And back home again

Coo, nearly all the snow has gone!

We did many wonderful things, and caught up with a whole load of old friends. Much will follow when I’ve unpacked my brain.

Scottish Coincidence #2: Sheldon asked if I knew of Dougie MacLean. I’ve seen him play live in Glasgow, and also been in his music pub in Dunkeld. Just as we were pulling into the car park at Glasgow Airport to fly back to Toronto, who should cross the road in front of us with a guitar in a flight case but …Dougie MacLean!

Burns Night tonight

It sure beats Blunt Trauma Night, anyway.

Raise a glass of your favourite industrial solvent to the immortal memory of Scotland’s sodden-drunk poster-boy for good career planning — don’t farm rocky, marginal land if you’re more apt to compose poetry about whatever the plough turns over, don’t consider being a slave overseer in Jamaica, and — whatever you do — don’t be an exciseman if you have a failing for the hard stuff.

Both my parents’ families come from the same part of Ayrshire and the Stewartry that Burns knocked around. We’ve got a family story that an ancestor was once his schoolteacher. We’ve been able to prove that about as much as our theory that we’re descended from Scipio Kennedy, a West African slave belonging to the Cassilis family.

Oh, and you don’t want to know what’s in haggis. It’s truly offal.

best porridge ever

I’ve become a bit of a porridge monster lately. It’s absurdly easy to make. After trying this, you won’t buy Quaker oats again.

Ingredients, per person:

  • ½ cup (125ml) steel-cut oats (called ‘pinhead
    oatmeal’ in Scotland)
  • 2 cups (500ml) water

The night before: Bring the water to the boil, and add the oats.
Cover the pan, and remove it from the heat.

In the morning: Add a pinch of salt, and bring the porridge to
the boil. Be careful to stir the porridge, or else it may stick and

Serve with milk, and salt/sugar/maple syrup/toasted oatmeal to taste.

Cleaning the pan: Fill with cold water as soon as possible, and
leave to soak. The remaining porridge should just float off. Using
hot water makes the porridge stick.

Oatmeal storage: it doesn’t keep for very long. I keep my dry oatmeal in the freezer, since that stops any bugs that might be lurking in the meal from hatching.

a great place to be *from* …

[Bit of background here. I’m Scottish, but I live in Toronto. Canada is big, Scotland isn’t.]

There’s this thing I like to call The East Dunbartonshire Conspiracy. I used to live in Kirkintilloch in East Dunbartonshire. It’s a small central Scotland town, rapidly becoming another suburb of Glasgow.

Since coming to Canada, most of the expat Scots I have met are from East Dunbartonshire:

  • The LCBO guy in Toronto Union Station is from Kirkintilloch, about 100m from where we used to live.
  • Another LCBO guy on the Danforth is from Bishopbriggs, where I used to work.
  • The GO Train customer relations person who called me about the new proposed train station at the end of our street (yay!) grew up in Bishopbriggs, and has relatives I think I worked with when I was at Collins, the publishers.

So what’s this all about? Why are so many people leaving East Dunbartonshire for Toronto? Is it the horror of living at 56°N, with dark, windy wet winters? Who can say?