Kelpies and Canals

 

It was a very quick trip from Stirling Castle to find The Kelpies, just outside Falkirk. These are jaw-droppingly beautiful tribute monuments to “Heavy Horses”, Scotland’s horse-powered heritage,  placed in the midst of the new canal developments. Again, it was a surprise to see the canals, as, although I had read of them, I had not thought we would come across any canals.

There are four main canal systems in Scotland, but we were by the Forth and Clyde canal. These canals were, in the past, part of the economy of the country, but fell into disuse through the last century. They have been progressively repaired and developed over the last forty years. So! One could have a wonderful holiday now sailing from the Firth of Forth to the Firth of Clyde. Also there is a bicycle path all the way adjacent to the canal. If only, in younger days…..

We did not see the wonderful Falkirk Wheel not far away, which LIFTS boats up or down 24 metres, connecting the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal. Following the Wheel lift, boats need to go another 11 metres in two locks above the wheel, as the Union Canal is still that elevation higher.

Back to the Kelpies…..they sit beside a turning pool and extension. We found them a great tribute, no doubt commensurate with the immense contribution of Clydesdales to Scotland. It was very windy and cold when we were there, there being a large wind coming down from the Arctic!

Internet pics show how lovely they are lit up at night.

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Brief Segue in time and place…….

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I recall Anne Lawrie from time to time making Aberdeen Sausage. Anne was, I suppose, a simple cook, but always tasty, for the family. She was a regular cooker of a roast, beef, lamb or chicken, for Sunday lunch. In her kitchen, it was the lamb roast which raised the possibility of an Aberdeen Sausage, which would provide a tasty sandwich filling for my father’s lunches the following week. He found this item very moreish. My tastes as a child were too fastidious to accept what I would so happily have now. Suspect John was the same….

Auntie L reminds me that Granma Halley and other Auntie L were also regular makers of Aberdeen Sausage. The mincing of meats involved the cumbersome clamp mincer being attached to the kitchen bench. The boiling of the sausage for Anne’s recipe meant prior rending of an old white cotton sheet (I can still hear it!) into just the right size for rolling the sausage mince, and tying with string at each end. I am pretty sure that she used her pressure cooker for the boiling, shortening the usual 2 hours boiling.

There is no doubt that it was an Old Scots recipe, which came into Australia with many Scots migrants, so may have come into Granma’s household via Halleys, Lawries, or both.

The recipe is well described in The Schauer Australian Cookery Book, which very dilapidated book was my mother’s main recipe book. I believe either Auntie L or Auntie C gave Mum her copy when she married. The book was written by Miss Amy Shauer, with her cookery book resident in many Queensland kitchens through to the sixties. Miss Schauer’s biography is quite inspiring during the first half of the 20th century. If I was ever enquiring about a cooking question growing up Mum would always say, “Get the Miss Schauer!”

I think it is worth transcribing the whole recipe, substituting left-over lamb for beef, as that is what it was in our household (also described on Visit Dunkeld as “This is an old farmhouse recipe which used up the end of the barn”. (Isn’t that a quaint turn of phrase?)

Mince 1lb left-over lamb and 1/2lb bacon ends. Put into mixing bowl, add 1 cup of fresh breadcrumbs, 1tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce. Season with pepper and salt. Add 1 egg. 1 minced onion and carrot may be used. Mix all thoroughly together, turn onto a floured board, knead, form into a firm sausage. Place into a dry pudding cloth, roll smoothly, tie at each end, sqeezing the sausage into as small a compass as possible from each end. Tie tightly and pin cloth in the centre. (This tight rolling makes it firm for carving).

Place in a saucepan of plenty of boiling water. Simmer slowly for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Take up, stand 5 minutes in cloth. Remove cloth carefully. Roll in dry breadcrumbs. Garnish with parsley.

The above was as Mum made it. Miss Schauer continues:

Meat such as raw minced mutton, veal, rabbit, chicke, etc., may be used instead of beef. The remains of cold corned beef are good used instead of fresh meat. Three sheep’s tongues boiled, skinned, minced and mixed in with beef or other meats is an improvement. 😳

About 1978, I bought myself a 1975 copy of The Schauer Australian Cookery Book, registered at The General Post Office, Brisbane, and printed and bound in Australia by W. R. Smith and Paterson, Kemp Place, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane, Queensland. I also bought The Schauer Australian Fruit Preserving Recipe Book, as well.

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Stirling Castle

When driving through Scotland, there are castles every few minutes; many are in ruins, many are not, some have been highly associated with Scottish Royalty. So when choosing which castles to look at in detail, we chose those which were of most significance to Scottish royalty: Edinburgh Castle, Scone Palace, and Stirling Castle.

With more time it would have been wonderful to investigate Holyrood Palace and Linlithgow Palace, both steeped in Scottish Royal history and residence. Mary Queen of Scots was born at Linlithgow, and had residential apartments at Holyrood. Scottish kings moved to England in 1603, ending most Royal residence (although QE11 stays at Holyrood when in Edinburgh). Bonnie Prince Charlie, the young Pretender, was in residence at Holyrood for 5 weeks in 1745, and visited Linlithgow briefly, (the Duke of Cumberland destroyed much of it a year later for its Stuart and Jacobite associations), and Prince Charlie unsuccessfully tried to regain Stirling Castle in 1745.

The heyday for Stirling Castle was when it was a Palace, with great expensive embellishments and restorations by James V, initially for his first wife, Madeleine (French), who died only six months after marriage from consumption; then, for his second wife, Mary de Guise.

“he plenished the country with all kind of craftsmen out of other countries, as French-men, Spaniards, Dutch men, and Englishmen, which were all cunning craftsmen, every man for his own hand. Some were gunners, wrights, carvers, painters, masons, smiths, harness-makers (armourers), tapesters, broudsters, taylors, cunning chirugeons, apothecaries, with all other kind of craftsmen to apparel his palaces.”

The interiors are every impressive.

Poor James, having lost his first wife to illness, then lost his first two children with Mary, sons, 1 year old and 8 days old (dying 10 days apart), to illness. He then died of illness while away at battle, when his next born, Mary Queen of Scots was born.

Inspite of being French, Mary de Guise was well regarded by many Scots; she was regent on behalf of her daughter, from 1556-1560 when she died. She tried to keep her daughterr protected, and protect the countries’ Catholicism and Regency for her daughter.

The Castle also houses the Museum of the Argyll and Southerland Highlanders, deeply moving following the history of the regiment through to today.

 

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On the road again…..last day, Glasgow back to Edinburgh

The drive, Glasgow to Edinburgh, is less than two hours in all. There is a lot to fit in, on this, the last day in Scotland……first stop Stirling Castle, the bloody heart of Scotland, militarily of old, the most strategically important part of Scotland, gateway to the Highlands.

It is hard to describe the shock of excitement, after driving for a while, of seeing the National Wallace Monument striking itself out from a tree-covered hill.

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This is my photo at first sighting

The tower stands on the Abbey Craig, a volcanic crag above Cambuskenneth Abbey, from which Wallace was said to have watched the gathering of the army of King Edward I of England, just before the Battle of Stirling Bridge. The monument is open to the general public. Visitors climb the 246 step spiral staircase to the viewing gallery inside the monument’s crown, which provides expansive views of the Ochil Hills and the Forth Valley.

There is so much history in Scotland, but also millenia of atrocities carried out. Wallace, this 13th century hero was punished for his success at Stirling Bridge, with the standard hanging, drawing and quartering, boiled head on a spike and body on display at two different sites. The collective Scots memory did not forget…. What a striking, powerful monument erected in the 19th century. The thrust and power of National pride is evident.

The Old Stirling bridge, to be seen in photos in the next post, was built in the late 1400s, and has been closed to wheeled traffic since 1831. A series of wooden bridges stood there before, as in 1297 (Wallace’s Battle of Stirling Bridge) when the English were routed as they crossed, 2 by 2 horsemen. Wallace waited till there were about 2000 Government troops across before attacking, a number they knew they could defeat. The wooden 1297 bridge was 60 metres upstream from the 1400 Old Stirling Bridge, which we see today still.

Immediately after seeing Wallace’s monument, we took a wrong turn which placed us at a parking (and turning spot) at the base of Stirling Castle, adjacent to the remnant’s of Charles1’s garden. A surprise tound every corner.

 

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The FULL Scottish Breakfast!

Frequently, our accommodation included a FULL Scottish breakfast. Such is pictured below. Truly, this is what the full breakfast ALWAYS was!

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After having eaten haggis with dinner on two occasions, AND enjoyed it!, I have double checked the recipe ( deliberately didn’t afore, knowing globally that it was grim😒….the chief ingredient is ….A sheep’s pluck!…..ie., liver, heart, lungs…….can still manage haggis, and proud of it!

Moving on, I had accidentally read that black pudding – an essential ingredient of…the FULL Scottish breakfast…….was pig’s blood. Recipes seem to start with:

4 cups of pig’s blood…………😖………..🐖😪, so neither I, nor W, were able to accept black pudding on our breakfast plate, without regret, being already very self-satisfied about the haggis ingestion.

Neither of us are fans of tinned baked beans, and I do think we were being served the generic out-of-the-packet potatoe scones from the supermarket, recognized as not the best breakfast tattie.

So my breakfast plate was as above, minus baked beans, minus black pudding, minus tattie scone………. in other words, we arranged subconsciously to have a great Aussie grilled breakfast.

Suggested reading: How to cook the perfect tattie scones.

I am sure the home cooked tattie scone has endured, probably hundreds of years+, so this article ponders all the nuances of this traditional Scottish breakfast. I love it that the author (Scottish) loves hearing the family squabbles downstairs as an essential part of preparing to prepare the tatties………

A Day in Glasgow……The Mackintosh House

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With one day in Glasgow only, our cherry-pick was a walk along Kelvin Way past Kelvingrove Park to The Mackintosh House (or the Hillhead House) at the University of Glasgow. It meant missing the the Kelvingrove Art Gallery.  So much to see; however, it opened an hour later, so on a coin toss, we walked from our hotel on Sauchiehall Street along Kelvin Way to University Avenue, to the earlier opening Mackintosh House.

Kelvingrove Park has large statuary commemorating some of geniuses who have done their work at the University of Glasgow, Lord Kelvin, of Absolute Zero being -273 deg C., Baron Lister who revolutionized antiseptic surgery. The inventions and contributions to the modern world by Scots is truly staggering.

My awareness of  Charles Rennie Mackintosh started when W and I bought a Mackintosh Lamp, a first joint acquisition within the house.

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Charles built the (now restored interior) home we visited, for his wife Margaret in the style which they, with Margaret’s sister Frances and her husband, James McNair, developed. It was lovely to be immersed briefly in their style. More of Margaret and Frances exquisite work.

 

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We saw so little of Glasgow and its River and Firth, the Clyde.

Shipbuilders on the Clyde have built 25,000 ships since the first yard opened in 1712. At its peak there were 30-40 shipyards. Clydebank produce 370 ships in 1913. Likewise in WWll, it was very productive, but suffered severe damage from the Clydebank Blitz from Luftwaffe strikes. The homelessness of tens of thousands resonated for decades. Today, there are four shipyards left, one making advanced technology ships for the Royal Navy and other navies.

Hats off to Glasgow.

 

Wistful farewell to Islay, hello brash Glasgow!

Just Lerved! Islay. Let the Islay Pipe Band play us awa’….

(Recalling that there are only 3000+ folk on Islay….how they maintain their culture! How about a even having a pretty full looking, competitively successful Pipe Band!)

Drove to Glasgow on the A83, turning onto the A82 past Loch Lomond.

The oldest version of this song…

 

Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland, the third largest in Britain, and has a reputation for harbouring more industry, more poverty.

Having seen Edinbugh and numerous other cities, towns and villages in Scotland, Glasgow indeed presents itself as stressed, preoccupied, not thoughtfully caring of itself. The city streets we saw were dirty, littered, graffitied……was sure I was walking past two girls of the night in our first afternoon walk, then a couple who looked the unwell of drug addiction…..not unusual in cities, but the only time seen in Scotland previously. Our hotel was the only lodging in Scotland which asked for payment on arrival rather than departure, the only one to provide a facade only of “free wi-fi”, two days effectively off the internet😬. Indian dinner at the UK 2015 award winner for Indian Restaurant, how lucky!

 

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