AS: 2021 The Untied Kingdom? - the British thread 2021

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  • FirenzeFirenze Shipmate, Host Emeritus
    Snowless here, and even some feeblish sunshine.

    Moved by the sight of two bananas quietly blackening in the fruit bowl, I've just put a banana bread cake in the oven. However, the baking powder's been around for a while, so it may turn out to be banana pancake.
  • KarlLB wrote: »
    The alternatives to snow and ice in Winter are dull grey rain-laden skies.

    Embrace the cold.
    KarlLB wrote: »
    The alternatives to snow and ice in Winter are dull grey rain-laden skies.

    Embrace the cold.

    There's always the option of sunshine, temperatures above zero and a howling gale.

    Please may I be allowed to hibernate until about half-past May?
  • Today I had to have my car MOTed and serviced. In Inverness. When there is nowhere to go, nowhere to sit inside (the garage wasn't allowed to let me use their seating area). So I had a walk of about 2 and a half hours in the piercing cold and the blazing sun. Could have been a lot worse, though of course it would have been better if it were anywhere but Inverness. In the days when Tom Morton had a radio show based from there (that's going back a bit) he used to call it "Dolphin-sludge" which might be a bit unfair, but only a bit. The setting is lovely, the city - meh.
  • The only bit of Inverness I've been to is the railway station...as in getting on and off trains in order to go elsewhere...
    :wink:
  • Surely you got off to get on ... otherwise you'd have been starting your journey there?
  • daisydaisydaisydaisy Shipmate
    edited January 2021
    Interesting comments about Inverness as only this afternoon I’ve been looking at the possibility of a few days there in mid-May before joining a trip to Orkney for a week. I’d be using Inverness as a base, but now I’m wondering if I should go one where else instead (definitely on my wish list) and travel to Inverness just to meet the trip. I’ve been to B&Q in Inverness, that’s all.
  • Bishops FingerBishops Finger Shipmate
    edited January 2021
    Surely you got off to get on ... otherwise you'd have been starting your journey there?

    Yes - I didn't express myself very well. Let me see...

    Hmm...arrive early morning after overnight trip, get off train, get on early train for Far North.

    Return same day, join late evening train for southerly parts (Glasgow, eventually).

    Reach Kyle of Lochalsh a day later via Mallaig and steamer, catch afternoon train to Inverness. Ah-ha! I recall now, I stayed overnight in the Station Hotel, before catching the first train south on the following day...
  • ArethosemyfeetArethosemyfeet Shipmate
    edited January 2021
    I didn't mind Inverness, I have a nice set of cufflinks I bought there, but I've never stayed there more than overnight while travelling elsewhere (variously Ullapool for Stornoway, Golspie, Kinlochbervie, Plockton, and Gills Bay for multiple bits of Orkney). It does have the slight feel of a frontier town where you buy everything to put in your wagon before heading out on the Oregon trail.
  • @daisydaisy it would be a good place for a base. Seriously. It is just a place which has grown too fast. But from there you can go north or West or even South (to see me) or even East if you can bear that road or the slowness of that rail. All are worth getting to. The view across the Moray Firth as I drive over the hill before the descent into Inverness is always breathtaking.
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    KarlLB wrote: »
    The alternatives to snow and ice in Winter are dull grey rain-laden skies.

    Embrace the cold.

    There's always the option of sunshine, temperatures above zero and a howling gale.

    So it feels like it's -10. It might as well be cold as feel cold.
  • Inverness is, of course, known for supplying virgins in multiples of the dozen.
  • BoogieBoogie Heaven Host
    All I can say is brrrrrrrr! 🥶 🧊 ❄️
  • Well, Covid did not shut down Sheffield but the snow did better. Today we found multiple coffee sellers closed even Greggs.
  • Probably just as well - drinking coffee is now Against The Law, isn't it?
  • As far as I'm concerned, Inverness is a good place to get fuel at relatively lower prices on the way out to the Islands. And being about 3-3.5hrs north of here, a sensible place to get both fuel and lunch on the way up to Ullapool, to visit afore-mentioned Islands... One of these days I may stop a little longer. (Though I have had breakfast in the Station Hotel - off the overnight sleeper, before going out to Kyle of Lochalsh. )
  • Not sure if I had breakfast at the Station Hotel, but at some point during a similar railway holiday week in the following year, I partook of that meal in the dining car of the morning train from Glasgow to Oban.

    The KIPPERS were huge, and delicious. The TOAST was just the right shade of brown, the MARMALADE was tangy and sweet at one and the same time, and the COFFEE was strong and black...with more T, M, and C available on request.
    :grin:
  • Not sure if I had breakfast at the Station Hotel, but at some point during a similar railway holiday week in the following year, I partook of that meal in the dining car of the morning train from Glasgow to Oban.

    The KIPPERS were huge, and delicious. The TOAST was just the right shade of brown, the MARMALADE was tangy and sweet at one and the same time, and the COFFEE was strong and black...with more T, M, and C available on request.
    :grin:

    The modern Glasgow-Oban service is not nearly so salubrious (though your description does recall to me the one occasion when I did smell fish on a train, and it was not in fact fish but an electrical fire). It is, however, preferable to the coach service linking the two. :nauseous:
  • PigletPiglet All Saints Host, Circus Host
    Declaration of interest: I was born in Inverness.

    I was only there for six weeks (I was a preemie, and Mum had to leave me in the SCBU until I was big enough to go home).

    I actually think it's a rather pretty place, and it also has the dubious honour of being where David and I bought our wedding rings (on the way back to Orkney, and nearly causing us to miss the ferry).
    I'm Rather Cross with Lothian Buses (again). I got out of work a little early, and as it was still light when I got into town, I decided to go to their Transport Hub on Waverley Bridge to get a season ticket. According to their web-site, it would be open until 6 o'clock, but they were telling porkies - it's closed Because Of The Situation. How hard would it have been for them to put that on their site?

    And what makes them think that getting a season ticket for the bus isn't essential? There were notices directing you to their web-site, but having looked at it before for the same purpose, it looks like a right faff.

    At least it was a nice day.
  • Not sure if I had breakfast at the Station Hotel, but at some point during a similar railway holiday week in the following year, I partook of that meal in the dining car of the morning train from Glasgow to Oban.

    The KIPPERS were huge, and delicious. The TOAST was just the right shade of brown, the MARMALADE was tangy and sweet at one and the same time, and the COFFEE was strong and black...with more T, M, and C available on request.
    :grin:

    The modern Glasgow-Oban service is not nearly so salubrious (though your description does recall to me the one occasion when I did smell fish on a train, and it was not in fact fish but an electrical fire). It is, however, preferable to the coach service linking the two. :nauseous:

    I can well believe it. My journey took place in 1973 or 1974, when much of the steam-age infrastructure was still in place (the trains were hauled by diesels, of course). That morning train was, IIRC, delayed somewhat en route by a dilatory goods train ahead of us...
  • daisydaisydaisydaisy Shipmate
    edited January 2021
    .... It does have the slight feel of a frontier town where you buy everything to put in your wagon before heading out on the Oregon trail.
    When I asked the BnQ store manager why his shelves were rather depleted he told me they had been raided the previous day by the menfolk of a remote area who were on their 6 monthly coach trip to restock - the womenfolk would clear out MnS.
    Piglet wrote: »
    Declaration of interest: I was born in Inverness.

    I was only there for six weeks (I was a preemie, and Mum had to leave me in the SCBU until I was big enough to go home).

    I actually think it's a rather pretty place, and it also has the dubious honour of being where David and I bought our wedding rings (on the way back to Orkney, and nearly causing us to miss the ferry).
    I'll remember you both when I visit.
  • daisydaisy wrote: »
    .... It does have the slight feel of a frontier town where you buy everything to put in your wagon before heading out on the Oregon trail.
    When I asked the BnQ store manager why his shelves were rather depleted he told me they had been raided the previous day by the menfolk of a remote area who were on their 6 monthly coach trip to restock - the womenfolk would clear out MnS.

    Aye, sounds about right. Though round here you take a van down to Glasgow and load it so full the wheel arches are scraping the tyres and you hope they don't ask you to drive on the weighbridge.
  • I've been to Inverness only once, very briefly. It seemed a nice enough place, and I didn't understand why it seemed to have a poor reputation in the rest of Scotland. Could anyone explain this to me? My great grandfather (who left for Canada) and great great grandfather were blacksmiths there.
  • It is 36 years since we were last in Inverness, on a driving holiday including a visit to our cousins in Dunfermline. We seemed even then to have a certain skill in inadvertently planning our itinerary to clash with other events, in this case a visit by the Queen to open the tower block at the hospital. Consequently movement around the city was a little restricted, mainly by the assembled crowds. Our then 3 year-old son quite enjoyed the view of Britannia and the destroyer escort anchored in Moray Firth. The following day we were off down the Great Glen on the road to Skye.
  • You would be in the town centre, which is fine, better than it was now that the castle and town hall have been restored. The river Ness and the Ness islands is the best part of the place. But the town centre is a tiny part of the city, which has grown too quickly. Also the rest of the Highlands suspects Inverness as the seat of the Highland Council, which, so the story goes (not entirely true, but a persistent myth) forgets that the Highlands is far bigger than Inverness and nowhere else is urban.
  • I’ll be hiring a car for 4 days so will also wander further afield.
  • Cathscats wrote: »
    You would be in the town centre, which is fine, better than it was now that the castle and town hall have been restored. The river Ness and the Ness islands is the best part of the place. But the town centre is a tiny part of the city, which has grown too quickly. Also the rest of the Highlands suspects Inverness as the seat of the Highland Council, which, so the story goes (not entirely true, but a persistent myth) forgets that the Highlands is far bigger than Inverness and nowhere else is urban.

    The irony, of course, is that looking over the border/water from Argyll, Highland seem to be the ones who have their shit together.
  • We were there as a family once, which I recall involved a big Boys Brigade do (my father had a long attachment to that organisation), of which all I remember is that pipe bands do not belong in low ceilinged halls.
    I also had an unplanned coach visit when the cruise ship stopped at Invergordon instead of somewhere else that I wanted to be, and was able to replace the lens cap which dropped down the lift shaft on the ship, and pick up some nice things from the Edinburgh Woollen Mills outlet.
  • I once organised a ringing tour of Scotland, and sat on a bench in the ringing chamber at Inverness Cathedral. When I stood up I found that the concrete lintel immediately above the bench was somewhat lower than my head. I spent the rest of the day in an irrationally foul mood - so I think I actually concussed myself.

    Apart from that, it seemed quite a nice place.
  • Brief snow this morning, so pretty in the Forest albeit damp. Not a lot left now, but we got a beautiful daily exercise walk.

    We spent a day in Inverness a few years back, travelled up on the sleeper which meant we were in too late to catch the Thurso train on the Far North line in time to get to Stromness and on to Kirkwall in one day. We planned to spend the day exploring Inverness. I'm not sure why we didn't have the Treasure Trail, unless it hadn't been published then. It was a long day walking round trying to find things to see as the town centre is not big and the youth hostel where we planned to stay didn't open for booking in until 5:30pm at the time. The return journey meant we got into Inverness in the evening and left early in the morning to head south (my daughter) back to work and west to Aberdeen (me). I certainly had the Treasure Trail for Aberdeen.

    I can vouch for the Glasgow-Oban service having changed radically in the intervening years. My first visit to Skye in the 1970s was on that route (to Mallaig, but the train divides at Crianlarich) and then again more recently. The first time there such luxuries as the sightseeing coach - to which we directed the loudly enthusiastic American tourist taking pictures through windows (and undoubtedly wasting much film).

    Certainly in winter there is no cafe on Crianlarich platform; one time we were staying in Oban and travelled to Mallaig for the day, changing there (and posted some Ship mugs out to someone). Although that might have also been the weather, it was so snowy the conductor was manually operating the signals on Rannoch Moor. That trip I'm not sure there was the usual trolley service on the train.

    It's still massively better than the bus, which I've also used to travel to Skye, when the break at Fort William to stretch legs is essential. (We were travelling to Portree and the bus didn't meet the trains to travel any other way.)
  • DardaDarda Shipmate
    Last time we were in Inverness was to watch Runrig. Walking by the river before the concert we met Malcolm Jones who was kind enough to chat for a few minutes. He was probably trying to take some "down time" before the gig started.
  • MMMMMM Shipmate
    I love Treasure Trails! We’ve had some lovely days out with friends/family doing them (back in the dear dead days beyond recall when we were allowed to do such things - in fact, the last one would have been last February sometime, when we didn’t finish one in Norwich, because we were getting too cold - blithely saying we would meet again in the spring to complete it).

    We did one once all around where I had worked for the best part of 25 years, and still saw loads of things I didn’t know about!

    MMM
  • I am pretty sure that the reason we didn't have the Treasure Trail for Inverness was because it wasn't available in the Tourist Information Centre, which was where we were mostly sourcing them, and certainly where I bought the Aberdeen version. I suspect that it's that trip that triggered me into buying them in advance before visiting a new place.
  • PigletPiglet All Saints Host, Circus Host
    It's really quite a nice day here; intermittently sunny and 8°. I took a wee stroll along to the corner shop to get orange juice and butter, and on the way back dropped into Fork Handles to get some more tea-lights and the butcher's to get a steak for supper and a lamb shank to go into the freezer for another day.

    I had a nice brunch of scrambled eggs, smoked salmon, half an avocado and TOAST; laundry will ensue forthwith.

    I also had a lovely face-time chat with my niece and Rosie, who's four months old and getting cuter by the minute. :heart:
  • Piglet wrote: »
    It's really quite a nice day here; intermittently sunny and 8°.

    But with a cold wind at slightly higher altitudes
  • PigletPiglet All Saints Host, Circus Host
    Indeed - there is A Bit Of A Breeze.
    You know that lockdown is beginning to get to you when the highlight of your day is not having to wait for the communal tumble-dryer. :grimace:
  • After a call to 111 I had a pleasant trip into an almost empty town to collect more antibiotics for another cat bite. At a tiny market (2 stalls rather than the usual 5 or 6) I bought a pasty for lunch, quite a treat nowadays when I usually forage at the allotment or in the freezer.
  • MiffyMiffy Shipmate
    Piglet wrote: »
    Indeed - there is A Bit Of A Breeze.
    You know that lockdown is beginning to get to you when the highlight of your day is not having to wait for the communal tumble-dryer. :grimace:

    The highlight for me today has been ordering a new microwave. 🤨

  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    edited January 2021
    daisydaisy wrote: »
    After a call to 111 I had a pleasant trip into an almost empty town to collect more antibiotics for another cat bite.

    You need to feed that animal.

  • la vie en rougela vie en rouge Purgatory Host, Circus Host
    Hurrah! It snowed today! That was the first time in almost three years. It didn't settle, though, and it's mostly gone now.
  • No sn*w here. Just cold, cold rain...though it's been sunny-ish this afternoon, and more of the same is promised tomorrow.
    :smile:

    There are TWO (yes, TWO!) highlights in my lockdown week, Pilates (via Zoom) on Tuesdays, and a live organ recital (via YouTube) from the Netherlands on Thursdays.
    :open_mouth:
  • TheOrganistTheOrganist Shipmate
    edited January 2021
    I bit the bullet and ironed the bedlinen with half an eye on Audrey Heoburn and Peter Finch in The Nun's Story.

    A mooch around the garden before coming back in to prep vegetables for dinner - venison steaks*, broccoli and cauliflower au gratin, new potatoes, to be followed by mixed fruit# crumble and ice cream.

    * thank you Reduced cabinet
    # amalgamated small amount from the freezer
  • NenyaNenya All Saints Host, Ecclesiantics & MW Host
    We did some very necessary and rather overdue Life Admin this morning, had a walk and have been home based this afternoon with Zoomy meetings. I started 2020 with bullet journalling which developed over the year into creative journalling which I much enjoy and have been doing some of this afternoon.

    Stir fry and red wine for tea, as it's Saturday. :smile:
  • PigletPiglet All Saints Host, Circus Host
    I'll be right over ... :mrgreen:

    Actually, I'm just mooching about on here while my steak marinates; I'll start cooking in a jiffy.

    Accompaniments will be new potatoes, fried mushrooms and broccoli and green beans with lemon juice, olive oil and pepper.

    And a glass or two of WINE, obviously. :smiley:
  • FirenzeFirenze Shipmate, Host Emeritus
    Steak Mirabeau chez nous.

    After a birl round Waitrose this morning, came away with a marked down pork loin roast for tomorrow, and for The Birthday a pheasant which I mean to do with bacon and black pudding and my favourite thing with potatoes - thinly sliced, tossed in oil and herbs and then roasted in little stacks.
  • PigletPiglet All Saints Host, Circus Host
    Sounds good!

    I'm still learning about cooking steaks (it was David's province when he was alive, and though he didn't really like them himself, he could cook them just the way I liked them).

    Tonight I cooked it in a mixture of oil and butter, heated until foaming, but I think I let it sear for too long: whenever I turned it, the underside was rather cremated (even though I'd lowered the heat). The inside was actually OK - a little more well-done than I'd have liked, but quite flavoursome all the same. I will get it right one day - it was better than my last effort.

    Now relaxing with some Morangie Brie (not sure that I can taste the alleged whisky, but very nice all the same), with Orkney oatcakes, some nuts and raisins and another glass of red.

    Slāinte! :)
  • Slāinte! to you, too.

    I've just had a nice European* snack - Nairn's oatcakes (from Embra, it sez on the box), some Old Amsterdam Gouda CHEESE (from The Netherlands), and my favourite Cotes du Rhone red WINE (from France).

    *Yes, I know - Scotland is temporarily out of the EU, but I still think of it as a European country.
  • @Piglet I prefer my steak flattened out and then flash fried, but if you want thicker this seems to work (I got this from a Gordon Ramsay programme years ago).

    Take meat out of 'fridge half-an-hour before you want to eat. Use that time to get your vegetables/salad ready.

    Season steak, rubbing it into meat, meanwhile heat the pan until it is almost smoking, then add a glug of olive oil.
    Lay steak into pan, leave for 1 minute. Turn for another minute. Angle pan slightly and place meat on it's edge for 1 minute. Meat shoul now be sealed, and if you like your steak blue you're good-to-go now.

    Otherwise give it 1 minute more on each side for rare, another minute each side should be medium, yet another minute per side should be well done.

    I add a little butter and crushed garlic to the pan after the first two sides have sealed.

    This works for beef, lamb and venison.

    Bon appetit!
  • I usually either work or study on Saturday morning but I taught 2 evenings last week so took a break today.
    Light sleet here first thing which settled on drizzle later so I had a damp walk this morning. But it cheered up in the afternoon so we were in the garden putting up the new table and 3 benches (made with sleepers) and a side table for barbecue prep. Our new outdoor dining area is ready for warmer weather, and maybe eventually some guests.
  • PigletPiglet All Saints Host, Circus Host
    Thanks, @TheOrganist - I'll try it that way next time.

    It had been out of the fridge for a while anyway; I marinated it for a couple of hours in wine, olive oil, mustard, garlic, herbs and a splash of lemon juice.
  • SarasaSarasa All Saints Host
    As a vegan I obviously don't eat steak, but it's one of the few meaty things I miss. I'd love a glass of wine or two but we're sticking to our dry January plan.
    A wet day today, not the snow we thought we might get. We did a brisk walk this morning and a tough exercise video this afternoon. Then while husband got dinner together (salad, flatbread and baba ghanoush) I joined in an on-line service for Peace Sunday. It was more thought provoking than I thought it might be, and made me realise how insular I've become in this current lockdown. I feel a belated New Year's resolution or two coming on.
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