of time digging and weeding the borders and beds (with much help from my parents) and they are looking pretty good now, even if I do say so myself. Now we just need to decide what to plant in them!

And this is where you talented gardening-type people out there come in. (I know you have nothing better to do than answer my inane questions!) We have lots of lovely plants and trees but no idea of what most of them are. So I have prepared a quiz for you: Identify if you can the following trees from our little Borders garden:

1) From the patio - beautiful deep pink blossom

2) Also from the patio - not in blossom yet, but with little trailing "cat tails" which look like they might become flowers soon

3) From our deck - pretty pale lilac flowers

Apologies for the rotten picture quality - you can click the photies to enlarge if that helps!

We are planning to return to the Corbies to escape the wall-to-wall wedding coverage this Friday (no TV there - what joy!) and hopefully to plant some stuff in those waiting beds. Just have to decide what to plant.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

I'm back again

Back home again, facing a return to work tomorrow after what feels like a really long holiday, even though I've only been away from the office for 7 days.

Prague was lovely. It is always nice but the weather was surprisingly clement, with sunshine and gentle warmth, ideal for wandering about streets and climbing hills. And gazing at light-up yellow plastic penguins.First Born was very enamoured of the penguins. He navigated Prague entirely by reference to where we were in relation to said penguins.

We walked and walked and walked some more, climbed Petrin Hill up to the top and then, when we got there, decided we were too footsore to climb up the replica Eiffel Tower so we sat on a bench drinking Pepsi and telling silly stories instead. We took the boys to our favourite cafe for hot chocolate and soy milk lattes, and to our favourite bar where we ate far more pork than was good for us. We visited the church where Czech resistance fighters were pinned down by Nazi soldiers after the assasination of Reinhard Heydrich and the crypt where they died after being betrayed by one of their own. We visited the zoo and watched tigers having lunch. They have marginally better table manners than our sons, I reckon.
Second Born took that photograph. He is both braver and more determined than I am!

Second Born also celebrated his 11th birthday on our last day in Prague by eating a small vat of Nutella at breakfast and buying himself a couple of puppets with some of his birthday money. Puppets are very popular in Prague and one of his purchases is a traditional marionette, albeit in the form of a chimpanzee. The other one.......defies description. I will try to persuade SB to let me photograph it for a later post. You'll thank me, I promise.

We came home from Prague and almost immediately set off for the Corbies for a few days. We had a few little jobs to do around there and one large one: the freezing cold and very windy winter had not been kind to the roof of our summerhouse. (The bricks are there to stop the felt ripping further!)

Now, Husband and I and Husband's sister are not what you would call handy. We have never re-roofed a shed before, but we decided to have a go. And I think that, given it was done by two lawyers and a training consultant, the result wasn't half bad.

Poor sister-in-law got the job of climbing onto the roof to rip off the old felt and then stick down the new (the roof isn't strong enough to support more than one person at a time). We basically shoved her up there at about 2pm and didn't let her down again until 7pm. She required a lot of beer and mini chocolate rolls to recover. As did we.

Next job: getting the barbecue ready so we can start really enjoying ourselves down there! My mum and dad are having the boys to stay with them at the end of next week and then bringing them down to the Corbies for Easter Weekend. Can't wait.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Ski cake!

My heartfelt thanks to all of you helpful types out there who assisted with the translation of an unusual Canadian cake recipe into Scottish. I had never made it before, it required an odd sort of method and the aforementioned translation of ingredients and measures, but Second Born had requested Ski Cake for his birthday and Ski Cake he would have. I am of course biased, but I think the results were okay:

(If you want to see what the original looks like, Google "Saltscapes" and "Ski Cake".) The cake went down quite well, with First Born and Second Born both having seconds. Second Born's friend who was with us for the birthday celebrations at the cottage scoffed his one slice but declined a second. I choose to believe that he is just well brought up and disinclined to stuff his face at any opportunity (like my two) rather than that he didn't like it much.

I then outdid myself, of course, when I left the remains of the cake (more than half!!) in the fridge when we left the cottage on Sunday. It is still there now, quietly going stale all on its own. Second Born went into mourning when he found out and was inconsolable until I promised him I would make him another one when we get back from Prague. After all, I speak fluent Canadian Cake Recipe now!