If ever there was a place that could not make up its mind what it was supposed to be, this is it .. the Crystal Cave Tearoom in Burntisland. It is very confusing. It sells everything from buckets and spades to all sorts of trinkets along with a fairly comprehensive range of agates and other lapidary items … hence the name presumably. The people here were very friendly and work extremely hard going up and down a flight of steps to and from the kitchen .. rather them than us.
But someone needs to determine what the core business is and concentrate on that because as a tearoom it was pretty good but could be even better if it wasn’t for all the … stuff. Decluttering would improve the overall ambience and help it look like a proper tearoom. Like the sign says we felt they were on their way to a dream alright but had got a bit lost. Anyway, enough of that, lets get on to the important things. We ordered scones and were told that if we wanted to wait a little we could have completely fresh ones straight from the oven .. otherwise we could have the ones that were done twenty minutes earlier!! We were tempted to wait but, in the end, decided that a twenty minute old scone was just fine .. and so it was, light, good texture and lots of jam and cream. Coffee was presented in a rather odd choice of cup, the tall glass kind we usually associate with gaelic coffee and Pat had to have hers reheated so it could have been better. All in all though we enjoyed everything and wish everyone at the Crystal Cave every good fortune. A crystal ball is what the Labour party needs as it wrestles with Corbynmania. Perhaps if they gazed into it hard enough they might actually see that Tony Blair’s revelation that he is godparent to Rupert Murdoch’s daughter may explain why people don’t want the old establishment Labour party any more, they want something fresh … and Corbyn is their man!
We said that if we ever figured out the treacle scone days at Mother Murphy’s Tearoom, you would be the first to hear .. and we are nothing if not true to our word. You will remember from the first blog, the reason treacle scone days are important is because on these days you can get a ‘thunder and lightning’ scone? You will also remember that there was something of a tricky problem … it was impossible to tell when these days would occur … it seemed to depend on some sort of devine intervention and, of course, there is no foretelling that sort of thing. Well, let me tell you about one of the perks of being scone bloggers, you sometimes get inside information … call it divine intervention if you wish! Pat has just told me that it is the only perk, I stand corrected. Anyway, this morning on FaceBook, we got a wee message, “today is a treacle scone day!”. And so it was that we ended up in this little tearoom for the second time in a week with a somewhat heightened sense of anticipation. After a short wait (sure they did it just to get our juices flowing) it duly appeared. There is little point in me describing a ‘thunder and lightning’ scone .. hopefully the picture says it all .. a veritable extravaganza of treacle, cream and icing sugar. Scoffing could get a bit messy if it was not for the fact that it comes complete with a dedicated ‘thunder and lightning’ scone scoffing kit – a knife and fork. The top picture hopefully describes adequately how good it was .. devine even! The other day, in Aberfeldy, we had a ‘cheese and bacon‘ scone which was also delicious so perhaps we need to introduce a new ‘weird scone’ category .. this one definitely qualifies. Ordinary mortals, however, will just have to figure out for themselves which are treacle scone days .. good luck!
You tend to think that every cafe/restaurant will have some sort of scone with which to provide the honest traveller a bit of sustenance … not so, or at least not in Aberfeldy. We tried the Watermill first to no avail, then the Croft and both just shook their heads. The Croft is more of a restaurant so may be it is excusable there but we found it very disappointing that the Watermill, which otherwise has a great café could not cater to this simple request. Not to worry, we headed to the Habitat Café in the Square and not only were we successful but were treated to a first time experience .. a cheese and bacon scone! Now we have tasted a lot of scones but ‘cheese and bacon’ has never been one of them. As it turned out they do a different scone every day and it just so happened that today was the day for cheese and bacon. It has to be said that some trepidation was involved in our approach to this scone but were encouraged when it turned up with just some butter .. no jam and cream ..phew! Needless to say, as cheese and bacon scones go, this was definitely the best we had tasted but, more than that, it was one of the best scones we had tasted anywhere and easily gets our topscone award for its light fluffy texture and sheer ludicrous inventiveness. Bet the migrants waiting to cross the Channel have never tasted a cheese and bacon scone either .. do you think that is why they are trying so desperately? The media would have us believe that they all want to come to the UK because the UK is such a fantastic, wonderful, elysian paradise .. nothing could be further from the truth! Only a tiny minority thinks the UK is worth a try and usually because they already speak English or have family here. The vast majority want to settle elsewhere in Europe because they have never heard of Aberfeldy, The Habitat Café and its scones .. sad!
We know that loads of you have been wondering whatever happened to Jim Murphy. Wonder no more he is alive and well and working in this tearoom in Falkirk .. okay, okay, it’s not that Jim Murphy. This Jim Murphy owns the place with his wife Debra and this one has much more honesty and vision … the vision to make this little tearoom a roaring success. Only open a couple of months, it is still early days but all the signs are good … clean, tidy, homely, home produced food. Gleneagles it is not, but it is not trying to be anything other than what it is .. a great wee tearoom. Located at Ladysmill on the main road between Falkirk and Grangemouth we were lucky enough to be able to park right outside the door. Once inside we had the choice of Debra’s home baked blueberry or plain scones … dilemma!!
Unable to make such a momentous decision, we had one of each. Pat’s plain scone was accompanied by strawberry jam and my blueberry one with bramble and apple jam, both jams hand crafted by Jim .. there is no end to this duo’s talent! There was one major problem however … the ‘thunder and lightening’ scone on the menu is only available on treacle scone days. Would they tell us what days were treacle scone days? No! Apparently it is an inspirational, spontaneous sort of thing that happens very unpredictably … so presumably we will just have to keep going back time and time again. Talking of time .. do you know what comes next in this time measurement scale .. decade, century, millennium, aeon, ??? Yes, you guessed it .. it’s a chilcot. The best thing about Mother Murphy’s Tearoom is Jim and Debra. They are very friendly and seem really enthusiastic and genuinely happy with what they are doing .. and so they should be! We wish them every success and one day .. one day, we might get to sample that elusive thunder and lighting scone. If we do, you will be the first to hear about it. In the meantime we think all that talent and ingenuity deserves a topscone award .. so it is like Gleneagles after all!
On the outskirts Grangemouth this is part of the MacDonald Hotel group and as such you have probably been in one not too far removed from this one. It has a Spa and swimming pool but was obviously a much smaller place at one time because all the external walls of the original building are now inside and the crisply carved sandstone lends a certain quality ambience to the dining room at least. Many places refuse to take afternoon tea bookings on the day “because it does not give chef enough time”?? We arrived at the Inchyra Grange Hotel mob handed having phoned ahead to ask for afternoon tea for eight adults and two children .. no problem .. what a delightful change to some of the other places we tried. Still no problem when we upset their seating plan by actually turning up with three children instead of two, great! We each got a couple of scones as well as loads of sandwiches and cakes. The scones were very good and almost made the topscone award. Awards are not exactly being thrown at Jeremy Corbyn who, although being extremely popular with the voters, is vilified by the rest of his party. He actually thinks that the Labour party should be slightly socialist .. perish the thought! All, except Corbyn, seem to have forgotten that at the last General Election there was virtually nothing to differentiate the two main parties and voters thought they might as well vote Tory .. or not at all. 30% chose ‘not at all’. Perhaps that 30% is stirring because they now see the possibility of a viable alternative. One of the biggest criticisms of Corbyn seems to be that he does not ‘look’ like a prime minister .. so we will just elect the prettiest one then, never mind the policies? He has certainly enlivened the debate and the other three (who are they?) should take note. Anyway, Labour party machinations aside, the Inchyra Grange coped extremely well with everything we threw at them and even boxed up all the leftovers for us to take home … well done.
It was an absolutely glorious day when we arrived at the Silver Sands beach at Aberdour. There were eight of us in total and having done the required paddling with the kids it was not long before hunger pangs were setting in and we headed en-mass towards the Sands Café/Bistro a little further along the beach. With the weather being so wonderful it was very busy but the service we received was second to none, nothing was too much trouble and one of the staff kindly extended the awning to protect us and the kids from the sun. We sampled everything from burgers to ice cream but of course the rather large scones were very tempting too. We chose the cherry ones though there were also plain and fruit available. All home baked and very good. No cream, so not quite topscone but pretty close and definitely head of our self service category. With the sun beating down, looking out over the beach towards Edinburgh, Arthur’s Seat and Berwick Law it seems like a different world .. a sort of dream world. In the actual world however there are sinister goings on. Two senior politicians who lost their seats in the General Election are to be made knights of the realm!! They lost their seats because the people did not want them but now are to sit in the Upper House, against the wishes of the people, to legislate on behalf of the people who unelected them in the first place?? Did I just make that up? I wish I had. It seems unbelievable that such things can happen in the name of democracy in this day and age! We desperately need a new system where unelected lackeys and party donors are not allowed to lord over us. Meanwhile in Aberdour, no such troublesome thoughts are disturbing those intent on building sand castles, digging holes and swimming in the sea … nor should it!