It’s not quite the end of my stay at home in Ayrshire. Today’s the day before I travel back to Dublin, but it’s the first day of my stay here when I have had absolutely nothing to do, and I cannot convey quite how happy this makes me. Monday’s a bleak day at the best of times in this part of the world; add to this unhappy fact that it’s wet and sandwiched smack bang in the middle of Christmas and the New Year. So there is absolutely nothing to be doing, but I have been determined to do something.

A coffee shoppe is always a good place to begin, and, thanks to the Glaswegians who have colonised this part of the shire for its easy access to the city, there is a couple of trendy looking coffee houses scattered about the place. Thankfully there’s no Starbucks’ (tax-dodging sots that they are, even though there are merits to not paying into the British exchequer), but there is a Costa to be avoided. I eventually found a nice little independent joint and settled myself down on its big leather sofa.

Much to my glee it was selling Millionaire’s Shortbread – known everywhere outside of Scotland as ‘Caramel Slice’ – and had it labelled as such. After years of Dublin living, telling people we call this Millionaire’s Shortbread, I was convinced that no one believed me. Now that I have a phone with an inbuilt camera I took the opportunity to get up close to the sneeze guard and bag me a picture of that Millionaire’s Shortbread – to which the man on the other side asked “Not from here, are you not?” Not wanting to get into it, I simply commented that it looked very much like Caramel Slice. To which he asked “What’s that?!” I never saw that coming.

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Sometimes my life really is this interesting. I am tickled by these little quirks of my part of the world, and I suppose it is only after we have experienced other ways of doing and describing things that we see our own familiar ways as interesting. There was a time, before I left home, when I found all things Ayrshire as a touch depressing and dull. Now, to be quite honest, I find them endearing and altogether fascinating. Why, for example, would a people so utterly besotted with sugar and fatty foods – as many Scots have been (myself included) – reckon that only millionaires would slap a layer of caramel and chocolate atop their shortbread?


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