Tuesday, 11 May 2010

a country mouse has a big day out

It has been ages since I've found the time to update this blog so I've given myself a big kick up the bottom and am now going to tell you all about my lovely day out this weekend. I had not seen my dearest friend of 20 years' standing since October, yes October, so we organised that she'd leave her little ones with her mum and come over to the mouse hole for a sleepover. We parked at Shields Road Underground station and headed for the West End.
At this point I will confess that the first time I went on the London Underground I thought it would be just like the Glasgow clockwork orange, so called because it's orange and goes round and round a small circuit, and that if I just got on the first train that came I would eventually end up at Embankment. I really shouldn't be let out unsupervised.It became clear to my friend that I do not get out enough, supervised or otherwise, when I took a photograph of the wallpaper in our lunch venue, The Bothy in Ruthven Lane. That settled, we began easing ourselves into a zinfandel state of mind.
Ambling (shambling?) along Byres Road afterwards we came upon this fantastic shop, above, called Demijohn. They sell spirits and liqueurs and various exotic olive oils which are decanted into very covetable apothecary type bottles. We had a wee sample of black cherry liqueur (friend) and elderflower vodka (mouse) and I can tell you I won't be wasting my elderflowers on champagne this summer.
Tanks topped up, we continued our wanderings, heading up Great Western Road and along Otago Street then down this secret little lane to my favourite book shop, Voltaire and Rousseau. The yellow door opens into a different world.
This is what's inside. It's a secondhand bookshop and the grumpy, be-cardiganed owner just keeps buying up books and chucking them into ceiling-high piles. You can barely fit between them and it's been like this since I first came across the place at least 25 years ago. Also, there are several reeking calor gas fires and a big fat cat whose litter tray is kept right beside the desk where you pay. I spent £4.80 on The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster and Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel to add to my already overloaded bookcases. All I need to recreate the Voltaire and Rousseau ambiance in the mouse hole is a cardigan and a fag.
Then off we went again, further down the secret lane and round the corner to Tchai Ovna for a reviving cup of tea and a cake. My friend had carrot cake (she reckons it's healthy as it contains a vegetable) and I had a warm chocolate brownie and a tea named Mary Poppins, which was just as soothing as it sounds. My friend fell so in love with the cup and saucer her tea was served in that I bought it for her for a birthday present.
We went out for dinner that night too, to a fantastic restaurant in country mouse village. We both had the most outstanding galette with caramelised onions, loads of wild mushrooms and some goats cheese on top and then a kind of deconstructed rhubarb crumble with custard tart, served on a square slate. The restaurant building was a school for orphans in Victorian days. I wonder what they'd have made of us, sitting where their desks were and eating our puddings from the things they used to write on. Perhaps a hundred years from now the race of giant cockroaches which will inherit the earth post-apocalypse will wonder what we would think could we see them dining on rhubarb (it will certainly survive) from chi-chi i-Pads. Hmm, too much zinfandel?
The next day my well-watered friend set off to retrieve her children via the Balamory boat. We promised not to leave it EIGHT MONTHS before we get together again. All together now, Ba La Mo Ree...


  1. Sounds like a nice grown up day out!

    The bookshop sounded familiar though after a little web research I realised it's the Alba one (also on Otago St) that I've been in before though for the great second hand music section rather than the books. I think it may be a bit more ordered too and I don't remember a cat though the owner was wearing a cardigan!

  2. I have always loved spending a whole day with girlfriends. Your day sounds like a lot of fun!
    I'd love to go this bookshop.

  3. I love the wallpaper... the elderflower vodka... the bookshop! I love it all!

  4. What a brilliant day out. I love the sound of that bookshop. x

  5. sounds like an amazing day <3

    great blog :)

    Mon Cheri !

  6. So glad I discovered your blog - love the recipes too! Thank you for sharing them with us!
    Vintage Squirrel x