Turning Over a New Leith

Our adventures in the Scottish Capital and beyond...

HALF-MARATHONING WITH THE SHERMANS

We had our friends Sarah and Thomas Sherman up from London for the Edinburgh Marathon Festival. They were joined by Sarah’s sister, Jennifer and her fiance Stuart. Their visit was too short, but we packed in a bit of fun.

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Sunday morning, Jennifer and Stuart ran the full half-marathon and Thomas ran the first 8 miles (something about living in Africa and not having time to train). The course, which was different from my recent half marathon, started on Regent Street and ended near the Musselburgh Racecourse. From what the gang said it was a lovely course along the coast.

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Ben, Sarah and I, as loyal spectators, took the crowded bus to mile 8 to meet up with Thomas and then dashed to the finish line to see Jennifer and Stuart cross the finish line.

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While we were waiting, we were able to see some of the everybody runners finish. I have not seen a lot of these races end because I try to compete, but I surprised myself by becoming a bit emotional watching this group of finishers. You could see the determination on their faces as they pounded the last 200 meters. There was a mix of elation and agony. The pride on some of these runners faces made me a bit misty- luckily Sarah shared similar feelings!

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The runner above is Canadian running against diabetes- colorful pinnies!

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Here are Jen and Stuart- look at them go. Poor Stuart hurt his foot, but persevered to complete his first half-marathon and an additional milestone since it was their first couple 13.1 mile run together. A solid start for a future of races together.

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We had Sunday afternoon chilling and lunching at the Cumberland Bar. Then our runners took a well-needed nap. Later Jennifer and Stuart popped down for some snacks and drinks. We all called it a day about 9.30 p.m.

We headed to work on Monday, while the gang made it safely back to London. They might be back next year to run!

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GUEST POST…  Reia- dear friend and running partner wanted to share her account of her recent running-themed weekend in Edinburgh. She also is an avid hipstamatic photographer. I will post my account tomorrow! 

Meeting up with my gorgeous running partner extraordinaire in far flung places (yes to my Tasmanian heritage running in Paris and Edinburgh is very far away) has become my crutch towards keeping a little a piece of sanity in my life. Ever since dearest Buffy moved away from Grenoble that is. When Buffy was living in Grenoble we managed to go running early mornings, with views towards the soaring French Alps. These runs and chats with the Buffster helped like nothing else to feed the soul, and our daily intellectual ponderings (really working out how  to deal with our everyday working commitments) made the simple things that much clearer and easier to achieve. 

After crushing last year’s Paris half-marathon, Buffy and I signed up (just after Christmas and in time for new year’s resolutions) for the Edinburgh ‘rock n’ roll’ half-marathon. And what a ride! You can say there was lots of rocks to run up, and the rolling down the other side was very joyful. That morning we woke up with a buzz, and tummy churnings but the sun was shining so we were ready… After a little bit of breakfast the storm clouds came out, and thank heavens we didn’t notice the wind that was to come! Getting to the course was a nice little warm-up (a stroll of 1.5 miles perhaps). And then that’s when the full implication of the meteorological outlook hit us like a brick. The quasi-horizontal rain, the gale force winds, and the icy needle pin-prick raindrops (this didn’t seem to deter the notorious pre-race male pee-ers though who had to walk up Arthurs Seat to enjoy the city view in all it’s glory, and have a pee).  

We were in Edinburgh, about to dash through this volcanic, history- steeped megalith, with some of what I imagine are typical weather conditions. The rest of the semi is a blur, except for the wonderful support of Ben, who would pop up from time to time, and some cheers from the watchers (including a guest appearance from Sarah and ???), ooh and did I forget our white rabbit, who made us run that bit faster - the superb man in a kilt (yes you can look good running in a kilt). Running down that last mile (which was partly royal) seemed to arrive way too quickly. We did it!

The rest of my time in Edinburgh was just that - a euphoric mind and physical rest. And how blissful it was! Buffy and Ben are really the hosts with the mosts. Wonderful meal prepared and cooked after wonderful meal, lots of walking around, lots of chats, lots of good coffees, lots of chats, a little bit of rain… A perfect home away from home. Thank you so much Ben and Buffy for this wonderful idyll. And do you think I can come again next year? But maybe stay for 6 months - I’m sure we can do 10 semis in that time.

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LET’S DO THIS

I am hoping by posting this, I am reinvigorated for my upcoming three weeks away.

In parallel to my working, I need to get some serious running done, I am registered for the Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon on April 14. My friend Reia (of Paris semi-marathon fame) will be popping to EDI for a few days to make memories and run- hopefully in that order.

According to Runkeeper, Reia is crushing her training, while I am just about smushing mine with my pinky toe (read, not running enough). As I travel from Mexico to Colombia to Chile to Brazil to India, these hotel gyms and I are going to get to know each other- watch out treadmills- I have a halfie to accomplish!

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SAD… Mrs. Nolan, Julie, Jules, one of the coolest and classiest ladies I have known and a role model for growing old gracefully with all your marbles passed away last week. She will be missed by all the Gorrilla/Smyths and their partners whom she warmly welcomed as they came into our lives. I think she was especially charmed by Ben (but who isn’t). She was convinced the perfect match for Charlie was Kelly Ripa!
She was a fixture at family events. She had a fantastic sense of humour and was such a positive person. Mrs. Nolan, Visits back to Minneapolis will not be the same without you.

SAD… Mrs. Nolan, Julie, Jules, one of the coolest and classiest ladies I have known and a role model for growing old gracefully with all your marbles passed away last week. She will be missed by all the Gorrilla/Smyths and their partners whom she warmly welcomed as they came into our lives. I think she was especially charmed by Ben (but who isn’t). She was convinced the perfect match for Charlie was Kelly Ripa!

She was a fixture at family events. She had a fantastic sense of humour and was such a positive person. Mrs. Nolan, Visits back to Minneapolis will not be the same without you.

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INDELIBLE TATOO– INCREDIBLE BUT TROO

GUEST POST…  Chloe, friend and former colleague, who recently visited our fair city and us, wanted to give you the account of her weekend. Chloe is a great writer.

You might not think that one’s enduring memory of Edinburgh would be its seagulls but every morning my own wee birdie woke me at 5.30am to remind me that this part of Scotland is in fact a near kin to my part of Wales – rolling hills, an arm of water stretching out into the body of the sea accompanied by cloud dancing, scattered showers and sunbursts.

(A picture of the three of us! Note Chloe’s knock-off purple Doc Marteen’s- perfect for the rainy Edinburgh weather)

Once over the initial hurdle of getting to Geneva (no bus provided by the SNCF on the Pontcharra-Chambéry leg - a big thanks to Nadia for saving the day - M&S pressie on its way) my favourite airline whisked me off to Buffy and Ben’s lovely town house where Ben gallantly offered to drag my luggage over the cobbles in case they loosened some of my fillings.

Easy Sunday morning saw us heading off to visit the sights which seem to involve a lot of hills and cemeteries.  We overlooked the Forth of Firth and underlooked Arthur’s Seat (he got everywhere but there again the similarity to the Welsh Cader Idris is spooky).  We stopped off in the funky Canongate Kirk whose pews are painted sky blue and the carpet a fuschia pink. Maybe a bit of Royal Colour Blocking has rubbed off on this house of worship since the other royal wedding but it certainly made a change from the granite and slate versions of my religious instruction.

(Who knew that Lionel Richie owned a police box in Edinburgh, well spotted Chloe)

We wended (I think this might be a Scottish word) in an out of the Royal Mile and despite near hypoglycemia for the more senior member of the party managed to make it to Charlotte Square in time to a) feed me a cheese scone and an orange juice b) get second in the queue for the Tony Ross Book signing.  In fact I was there first but this small girl who looked like she belonged more in a Roald Dahl story in a sort of I’ve-got-tickets-to-all-the-signings-for-the-whole-week-because-my-mummy-has-organised-it sort of way managed to barge in front of me despite my (only just) mock ‘oi you I was there first cry’(which gratifyingly made her jump momentarily) and proceeded to get the delightful T.R. to sign about 790 books.  I will not stoop to being a groupie.

(Chloe charming Tony Ross)

Back to base for this amazing barbecue and salsa dish with homemade bread – it is all true about the culinary prowess of Eyre Place.  A few episodes of ‘30 Rock’ with unusually astute insight into leadership fake authenticity (more on this with Gavin E.) and off to bed.

Monday was quartier libre for me as my hosts went out to work and I treated myself to a splurge on Princes Street.  Good shopping weather with just the right amount of rain.  My mock Doc Marten’s were the ideal footwear despite many a sceptic wondering whether the fact that the soles did not bend as I walked might cause some discomfort.  Pff!    Minor huge panic in the sock section at M&S when I realised I COULD NOT FIND MY WALLET and had to go back to Waterstones (no apostrophe any more apparently) in the hope that my holiday fun was not about to end and be replaced by international calls to the Sécu, LCL, CAF and François Hollande.  Phew – there is a God and he reads books because that is exactly where I had left it.  My second fright in two days propelled me into a carpe diem sort of approach to shopping.  Hence I am now the chuffed owner of a new coat, dressing gown, boxer shorts (am I allowed to say that on this blog?), perfume and the rest.  

“Quick nip back” to base camp (which in fact involves topography not that dissimilar to the 7 hills of Rome) for a snack before heading back to the Book Fair to listen to and stare glassy eyed (concentrate, Chloë) at the gorgeous Gavin Esler discuss his new book ‘Lessons from the Top’.  His accessible, knowledgeable and humorous approach to his subject matter was delightful and I am now the proud owner of a slightly botched signing session copy of said book.  The only slight fly in the ointment was that he did mention he had quite enjoyed interviewing Angelina Jolie so I thoughtfully warned him about her kind – half woman, half plastic.  You can only give advice and hope people learn along the way. I will not stoop to being a groupie. I really won’t. Well I might if pushed.

Back to reality and a delicious risotto, salmon, goat’s cheese and beet dish for supper although I soon realised that the ch**se word is now a source of potential friction in the Gorrilla/Pawson love nest.  I can say no more but I hope I am not asked to testify in court some day.

Tuesday, sun and a following wind saw Buffy and I cycling down to Leith to catch the midday screening of BRAVE.  It was lucky we had no pressing appointments as we sat through 30 minutes of unsuitable trailers, in your face adverts with lots of noise and bright colours (call me old fashioned), a Pixar short and finally the film during which I spent the whole time waiting for Merida to give the English the thrashing of their lives (must have misunderstood the trailers).  Anyway a great film with and amazing hairdresser on the set and so glad I saw that instead of ‘Rebelle’!  

Cycled back via Mimi’s Bakehouse where sugar levels were replenished with a slice of coffee and walnut cake that could have doubled up as a door stopper.  A quick loop to visit Ben and Buffy’s old residence in Leith (next to Barclays funeral Services – no connection to the ch**se word of course), a lightening shop at Tesco then home for more deliciousness in the form of lamb lasagna (two helpings for me – doesn’t anyone eat in this household?).

And so to bed knowing that tomorrow (today) I’ll hear that bonny seagull for the last time in a wee while but taking with me such positive vibes from a kind city and its more than generous hosts that I’m set up for the rentrée (yawn) and then some.

Haste ye back Buffy and Ben 


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OMG!

Ben tots got a job yo!

Whoop-whoop.

It is full time, it is paid, it is at Chest Heart Stroke Scotland in fundraising and it means all his hard work and dreams are coming true.

Nice work Sweet Ben!

you.

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ALL THINGS FOOD

                   

This past weekend, I wanted to try out our ‘new’ appliances and spend some time in our kitchen with a window.

I took Friday off, mainly to unpack, but I also wanted to make a nice dinner for Ben for all his work on the move (he moved all but 5 large pieces of furniture in two days, a-mah-zing). I made these burgers, the toasted pecans really elevated them. For desert I tried coconut flan- with new our oven it baked in 30 minutes instead of the 1.5 hours, I think it might have been up too high.

For our other burger endeavors- you can have a look here and here.

On Saturday evening, we were invited to a spontaneous Cinco de Mayo Party. Knowing the hostess is not a baker, I made some theme cookies- Mexican Wedding Cake- nice albeit very crumbly when warm-similar to a shortbread with toasted nuts. These reminded me of cookies my Grandma Betty made at Christmas. I also tried these, a spicy chocolate cookie with black and red pepper- so easy and tasty.

Also on the menu recently this tasty lamb recipe and these Asian-inspired noodles that bring me back to Big Bowl, we substituted chicken for the tofu.

(Photo from epicurious.com)

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FUN WITH LEO-II

After soaking in a suitable amount of inspiration at the Walker Art Center, Ben, Leo and I headed to Paint Your Plate- ceramic studio-located in an old Victorian house on Grand Avenue. Leo got straight to work designing his plate of Ozzie the hockey playing dog. It was all Ben could do to not grab the brush from Leo and paint it himself!

We have heard Leo is very pleased with the end result and is hoping to add to his plate collection. Have fun Jess!

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BELLINIS… A refreshing start to a fun catch up with my sistahs! Jill opted for the bottomless mimosa, she deserves it, she had twins nine months ago. We brunched at King’s a wine bar in south Minneapolis. The start of some serious fun times.

BELLINIS… A refreshing start to a fun catch up with my sistahs! Jill opted for the bottomless mimosa, she deserves it, she had twins nine months ago. We brunched at King’s a wine bar in south Minneapolis. The start of some serious fun times.

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Look Mum No Hands (LMNH) is the airy-hip bike cafe in London owned by Ben’s former classmate from grammar school Lewin Chalkley. Located in a London ‘hood that one would not think would be buzzing on a Sunday- the empty office high rises were an obvious sign, but Old Street was the perfect place for brunch.

We opted not to go out on Saturday night, feasting instead on a brown and serve baguette with cheddar and mustard- French for me, yellow for Ben- split 30/70 along with a couple of beers we ‘borrowed’ from Craig and Lesley.

By morning, our hunger levels were up, so off we went a pied. I ordered a flat white and scrambled eggs on brown toast with mushrooms, Ben went French- roasted ham and cheese croissant and a pain au raisin with a latte and double espresso. As we love to eat, we had checked the reviews and the coffee at Look Mum no Hands has received accolades for the care they take. It lived up to the coffee hype.

(Open spaces and content patrons)

The bicycle theme was everywhere. LMNH even has a shop where you can get your ride fixed while you eat. Ben and I felt a bit lame that we did not ride to brunch, but we rented Boris Bikes immediately afterwards; we hope this compensated.

(More bicycle decorations)

There was an outdoor seating area that proved popular for the cyclist finishing their Sunday morning rides. Thank you for keeping the stink outside near the ample cycle racks.

(Shiny- I would not be surprised if John and Adele already had these)

To Lewin and the LMNH gang: thanks for the warm welcome, we will be back and until then we will be tempted by the merchandise from your online shop.

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2:09

Day Before Race:

So maybe we should have said no to the champagne and undoubtedly the glass of wine while carbo loading and Swann et Vincent was not going to help, but how could we resist? After all these months of not being able to whoop-it-up, it was a fun finish to a Saturday.

Race Day:

5km: Not even, I turned to Reia and said ” I don’t really feel like doing this.” We are moving at a good clip. We are amongst 28,500 runners, I think this is the biggest race I have done.

12km: We call the hotel to ensure we can really check out after the race, we had received mixed messages. We are not French, showers are very important. Pace still good. 

14km: Feeling good, reassured we can shower after the race. Notre Dame and the Hotel de Ville are lovely.

17km: There were a lot of spectators cheering- Reia and I are cruising.

19km: Back into the Bois de Vincennes. A little less speed, but the end is near. We are being cheered in by the early finishers doing their cool down runs. We hate them.

20.09km: Finish- well worth it for finishers medal, the biodegradable poncho, technical t-shirt and the best oranges ever from the post race table.

Post-race: 

Back to Timhotel on the packed metro line 1, a leisurely lunch and then back to Edinburgh. Reia relaxed a few hours before heading back to Grenoble. 

Another Race: 

We are still debating if we will make this an annual event. I vote YES!

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PARIS HALFIE

Tomorrow I am off again. This time for funs! I will meet my pal Reia in Paris where we will run the half marathon on Sunday. Reia was my fantastic running buddy in Grenoble, we would run together at least three mornings a week and usually a weekend day. Such great chats during our miles together, hopes and dreams.

(The Paris Half Marathon Course)

I have strong doubts this weekend will be my shining-star athletic moment, I put in some good treadmill runs during my recent trips, so I should be able to make it. Being France and being ultra competitive, we have to finish in 2.5 hours, this is an excellent goal, I do not want to be escorted off the course, by a Frenchman with a ‘coup corne’.

I am back on Edinburgh Sunday night.

Off to pack. Look for photos next week of the race and the weekend. 

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DINNER PARTY

       

We had our first friends for dinner this weekend. It was great fun. Enjoyable company. 

We voted the menu as one of our best. We are very biased.

Starter: Garlic Butter Roasted Mushrooms

Maincourse: Eggplant Lasagna with Parsley Pesto and Baked Meatballs in Sauce

Green Salad

Desert: Lemon Layer Cake with Lemon Cream Frosting

I found the perfect cake pan for making six inch layer cakes. I did a test and now I am prepared to bake a delicious birthday cake in two weeks time. 

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BPB… Our table set for guests. 

BPB… Our table set for guests. 

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BIRTHDAY IN REIGATE… Last weekend Ben and I went to Reigate. Reigate is the town where Ben lived when I first met him. Reigate is a charmingly posh commuter town south of London where our friends Paul and Helen live with their children Jack and Oliver. I have taken a shine to Oliver (we are both second children, I think this is the basis of our friendship).

Paul and Helen hosted a very civilized 40th Birthday Party in Paul’s honor. Friends from all over the U.K. were there. We all benefitted from Paul’s love of wine. He organized a wine tasting featuring 10 wines from the world over. We were given the dainty wine tasting glasses which ensured we were not dehydrated the next morning. Such good hosts.

We had such a great time we cannot wait for Paul’s 50th!

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