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Posts Tagged ‘Rice pudding’

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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(This post follows on from the previous one, which is why I’m just diving in here expecting you to know what’s going on.)

Having worked up an appetite browsing round The Book Shop, my delightful assistants and I trotted across the road to find our lunch, in another of Wigtown’s bookshops.

Many of the town’s bookshops have specialised in certain genres, and this one is dedicated to the work of women’s literature (anything and everything written by, for, and about women, although they do also have a small section in one room labelled ‘male authors’, as a sort of token gesture to the gents). Apparently, it’s the only extant specialist women’s bookshop in the UK, and one of only 13 in the world (how they obtained this information, I have no idea, but it sounds impressive to me).

I failed to mention that prior to visiting The Book Shop, we did in fact call into the ladies’ bookshop (it has a clever name which I’m tempted to divulge, but that would break my vow of secrecy on the subject of tearoom names) for a snack first. In my last post I showed you a fruit scone, which was what I had by way of a morning nibble, along with a pot of tea. Delightful assistant no.1 also had a scone:

Delightful assistant no.2 had a coconut creation, which exceeded expectations on tasting. It was very moist and extremely coconuty:

The tea and coffee they serve here is Fairtrade, and the jams and chutneys are made by a local family-owned business.  As mentioned in my previous post, the jam was plum and was exceptionally good.

The tearoom is very much a part of the bookshop, having lots of books within easy reach of the seats. This corner was where we sat:

Or we could have sat more in the body of the shop:

Or, indeed, in this lounge-type area:

Which has a wood burning stove and an interesting ceiling:

The menu contained a good number of interesting vegetarian and vegan options and I chose the vegan shepherdess pie, which was made with puy lentils, courgette and onion in a spiced tomato sauce, topped with mashed potato. It was served with steamed carrots, turnip and cabbage, and was absolutely delicious (according to the waitress it was cumin that gave it the excellent flavour):

I washed this down with a bottle of fragrant Rose Lemonade, a drink I came across last year and have become quite fond of:

I was so deeply involved with my own meal that I seem to have failed to record what my delightful assistants had, but I think one of them had the same as me and the other had cottage pie, which was similar but with meat in it.

Thankfully, because the portions weren’t too large, we had room for dessert. There were a number of tempting choices but delightful assistant no.1 and myself opted for the rice pudding, which came as a magnificently stodgy block:

Delightful assistant no.2 went for a chocolate brownie, but unfortunately my picture of it is blurred. The brownie came with a jug of cream, which delighted both assistants, and when the attentive waitress noticed that the jug had been emptied, she swiftly brought along another jugful. I don’t think the cream was meant for the rice pud, but when there’s cream on the table and the assistants are in attendance, it tends to get sloshed onto whatever’s available:

Feeling very happily filled, we took ourselves off for a poke around ‘The Hut’. The bookshop itself contains around 8,000 books for sale, but you can find another 17,000 to browse through in the Hut, a sort of little warehouse of several rooms attached to the back of the shop. Some of them were interestingly cramped and full of makeshift shelving:

And one of them was bright and full of boxes that we were invited to rummage through. I don’t know what the significance of all the portrait photos is, I admit to being perplexed by them:

On the way out, I was tempted by a piece of coconut sponge on the counter, but I was still too full of rice pudding to do it justice. A fine reason for a return visit, I think:

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