Dine on coins: DONE!


We have this cupcake piggy bank which was given to me as a gift. We put £2 coins in it – ONLY £2 coins. It’s not a big bank. Normal cupcake size.

My goal was to wait until this piggy bank had filled up and then open it up and go out for a fancy dinner! Thus, ‘Dine on Coins’ was born!

It’s been a pretty mega year, with lots of huge expenses (read: mortgage, two trips to America), and we’ve been watching our pennies vigilantly. So I’ve really been looking forward to this tiny treat.

As August (and the end of my 30 by 30 challenge) is nearing, we thought it time to crack open the bank and check the damage.




You ready?


I was shocked.

How did all that ££ fit into the wee cupcake??!

SO what better way to dine on coins than by splurging on a restaurant we’d been dreaming about for ages:


Champany Inn in Linlithgow!

This place regularly comes up on the ‘Best Steak Restaurants in Scotland’ lists (that I am constantly drooling over), and we’d been recommended it by family and friends. It takes weeks to get a booking for the proper restaurant though so as time was tight, we opted to go along to their equally amazing Chop and Ale House also on site (lower prices, but the same great steaks! No reservations allowed – only walk-ins). From their website:

The Chop and Ale House is an entirely separate operation from the restaurant. Housed away from the main building in what was once the Inn’s public bar, it has all the unpretentious homely atmosphere of a Lowland Bothy. With its own brigade at the grill and a friendly team of waiters and waitresses, it caters for people in need of a more simple and speedier meal.


Processed with Moldiv

We had a short wait for a table (about 40mins wait, but they’d warned it might be an hour and a half – usual for this place! So we were pleasantly surprised to get to our table ‘early’).

I had the smoked salmon roulade for starter. Handsome S had the Champany pate and oatcakes.

We both ordered massive T-bone steaks, which were so, so tasty. A sort of smoky sweet we couldn’t quite put our finger on (which means we’ll have to come back again!). The meat fell off the bone, juicy and perfectly cooked.

I was SO stuffed after cleaning my plate, but ordered a coffee and managed to squeeze in a delicious lemon posset for pudding. (Greedy guts..)

The service was fantastic. Our waitress was so nice, and any time we needed anything else, there were a variety of other servers and staff on hand to help as well. I can’t wait to go back!

And actually, try as we might (a proper three courser for me, and even with drinks for Stuart), we didn’t manage to break £100 let alone spend our full £112 winnings, so we’ll DEFINITELY be back again soon. #Omnomnom!

September catch-up

Lots of fun and eventful as ever in September! Just checking in with a note of my ‘progress’ so far:

Barter Books in Alnwick

We adventured to Alnwick. (Which took two attempts, as initial train-ride was scuppered by ‘user error’ – we overslept!). Barter Books was AMAZING! Next time we will bring our books to trade. We also enjoyed a lovely wee lunch in the Treehouse.

I submitted my application for UK residency. Received the ‘processing’ letter, followed by a notice to go get my biometrics taken (fingerprint scanning, etc). Will do a proper post once I get my ‘results’.

We put an offer in on a house! And got beat at closing date. We’ve done this already and been beat before, so not getting my hopes up as easily anymore… Still, demoralising!

Aiko the beekeeper

I seized the day and signed up for a beekeeping class!

I’m still the same weight (well, minus 1kg…), but we are doing pretty well with paleo-eating so far! (Check instagram for photos of yummy things S has whipped up for us.) Still caving like a chump at any sign of cakes though….

I’ve started running home from work. I walk to and from already (1.7miles each way), but figured I’d up my game. So far so good!

I dug out 23 items to bin/donate so far! (Mostly books…) I have given 3 away already and binned 6… I also donated a 7.5kg bag full of ‘mixed clothes’ (S’s and mine) that’s been in the closet for ages; sweet relief! However, I accrued an additional 5 items this month… so decided that I need to end up at an overall minus-30 items by end of year. That seems more fair, no?

Thursday Date Night: Wings & Karaoke!

For Thursday date night (our usual family tradition) in week 2, we went to Wings and tried 4 flavours! Then on to Supercube for our first 2 hours towards karaoke challenge. =)

My Spanish level is up! Shout if you fancy a Duolingo invite and I’ll send you one. Have just started on German – fingers crossed.

A colleague clued me in to free online courses on EdEx and there’s one for Intro to Computer Science so I’m contemplating taking this in January to ‘learn to code’. (I’ve taken a similar course at UCLA so hopefully not too redundant, and would be good to top-up and get a certificate hopefully).

I’ve written TWO poems I’m happy with this month! (‘Mold’, and ‘A Wound Masked as a Boast’.) Both need fine-toothing in the next few weeks but happy to have some progress on this front! Imagine it’s because I’ve been trying to digest LOTS of poetry this month (and hopefully going forward). Speaking of which…

readingSimon Armitage, Kid
Jenny Bornholdt, These Days
Jenny Bornholdt, Summer
Leontia Flynn, These Days
Lavinia Greenlaw, Minsk
Seamus Heaney, District and Circle
Dennis O’Driscoll, Reality Check

DC Pierson, The Boy Who Couldn’t Sleep and Didn’t Have To
Orson Scott Card, Xenocide

(Strange to read two books with the same title! Jenny Bornholdt is my new favorite for the month. Everything she writes is magnificent.)

Tegan and Sara – Closer (from Heartthrob! So good!)
Grimes – Vanessa
Calvin Harris ft. Florence Welch – Sweet Nothing
Ellie Goulding – Burn
Lana del Rey – Young and Beautiful


Roll on October!