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Posts Tagged ‘French bread’

A week ago I published a post entitled How to write a novel, which wasn’t so much a set of instructions as an update on my progress with writing one. I was pleased with myself for having hit my first 10,000 words. In the week since then I have added absolutely nothing to it.

This morning I began re-reading the first page of what I’ve written, and discovered that it’s so mindbogglingly tedious that I can’t even reach the bottom of the page without yawning my head off and wishing I was watching paint dry. Is this because I’ve read it so often, or is it because it genuinely is mind-bogglingly tedious?

I’m not sure, but it puts me in the sticky situation of not knowing what to do next. I could put the first 10,000 words to the back of my mind, pick up where I left off and keep writing regardless, or I could completely start again, rehashing the whole thing from scratch, or I could give up on it altogether, and accept that I will never write a novel.

Just at this moment, giving up seems a) the most sensible, and b) impossible. Even if every word I write is utter drivel, I don’t think I can stop myself from having a go at bashing out chapters of the stuff. Although I do think most of what I’ve written so far is excruciatingly dull, something inside me can’t seem to give it up on it.

Given this sorry state of affairs, having a bit of a whinge on my blog seemed like a refreshing balm for the soul. In fact, I feel better already, and would like to now make up for my moaning with pictures of a nice lunch I had last month in the utterly splendid bookshop and cafe, ReadingLasses (it specialises in books by women writers – rather a clever name, don’t you think?), in the small town of Wigtown.

I’ve written before about this place (here), and my most recent visit – while on holiday in Galloway with the delightful assistants – was as pleasing as ever.

It was exceptionally busy the day we popped in for luncheon, there being a busload of about 30 American tourists just having shipped in, shortly to be followed by a second busload. Each of them wanted to pay for their own meal, which led to a great deal of queueing and till-side confusion when it came to settling the bills. The way the shop is laid out, there’s not much space at the till area, indeed if you have more than one punter standing there it feels a tad cramped. We were seated near the till and the spectacle of politely shuffling tourists, peering at their strange currency and trying to remember what they’d eaten and therefore wanted to pay for, afforded us great entertainment. A small dog, that I think lives in the shop, added to the hullabaloo by getting in amongst the feet of punters and waitresses, and was clearly much excited by the sociable atmosphere.

I had been hoping for the shepherdess pie I had on my last visit here, but it wasn’t on the menu, so I plumped for a delicious sounding three bean chilli (vegan, to boot) instead. It came with crisp French bread, tortilla chips and some lettuce. The chilli was extremely hot, but the side items and a lovely glass of cool tap water helped to cool down my burning mouth. It was tasty and satisfying:

Thanks to it being, although quite substantial, also fairly light, I had room for a pudding. The puddings here are as good as the main courses, and I was tempted by the rice pud I had enjoyed previously, but then I remembered the chocolate brownie.

On the whole, I’m not much of a one for brownies, being suspicious of the sort of uncooked texture of the middle, but I had tasted one here before and recalled how exquisite it was. I took the plunge. It was served hot with ice cream, and I paired it rather decadently with an excellent decaf cappuccino:

I don’t know if that appeals to you or not, but I wish I could let you taste it. It exceeded my expectations, and even now I can lapse into a state of bliss just thinking of how the chocolate melted on the tongue and how the texture and warmth seemed to nourish my blood and make me fitter, stronger, and almost invincible. (This might be stretching things a bit, but it did make me feel magnificent, despite its artery-clogging potential.)

I can’t resist another picture of it, to emphasise the pleasure:

Delightful assistant no.1 also indulged in a dessert, and the rice pudding called to her. It was, to be truthful, more a plate of cream with some rice in it, which exactly suited her tastes:

And so, when I feel useless and unable to achieve what I’ve set out to do in the novel-writing department, at least I know I still have the ability to consume and enjoy delicious fare. Not perhaps the world’s greatest ever achievement, but eminently satisfying for me all the same.

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There is a small town in Scotland called Doune (pronounced ‘doon’, as in Lorna Doone).

My delightful assistant and I tootled down to Doune recently, to do a bit of tearoom research, and noticed some mugs in a shop bearing the legend ‘Doune, Perthshire’.

This surprised me because I had no idea Doune was in Perthshire. It’s only a few miles from Stirling and I had always assumed it was in Stirlingshire. When I got home I checked up on this and discovered that although Doune does indeed (geographically speaking) reside in Stirlingshire and is administered by Stirling District Council, its postal address puts it in Perthshire. Curious.

My reason for mentioning all this is that I deliberately left Doune out of my tearoom guidebook to Perthshire, but that is not because it doesn’t have an excellent tearoom, because it does.

I didn’t take many photos inside the tearoom because it was rather busy, but I did snap a delicious home-made quiche. There were two different quiches on offer and we both plumped for the roasted vegetable option, which came with a side salad, potato salad and French bread:

It was extremely good, the quiche just melting in the mouth (I suspect it had been made with cream), and it provided sufficient energy for a mosey around the town afterwards.

Doune is an attractive little place with some lovely buildings. These houses can be found on one of the side streets off the main street:

The town has a number of shops, including some surprises, such as this one (you don’t often see independent mapmakers’ shops in Scotland these days):

We enjoyed ambling through the backstreets, looking at burgeoning gardens and interesting features:

We were particularly interested in a wooden gate at the top of some well-worn stone steps. The wall only came part of the way up the gate on either side, and was the entrance to somebody’s garden, as my delightful assistant discovered after climbing the steps and peeping over the wall:

Some of the houses appeared to be getting swallowed by their gardens:

One particularly splendid, previously ecclesiastical, building had been split down the middle and made into two houses (the split occurs between the two arches at the bottom). I would be very interested to take a look inside:

Some decades ago there was a railway line running through Doune, but the only vestige now remaining is the well kept Station House:

I don’t know if they’re discernible from this picture or not (you might need to click on the photo and then click again to enlarge), but on this gate there were various creatures and plants, including a tortoise at the right hand side of the middle crosspiece and several little mushrooms and insects along the crosspiece:

Just beyond Station House there is a new housing development, and we were surprised to find a nature reserve, complete with swans, tucked away amongst the buildings:

Prior to the 1970s this area housed a sand and gravel quarry, but has now been made into a wildlife reserve containing several ponds and bird hides:

When we ventured down to the water’s edge, the swans and their cygnets came over to say hello:

As we walked alongside the main pond we noticed that quite a few of the trees had keeled over and were now growing out into the pond more horizontally than one might expect. It made me think of Amazonian swamps:

When the sun shone, the reserve looked beautiful in its lushness:

I had been under the impression that bracket fungi only grew on dead trees, but there were several live trees covered in fungi in the reserve:

After our walk round Doune Ponds, we headed back to the car, sadly too late to partake of tea at the tearoom we’d lunched in, as it had closed by that time. However, I knew of another place nearby that stayed open a bit later, and so we headed off there for a little refreshment.

The first tearoom had been offering Lady Grey tea, and I had been thinking about this during our walk and getting myself very much in the mood for some. I had virtually no hopes for the second place having Lady Grey because it is quite an unusual tea to find in tearooms and I had no memory of having seen it there before. Imagine my utter delight when I discovered that they did indeed have Lady Grey!

My delightful assistant had ordinary black tea, and we shared a rather solid, but agreeably lemony, lemon drizzle cake:

I can imagine this being a bit of a nightmare to dust, but the tearoom’s lampstand made from stacked teacups and saucers added a nice touch to the surroundings:

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