Buttercup Cafe

Can’t actually remember the last time we were in North Berwick but it was certainly some years ago. On this visit, if it wasn’t for the fact that we know better, we would say that everyone in town was more than a little devious, Machiavellian even … you know who you are! But that’s another story. Sign for the Buttercup Cafe in North BerwickNorth Berwick itself is a lovely little seaside town with lots of art galleries, craft shops, restaurants and cafes. It consists almost entirely of rather grand Victorian houses and is surrounded by golf courses … and, to top it all off, not content with one beach, North Berwick has two. It was called North Berwick to distinguish it from South Berwick (now Berwick-on-Tweed) which, at one time was in Scotland rather than England. In the 16th century the town was a hotbed of witchcraft with many more witches being tried here  than anywhere else. One Agnes Sampson was accused of making a potion which made the seas rough for King James VI and his new wife, Anne of Denmark on their return voyage to Scotland. In 1591 she was tortured until a confession was obtained then burned at the stake. Thankfully there’s not so much of that sort of thing going on these days, or at least we did not see anything like that on our visit.Internal view of the Buttercup Cafe in North BerwickThe tiny Buttercup Cafe is in the centre of town and has just a four tables and a serving counter. The predominant decor is surf boards. Now although the waves just a few meters from the door were definitely big enough for surfing the temperature, at a smidgen above freezing, definitely was not … brrrr! A scone at the Buttercup Cafe in North BerwickThe welcome here though was very warm and we were soon kitted out with a fruit and a plain scone and offered a wide range of jams to go with them. They were nicely presented and each scone came with a generous pot of clotted cream .. what’s not to like? Nothing as it happens but we eventually decided that, wonderful as they were, the scones were not quite topscones … shame. Isn’t it wonderful how, with no proof whatsoever, Putin has been branded public enemy number one because of the Sergei Skripal affair. We are not taking Putin’s side, far from it, but we do think he has good reason to more than a little disgruntled at the actions of the West recently and May’s refusal to provide him with a sample of the deadly toxin is impolite if not Machiavellian. In fact, knickers have become so twisted that Brexit has barely got a mention recently … gosh, who would have thought it!

West beach, North Berwick
Stormy day on west beach, North Berwick

EH39 4HE    tel: 01620 894985     Buttercup Cafe FB

p.s. This K6, constructed in the Lion Foundry, Kirkintilloch was found at the west end of the High Street in North Berwick. It had been converted for use as a cash machine but retained an outside telephone … for very small people??A K6 converted to a cash machine in North Berwick

Brian’s Café

Yesterday morning we were back at the Hippodrome in Bo’ness to see The Shape Of Water … an unexpectedly enjoyable film. It’s really a love fantasy but it also turns out to be surprisingly topical. The Americans had captured a unique South American water monster with peculiarly human characteristics … honestly, it’s better than it sounds! Rather than let the US acquire any  advantage by studying the beast and unearthing its secrets the Russians, in the form of KGB agents, plotted to kill it with a lethal injection. Have you heard of any similar stories recently? It is amusing to see the media in a frenzy wondering where the nerve agents directed against Sergei Skripal and his daughter could have come from without ever mentioning the world’s biggest stockpile of such chemical weapons at Porton Down … only eight miles from Salisbury where Skripal was found. Interior view of Brian's Café in BonessAll fingers seem to be pointing at Vladimir Putin however and probably with good reason. Have you noticed a rather worrying trend among world leaders recently? Putin, who unexpectedly came to power because Boris Yeltsin hadn’t enough blood in his vodka system, now finds himself drunk on power itself. He has manufactured a situation where he can remain in power indefinitely. Likewise with President Xi of China. Power is a great corrupter and both men now seem to think that they are omnipotent. Meanwhile, back in the USA, President Trump  knows he is omnipotent but, unlike Putin and Xi, hasn’t yet worked out a scam to keep the job for a life … watch this space. Theresa May on the other hand will be forced to keep her job for life whether she likes it or not simply because it’s such a mess no one else wants it. Interior view of Brian's Café in BonessEnough of all that. Just across the road from the Hippodrome is the imaginatively named Brian’s Cafe which, would you believe it, is owned by a chap called Brian, surname Curry. Its outward appearance is somewhat uninspiring and we did not have high hopes as we entered. A scone at Brian's Café in BonessThe interior is pleasant enough though and the staff were very friendly and helpful. We were soon settled down with some tea and sharing a fruit scone … okay, we sometimes indulge in reckless extravagance! There was no cream and the butter and jam were prepackaged but the scone itself was very good, not quite a topscone but pretty close.  The café has lots of what appeared to be family photographs hanging on the walls and when we asked about them we ended up being introduced to Brian himself who had been sitting at another table with some friends. He’s a lovely guy who proceeded to take us round and explain his family history. Turns out that he is part of the Serafini family who not only had a cafe in Bo’ness but operated the York Café in Falkirk, a place we know very well.

Serafini family group from Brian's Café in Bo'ness
The Serafini family from Barga in Italy with Brian’s aunt in the centre

What amazed us was that Brian’s aunt, a Bo’nessian born and bred, had married a Serafini and as a result was interned during WWII. It had never before occurred to us that Scots were also interned simply because of their association with Italians … unbelievable!

The Serafini's original café and their fish and chip van
The Serafini’s original café in Bo’ness  … and their fish and chip van c1950s

It was great listening to the many delightful childhood stories Brian had to tell … a far cry from today’s world of all-powerful autocrats and dastardly subterfuge.

EH51 0AA       tel: 01506 823815       Brian’s Café TA

p.s. News of an even bigger controversy came to us the other day courtesy of our correspondent, the Stenibrainfart. He reported that the National Trust in England had organised a cream tea at one of their venues in Cornwall and to publicise it they used a picture of a scone with a dollop of jam on top of the cream … arrgghh! National Trust picture of a cream tea sconeNow all self respecting sconeys worth their salt know that that is how they do it in Devon … and it’s just plain wrong! It is definitely not how they do it in Cornwall and Cornish folks have reportedly been resigning their NT membership in droves. A #JamFirst badgeThey felt so strongly they even produced #JamFirst badges to support the cause. Well done Cornwall, you tell ’em!

The Beast from the East

This is not a proper scone post. It is simply an attempt to reassure all those kind sconeys (particularly those in the southern hemisphere) who have enquired after our well-being in the face of the Beast from the East, Putin’s gift to the west. We are fine though things in general are pretty bad e.g. we have just heard that pastries from Greggs have been declared legal tender! The title picture is of our car which hasn’t moved for almost a week. We can hear readers in Canada and Norway screaming “they call that snow”? Okay, okay, don’t mock! Unlike you, when we get snow, we  just wait for it to go away the next day … but this time it has been here for days! Nothing in Britain has moved much in the last week … very few cars on the roads, no trains, no flights … but you know all that! Let us give you an instance about how Britain is coping. Yesterday, late afternoon, we decided to venture out as far as our local pub just to get out and have a walk if nothing else. We walked along the middle of the road, standing aside every time a car came along … only two passed. There was no one else out, the whole place was eerily quiet. We fully expected the pub to be  deserted, just a few hardy regulars, but no, it was ramjammed, we could hardly get in! We asked the harassed looking barmaid why it was so busy “cos nobody’s at their efing work” was the reply. That’s how Britain copes … just go to the pub! We don’t have any pictures of scones to share but we are sending you this one of a partial scone. It was sent by one of our correspondents who has a home office at the bottom of his garden. His wife had baked some scones and braved the snow and the icy wind to bring some, complete with apricot jam, to her beloved. He thought that he would send us a picture but, in his heightened state of ecstasy, promptly forgot until there was barely anything left.What's left of a scone and apricot jamWe can only apologise dear readers, but good competent scone correspondents are difficult to come by these days ..  a bit like politicians. We had to admire Theresa May saying that the EU would have to compromise  … is there a thinly veiled threat in there “if you don’t compromise we won’t leave”? Once again, thanks for all your concern but hopefully we will be out and about very soon and normal sconology will be resumed.

The Elgin Hotel

Today we were back at the Hippodrome picture palace to see Journey’s End,  an excellent ‘must see’ for all those who think of war as a worthwhile endeavour … we were both a bit emotional at the end. Afterwards we decided to extend our homeward journey via one of our favourite scenic routes. Also, having had a wee nostalgia trip in our previous post we thought we might as well persist with the theme … but this time the images are coming from the gents toilet at the Elgin Hotel … too much information??Nostalgic posters at the Elgin Hotel, Charlestown, Fife Admittedly, even at the time, these images would have been deemed ‘romanticised’ but once again we think it would be interesting to see if the artist could portray life today with such a degree of misty eyed innocence. Talking of things not being quite what they seem, we are not actually in Elgin, that fine highland town where you might reasonably expect to find such a hotel … our scenic route did not stretch that far! We are actually in Charlestown on the northern shore of the river Forth, only a few miles from Edinburgh. The Earls of Elgin have owned everything within sight of this place for centuries so the hotel takes it’s name from them. They even had Charlestown built in the shape of the letter E … but hey, when you are an over privileged toff with more money than sense you can do that sort of thing!  The 7th Earl, Lord Elgin, was perhaps the most well known in that it was he who, in 1803, stripped the Parthenon of its marble sculptures  because he wanted them to decorate Broomhall House, his home on the outskirts of the village. They, of course, became known as the Elgin Marbles and they continue to cause as much controversy today as they did back then. Such was the fury at the time, Lord Byron carved ‘Quod non fecerunt Gothi, fecerunt Scoti‘ in the rock at the Acropolis, meaning ‘What the Goths spared, the Scots destroyed’ … not sure who was the worst vandal though? For what it’s worth, we think that Britain should do the decent thing and return the Marbles to their rightful place … but then again, when was the last time Britain did the decent thing?

Snowdrops at the Elgin Hotel, Charlestown, Fife
snowdrops … signs of spring at The Elgin Hotel

Anyway, Charlestown itself is a lovely village which kind of belies the fact that it was once a shipbuilding port and even functioned as the ship-breaking centre for the boats of the German Imperial Fleet brought down from Scapa Flow at the end of World War I. Internal view of the Elgin Hotel, Charlestown, FifeBefore we move on to the important business of scones, perhaps there is just time for a teansy bit of tittle tattle. Controversy obviously follows the Elgins, because In 1990, the current Lord Elgin’s son, Lord Bruce married one Amanda Movius, a 23 year old Alaskan with reportedly ‘pop star’ looks. She had been in Scotland on holiday but, after a whirlwind romance, ended up as Lady Bruce with a vast baronial estate and a 30,00 square foot mansion. Having embarked on several extramarital affairs however and setting up a failed clothes shop in Edinburgh she fled Scotland leaving behind a mountain of debt. Back in America she continued with a life of deceit and dishonesty until last year she was eventually jailed in Texas for credit card fraud, drink driving, possession of marijuana and obstructing the highway. We tell you this simply to illustrate that, heaven forbid, aristocrats are just the same as the rest of us, just a lot more privileged … not to gossip you understand! Enough of all that, what about the scones? Scones at the Elgin Hotel, Charlestown, FifeUnfortunately, mid-afternoon, we seemed to be the only people around. Nevertheless we were very well looked after by a couple of ladies who soon had us sitting in front of the fire and supplying us with tea, coffee and a couple of fruit scones. ‘Disappointing’ is the word that best described them. They were presented with a basket of prepackaged jams and butter … and the cream was scooshie … arrgghh!

A whisky timer at the Elgin Hotel, Charlestown, Fife
whisky timer

We enjoyed them however because after walking in the icy Siberian blast of the Beast from the East it was nice to be sitting here in front of a nice fire with hot drinks and some scones .. even these scones! On the bar they had two whisky bottles made up like a giant egg timer. No one seems to know why it’s there or where it had came from. Apparently it has got slower over the years and currently, the time for one bottle to empty into the other, stands at 67 minutes … fine if you like your eggs really hard boiled!

KY11 3EE      tel: 01383 872257       The Elgin Hotel

ps: a photo has been sent in from our Emirates correspondents. It is taken from a menu in Abu Dhabi and among the items in their ‘Arabic High Tea’ is a scone. An Arab sconeWe had no idea that Arabs ate scones but you learn something every day … many thanks to our correspondents for that.  They did not furnish any information on what it was like, we will have to have a word … though at 113 dirhams (£22) it’s not exactly cheap. Labneh, by the way, is a kind of Greek style yoghurt … think we’ll stick with strawberry jam!

The Ivy Tearoom

One of the marvelous things about being of a certain vintage is that you can visit the cinema in the middle of the week, see a film and still be out in time for lunch. You also get a cup of tea and a biscuit on the way in … what’s not to like? So it was that we ended up in the Hippodrome in Bo’ness to see Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. The town’s name, Bo’ness, is an abbreviated version of Barrowstounness meaning Burgh Town on the Point referring to the promontory on which it’s located. Once one of Scotland’s main ports, second only to Leith, nowadays, in common with many such towns, it has that rather sad post-industrial look about it.

External view of the Hippodrome Cinema in Bo'ness
Opened in 1911,the Hippodrome is Scotland’s oldest purpose built cinema    and its dome

Our film, Three Billboards, was much feted at the BAFTAs and we certainly enjoyed it. We won’t explain why (we review scones not films) but suffice to say that when we came along the street to The Ivy Tea Room we overheard people at the next table talking about the film. One of them said ” oooo .. she was like a dog with a bone!” and that pretty well sums it up … but go see for yourselves! The Ivy is one of these places that cannot quite make up its mind what it wants to be. Internal view of the Ivy Tea Room in Bo'nessMostly it’s a tearoom, of course, but there is also an area dedicated to selling books and knick-knacks and another selling antiques, or what might more accurately be described as bric-a-brac. We think it should stick to being a tearoom and try and get rid of the slightly cluttered appearance of the place. However, a very smiley lady took our order and soon had us sorted with some lunch as well as a scone to share. Among some of the aforesaid clutter there were a few illustrations reminiscent of a more gracious world when things were not so frenetic.Pictures at the Ivy Tea Room in Bo'ness Okay, we hear you cry “they’ve been sitting in a cinema all morning with tea and biscuits, what are they going on about … frenetic??” You’re right, of course, we are fortunate indeed but nevertheless these images seemed almost ‘other worldly’ when set against a modern backdrop of school shootings, misogyny, paedophilia and generally failing services. All right, that rather misty eyed world probably never actually existed but we still think you would have to use mightily rose tinted glasses to illustrate today’s world in a similar vein. Will this time be looked back on as the golden age of anything? A scone at the Ivy Tea Room in Bo'nessUnfortunately, unlike Three Billboards, our fruit scone was very forgettable … not much fruit, no cream and the scone itself was just soft with no real texture at all! We won’t be rushing back here the next time we have to spend a morning in the Hippodrome cinema … or … while we are in nostalgic mood lets call it the Hippodrome picture palace. That may not be too far away, they have an interesting list of upcoming films. They also have an annual silent movie week in March called Hippfest … but we’re not old enough to remember any of that sort of stuff … no we’re not!

EH51 9HA       tel: 01506 823389      The Ivy Tea Room FB

Café Belgica

Admittedly, this is not the first place that comes to mind when seeking out a good scone a) it’s a huge furniture warehouse b) it’s situated in a pretty uninviting industrial estate … but, like us, you might be surprised. We used to come here quite often looking for the odd quirky piece of furniture but, hallelujah, since our last visit they have reorganised everything and added Café Belgica … and it seemed like the busiest part of the store. Internal view of Café BelgicaIt is well set up and there is a good range of food and drinks on offer … including scones. Ours fruit scones were good and served with a generous tub of clotted cream. The friendly lady who was looking after us, however, was having to work very hard negotiating a rather odd table layout – definitely something they need to look at in future. A scone at Café BelgicaNot topscones unfortunately but enjoyable nevertheless. Café Belgica is providing something of an oasis in what is really a huge refreshment desert … a place to chillax away from the cares of the outside world and, perhaps more importantly, away from the Winter Olympics. Never mind the brouhaha about Kim Jong-un’s sister making Mike Pence look like a bit of a plonker, or the fact that banned Russia is competing … but not as Russia? Even more ridiculous is the sight of commentators working themselves up into a lather over whether Team GB might beat Team Nigeria by 1/1000th of a second … at sledging! Does anyone seriously care? Maybe we just don’t understand. In common with 99.999% of the population we don’t know anyone involved in ‘skeleton’ (head first on a sledge) or ‘luge’ (feet first on a sledge) so are not in a position to discuss the finer points. As youths we used to take part in our own Tin Tray Championships which consisted of a group of idiots sliding down the Ochil hills on beer trays totally out of control … a bit like Brexit negotiations! Could Brexit become an Olympic event … a gold medal to anyone who can find a way to keep us in the EU.

EH51 0PU     tel: 01506 243954     Café Belgica

Fenwicks of Linlithgow

The car had to go for a service at our garage in Bo’ness and when we dropped it off they kindly gave us a lift the mile or so into Linlithgow so that we could go for a walk round the loch. Although the loch was partially frozen it was a nice day … ideal for a wee walk.

View across Linlithgow loch to the Palace
Looking towards Linlithgow Palace and the spire of St Michael’s church

The path, of course, is circular so it wasn’t too long before we found ourselves back in the town and feeling more than a little peckish. We’ve had several scones in Linlithgow in the past however this one, Fenwicks of Linlithgow was new to us … it had to be done. As soon as we walked in we were aware of a lively bustling atmosphere .. always a good sign!Internal view of Fenwicks of LinlithgowWe weren’t disappointed, everything was excellent. After a delicious light lunch we decided to share one of the fairly large home made fruit scones.  A scone at Fenwicks of LinlithgowIt came with lots of butter, and jam  … and cream with a fresh raspberry on top .. totally unnecessary but a nice touch. Suffice to say that we liked everything about this place and we would not hesitate to go back next time we are in town … probably the next time our car needs some attention. All too soon however it was time to venture out into the cold once more. If Donald Trump needs any further proof of global warming he need look no further than Linlithgow … this polar bear has obviously been left stranded by the receding ice cap … obviously! Polar bear stuck up a tree in LinlithgowEven more evidence was provided in the form of a painting in the Black Bitch pub where we were waiting to be picked up again.  In 1848 the loch must have been seriously frozen to allow so many people onto the ice for this bonspeil. It was obviously much colder back then … obviously! What more proof do you need Donald?? Do you think he reads ‘the scones’?

The Grand Match at Linlithgow Loch 1849 by Charles Lees
The Grand Match at Linlithgow Loch 1848 by Charles Lees

The garage duly picked us up from the Black Bitch and we were reunited with our car which they had restored to peak condition … an all round good day.

EH49 7EJ     tel: 01506 238580      Fenwicks of Linlithgow FB

The Larder

Just when you think you have done all the tearooms and coffee shops in your home town, lo and behold, another one pops up. Mind you the Larder has been open quite a few months now … we just hadn’t noticed it. Getting noticed is crucially important for all new businesses yet unbelievably this place has neither wifi or a contact telephone number … and, to make matters even worse, it has a big glossy Costa directly across the road. The Larder, therefore, has the dubious distinction of being the only establishment we have ever reviewed for which we cannot find a phone number.  It also ‘borrows’ its wifi from another business nearby and it doesn’t have a website. We fear for the Larder’s future … no matter how good the scones are.  Internal view of the Larder, Falkirk It’s a shame that we were the only customers because the two young girls who appeared to be running the place were trying hard. Maybe some home baking would set us on the right track? No, they simply buy their scones from Costco, a huge wholesale warehouse in Glasgow.  However, any preconceptions we may have harboured about warehouse scones were quickly dashed when they actually turned out to be quite good .. on the large side but quite light and fluffy on the inside.  A scone at the Larder, FalkirkNo hope of a topscone here but service, tea and coffee were all good … we wish the Larder well and hope they get themselves sorted out before long. This week it was hard to miss stories about suffragettes and the amazing things they had to do to get noticed. It was, of course, the  centenary of women getting the vote in 1918.  Strictly speaking only 40% of women got the vote then  as opposed to 58 % of men – the rest had to wait another ten years. Nowadays most people find it totally incredible that all this was happening only 100 years ago. It’s a bit like the internet – young people think it has always been there … they think the ‘right to vote’ has always been there too and are surprised to learn that it is in fact a relatively recent innovation. Back in 1707, at the Treaty of Union between Scotland and England, ‘the people’ would have loved a vote. According to accounts at the time, 99 out of 100 ordinary people were against the Union but of the 175 eligible voters 106 voted in favour and the rest, as they say, is history. We would like to think that, when Scotland becomes an independent country again, people will look back 100 years from now with the same incredulity afforded to the suffragettes at the fact that we were once ruled by another country. We will let you know how the Larder gets on.

FK1 1LZ            The Larder TA

Sundial Café

Kidnapped by Robert Louis StevensonWhen Robert Louis Stevenson was writing Kidnapped he chose Limekilns as the final point of escape for David Balfour and Alan Breck as they fled the redcoats in 1752 . An odd choice when you look at the sleepy little village today, however, it wasn’t always like this. Its sheltered natural harbour meant that it once had a thriving fishing industry and, as its name suggests, burning lime was another. However, in the 18th century, the harbour also served as the northern terminus for a ferry service from Bo’ness on the opposite shore … maybe that’s why Stevenson chose this place? Anyway, Alison Hastie, the local innkeeper’s daughter rowed them across and the two young fugitives successfully escaped … hurrah! Nowadays, of course, they could just have walked across the river using any one of three bridges … okay, you are not supposed to walk on the rail bridge but if you were fleeing for your life?? We got here by using the new Queensferry Crossing … without expansion joints it is a very smooth drive … but how have they done that, where does the expansion go? Having arrived in Fife we decided to take the more more indirect but more picturesque coastal route back home on the north side of the Forth and Limekilns is one of the first villages you come across. It is home to the Sundial Café.

The sundial at the Sundial Cafe in Limekilns
Sundial dated 1689

Unsurprisingly it gets its name from the sundial high up on the corner of the building. In Scotland, these things are only of use on the rare occasions when the sun actually shines but presumably when this one was installed there were not that many alternatives. Inside, on the ground floor, it is small and cosy with a large log burning stove but there is also a fairly large seating area upstairs. It has only been open a few years but it is pretty obvious that the renovation of the 400 year old building has been done very sympathetically. When we arrived mid afternoon they only had two scones left, one fruit and the other cheese and bacon. We decide to have them both and share, half each … what are we like?

Internal view of the Sundial Café in Limekilns
Upstairs and downstairs in the Sundial

They were very good – the fruit one came with plenty of jam but they didn’t have any cream … boo! No topscone but a lovely place with friendly people … highly recommended. A scone at the Sundial Café in LimekilnsIn 1362 King David II, as kings do, gave Limekilns harbour to the monks of Dunfermline Abbey  to encourage trade with europe … oh, with the shambles that is Brexit, for that sort of initiative these days!  Shock horror,  as we sit gazing out towards the North Sea, BP has announced that it is to double its North Sea oil production and keep extracting for the next forty years. In 2014 it was explained, in no uncertain terms, what a liability the dribble of oil that was left was for Scotland … so now the liability has just got a whole lot bigger … thanks Westminster, what would we do without you? If Scotland ever gets its independence the maritime border with England, surreptitiously redrawn in 1999 to run just off Aberdeen will have to be extended yet again to take in all the oilfields around Shetland … what fun!

KY11 3HN     tel: 01383 873370      Sundial Café TA

ps something for all our telephone box enthusiasts, not a K2 or a K6 or even made of iron. A wooden Post Office telephone box from the 1930sOne of our wonderful correspondents has just sent this picture of a wooden telephone box taken at the National Museum of Scotland. According to the information it is dated 1930s and is from the Hope Street Post Office in Edinburgh. Apparently a lot of post offices provided these payphones for customers when few people had telephones at home. Things have changed since then. Thank goodness for social media, otherwise how else would we know that Scotland’s thirteen Tory MPs had voted to remove powers from the Scottish Parliament?

The Orangery – Hopetoun

A pineapple wall decoration Orangery tearoom at New Hopetoun Garden CentreThis is becoming a habit … eating scones in orangeries that is! It’s not that long ago since we were at an orangery at Ham House in London and here we are at it again … life can be hard. Today we were actually trying to track down Shapes auction house which had notified us of a move to Port Edgar from Edinburgh, when we came on this place. It’s in an excellent garden centre which we have known for many years. It started life in the walled garden of nearby Hopetoun House but twenty years ago moved a mile or so to its present site and became known as the ‘New’ Hopetoun Garden Centre. A sign at New Hopetoun Garden CentreOn the way in you are greeted with this sign which makes you wish you had been here on Sept 5 1792, it must have been quite a day … it was a Wednesday! Not to be confused with Sept 5 forty years earlier in 1752 … not only did nothing happen, it didn’t even exist. That year, in order for Britain to catch up with the rest of the world which used the Gregorian calendar (we know, it is hard to imagine Britain being out of step .. but just try), it was decreed that the day following Sept 2 would be Sept 14 … just like that, eleven days just vanished! You thought time travel was just a figment of the imagination but the entire population of Britain was actually doing it centuries ago! We digress. The Orangery is everything you would expect from a garden centre tearoom … spacious, bright and with a good range of food and drink on offer. Internal view of the Orangery tearoom at New Hopetoun Garden CentreIt is self service but, even though it was busy, we were quickly attended to by some very friendly staff. Pat decided on our traditional choice of a fruit scone but I opted for cherry … hey, why not? Both scones came with loads of jam, butter and cream. A scone at the Orangery tearoom at New Hopetoun Garden CentreThey had really crunchy exteriors with soft middles which made them delicious but a bit difficult to manage … they tended to crumble very easily. We thoroughly enjoyed them though … topscone. Because service is usually a factor we don’t normally give topscone awards to self service establishments but the self service here was great, the sun was shining and we were in a good mood … well done The Orangery! A little bit further along the road we came to Port Edgar near South Queensferry. The ‘Edgar’ bit comes from Edgar Aetheling, the brother of Queen Margaret of Scotland who set up the ferry crossing in the 11th century to help pilgrims on their way to St Andrews. It operated until 1964 when the road bridge was built.

The old Forth Road Bridge over the river Forth with the Forth Railway Bridge in the background
The Forth Road Bridge from Port Edgar with the Rail Bridge in the distance

Originally a naval base it is now a leisure marina. Visitors to Port Edgar are now treated to an excellent view of the new Queensferry Crossing … opened only a few months ago.

The Queensferry Crossing over the river Forth
The Queensferry Crossing from Port Edgar

It is a magnificent feat of engineering and now, with Boris Johnston talking of a bridge across the English Channel, it is perhaps worth explaining some facts about this one. It was built by the SNP government on time and under budget … obviously Carillion was not involved. It was opposed by all other political parties who promptly fell over themselves to take credit when it was completed. There was no funding from Westminster … something to remember if the Channel Bridge ever gets the go ahead. Scotland, like the HS2 and Crossrail projects, will undoubtedly be saddled with 10% of the costs for little or no benefit. Anyway, we did find the new premises of the auction house which was massive but shut, not opening until the end of the month apparently … heyho, we had thoroughly enjoyed our day!

EH52 6QZ    tel: 01506 834433         New Hopetoun Gardens

p.s. our Trossachs correspondents sent this picture. We thought they had been quiet recently but maybe they just can’t get out .. or are just too busy building snowmen!A snowman at Kinlochard