The Hideaway Café

We often stop off in Bridge of Allan as we go to and from the north … for the size of the place it has a lot to offer. For me the reason for stopping is Woodwinters Wine & Whiskies, one of the best off-licences I know, or the excellent Allanwater Tinpot Brewery/Pub, whereas Pat likes several of the fashion shops. It was one of these fashion shops, Ruby Tuesday, that led us to this place, the Hideaway Café, tucked away at the end of a mews that runs down the side of the shop. We thought we knew Bridge of Allan quite well but had no idea this place existed. It is aptly named but well worth finding. It has a much more relaxed ‘coffee shop’ vibe than our usual Bridge of Allan haunts, Jamjar and Café 33. hideaway-01Everything on the menu , including the scones, is freshly prepared every morning. It also has an outside area with a playhouse for the kiddies, a surefire blessing for all the mums of Bridge of Allan. It was unfortunate that we arrived at the end of the day … there was only a single lonesome fruit scone left so we decided to share and put it out of it’s misery. hideaway-03Perhaps it was because it was the last that it caused us some difficulty. It was very very good, nice jam and cream, but we felt it lacked a certain freshness. Had we been earlier in the day it would definitely have achieved a topscone. Next time we will get there earlier and not spend so much time and money in Ruby Tuesday!! Bridge of Allan, like most spa towns is ‘nice’ … Robert Louis Stevenson visited every year in his youth … but it was not always so genteel. It got it’s name in 1520 when a narrow stone bridge was built to replace the old ford across the River Allan. Soon after that it became a sort of ‘klondyke’ town when copper, gold and silver mines were established nearby and by 1745 the bridge had been commandeered by a group of Jacobites who charged a toll to cross. Most famously of all, of course, in January 1963 the Beatles played the Museum Hall, now converted into luxury flats. At that time, even the Beatles themselves had little inkling of what lay in store for them … a bit like the Labour party at their recent annual conference in Liverpool. hideaway-02In spite of what seemed a reasonable, if not rousing, closing speech by Corbyn, the sight of a large part of the audience doggedly stuck to their seats and refusing to applaud does not bode well for the future of the party, or for that matter, the country, which desperately needs an effective opposition. With the Tories in almost as much disarray, the UK appears to be in some sort of free-fall. At home, Scottish Labour has shot itself in the foot so often there is nothing left below the knee except bloodied strands of gristle. What is wrong with the country?

Picture of childrens playhouse at the Hideaway Café
Kiddies playhouse

Perhaps it was summed up this week by Sam Allardyce walking off with £1m for a couple of months work as England manager … instead of being booted out on his ear as he should have been. Yet another example, like the bankers, of the ‘success of failure’. As long as we continue to reward those who fail us the future will look decidedly unpredictable. Perhaps they should all hole up in that kiddies playhouse at the Hideaway Café for a while until they have sorted themselves out?

FK9 4EN      no telephone       Hideaway Café

Roasted Bean

Okay, okay, the Crystal Palace Triangle is not so much a ‘scone desert’ as we first thought … we found another one! picture of garden area of Roasted Bean café in Crystal PalaceThis time it’s at the Roasted Bean café and, like the LWS café in our previous post, it is situated on the outer extremity of the Triangle where the influence is weakest. The Roasted Bean had plain and fruit scones so we thought we should take the chance to get back to some sort of normality after our gruyère and chive experience. Normality, however, is sometimes not all that it is cracked up to be. The girl who brought our fruit scone, semi-apologetically explained that the scraping of jam on offer was all they had left .. not a great start. On the plus side, we were able to sit outside in the ‘garden’ on what was a very hot day. picture of a Roasted Bean café sconeThe scone itself, although nicely toasted and tasted okay, the meagre jam and the strange synthetic butter missed the topscone marker by quite a long way. We have concluded that the Crystal Palace Triangle, though not a complete scone desert, is not the sort of place that sconeys should be frequenting … unless, of course, they have a peripheral interest in broadcasting?? Picture of the Crystal Palace TV transmitterCrystal Palace may not cut the mustard for scones but it does have the famous Crystal Palace TV transmitter which, with a coverage of more than 12 million people, is the most important in the UK . Of course, broadcasting aficionados will know that the first ever TV broadcast took place in our own home town of Falkirk when John Logie Baird demonstrated the new fandangled thing in what is now Johnston’s bistro in the Lint Riggs. You are probably also aware that the whole ‘TV thingy’ caught on in quite a big way and when the BBC was formed, the rest, as they say, is history. The BBC is about to get it’s new charter and whereas this transmitter probably does a good job for London it remains to be seen whether the BBC can adapt to the new politics of the UK and reflect a Scotland where all but three of it’s MPs support independence. So far it has done a miserable job … for instance, reporting a big independence rally in Catalonia whilst completely ignoring a similar rally in Glasgow on the same day is not a service, it is a disservice. With Scotland raising more than £300m in BBC licence fees and only getting £83m back, an urgent revision is required. RTE, the Irish broadcaster, buys all BBC channels for £21m a year so it does not need a brain surgeon to work out that an independent Scotland would be much better off  doing it’s own broadcasting and simply paying for the BBC in the same way as RTE … if it wants to. Do you think this transmitter could have anything to do with the mysterious lack of scones in the Crystal Palace Triangle?

SE19 3RY     tel: 07515 126190     Roasted Bean FB

Living Water Satisfies Café

You are all aware of the Bermuda Triangle – that mysterious area of ocean on the other side of the Atlantic where things simply disappear without trace. Today we are in the Crystal Palace Triangle, a relatively small area enclosed by three streets and famous for an eclectic range of vintage furniture and clothing stores, in south London. Like it’s Caribbean namesake things go missing here as well … scones, for example! It is not as if there are no cafés, there are loads of them … Venezuelan cafés, Nepalese cafés, Polish cafés, Sudanese cafés  … would any of those have scones?

View from Crystal Palace towards central London
Crystal Palace, on Sydenham Hill, is one of the highest points in London.

Just as we were about to declare the Triangle a ‘scone desert’ we came across the Living Water Satisfies or LWS Café. No idea where it gets it’s name but it is situated on the outer extremity of the Triangle where the influence is obviously weaker … and lo and behold … scones. Admittedly there was only three left and they were all the same … gruyère and chive! LWS turns out to be a charity dedicated to helping those who suffer domestic abuse so all the proceeds from the café and bookshop go towards providing shelter and comfort to abuse victims … well done them! The café itself is pretty basic but is obviously well used for functions and meetings as well as folk just dropping in for something to eat. They also make everything, including the scones, on the premises.Interior picture of LWS cafe As you know we occasionally like to live life on the edge, adrenalin  and all that … and besides, this place was worthy of our tiny little bit of support … and you readers obviously need to know about such things, so gruyère and chives it was! What a surprise, what a pleasure … really cheesy and the chives just gave them a certain je ne sais quoi. Picture of a scone at LWS cafeFor sure, they fell into the ‘weird scone’ category but definitely one of our top weird scones! Coffee was good as well. In the short time since our previous post there have been other disappearances. We think that David Cameron may have moved too close to the epicentre of the Crystal Palace Triangle because, having laid waste to the UK, the EU, Libya and even brought perfectly honourable pigs into disrepute, he has now vanished completely. He told us himself that he is “no quitter”, so the Triangle seems the most likely explanation. He will be remembered fondly  … in much the same way as Tony Blair.

SE19 3AF          tel: 020 8653 4011            LWS Café

The Ladybird Tearoom

If you have ever picked up a bottle of Johnnie Walker … and, let’s face it, who hasn’t, you were probably more interested in the contents than the bottle itself, but that bottle was probably made here in Alloa where the glassworks is one of the biggest employers in an old established industry. ‘Twas not always so settled though! Things were a little different in 1715  when the Earl of Mar, who owned most of the town had to flee the country and forfeit his lands because he backed the wrong side in the Jacobite rebellion. Heyho, it did not hold the town back for long and Alloa soon became the main port for exporting Glasgow’s manufactured goods across the North Sea to the continent. In 1878 they even started their own football team, Clackmannan County, though 5 years later it changed it’s name to Alloa Athletic … and the team still plays at Recreation Park to this day. The town is no longer a flourishing port and in common with many other towns that have lost much of their industry, it looks a bit tired. Interior of the Ladybird tearoom in AlloaIt is surrounded by all the usual ‘superstores’ that only serve to make all such towns look equally miserable because they have sucked the lifeblood out of the centre. Cut the crap, we hear you ask impatiently, does it have scones ? Apologies for the course language .. too many episodes of House of Cards, but the answer is, yes it does, and hence we find ourselves here at the Ladybird Tearoom. It’s nice enough and everyone’s very friendly but although we were told that the scones had been baked that day, we suspect it was actually the day before .. so not good if freshly baked but not bad if they were yesterday’s, if you catch our drift. a Ladybird Tearoom sconeNo awards awarded today, unfortunately. We got the feeling that this place was full of good intentions. It had large jars of jelly babies on every table so you could just help yourself … a generous well-intentioned gesture, but it must be a nightmare for parents trying to keep their kids off the easy road to obesity … and, as such, probably keeps as many folk away as it attracts.fancy a brew union jack There was also much of the usual lifestyle advice hanging on the walls. The one asking the question ‘fancy a brew’ had, as it’s background, a rather faded and jaded union jack which we felt quite accurately reflected the current state of the union. The other day the Prime Minister declared that Scotland, in the same way as other regions of the UK, would just have to live with the result of Brexit, thus demonstrating her amazingly poor understanding of what the UK actually is. Whatever her understanding is, Scotland, for sure, is not a ‘region’, a fact that will doubtless be brought to her attention in the near future.

FK10 1ED       Ladybird Tearoom FB