Friday, 6 August 2010

museum of flight - east fortune

Theo is an air cadet and all things RAF/world wars have fascinated my family for years. On Tuesday we set off for the Museum of Flight which is based at East Fortune, an airfield used as a base for both 1st and 2nd world wars. It now houses aircraft from civilian use and the forces.

The main attraction is to see Concorde - East Fortune is lucky to have Alpha Alpha - the Concorde that unfortunately missed out on Sir Terence Conran's refit as it retired in 2001. However, this doesn't take away from how breathtaking she is.

I had never really understood the whole Concorde thing beyond that it was for rich and famous folk and engineers to get excited over. But seeing her in the hangar was quite spectacular - the famour nose, the exhibition stories and seeing inside the cockpit. The cockpit is astonishing and no wonder pilots required 10 years commercial experience plus a six month conversion course.

ohmygod - look at all those buttons!

We could so fly this...

What was clear is how much pride the crew - ground and cabin - took in their work. I was particularly touched by the story of the woman who started off as a hairdresser, retrained as a pilot and pursued her dream of being a Concorde pilot.

We also got to test our own possible piloting prowess - or lack thereof - in the Flight School. As predicted, Theo and I did not do that well at the colour test - and having seen the cockpits of a variety of planes by this point I can see why being able to tell what colour of light is flashing would be rather important. But it seems our other sight capabilities and hearing would be fine.

Checking out our peripheral vision

Hearing test...

We also got to see a Komet - the German plane that could fly high and at speed but once it had reached its target had about seven minutes of fuel left. The journey back was glider fashion so eth pilot had to have skills as a pilot and glider.

We saw MIGS and Harrier jets and seeing them up close there was little room really for the pilots and you got to see teh wear and tear daily use rendered on the cockpit. We also saw a Vulcan, the plane used to carry Britain's nuclear deterent - a cold, timely reminder of what job these engineering marvels were often designed for.

The BOAC exhibition was also very interesting, taking you back to when overseas flights were a luxury and an adventure. People would turn up for their flight as if dressed for a posh evening occasion and the cabin crews would serve three course meals that could rival a good hotel on the ground. Changed days.

East Fortune played a big part on both World Wars and as always the stories are poignant and laced with the every day. The crew at East Fortune provided the escort for the Germany Navy surrendering their ships at the River Forth and they provided protection for the convoys of ships bringing supplies to troops and civilians alike. One letter in the exhibition is from a fiance who has lost her husband to be in the war and is writing to his mother - 'I keep remembering all the little things he said and did. I just loved everything about him' - reminding you that all of the photos of men and women in uniform have a human story behind them. Although to lighten the experience I did laugh at the quote that the difference between NAAFI tea and coffee was a penny!

After exhausting the exhibitions we had lunch outside despite the rather fierce wind - after all, Scottish summer weather won't stop us having a picnic. We then drove out to Gullane and took a walk along the shore before returning to Bridge of Allan for a fish tea at the Allanwater Cafe - a good end to our day!

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

the project - timber going in

We have had two site visits recently - the timber frame of the first floor has gone in so we can really get a sense of the bedroom spaces. It is weird because you can see through all the walls but good because you get a 3d visual of the space - which makes it easier to imagine actually living there. The rooms are a good size as is the downstairs bathroom so that helps settle our minds a bit about having enough space.

The second visit saw the first floor down so we could stand at first floor level. This meant we could see better what is going to happen with the windows and the large church ceiling beams. The windows will be stepped - this ensures the full window is maintained in the bedrooms.

On the kitchen end of the 1st floor this stepped bit of floor will be below units and at the dining end will be visible. Given where this will be occuring plus the position of the beams, we have decided to forgo the kitchen island and its back to the drawing board for the kitchen.

However, Ally, one of the architects, came up with an excellent idea which is to raise the dining area up two steps. This makes the division of space in the 1st floor clearer plus as the floor is then raised the stairs to the mezzanine can be rejigged to take up less space. This gives me more room for the dining table.

The new plans

The thought at the moment is to have a big chunky wood table with one side normal chairs and the wall side seating to be a pew reclaimed from the church.

So its all go - with a lot to think about and make decisions on. But it is great to see the timber framing go in and see progress happening. No doubt like everyone else we are just itching to see it finished and move in.

Andy getting the tape measure out!

walk in the woods

We are off for a week and my wee brother Theo has come to stay. Today we managed to dodge the rain clouds and take a walk through Mine Woods. Theo managed to find a good tree to climb -

Andy went for the alternative [and safer] option of a wall...!

We then sat by the river and had tea and cake - before trekking back home. The fresh air balanced the evening xbox playing.

Monday, 2 August 2010

afternoon tea

My family all love afternoon tea and to celebrate Theo staying for a week I made an afternoon tea on Sunday. I had been away in Liverpool and London most of the week and had to go shopping for tux's and shoes and assorted James Bond Ball items for later on this month on Saturday - so I didn't have much time to pull one together. I trawled my books for easy peasy recipes and so this is my easy afternoon tea that leaves you time to give the house a dust before your Mum arrives!

Click on the weblinks to get to the recipes.

Traditional Tea Bread

Honeycomb chocolate cake

Cupcakes with butter icing

I also made up some salmon and cream cheese and some ham and mustard sandwiches - no recipe needed for that!


I don't have any pics of these - they got eaten too fast.

8oz self raising flour
Pinch of salt
2oz butter
1oz caster sugar
150ml/5fl oz milk

Heat the oven to 220C
Grease baking tray
Mix together flour, salt and rub in butter
Stir in sugar
Stir in milk until you get a soft dough
Flour surface and knead lightly
Make rounds with a cookie cutter, place on tray, brush tops with milk
Bake for 12-15 minutes

I sometimes add currants at the 'dry' stage. You can make cheese scones by substituting the sugar for cheddar.


This is dead easy but they look fancy. I bought some toppings to really go for the whole Magnolia Bakery thing.

The cakes

2 eggs
4oz margerine - or butter if for special
6oz caster sugar
8oz self raising flour
A little milk
Muffin cases

For fairy cakes half the quantities and use smaller cases.

Beat the eggs
Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy
Add half the egg and half the flour and mix well
Add the rest of the egg and flour and a tbsp of milk and mix
Add a bit more milk if needed - needs to be a firmish mix but not dry.
Scoop into cases - I fill almost the full way - but if you want flat tops fill about half way. Flat tops are more arty but I like as much cake as possible in each cupcake.
Bake at gas mark 6/200C for 15-16 minutes or until firm.


125g/4oz butter
A few drops of vanilla essence
8oz icing sugar

Beat together until creamy. Slather in great quantities on top of your cooled cupcakes.

I like to add food colouring - but a little goes a long way so take it teeny drops at a time. I also like having various toppings too.

chocolate honeycomb cake

This is great because it doesn't need baked - so it frees up oven space plus can be made in advance.

100g/3 and a half oz plain chocolate
100g/3 and a half oz milk chocolate
100g/3 and a half oz
3 tbsp golden syrup
250g/9oz crushed ginger or digestive biscuits
1 box of maltesers
A handful of cranberries - or your favourite dried fruit

Greased tin - I use a half sized tin usually used for lasagne as it has deep sides.

Melt together the chocolate, butter and syrup

In a large bowl mix together the crushed biscuits, maltesers and, if using, the dried fruit.

Pour over and mix in the chocolate melt - the maltesers may go bald as their chocolate melts off but that's ok - it looks fine when finished.

Pour into and level off in the tin, cover in cling film and pop in the fridge until firmed up.

Great for packed lunches - and you can cut them big or small - depending on how greedy you feel.

easy traditional tea bread

350g/12oz mixed dried fruit
110g/4oz Demerara sugar
250ml/9fl oz cold strong black tea
1 large egg
225g/8oz self raising flour

1lb loaf tin greased and lined
Oven at gas mark 3/150C

Put the dried fruits, sugar and tea in a large bowl, cover and leave overnight or for 6 hours.

Beat the egg and flour into the soaked fruits until smooth. Pour into your loaf tin and bake for 1hr - 1hr 15 until a knife or knitting needle comes out clean. Leave it to cool in the tin.

The loaf keeps really well because of the soaking - and is good on a picnic too.

This was a great recipe becuase I could start it off when I got in the night before and pop it in the oven before having my breakfast and shower - I love recipes that allow for multi tasking.