Right now, today, I am Scotland, in front of Scones, strawberry jam and clotted cream at a round lacquered wood table in the home of the Duke of Roxburghe. It is a picturesque, gray stone Georgian manor built in the 18th century. Anyone can sit here, they just have to pay 7 pounds ($10) to take the tour.
A comment from a friend – Julie – got me thinking: This table… in Scotland… at the Duke’s house, It’s a special place, because it reminds me of what my friend Dannon once said: that the future is vast… far bigger than our dreams could possibly be… and so it is.
It was January 2011 that I was sitting at my kitchen table with my “idea book”, fired up about the concept of making a “Food Pilgrimage”. I was going to go to Italy to visit olive oil trees in Abruzo (remember?). The idea morphed into taking weekly, small food pilgrimages and blogging about them. Among the drivel and scribbles in the idea book are the bullet point goals of “inspire”, “explore” and .. I quote “Create a blog popular enough to get journalist discounts from hotel s and restaurants.” It seemed immensely dreamy at the time… literally, “discounts” was the extent of my wildest dreams.
Somewhere along the way, when I took the leap and left the architecture office, packed a sleeping bag and booked a one-way ticket to Africa (remember?), the goal morphed into “make a career out of traveling and food”; a fairly floaty ambition with not many nuts and bolts worked out. But I suppose that is how many of the good journeys begin.
It was less than a year later in 2012 that I went on my first proper press trip (Thanks Piers! @GoldenPhoto_pro); The first trip, where all I had to do was get myself to an airport in Puglia, and every facet of a most amazing Italian food adventure would be laid out before me so that I could write an article about it. (I did… here… and here and some other places). It was an amazing adventure and an eye-opener to the value of the written word, the tweet, the social media share as seen through the eyes of restaurants, cafes, hotels and resorts. It was when I like to think I actually became a Food and Travel writer (of sorts).
So… Another year has passed and I’ve poured most of my energy into learning about the cuisines of the world, teaching cookery classes and giving market tours, but I still write the occasional Food Pilgrimage article, and I love it and now here I am in Scotland, again the guest of a most amazing (and embarrassingly luxurious) food focussed few days at the Roxburghe hotel and the opulent Floors Castle.
I am lucky… wildly so, and because this zany life involves a decent amount of uncertainty and anxiety I often forget that. So thanks Julie, for reminding me, and thanks Dannon for planting the seed of faith, and thanks to you for supporting me and following along.
I hope that I inspire… that I don’t foster envy… that you read my stuff and see my pictures and realize how easy it is to make life good by taking 5 minutes for an espresso, or thirty minutes for a real lunch . I hope my efforts and sharing remind you that life is better when it is about shopping for fun ingredients, cooking with people you love, and hosting feasts to nourish your clan.
… and yes, I count my blessings to have eaten smoked Loch salmon with fennel pollen and dill, to have breakfasted on kippers and creamy scrambled eggs, to have spent the afternoon foraging for raspberries with Chef Neville. But all of these things (or a version of them) are within reach for you too. So grab someone that’s good for chats and head out on a Food Pilgrimage, even if it’s just down the road.
Kelso, Scotland 2013