Scotland and shortbread

It’s been a while since I wrote a post! I’ve been busy and been away – visiting the beautiful capital city of Scotland – Edinburgh. We had amazing weather – no rain at all which is pretty unusual I think.

I took the opportunity to do a bit of running and was lucky enough to be staying with friends close to the city centre and opposite Calton Hill. No excuses then for not going out on those morning runs! Number one run – I went through London Road Gardens which is very pretty with many trees and plants. I can imagine that in the spring it is even more lovely. Then I headed up Calton Hill itself. I really tried to run all the way up the hill, but my legs and lungs failed me about 3/4 way up! I did a couple of circuits of the hill, and then headed back down to the Gardens, where I did some sit ups and press ups on the conveniently located bench.

Can you see the bench right in the middle of the picture? Conveniently located for a few impromptu sit ups!

Number Two run – I started off the same direction, but then thought I would have a go at getting to Arthur’s Seat which didn’t really look too far. It was an absolutely beautiful morning, and I thought the views would be worth the slog. I went through the cemetery – complete with a watchtower to protect the graves from body snatchers – a common occurrence in 19th century Edinburgh.

The watch tower – on the look out for the body snatchers!

I ran past the Scottish parliament building, which we had visited the day before. Anyone can go in (through airport style security) and sit in the public galleries. It was very interesting. Watching politics ‘live’ makes it seem more real. The debate was about Brexit – being in Scotland made it even more interesting, as of course the perspective is somewhat different from that in England…(wry smile 😉 ) 

The Scottish parliament building is full of symbolism in its design.
(photo from the internet – public access)

Then I ran on up the path to Arthur’s Seat. Even at this quite early hour (7.45) there were people on their way back down, and quite a lot of people running and walking up. I did get a bit nervous as I was wearing a fairly worn pair of trainers, and not trail shoes, which meant that I had to be extra careful not to slip on the gravelly surface. I  had visions of falling and breaking my ankle – and not being able to complete my 12 half marathon challenge! I can’t risk that, so slow and steady … At the top the path is not that clear and I found myself scrambling up rocks to get to the absolute top. The views are amazing – you can see right across Edinburgh towards the Firth of Forth, and then round the other way across the Pentland Hills. Arthur’s Seat is formed from an extinct volcano, eroded by glacial movements. There are a whole lot of volcanic formations around here – Edinburgh Castle is also on the plug of an extinct volcano, also shaped by glacial erosion. 

That’s my shadow to prove I really was at the top! What a beautiful morning.

After catching my breath at the top, and taking some photos I set off back down – even more careful not to slip and fall!

I bought this cool bicycle cutter in Lakeland in Edinburgh. I have quite a collection of cutters…

Shortbread is traditional in Scotland, and we managed to eat it on more than one occasion! Once was actually in the café in the parliament building, and it was very nice. I’ve made shortbread lots of times using different recipes. The simpler the better in my opinion. The only thing that is very important is good unsalted butter. This recipe is from the BBC website – Lavender Shortbread Hearts. I wasn’t too keen on the idea of lavender bits in the dough though.  So I put lavender flowers in the sugar overnight and then sieved them out. Perhaps this wasn’t a good idea as when baked I would defy anyone to taste any lavender flavour at all! So if you want to actually taste the lavender then leave the flowers in! Some recipes use only flour, sugar and butter, but I think that a little rice flour adds bite and texture. The purists bake at low temperatures to avoid any colour on the biscuit. Personally I don’t mind a golden tint.

Just 3 of a vast collection!
A tin of shortbread biscuits – mmm yum!

We had a great time in Scotland including a lovely, windy walk along the beach between North Berwick and Gullane, and a boat trip along the Firth of Forth seeing the bridges (and spotting a few seals too). We also walked around the beautiful Botanic Gardens, which I would highly recommend if you are visiting Edinburgh.

The legendary Forth Bridge

Back at work this week, and gearing up for the next half marathon. No need to travel for this one – it’s the Ealing Half! #ealingfeeling

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