How to eat a scone

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This is serious business. It might sound trivial, but David Cameron would agree with me (on this at least). Eating a scone is not just a matter of picking up a crumbly bun and cavalierly slathering on jam and cream. Oh, no, no, no! There is a method! A method based on … geography. Whaaa?

Don’t worry, in 99.999% of the world’s countries, nobody will care how you eat your scone. Phew! But, and this is crucial, pay close attention if you find yourself in Devon and/or Cornwall. This is what you do:

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When in Cornwall, put the jam on first and then the cream (see above left). In Devon, the cream goes first and then the jam (see above right).

It might sound silly, but a Devonian and Cornish person will know just by looking at you (okay maybe not quite) which way you “butter your bread” (aka cream and jam your scone). There is a never-ending scone war about which way is better. Yes, I said scone war.

What a wonderful thing to argue about! I wish all wars in the world were only fought in jam and cream. What a peaceful, delicious place it would be.

Here’s one last parting shot of our delicious cream tea in Devon:

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——

I’m currently writing about this whilst sitting in an Airbnb flat in Split, Croatia. Very far from scone wars country. Matt and I have officially left the UK as UK residents (sob!) and are on our way back to the states (yea!) in a little over a week. We just had to make sure to get some Croatian sun first before we moved from one rainy place to another.

Cath and I will no longer be ‘twins blogging an ocean apart’ but ‘twins blogging a country apart’ — that’s a bit closer, right?


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Agatha Christie’s house

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It all started with an obsession for watching (rather than reading — oi!) Poirot. I find it soothing – a dapper man with slight OCD solving crimes with his little grey cells. I’ve only actually read one or two Agatha Christie novels, but I really do think that sometimes that books find you. And that’s what happened at Leakey’s (aka the most amazing bookstore in the world!). Agatha Christie’s autobiography fell into my lap.

I just finished reading it when we were down in Cornwall and Devon and guess who spent most of her life in Devon? My new friend, Agatha! Her childhood home in Torquay no longer exists, but one of her favourite houses still stands and is open as a museum. So welcome to beautiful Greenway!

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The most amazing thing about this house museum, is that all the furniture and knick-knacks in it are the Christie’s. Agatha and her second husband Max would holiday here and her daughter Rosalind and her husband Anthony lived here until 2004 and 2005 respectively. And all was how they left it:

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Here’s the cozy sitting room:

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My favourite bit was getting to sit at Agatha’s Steinway! She loved, loved, loved music and really wanted to be a be a concert pianist and singer. She even composed a few waltzes before becoming one of the most prolific and widely read authors in the world:

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Oh and her kitchen is dreamy:

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Here’s a sneaky peak into her bedroom:

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She loved her fur coats:

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Though she didn’t actually write at Greenway, she did base one of her novels here. The murder in Dead Man’s Folly happens in the boathouse just by the river. Doesn’t look very sinister does it?

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I love books and I love house museums, so this is pretty much the perfect place in the world to me. And I highly recommend Agatha’s autobiography even if you aren’t a Poirot fan. She’s a fantastic lady and invites you into her fascinating world is such a friendly way. Ms. Marple would totally approve.


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Travel guide: what to do in Cornwall

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1) Stay in a small fishing village. Might I recommend Mousehole?

2) Visit St. Michael’s Mount. It’s like Mont Saint-Michel smaller, Cornish cousin. If you aren’t familiar with either, they are both tidal islands with lovely castles perched on top.

3)Fresh Newlyn crab. Newlyn is another fishing town right next to Mousehole. And, yes, their crab is delicious! Growing up in Maryland, crabs were a staple in late summer. The Newlyn crab reminds me of a gentler tasting Maryland blue crab — igniting happy memories of summer spent in Ocean City.

4) Visit Trebah Gardens. Beautiful sub-tropical flora that takes you right down on to a beach. My favourite was the hydrangea field as it was in bloom whilst we were there. Oh and you can’t miss the Gunnera forest — a green-canopied Jurassic-looking haven.

5) Eat a Cornish pasty. Pronounced “pah-sties” (so it doesn’t quite sound like a nipple tassel) these little pockets of savoury pastry pie are the bees’ knees. The classic pasty has beef and potato in, but I prefer the vegetarian options. Rowe’s Bakery do the best — we stopped by the one in Penzance (“I am the very model of a modern major general!”) but there are others scattered around Cornwall.

6) Minack Theatre. This theatre is the most magical I’ve ever been to. Built right into the side of the Cornish cliffs, the backdrop to every play is crashing waves, sunsets and/or moody, broody skies. I highly recommend this, but just bring copious blankets (yes, even in the height of British summer) and a fresh pasty or two to keep your hands warm.

7) Smooch (or just stand in awe) at the edge of the world — aka Land’s End. Side step the strange amalgam of tourist attractions here and just wonder the hills and cliffs of Land’s End. You really do feel you are on the edge of the world.


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A trip to Mousehole in Cornwall

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Matt and I have traveled around Scotland quite a bit, but apart from a few places in northern England and London, we hardly ever venture south of the border into England. So for our last hurrah in the UK (we move back to the States in early September), I thought it only right that we give southern England its due — or at least the West Country.

We stayed in a wee fishing village at the tippy tip of Cornwall called Mousehole (pronounced Mao-sul) because … it’s called Mousehole! Charmed already! Also I read somewhere that Dylan Thomas proclaimed it “the loveliest village in England.” Double charmed!

And Mousehole totally lived up to its storybook name: flower pots on window sills, cobbled streets too narrow for cars, and wee fishing boats bobbing in the harbour. My favourite bit was our lovely bedroom in the tiny cottage we rented via Airbnb. The window looked across the village into the sea. Everyone morning we would open the window and let the fresh sea air sweep over us as we had breakfast in bed — pretty much my idea of heaven.


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Transitions

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Hi Lovely Readers!

So Cath was here and then what felt like a blink of the eye she was gone again! Six days is just not enough time. We galavanted around Edinburgh and Glasgow eating lots of nice food and drinking lots of nice drinks. I can’t believe it’s been just a few days since she left because it feels like weeks.

But I shouldn’t whinge. I’ll see her in seven weeks time in Atlanta! I’m both so excited to be back stateside and extremely sad to be leaving Edinburgh, our home for the last four years.

The next few weeks sound like a traveler’s heaven: one week in Edinburgh, then one week in Cornwall, back to Edinburgh for two weeks, and then a road trip around Croatia for 13 days before we fly into Atlanta. We’ll have a few weeks in Atlanta before we move to Seattle. It sounds exciting and dreamy … and terrifying.

The traveling sounds just perfect, but around the days of travel and exploration are packing and long good byes to friends in Edinburgh. I hate to think about leaving even if change can be exciting and refreshing. Ending the chapter in one city and country and starting afresh in a new one is thrilling, but also very hard. Learning to make new friends, finding a job, working through the culture shock of moving to a different country again (even if it’s home), feeling homesick for Edinburgh and Atlanta and Washington D.C.

I’m a homebody that’s ended up as a sort of nomad and my mind and heart become bamboozled when major change happens. My instinct is to wish the messy time of transition over so I can just soothe my ruffled feathers and settle on a secure perch at the end of the journey. But I know within that “mess” you miss so much if you choose to not sit with that discomfort and fluttering feeling in your chest. So this time I’m going to try to let it happen — and enjoy the change even while being terrified. And I hope you guys don’t mind coming along for the ride!


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Packing for a Not-So-Summery Vacation

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In less than two days (TWO!!!) I’ll be on a plane heading towards Lar/Scotland – woohoo! I’m so excited, it’s going to be impossible for me to concentrate at work for the next few days. Lar and I haven’t seen each other in person in almost 10 months. I never thought there would be a time in my life when I wouldn’t see my twin sister for more than 10 weeks let alone 10 months. Ridiculous.

Do you know what else is ridiculous? The whole week that I’m in Edinburgh, the high temperature will hover around 60 degrees (48 is the low) – and of course it’s suppose to rain the whole time. After experiencing weeks on end of 90 degree weather in Atlanta this summer, my brain can’t really remember what chilly weather feels like.

I studied abroad in Edinburgh and have visited Lar a couple of times since she moved across the pond so  you’d think I’d be more prepared for the difference in climate. But it wasn’t until I looked up the weather in Edinburgh for the next week and a half that I realized the cute, summery shoes I was planning to pack for my trip were not going to cut it. Add that to the fact that most of my suitcase is going to be filled with goodies for Lar, I don’t have tons of room for bulky boots (read: Hunters).

I’ve finally narrowed down my shoe selection to the four pairs pictured above.

1. Sneakers – I don’t even know what kind of Nikes these are. My friend gave them to me because they didn’t fit her and now they’re my favorite shoes to work out in. I plan on wearing these on the plane, so that’ll free up some room in the suitcase, and I’ll wear them on days we’re going to be doing a lot of walking as long as I can style them with an outfit that makes me look more like this than this. Also, Lar and I plan to go to her gym at least once while I’m visiting, so I can’t not bring sneakers.

2. J.Crew Factory Flats – I mentioned these in my 2015 Q1 Favorites post and I still love them. These are the most impractical shoes I’m bringing. They’re not great to wear when it’s raining and after walking around in them for hours my feet begin to hurt on the bottom, but I needed something that kind of looks fancy.

3. Mossimo canvas sneakers – I mentioned these in my 2015 Q2 Favorites. They’re not as on-trend as some of the other Van-like sneakers, but I think they’re perfectly generic. I know that doesn’t really sound like a selling point, but I like wearing non-statement shoes.

4. Mossimo boots – I know, I have a thing for Target shoes apparently. I just bought these, but I can’t find them online to include a link. I might be too old to pull off these suckers, but they’re really comfortable and have a little bit of a heel. Plus, they’re shorter and more compact that my winter boots. If I do end up pulling them off, I’ll include an outfit pic in a future post.

Holy moly. I can’t believe I just spent so space writing about four pairs of basic shoes. I haven’t even figured out what else I’m going to pack for the trip. I’m the type of packer that makes lists for everything – so much so that I don’t think I could physically pack without a list.

Here’s hoping I won’t get so caught up in list-making that I end up throwing everything in my suitcase at the last minute!

P.S.: I’m hoping Lar and I will find time to blog together this week, so there shouldn’t be a break in blogging. I’ll also try to Snapchat/Instagram the trip as much as possible so make sure to follow me at AsianCajunsCath.


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A Road Trip Around the Highlands

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While the rest of the Northern Hemisphere swelters under unbearably humid climes, those of us in Scotland dream of heat-soaked skin and a cloudless sky. To those of you sweating it out some place horrendously sticky, you just have to believe me when I say this road trip was magical because of how hot and sunny it was! The Highlands are beautiful every time of the year, even in the pouring rain or a dark, eery mist, but when the sun comes out, it’s full on Brigadoon and the land of Oz rolled into one.

And it wasn’t just gloriously sunny. It was hot! Like hotter than 69 degrees, hot! For those of you who aren’t totally tired of hearing me drone on about how cool Scottish summers are, let me just remind you that my first July here it rained nearly every day and didn’t get above a depressingly chilly 56 degrees. When you forget what heat feels like, you know your vitamin D levels are in trouble.

So to spend four days in the Highlands with not only the sun shining at full tilt, but to also get a sun burn! Why that’s down right unheard of in these parts! The sky was blue, blue, blue and the clouds fluffy. The sheep plentiful and the grass a brilliant green. And even during the height of tourist season, you can hike for miles and not run into another soul (save those sheep and a ‘coo’ or too).

We spent a few days traipsing around Loch Ness, hitting up Fort Augustus, Inverness and Aberfeldy on the way. Apart from some hiking (in the sun and heat! Have I mentioned that already?), we also gorged ourselves on fresh, sweet Scottish strawberries, sun bathed in a castle’s garden and had a neep of whisky to celebrate my birthday on The Hottest Day of the Year (in Scotland)!!! Oh it was heavenly. If  the Scottish Highlands aren’t on your bucket list already, erase your number one and put it there.

P.S. This post might be sponsored by my the feeble quantities of vitamin D that are left in my body after living in Scotland for four years. The Highlands are gobsmackingly beautiful, but my cells have definitely been dazzled by my recent forays into the sun (and heat!). Looking back on these photos, I’m noticing a lot of clouds when in my head every single day was cloudless and really sunny. I think most of the world would describe this kind of weather as ‘mostly cloudy’. Is there such thing as sun-coloured glasses? I definitely had those on.

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Springtime in London!

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London is one of my most favourite places in the world. It’s one of those places I always feel at home — even though I’ve never lived there! I love the hustle and bustle of an international city mingling with gobs of history. I love walking down Brick Lane sniffing food stalls full of bubbling curries and freshly baked bread as much as I like people watching in Soho whilst slurping lemon, basil sorbet (because that’s a thing!) and oggling Matisses at the Tate Modern. Shops are always open, the people are always varied (and somehow seem more comfortable being awesomely eccentric than in other international cities I’ve been to) and museums are packed.

This past weekend, I saw a different side of London. Not only was it hot and sunny (can it still be considered part of the UK when it does that?!), but it also seemed so calm and beautiful. I spent a lot of time traipsing around Hyde Park and looking at trees sniffing roses. And on my last morning in the city, I finally found Leila’s Shop in Shoreditch where I had the most simple, but beautiful breakfast in the world (fried eggs with butter and sage and a side of crusty bread and out-of-this-world butter). I think of Leila like the Alice Waters of East London. The pics above of the peaches and sweet william are from her shop. I bought a peach — it smelled so peachy and tasted like sweet, syrupy heaven.

Nature and slow, simple living isn’t what I usually expect from one of the largest (and most expensive) cities in the world, but I love it just as much as the louder, busier sides of the city too.

My dream is to one day live in London (and magically move all my family and friends there too). Do you guys have a place that feels like home to you that isn’t actually where you’ve ever lived?


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Sunbathing on a Scottish Beach

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This past weekend Matt and I took a short train ride east to North Berwick, a lovely little Scottish seaside town. Edinburgh is right on the sea too, but we don’t have a beach and I miss the susurration of waves lapping the sand.

But you can’t be picky when you’re in Scotland. Going to the beach usually means being an intrepid toe-dipper or agreeing to sunbathe in layers — yes, even in spring (and summer!).

We had a beautiful sunny day, but it was wiiiindy! And I shed my winter coat momentarily to take some pics, but generally I was bundled up tight while my hair whipped around my head and I tried not to get it in my butter garlic lobster dipping sauce. A hard life, I know.

Ahhh to be by the sea!

 


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Georgia Cider (and Fried Apple Pie) Tasting

Dearest Lar,

A week after your Amsterdam adventure (which sounded so magical, btw), Troy and I made our way back up to Blue Ridge, Georgia. It had been over a year since we visited last and we thought it was the perfect spot to celebrate our 6 year anniversary.

We stayed at Aska Lodge B&B again – the sweet owners made us chocolate cake and gave us a bottle of champs for the occasion :)

Unfortunately it rained for most of the weekend, but Troy and I aren’t the hiking types anyways. Instead of enjoying the great outdoors, we went back to Mercier Orchards and visited the new cider tasting room.

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In my previous Blue Ridge post, I didn’t fully explain how GIANT Mercier Orchards is. I mean, it’s set up for the thousands of tourist that come every year in the fall to pick apples and enjoy the beautiful foliage of Blue Ridge. And they’re constantly updating and adding to their facilities. So in the past year they created an awesome cider tasting room. The experience is very much like a wine tasting with a selection of ciders, some salty bar snacks, and helpful staff explaining the flavors.

Since I don’t like sweet ciders, I choose to taste the four most dry ciders on the list. It was only $8 for a flight of 4 ciders and a souvenir wine glass. Troy and I ended up getting a bottle of Grumpy Granny, Adele’s Choice and Lone Tree. They are all apple-ly, but not sweet. Just what I like!

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When you’re at Mercier’s, you cannot NOT stopped by the bakery for a fried pie. Look at all the amazing options:

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Troy and I ended up getting the classic apple fried pie, because, you know, it’s an apple orchard. It did not disappoint!

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Did I mention we did the cider tasting and the fried pie eating before noon? And this was after having huge breakfast at the B&B. So before we headed into downtown Blue Ridge to eat and drink some more, I burned a few calories by visiting the Mercier Orchards gift shop.

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The gift shop is endless with every apple-themed item you can think of and so much more. There is a whole room just for kid stuff. Like these creepy/cute big-eyed stuffed animals. This is my impersonation of them:

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And even though I didn’t buy this pretty box of tea, I’m including a photo of it because I love the design – like a pinky, neutral, clean-lined watercolor.

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Troy and I walked away from Mercier Orchards with 3 ciders, half a bushel of apples and full bellies. Afterwards we spent the day in downtown Blue Ridge eating and drinking at Chester Brunnemeyer’s Bar and Grill, Masseria and Harvest on Main with a nap in between lunch and dinner. So despite the rainy weather, it was pretty much a perfect mountain getaway weekend.

The setting wasn’t as beautiful as Amsterdam and the winter isn’t the best time to visit Blue Ridge, but it wasn’t bad for a quick 2 hour drive north of Atlanta!

Hope you’re having a wonderful start to the week. Let’s Facetime/Skpye this Saturday!

xoxo, Cath


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