Food,  Travel,  United Kingdom

Christmas, Oink and Hogmanay

We got back from the Highland town of Aviemore yesterday evening and after doing a bit of work, I can think about the last week and a bit. Aviemore will have to be a different day’s writing but Edinburgh can be consise. Or at least, I will try….

Generosity has been a plenty since the moment we set foot on Scottish soil. Lesley and Stephen welcomed us and our bulky rucksacks into their guest room and told us to make ourselves at home. They are good people. And in return, we have been making a few dinners and I have been getting acquainted with the somewhat older gas range/oven for my baking.


My company has an office here so my first week in Edinburgh was spent working in a very quiet downtown office. The office manager here was kind enough to reserve me a desk and the next few days were spent working 8 hours ahead of Vancouver time and meeting some great new people. I got taken out for lunch by the marketing ladies and the director for the area at this posh (My new favourite word – but only to type. It sounds better when those with a UK accent say it.), though slowly serviced restaurant called Tempus (25 George Street, Edinburgh) . They have have these mix and match bento box style lunches and when or food finally came, it was very good.

Haggis, fish and chips, fish cakes - yum!

It has been interesting working in an office where someone offers to make you a tea every morning, but hey. When in Rome… They all think I’m nuts here because I take my tea black as the night – no milk, no sugar. They call it “straight up”.

I got wonderfully – as opposed to woefully – lost on my lunch break the other day and I realized that it was the first time in a few weeks that I had been completely on my own. Edinburgh is gorgeous at Christmas time and I was lost in a beautiful city, by myself, and I was having the BEST TIME. (It’s been fantastic actually getting to spend for than two waking hours a day with my husband, but I’m sure he felt the same way I did when I was lost when he went climbing last week.)

Playing Tourist and Walking into OINK(?)

George Street

We have played tourist a bit, going to the Christmas market and drinking mulled wine, walking the Royal Mile – where I dragged Sean into almost every wool and cashmere shop – and visiting Roslyn Chapel. But we’ve also been enjoying “living” here: grocery shopping, catching the bus… Normal things. Though the shop where we had these lovely pulled pork sandwiches was anything but normal.

First, you start with the name: OINK (34 Victoria Street, Edinburgh). And then you look at the carcass in the window. And then you walk into the tiny shop and order what turns out the be a piece of “I could never be a vegetarian” heaven. The pork is so tender (just falls apart) and with some haggis and baked apples in a bun. Oh, my , gosh – I’m almost drooling just writing about it. I will let the below menu explain how you order.

OINK - The menu
OINK - The window
Excuse me, I'm eating...
Christmas Day

Christmas was the best (and most chaotic) day of our trip so far. We spent Christmas with Lesley’s extended family in the morning and then with her rather large in numbers immediate family for dinner/tea.

We woke up to our Christmas stockings – put up by Lesley when we came – full (courtesy of Santa who must have had a short but precarious tiptoe from the door and over our stuff to where the stockings were hung) of wonderful things like lotions and mini whiskey bottles. On top of that, Sean got a much wished and searched for hip flask and I got a beautiful and very soft cashmere scarf. We wore our Canucks jerseys (our gifts to eachother) and it was a really good morning.

Lesley and Stephen were thrilled with their Canada mittens, which I was so relieved about because I had agonized a bit over what we should give them. (Mind you, Stephen is an ex-pat, so we could have given him a maple leaf chocolate and he would have been ecstatic.)

We then piled into the car and began the journey of champagne (my new favourite way to start Christmas!), eating, opening presents, learning and trying to remember people’s names and playing the insane Chocolate Game and Beetle Drive. Let’s just say every soul in the room was rather competitive. It was great fun and we are still overwhlemed at the warm welcome we received that day. We received gifts from people, who had never met us, but who heard we were these nice Canadians friends coming for Christmas. Thank you McKinlay and Robertson families for making us feel at home!

Champagne for breakfast! Apparently if you add orange juice to champagne over here, it is called a Bucks Fizz - not a mimosa. Trivia question: What year did UK group Bucks Fizz enter and win Eurovision?
The chocolate game. Explanations will be done in person.


Today is Hogmanay (New Year’s Eve), which is a big deal in these parts. We are going to an 80’s themed party at Frances and Jim’s house, which I am really looking forward to and we have champagne ready to go. I’m not entirely certain what to expect – I know we will have fun – but am pleased that we will be inside as opposed to out in the wet and windy city waiting for Primal Scream to come in stage. Time to attempt to stretch out my poor legs and have some lunch before party prep.

I hope everyone has a safe, happy, and fun-filled NYE/Hogmanay. Happy New Year! See you in 2012. 🙂

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