Through arches

…walk ordinary folk: a couple after work with dogs that look black-bearesque, a student texting he’ll be at the café in 5, a girl with huge mittens and a heavy camera.

I keep finding nooks in this town I’d forgotten: a posh prep school, series of once-majestic arches, a hidden graveyard. And they all remind me that grandeur of place without people thriving in it is empty. We live in a massively tourist town, but behind all the castles and undercrofts, beaches and golf courses, there are so many ordinary lives being lived, and that's just fine.

But, with my English-teacher tendencies, I also wonder if it’s fine that I write about just ordinary things. Should the blog be held together by something other than life and Scotland and photos and food and love and . . . . ? Are all these moments getting mushed? Sometimes I want it to be more specific; more niche.

But there are already about 4,000 food blogs, about 600 recommendations-for-travel sites, and far too many road-trip philosophizings. Maybe what the world could use is just a bit more normal life spunked up, where small cool details are noticed. So, lazy or right, we’ll press on with our messy conglomeration of instants of our life, whether or not they're coherent.

So, those arches. They’re in a semi-deserted area, thanks to a boarding school that blocks off a whole corner of town. I’d nearly forgotten them, and this leaf-saturated graveyard, and found them calm as ever, silent as the grave.


I like to imagine an old man, a schoolteacher, tweed-coated, leaving school


who parks just far enough from the school gates to light a pipe on his way down


to his unheated, but homey car.


All these arches seem to knight the walk for only the regal, but here am I, shivering like a waif allowed to wander through their dark corridors.


And in a classic For Instants transition-less shift, I turn to food. So, I’m cheap. Let me present one of my latest victories. I turned two whole pumpkins to goop yesterday; it wasn’t pretty, Bloglanders. My food processor makes less than 4 cups of puree at once. But in total, my demolished pumpkins yielded almost 8 cans, circa $30-$40 of canned pumpkin here. DIY, baby.


How are you to celebrate such a financial gain? Pumpkin granola. My college survival food, granola will always be in a nearly sacred food class. Granola plus pumpkin minus oil equals one munching health-nut and one happy hubby.


That was the good news. Here’s the bad: Tesco discontinued my favorite oatcakes. Heartless. Oatcakes have long been my Scottish addiction; they’re basically crackers made from oats, and go smashingly well with cheese. Well, Tesco, you've just given me an excuse to be thrify, and even if you do continue them again, I'm hooked on homemade. And my meal shouldn't-have-been-a-success of the day was roasted cauliflower whole wheat spaghetti (say that five times fast! Go!). The trick was ignoring the pan enough to let the garlic toast. Olive oil and parm, salt and pepper can make even weird cauliflower bloom into deliciousness.

If I jungle-jim my mind into defining cooking as a hobby, I feel so much better about the amount of time I spend in the kitchen, and writing about food. Saying that cooking is your hobby sounds lame though, because everyone cooks. It’s like saying cleaning floors is your hobby. But I wax defensive. Thanks for putting up with my foodieness; I’m trying to simmer it down a bit.

The glue in our lives is how blessed we are. We have done nothing to earn where we are this year, and yet we are alive and able to enjoy so much beauty and peace and love. Everyday there are new shivers of excitement and fun, anticipation of a celebration or trip. Yes, everyone, we are headed to an undisclosed location on Friday for Reading Week. Up there on my life to-do list is visiting this place. Be excited to see it here.


But for now, walk along the streets looking for something you've forgotten: an arch of trees, a train tunnel, a little thing about your place that makes you feel regal.