Inchture Hotel

If you ever find yourself running the mile and a half from the Inchture Hotel to catch a train at the station, don’t bother … the railway is still there but the station closed in 1956.

The railway bus, Inchture
The Inchture Railway Bus – from a picture in the hotel

In a bygone age however you would not have had to run at all … you could have been transported in some style on the Inchture Railway Bus … a horse drawn tramway which ran for over 60 years up to 1917 between the village and the station. Inchture is on the north side of the Firth of Tay and is now bypassed by the A90 which means it is relatively quiet and peaceful. We are normally in this area looking for marsh harriers and bearded tits in the reed beds on the Tay estuary but, in spite of relative success with the harriers, to date, we have never seen a bearded tit – they are there though … annoying! Interior view of Inchture HotelThis is our first visit to the family run Inchture Hotel … it’s nice, in a calm unpretentious kind of way! Weddings seem to be a speciality, however, since we have done all that, scones were the only things in our thoughts. Presentation was good and service was  very attentive … profuse apologies were offered for the late arrival of our coffee even though it wasn’t that late. A scone at Inchture HotelThe scones themselves were delicious, not crunchy at all but the fruit turned out to be a lovely mix of currants, raisins, cherries and peel … different! It was kind of borderline but eventually we decided they were worthy of a topscone award … well done Inchture. No awards for Theresa May however. After condescendingly explaining to a nurse that she could not get a pay rise because there was “no magic money tree”, she suddenly found one so that she could give a bribe of one billion pounds to N. Ireland’s DUP for their support …. that’s £100m per MP. The “magic money tree” of course grows in Scotland but Scotland, as usual, is to get zilch! If this is indicative of her negotiating tactics for Brexit, the UK had better have deep pockets … or rather Scotland had better be prepared to fund even more of her ludicrous decisions.

PH14 9RN        Tel: 01828 686298        Inchture Hotel

ps: As we mentioned in our last post, our Trossachs correspondents have been conducting a scone search on St Kitts & Nevis! Unfortunately, is spite of their considerable efforts, we have to report that the Caribbean, to all intents and purposes is a scone free zone …  Bermuda triangle and all that! Unless someone knows differently, of course!The Berkeley Memorial in Basseterre, St KittsHappily though they had their handy allaboutthescones telephone box identification guide with them when they visited the Ballahoo restaurant in Basseterre, the capital of St Kitts. With it they managed to identify a K6 … they even sent a photograph of the manufacturers badge … well done them! Lion Foundry, Kirkintilloch, K6 telephone box in Basseterre, St KittsInterestingly the large green clock/drinking fountain in the foreground was also made in Scotland – in the Sun Foundry in Glasgow to be precise. It commemorates one Thomas Berkeley Hardtman-Berkley a local estate owner who died in 1881. Even more interestingly it is an exact copy of an identical fountain which stood in the Gorbals area of Glasgow until it was dismantled in 1932.  Today the plan is to reinstate the fountain and a team from Glasgow Caledonian University has been sent to Basseterre charged with producing an exact 3D image of the fountain using lasers and digital photography. The new fountain will then be produced using their imagery … you see how mind expanding scones can be! Once again, many thanks to our correspondents for their unstinting dedication.

Bridge 49 Cafe Bar

You will never guess how this place got its name … okay we will tell you, it is right beside bridge 49 on the Union Canal … imaginative, or what?

External view of Bridge 49 Café beside the Union Canal
Bridge 49 Café from Bridge 49

The instantly forgettable bridge is only a stone’s throw from the extremely impressive 26m high Avon Aqueduct, built in 1821 to a Thomas Telford design … it could have been called Ristorante Aqueducti … or something a bit less prosaic than Bridge 49! Not to worry, we take our hats off to the folks who have built this enterprise in the middle of nowhere and obviously taking a sizeable gamble with a big investment … so they can call it whatever they like, we just eat scones after all. The logo for Bridge 49 Café beside the Union CanalIt has a large inside restaurant but, with today being absolutely beautiful, we opted for an ‘al fresco’ fruit scone overlooking the canal while watching the boats drift by … life can be tough, but not today … in fact, it has seldom been so toughless! Service could best be described as ‘adequate’ and our coffee was good but the same, unfortunately, could not be said for the scones. We like them a little bit crunchy on the outside but these were just hard and dry, they were either overbaked, or, they were yesterday’s … one of the worst scones we have had in a while. A scone at Bridge 49 Café beside the Union CanalShame really because, with its outside play area for children, this is a good place for families to come and enjoy a relaxed meal without worrying too much about the kids … so don’t let us put you off. Based on our experience however the scones need a bit of a rethink. A rethink is exactly what’s needed after the Grenfell Tower disaster. Theresa May’s lack of empathy during her unfortunate visit to the site only served to make people angry and remind Conservatives that she should not be allowed out in public … though, to give her her due, in recent times, she herself has done everything she possible could to avoid meeting the public. This is the third scone since the General Election and she is still desperately hanging on. It is also eleven days since the election and she is still trying to reach agreement with the ten MPs of the DUP … what chance the Brexit negotiations starting today? Perhaps she should simply restrict herself to that most wicked of pastimes – running through fields of wheat when no one is around … as Trump would say, “bad” …. or maybe his other word “sad” … the latter is probably more appropriate?

EH49 6LW        teL: 01506 846536           Bridge 49

ps Readers will distinctly remember the excruciating excitement as we reported on the highest scone in the land (1531 feet) at Wanlockhead in the Leadhills. Little did we know that we were throwing down a gauntlet. Recently we received a report from happy wanderers, our intrepid Trossachs correspondents, on a 38,000 feet high scone …eh? That’s not just a mile high scone, that’s over seven miles high! Boeing 7777Of course they cheated, they were on a plane heading to that Caribbean idyll, Saint Kitts & Nevis … poor dears! After several glasses of champs and having just finished watching Ken Loach’s highly poignant film “I, Daniel Blake”, about life under the Tory benefit cuts, this happened … “flying at 38,000ft with an outside temperature of minus 56 Centigrade, and 53 minutes before Antigua the moment arrived … afternoon tea was served – not just sandwiches and cakes but also scones! We cannot possibly formally judge the scones but they were warm, crisp on the outside with fluffy interiors and were served with Rodda’s Classic Cornish Cream and Wilkin & Sons strawberry jam. As we enjoyed them we could not but think of how fortunate we are in contrast to the next generation of Daniel Blakes”. Fortunate indeed … but when will our correspondents learn that if they want their scones judged formally they have to to take us with them?

Scone at 38,000 feet
A seven mile high scone

We were tempted to go one better and book a Virgin Galactic space flight … we have had some nice light scones but never completely weightless ones and at over 60 miles high that would have to be a new record! When we phoned them however they could not give a definitive answer on whether or not they would be serving scones … heyho, we won’t bother! In the meantime we eagerly await further reports on Caribbean scones being filed.


Having already reported on scones in Harvey Nichols and the Dome you might think we would be running short of alternatives on George Street In Edinburgh? Not a bit of it, there are plenty more and Browns is just another one on Edinburgh’s principle shopping thoroughfare. We had actually been invited to an evening event nearby but with a couple of hours to spare what else would you do but head for afternoon tea? Browns has some history for us because as a young couple with no money and no experience of posh restaurants this was our first foray into what is oft referred to as “fine dining”. Internal view at Browns of EdinburghIf memory serves us correctly we were all dressed up to the nines and slightly nervous about being in such auspicious surroundings. That was many years ago and this is our first return visit – it doesn’t look nearly as intimidating as it did then! Has it changed, or have we changed … probably both? Today, it does not look like the small intimate restaurant of memory but rather its, almost cavernous interior, and perhaps slightly impersonal atmosphere are more in keeping with a mid-range establishment. Nowadays, we don’t think that even they would class themselves as ‘fine dining’. Afternoon tea at Browns of EdinburghWhatever, what about our afternoon tea? Champagne in the afternoon always seems a little bit naughty but this was very nice champagne and an excellent start to proceedings … see, it’s us that’s changed, we probably had pints on our first visit because we didn’t know what else to ask for! Presented on a sort of chrome wheel contraption there was a fair assortment of cakes and sandwiches with two small scones each. Call us old fusspots if you wish but we prefer to have bread sandwiches with the crusts cut off rather than the little mini rolls used here … arrgghh, we have changed … a slice of square sausage with tomato sauce between two slices of plain bread used to be the highlight of our culinary tier of afternoon tea at Browns of EdinburghThe scones were nice. When they first arrived we felt them and they were nice and warm but, by the time we got round to eating them, that was but a memory. A scone at Browns of EdinburghAll in all, this was very relaxing and enjoyable and a great way to kill some time but the scones, although good, did not quite make the grade and everything else, excepting the champagne, was just a little bit flat. The service, for example, was okay, but like a lot of places that automatically add a service charge to your bill, they did not have to try too hard. Picture of a telephone box at Browns of EdinburghOne of the nice things about Browns is that they have lots of interesting photographs hanging on the walls. We thought this one would enable us to test your knowledge of red telephone boxes bearing in mind that we supplied a handy indentification guide in an earlier post at the Butterchurn. Obviously it is not a K4 but could it be a K2 or a K6? Answers on a postcard. Continuing with the quiz theme we thought it might be interesting to measure, in scones, how much time Theresa May has left as Prime Minister. You probably think we are not taking politics seriously, but really, with Michael Gove, the only man who can instantly poison any environment he walks into, being appointed Environment Secretary … and the odious DUP in coalition talks with the government … oh, and the Queen’s Speech being delayed because of the need to write it all down on goatskin paper, what is there to take seriously? This is the second post since the general election result became known and Theresa decided to carry on as if nothing had happened … how many more scones can we post before she is deposed? Answers on the same postcard as the telephone box.

Edinburgh looking dramatic in evening sunshine
Edinburgh looking dramatic in the evening sunshine

EH2 4JS         tel: 0131 225 4442         Browns Edinburgh

The Wee Big Shop

Well … the morning after the night before … devastation, who is going to have to do the decent thing and get hitched? Guess it could be said that the Tories in their never ending quest to sort out their internal party politics, have led us directly towards the “coalition of chaos” that they were banging on about throughout the election campaign …. and here’s us thinking that they were advocating voting for them to avoid that … silly us.  Harsh reality means that Theresa May must now seek some sort of marriage with an equally unsavoury bunch in the DUP, itself a damaged party in a damaged parliament. It remains to be seen  what sort of dowry will be extracted by the DUP but whatever happens it is liable to be an unholy alliance. Maybe the answer is for Theresa and Arlene Foster to hook up here in Gretna Green and undergo an ‘unconventional’ marriage… given the current state of British politics nothing would surprise us. When we visited Gretna we had a scone her in the Wee Big Shop … it’s a kind of tardis, hence the name. Interior view of the Wee Big Shop in Gretna GreenThe place is swarming with tourists, Chinese, American, Japanese, you name it, they are all here rushing around buying tat before getting back on their buses and heading off to buy more tat in Edinburgh.  Scones at the Wee Big Shop in Gretna GreenThe café here is big as well and obviously caters for busloads all the time judging by the number of scones on display – the picture above is just a small selection. You are faced with a battery of different machines from which you know you can get tea or coffee in all its various forms but just no idea how to do it. Eventually some of the serving staff arrive to salvage the situation but even for them it takes a while … why not just serve the stuff in the first place, it would be so much easier and pleasanter. Scone at the Wee Big Shop in Gretna GreenWe eventually got to our table with our scone … no cream, unless you wanted the ubiquitous Rhodda’s Cornish yuk stuff. It was edible, that’s all we are saying. This whole place which is supposed to give you the ultimate in romantic weddings is entirely geared towards hordes of tourists which although not a bad thing in itself, doesn’t seem particularly romantic to us. It started because the law in England allowed parents to stop a wedding if either of the participants were under 21, whereas in Scotland, they could get married without parental consent and provided there were two witnesses anybody could conduct the ceremony … usually the blacksmith. Gretna was the first place over the border so this where the youngsters would come for their “runaway marriages”. Wedding picture at the Wee Big Shop in Gretna GreenAs you can see, even though we are over 21, we tried out the blacksmith’s ceremony … romantic or what? As far as we are concerned though this would be the last place on earth to get married unless you really, really, really had to … oh yes, Theresa and Arlene really really really have to … it will not end well. Next week, as the promised “strong and stable” UK enters into EU Brexit negotiations looking like complete plonkers, we don’t imagine that will end well either. Interior view of the Wee Big Shop in Gretna GreenDG16 5EA          tel: 01461 339912           The Wee Big Shop

Euston Station

This is not really a post … it does not contain a scone therefore is disqualified. However, we did try to find one here at Euston station so we are writing it anyway simply on the basis that we tried …  plus it gives us a chance for a rant before the General Election tomorrow. We have spent the past five days in London visiting our grandchildren. Normally when we are down here we try to have at least one scone for the enlightenment of our readers but unfortunately, on day one I was struck down by the lurgy, food poisoning, Montezuma’s revenge, whatever you want to call it and all thoughts of scones, or indeed food of any kind, went straight out the window. Food intake for my entire stay consisted of nothing more than a couple of bits of toast … some said I was even more miserable than usual … true, that’s how bad it was! To compound matters I had five little toddler girls who seemed to think it was good fun to use my stomach as a sort of trampoline … exactly why they thought my stomach looked bouncy I have no idea? Had they not been so utterly gorgeous it would have been unbearable. Thoughts of politics went out the window as well though I did manage to tear myself away from my intense study of the minute imperfections in porcelain washhand basins when the horrific news of the London Bridge incident came through … only a couple of miles away and more misery! For right thinking people these things are almost impossible to comprehend but we cannot help but think that the media has to get its act together when it comes to reporting these things … the perpetrators should be given as little publicity as possible. Surely the media can come up with an agreed strategy that does not feed the lunatics’ cause with 24/7 coverage. Mind you, with a great big toddler in the White House making up policy by binge watching Fox News, that could be a bit of a stretch … we are beginning to see the world according to Rupert Murdoch … sad, very sad! Just read that a website called TrumpiLeaks has been set up for anti-Trump whistleblowers .. don’t think it is anything urological. Thankfully, here in the UK, electioneering is drawing to a close. As usual everyone has promised the moon and the stars. Theresa May has promised to be strong and stable by being robotic, completely flaky and hiding from the public. The LibDems are probably going to do well in London because of their promise to rerun the EU referendum … but little else. At last, Labour has reared it’s head again and although it is hardly a roar there are certain encouraging signs of life. In Scotland, uniquely in the world, we will probably vote to be governed by another country with mostly contrary interests to our own … heyho, who knows why we are so utterly gutless as a nation? By the time we reached Euston station on our way home I was feeling vaguely human again … not quite ready for scone tasting but that’s why I have a partner who can step into the breach in such emergencies. Unfortunately, in spite of its plethora of eateries and retail outlets it is a completely scone free zone … but we did try. Back home now and feeling much better. In spite of all the loving concern from others there is nothing quite like being home when you are under the weather. Apologies for the lack of scones … we promise to do better in future. Now feeling well enough for tea and a scone though if mad May remains in power after tomorrow something much stronger might be called for.

Mabel Mackinlay Tearoom

You can probably tell that the above picture is not the outside of a tearoom. It is, however, a picture of Glasgow Royal Infirmary and in there is a tearoom which is close to our hearts because Pat used to work there on a voluntary basis. In order to explain that a little bit of background is required. In 1862, Beatrice Clugston visited Glasgow Royal Infirmary and found some distressing scenes. It was before Florence Nightingale, nurses had no training and little understanding of comfort, hygiene or infection so she set up the Dorcas Society, named after Dorcas, in the Book of Acts who made clothes and did good deeds among the poor and sick. The Dorcas Society would organise three weeks holiday in Dunoon for convalescing patients and their families … those were the days! Photo of Mabel MacKinleyMabel Mackinlay joined the Society at the end of WW1 and soon saw the need for a cup of tea for the outpatients waiting to be seen at clinics … the tearoom she set up is still going today and generates hundreds of thousands of pounds dedicated to patient welfare. Mabel ran the tearoom on a very strict basis until she retired aged 91. Every day they were on duty each volunteer, usually a doctor’s wife, had to supply a pan loaf made up into sandwiches, 20 cakes and 20 scones … and a clean pinny (apron). Nowadays, because of the regulations around food handling, it has to be run by paid staff but it wasn’t that long ago that Pat was the Convenor of the Society and ran the clothing room providing clean clothing to patients being discharged. We had to be in the Infirmary anyway so we took a wee nostalgia trip to the tearoom. It was late in the day however, just as they were closing, so we were not sure if we would get anything never mind a scone. View of the Mabel MacKinley tearoom of Glasgow Royal InfirmaryLuck was with us however and we just managed to squeeze one in at closing time. To be honest, the scones were not too bad but not too great either. We would urge you though, if you ever find yourself in Glasgow Royal to come here just to buy a scone if nothing else to support the good work of the Dorcas Society … it would make Mabel very proud. a scone in the Mabel MacKinley tearoom of Glasgow Royal InfirmaryWith the general election only about a week away the squabbling and vitriol is not particularly edifying. The Prime Minister’s refusal to debate with other leaders, even though it would not have achieved much, is particularly cowardly and not the sort of thing that either Beatrice or Mabel would have stood for … they were women of real principle and courage!

G31 2ES     Mabel’s