A Glasgow Watering Hole

On a wet, windy afternoon DonQui finds himself north of Hadrian’s Wall in Glasgow. He is in need of a good place to settle down with a pint or two and to do a bit of work.

DonQui has not been to Glasgow for a while and he does not really know where to go. A helpful hint from a local sends him off towards Merchant City where he is assured he might find several descent watering holes.

After a good trot around the neighbourhood he is draw towards Rab Ha’s
It takes its name from Robert Hall, the 19th century ‘Glesca Glutton’, who was celebrated throughout the west of Scotland for his eating prowess.

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And a very good choice it proves to be.

The cosy interior with exposed stonework, wood panelling and fairy lights seem to cut just the right atmosphere. Unusually all the bar staff and all the customers are female which is a rather pleasant surprise. DonQui does not get the impression that it is a lesbian hang out, not that he would have minded, but it is certainly very female friendly even if a few other males of the species drop in a bit later on.

There are a reasonable selection of beers on tap and DonQui first opts to try a Blue Moon which is a craft wheat beer from Colorado.


Now a few years ago DonQui would have snorted in disgust if someone had proposed an American beer. Over the past decade, however, there have been an increasingly interesting selection of really good brews coming from over the Atlantic. This particular one has the style of a Belgian witbier and is served with a slice of orange to complement the slight orangey taste imparted by the orange peel and coriander which goes into the brew.

It is different, interesting and surprisingly pleasant. DonQui is glad he gave it a go even if he will probably not make it a regular tipple.

DonQui spends a very pleasant couple of hours here, doing a bit of writing and switching to the local Belhaven Best to follow the Blue Moon. He also highly approves of the selection of music — mostly from the early to mid ‘70s with the likes of Led Zeppelin, Supertramp, Don McLean, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Billy Joel and David Bowie coming over the speakers at just the right volume level so as not to be too intrusive.

When he next finds himself in Glasgow DonQui will definitely return.

The January Blues

January is generally regarded as the most depressing month of the year. DonQui, however, rarely has too much trouble with it, probably because he never bothers to set any New Year’s resolutions which might curtail his enjoyment of life. Indeed he is writing this now in a pub with a nice pint beside him after just having devoured a rather good beef burger and fries.


Today’s papers brought the news of David Bowie’s death alongside the usual depressing stuff from the Middle East and the evil antics of religious nut-cases world wide. If this is not bad enough DonQui comes across an article describing a new movement designed by puritanical spoil-sports to ensure we expunge even more fun from our lives.

Alongside the ghastly proposition of dry January (staying off booze rather than stopping the rain)  comes the even worse idea of veganuary. This latest moralising fad proposes that we should become vegans for the month of January allegedly to improve our health and save a few cute cuddly animals.


Now DonQui’s view of a proper vegetarian option is similar to that of a good French restaurant — choose fish or poultry as an alternative to meat. He has known a few vegetarians in his life and he may have seen a vegan or two passing along in the street looking gaunt, joyless and as if they were in need of a proper meal to give them a bit of colour. Hitler was a vegetarian while Churchill freely enjoyed many vices— meat, alcohol and tobacco amongst them.  DonQui is in no doubt of which  man he looks up to.

There have been days when DonQui has not eaten any meat but this was because a nice mushroom risotto might have taken his fancy rather than a conscious desire to avoid animal products on moral or health grounds.

If the puritans had their way, not only would we all be more miserable but the livestock would be too — or they might not  exist at all.


The cute piglet in the veganuary advert would not go to market if the moralists gain the ascendancy. He would be killed and incinerated as the farmer could not afford to keep him alive just to decorate the countryside. This is what happens to hundreds of thousands of male calves each year in the UK since for some reason Brits are squeamish about eating veal and the animal rights brigade destroyed the export industry. With no market the male calves are simply destroyed and thrown away.

Although DonQui may be a simple creature he struggles to see how this could be considered a moral outcome or a good for our planet’s dwindling resources.

So as he consumes a second pint DonQui resolves to continue to drink alcohol, eat meat and generally to enjoy all that life has to offer.

The January blues be damned!

The British Museum

Finding himself in London with a bit of spare time on his hands DonQui decides to wander over to the British Museum.

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Filled with the loot of Empire there is tons to see — so much so that DonQui finds it better to visit only a few favourite galleries, leaving others to another time.

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Whether it is the Elign Marbles, looted from the Acropolis of Athens; the huge Egyptian collection; or the Anglo-Saxon treasures of Sutton Hoo; anyone with the slightest interest in old stuff is bound to find something of interest. Best of all it is free!


DonQui is attracted to the special exhibition of Celtic artefacts which is on until the end of January. There is a charge to see the temporary exhibits but as Duchess is a member the charge is waived and she is able to bring in DonQui as a guest.

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There are some very impressive artefacts, well displayed with good explanations which give the historical and cultural context.
The exhibition covers the story of the Celts from their fist naming by the Greeks through to Victorian fantasy and modern revivals of Celtic culture.


DonQui had seen pictures of the Gundestrup cauldron before but seeing it up close was something else.

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Running concurrently with the Celts is a smaller exhibition on faith in Egypt after the pharaohs. As he very keen on late Roman history there was quite a lot to interest him.


After the two special exhibitions DonQui wanders upstairs to see the newly renovated early European gallery which houses the Sutton Hoo treasure. He has seen it before but the previous setting did not do it justice. The new gallery does.

On a cold January day, and if you do not want to spend much money, a visit to the British Museum makes for a good day out.

Duck with Cranberry and Orange Sauce

DonQui has been rather lazy over the past few weeks but then that is what the Winter Solstice is all about — a fire burning in the hearth to keep him warm on the outside and calvados or port to keep him warm on the inside.

With a belly full of turkey DonQui has not been particularly inclined to do much cooking of late but today he decided it was time to get the pots and pans out again and eat something other than cold cuts and salad.

In the freezer was a large duck breast DonQui had bought in France a few months back. In the fridge were some left over cranberries which he did not use with the Christmas turkey. Therefore duck breast with cranberry sauce seemed to be the way to go.

Here is his recipe for 2 people:

For the Meat
1 large duck breast
6 juniper berries
3 allspice cloves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
a tiny pinch of ground cinnamon

For the Sauce
100 ml ruby port
100 g fresh cranberries
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange
½ cinnamon stick
250 ml chicken stock
2 teaspoons of redcurrant jelly



Score the skin of the duck breast with a sharp knife cutting all the way through the fat but not into the meat.


With a mortar and pestle, grind the juniper berries, allspice, salt, pepper and cinnamon into a rough powder. Rub the mix all over the duck breast and leave to stand for about 10-15 minutes.


Gently fry the duck breast, skin side down, in a dry heavy-based pan for about 10 minutes. The idea is to let all the fat cook out, leaving the skin nice and crispy. Then turn the breast over and fry the other side for about 4 minutes. Set aside to rest while you make the sauce. It will need a good 10 minutes resting time.

Pour off excess fat from the frying pan, there will be a lot of it, but try not to loose the meat juices. If you managed not to burn it then you can keep it in a jar to use later for roasting potatoes


Deglaze the pan with the port then add the remaining ingredients for the sauce.


Bring it to the boil and let it cook down until it is reduced by about two-thirds and had thickened to a syrupy consistency and the cranberries are very soft.

Add the juices from the resting duck. Taste and adjust the seasoning and add a little sugar if you think it is a little too tart.


Thinly slice the duck breast and serve with the cranberry sauce spooned around it. DonQui had roast potatoes and black kale to accompany it.