Passionfruit buns and other highlights

There’s a mutton tagine and pork cheeks slow cooking in my oven. No, not in the same dish, that would be too weird. I prepared the pork cheeks first and put them in for an hour on a low heat (long and low for melt-in-the-mouth tenderness). In that hour I started my mutton tagine on the hob, and had time to make some bun mixture for my latest experiment in baking….

Buns with passionfruit pulp inside! A good dollop of bun mixture slightly hollowed out, some passionfruit innards dropped in, another dollop of bun mix on top. Popped in the oven along with the tagine (cheeks taken out, temperature raised), once the buns were nicely baked they came out, temperature lowered and the cheeks went back in. I tried one immediately, well, I had to be sure they were cooked right through, it was and bloody yummy too – a success!

Oo, that’s reminded me, literally just this second, the pear sponges I made last summer, they were so good! But where did I find the passionfruit and mango coulis to drizzle on top? The combination was quite a highlight of my culinary year, and speaking of highlights – any more from 2022? Well, The Scat Rats as mentioned in my last blog post; rewatching all my vid clips as I attempted to prune my collection recently, my god, the lads sooo brilliant now, a recorded live set would be awesome!

Just the amount of time spent seeing great local bands last year was amazing, late nights in Stramash and Whistlebinkies, sunny afternoons watching The Kennedy’s Project playing on Waverley Bridge; the Miracle Glass Company in the Old Royal High. Of course, a particular highlight of 2022 for me was seeing local favourites Logan’s Close a few hundred miles away in Nottingham! The whole day was such fun trawling round some great little boozers with an old friend before heading to the Running Horse and seeing the new line-up for the first time (yeah, and the rest of it!)

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival was back almost to old normalcy, shame how they screwed up with the Half Price Hut and no app, but apart from those hiccups it was rather good. I did write about my highlights shortly afterwards, but now with some months gone by, what are the bits that still really stand out in my head?

Crybabies: Bagbeard immediately springs to mind (err, possibly assisted by the fact I follow them on Instagram), clever, fun, stylish and utterly charming; Mr Sullivan Brown in red shirt and shorts in Grubby Little Mitts a darkly bonkers sketch show with partner-in-comedy Rosie Nicholls (and lots of eyeballs); The Man Who Thought He Knew Too Much, sharp, stylish physical theatre and a wide-brimmed red hat; Blueswater playing The Wizard by Black Sabbath, truly astounding!! A rat-arsed Rat performing in Binkies after two in the morning; and lastly, but by no means least, a guy with show that is so much what the Fringe is all about, Accordion Ryan’s Pop Bangers.

Back with Elsie, there was the triumphant gig at the Voodoo Rooms on their return from southern parts in March. Like, wow, brilliant, but, for me, then topped by two awesome gigs in Sneaky Pete’s in December, the perfect way for Logan’s Close to end such a great year! But, still not my top highlight….

That plaudit goes to the CD of 2021’s top highlight, Logan’s Close on LimbicTV (Live from Aluhpasonics), an hour of raw, exuberant energy in the time of Covid. I’ve been listening to it for just over a year now, still love it to bits. And you too can grab a copy of Logan’s Close Live at LimbicTV by going to their website, just £10 GBP (+postage). No doubt their album Heart-shaped Jacuzzi will be a highlight this year.

It’s late, yes, I remembered to turn the oven off. I may edit in a couple of pics later, I need my bed just now but if you check out my Instagram I’ll put up a lovely, sweet moment from Stramash in August, the two dancing are the other two original members of the Close 🧡

Cheesecake with blues

As weekends go, that was quite a good one. More frozen turkey bits from the Farmers Market (two wings this time, bloody big they are!); also treated myself to some baba ganoush from a relatively new stall which turned out to be seriously yummy. On my way home from the Market, the shop I popped in for a newspaper had Hagan Das Strawberry Cheesecake ice-cream on offer at £3.50!! Oh yes, another treat for my tum.

Plenty of musical delights as well (as previously anticipated) Bones, Rats and a Jam, a veritable cornucopia of rhythm and blues. The double helping of The Scat Rats was great, both in the early evening too, nice. It has occurred to me that the Rats were quite a highlight of last year for me; since their continental jaunts in the first half of the year Messrs Marah and Rough have played Stramash and Whistlebinkies plenty times in their Scat Rats guise – two voices, two guitars, great rhythm’n’blues, love’em!

Sunday evening saw the 100th Handsome House Jam at Stramash with host Tim Elliott, invited along as it was he who hosted the very first Handsome House Jam, nice touch. There were a few guest musicians joining the band on stage, including one of my favourites, Jed Potts. It was a cool, laidback evening, helped along by a couple of pints of Pentland IPA from Stewart’s, the current guest ale; it’s rather nice. I’ll put a couple of clips on my Instagram, for pics check out Waysted Photography on Facebook, he gets amazing shots at gigs around town; last night’s are up on Facebook now.

I’ll leave you with a still of Scott Rough clocking me filming The Scat Rats on Friday evening ….

A quiet weekend….

No Rats, Bones, Buccaneers or mild-mannered janitors this weekend, suppose I’ll just get on and write to you guys. I have a chicken leg roasting in the oven (along with tatties, carrots, red onion, garlic and rosemary, all sloshed with olive oil), so fifty minutes to spare! At least I think none of my favourites are playing nearby, some website calendars have gaps in them and others, well, are not necessarily right by the night (if you read this blog much then you’ll know which local hostelry I’m referring to here).

Next weekend’s better, I believe the Scat Rats are at Stramash on the Friday early evening slot (well, Mr Marah thinks they are), then at midnight the Moanin Bones are rattlin’ and rollin’ at Whistlebinkies. Saturday sees the Scat Rats at Binkies at seven o’clock, a fine way to start a Saturday evening, folks. And it’s the Handsome House Band’s 100th gig at Stramash next Sunday! It’ll be featuring Tim Elliott (Blues’n’Trouble frontman, harmonica and vocals) and hopefully more unannounced guests. Come on, the 100th has to see a few “previously featured” getting up there for a jam!

Earlier this week I went to see Empire of Light at the cinema, there’s been mixed reviews but I loved it. Olivia Coleman is always great to watch, and with Toby Jones, Colin Firth and Micheal Ward in there too – well, it ticked plenty boxes. What a cinema it’s set in! Apparently it’s the Dreamland Cinema in Margate (first opened in 1935 with a very chequered past, like many old cinemas), almost another character in itself. The story takes place in the early 1980s, a time I remember, the good and the bad, I thought Empire of Light portrayed it well.

In other news, show registration for Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2023 is now open. I don’t know about anyone else but I do know Accordion Ryan has registered, yay! So that’s one show on my list to see, sweet.

Well, my tomato timer has ticked round to almost zero, I’d best go check on my chicken.

Toodle pips!

I feel better, thanks for asking

Finally I feel moose again! That lurgy was a real mean one, I hope you haven’t had the misfortune to start your year with such as I had. I’ve been battling mine with turkey curry! January is a great time for buying turkey carcases and frozen turkey legs from Brewsters Smalling at Edinburgh Farmers Market. Hurrah for folk who just want turkey crowns for Christmas lunch, that leaves extra legs and wings for later. A turkey carcass I bought last weekend made a splendid broth; a long, slow simmer allowed all the meat to be stripped from the bones. I left out the leg I bought yesterday morning to defrost and roasted it in the evening, oh my, it was really hard to stop after a little taste!

With my health just about restored, I finally caught up with The Scat Rats at Whistlebinkies on Friday evening, yay. It was fairly quiet – dry January? Personally I prefer to support my local drinking establishments, someone has to when so many abstain for a month, it was my duty! The Moanin Bones played the late night shift at a packed Stramash (the students were well up for a party before the next term gets under way), I had a quick peek in on my way home.

Oo, other news from Friday, Logan’s Close released another single Dans Le Jardin, do check it out! There’s clips of Messrs Marah & Rough looking very come-hither in Dr Neil’s Garden to help promote it on Instagram and Facebook; I’m not sure about the beret, though (why?! well, see for yourself do). I felt inspired to take a walk round there for myself. The garden used to be closed during the winter months, it’s good to be able to visit all year round now.

Dans le jardin du Brucie

Earlier in the week I was delighted to see that Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan both won Golden Globes for Everything Everywhere All At Once (Jamie Lee Curtis was nominated but sadly didn’t win), the weirdest film of 2022, probably the decade too. The Banshees of Inisherin did well too, picking up three awards and Austin Butler won one for playing Elvis (though Bill Nighy would have been equally deserving for his brilliant performance in Living). Not that I need my film choices to win awards to feel vindicated or anything, but it’s nice when they do.

Anyway, there’s a cooked turkey leg in my kitchen calling out to have a few slices removed and placed between two chunks of bread. Toodle oo!

It’s bin a rubbish week

Can we rewind back to the 2nd, please? The last morning when I woke up feeling good – what a waste this last week has been! If I could just go back to waking up on the 3rd and find myself gotten over the lurgy while I slept (this can happen, I’ve really felt bad in an evening, all the signs flashing red, then managed a sound sleep and woken feeling fine). I could have gone to see Potts & Smit that evening and been fine for a midnight rendezvous with a couple of Rats the following night. Oh, and The Buccaneers late night at The Jazz Bar, missed that too!

So much for a happy new year! The Scat Rats are playing the midnight set at Whistlebinkies again tonight, not a chance of me going, so not happy. It’s one thing to be ill, everyone gets ill, but I prefer to be ill when I won’t be missing good music. Oh yeah, I did catch some of the Handsome House Jam on Sunday 1st at Stramash – that was good. It was one Gus Munro with the band, I haven’t seen him before, but on checking a previous jam I decided to pop along.

It’s coming back why I missed the first set, His Dark Materials was on the telly and I kinda got caught up in it. If I’d known I was about to be laid low for a week! I have watched both sets since, but it’s not really the same watching on a small screen rather than in Stramash with the atmos and a drink in hand. The Handsome House Jams are filmed and can be seen on Facebook, there’s quite a collection on there (including Carl Marah twice). If you’re ever going to be in Edinburgh on the first or last Sunday of any month the HHJ vids will give you a good indication of what you’ll get in Stramash.

Well, I guess I should to my bed seeing as I’m not trotting up to Binkies. G’night!

Happy New Year to you

Just a quick one to wish my readers a Happy New Year and all the best for 2023. Unfortunately I have succumbed to the lurgy that was hovering, at least I managed to dodge it until the 2nd of January, so I made it up to Arthur’s Seat, yay. No rain just extremely low clouds, but hey, I know what the view looks like.

I went up mid morning when not many were there, and my long-held belief seems to bear out – earlier birds are much more convivial, new year’s greetings with other walkers were plentiful and with smiles attached! I did well to be up so early considering I didn’t leave Whistlebinkies ’til sometime after two. The Moanin Bones were on fine form, as were Three Wise Monkeys who played up to and just past the bells (some real throwback tunes from Citrus Club nights).

Maybe sitting atop the rather damp trig point didn’t help! By midday yesterday I knew I was going down rapidly; no seeing Potts and Smit at Binkies tonight, damn. Can I pick up in time for the Scat Rats late tomorrow in Binkies?

I’ll leave you now, head off to bed. Normal service will hopefully resume very soon with my best bits from 2022. I may even get round to putting a clip or two from Hogmanay on Instagram. Oo yeah, do check out Accordion Ryan‘s clip of Auld Lang Syne!

Twas the night before Hogmanay

…. And everywhere was sodden. Well, I’m back in Edinburgh and it’s very wet here, as wet as Yorkshireland was for the last week. Remember that reservoir I visited in the summer? In October the water level was barely any higher, then I went again this time, a tad higher, finally….

As I went past on my journey north I noticed that just in five days the level had risen about another couple of metres or so up the dam wall. It barely stopped raining, here in Edinburgh, at all today, luckily for tomorrow night’s revellers it looks like it should be drier for plenty of the evening. I’ll probably be in Whistlebinkies for a good part of the night, well, it is the Moanin Bones playing after the bells, sounds a fine way to start the year to me!

Unfortunately the forecast is for rain on New Year’s Day – not good for heading up Arthur’s Seat. Not just because I hate getting wet, but the ground will be very soggy and within the first hour of people walking up, the slopes will be a quagmire, a mud bath. Slippery ice is one thing, but mud can be worse – the fact that you’ve fallen over will be very visible to all! The way back down could be very precarious.

I’m hoping for a brief window of dry early on, that is, hoping I can be up early after a night at Binkies. Of course, if it were raining hard then the climb would be postponed til the next day. There is the extra remit that I don’t succumb to illness within the next thirty three hours; half the family came down with things over Christmas, I escaped, or did I? Is it just still incubating inside me – my throat has been tad sore today. Where’s the tcp? Time to gargle, then head to bed.

I’ll leave you with a couple more pics from Yorkshireland ….

That’s the reservoir on the left there. Just one little reminder that many years ago this house was a pub – the Blue Ball.

Not the best-looking but by’eck it tasted good!

Twas the night before Christmas …

Yes, Christmas is just around the corner now, the last two weeks zipped by so quickly. I did get some festive baking done, cinnamon cookies and Christmas crinkle cookies to make up for no cake. They are rather good if I do say so myself, others have said so too! Guzzled a few while out seeing Matilda the Musical, which was rather fine, worth going to see. I did think some of the singing vocals were a tad muffly against the music, were they trying for how stage musicals often sound?!

A new Christmas movie that’s lots of fun is Violent Night, oh boy, is it violent! David Harbour makes a great Santa Claus, world-weary, droll and a dab hand with a big hammer (think Thor but less of the god thing). Violent Night has a vibe of an 80s movie for me (oh, and it was directed by the guy who did Dead Snow, a great film), and it has fun referencing Die Hard and Home Alone and probably others that I missed. Yeah, I could easily watch it again; an addition to the roster of films that must be watched at Christmas.

Usually I go to the cinema the night before I head back to the old country for Christmas, this year I went to La Belle Angele for Blue Christmas, an evening of festive blues, R’n’B and rock’n’roll organised by Jed Potts. That mild-mannered janitor does have a lot of friends he can count on for such an event (all the proceeds go to charity, this year to the Simon Community). Of course, the delectable Nicole Smit was there, in a devine sparkly blue dress (there is a clip of the lady singing Santa Baby on my Instagram along with other snippets from the evening).

I really should dig out my old Elvis’ Christmas Album, I was reminded of it when Charlie Wild did Blue Christmas, erm, not quite as sultry as Elvis’ version. Hearing Rockin’ Robin had me puzzled but I suppose robins are quite a feature at Christmas time. It was a cracking evening, another worthy addition to my things-to-do-at-christmas list. Any blues fans planning a pre-Xmas trip to Edinburgh in future years should definitely check if it coincides with Blue Christmas, just saying.

Up until I set off on the long trek southwards, my December travels soundtrack was Mr Hankey’s Christmas Classics, but by the 21st I was South Park-ed out; as mighty fine as it is I needed a change. If you’ve never come across it, I should warn that it is very South Park – not for the easily offended or delicately dispositioned. I’d never heard O Holy Night before, and now I can never hear it without thinking, that’s not a patch on Cartman’s rendition; and his Swiss Colony Beef Log song is awesome. The production values on the album are amazing, and the big musical-type numbers are all wonderfully earwormy.

So after all that offensiveness, I headed homeward to the strains of Michael Bublé and the MonaLisa Twins, gotta say the twins’ version of Santa Baby knocks the socks off Bublé’s! There is something I don’t like about the man, but wow, his Christmas album is awesome, as is the MonaLisa Twins. Those and a flask of strong hot coffee kept me going! It was dark before I got over the moors, which is great at Christmas, seeing distant twinkling lights festooning remote farmhouses (and odd when you thought that bit was sky) with Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas pouring out of the stereo.

I reckon I’ve been good this year, wonder if Santa concurs? Have a merry time wherever you are, and may your gods go with you.

I’ll leave you with a few recent pics….

Some charity shops are not like others!
Edinburgh Castle from Bruntsfield Links
Cockburn Street

Ridiculously Sublime

I may have been putting off writing this post, yeah, I have – what can I say about Monday and Tuesday evenings?! I thought leaving it a day might help, give time for my mind to form something. Nah, it’s still just a swirl, a very giddy, exhilarating swirl, I can give you single words, snippets, the set list. No, I can do slightly better than that.

It was sooo good to see Logan’s Close playing together again, and in Sneaky Pete’s, the first time there for the new line-up. I also clocked another new line-up within LC, Carl, Scott and Stu all have Gretschs, there’s a sweep across clip of the start of I Want You that I’ve stuck on Instagram. Yes, one of my favourite older numbers was included, very happy about that! Worked A Treat and Give It To Me made it in too, and, of course, Listen To Your Mother finished things off (ah, the first night Treat had the honour, due to time miscalculations).

Of course, some numbers I’m more used to hearing the stripped down Scat Rats versions, but don’t ask me which I prefer! Every version is perfect in its own sweet way; thinking about it, I’d love to hear a Rats version of Merry-go-round (pretty please?!), it’s a great song but there’s something it really reminds me of, something just out of reach in my head, argh! Oo, possibly a Monkees song, maybe.

Sneaky’s was packed out, bouncing along, it really is a great venue if a tad warm, as the lads always comment, but there’s a new marker as to how hot it’s getting – when Stu throws off his hat. SeanKeys was brilliant as ever, I reckon the second night he positioned his keyboard slightly differently to have more space to jump around.

Two nights of awesomeness, truly they were. Christmas come early! Scott’s voice just keeps getting better and better, and the harmonies, achingly good. Logan’s Close are so in sync with each other, so tight, yet loose, the combined energy, well, it grabs me to my core. The words, the music, the performance, ridiculously sublime! Okay, so I have always had huge, huge love for music that moves me (yes, I know it’s a tad odd, that’s just how I’m made), but nothing has ever grabbed me like the LC sound. Can’t wait for the album! Oh, my heartses!

Well, must go, need to eat and Potts & Smit will be starting in Whistlebinkies shortly. Coming up next time, a christmas shopping jaunt up to Bruntsfield and the odd snowman. I’ll leave you with a pic of Mr Rough from the end of Tuesday night ❤️

I’m just a tad excited

It’s finally here!! Logan’s Close are back in Sneaky Pete’s tonight! Yay! And what a build-up to it over the weekend, couldn’t move without bumping into good music! Friday was the Scat Rats in Binkies, plenty folk were in after office parties, so plenty dancing, myself included.

Saturday evening was back to Binkies for The Moanin Bones on excellent form. After their first set I headed down to Stramash for Black Cat Bone, they were fine but I just wasn’t feeling it so back to Whistlebinkies I headed to catch more of the Bones. As if that wasn’t enough of the talented Mr Buckley, I caught his second set in Stramash the following evening, solo this time. There’s a clip of a rather fine bit of California Dreamin’ on Instagram.

After he was done I nipped over the road to Bannermans for Jed Potts and Nicole Smit playing in the front bar. Yay, another pub with Stewart’s ales and they had Kilted Kiwi on, sweet! (much preferable to Stewart’s festive offering this year). Bannermans is not a place I go in much, I’ve seen the odd band there and if you like your’s metal it’s definitely worth a visit. It was quite a cosy setting on Sunday evening, not metal instead blues and honky tonk, marvellous.

Sometime after ten I trotted back over to Stramash for The Buccaneers, see it pays to keep a watchful eye on social media for who’s playing where. I noted Mr Marah had a new shirt on, apparently he found it in Armstrong’s an emporium of vintage clothing, well-known in Edinburgh for the place to look for something with style.

Well, it’s time to have a nibble or two before I head along to Sneaky’s. Do check out my Instagram @bruceonthefringe for clips of my favourite Edinburgh bands. I’ll leave you with the lovely Nicole and Jed….