Tuesday, August 01, 2006


Phyllis was forty on Sunday...

I got up at eight o'clock, which was very early for Minge. Phyllis stayed in bed while I prepared a breakfast for him in the kitchen. He loves a bacon sandwich with brown sauce, so that's what he got, along with a cup of tea and some grapefruit juice. Nothing fancy, just something he likes. If there's any day for indulging yourself, dear reader, surely it's on your birthday?

I made him eat it up as quickly as he could and get a shower in while I took the dogs out to do a quick tiddle. When I came back, Ian was downstairs and ready to unwrap his birthday presents.

I get very excited over the unwrapping of gifts. I whoop and cheer with gay abandon. I'm such a child.

Then came the ceremony of the birthday peg. I think we were gypsies in a former life. Whatever the celebration, we attach a peg to ourselves and, should it be Christmas, we say, "Christmas peg." If it's Easter, we say, "Easter peg." You get the idea.

After the peg ceremony, I went into the kitchen to knock up a sponge cake. I tried a slight variant on the usual Victoria Sponge. Still using six ounces of everything, I tried an Italian twist. I scraped the seeds out from a vanilla pod and put them in with the other ingredients, popped the pod into a quarter cup of double cream and reduced it by half, after which, I added a few drops of balsamic vinegar. The cream thickened as if about to curdle. I then added this to the rest of the ingredients along with a couple of teaspoons of baking powder and proceeded with the all in one method.

The cake was a success. We had an eighth each before heading out for the birthday picnic on Braid Hill.

I love picnics, chiefly, I'm sure, because they're so rare, and rare because of our infamous wet Scottish weather. If they happened every day, they'd be quite dull. I don't like dull. To add to the fabulousness, we had a bottle of Chanoine Frères Tsarine pink champagne. We ate a selection of salads and Ian seemed to enjoy the smoked salmon and cream cheese sandwiches I'd also prepared.

It was a very nice day, weather wise, albeit for the odd grey cloud. Nice in the sunshine, though.

I got quite drunk and nodded off for a few seconds.

The dogs chose to hide from the sun in the shadow of the information point on top of the hill, about fifteen meters from where we sat on the grassy bank.

Then the sun went behind a massive cloud and it turned chilly. Time to go home.

Later on, we headed out, down the road for the bus. We took the number 11 to Toll Cross and to a wee Japanese restaurant called Izzi.

Phyllis loves the bus.

We had a delicious meal, but, as usual, couldn't eat it all.

See that woman in the mauve skirt over Ian's shoulder? She was eating alone. I've never seen anyone eat so fast. She loved the food. But of course, eating on your own is no fun. There is no conversation and the food is eaten in a hurry. But! Once she'd finished, she started talking to the couple sat on the table next to us. She yacked and yacked and yacked, telling those poor people her life story! The male in the filthy hetero stink shit couple had his back to her and continually rolled his eyes. Poor chap.

Still, he was dressed like a tramp, so, im my eyes, he deserved it. His poor wife/girlfriend did, too. She was drinking beer out of the bottle for Christ's sake. Has she never heard of a glass? I'm surprised they didn't ask for chips with their chicken teppanyaki. Philistines!


PJS said...

I take it that, in Scotland, to "knock up" does not mean to "impregnage"?

Or perhaps it was a very fertile sponge cake...

PJS said...

And, of course, by "impregnage", I mean "impregnate". Damn my fingers.

Moncrief Speaks said...

What a fab photo essay. That's a beautiful spot for a picnic. I want some of that cake.

Minge said...

LOL! There were no salty ingredients in the cake, but, Brett, if there were, would that make you want a slice even more?

Knock up, as far as I know, can mean to get someone pregnant, but usually it does mean to do something easily without much effort, so that's perhaps where the pregnancy reference comes from!?

A Novelist said...

Beautiful pictures of your picnic and the Scottish countryside! Looks like heaven. I still love your new hair color! Happy Birthday Phyllis (Ian). Thanks for sharing his special day with us! :)

Minge said...

My roots are coming through already!

I love the part of Edinburgh we live in. We're in the city, yet amidst a great green swathe of fabulousness. In one of those photographs, you can see Salisbury Crags and Arthur's Seat in the background. It's my favourite spot in the whole of the UK.

The Brian said...

I'm surprised at how quickly you seem to get to what looks like rural areas. Perhaps I'm biased because the DC to NY corridor is so developed.

Looks like great fun, thanks for sharing.

RIC said...

Lord, what a marvelous piece of reporter's work! Congratulations to you for that and to Ian for his birthday!
You look really cute sleeping after the champagne (lol)... Just like a baby...
Your hair now looks like that of some guys in Scandinavia: so blond that it turns white.
Loved the text! :-)

Minge said...

Edinburgh is quite green, surprisingly so.

Also, a ten minute drive from my house, and one finds oneself right in the middle of the countryside. It's fabulous. That's one of the reasons I love Edinburgh so much. Bournemouth was the same, a twenty minute drive from my former home, and I was in the New Forest. Wonderful. You get the best of both worlds without having to get on a plane.

Minge said...

I'll need to dye it again soon! I have to be quick though, before it's all gone, Ric.

Lex Ham Rand said...

What an incredible birthday, artfully presented! Looks like you guys had a great time. Thanks for bringing us all along!

Minge said...

We did have a good time, hen! Thanks!