Archive for February, 2010

Leeks are still at their seasonal best in February and March, so should be locally available and full of flavour.  Try this yummy recipe and enjoy some warm, nutritious comfort food to keep those winter blues away. 


4 medium leeks
3 large floury potatoes
olive oil
75 cL vegetable stock
25 cL milk
Salt and pepper

Please remember to cook leeks before eating!


  1. Peel the leeks and potatoes and chop
  2. Fry the leeks in a dash of olive oil until soft
  3. Add in the potatoes, plus a pinch of salt and pepper and mix well
  4. Heat through gently for a few minutes
  5. Add the stock and milk, turn up the heat and simmer for around 25 minutes until the potatoes are cooked
  6. Allow the soup to cool a little
  7. Blend until smooth
  8. Add a little more water if required for your desired consistency
  9. Serve with a teaspoon of cream drizzled on the top along with a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds



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There is lots to do in Edinburgh during March.  A brief selection of ideas are listed here and more information is available in our calendar which you can access here.

Edinburgh Playhouse – The Russian State Ballet of Siberia

The Russian State Ballet of Siberia are performing at the Edinburgh Playhouse from 2nd until 6th March.  Performances include Giselle, Swan Lake and The Nutcracker.

Formed in 1981, the Russian State Ballet of Siberia has quickly established itself as one of Russia’s leading ballet companies and has built an international reputation for producing performances of outstanding quality and unusual depth. The performers delight audiences with their breathtaking physical ability and dazzling costumes.

Edinburgh Playhouse – Whistle Down the Wind

From 15th to 20th March the playhouse will be host to Bill Kenwright’s critically acclaimed production of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Jim Steinman’s Whistle Down the Wind.  Inspiring and uplifting in equal measure be prepared to be captivated and moved by this lovely tale.

Scottish Chamber Orchestra

The Scottish Chamber Orchestra is performing on 20 March 2010 at 19:30 in the Queen’s Hall.   They will perform Prokofiev Symphony No 1 ‘Classical’ (15′), Mozart Piano Concerto in Bflat, K595 (32′) and Haydn Symphony No 92 ‘Oxford’ (28′).  Okko Kamu is the Conductor, Steven Osborne will play Piano.

Laurel and Hardy

Laurel and Hardy by Tom McGrath is on at Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh on 26th and 27th March at 7.30 pm.  A treat for fans of this comic duo, the play includes slapstick, music and some of their best comedy routines.

The Secret of Sherlock Holmes

From Tuesday 30th March until Sat 3rd April the Kings Theatre presents the Secret of Sherlock Holmes.  Starring Peter Egan and Philip Franks, prepare yourselves for a journey into the mind of the greatest detective of all time!  Evening performances are at 7.30pm with matinees on Wednesday & Saturday at 2.30 pm

Bird Watching at Roslin Glen
For anyone interested in birds, there is a group visit  to Roslin Glen on 31st March
Meet in the main car park at 10 am.  The trip is free.
Roslin Glen is a native oakwood in a steep-sided glen that has remained fairly untouched. The mixed deciduous woodland has over 200 species of flowering plants, 60 species of breeding birds and a rich lichen flora. The reserve is part of the Roslin Glen SSSI designated for its broad-leaved woodland.
For more information telephone 0131 652 0308 or e-mail: alan_gracie@hotmail.com
For accommodation in Edinburgh visit www.edinburghselfcatering.org

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Cycling or walking over the Forth Road Bridge is a great thrill. Between the two bridges (road and rail) is the pretty coastal village of Queensferry which is worth a visit in itself for it’s sea front, habour areas, sailing school, museum and various galleries,shops, cafe’s and restaurants.

From Queensferry you can take boat trips –  for example to the Isle of May  which has a large colony of seals and is a popular destination for  bird spotting. Hopetoun and Dalmeny Houses  are nearby – both are open to the public.  Incholm island lies close to the rail bridge – interesting for its fortifications built for protecting Rosythe during the world wars.

In Edinburgh there are excellent cycling routes, often on disused railway routes, and you can get from the centre of the city out to the Forth Bridges avoiding most of the busy roads. Here are some photos from a ride I did recently. I took the roads for the sake of speed, only having 2 hours to spare. 

My route took me along London Rd on to Leith Walk and then on to Queen Street; through Ainslie Place and Randolph Crescent on to Queensferry St/ A90. I stopped on Dean Bridge, crossing the Water of Leith (which has an excellent walkway with access to the Modern Art Museum, Stockbridge and the Botanic Gardens). Here I took the first few photos shown below. I continued on the Queensferry Rd (A 90) as far as Burnshot Wood, where a cycle route takes you along the B924, past Dalmeny House and down into South Queensferry beneath the Rail Bridge. To get onto the road bridge I continued along the Hopetoun Rd until it runs beneath the bridge and there is a foot/bicycle access up to the bridge from this point. Distance of the round trip is about 25 miles.

Cycle routes and links to other information about possible activities can be found on the activities page of  the apartment website.










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Pancakes are made the world over, with every culture adding their own regional flavour.  Try our delicious Scottish recipe, and for a real highland twist, why not substitute a third of the flour for rolled oats. ..And for a fruity alternative throw in a handful of raisens before cooking the batter.

Lovely for breakfast, dessert or afternoon tea, eat with your favourite accompaniment.  I find them totally yummy served with a drizzle of maple syrup.  ….Alternatively you could try a handful of red berries and some Greek yoghurt, or vanilla ice cream.


125g flour
1½ tsp baking powder
1 egg
300ml milk
1 tbsp golden caster sugar




  1. Put the flour, baking powder, egg, milk and sugar in a large bowl and whisk together
  2. Heat a non-stick frying pan, add a little butter and pour in a small amount of batter
  3. Once the top of the pancake has bubbled and set, turn over with a palette knife and cook on the other side
  4. Repeat until you have enough pancakes 
  5. Stack the pancakes in a pile, serve and devour!

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“We are what we think.  All that we are arises with our thoughts.  With our thoughts we make the world….”  The Buddha



“Buddha”  means “one who is awake” . Many people find  Buddhism to be a pathway through spiritual practice and development towards greater awareness. 

Buddhist teaching and practices such as meditation help to develop one’s capacity for mindfulness, non-judgemental awareness, loving kindness …. and ultimately wisdom. 

 Buddhism in Edinburgh

There are a number of Buddhist groups meeting in Edinburgh. Here are just a few ideas of what’s on. 

Edinburgh Buddhist Centre

Located in Melville Terrace, the centre runs a range of activities from lunch time meditation classes to introductory Buddhism courses and mindfulness workshops.  It also has its own bookshop and a lovely shrine room. 

The centre welcomes beginners as well as more experienced practitioners.  …from those searching for some hints on stress and relaxation to others who are perhaps undertaking a more personal search. 

Scottish Wild Geese Sangha

This group is part of the UK Community of Interbeing and they follow the teachings of Vietnamese Zen Buddhist Master, Thich Nhat Hanh.  Author of The Miracle of Mindfulness and Peace is Every Step to mention just two of his books, he is inspirational for many westerners in their discovery of Buddhism.

The group meet at St Mark’s Unitarian Church, 7 Castle Terrace.  They hold guided sitting meditations, walking meditations and readings.  There are meditations in the early morning, at lunchtime and also in the evenings.  Times and places do vary. Check their website for details. 

Kagyu Samye Dzong

The centre is rooted in Tibetan Buddhism, with its focus placed on peace and health.  People from all backgrounds are welcome and the programme of weekly activities range from beginner’s meditation classes to prayer meetings, study groups and  Healthy Body – Peaceful Mind Qigong classes.

“As the shadow follows the body, …As we think so we become …”

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Beautiful city of Edinburgh!
Where the tourist can drown his sorrow
By viewing your monuments and statues fine
During the lovely summer-time.


I’m sure it will his spirits cheer
As Sir Walter Scott’s monument he draws near,
That stands in East Prince’s Street
Amongst flowery gardens, fine and neat.

And Edinburgh Castle is magnificent to be seen
With its beautiful walks and trees so green,
Which seems like a fairy dell;
And near by its rocky basement is St Margaret’s Well,
Where the tourist can drink at when he feels dry,
And view the castle from beneath so very high,
Which seems almost towering to the sky.

Then as for Nelson’s monument that stands on Calton Hill,
As the tourist gazes thereon, with wonder his heart does fill
As he thinks on Admiral Nelson who did the Frenchmen kill,


Then, as for Salisbury Crags, they are most beautiful to be seen,
Especially in the month of June, when the grass is green;
There numerous mole-hills can be seen,
And the busy little creatures howking away,
Searching for worms among the clay;
And as the tourist’s eye does wander to and fro
From the south side of Salisbury Crags below,


His bosom with admiration feels all aglow
As he views the beautiful scenery in the valley below;
And if, with an observant eye, the little loch beneath he scans,
He can see the wild ducks about and beautiful white swans.

Then, as for Arthur’s Seat, I’m sure it is a treat
Most worthy to be seen, with its rugged rocks and pastures green,
And the sheep browsing on its sides
To and fro, with slow-paced strides,
And the little lambkins at play
During the livelong summer day,


Beautiful city of Edinburgh! the truth to express,
Your beauties are matchless I must confess,
And which no one dare gainsay,
But that you are the grandest city in Scotland at the present day!


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Any holiday  spent in Edinburgh deserves to include a visit to the delightful Royal Botanic Gardens.

Although not on the same scale as Kew (a mere 70 acres), these gardens have just as much charm and a wonderful amount of variety. Like Kew there are some huge glass houses within the gardens.  Ten separate rooms in these glasshouses are designed to create as many different climates and habitats so it is, of course, like rapidly passing from one part of the world to another.

There are huge palms, giant waterlilies, and the largest collection of wild Chinese plants outside China.

Outside highlights include the Arboretum, the Scottish Heath garden, the renowned Alpine Rock Garden, the glorious 165 foot herbaceous border and the Woodland Garden.

As a family outing this is an ideal environment. Children can roam freely – ambushing parents, or just be pushed around in buggies –  whilst discovering a wide variety of birds and remarkably bold squirrels.

Picnicking is an excellent option – but there are very good eating options in the grounds also for meals or just coffee.

If you fancy a guided walk, the garden rangers offer a free service most days of the week at particular times of the day. You can find details through the Edinburgh Activities page on the apartment website.

The gardens also contain a building, Inverleith House that hosts  exhibitions throughout the year. Currently there is a sculpture exhibition by Karla Black along with paintings by Bet Low. Past exhibitions include a favorite of mine – Andy Goldsworthy. He used the space as the starting point for his inspiration, dividing one room entirely with a delicate lattice work of chestnut leaf stalks.

Elsewhere in the garden there is a craft project called “The Wych Elm Project”, running until 21st March 2010. This was inspired by the felling of a huge Elm in 2003. The wood is now being used to create a wide variety of works by craftsmen such as wood carvers and wood turners.

I hope this gives you the inspiration to visit the gardens – they are certainly worthwhile – and if you’ve anything to add let me know!

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