2017 scones

Because we have been badly neglecting our sconological duties of late we thought we should at least do something for the festive season to remind readers that we are still alive and that we wish them all the best for Christmas and 2018. This post is simply to do that rather than bring you a new exciting scone …. sorry! We certainly haven’t eaten 2017 scones though by the time we get through the festive season we may feel as if we have. Some of our correspondents, however, have been much more diligent. The title picture was sent by our London correspondents. Since it is almost two years since we reported from Claridge’s they thought that they should check that standards had not slipped in our absence. They are posh-place specialists and elected to take  our latest granddaughter, aged 5 days, along as an adjudicator in the event of a split decision. Thankfully, everything was hunkydory and the new arrival did not have to be pressed into service … phew!! A K2 sandwich serverOur old friend, the Pedant, found a website that bemoans the use of weird objects to serve food on rather than plates. It is aptly named www.wewantplates.com and he pointed out, given our interest in such things, what he thought might be a good way to serve scones … a miniature telephone box (K2) used to bring little sandwiches to the table. Thanks for the suggestion but we want plates as well! During the past year we have had the great pleasure of visiting many lovely parts of the UK and discovering lots of wonderful scones … and, of course, some not so wonderful. Have we learned anything in our travels? Notably, we came to the conclusion that scones improve the further north you go. We realise that sconeys in Devon and Cornwall might find this contentious however it has to be said that in the far north, including our visit to Orkney, we found nothing but topscones. We were also pleased that readers took such an interest in what became a something of a hot-topic … telephone boxes and, in particular, where they were manufactured, Falkirk, Glasgow or Kirkintilloch. We received pictures of K6s from as far afield as Buenos Aires and Tel Aviv.

A K6 telephone box on South Ronaldsay
A Kirkintilloch K6 telephone box in splendid isolation near Quoyeden on South Ronaldsay

On our own travels we came on many K6s reinvented as libraries, defibrillator stations and greenhouses … a sign of the times perhaps that even in the most remote locations they no longer serve their original purpose. It’s called progress but that is not something that abounds these days. Quite the opposite in fact, at times the whole world seems to be going backwards. The only constant seems to be that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. As Theresa May loses yet more of her cabinet colleagues you might be forgiven for thinking that our Brexit negotiations might as well be conducted by headless chickens. Even though they claim to be making progress you cannot help but ask yourself what progress turkeys voting for Christmas can actually make? Forgive all the poultry analogies, it’s that time of year. Elsewhere, after all the kerfuffle over Catalonia, it looks like ending up back exactly where it started with a cessationist government … Spain has headless chickens as well. On the other side of the pond, Donald Trump impersonators continue to do better impressions of The Donald than he does of himself … and you might be better off taking them more seriously. Perhaps the world would be better governed by headless chickens … or is it already, is that what we are not understanding?

On that cheery note we will bid you a fond farewell for this year. Thanks to to all our readers and a special thanks to all our correspondents  who venture fearlessly into the world’s nether regions on your behalf.  And for 2018, may all your scones be top ones.

The Gallery Café

Gosh, it’s been a while. We have both been so caught up with other things that scones have had to take a back seat … disgraceful, we know. Yesterday, however, we managed to tear ourselves away from building works to attend a St Andrews Day book launch at the Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum and it just so happened that, in the Gallery Café, they had scones … back in harness.Cover of the An Eagle In A Henhouse book by Lachlan Munro The launch was for a new book by Lachlan Munro on the political speeches of Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham. Regular readers will know that we have a bit of a soft spot for Graham. He is a national hero in Argentina, where he was a gaucho for many years, yet remains a relatively obscure character at home in Scotland and the UK. He was a landowning aristocrat who lived only a short distance from Stirling and during his flamboyant and adventurous life became friends with George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, Keir Hardy and the likes. He tried to get justice for oppressed people wherever they were, be they crofters, miners, women or even Sioux Indians. He hated politicians but became one and managed to get himself thrown out of Westminster on three occasions for disrespecting the House … an mighty achievement in itself. He even spent time in jail for taking part in a Trafalgar Square march in support of Irish home rule. His ability to ruffled feathers gave rise to the book’s name “An Eagle In A Hen-House”. Although a founder of both the Scottish Labour Party and the Scottish National Party the launch had politicians from all parties reading extracts from the book. There must have been a couple of hundred people at the launch so when formal proceedings came to a close they all descended on the Gallery Café at the same time … chaos! A scone at the Stirling Smith Art Gallery and MuseumEventually we managed to get a scone … the first we had had in ages. It was nowhere near a topscone but given the time since our last one, we thoroughly enjoyed it. No cream but plenty jam and butter … and the coffee was excellent. The Stirling Smith was founded in 1874 from money given by local artist Thomas Stuart Smith and has continued as a public-private partnership to this day for the benefit of the citizens of Stirling, Dunblane and Kinbuck … long may it continue! Floor sign for the Stirling Smith Art Gallery and MuseumAs we were leaving to go home we were alarmed to come across what we initially thought was the disembodied head of our prime minister … turned out to be nothing more than a left-over from halloween  … phew!Pumpkin outside the Stirling Smith Art Gallery and MuseumFK8 2RQ       tel: 01786 471917    The Gallery Cafe FB