Who appears in Christmas parades in Aberdeen?

Santa in a kilt with a Storm Trooper, of course. Who else?


It was the Turning on the Lights Christmas parade in Aberdeen last Sunday. There was a parade; they marched; lights went on. It was really good! I think everyone in Aberdeen was there as Union Street was packed.

IMG_7756Christmas always feels more Christmassy in the Northern Hemisphere. Christmas lights don’t look as good in daylight. And mulled wine and roast dinners (nutroast of course) don’t taste as good when it’s hot. I think New Zealanders should celebrate Christmas in July.

I’ve changed themes on my blog again. WordPress.com have a Black Friday special this weekend where if you upgrade to Premium, you get unlimited Premium themes for a year for free. So now I have another excuse to change themes: I want to test out all the Premium themes. I hope I don’t drive you nuts.

Ode to a Vegetarian Haggis

Fossilcycle posted this wonderful poem to the comments on my post about vegetarian haggis. It’s a re-writing of a Robert Burns poem and I liked it so much I thought it deserved its own post.

Ode To A Vegetarian Haggis
Tim Dalling January 1993

Oh vegetarian haggis whit a view
Thou glorious, steaming bag of veggie goo
No one could ever say that you
Dish death to beasts,
Not a single murdered chicken, pig or coo
Taints your braw feasts.

But noble pud you must ignore the taunting bores
From meaty Caledonia’s shores,
The moaning bloody carnivores
Who think you need
To slaughter sheep in scores
To have good feed.

Thy beauteous form can satisfy
The keenest neb or mouth or eye,
Wi’ as braw’ a meal as ane could buy
Pulse, veg and spice
And ev’n sheep eaters that dare to try
Say Oh it’s nice!

So stuff the purists and their cries of sin
Let’s split this pudding, serve and shovel it in,
And what the hell if it’s wee skin
A humble plastic bag is.
Let’s drink a toast and we’ll begin
The vegetarian haggis.

Vegetarian haggis: Take 2

Another week, another vegetarian haggis to sample. This one is made by Macsween and was bought from Sainsburys.


I liked this one even more than the last one. It was delicious. Not too dry, not mushy, just perfect and with a lovely texture and flavour. It was also very filling.

I got the ingredients off the back of the packet before chucking it out:

Oats, water, lentils (8%), rapeseed oil, kidney beans (5%), rehydrated onions, carrot (3%), swede (3%), mushrooms, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, salt, spices, pepper.


Newtown Grafitti

My father-in-law, Mike, died earlier this year but before his death plans were in progress to take some of his 29,913 photographs of Sydney and exhibit them. A documentary is being made about Mike by the very creative Rachel Jordan and she also wants to make these exhibition plans a reality. You can read more about it on Pozible.

There’s a great video of Mike there and in it he says,

If in a neighbourhood you can walk to the places you want to go, it’s a good neighbourhood to live in.

I couldn’t agree more.

His photographs are on his Flickr page, Newtown Grafitti. Here are some of my favourites.

Guy Fawkes night

We went to a terrific Guy Fawkes night celebration recently. It was organised by our local community who used it as an opportunity to fundraise for a community garden in the area. They took donations and sold mulled wine and glow sticks and put on a fantastic fireworks display and bonfire. The atmosphere was wonderful with a couple of hundred people there at least.

Guy Fawkes night is sort-of celebrated in New Zealand but not to the same degree. People buy fireworks and set them off on the 5th of November each year but I don’t think many of them really know why they’re doing it – other than for entertainment value – or are aware of the history. It used to be celebrated in Australia too until fireworks were banned and now the 5th of November is just a day like any other.

In Britain, Guy Fawkes night is a big thing. Kids learn all about the history at school and how Guy Fawkes plotted to blow up the Houses of Parliament to assassinate King James I in 1605. There are lots of celebrations around the country with fireworks and bonfires and they usually involve throwing an effigy of Guy Fawkes onto the fire. Watching this at the bonfire night we went to I couldn’t help but be struck by the strangeness of the whole thing. The assassination plot was so long ago. There must have been lots of plots to assassinate monarchs over the years; why pick this one? And why is it a celebration at all?

Just before the effigy was thrown onto the bonfire at the event we went to the crowd started chanting, “Burn him, burn him, burn him” over and over again. It was all a bit ritualistic and I was just thinking, what Neanderthals, what savages, until I heard my own almost 5-year-old chanting the same thing with as much passion and energy as everyone else. It was as though she’d been doing this her whole life and it was perfectly normal and something humans did. Perhaps it is.

The kids loved the night. They loved the fireworks, the bonfire, the atmosphere, the glow sticks, the toasted marshmallows at the end, and perhaps more than anything else, being part of a fun and vibrant community. I like that bit too.


Red lentil and tomato soup

We had a really yummy red lentil and tomato soup at the cafe at Newton Dee on Saturday and even Daniel expressed his approval so I thought I’d trying making one for lunch today. Lentils are a great source of protein and iron, and they’re also very cheap. My soup was yummy and it passed the Daniel test.

You don’t need to soak red lentils before cooking them and they usually only require about 20 – 30 minutes of simmering before they’re soft and ready to eat. I cook with ginger quite a lot and so I keep a large piece of fresh ginger in the freezer and grate off parts of it from frozen whenever I need some.


2 cups red lentils
3 cloves garlic
2 red onions
1tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp turmeric
1tbsp cider vinegar
Juice 1 lemon
2-3 tbsp tomato paste
1 can chopped tomatoes
Two cubes of vegetable stock
Thumb-sized knob of ginger grated
Salt and pepper to taste

Chop the onion and fry in olive oil for about 5 minutes. Then add the garlic and spices and fry for another minute or so.  Add the lentils and lots and lots of water along with everything else. Simmer for about half an hour until the lentils are soft and mushy. Serve with croutons or crusty bread for dipping.


When I were a lad …

We donated to the Thin Ice KickStarter campaign recently and I’m thrilled to say that they reached their goal and the project is going ahead. Read more here:


Barbie has been in the news recently. Apparently there’s a dreadful book called “Barbie, I can be a computer engineer”. It sounds promising but a quick read of Barbie Fucks it up again reveals that it’s not quite as good as it sounds.

Speaking of Barbie, I saw this lovely video of school children reacting to a new and more realistic version called Lammily. The kids seem to relate to her and they like that she looks realistic, she’s smiling and that she’s not standing on tippy-toe. Kids are awesome.

My kids have never been into dolls. We have some Barbies – vintage ones. They were acquired from a garage sale in Brisbane some years ago and they came with lovely home-made clothes. But they’re never played with except by visiting children to our house. Elizabeth prefers playing with leaves and sticks from the backyard and the odd cockroach. Daniel likes his Creeper and crocheted Enderman.

Kids have too many toys these days. One of my pet hates is when women complain that they were forced to play with girls’ toys when they were little and when they played with trains or cars or dinosaurs, they were considered strange or even thought of as outcasts. My heart bleeds. This really is a first-world problem. Perhaps I’m not sympathetic because I never had any girls’ toys as a child. We had a train set and that was pretty much it for quite a long time. And a train set was a luxury. Kids who have toys at all are lucky. When I was a girl I was forced to play with boys’ toys and nothing else and if I complained I was beaten 100 times with a stick ….. just kidding :) Here’s the reference if you don’t get it -

Yes, I’m aware that petty whinging about pettiness is a bit ironic. Call it second-order pettiness if you will.