When we told friends that we were heading to Scotland in November, they asked if we would have snow and I inevitably said it was unlikely. So we have been pleasantly surprised by the convenient snowfalls. Convenient because it is enough for Sylvia to stomp in and admire on the hills but it hasn't made it difficult for us to get around. Frankly the snow has been less of a nuisance for us than the rain today. So let us hark back to yesterday's trip to Peebles and all the gorgeous snowy landscapes seen from the bus window.
One of Sylvia's great joys of her trip to Scotland has been riding on buses, especially if she can sit upstairs on the double deckers. She loved seeing all the snow on the bus trip yesterday. It was whitest near Penicuk. White trees lining the road, snowy roof tops and white distant hills.
When we arrived in the small town of Peebles, where E's parents lived for a time, we found enough snow to please Sylvia. She had a great time crunching the icy snow underfoot. We felt very welcome in the town, firstly visiting the church where E's mother had been a member and being welcomed by the people putting up the decorations, and then heading off to the tourist information centre where we met someone who had a daughter in Melbourne.
Meanwhile E's heart's desire were the charity shops (known in Australia as op shops). Peebles High Street has many charity shops where he has spent many hours rifling through old books, cds and other bargains. It was here that I bought a pair of Doc Martens shoes for £5.
I love the gift shops (and sadly forgot to check out the Couchee Righ) but, of course, am always after a decent feed. When E's parents lived in Peebles, we often had take away curries from the Prince of India. I have never had a better curry. So I suggested that we eat in at there. It seemed a good opportunity to have a curry on our trip. (I had forgotten that E was off to Kalpna, vegetarian curry house, with a friend that evening!)
I had planned on having my favourite Rougan Josh Sabzi for lunch. Upon being given the menu I discovered that it was not included in the three course lunch offer (£7.95 with an additional charge for extra rice). Never mind, we were happy to go with what was on offer. E started with the pakora which were excellent crispy vegetable fritters. I decided to go with the dall. It was not like any dal I have had before. It was quite salty and watery. Not terrible but not great. I didn't dwell on it as I was really there for the curries.
I ordered the Vegetable Bhuna, a medium-heat tomato based curry. It was delicious and full of vegetables. I have looked and looked and looked in Melbourne but cannot find an Indian restaurant/takeaway that sells curries with such a great combination of vegetables in any one dish. This one included carrot, cauliflower, broccoli, corn.
The curry was served with pilau rice and naan bread. The bread was fresh and soft and the rice was pleasingly colourful. Sylvia had some chips and E had an old favourite, chicken pathia. We swooned over how good the curries were while eating our meal and remembered how the takeaway curries had been so filling that we had usually only eaten half and had the rest the next day for lunch. The naan reminded us of the peshwari naan that was filled with nuts and sultanas.
After our curries, E and I were full up. Sylvia on the other hand was determined to have ice cream. It came with a swirl of strawberry sauce. She loved it so much that I was afraid she would lick the pattern off the plate.
My memories of the Prince of India are of the ritual perusing the menu for our meal, E's father writing it down, E's mother ringing through the order and E's father paying the delivery guy and bringing through the tubs of hot food in plastic bags. Eating in the restaurant felt fancier but the quality of the food was still superb. It was a wonderful trip down memory lane.
After lunch we had a walk through more charity shops and gift shops. I also had a look at Coltman's delicatessen and kitchen that has replaced Whities bookstore. The food looked great. We were pleased to see that Whities has reopened down a close just up the High Street.
We went upstairs to the tearoom at Simply Delicious for a scone and drink. It was nice, though not quite as cosy as we had hoped. The scones were nice, the staff were friendly and the gift shop downstairs was great, so we enjoyed ourselves. I had wanted to go to the Tontine Hotel opposite where I could see the Christmas decorations in the window, but it has been hit and miss as to whether pubs allow small children like Sylvia so who knows if we would have been as welcome as at Simply Delicious.
Peebles is a town that we have enjoyed visiting many times and it is always a pleasure to return. A day there can pass quickly. Heading back, our bus had no heating and was freezing. We were very pleased to head over to E's father's warm house at the end of the day. Prince of India
86, High Street
Tel: 01721-724455 www.princeofindiarestaurant.com