A Grand Day Out

Saturday was a dog and boy free day so we thought ‘ Wahay!’ I’ve been planning out next year in terms of shows, food faires etc. and had been told that this weekend the Foodies Festival in Edinburgh’s Inverleith park was on. We wanted to check it out and see if it was worth going to for next year, so off we toddled.


It was a surprisingly big event – both in terms of the number and variety of stalls, and in the number of people that came. A word of advice if you plan to go today, or next year – go early. I’m biased in that I don’t like crowds much, and at around the lunch mark you could hardly move! Heaving mass of bodies everywhere so we made our escape around then.

There was a surprising number of gin stalls…oh dear, too bad, never mind, what a pity! snigger….apparently it was gin o’clock quite early in the day for me!

IMG_4263I’ve seen this driving around recently so it caught my attention – as designed to do! It was pulling  a dinky little trailer which turns into…..

IMG_4264Ta dah! a gin cocktail bar!



IMG_4265 I just had to force myself to try the Lady Pickering – which I have to say was scrummy, slurp!

IMG_4266 The drink itself coyly hiding behind the array of spices and herbs that flavour the gin. I had a good talk about them which was very interesting.They do tours and tasting at the distillery  www.pickeringsgin.com

I was amazed at the number of booze, especially gin stands there were, here’s a quick review of some, not all by any means…

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We (me, he was restrained) staggered on buying a wide variety of cheeses, chorizo, olives until we were told firmly by a sign to…


And being relatively biddable people, we had to do what the sign said….:-)

There were a wonderful array of light, fluffy marshmallows from The Marshmallow Lady  (www.TheMarshmallowLady.com) so we had to try and buy some of them, the quote from Despicable Me comes to mind – “It’s so fluffy!”

This just whetted our sweet teeth so our sensible eating plan degenerated further with …

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Perfectly made, chewy on the inside, lovely flavours, though I could have done with the flavours being a bit stronger, though no website to order from, but he is in south of England, so you probably want local macaroons rather than being in the post. What you could order through the post is brownies – which he also does….and so does….

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Amazing GF brownie, scoffed already, oops!, a wide variety of normal brownies of varying flavours, and chocolate spread. This is something I’ve been thinking of making as an addition to hampers for Christmas and perhaps corporate hampers. What is interesting is that when I opened the jar to try it this morning, there was mold on it! Not so good, and with a sell by of end Oct I’d not expect that, though there is a high cream content in it. So this is something I’m going to tell them about, and something to be wary of myself if going down this route.

All the sweet stuff, I had to get my savoury mojo back, aided by…

IMG_4284 SeaVeg dried seaweeds.

Tees is a huge fan of Dulse, I suppose he is Irish after all! He bought a LARGE bag of Dulse, with my caveat that he wasn’t allowed to sit down and eat it like a packet of crisps! Which he would left to his own devices! I sampled their many other varieties and came away with a free bag of serrated wrack for skin care and small jars of all their dried, roasted seaweed seasonings. If you use a mix of red and green seaweed in your diet you cover all your trace mineral needs! No added salt, just seaweed.

IMG_4286 With my therapist hat on I recommend seaweed baths for skin conditions, or boiling it up for a gel that is better than your fancy expensive serums…

Taste buds refreshed by salty things we had to heal ourselves using Chinese medicine by tasting other things, next stop, chilli’s.

I’ve been trying to get a local chilli for my chilli bars but although Ceres has Chillilicious they don’t do ground chilli, which is really what I’m after. Unfortunately, none of the other 2 or 3 chilli producers did either. 😦

I loved the Chilli Bothy stall though

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And of course, reverted back to my alcoholic habits, and bought Chilli and Lime Gin! Haven’t  tried it yet, honest! Getting Chilli on my tongue is like coming home, perhaps because I convince myself that it’s helping my joints…so on that note the Chilli Lemonade had to be tried, Tees woosed out with a lovely tasting Lime Lemonade.IMG_4267 IMG_4268The Fresh Lemonade Company and my chilli lemonade, with yes, Scotch Bonnet Chilli floating around in there. They have their lovely tart proper old fashioned lemonade and add the extras, shake it up Martinin style, et voila!

We went ostensibly to see what the chocolate competition was doing, how it was faring, and to check out to see  if it’s worth our while going.

Charlotte Flowers was there and Fiona Sciolti, botanical chocolates. They were the only 2 remotely like us. In fact they were the only 2 chocolatiers, full stop.

Interestingly neither seemed to be particularly busy – but my mum, has always said people don’t buy chocolates when it’s hot ( I do, but then I’m a chocholic), and it was hot. Perhaps there is something in what she says – people buy choc to make them feel good, all those lovely chemicals in there, seratonin, theophylline, etc, and people feel good when the sun is out so they don’t need to buy choc to get that happy vibe.

Anyold hoo, I think it’s worth our while booking this for next year as it will raise our profile. Though I’ll be behind the stall and not having a great time tasting everyone else’s wares…. mixed feelings about that!

If you’re interested in going, there are some great talks and demos, but they are very oversubscribed – so prebook online if possible, or get there early and get your tickets in advance – the queues  were horrendous for the tickets! You have been warned…



Garden Reclamation

We’re being given a hand with the garden from a friend – at least from her eldest son (15) and one of his friends too. As she delicately put it – ” Jill, you need all the help you can get!” If I only I could be sure she was only talking about the garden 😉


I haven’t had much time to use the waste material for food/ herbal/dye experiments but there’s plenty of biomass of all the types still there to work with.

Plans are afoot to move ferrets and sheds to various places in the garden so we can put in another outbuilding that will house more choccy related stuff . As I’m travelling to the kitchen a lot it makes sense to bring it closer; it  avoids rent, reduces travelling time and fuel costs. The outhouse where the chocolate will go is already there but there’s not a lot of room in it and I’ve found that dehydrators and chocolate making don’t work well together, so the new ‘lodge’ will have wet stuff – oven,stove, dehydrators etc in it to prevent over heating and humidity issues with the chocs. At least that’s the plan….

So to work on garden, hacking, cutting, slashing, managing teenagers (deep sigh), actually, to be fair, the friend’s son is pretty good and reliable, the friend, mheh, not so much…

IMG_4252 Uncovering nice things loitering with lack of intent . I’d forgotten this was here!

IMG_4253 this area has a surprising amount of good quality raspberries in amongst the willowherb and nettles, so I plan to grow soft fruit here when it’s all done.


IMG_4251 Stumps still to be dug out but at least we can see where it is now, sans nettles. Sycamore are incredibly fast growers that latch onto any place to grow. Pests.


IMG_4254 Cleared area, just about ready for levelling. Bricks, hardcore and sand are now in bags there ready for a good flat base for the ferret cages – basically chicken coops – they have good bedding, hutch and run around space for them!

IMG_4256  IMG_4257 Snowberry gone completely riotous! All needs hacked back.

The area ( pictures above)is going to have a stair/decking/style arrangement so we can get into the top bit of garden. It’s all steep and built on a hill. My fantasy is permaculture based gardening schemes up here. It’s a mass of sycamore over the wall and if we took it out it would erode the hillside, so trying to think of ways of working with it…answers or ideas freely welcome!

It was very wet today so the boys decided not to come over – then it cleared up and I ventured out when it was drier – only to hurry back in less than an hour later with Cowdenbeath’s version of a tropical rainstorm. It has been very muggy and humid around here today.

IMG_4261 monsoon season!

More development to come – I really want the outhouse ready and yard cleared so we get the okay from health and hygiene – lots to still do, and I want to play with the plants and experiment re dyeing with them. What I’d like to do is to make a book out of the garden itself to chart it’s progress and the process…