Category Archives: Top

These are the best scones we have found so far.

Fenwicks of Linlithgow

The car had to go for a service at our garage in Bo’ness and when we dropped it off they kindly gave us a lift the mile or so into Linlithgow so that we could go for a walk round the loch. Although the loch was partially frozen it was a nice day … ideal for a wee walk.

View across Linlithgow loch to the Palace
Looking towards Linlithgow Palace and the spire of St Michael’s church

The path, of course, is circular so it wasn’t too long before we found ourselves back in the town and feeling more than a little peckish. We’ve had several scones in Linlithgow in the past however this one, Fenwicks of Linlithgow was new to us … it had to be done. As soon as we walked in we were aware of a lively bustling atmosphere .. always a good sign!Internal view of Fenwicks of LinlithgowWe weren’t disappointed, everything was excellent. After a delicious light lunch we decided to share one of the fairly large home made fruit scones.  A scone at Fenwicks of LinlithgowIt came with lots of butter, and jam  … and cream with a fresh raspberry on top .. totally unnecessary but a nice touch. Suffice to say that we liked everything about this place and we would not hesitate to go back next time we are in town … probably the next time our car needs some attention. All too soon however it was time to venture out into the cold once more. If Donald Trump needs any further proof of global warming he need look no further than Linlithgow … this polar bear has obviously been left stranded by the receding ice cap … obviously! Polar bear stuck up a tree in LinlithgowEven more evidence was provided in the form of a painting in the Black Bitch pub where we were waiting to be picked up again.  In 1848 the loch must have been seriously frozen to allow so many people onto the ice for this bonspeil. It was obviously much colder back then … obviously! What more proof do you need Donald?? Do you think he reads ‘the scones’?

The Grand Match at Linlithgow Loch 1849 by Charles Lees
The Grand Match at Linlithgow Loch 1848 by Charles Lees

The garage duly picked us up from the Black Bitch and we were reunited with our car which they had restored to peak condition … an all round good day.

EH49 7EJ     tel: 01506 238580      Fenwicks of Linlithgow FB

The Orangery – Hopetoun

A pineapple wall decoration Orangery tearoom at New Hopetoun Garden CentreThis is becoming a habit … eating scones in orangeries that is! It’s not that long ago since we were at an orangery at Ham House in London and here we are at it again … life can be hard. Today we were actually trying to track down Shapes auction house which had notified us of a move to Port Edgar from Edinburgh, when we came on this place. It’s in an excellent garden centre which we have known for many years. It started life in the walled garden of nearby Hopetoun House but twenty years ago moved a mile or so to its present site and became known as the ‘New’ Hopetoun Garden Centre. A sign at New Hopetoun Garden CentreOn the way in you are greeted with this sign which makes you wish you had been here on Sept 5 1792, it must have been quite a day … it was a Wednesday! Not to be confused with Sept 5 forty years earlier in 1752 … not only did nothing happen, it didn’t even exist. That year, in order for Britain to catch up with the rest of the world which used the Gregorian calendar (we know, it is hard to imagine Britain being out of step .. but just try), it was decreed that the day following Sept 2 would be Sept 14 … just like that, eleven days just vanished! You thought time travel was just a figment of the imagination but the entire population of Britain was actually doing it centuries ago! We digress. The Orangery is everything you would expect from a garden centre tearoom … spacious, bright and with a good range of food and drink on offer. Internal view of the Orangery tearoom at New Hopetoun Garden CentreIt is self service but, even though it was busy, we were quickly attended to by some very friendly staff. Pat decided on our traditional choice of a fruit scone but I opted for cherry … hey, why not? Both scones came with loads of jam, butter and cream. A scone at the Orangery tearoom at New Hopetoun Garden CentreThey had really crunchy exteriors with soft middles which made them delicious but a bit difficult to manage … they tended to crumble very easily. We thoroughly enjoyed them though … topscone. Because service is usually a factor we don’t normally give topscone awards to self service establishments but the self service here was great, the sun was shining and we were in a good mood … well done The Orangery! A little bit further along the road we came to Port Edgar near South Queensferry. The ‘Edgar’ bit comes from Edgar Aetheling, the brother of Queen Margaret of Scotland who set up the ferry crossing in the 11th century to help pilgrims on their way to St Andrews. It operated until 1964 when the road bridge was built.

The old Forth Road Bridge over the river Forth with the Forth Railway Bridge in the background
The Forth Road Bridge from Port Edgar with the Rail Bridge in the distance

Originally a naval base it is now a leisure marina. Visitors to Port Edgar are now treated to an excellent view of the new Queensferry Crossing … opened only a few months ago.

The Queensferry Crossing over the river Forth
The Queensferry Crossing from Port Edgar

It is a magnificent feat of engineering and now, with Boris Johnston talking of a bridge across the English Channel, it is perhaps worth explaining some facts about this one. It was built by the SNP government on time and under budget … obviously Carillion was not involved. It was opposed by all other political parties who promptly fell over themselves to take credit when it was completed. There was no funding from Westminster … something to remember if the Channel Bridge ever gets the go ahead. Scotland, like the HS2 and Crossrail projects, will undoubtedly be saddled with 10% of the costs for little or no benefit. Anyway, we did find the new premises of the auction house which was massive but shut, not opening until the end of the month apparently … heyho, we had thoroughly enjoyed our day!

EH52 6QZ    tel: 01506 834433         New Hopetoun Gardens

p.s. our Trossachs correspondents sent this picture. We thought they had been quiet recently but maybe they just can’t get out .. or are just too busy building snowmen!A snowman at Kinlochard

The Carnegie Courthouse

Dornoch is a beautiful little town and, over the past few years, we have already reported on two other scones here, Gordon House and Dornoch Castle, so it was a something of a surprise when our Trossachs correspondents gave us a heads up on yet another … at the Carnegie Courthouse. Many people come here for the town’s history, or the beach or just to wander among the cafés and antique shops … so it’s quite busy even at this time of year. This scone like the other two are in a cluster around the Cathedral. Although the courthouse was built in 1849 it only began life as a tearoom/shop in 2013. It was named after Andrew Carnegie who was not only the richest man in the world at one time but lived locally in Skibo Castle and was a great benefactor for the town. Name plaque at the Carnegie Courthouse, DornochThe tearoom features a mural depicting the courtroom as it would have been when in use and portraying some of the local faces. It is great that as well as the likes of Carnegie, the Duke of Sutherland, Madonna (she got married in the Cathedral) and Tom Watson the golfer, there is also Janet Horn (the last witch burned in Dornoch), Bill Wright the local milkman and, most importantly, Carol MacKay the proprietor of the tearoom

A mural at the Carnegie Courthouse, DornochSo what was our third Dornoch scone like? Very good actually so there was not too much difficulty making a topscone award. Pat had cheese and I had fruit but they were both deliciously crunchy on the outside and wonderfully soft and light inside. A scone at the Carnegie Courthouse, DornochThe whole place has a good atmosphere and we were very well looked after by the staff. As you can probably gather we are fond of this town so who knows when we might find ourselves returning … yet another Dornoch gem not to be missed. But what would these good folks in the above courtroom have made of the current state of the UK government? Just after the last General Election we asked you to guess how many scone blogs there would be before Theresa May had to resign. There have been quite a lot more than we had imagined and, wonder of wonders, she is still hanging on, albeit by the skin of her teeth. It begs the question though … just how bad does her administration have to get before she is sufficiently ashamed and does the decent thing? There are two problems a) she doesn’t seem to have any shame and b) who would replace her? Chances are, unimaginable as it is, it could be worse. In the courtroom, you can almost see the perplexed looks on their faces

IV25 3SD    tel: 01862 811632     The Carnegie Courthouse

Judith Glue Café

It’s our last day on Orkney and although the wind is still blowing as hard as ever we are already feeling sad at the prospect of leaving this magical island.

The Gloup, Orkney
The Gloup

We haven’t managed to get onto any of the smaller islands like Hoy or Papa Westray, partly because there is just so much to do and see on Mainland and partly because of time constraints. Also the weather has done absolutely nothing to encourage us to board a small boat and head out across the sea! Perhaps another visit with more time is called for? The Brough of Deerness, another prehistoric settlement, was to be our target destination today but when we reached the beginning of the path it became pretty obvious that the clifftop route in such strong winds would just be too tricky. Instead we contented ourselves with a visit to The Gloup, a long sea cave where the roof has collapsed … if you would like to visit just click here. Close by is the Covenanter’s Memorial where, in 1679, more than 200 Scottish Covenanter prisoners were drowned when their ship ‘The Crown of London’ was dashed on the rocks as they were being transported to Jamaica to become slaves. All the crew escaped but the prisoners were battened down in the hold with no hope of escape … there was no compensation for escaped prisoners. Cruel, we know, but do you think the captain might have been a Tory? Scone time meant we had to go back to Kirkwall and this time to Judith Glue’s Real Food Café. It is directly opposite St Magnus Cathedral, founded in 1135 and known as ‘The Light in the North’ … truly magnificent! Interior of St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall,OrkneyJudith Glue comes from a very entrepreneurial family that has stuck together (sorry) to run lots of businesses around Orkney and further afield. This is actually quite a large shop selling everything – clothes, art, jewellery, antiques, and complements another shop she runs in Inverness. At the back of the shop you come to the café/retaurant area which is quite big in itself. They pride themselves on supporting the local community and 60% of everything they sell is from the island and that includes the clothing, the jewellery and the food. Would we find Rhodda’s Cornish Cream here, no! We decide to have what they call a ‘Peedie Cream Tea’. In this part of the world you see the word ‘peedie’ everywhere and applied to all sorts of things … transpires that it simply means ‘small’. A scone at Judith Glue, Kirkwall, OrkneyOur Peedie Cream Tea cost about £8 and for that we got two sandwiches of our choice as well as a scone of our choice together with jam and cream and tea or coffee. It was all perfectly delicious and would you believe it, another topscone! That makes a clean sweep of topscones for Orkney … testament, we think, to their old fashioned believes in good friendly service and self reliance. The toilets here have interesting signs for the ‘ladies’ and ‘gents’ … we think both look particularly attractive.Viking man and woman at Judith Glue, Kirkwall, OrkneyAlso a great advert for Old Orkney whisky.

Stromness whisky advertisment at Judith Glue, Kirkwall, OrkneyPat ended up with her bird list totaling a very healthy forty nine … excellent considering we didn’t see any of the usual culprits – blue tits, chaffinches, sparrows etc. Perhaps our biggest surprise was the number of swallows still flying around at this time of year, they have a much longer journey than us ahead of them!

This really is a wonderful island which has been full of surprises … not least of which was the following morning at 7am when we drove from Stromness to St Margaret’s Hope to catch our ferry … in a flat calm! C’est la vie!

KW15 1DH         tel: 01856 874225     Judith Glue Real Food Café

The Strynd Tearoom

The wind is still blowing with wicked enthusiasm however, in spite of that, our plan for today is to visit the west of Mainland … Skara Brae and all that, and end up in Kirkwall, the capital. Most sconeys will know something of the rich archaeology of Orkney.

Skara Brae and Skaill House at Sandwick on Orkney
5000 year old Skara Brae neolithic village with Skaill House in the distance

Up here they were building houses and having a high old time of it long before things like the Pyramids and Stonehenge had even been thought of. However, our abiding memory of Skara Brae will be of getting sandblasted by the wind coming off the beach … certainly gives you a rosy complexion. Road sign to the village of Twatt, Orkney

Stormy weather at Skara Brae at Sandwick on Orkney
Orkney weather is dramatic and changes every five minutes

Another problem with the wind is holding your binoculars steady enough to identify birds … we had no problem though with a brilliant view of a female hen harrier not far from Skara Brae. It is a thrill to see these relatively rare birds because they rather stupidly nest on the ground and, as a result, their young usually fall foul of predators before they can fledge. Pat’s list is now over forty which she is thrilled about but her joy was such that it was all I could do to stop her stealing a road sign to one of the local villages. Completely cobweb free, we eventually made it to Kirkwall and the Strynd Tearoom. Interior view of the Strynd Tearoom, Kirkwall, OrkneyLike Stromness, Kirkwall also has lots of wee lanes and this tearoom takes its name from the lane where its located. When we asked how to pronounce ‘Strynd’, it seemed to be “Strand’ but with the strangulated pronunciation that maybe a South African would use. It is a tiny place but lovely and everything is home made. Once again we were made very welcome and once again our scones were excellent. A scone at the Strynd Tearoom, Kirkwall, OrkneyWe are developing a theory that the further north you go the better the scones are because we have had nothing but topscones recently. The Strynd scone was warm and served with nice pots of jam and cream. The scone itself looked as if it would be crunchy but wasn’t, it was gloriously soft and absolutely delicious … another topscone! Now, while most of you will have heard of the Ring of Brodgar and other Orcadian archaeological gems, how many of you have heard of The Big Tree? Or how many have heard of the Heimskringla? Thought so … let us explain.  The Big Tree in Broad Street, Kirkwall, Orkney Heimskringla is a book of Old Norse sagas written in Iceland  in the 12th century … you’ve probably read it. The Big Tree is the only one left of three that were planted by Robert Laing, father of the Heimskringla’s translator, in his garden over 200 years ago. When they widened the main street by demolishing Laing’s walled garden this tree was left standing in the street. When you look at it you might wonder why its called The Big Tree? Well, in Orkney terms, it is … and it is obviously much loved because it still supports a luxurious head of leaves although largely hollow and supported by steel girders inserted in its trunk to keep it upright. What else has been happening in the big bad world while we have been enjoying ourselves on this island where you quickly feel kind of snugly insulated from everywhere else? The media is still largely ignoring the biggest political conference in the UK … the SNP one, and are concentrating instead on the sexual indiscretions of a Hollywood director that few have heard of and no one could care less about. Theresa May is still clinging on like a barnacle while Britain skillfully negotiates a “no deal‘, Brexit deal. Catalonia seems to have rather skillfully blindsided the Spanish government … for the moment! Trump’s big golf courses in Scotland seem to be loosing a fortune … bad! Scotland’s football team is no longer eligible for another pointless World Cup competition because of our DNA according to the manager … good! Well, well, well … the Big Tree has seen it all before.

Scapa distillery, Scapa, Orknay
Scapa distillery in the distance on the shores of Scapa Flow

KW15 1HG       tel: 01856 871552     The Strynd Tearoom

Julia’s Café & Bistro

When you leave South Ronaldsay you have to cross several causeways to get to the Mainland … confusing for simple folks like us because, as far as we were concerned we had left the mainland far behind at John O’ Groats. On Orkney, however, an archipelago of over 70 islands (the 20,000 population is spread over 20 of them) the largest island is called Mainland. When you become aware of the intricate system of small ferries and flights going to and fro between these islands it is easier to understand why, in this very self contained and independent community, they would think of their biggest and most populated island as “the mainland”. To get there, all we had to do was drive across four causeways from South Ronaldsay to the island of Burray, then the island of Glimps Holm, then the island of Lamb Holm and we were there … simple. Simple yes, exciting .. very! The storm meant that waves were crashing right over all the causeways … we just closed our eyes and hoped for the best. The Italian Chapel, OrkneyOn Lamb Holm we came to the Italian Chapel. Amazing to think that this entire church was created by Italian prisoners of war, from a Nissen hut and nothing other than scrap materials e.g. the lanterns were made from corned beef tins. The Orkney Wine Company is right beside the Chapel … we had to buy some of their ‘Tattie Wine’, hand crafted from three varieties of Orkney potatoes and matured in whisky barrels. “Discover more with every sip” it says … we’ll let you know.

A view of Stromness, Orkney
Stromness with a Northlink ferry in the middle distance

Eventually we reached Mainland and Stromness where we were lodging for the duration of our stay. Driving in Stromness is almost as exciting as driving the causeways. High Street Stromness, OrkneyThe main street, which bears seven different names, appeared more like a lane and we were not sure if we were supposed to drive along it since it was only about the width of a car … no problem. It is actually two way and no one here seems to have the slightest difficulty with it … never even heard a horn being honked!

Login's Well, high Street Stromness, Orkney
Login’s Well on main street where Capt Cook watered the Resolution and Discovery in 1780 and Sir John Franklin watered his ships Erebus and Terror in 1845 … names to fire the imagination

By this time a scone was definitely called for and it was Julia’s Café Bistro that rode to the rescue. It is situated at the harbour where the big NorthLink Ferries leave for Scrabster on the mainland .. that’s the mainland mainland! Again the service was very friendly and helpful and yet again the scones were fab. A scone at Julias café, Stromness, OrkneyOur second Orkney scone was served with little disposable pots of jam and cream and although not too crunchy on the outside they were delicious .. another topscone. Apparently there is another café in Stromness but we couldn’t find it … it is doubtless tucked away in the plethora of tiny back lanes. We did find the An art exhibit at Stromness Art Centre, OrkneyPier Art Centre however which is a state of the art building with a wide variety of exhibits, one of which you can see here. All a bit beyond us but great to find such a modern and dynamic facility in Stromness. We spent quite a long time perusing and it was great to be out of the wind which was still blowing a hooley … will it ever calm down? When you speak to Orkney folk about things like Hurricane Maria you usually just get a raised eyebrow … hardy, no nonsense folk!Interior view of Julias café, Stromness, OrkneyKW16 3AE        tel: 01856 850904             Julia’s Café Bistro

Again on main street we found a functioning K6 hiding in a corner next to the museum … made in Falkirk.A Falkirk K6 in Stromness main street, OrkneyPat, by the way, is now at thirty two with her bird list and still a few days to go.


Robertson’s Coffeehoose

As we headed out from the shelter of Gills Bay near John O’ Groats on the Pentalina ferry we could think of no better description of what lay ahead of us than that of Neil Gunn “beyond the mainland the blue of the sea was more intense than the blue of the sky, and the Islands of The Orcades lay at anchor like fabled ships: long shapes, with clean prows to the west, with sheer sides, not riding the sea but crouching to it with that odd menace which, like tenderness, is for ever at the heart of strength”. Gunn also says that “all adventuring races have been drawn to these islands”, so, after the Romans and Vikings, now it was to be the turn of sconologists! In the name of ornithology (Pat has started a new list) and sconology, we were enduring the remains of Hurricane Maria … boy, it was windy. So it was that, somewhat relieved, we sailed into St Margaret’s Hope on South Ronaldsay and our first ever encounter with an Orkney scone at Robertson’s Coffeehoose … just the spelling announced that we were somewhere  a little bit different. Interior view of Robertson's Coffeehoose, St Margaret's Hope, OrkneyThe interior reminded us of Ireland.  When we lived there you would go into a grocery store and find a few beer pumps gracing the end of the counter … it was the same here. Turns out that it used to be the general store but has recently been converted into a café/bar and now plays a significant role in the local night life. We were served by a young girl who not only made us feel very welcome but also regaled us with stories of the history of Robertson’s and The Hope, as the town is known locally. The town may have got its name from Margaret, Maid of Norway and uncrowned Queen of Scotland, who died here from the effects of seasickness in 1290 on her way to her coronation. Luckily, we had no ill effects on the crossing but we deeply sympathise. A scone at Robertson's Coffeehoose, St Margaret's Hope, OrkneyIt may have had been the warmth of the greetings or maybe it was to do with the ‘hard to stand up in’ weather outside, but our scones were particularly welcome and tasted delicious. They were warm and served with butter and a generous pot of jam … no cream but hey, we were out of the storm so who cares? All things considered we thought that this scone just slipped into the topscone category … well done Robertson’s.  After the Maid of Norway’s demise the disputed succession sparked the Wars of Scottish Independence. When we read of the extraordinary goings on in Catalonia, you realise that it should be so much easier for Scotland to become a self respecting independent country. After all, that is what most people under sixty  want and, as stated in the Treaty of Union, the UK is a union between two equal countries, Scotland and England, so Scotland is already a country in its own right.  However, in 1707, when the Speaker of the House of Commons  said “we have won Scotland … and we will bind her fast” he wasn’t joking … the democratic deficit, designed to subjugate Scotland, has worked well in ensuring just that. Of course, in Catalonia there’s also a lot of unionist sentiment but we can’t help feeling that, like Scotland, the problem will not be resolved with anything less than independence. A K6 from the Saracen Foundry on South RonaldsayIn our previous post from Hotel Montefiore in Israel we reported on a K6 made in the Saracen Foundry. Lo and behold, on our way to the Tomb of the Eagles at the southernmost tip of South Ronaldsay what should we come across but another. This one was being used as an exchange library for books, CDs and DVDs.

Be warned, we are on Orkney for a few days so there may be more Orcadian scones to follow. By the way, the Tomb of the Eagles was closed so not even a dead eagle for Pat’s list!

KW17 2SR      tel: 01856 831 889        Robertson’s Coffeehoose FB

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.

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


Although this place has been around in Falkirk for quite some time we, for some reason, have never before crossed the threshold. For a while we thought it was yet another charity shop … like the Soroptimists or something? So, perhaps it was the name, perhaps it was the somewhat uninspiring interior … whatever, we have always just passed by. Today though, partly because we were parked directly opposite, we decided that we should try it out. It turned out to be a mixture of disappointments and surprises. Interior view of Sorochas Coffee Shop, FalkirkThe biggest disappointment is the general ambience of the place … there isn’t any! Sometimes we wish the owners of independent coffee shops like this would visit some of their multinational competitors … there’s a Caffe Nero, and a Costa just a stones throw away and they didn’t become multinationals by not paying attention to detail. Places like this can learn much from them about service and presentation. Not that there was anything wrong with the service .. if anything it was a bit over friendly. So the general look of the place was the disappointment but the big surprise was the scones. There was a selection of plain, fruit or treacle all made by Agnes earlier in the day. We decided on fruit for both of us … they were delicious. So light that we struggled to keep them from floating away … slight exaggeration! In our family, if a piece of baking had turned out too heavy and solid it was described as “doesn’t need pegging down”, well these scones did! Well done Agnes, in spite of all the inadequacies in this place we felt we had no choice but to award a topscone … cause for celebration! In case you were wondering … Sorochas is owned by a lady called Sarah and the coffee shop takes its name from the Gaelic equivalent.

Another cause for celebration?? Apparently, the UK now has a two new ginormous aircraft carriers with which we can go around the world bullying everyone who does not have ginormous aircraft carriers … this also involves pretending that the UK is some sort of powerful nation instead of just a puppet of the US.  Anyway, how else would you deal with an enemy wearing flipflops? Oops, forgot about all our Trident nuclear missiles!

Following the revelations in the last post about the introduction of scones to Austria we got a note from our Maryland correspondents in the US who were introduced to scones in Scotland back in June. Back home in Maryland, of course, they are dangerously close to the impending armageddon referred to in our last post so they have been  baking lots of shortbread and scones in an attempt to spread their civilising influence as far as the White House. We wish them all the luck in the world. They also asked if there were any songs about scones. Well there are … you can view one attempt by clicking here. If anyone out there can do better, please let us know … how hard can it be? There are also organisations that bring people together using the power of songs and scones … fantastic! In the meantime in the unlikely event of the scones failing to at least delay armageddon, our correspondents can find sanctuary in Scotland anytime.

FK1 1PL      tel: 01324 227610        Sorocha’s Coffee Shop TA