Monthly Archives: July 2013

Great Scots: Must-try Scottish Fare

Scottish cuisine isn’t what you’d call world-renowned, but it is still different from what I’m used to eating in Hawaii. So, when my lovely friends Gill and Ross suggested I try some Scottish fare, I jumped at the chance without hesitation.

When describing Scottish food, the word “healthy” isn’t a part of the vocabulary . . . and this made me all the happier to try some of it. I’m all about meat and fried foods, and apparently so are the Scots.

My first morning in Scotland, Gill fried up a square steak sausage and potato scone on a bun with some brown sauce. It was delicious! It reminded me of a Sausage McMuffin from McDonald’s but was way better. Until now, I’d never tried brown sauce, even though it’s available in Australia and New Zealand. It looks like barbecue sauce but isn’t as sweet or tangy. It went well with the meat.

To wash it all down, I had some of Ross’ favorite drink – Irn-Bru. Irn-Bru is a carbonated soft drink originally made in Falkirk, the town in which Ross and Gill lived. Its slogan is “Scotland’s other national drink” (after Scotch whiskey). I enjoyed the taste of Irn-Bru as it had a bit of a citrus flavor that was different from Fanta.

One dish I could not leave Scotland without trying was haggis. It’s one of Scotland’s traditional dishes, even though I wasn’t sure what it was. In my mind, haggis was a thick stew-type dish made of sheep innards and seasonings.

What I got was a “haggis supper” from a nearby fish and chip shop, and it was completely different from what I pictured. A haggis supper comes with deep-fried haggis and chips. And, in my book, there’s nothing better than deep-fried anything, so I was extremely happy about that.

Traditionally, haggis is sheep innards stuffed into a sheep’s stomach along with other tasty bits, such as onions, herbs and seasonings. At fast food joints like a fish and chip shop, the haggis is stuffed into sausage casings instead of the sheep’s stomach. When it’s deep fried, the haggis comes out looking like meatloaf.

The texture of the haggis was crunchy on the outside and moist on the inside. It was spiced and seasoned deliciously and I didn’t really detect any gamey taste. I really liked it, but I suppose that’s not saying much considering I’ve liked all the meats I’ve tried so far.

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Filed under Food, Scotland

Bound for Scotland

I booked a bus bound for Scotland and was looking forward to meeting up with Ross and Gill, a couple I met while touring Australia ages ago. They had invited me to stay with them and I was excited to reconnect and see how they were doing. Unfortunately, the journey from London to Glasgow took a wee bit longer than expected.

I woke early in the morning and checked out of the hostel in no time. Hopping on the Tube, I made my way to Victoria Coach Station for my bus to Scotland. I arrived with plenty of time as I’d already sussed out how to get there and which gate I needed to wait in front.

Dumping my backpack in the luggage compartment under the bus, I took my daypack of goodies and found a seat. The first part of the journey was rather uneventful and I managed to get in a fair amount of reading. However, things got a big wonky when the bus driver pulled into a petrol station for an unexpected stop. She rang her company to report a malfunction in the bus.

They told her to wait for a mechanic to arrive after at least 30 minutes of back and forth on the phone for her. When it appeared a mechanic wouldn’t be able to come for several hours, they told her to continue driving and a new bus would meet her at a different petrol station so the passengers could be transferred and continue on their way. Everyone was happy to hear this and welcomed being on the move again. But, 15 minutes later she got a call and pulled over into the nearest petrol station. They were dispatching new bus and we were to wait for it to arrive.

The driver advised us it’d probably be 90 minutes before the bus arrived so we should go inside and stay warm. It was a good thing this road house was well equipped with restaurants and a small grocery store. All of the passengers hurried inside out of the cold to await rescue from a new bus.

After waiting close to two hours, a new bus was nowhere to be seen. But, the mechanic finally arrived and it turned out that we had a flat in one of the tires. He spent the next half hour changing the tire for us as we looked on, and at last we were finally on the way. Who would’ve thought I’d experience my first massive bus breakdown in England? Isn’t this supposed to be a story from southeast Asian buses?

Upon arrival in Edinburgh, they informed us that we’d missed the connecting bus to Glasgow due to our (very) late arrival. We’d have to wait for a couple of hours until the next one showed up. I phoned Gill and told her the situation as she intended to pick me up after work in Glasgow. She recommended that I just take the train from Edinburgh to Falkirk and she’d collect me from there, so I disembarked, got my things and made my way to the train station.

Everything managed to go well from there on out. I found my way from the bus depot to the rail station despite the extensive maze created by a renovation project in progress. I bought my ticket and hopped on the right train and was finally able to relax a bit.

Listening to the chatter around me, I was in awe of the fact that I couldn’t understand a single thing anyone was saying! The Scottish brogue was thick here! I know it’d been a while since I saw and spoke to Ross and Gill, but I definitely didn’t remember accents like this. As the train chugged along, I smiled to myself at the “foreign-ness” of finally being in Scotland.

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Filed under England, Scotland, Transportation

Random London Landmarks

In my aimless wanderings around London I managed to find some of the most random areas and landmarks purely through happenstance. Sometimes this is the best way of discovering a city.

After passing a rather large sports stadium where people were gathering, I stumbled upon Abbey Road, a famous Beatles landmark. Not being a fan, the street looked like any other street I’d walked along and I almost passed it. The small groups of people taking photos of a zebra crossing was my only clue that this was something special. As I stopped to watch people cross back and forth, I finally realize where I was. Apparently, reenacting the album cover photo is the thing to do. It’s a bit difficult when you’re traveling alone though so I had to settle for scenes of the crime.

Next up on my London walkabout, I came across a nice little area with canals and houseboats. It was lovely and reminded me of Venice or Amsterdam (not that I’ve been to either place yet, but I will one day). It must be nice to live aboard a boat as it probably gives you a real sense of freedom. At a moment’s notice, you can be on your way to a new adventure.

I also found a wonderful little garden that overlooked an area where the canals converged. Despite the cold and rain, the flowers bloomed cheerfully. I wanted to sit and just enjoy the atmosphere but the cold was starting to get to me so I couldn’t stay long. I guess I should’ve been grateful for the good weather I’d had during the earlier part of my trip. I was really being indoctrinated to the London lifestyle now.

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Filed under Attraction, England