I buy domain names thinking I will eventually buy one which will bring me riches beyond my wildest dreams. Or at least make me enough cash for a couple of bottles of wine and a packet of pork scratchings, which actually aren’t that easy to get round these parts, the pork scratchings that is not the wine.
Anyway, I digress…. I can state categorically the dozens of domain names I have snapped up over the years means I get renewal notices every couple of months. My latest renewals are for www.beautyproductadvisor.com and www.beautyproductadvisor.co.uk The renewal email arrived today. So should they stay or should they go…as Joe Strummer once asked?
Well about a year ago whilst browsing some unknown potions and creams in the high street to slap on my face to make me look 21 I realised I had no idea which one to buy. Each orange woman behind each counter cajoled me into believing their chat. But sales people are sales people and on commission so as I stood there gazing vacantly at the bottles and tubs of stuff *ping* Went my dunderhead. “I know! Why don’t I start a sort of Trip Advisor for beauty products? A sort of Zit Advisor. So I bought BeautyAproductadvisor.com and co;uk. And I did because I ignored the voice in my head saying Noooooooo stop Alison stop you fool!
Of course I buy them instantly because stupidly my credit card is registered on the site so its just a quick click of a button. So exactly 12 months later or 24 if I have been totally convinced a domain is a mega money making idea and bought it for 2 years, I get a reminder “your domain name is about to expire”. Usually I have forgotten I have bought it in the first place which may say more about the state of my diminishing IQ than anything else. So I let most of them go as I have absolutely no idea what to do with them anyway.
However, if you ever do that then this will be of interest You can put in any domain name here and have it valued. Quite interesting. Potentially lucrative Unless you’re me obviously. Anyway I will leave it with you and your .com Hope you have better luck on your quest for riches. So there’s the portal to your future windfall – I hope – …VALUE MY DOMAIN NAME
Getting a bit hacked off with these bleedin’ weather forecasters. Sorry Michael but it’s true.
“Batton down the hatches or you’ll be blown over Ben Nevis and your knickers will be in Carlisle” they shout.
Or words to that effect.
So the plans for the weekend are tempered. We had better not plan anything outsidey, walkish or leaving the house unless we are prepared to battle imminent strangling from fast moving fronds in 100 mph winds.
So here I sit. Saturday afternoon blue sky, cold yes but blue sky having just emerged from the cinema with my eskimo hood, goggles, gloves, boots, nose guard, GPS emergency system and flash lamps under each oxter to make sure I don’t perish on my way to retrieve the car in the underground car park.
Honestly. My heart goes out to the folk who are battling with the rising tides and whipping winds down South but I wish to god the meteorogical experts would get their act together and stop lumping us all together.
(That word meteorogical looks wrong. It probably is. Well it goes with the territory I suppose. They’re wrong. I’m wrong.)Annoyed and off to take at least 15 of these 23 layers off before taking the frustrated geriatric dogs out for an early evening stroll in the blue pink skied gloaming.
I can’t you how angry I am having just come home from a full days work to a smell that just about knocked me out when I opened the door.
Oh God the aged dogs have combusted I thought uncharitably but one look at them proved they were as horrified as I was as they pushed past me to get out the door.
A cursory sniff as they scattered took me to the source – Teenwolf had decided to whip up a snack for his pal – smoked mackerel. He’d manfully opened the package, sliced it on a chopping board all left there with fishy knife . The pan is also in evidence as are the plates they ate from with the leftovers, a few further fishy wee shards.
All of this has been sitting in the warm house left to emanate fishy fishy smells all day long. Ggggggrrr.
Our pals are coming round in an hour so I have to decide whether to open the windows and freeze them to death or invite them into fishy hell.
I am off to dig out jumpers, rugs, hats and gloves – they will thank me for it if and when they ever thaw out.
My mood will take longer to thaw out when the Teenwolf slopes in. I guarantee it.
But then so are booze, chocolate, dogs, wasabi peas and eggs benedict and that never stopped us. So what the heck….here we go again.
My friend KC got hooked on this last year. She has kept it up. Posting a photo every day. Charting her year. Her life. Her highs. Lows. Sherrys, dogs, and light sponge cakes with sauce. All in all looking back an interesting slice of life. So love a bandwagon. I’m on.
First entry is a cheat. It was taken on Hogmanay but hey ho. It was the start of this year, the last time I had an alcoholic drink and therefore a moment marked. Though I am heading gin wise now…..well? What of it?
So my name on Blipfoto is Gogglebox. I dont’ know why other than it is the funniest TV show I have seen in years. So www.blipfoto.com/gogglebox
Yes finally raising the head above the parapet. Having spent the past 2 weeks herding teenagers, dogs, cats, boozers, family, friends and lost looking strangers around, it is with a strange sense of relief I see the christmas trees being dragged off along the road, needle free and bauble bare.
He packed his case 6 hours before he left. He was leaving at 4am so it was just before he fell into a slump.
After he had put in 3 vests, 2 pairs of shorts and some aftershave ( vital obviously) I stuffed in half a loo roll, some dried apricots, white kit kats, and a medical supply box that would impress Dr Quinn Medicine Woman.
Wipes, bits, stuff for allergies, rehydrators, paracetamol, plasters, mosquito spray.
I recall his first trip away when he was 7 he came back with his toilet bag unopened. Perfect clean folded facecloth, pristine unused soap, toothbrush missing. All clothes folded, and clean – he hadn’t changed his clothes at all.
Yup he left for Zante on Thursday. What I didn’t realise was they were leaving from Glasgow at 6am so had to get there for 4. Herding cats is an over used expression but 16 x 17 & 18 year old boys going off to Zante for the 1st time free of guidance, nagging, money and bossing of parents is a real cat herding exercise. No shit.
Taking a deep breath and determined to give him his space. I have resisted texting. In return every 2 days I get a two work text from Zante boy.
I am happy. This proves many things.
He realises I am a neurotic old bat
He is coherent enough to text
He has the foresight to charge his mobile
He notices he is not here.
The brief communications have been as follows.
Day 1. Arrived safe.
Day 2 NOTHING
Day 3 Apartment dodgy
Day 4 Nothing
Day 5 Need decent food.
Of course I have tried cajoling him. What are you eating? How hot is it? And just before I press send I think. Woah. Stop. Being the stalking woman it is not a good look. So I have refrained.
As I sat tucked up on the couch getting over the 2 week stay of our pals from Australia I flicked through the TV idly. And what did I find?
3 minutes in in I recalled the strict instructions from those who know
‘DO NOT under any cicrcumstances watch the Inbetweeners Movie.’
More insomnia – if you wonder if you can actually have more insomnia and less sleep. I am (zombie like) living proof you can.
The joys of parenthood.
Oh and take it from me. If you are a parent. Do not watch the Inbetweeners Movie. Ever.
So next leg from Amsterdam to Paris. The Thalys train. The website sold it as a rather groovy train. Ahem. groovy in the 60’s yes. Red velveteen, very Marc Bolan and as you can see…….pointy.
It arrived on time and there was a bit of a rugby scrum when it arrived. There was no rush but tell that to the giant, hairy headed horror who practically rugby tackled my 81 year old mum to get onto the train before her. We gave him the collective evil eye – a terrifying sight – and Mum gave his case a surrepticious kick as we walked past.
There were 16 seats in our carriage. 4 round each table and no room whatsoever for any luggage at all. At all. So in came this Quentin Wilson lookalike man and his wife. They came with the biggest cases in the history of the suitcase manufacturing industry.
As you can see the capsule wardrobe has not yet arrived in their country. Ellie keen to break the language barrier asked if he had his children in there. He laughed and said ‘N o..chocolate’. We don’t know why. Unperturbed they jammed the cases in blocking us all into our seats.
Then opened the door and in came an Asian family and an American woman. They too had ridiculous amounts of luggage and jammed them in to every shelf, aisle and space not available. Next came the mad red eyed rugby tackler. There was a collective internal groan as he muscled his way in. Then trailing behind him , we realised he wasn’t on his own he was with what I would describe as a brow beaten wife and timid child who were interestingly but not surprisingly carrying his luggage. It was apparent they didn’t want to be with him anymore than we did so I spent the rest of the journey feeling sorry for her and wondering if I could do a quick google translation on a note to say ‘ leave him he’s a buffoon, life can be better’ but as there was no wifi and he was a growling bear with a hernia so I refrained.
Next up a jaunty hat wearing amusing character from Dublin whose seat was completely obscured by bags. So he perched. “Oh” he said “Health and Safety up to their usual standard’ as by now there was literally no way to get in or out of the carriage. God help someone if they needed the loo or to breathe in a normal human type fashion. It was at this point the guard opened the door, realised he couldn’t even step into the carriage due to the log jam of stuff everywhere so we waited his almighty Spanish outrage but he just poked his head in, rolled his eyes, and departed leaving us pinned in and incredulous.
So that was the journey.
3 1/2 hours. Stopped at Antwerp then Paris.
Ah! Gay Paris.
Next instllment Paris to Barcelona – brace yourself Sheila.
When you get walloped with bad health you lie still looking at the ceiling thinking what will I do if I ever get out of here? Go to Borneo to see orangutangs in the wild was first on my mind. I have never seen them and I’ve been talking out its since I was 12. Unfortunately my particular lurgy was lung related so I can’t fly. I confess in the aftermath of my health scare when I received this news it was with mixed feelings. Bummer I can’t fly. Closely followed by ‘Whoopee I can’t fly!’ as I have always hated it anyway. Of course everyone I know flies everywhere they go. It’s fast, safe and cheap. So as recovery trudged on for months and months, so did my thoughts of sunshine. I have to get away. Its been over a year I need vitamin D and hot UV heat and light on my bones and my bluey white skin I am not asking much just enough to start reaching a normal Scottish pinky colour.
So with my 81 year old mum one day I spat it out.
‘I want to go somewhere hot.’
‘So do I’ piped up mum.
‘Well it’ll have to be train, boat, bus, bike and Shanks pony’ I said pulling no punches
‘Fine’ she said not bothered at all. ‘I’m game’.
So the idea was born 2 weeks ago.
The challenge? To get to sunny Spain to have a holiday without taking off.
Eurotunnel is the obvious choice but of course…but I can’t do that either! Something to do with the pressure change. So let’s google boats. Lordy…..a grand tour.
But first let me tell you about our 3rd member of the tour. Geordie El. She also hates the flying machine and we have talked about going on a Thelma and Louise style trip together for 22 year –(22 years!? yes we have known each other since before we were born). She dramatically broke her back sledging two years ago so has also been in that prone staring at the ceiling contemplating life position. She is now up and about but cant lift stuff. I can’t lift stuff. Mum can’t lift stuff. So here we are. Three non lifting, hurpling dafties are off.
The team is complete. Step one…… train to Newcastle……. Look who’s in the same compartment when we arrive? Only our best pal Fraser on his way South to do Underbelly Business….and his constant and considerably more intelligent companion Issy. As you can see we love Issy. The most laid back dog in the known world. We love Fraser too but only because he looks after Issy or is it the other way round?
Being married to a restaurateur he does not like to think of us on tour without food and drink so he wrapped something in a dishtowel and handed to Ellie before we got on the train and lo and behold we started with a toast to us and our overland adventures
…well we’re off….Excitement of the overnight ferry coming up mañana……
Nonna’s– well well well. What a glorious surprise. On Morningside Road, right next to The Churchill Theatre the perfect spot for us for an early Saturday dinner as we were off to the Edinburgh Gay Mans Chorus at 8pm – more of which later.
A family owned and run business. Running the show now is Gino Stornaiuolo but when they say family they mean family and the whole family are here smiling, working and welcoming. Gino’s father the chef at Nonna’s – Mimmo has worked that stove for over 40 years and he cooks like a dream with a lightness of touch that makes your heart sing. If you think even for a moment that a chef of a certain age might be in danger of being stuck in the past, think again.
Nonas exterior does them no favours – brown, grey slate tiles which hardly made my heart sing as we pulled up outside. But the second we were over the threshold at 6pm on Saturday ye old adage ‘don’t judge a book by it’s cover’ tripped into my brain. The place was packed with a great buzzing atmosphere, tables and chairs are light, the walls clean and bright with pepperings of photographs of Italy, family a lovely warm, welcoming, modern space.
Smiling staff showed us over to our table and with it a drink was offered. Gavi for the wine lovers and for me a glass of Prosecco which arrived quickly with a fresh strawberry bobbing about in it. Perfect gargling material as we perused the menu – which is great full of favourites pizzas, pastas, salads but the remarkable, eye watering, amazing thing is the waiter Jimmy who came over and listed the specials. It was like a Victorian memory man show. There must have been over 20 specials including starters, mains and desert – and he reeled them off without hesitation.
This is a family business and Jimmy has worked with them for about 30 years. He started with them at The Patio in Hanover Street and then when they moved up to Nonna’s Jimmy moved too. What a guy – with a memory like that Britain’s Got Talent may very well snap him up.
Seafood was dominant and as he listed each item I fancied the lot. Decisions had to be made. To start I had king prawns with chilli and tomato, chilli which arrived in a flat dish with a lip and a soup spoon as you wouldn’t want to leave one drop of this unctuous flavoursome liquid. Others kept swooping in with their bread to taste as I fought them back with my fork. Long suffering husband loved his scallops & black pun, Dyna had tomato and mozarella salad, thick coins of cheese with tasty red tomatoes with fresh basil neatly laid on top and Bridezilla the dressed crab which he declared was wonderful too.
Main course seafood linguine for two of us with fresh clams, garlic, tomato and chilli – they were struck dumb as they sooked up the delicious spaghetti and popped the sweet, tender clams into their smiling chops. The other two we we had the seafood platter – grilled. Salmon, scallop, squid, hake, all sorts of white fish lightly grilled and served salad and a chunk of lemon. I swear it couldn’t have been better. Bridezilla had chips too and we the fresh bread and butter replenished. We were excited and already planning to come back but were on a count down to the concert at The Churchill Theatre so could we fit in a pud – well bring it on. Special again! Chocolate mousse and ice cream sundae with cream, nuts and chocolate sauce – two specials four spoons. Four sticky happy faces as we paid and ran for the door. Realising the bus that goes right past them goes right past our place on the other side of town we are all now seriously considering a season ticket.
To sum up. This is a cracking Italian restaurant – the dishes you expect are there – pizza, pastas, meaty delights and the specials are really special – last night on top of the plethora of fishy offerings were T Bone steak or rack of lamb amongst others. If you can’t find something you love on this menu then you should not allowed out. A great family owned and run local restaurant. If you’re not local to the area – travel it’s worth it.
So it was the long suffering husband Howies birthday.
So where to go? What to do?
Well with himself being in the restaurant business – Howies -it had to be a food related odyssey. Despite the fact 24/7 he is steeped in the world of catering there is one thing it is imperative to do as a restaurateur and that is to go out and eat in other restaurants as often as possible. This is hardly a strain. We just love food. From day one food has been our shared passion – along with wine, dogs and fun. He from the restaurant side of life, me from the food critic side of life. Critic in The Herald, presented two food programs on STV and more recently a judge on Iron Chef – you can imagine going out to eat with the pair of us would be a nightmare. So just as well we can put up with each other.
Over the years we have been fortunate to eat in 1000s of different places. Small, big, good, bad, eccentric, snooty, vague, pop-up, average, in fact the whole jing bang but one place that had so far eluded our taste buds was 21212 in Edinburgh. Mixed verbal and written reviews from friends had failed to excite us when they opened which was ages ago and with a celebration afoot it was such an obvious omission in our culinary journey we went for it.
21212 is on Royal Terrace a lovely Georgian street off the top of Leith Walk in central Edinburgh and just round the corner from our very own Howies Waterloo. So taxi for Howie off we went for a birthday lunch.
We were greeted with a big smile which immediately dispelled the previous rumours of pretentious nonsense and shown into the dining room which is plush, in muted bluey, greys, with up holstered cream chairs, soft furnished booths, linen tablecloths, and a contemporary chandelier. Despite the age of the room and the well known listed building nightmare restrictions in Edinburgh the kitchen is visible through a Perspex wall at one end of the room – a masterful design element and compelling if the process of food preparation fascinates.
Luckily we weren’t facing the kitchen as we ould have just stared in like a pair of dafties no we were shown to a booth facing the other way. Result. No sooner had had we sat down we were offered water and 3 wee dishes olives, crisps and well I am not sure what the third thing was – were delivered. The 3rd mystery dish looked like it held tooth picks but by now we were too busy marvelling at the menu to enquire what they were. A la kazaam. (whatever that actually means) Foodie heaven.
The smiley sommelier offered us a drink – champagne – well its only once a year – English champagne he described it as strawberries and cream – Sold! And he was right it was just that – perfect. A lush start.
The name of the restaurant 2 1 2 1 2 describes the menu.
Two starters to choose from
2 main course to choose from
2 sweets to choose from.
You can have 3 or 5 courses. We decided to go for 3 leaving the soup and cheese and just order and share the lot which saved a lot of humming and hawing. We were both keen to try everything so this was an easy option.
The mind boggling number of elements to each dish was something we were both looking forward to experiencing. At Howies we celebrate simple. You know the sort of thing, slow cooked lamb shank, roasted vegetable with creamy mash…equally as valid as this other extreme. Howies food ethos the ABC of simple yet perfect (well I would say that) and then 21212 at the other end of the spectrum -more Stephen Hawking in sanskrit.
Home made bread arrived fresh & yeasty , soft and utterly irresistible I had to say no after my first slice or I would have had a loaf before the main event. You help yourself to as many slices as you want there was none of that individual slice delivery type thing which again dispelled the now myth of snooty nonsense.
The place was busy. Every table virtually full. It is graduation time but nonetheless is shows recession or not people will push the boat out if they feel the need.
Its impossible to list the ingredients – we kept the menu at the table during our meal to refer to as we tasted each morsel and texture. Remarkable. To write this down would have taken away the pleasure of eating it. To forensically list each thing would look impressive but by the time I had done that the meal would have been cold and more to the point my lunch partner would have scoffed the lot. So I find myself saying – trust me I’m a foodie. Delicious and despite the eye popping number of different elements all present and correct. I have copied an example of their menu below so you can see what I am withering on about.
There was a sliver of something fabulous we could not name nor guess so we asked. The answer was a dried gherkin. I had guessed at liquorice but I was well off course. A dried gherkin the sort of thing I scraped off the floor of my fridge as a student and binned with the aid of a rubber glove , My how things change,
We deliberately ate slowly.
It’s an intimate space. One to relish not write about at the time.
As we paused after our main course extravaganza. The call of the cheese was too strong to ignore so it was duly ordered as the birthday boy is a fromagaholic. 9 pieces of cheese – yes nine – a cut and presented in a wheel shape with a plate teetering with different crackers, biscuits, slivers of homemade crispbreads, the favourite Pittenweem chunky oatcake. There was a man who spoke fluent fromage and he talked through each one. There were goats, ewse, coos . They were from all over and the one that had us hooked was called Morbier.
Good memory? No not really I texted myself as I knew the second I tasted it I had made a friend for life.
Sweets next. One trifle. To say trifle is to say pure mathematics is the 2 times tables. The other option a crème brulee but again tis is the understatement of this millennium to call it just that.
Presentation and taste again impeccable.
Only one mystery. Everyone at this point is given a tiny cardboard scoop of oaty milk – it tasted like Alpen soaked milk – not sure that that was all about but horsed it anyway. Perfectly nice taste but nothing special andwould have been just as happy without it.
Gee food in such detail is hard work to produce.
The atmosphere was relaxed and elegant
The staff friendly and knowledgeable
The food – well I think you get the gist – it was outstanding.
Remarkable imagination, execution and delivery and most important of all taste.
A feast for the eye and the palate.
So….we are happy in our restaurant niche and they are happy in theirs.
Vive Le Difference!
Google 2 1 2 1 2 and you get endless 2 for 1 vouchers which I suspect will not be valid for this restaurant – click here though and it will take you the website Restaurant 21212 if you are a foodie it is an experience not to miss. Yeh it’s not the cheapest option in town but it is something you will remember for a long time to come.
MENU EXAMPLES FROM WEBSITE
This is one main course.
Chicken Curry, Pineapple & Artichokes
Slow Cooked Breast Of French Corn Fed Chicken,
Artichokes, White Cauliflower, Breakfast Radish,
Anya Potatoes, Saffron Onions & Pineapple Confit,
Soft & Crispy Pancakes, Coconut Shards,
Piccalilli Mayonnaise, Argon Oil
3 course lunch £28 4 course £38 5 course £52
As opposed to Howies which in Edinburgh is £8.95 for a 2 course lunch- yeh but different strokes for different folks but the generous birthday boy has given me a voucher to give away. Lunch for two with bottle of wine at any of the Howies – whichever you fancy – there are two in Edinburgh, one in Aberdeen. Just answer this simple question: