Monday, 31 May 2010

a wee walk

I was off work a couple of weeks ago because my M.E. and Lupus had flared up. When this happens my main thing is to sleep a lot and work up to being able to walk a couple of miles. Just a stroll, but if I can walk to the village and back then I know I am getting better. It took me to the second week before I managed it but when I did it was lovely weather and I was in shorts and t-shirt.

The walk I do to get myself back on track is up through the university campus, through Mine Wood and up to the village. It is a good walk for recovery because there are several places you can stop and several places where it is easy to turn around. You are never far away from the bus route so there is a get out if the fatigue kicks in.

I start off walking through the campus - there is a lovely walk around the duck pond and if I have some bread around the house they get a wee snack.

From the edge of campus I can just see the riding school (white building) and the edge of Mine Wood.

When you get up towards the riding school there is a wee bench that is an absolute sun trap and is a welcome break from the steep road.

From the edge of Mine Wood you can see out across to the Wallace Monument and also across the village and out to the Ochils. My house is just below the Monument so I like this view as it makes me feel I have done a fair bit of walking by this point.

There are two walks you can do through Mine Wood - they both bring you out roughly at the same place but the lower walk is easier and downhill most of the way. The upper walk takes longer and is steeper. It goes up and round the back of the back of the woods. On the longer walk there is a big uprooted tree - good for a wee pause to catch your breath.

They bring you out at the back of the village and you follow the walk down through to the river and the back of the local chippie.

I then have two choices - if it is a very nice day I get a takeaway picnic lunch from the deli and sit by the river. If it is nice but not quite picnic weather I go and get the artichoke, feta and beetroot salad from Clive Ramsays and sit in their wee outdoor bit.

Then it's the walk back along - I am usually pretty exhausted by this point so instead of trekking back through the wood I walk through the village along the main road.

I managed this walk three times before I went back to work and on the last walk I did the upper version so treated myself to an icecream from Corrieri's as a reward - not sure that's on the healthy eating list...

home made lamb sausages in prosciutto

On Saturdays we allow ourselves a bit of a lie in after a week of 0630 starts and take in a bit of Saturday Kitchen - yes, our life is just too exciting. But sometimes there are good recipes or ideas to try out for Saturday dinner. A few weeks ago Tana Ramsay was on - much nicer than Gordon - and she did a recipe for home made lamb sausages. Being half asleep I didn't quite catch everything so when we did our shopping I kind of had to wing it. Here is the recipe I did but if you want the proper one it is on the BBC website.

Makes 12 small sausages or six big. The 12 small means you can split it out over a couple of nights.


for the sausages

500g of lamb mince
couple of tablespoons of breadcrumbs
red onion finely chopped
2 tbsp of cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
pepper to season
beaten egg
12 slices of prosciutto

for the salad

spinach and rocket leaves
cherry tomatoes cut in half
warmed broad beans
squeeze of lemon juice, half a tsp wholegrain mustard and glug of olive oil mixed for dressing

for the potatoes - this makes my recipe much less healthier than Tana's but Andy loves these potatoes

baby potatoes, cut in half and boiled until just done
olive oil


for the sausages

mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl
mix in the egg
roll into 12 wee balls - wet hands first to prevent sticking

pat the balls into wee sausage shapes and then wrap around the prosciutto
place in a well greased baking tray
cook in an oven preheated to gas mark 6 for about 20-30 minutes (my oven isn't great so adjust heat down a bit if you have a fan oven)

for the salad

mix the salad dressing ingredients while heating the broad beans through in a pan
mix ingrediants together!
I quite liked some shavings of parmesan

for the potatoes

heat enough olive oil to reach half way up the potatoes
pop in some cloves of garlic and allow to cook gently
remove garlic as oil begins to sizzle - you can check the heat by testing a potatoe
add potatoes cut side down and fry for 10-15 minutes
turn over to the skin side and fry for 10 mins

For a healthier alternative, boil the potatoes until done and while still warm mix with a tablespoon of pesto.

This was a good dinner to have outside in the garden when its not quite fully salad weather but you don't want a steak pie or something heavy. It was very nice with a cheeky glass of wine!!

Monday, 3 May 2010

the project

We both wanted to know a bit more about the church we will be living in - fingers crossed - and so being stuck at home I did a bit of internet searching. I thought it strange for a church to be called 'Chalmers Church' - I associate churches with saint's names or a more religious sounding moniker. It turns out it was called Chalmers Memorial Church (a free church) and was built circa 1854 but I haven't discovered yet who Chalmers was.

I have found a picture of the inside of the church as it used to be -

I got this from the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments in Scotland website. They seem to have lots of pictures but only let people download this one from their site. The others you have to order - although you can't see what you are ordering. It also looks like the RCAHMS holds an unpblished leaflet (Bowden, J (2003) History of Chalmers Church 160 years: 1844-2003, Unpublished Pamphlet)on the church that might be worth a look. So it may be a wee visit to the RCAHMS will be the way to find out more.

If you look on the right hand side of the picture, the door you can just see will be our front door.

The Church was designed by W.H., J.W. & J. Hay, Architects, of Liverpool and is described as a Middle Pointed Gothic style church. The pointed spire is 108ft in height and it was erected at a cost of #2,500 with seating for 800 people. This is how the church is described in The Building Chronicle, 1856.

I also found an article in the Glasgow Herald, 20th May, 1940 which reports on the dedication of the organ screen.

The church closed and merged with Bridge of Allan Parish Church (Church of Scotland)in 2004. Bridge of Allan Parish Church is notable for some its internal fittings, which were designed by Charles Rennie Macintosh in 1904. And, with a bit more searching, I found the schedule for selling the church in 2006 which included this photo -

The church was originally for lease/sale as offices - I am glad that instead it is going to be houses!