I had the good fortune to be in London on a Saturday recently with free time to roam and a friend to share the journey.
Highgate Cemetery called to us, and we answered.
It was a typical London afternoon, cool and foggy, with the subtle air of mystery and contained excitement that the city always holds for me – just perfect for roaming through this “garden cemetery” that was opened almost 180 years ago and is home to the remains of over 170,000. It was awesome.
I’ll share more about Highgate Cemetery on another day, with some of the best pictures, but for now, just a few images with a haiku to set the stage. I hope you’ll see why this beautiful, rambling and nature-lush landmark was so enchanting, and how we longed to know the stories of the dead and those who grieve them.
here lies…mysteries stone tablet forget-you-nots forest of secrets
Cemeteries always become center stage during the Halloween season, but I don’t understand how anyone could see this nature- and memory-preserve as spooky. While it is a monument to thousands of deaths, it speaks of peace and memories, and even life.
A recent trip to Scotland had many surprises, including a wonderful interlude with a couple of owls. Yes, owls. And no, it wasn’t on a walkabout in the verdant Scottish countryside – it was smack-dab in the middle of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile.
The beautiful and wise-looking creatures were surveying a small crowd outside of Gladstone’s Land, a museum run by the National Trust for Scotland.
The human handler for the owls looked wise, too, and shared stories and myths about them, which piqued my interest.
Back at home, curious, I realized that the only thing I knew about owls was that it really bugged my mom when a family of them made a nest in the rafters of our home at the beach when I was growing up (I thought it was kindof cool, but I didn’t have to deal with the situation). I did some Googling, and learned that owls have inspired myths and legends for centuries on several continents. Bad stuff like stealing babies, seeing into the darkness of the human soul, being a harbinger of death and doom … and good stuff, too, such as clairvoyance, bringing enlightenment and truth through dreams, symbolizing wisdom and strength. Looking at the closeup of one of the owls I met that day in Edinburgh, I can see why they’ve captured imaginations through the ages. There is an undeniable sense of mystery and knowing in those eyes, as though she actually could see right through our souls to the other side.
She-Owl: a Haiku
soaring through the skies holding secrets, truths and lies in amber-wise eyes
Arepas are a traditional bread from the native tribes of Venezuela that resembles both pita (in shape) and fried cornbread (in texture). I learned about them from a colleague when she brought them to our Breakfast Club at work last year (click here).
And Then Came the Edinburgh Farmers’ Market at Castle Terrace
A few weeks ago, I was in Edinburgh, Scotland, and there was a farmers’ market and street festival right in front of my hotel. Score! The smell of the arepas was amazing, although I was too full from lunch to enjoy them. I took loads of photos to share here in the blog, and of course I sent a few to my Venezuelan coworker. (Irritatingly, auto-correct changed “arepas” to “arenas”…I guess my iPhone thought it was smarter than I was.)
The Pleasant Peasant Tried Arepas and Now Calls Them His New Favorite Food
And now I’ve seen a marvelous post about arepas from another blogger I follow, who rolled up his sleeves and mastered the art of making them. Don’t those vegetarian arepas from The Pleasant Peasantlook great?! You can read all about his process and yummy vegetarian fillings via the link in the Resources section below; the photos are from his blog post.
I’m going to give arepas a try one day soon, and will share the results with you.
More to Come about the Edinburgh Experience
I haven’t done the Edinburgh Farmers’ Market in Castle Terrace justice with this post and will share more on another day. It is charming, and somehow you feel so connected to the past when shopping in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle. The city really knows how to blend the richness of its past with its present. There was also a jazz festival going on, and a palpable sense of celebration under the chilly gray Edinburgh sky.
In an Edinburgh pub that traces its history back to 1680, you can get a meal that is worthy of the ages. Simple, delicious, rich and filling, the Venison Casserole at The Ensign Ewart on the Royal Mile is … well … almost indescribable in its deliciousness.
On a chilly Thursday July evening (yes, you heard that right, the words “chilly” and “July” in the same sentence), three colleagues and I set out, rather wearily, to find dinner in Edinburgh. Just arrived from our first stop in Aberdeen, we were worn out and a teeny bit grumpy, still jet-lagged from our Monday-Tuesday international flight. We grumbled and stumbled down Edinburgh’s Royal Mile and it started to rain, so we ducked into the first open doorway, the Ensign Ewart pub.
The four of us joined in a collective sigh of relief: there was warmth, in a fireplace and the ambience, there was one table open for us, and we were out of the rain.
And then the food was a bonus! Three of us ordered the Venison Casserole. It made us happy, happy, happy. Steaming hot, a rich and savory blend of mash and roasted chopped venison, this dish was total comfort food. Our fourth member chose the Cheesy Garlic Bread, another stellar option.
After our meal, we sat, satiated and comfortable, and then heard the wonderful sound of violins warming up. A quick recon trip into the tiny pub’s front room revealed a trio of ladies who played and sang traditional Scottish music, and we were enchanted.
It’s the simple things: if you are in Edinburgh, go to the Ensign Ewart.
After a quick trip to Aberdeen, I’m ready to go back! It’s cool in a quirkly little way, and is nicknamed the “Granite City” for its ubiquitous gray buildings erected with stone from its quarry. The quarry was open for over 200 years and provided granite not only for Aberdeen, but for important buildings across Scotland and England. Perched on the North Sea coast, Aberdeen has been a maritime hub for ages, and now is a major oil and gas center.
Color and Culture Abound in this Authentic City
With its concentration of gray granite buildings and overcast, misty skies, Aberdeen could seem dull and monochromatic, but the spirit of the people provide tons of color, both literally and figuratively. There are flowers everywhere; Aberdeen has won the “Britain in Bloom” community gardening competition ten times since its inception in 1964, and it shows. And the colorful culture is evident in a plethora of public parks, museums, statues, festivals and live music in concert halls and barrooms. And here’s a statistic that is close to my heart: a study in The Scotsman found Aberdeen to have the lowest number of fast food joints per capita in the ten major Scottish cities reviewed. In other words, Aberdeen is authentic.
It’s Doric, Not Gaelic
The local dialect is known as Doric, and if you’re lucky, you’ll hear a few words from an Aberdonian, or see signs that use the dialect. Some of the words are easily recognizable to English speakers.
So, in authentic Aberdonian Doric:
Aberdeen, a’m gled tae meet ye!
Here are a few picture postcards of my day and a half in Aberdeen.
For another look at the Aberdeen night sky and the phenomenon called “nautical twilight”, click here.
That’s how I would characterize the outdoor food court at Waverly Mall in Edinburgh. Perched on the mall’s street-level “roof” above several floors of stores, the “Eats” area has a magnificent view of old-town Edinburgh. It feels like an upscale food truck park and bears no resemblance to the dismal dining areas you’ll find in most malls with their routine collection of fast-food chains. Hipsters and tourists alike soak up the local color and atmosphere here at a collection of umbrella-topped tables with comfy chairs.
Lively vendors in small booths present a range of options, from coastal fare such as freshly-shucked oysters, lobster and fish ‘n chips paired with to hearty land-based selections like venison hot dogs, grilled portobellos and giant burgers. Drinks booths provide locally brewed craft beers, surprisingly inexpensive (and good) champagne and a variety of coffees and flavored teas in addition to the standard soft drinks. You can mix and match your sips and bites from the different booths to create the perfect casual al fresco meal.
So that’s what we did. Our group of four was captivated by one of the burgers from Butcher Boy, the aptly-titled purveyor of grilled-onsite meats. The burger was called the Butcher Bad Boy. It was, indeed, a Baaaaad Boy. See for yourself from their description:
Candied bacon, cheddar cheese, sandwiched between two handmade patties, fried onions, and more cheese!!!!
Well, wouldn’t you? We did. The Butcher Bad Boy was a good burger, indeed. All four of us chose it, without consultation. It wasn’t necessary – we instinctively knew that this was the burger for us.
But back to that mixing and matching thing…we had a smoked salmon appetizer from one booth, our Bad Boy burgers from another, and our drinks from still another.
Burgers consumed, we turned to the view. The sun came out for a few minutes in cold and misty Edinburgh. Awesome blue sky!
The buildings were highlighted by the golden evening sunlight.
Foodie-worthy, hipster-appropriate, and with gorgeous views, too: I can highly recommend the Waverly Mall food court in Edinburgh.
Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook
~ with thanks to my colleagues for their marvelous company, their input on this post and their pictures ~