Old libraries, cooking and Bass Rock

On a recent visit to Falkland Palace (see photo below) in Fife, the guide showed the small group of visitors into the library, and although the contents of this library are unremarkable, the decor is not, with the lavishly decorated ceiling. It is quite small, especially compared with the huge library at Newhailes which may have had its own classification system and was praised by Dr Johnson. The Newhailes collection was mostly acquired by the National Library of Scotland and contains 7,000 volumes, many of which are rare. My next visit to the National Library will include an attempt to view the collection in person.

One of my plans on retirement was to do more cooking and to be more adventurous. I think this may have to wait until the autumn and winter, although cycling back after 40 miles (65k) on Saturday in pouring and cold rain, it didn’t feel like summer. With our older son and his wife coming for the weekend from Edinburgh, on Friday evening I cooked a Jamie Oliver recipe favoured by our younger son and his wife in Dubai. I cooked salmon from the local fish shop in Dunbar High Street (just up the road), along with new potatoes and green beans from the Crunchy Carrot shop, just along the street. In the recipe, you put a layer of green beans under each salmon fillet on a layer of tin foil – you need double the size of tin foil. I found that you need to blanche the green beans first – the recipe tells you to use them straight. On each salmon fillet, you put a good teaspoon of green pesto (from a jar although you can make your own), then fold over the tin foil to make a parcel and cook for c20 minutes, checking that the salmon is cooked through before serving. You can also put some small vine tomatoes in with the salmon. Mmm – very tasty.

On the road to North Berwick today, I stopped to take a photo of the Bass Rock and you can see in the photo below, that it is covered with gannets. Many people looking at the rock think that the white is guano (bird droppings) but it is the sheer numbers of gannets which transforms the colour of the rock at this time of year.

Falkland Palace frontage

Bass Rock covered in gannets

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