It’s World Curlew Day today! And why do you need to know this? Well, apart from the fact that they are my favourite birds, they are struggling to survive. The UK has seen a 65% decline in curlews since 1970, and half of this has occurred in the last 20 years. They were once a … More Chocolate orange cake – and World Curlew Day
Over the last few weeks the garden has really come to life. The daffodils are out, leaves are appearing on the trees and the birds are singing. After a long, cold winter with lots of snow, the days are getting longer and warmer. Lockdown is easing and I’ve managed to get back swimming in the … More Easy ginger cake – and spring!
I think we have been able to see snow on the hills to the south of Edinburgh since New Year. This last week has been school half term and there has been plenty of snow to keep the kids entertained – we have been dodging enthusiastic sledgers on our daily walks….. I don’t think … More Ginger and lime cake – and will it ever stop snowing?
It has turned into a proper winter – snow, ice and cold wet weather. It seems some years since we have had this amount of snow. We are lucky enough to live a short walk from open spaces with lovely views over the city, the Firth of Forth and Fife – enabling us to easily … More Raspberry and white chocolate cake – and snow!
Although the announcement of the successful development of COVID-19 vaccines has brought hope that there may be an end in sight, we have some way to go. I think we will be meeting our family and friends virtually for some time at least. Mr McGregor and I have recently (rather belatedly) started watching the British … More Pear and ginger cake – and Zoom ‘Taskmaster’
Being unable to swim at the pool with my club because of current local coronavirus rules has encouraged me to do more open water swimming. Luckily, some outdoor sports are still allowed (with appropriate social distancing) and there is plenty of room in the North Sea! I’ve swum in Northumberland at dawn – I have … More Pistachio and white chocolate cake – and swimming in November
We are now in the 13th week of lockdown (or thereabouts) and although there has been some loosening of restrictions in Scotland, we still have a long way to go to get back to whatever the new normal will be. I’ve been particularly drawn to reading about nature and the outside world, maybe because we … More Jaffa cake cake – and some reading
Mr McGregor and I like our porridge in the morning. With that in mind I ordered some of our favourite Mornflake porridge oats directly from the mill in South Cheshire shortly after the start of lockdown. Since there has been a shortage of flour in the shops I also ordered some oat bran to use … More Raspberry, almond and oat bran muffins – and the benefits of oat bran
I hope all of you are doing OK during the lockdown, wherever you are. We feel so lucky to be able to spend time in our garden, where the plants are really moving on. There is lots of blossom….. beautiful tulips and the acer looks lovely clothed in bright green spring leaves The broad beans … More Plum and orange cake – and virtual birthdays
Mr McGregor and I have often thought that we should get a veg box delivered to supplement what we grow in the garden. Being in lockdown, with the supermarket shelves stripped bare, it seemed like a good time to start. Of course, everyone else seems to have thought the same and our local veg box … More Ginger spiced plum cake – and veg boxes
It’s difficult to comprehend what’s been going on with the world in the what, three weeks since my last post? We are in lockdown, staying at home as much as possible. I have learnt to use various new (to me) forms of social media so that we can stay in touch with family and friends. … More Raspberry and coconut cake – and unsettling times
I’m not sure what the difference is between muffins and cupcakes to be honest (size? shape? contents?). These little cakes could be either but who cares, when they taste this good? I found a bar of white cooking chocolate in the cupboard that I must have bought for another purpose so I used it here. … More Banana, white chocolate and cranberry muffins
Last weekend I met up with some friends in the Peak District. We had planned to have a day walking and then spend an evening in a local Inn. Then Storm Dennis arrived. Wikipedia tells me that Storm Dennis was a ‘European windstorm which became one of the most intense extratropical cyclones ever recorded ever recorded, reaching a … More Blood orange cake – and a winter storm
If you asked me how many books I read in a year, I’d probably say ‘about 20’. I thought I’d keep a list of what I’ve read (and another list of books to be read….) and I’m quite surprised to find I’ve already read four so far this month. I suppose it is likely to … More Blackberry spelt muffins – and a couple more book recommendations
I’ve promised some book recommendations to a couple of my friends who have absolutely loved The Salt Path which I mentioned in this post. So here you are ladies – firstly, All Among the Barley by Melissa Harrison is an amazing read. Set in East Anglia in 1933, it is incredibly atmospheric and very, very … More Apple, ginger and cranberry cake – and some book recommendations…
Wow, it’s 2020 already. How did that happen? I started the decade with a sunrise swim which lasted, oh, seconds at least… We’ve managed some beautiful walks over the holidays – it has been cold, but crisp and clear. On days like this, Edinburgh is even more beautiful than usual – this is a view … More Not-so-healthy ginger cake – and welcoming a new decade
I haven’t posted for ages. There are a few cakes to share with you so here’s one I made this weekend. It doesn’t look much, but it is lovely, I promise. Mr McGregor complains that he doesn’t like ‘carrot cake’, but he has seen this one off. This is a modified version of Harry Eastwood’s … More Orange and saffron cake (dairy free +/- gluten free)
I haven’t posted for ages. I’d like to pretend it was because I was doing too much other interesting stuff, but I just got out of the habit….. of writing, not baking, obviously. So here’s a garden update and a new recipe. The weather has been decidedly odd this year, but I guess this unpredictability … More Chocolate, pistachio and courgette cake (gluten and dairy free) – and a funny summer for the garden
We spent this weekend with friends in Lancashire – mainly as I wanted to visit Printfest, held in the lovely town of Ulverston in the South Lakeland district of Cumbria. Printfest brings together printmakers from all over the UK and is ‘dedicated to the exhibition and sale of contemporary hand-made prints’. I really enjoyed looking … More Spelt, apricot and ginger rock cakes – and Printfest 2019
It has been a lovely easter weekend in Edinburgh – warm enough for us to sit out in t-shirts……. I spent some time with ‘She is Fierce: Brave, Bold and Beautiful Poems by Women’ – an anthology collated by Ana Sampson. It contains poems by very diverse poets, ancient and modern, names I know and … More Apple fruity tea loaf – and spring in the garden
I love sourdough bread, but thought for a long time that making it would be an incredibly arduous process that I would never fit in around work etc. I also worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep the sourdough starter alive, or that it would grow and grow take over the whole kitchen. How … More Gluten free rhubarb and almond cake – and experimenting with sourdough
We’ve just had a very relaxing week in Northumberland. Spring was very definitely in the air and the weather was relatively kind. Relaxing for us means lots of being outside walking and we managed a good few days outside. A good brisk walk or a run always makes me feel better, no matter the weather … More Red grape cake – and The Salt Path….
As a child I used to draw and paint happily and unselfconsciously – I imagine my mum still has loads of my old scribbles stored away in the loft. I recently found one picture of a fairground that I can remember drawing – looking at it I am immediately back as the 6-year-old me, sat … More The perfect gluten free ginger cake? – and doing some ‘art’ again
Many people suffer from seasonal mood variations and for some this can be a severe problem. I’m sure you will be aware of the term Seasonal Affective Disorder – a type of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern. Over Christmas I read ‘The light in the dark‘ by Horatio Clare, who has seasonal … More Banana and Cardamon – and 50th birthday parties #50in50
You may have seen the recent news reporting that around 90% of us are not eating enough fibre. This has come after the publication of a paper published by Andrew Reynolds and colleagues in The Lancet medical journal, which sadly is not freely available to all, even though it was commissioned by the World Health … More Vegan banana and chocolate cake – and we should be talking about fibre
It’s 2019 then! How did that happen? I’m back to work tomorrow after a Christmas and New Year break (thankfully, Scotland has an extra public holiday on 2nd January just to allow us to ease into the New Year a little more slowly). We spent Christmas in Northumberland where I managed a Christmas Day swim … More Gluten and dairy free carrot cake – and some reflections on 2018….
One of my aims for #50in50 was to spend more time with friends and I recently spent a weekend with a group of girls I have known for many years. We spent a day walking – fortified by a large number of snacks – and although the weather forecast for the weekend was terrible, we … More Apple and Blackberry Loaf – youth hostels, ballet and a mighty fine pie
Mr McGregor and I are just home after a wonderful weekend staying with friends in Lancashire. Our friend John owns a magic beer-making contraption known as a Grainfather, and needed to brew his Christmas Ale. Mr McGregor was a very willing helper in this endeavour and was delighted to donate his own hops. A very happy … More Apple muffins – and all things woolly at Yarndale #50in50
Up until a year or two ago, Mr McGregor insisted that there was no point growing courgettes as ‘they don’t taste of anything’. Thankfully he has seen the error of his ways and now grows a couple of courgette plants in pots. This year we have had a really good courgette crop and I’ve been … More Courgette and smoked salmon tart – and another book recommendation
Since Mr McGregor doesn’t actually read my blog (he just eats the cakes), I feel free to admit that I have recently bought quite a few new books. Looking at them now, they are all by women and mostly involve nature writing. Reading more books written by women wasn’t originally on my #50in50 list, but … More Blackberry and apple muffins – and exploring women’s writing #50in50
A couple of years ago I rediscovered my love of swimming. I used to swim a lot as a child – we had swimming lessons at our local pool on a Saturday morning and my brother and I spent hours in the (very cold) sea every year when we had our family holidays in Wales … More Gluten free carrot cake – and open water swimming #50in50
One of the things I wanted to do as part of my #50in50 challenge was to climb The Cheviot – the highest hill in the Cheviot Hills, which straddle the English-Scottish border. We must have driven past this range of hills hundreds of times on our way driving north or south, but I’d never walked … More Lemon mascarpone sandwich cake – and climbing The Cheviot #50in50
I am not the only one with a 50th birthday this year – many of my friends are also reaching their half century. One of them decided to celebrate hers by gathering a group of us together at a music festival – ‘Let’s Rock Bristol – The Retro Festival’. Mr McGregor and I travelled to … More Rhubarb and almond cake – and music festivals #50in50
Edinburgh really is a beautiful city, but being on the east coast it is prone to the haar sweeping in to spoil a beautiful late spring or summer day. Haar (variations include har, hare, harl, harr) is also known as sea fret or sea fog and tends to plague the east coast of Scotland and England, particularly … More Banana bread with walnuts – and the haar….
I am really enjoying this spring, it somehow seems more vibrant and alive – the colours seem so bright and fresh and everything in the garden is shooting up suddenly. I wonder if everything really is happening very quickly after such a long winter, or if I am just enjoying it more because the bad … More Apricot and almond cake with rosewater and cardamom (gluten free) – and spring is here at last!
So far, being 50 has been lots of fun….. I can highly recommend it. This weekend I had two treats. My lovely friend Wendy had a arranged a surprise trip to the brilliant Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh on Saturday lunchtime for ‘A Play, a Pie and a Pint’. What a great idea – a decent … More Apple and date cake – and birthday treats #50in50
I haven’t posted for a while – Mr McGregor and I have been doing some decorating and re-organisation and there has been no time to think up new cakes. I have spent a few happy, if dusty hours sorting ‘things’ I had stored in the eaves of our house. Much of it was, of course, … More Lemon and almond cake – and ‘my first jumper’ #50in50
Well, winter has returned with a vengeance! We haven’t seen snow like this for years and as usual, everyone is totally unprepared and the country has shut down…. Although the garden looks very pretty, the Scottish weather may finally have got the better of our little olive tree The sprouts still look OK though…. One … More Pistachio and almond cake – and knitting my first jumper #50in50
Lately, I’ve been putting spelt flour into my home-made bread. Much as I would love to have the time to make my bread by hand – and to live in a house which is warm enough for it to rise consistently – I have a breadmaker which is quick and very reliable. Spelt (Triticum spelta; … More Spelt, apple and cinnamon cake
The first musical instrument I learnt to play was the recorder. I think a group of us used to play recorders to accompany hymns in our primary school assembly. Listening to a group of small girls tooting and squeaking away must have been particularly delightful for our fellow pupils. Having said this, I heard a … More Apricot and almond cake – and Irish jigs #50in50