Deep-fried Battered Mars Bar

Deep-fried Battered Mars Bar

Deep-fried battered Mars Bar. What is a deep-fried battered Mars bar you might ask. It’s exactly what it sounds like: one chilled Mars candy bar dipped in batter and then deep-fried. Best served with vanilla ice-cream. The dish is said to have been created in the town of Stonehaven (near Aberdeen) Scotland in 1995. After our dinner of Fish & Chips tonight we indulged in this decadent creation we had heard so much about. With ice-cream it came to £4.25 GBP per person. It tastes better than it sounds—and certainly better than that other Scottish invention Haggis.

Fish & Chips (Fresh Haddock) with Salt & Vinegar

Besides the deep-fried Mars bars we had Fish & Chips (fresh Haddock). There were four variables on the menu: large Haddock and large Haddock dressed and small Haddock and small Haddock dressed. The plain Haddock is deep-fried in a traditional light batter and the dressed Haddock is coated with breadcrumbs. We opted for the small traditional (undressed?) Haddock and chips (fries) for £5.30 GBP. Unfortunately, no beer at a Fish & Chips shoppe so we each had a soda for £1.00 GBP pp. Total bill for two this evening was £21.10 GBP (£10.55 GBP pp).

Field Notes: I know what you guys are thinking! The Muppet Brothers are going to give themselves heart attacks. Maybe so—but this is no time to start playing it safe. I don’t know how many years we have left but by God we’re going to enjoy them to the max. We’ve lived a pretty healthy lifestyle up to this point so now it’s time to indulge in a few bad habits—not everyday of course but once in a while isn’t going to kill us. Or if it does at least we’ll die happy and with a smile on our face. Plus, it’s a lot of fun discovering and experiencing what other countries view as sinful in their culture. SFD

Stephen F. Dennstedt


This Morning’s Walkabout in Perth, Scotland

Stephen F. Dennstedt

For only the second time since arriving in Scotland we were blessed with a bit of sun this morning (1-hour and 45-minutes to be exact). But who’s counting? Well I am for one and Joel is for number two.

Sun has been scarce since leaving the USA in late November to continue our world trek. First Iceland and then the Republic of Ireland (South) and Northern Ireland. Now we’re in Scotland for at least three months and its been rain, sleet and snow.

Perth Methodist Church on Scott Street – Perth, Scotland

So 1-hour and 45-minutes might not sound like much to you but for expatriate Southern Californians like us its been downright glorious. We will take what we can get. The temperature isn’t too bad today at 7°C/45°F with winds of 20 mph (windchill 3°C/37°F) but for some reason it feels colder. Grabbing my camera we headed out to breakfast and a morning walkabout. First I wanted to get a morning shot of a small church we saw last night returning to our hotel from dinner. Perth Methodist Church on Scott Street is tucked in-between other buildings about halfway down the block.

Perth Methodist Church on Scott Street – Perth Scotland

The sun was at my back (perfect) but still so low in the sky that it cast about half of the church into deep shadow. However, that provided some natural contrast to the photo and highlighted the beautiful blue sky and white puffy clouds. I just really liked how this quaint little stone church sat cozily among the other buildings on the block. This scene is only about a 5-minute walk from our hotel and I’m surprised we hadn’t seen it until last night—well better late than never I suppose. We’ve really fallen in love with the architecture in both Ireland and Scotland. I think England and Wales will be the same.

St. Mathew’s Church of Scotland on the River Tay – Perth, Scotland

After I grabbed my shots we headed over to the small Espresso Cafe on Methven Street but it was closed. Restaurants and cafes open really late in Perth and it’s hard to find anything open much before 9-9:30 a.m. in the morning. We thought Espresso opened at 9 a.m. but it was 9:15 a.m. and closed up tighter than a drum. We were looking for an inexpensive meal but wound up at Willows in the St. John’s Shopping Centre—the food was good but pricier than what we wanted to spend. I had a Hot Filled Croissant (cheese & bacon) for £5.10 GBP and Joel had Eggs Benedict for £6.10 GBP.

Former Free Middle Church (1887) on Tay Street – Perth, Scotland

Not too bad you might say but coffee was not included. Our freshly ground and brewed coffee was excellent but set us back another £2.75 GBP each which ratcheted up our bill to £7.85 GBP and £8.75 GBP respectively. Keep in mind our little French Restaurant costs us £6.90 GBP and that includes excellent coffee. However, in our wanderings this morning we did find a small cafe that opens at 8:30 a.m. and serves an early bird special for very affordable prices—we’ll be giving it a try tomorrow morning I think. I know we sound like a couple of cheapskates but keep in mind we’re not on holiday we’re travelling full-time.

St. Mathew’s Church of Scotland on Tay Street – Perth, Scotland

During our walk we crossed the Queen’s Bridge (at the end of South Street) and walked along the River Tay (Scotland’s longest river) taking full advantage of the beautiful walkways. We then returned to City Centre using the Perth Bridge. Once on Tay Street I photographed the former Free Middle Church in the photo and St. Mathew’s Church of Scotland. By this time the sun was quickly disappearing and my beautiful morning light was a thing of the past so we headed back to our hotel. Tonight we’re going to shoot for Fish & Chips—I’ve got a craving.

Field Notes: More about the former Free Middle Church (pictured above) includes the fact that it’s made of red sandstone, complete with Gargoyles, and was completed in 1887. The Gothic-style building was converted to flats (private residences) in 1994. My lens of choice this morning was my Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM ultra wide-angle zoom lens mounted on my Canon EOS 5D Mark IV full-frame sensor DSLR. I love this combination for shooting in the city and for architecture (like these old stone churches). We have one more week in Perth and then we head to Aberdeen (on the east coast) for three weeks. SFD

Free Photos for Friends & Family: YES OR NO?

Stephen F. Dennstedt

Another interesting video from my friends Tony & Chelsea Northrup. C’mon photographers—I know you’ve faced this question before. I certainly have. Sometimes I say yes, more often I say no, and sometimes I find bartering my services works well. If you’re interested in making money with your photography (as a professional or serious amateur) checkout these articles I wrote (and got paid for) for Northrup Photography: Click HERE for articles. Photography is fun but don’t let people abuse your talent or that will quickly remove the fun from it. Enjoy.

Balhousie Castle & Black Watch Museum

Stephen F. Dennstedt

This morning we visited the Balhousie Castle & Black Watch Museum here in Perth, Scotland. It’s advertised as a 16-minute walk (0.8 mile) from our hotel but being old guys we took a little longer. However, we didn’t get lost.

Naturally we headed off to breakfast first and wound up at our little French restaurant in St. John’s Shopping Centre—Breizh French Restaurant. I had my usual Galette with coffee and Joel decided to have the same thing albeit with scrambled eggs.

Balhousie Castle & Black Watch Museum

I prefer the fried egg but you can order it either way. It’s one of the best breakfast deals we’ve been able to find at £6.90 GBP which includes freshly ground and brewed coffee (absolutely the best coffee we’ve had in quite a while). Breizh doesn’t open until 9 a.m. so we end up eating a little later than usual but it’s all good. We try to take our time with breakfast but end up pounding our food down like gluttons—by 9 a.m. we’re plenty hungry. We’ve scouted out a few other breakfast places in City Centre that offer moderate prices so we’ll give some of them a try too. Click on thumbnails below to enlarge.

After breakfast we headed out to find Balhousie Castle & Black Watch Museum. And did I mention we didn’t get lost? I only bring that up (again) because we are both prone to getting very lost at times. I used to have an excellent sense of direction but since my cerebral event in Guatemala my internal compass is all shot to hell. Remember our oft quoted aphorism from our Cuban friend Tony Maas: When things don’t go as planned is when the adventure begins. And we’ve certainly had our share of adventures along the way. Heck, that’s half the fun.

St. Ninian’s Cathedral (The Scottish Episcopal Church)

The museum opens up at 10 a.m. this time of year and we arrived about 10:15 a.m. (late by our standards). We’re usually queued up at the door long before it actually opens—it’s just a Dennstedt time thing that started with my dad (and he cursed us with the same annoying trait—just ask our ex-wives). First, however, we walked by the beautiful Scottish Episcopal Church St. Ninian’s Cathedral on Methven Street and I grabbed a quick shot. Unfortunately, it’s undergoing repairs and is surrounded by scaffolding. We’re finding that a lot during our travels in Ireland and Scotland.

Joel Viewing Displays in the Black Watch Museum

Signing in at the reception area for the castle & museum we found that we qualified for the “Old Fart” discount (60+ years). Instead of paying the normal adult rate of £7.50 GBP we only had to pay £6 GBP a pretty nice savings of £1.50 GBP (or $2.10 USD). Hey, it’s better than a kick in the teeth or south of the belt. I’m not proud anymore and will take a discount when it’s offered. The Black Watch was founded in 1725 just fifty-years prior to the founding of the United States Marine Corps which was founded in 1775. Both are elite units famed for their bravery and tenacity.

Meet Mussa the Orphaned Chimp in Congo

Solitary Confinement – Elderly Chimpanzee in a Mexican zoo

Meet little Mussa the orphaned Chimp. The hardships we inflict on our animal friends is beyond criminal. I recently came across this short video and it warmed my heart. It shows little Mussa a recently orphaned Chimp in Congo being flown to a nearby sanctuary. Little Mussa is so childlike (in a human way) that it’s hard to believe he’s not just a little baby. Upon landing watch how Mussa jumps into the arms of a waiting female volunteer worker. Like a child reaching for his mum. Note: I took the photo above of an isolated elderly Chimp in a Mexican zoo while shooting for The Yucatan Times newspaper (2014). Heartbreaking.

Stephen F. Dennstedt – In the Field For Puuc Jaguar Conservation (Yucatan, MX) in 2012

Over the years I have donated time, money and photographic talent to various agencies and groups around the world who try to make a difference: Labrador Rescuers of San Diego, California Wolf Centre, San Diego Zoological Society, San Diego Natural History Museum, WWF (World Wildlife Fund), National Geographic Society, Kaxil Kiuic Biocultural Reserve and Puuc Jaguar Conservation. As a wildlife photographer and very amateur naturalist it’s important to me that our animal friends survive and thrive. We kill and enslave them in their thousands (millions) and it’s unconscionable.

I’m a Big Fan of Stupid People

I’m a big fan of stupid people. This was a recent quote from Ricky Gervais during an interview with the Oxford Union in England. He went on to say stupid people bring the average way down thus propelling him to the top-tier (the upper percentile) of the smartness continuum. He appreciates stupid people. He defined stupid people as basically ignorant people—people who let feelings (emotion) trump (intentional reference) fact (intellectual truth). I just loved the simplicity of that thought. I on the other hand am not a big fan of stupid people—I abhor ignorance.

Having feelings about something or having an opinion about something does not automatically make that something a fact. Usually quite the opposite is true. This is a rather serious Q&A from Ricky and he makes some good points. If you have the time you might get a kick out of this video (or not) depending on how you feel about Ricky Gervais—whether you find him funny and smart or not. Anyway, I just liked that quote: I’m a big fan of stupid people. Perfect. I have no patience for ignorance on any level and would prefer to thin the herd.

Personal Note: This post is a little different from my usual stuff; it doesn’t deal with photography, writing or travel. It’s a serious look at ignorance but wrapped in humour. Also, I tend to think I’m smarter (more informed) than the average bear—that probably sounds really arrogant (and it is). I don’t have much patience when it comes to ignorant and stupid people—and there are a lot of them in this world. I have confidence in my abilities and insights and typically think I’m right, though very often I am not. You need look no farther than American politics to see ignorance in action. Don’t be one of those mindless people. SFD 

Hotel Grampian—the Traditional Scottish Breakfast

Traditional Scottish Breakfast

It’s Sunday in Perth, Scotland. The restaurants and cafes in City Centre don’t open until late on Sunday so we decided to have breakfast at our hotel. It was pretty expensive by our standards at £10 GBP but did include coffee with free refills. The breakfast prices in town range from about £5.90 GBP to £7.90 GBP (some include coffee while others coffee is an extra). Overall food is expensive (relatively speaking) in Scotland but the meals are robust and the servings are pretty large. Pictured above: Egg, Toast, Potato Bread, Black Pudding, Haggis, Sausage, Bacon, Tomato, Mushrooms and Beans.

The Grampian Hotel – Perth, Scotland

This was exactly the breakfast we had this morning. It took me years to learn how to order fried eggs in the USA: Sunny-side Up (soft whites & yolks), Over Medium (firm whites & soft yolks) and Over Hard (hard whites & yolks). In my twenties a savvy (older than a dinosaur) waitress clued me in when I sent my Sunny-side Up eggs back because the whites were soft and runny. From that day forward I order my fried eggs Over Medium (thank you crusty old food server). In Scotland they don’t know what the hell you mean when you order your eggs Over Medium (you have to explain the result you’re looking for).

City Centre – Perth, Scotland

It’s certainly no big deal. We’ve found in our travels that each country (or region within a country) has its own unique habits or traditions of cuisine. Heck—that’s part of what makes travelling and eating abroad so much fun, trying new things and having new and different experiences. In Asia it’s the lack of dairy products like butter and cheese, in Latin America it was the lack of salt & pepper on the tables. In Scotland it’s a different way of ordering your eggs and getting served Haggis, Black Pudding and Potato (or Soda) Bread. It’s all good—and interesting and FUN. Don’t complain just go with the flow.

Stephen F. Dennstedt