Hotel Montefiore

תֵּל אָבִיב-יָפוֹ‎, that’s Hebrew for Tel Aviv and  تل أَبيب-يافا‎‎, that’s Arabic for the same thing but what else does Tel Aviv have other than two languages that are completely indecipherable to most of us? Well it’s famous for lots of things e.g. this is where Jonah set sail from before he was eventually swallowed by a fish and, rather interestingly, the city was established in 1909, by dividing up sea shells on a sand dune in a kind of lottery. One hundred and twenty shells were collected from the beach … sixty white and sixty grey. People’s names were written on the white shells and plot numbers were written on the grey shells. A boy drew names from one box of shells and a girl drew plot numbers from the second box … brilliant! Now, however, besides having a population of almost half a million people, it transpires, according to our Middle East correspondent, that Tel Aviv now has scones … surely a measure of how far and how civilised it has come in a relatively short time. The Hotel Montefiore is the place in question. Internal view of the Hotel Montefiore, Tel AvivOur correspondent sets the scene:

“A sanctuary of peace in the centre of Tel Aviv? No seller’s cries? No TVs. No politicians arguing? No gunshots? No, none of that … just the occasional customer’s chuckle. The cafe was a real surprise….ochre interiors with subtle illumination and dark furnishings, palm trees and in the background I think I detected Paul Desmond’s sax. Nubile waitresses attired in elegant black summer dresses waving menus elaborated in the King’s English served the scones and poured the jasmine tea. We cannot deny that our appetites had already been whetted by reading those weekly experiences of our scone mentors in Scotland. A scone at the Hotel Montefiore, Tel AvivThe objects of our desire were delicious. Crunchy on the outside and softish inside with a few raisins. Squarish instead of roundish but the taste and consistency were just perfect. Even my Granny in Dublin would have enthused”.

Given such a wonderfully detailed and enthusiastic report as well as an endorsement from a Dublin granny, we feel we have no option but to award the Montefiore a topscone … or at least a topscone for a foreign scone! We also notice on the hotel’s website, for all you really keen sconeys already booking your flights to Tel Aviv, (hopefully not with Ryanair), that: “Hotel Montefiore invites guests to unwind and enjoy a happy hour of expertly crafted cocktails along with complimentary scones, coffee and tea” … go get ’em! Many thanks to all our correspondents for expanding our horizons so deliciously.

66 88 3 Israel    tel: +972 3 5646100   Hotel Montefiore

A white K6 in Hull
White K6, tweeted by Petroc Trelawny
K1 telephone box at Tintinhull
repro K1 in Sumerset

As a response to our question in our previous post “what colour is a red telephone box?” perhaps it was only to be expected that ‘the Pedant’ would forwarded a picture of an albino K6 located in Hull … what ever next? If anyone can spot a K1 we would be delighted to hear from you … photographic evidence please.

Margo’s Bakehouse

We know … it’s been over three weeks since Ham House, our last scone! Some of you probably thought we had flown the country, ended up in jail .. or died, but no, we have just been very busy and sconology has had to take a back seat … pathetic, we know. No more though! Back in the spring, one of our correspondents, ‘the Laird’, gave us a tip off about an establishment in Polmont which he thought had rather good scones. It was called “The Wee Calf” but, a few days later, when we went to investigate we were thwarted by the fact that it had closed down permanently. The new management team were there, however, and they informed us it would be reopening quite soon. Obviously this was no good to us at the time, but now, after our recent sconological hiatus, we decided to reinvestigate since it is only a couple of miles from home and we only had an hour or so to spare. Aldi sign near Margo's Bakehouse, PolmontIt’s still in the same place, tucked up the side of Aldi’s supermarket which has a huge sign welcoming you to its Polmont branch … goodness knows where they thought Polmont was when they were making the poster. Under its new owners the Wee Calf has been reincarnated as Margo’s Bakehouse. The unprepossessing exterior is carried on into the interior … this is a no frills kind of place but who cares if the scones are good? Internal view of Margo's Bakehouse, PolmontWell they were good but they were also ginormous, probably the biggest we have ever come across, thank goodness we had opted to share one. Having decided against the usual prepacked tub of cornish cream we just had some butter and a generous helping of strawberry jam … but then it had to be generous to deal with such a big scone. A scone at Margo's Bakehouse, PolmontIn fact, all the food here seemed to be on the generous side. You know that saying “you can’t have your cake and eat it too” well that definitely holds good here even if you did want to eat it … everything is big. That saying could also be used to typify Britain’s ‘strong’ negotiating position in the Brexit talks that seems to run along the lines … “we want all the benefits of being in the club but we don’t want to actually be in the club” … brilliant! It looks like the EU will have to explain the facts of life to the UK in words of no more than one syllable. Anyway, the staff in Margo’s were very friendly and helpful so we hope that they continue to prosper … but maybe persuade Steven, the chef, to curb his enthusiasm when making the scones. Thanks to ‘the Laird’.

FK2 0PZ      tel: 01324 720007       Margo’s Bakehouse

K6 telephone box at Cricklade in the Cotswolds from the Saracen foundry in Glasgow Another correspondent, ‘the Pedant’, has reported a K6 outside a Thai restaurant in Cricklade in the Cotswolds. It’s in a pretty sorry state but is interesting in that it was made by the Saracen foundry in Glasgow. Before it closed this foundry was located in Possilpark but it was originally situated just behind the Saracen’s Head pub which opened in 1755 and is still thriving today … testament to the good drinking folk of Glasgow. It boasts a real witch’s head in a display case on the bar so we think it’s a pub that could probably tell a few stories. Since we seem to have acquired quite a few telephone box spotters perhaps we should say a little more about them. There were K1 to K8 models designed but some never got beyond the prototype stage. The K2 was too big and expensive and the K3 was prone to breakages. The K5 barely got off the drawing board but the K6, designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott in 1936, was by far the most successful. K2 Sir John Soane's Mausoleum in Old StPancras ChurchyardThe design for the roof of the K6 is inspired by the mausoleum of Sir John Soane in St Pancreas churchyard. We had thought that K6s were made completely of cast iron but apparently all the doors are made of teak. Some 60,000 were produced and there are still around 20% remaining around the country. So iconic are these boxes that nowadays you can even buy a K6 sofa.K6 sofaYou can get your very own K6 sofa by clicking here. For the pedants amongst us the K6s were painted  “currant red” but the K8, introduced in 1968 was the brighter “poppy red” and that became the standard for all boxes when they were repainted. Therefore, should you happen to have a K6 in your garden, or your bedroom, it should be painted in the slightly darker shade BS381C-Red538. Bet you really wanted to know that … only on allaboutthescones! Many thanks to ‘the Pedant’ for the photos.

The Orangery – Ham House

FOR SALE des-res in Ham – Thames side location just a short walk from Richmond … price £1,131! Okay, that was in 1650, just 40 years after it was built by by Sir Thomas Vavasour, goodness knows what it would be worth today … only Russian oligarchs need apply. Back then however it seemed to be mainly Scots who had the money. Firstly it was William Murray, 1st Earl of Dysart, then Lord Elgin, then John Maitland, 1st Duke of Lauderdale, then Archibald Campbell, 1st Duke of Argyll … in fact several Dukes of Argyll were born here?? The last Earl of Dysart, the 9th, died in 1935 leaving almost £5million but with no direct heirs so in 1948 it passed to the National Trust … and hence they let riffraff like us in. The Orangery Café at Ham HouseThe interior of the house is supposed to be spectacular but we didn’t bother going in … scones we were after! The gardens are extensive and beautifully manicured and apparently the oldest Christ’s thorn bush in the country is situated right here on the tea terrace outside the orangery. Not old enough to have provided anything for the crucifixion … but old. The orangery itself is said to be the oldest in the country but then again, the country is not exactly stacked out with orangeries. It was a lovely day for sitting out so once we had acquired everything from the self service counter that’s what we did. A scone at the Orangery Café at Ham HouseThe scones were good and were accompanied by the ubiquitous Rhodda’s Cornish Cream that we are always going on about. Down here it seems much more acceptable than it does in the Highlands of Scotland where there is plenty of local cream. There was also ‘National Trust’ jam and a pat of butter. We were here with our daughter who lives not far away from here. Before we realised what was happening she had done her scone cream first … arrgghh, dragged up!

A cream first scone at the Orangery Café at Ham House
What a mess!

Nevertheless, no matter which way you prepared these scones they were very good, not topscones but very good. All in all this was a very pleasant way to spend an afternoon. A friend from Maryland who had stayed with us some months back had become fascinated by the word ‘dreich’ … which in Scottish means ‘inclement’ or ‘pretty miserable’. He emailed to see if it could be applied to hurricanes or if we had another word for that. We had to let him know that ‘dreich’ was about as serious as our weather gets so, no, we didn’t have another word. It made us realise, though, with Hurricane Irma reaking havoc all through the Caribbean, how lucky we are to have the weather we have … even though all we do is complain about it.

TW10 7RS     tel: 020 8940 1950      The Orangery TA

The Shakespeare Hotel

This is a departure from our normal protocols because we think it is worthwhile giving you the full story of how scones were introduced to Lithuania. You will remember our Tyrolean correspondents sent us details of the first scones ever produced in Austria, well this is another truly inspirational story of another successful colonisation. Just over a year ago our ever adventurous Trossachs correspondents visited Lithuania on holiday and searched high and low for scones. They sent a picture of the nearest thing they could get at café Kmyninė in Vilnius but it was only a mere approximation to any scone that you or I would recognise. This year, with a young apprentice in tow, they were back … as part of the Tartan Army supporting Scotland in their World Cup qualifier against Lithuania. In their own words “the Shakespeare Hotel is a classy establishment where we enjoyed a couple of visits last year. At that time, during some banter with the staff, we bemoaned the lack of Lithuanian scones. Afternoon tea menu at the Shakespeare Hotel in VilniusThis time, to our utter disbelief, the current notice board displayed a flyer for Afternoon Tea with among other delicacies FRUIT AND PLAIN SCONES with clotted cream and raspberry and mint jam. To our initial disappointment, we were asked if we had booked because they needed an hours notice. However, the kilts and a little bit of good old Scottish charm led to a quick consultation with the kitchen and the excellent news that the scones would only take half an hour”. Unfortunately they had to fill in time by sampling some of the local brews … oh dear! A scone at the Shakespeare Hotel in VilniusThe scones when they arrived were beautifully presented, on the small side and shaped more like marshmallows than scones but they were delicious – warm, crisp on the outside, incredibly light and the cream and jam worked to perfection. There was even an egg timer set to ensure the correct time for the tea to infuse”. Now this is indeed momentous stuff … not only have our correspondents persuaded this establishment to serve scones but by all accounts The Shakespeare Hotel has done it extremely well. Because of this, and because of our correspondent’s growing expertise, and because the likelihood of us ever getting to Vilnius is extremely slim, we have decided that this should be the first topscone not judged by ourselves. Well done and congratulations to all concerned!

A K6 telephone box at the Portobello Bar in VilniusTo top things off they later went to the Portobello Irish pub where, lo and behold, sitting proudly in the entrance … a K6. Quite how these things find their way into all the neuks and crannies of the world is quite bewildering. Of course, the icing on the cake was a 3-0 win for Scotland … oh, and news that the Rough Guides readers have voted Scotland as the most beautiful country in the world .. but we all knew that! Back to our correspondents … “no doubt, Lithuania is changing which may in part be due to the number of young Lithuanians able to come to Scotland and share our culture. As we enjoyed Lithuanian company, culture and friendship, the UK Government were again making fools of themselves in Brussels”. The Lithuanians definitely find Brexit hard to understand but then again, why wouldn’t they? We’re sure the vast majority of people in the UK find it equally hard.A Brexit sign at the Portobello Bar in Vilnius

Vilnius 01124     tel: +370 5 266 5885      Shakespeare Hotel