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Scottish Referendum – Independence for Scotland

With the Scottish referendum coming up possibly in Autumn 2014, I guess it’s about time I spent a bit of my hard got leisure time to actually look at the issues and what is likely to affect me the most.

My decision and how I vote in the future is unlikely to be done on the back of politics and political allegiances.  My vote is most likely going to be on the strength of what the heck I am going to have in my pocket at the end of it all.  If it looks like it’s going to cost us money as a family, well then I’m going to vote no.

My problem is that I don’t know enough about it to make an informed decision and the biased stuff I see in newspapers isn’t going to make that any easier for the lay people like me to actually make a decision on.

Considerations for me in voting are likely to be around these issues :

  • Do we keep free prescriptions.
  • Do we keep free university places for the length of time my children could apply for them.
  • Will we have to pay more tax?
  • Will council tax rise further than the UK average would have?
  • Will our disabled kids be allowed to get legal protection for education like the English do with statements?
  • Will we stay in the EU?
  • Do we change immigration rules and if so, how much is that going to cost versus the cost of supporting non working immigrants.  If they want to change it and it costs more to police and try to contain, I’m for the status quo with the rest of the UK, until our whole little island decides what it’s going to do.

The questions coming out around statements re staying in Europe and having to reapply and perhaps being forced to join the Euro don’t make me any easier about the future choice we have to make.  What about signing up to the First Strike Nuclear Alliance but banning nuclear weapons from Scotland.  Isn’t that a bit hypocritical if it’s true.

I want to believe in Salmond as the Cameron / Clegg coalition in at the moment does not have any respect from me, and I’m not too convinced about the Labour leadership either.

My thing is that I WANT to like the SNP, but they aren’t making it easy and I’m not finding them trustworthy.

I WANT to keep the status quo of the benefits of having our Government in Edinburgh and staying in the UK, but if I’ll be better off with a division of country, that’s going to be a big pull.   It’s all going to be a race to get down to who can let their citizens have the most pennies in their pockets I suspect.

Yes there will be plenty of worthies debating the political issues, and I might even try and keep up on occasion, but I suspect most will vote with their pockets in the long run.



Posted on 7 Comments

Speaking Doric or is it just Slang?

Doric is the slang language spoken in Aberdeen by the natives who grew up here.  I call it slang as that’s what it was called the whole time I grew up.  It certainly wasn’t mentioned as speaking Doric.  Nobody bothered to tell me that it has a fancy name and is called the “Doric” back then.  All I remember are teachers and parents doing their best to stop us “spikkin” slang.

The t’s tend not to often not be sounded in the middle of a word and mostly have a harsh glottal stop on them.  (Buh er) instead of butter.  (Waah er) for Water.

It was a bit of a revelation to me to have the modern view that “intellectuals” think we need to preserve this way of speaking when I spent the first thirty years of my life being ashamed of saying the most slight Doricy pronunciation.

Even now, I give my children into trouble for using slang *cough Doric.*  In the last few years, I’ve learned that I had to embrace the worst of the local language that existed in the homeland and try to give it a chance as a heritage from my home, no matter how it still makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck.

I’ve written Doric poems and sold a few of them too, so people must like them.

I’ve put the picture of the foghorn at the Bay of Nigg in Torry as I spotted it and it has fond memories for me of my youth, cycling, adventure and good friends.  I’ve heard it’s being sold, that’s a shame.

It does make this a slightly controversial post for me.  I like writing the poems and I like that people ask me for them, but I still find myself blushing with shame if I launch into a Doric sentence out and about.  That ingrained indoctrination as a child has stayed with my brain.

Here are a few classics.  Would you know them all?

“Fit like?” – how are you?
“Far ye gaun?” – where are you going?
“Foo auld r ye.”  – how old are you
“Loons an quines.” – boys and girls
” Haud yer wissht!” – shut up
“It’s a sair fecht for a half loaf.” – hard to make the money cover everything.
“Like a skint rubbit.”  – someone far too skinny.
“Ony mair o yer lip an ah’ll skelp yer backside.” – any more cheek and you’ll get a smacked rear end.
“Ye mak a better door than a windae.”  –  I can’t see past you.
“Ken fit a mean.”  – do you know what I mean?
“Gie it a birl.” –  give it a try, or a whirl.
“A bosie.” – a cuddle.
“Claik or crack.” – gossip
“Clype.”  – tell-tale, usually kids telling on other kids.  Kids can have reputations damaged with each other by being accused of one small word.



Posted on 14 Comments

Slow Cooked Haggis in a Baked Potato & served with Coleslaw

We catch the wee beasties that are the haggis family, on the heathery hills in the highlands of Scotland, where we pluck them mercilessly from their lovely life of gay abandon.

Are you buying this?

Ok, haggis is a lovely, and slightly spicy delicacy that is often said to the national dish of Scotland.

I do frequently get asked the best way to cook haggis.  That could be because I often blog about food, and, being Scottish, there is probably an assumption that we all eat haggis quite often.  A bit like the rumour mill about the deep fried mars bar that only the tourists ever try.

We  normally experience haggis as part of Burns night celebrations, to celebrate the poet Rabbie Burns, so in our family it has usually been restricted to being supplied by other people.  On Burns night, people would traditionally have haggis neeps and tatties (turnips and potatoes).

Macsween sent us one of their haggises to slow cook as a few of us had been talking about it on Twitter.  I did go out and buy another one to go with it, as I thought the 3/4 person haggis was a tad too small for us all as there are 6 of us.   In the end, I think one haggis for about 4 – 5 people would be perfect for us.

On to slow cooking the haggis.

I probably would try cooking it in the slow cooker, but inside some tinfoil next time, but the slow cooked way did work nicely and made the haggis not as dry as skirlie, which is my past experiences of it.  I have to admit, I do struggle with the contents, and as I don’t eat lamb, it’s not for me, but the man, 2 kids and grannie wolfed it down.

Here’s a nice slow cooker haggis recipe for using with a store-bought haggis that has already been cooked.  I’ve added the coleslaw recipe under the haggis one.

Slow Cooked Haggis with Butternut Squash and Baked Potatoes

Lesley S Smith
4 from 2 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 10 minutes
Course Lunch
Servings 3 - 4


  • 1 Medium Macsween Haggis For 3 – 4 people
  • 1 Medium Butternut Squash or a turnip (Chopped)
  • 1 Medium Onion Finely chopped
  • 1 pint Boiled Water
  • 50 g Coleslaw To serve



  • Take off the outer skin of the haggis and the metal clip.

  • Cut the haggis into slices or chunks.

  • Put the haggis, squash, onion and water into a slow cooker and cook on high for 3 hours.

Baked Potatoes

  • Put baked potatoes in tinfoil and cook in oven at 180c


  • Serve as filling for the baked potatoes.

  • Garnish with coleslaw on the top.


Your haggis will come already cooked, so the goal is to thoroughly reheat it, while cooking the vegetables.


Coleslaw Salad

Lesley S Smith
Perfect as a side dish with most main meals, or to use in a salad.
4 from 2 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Side Dish
Servings 6


  • 200 g Carrot Grated
  • 150 g Cabbage Shredded into strips.
  • 150 g Onion Shredded into strips.
  • 2 - 3 tablespoons Mayonnaise or Thousand Island Dressing


  • Simply shred the cabbage, onion and carrot.

  • Mix with mayonnaise or thousand island dressing.

  • Serve.


Posted on 13 Comments

Traditional Scottish Oakcakes

Oat cakes, normally known as oatcakes in Scotland, are a traditional Scottish food.  I’ve heard there is a version in England that is more like thick pancakes, and I’ll have to look for those to try in the future.   The Scottish oatcakes recipe is simple and quick.

Oatcakes are a great accompaniment to stovies, corned beef hash, or any slow cooked meal, stew or stroganoff.

A Scottish breakfast could also be found using the humble oatcake with butter, cheese, or jam added to the top.

Most Scottish food is relatively easy to make, and to smash the assumption that it is all deep fried mars bars up the Aberdeenshire neck of the woods, I suspect that adding more traditional Scottish recipes to my blog could be a good idea.  Sorry to disappoint the deep fried mars bar brigade, but I’ve yet to meet a Scot whose eaten one.

To make oatcakes, make sure you buy proper oatmeal, preferrably pinhead as more rough versions can be harder to work with.

Please don’t be tempted to try porridge oats, buy oatmeal – every time.

Oatcake Recipe

  • 8 – 10 large oatcakes.
  • Preparation, 15 minutes
  • Nutritional, oatmeal is a good source of dietary fibre.


  •  200g pinhead oatmeal
  • 35g butter
  • half teaspoon of baking powder
  • half teaspoon of salt
  • 6 – 8 tablespoons of water


  • Heat the butter and water in a saucepan or the microwave.  I blast mine in the microwave for 10 seconds at a time until the butter is melted. Mix the oatmeal, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
  • Add the melted butter and water to the oatmeal mix in your bowl.  Mix together until it forms a stiff dough.  You may need to add a little extra water to make the dough form.  If you need more water, add half a teaspoon at a time,  and don’t be afraid to get your fingers in the bowl to make the dough work.

  • Dust a clean surface with some oatmeal to roll out the dough.
  • Use a cutter to cut oatcakes into circles, or whatever shape you have available.  If you don’t have a cutter, just cut them into triangle or square shapes.  I used a sandwich cutter for larger sized oatcakes.
  • Grease a heavy bottomed frying pan or griddle.  I have a cast iron pan that I use for things like this.  The oatcakes should be cooked on a low heat for approximately 5-6 minutes each side until they begin to go brown.
Being new to the foodie community, I’m making my oatcakes my first entry into best of british – Scottish Challenge
 The full rules are posted on The Face of New World Appliances. However, here is a summary of what you have to do to enter:
  • Post your recipe on your blog with a link back to The Face of New World Appliances AND to the hosting post.  Visit the host post to find out how to enter fully.
  • The round-up of entries will be posted on or before the 20th July.