Another day another Barnes hot spot. Also the day after a supposedly sensible politician managed to bore a child half to death by reading her a story. Why do politicians insist on photo opportunities with kids? Can’t think of any where they have not looked completely outside their comfort zone, so why do it ? Anyway, like that poor child you are probably fed up to the back teeth with election stuff already and there is still a month to go. On to better and more important things. Tea is Orange Pekoe’s ‘thing’.
It derives its name from the very finest grade of broadleaf tea and it has won the Tea Guild ‘Award of Excellence’ seven years in a row so it seems to be quite good at the whole tea thing. Like Gail’s, which is not far away, it is busy all the time and also has seats outside but is more set up as a tearoom and is renowned for its afternoon teas.
Lovely day so we took a seat outside and then were attended to by a very welcoming and friendly staff. If we had had more time it would have been great to sample the afternoon tea but we didn’t so we just settled for some scones. They came accompanied by small dishes of jam and clotted cream and were beautifully warm, light and fluffy … utterly delicious. Only criticism, and it is a tiny one, was that they were maybe a tad on the small side, they certainly give you enough jam and cream for something much bigger. Accompanied by all the other stuff of an afternoon tea the size was ideal but on its own just a wee bit small. Also, Barnes is probably not the place to come for a cheap scone .. seen more Aston Martins and Porsche Cayennes than you could shake a stick at. So a little on the expensive side but having said that, we thoroughly enjoyed everything we had and would definitely recommend if you find yourself here for the boat race though your chances of getting in on Saturday are probably non-existent.
Had to explain ‘scone’ to a foreign lady and found it quite difficult .. there is really not much with which to compare it.
This is the BBC (baby buggy central) otherwise known as Gail’s Artisan Bakery. Barnes is a very nice spot on the bulge in the Thames where the boat race will be contested in a few days time so only an ‘artisan’ bakery would do .. otherwise the natives would revolt.
As you might expect then, Gail’s is a very nice coffee shop which seems to be busy no matter when you go .. lots of yummy mummy’s and people ‘at the office’ .. once saw a couple juggling two laptops, two iPads and four mobile phones, ah the joys! One reason it is so busy is that it is small. Although it has overspill seating outside it sometimes seems as if the whole of Barnes is trying to squeeze in here, and no wonder … lots of great looking home baked breads, cakes, pastries, biscuits .. and scones. You order at the counter and pick up a paddle so that they can find you at your table. Hats off to the staff, they work like trojans, picking their way through the conglomeration of people, bags and buggies. We had never tried the scones in here before so it had to be done. After a short wait it duly arrived and the reason for the wait became obvious, they had been toasting them .. a little too much as it happens. They were so hot it was difficult to handle them and as a result the base of the scone had become too hard and the scone itself had become a bit on the dry side. They came with little bowls of cream and strawberry jam which were very nice. Bear in mind that we are comparing with the likes of Fonab Castle here so are being deliberately fussy. Overall we enjoyed Gail’s scones and are sure that the fact that ours were a little over toasted is not the norm. This place is definitely worth a visit.
Out for breakfast this morning to Cafe Nero, they don’t do scones. Why is it that scones are not acceptable at breakfast, don’t know but they just aren’t!
News is all about the election broadcast last night between the seven big scones. It kind of ended up as the three ladies socking it to the Wastemonster three with UKipNige throwing wee tantrums in the background. There was Natgreen (sounded like she would like her scones barbecued), LibNick (not sure what to do about scones), UKipNige (only English scones, please), RedEd (any jam as long as it’s red), YakidaaLeanne (likes Welsh scones) NatNic (likes Scottish scones) and of course PoshDave (never had a scone without jam and cream). Anyway it was all quite civilised, UKipNige came close to throwing all his foreign scones out of the pram a couple of times and one very eloquent lady in the audience, Victoria (haven’t heard the last of her), gave posh Dave a hard time about soldiers sleeping on the street.
Who won, goodness knows? I am sure the London based press (i.e. almost all the press) will declare for PoshDave however NatNic managed to pull off the amazing feat of increasing her party membership by over 1500 in the course of the debate. Don’t know if any of the others came close to that, maybe their memberships were going in the opposite direction?
Perhaps predictably The National came out for NatNic and Scottish scones …
but I was really surprised to find The Times agreeing. Mind you I think they ran a completely different story in the English edition .. two faced or what?.
Lord Ashcroft’s latest poll also shows that NatNic and SNP would win a third of seats if they stood in England?? Extraordinary times indeed. Anyway off to Englandshire tomorrow to do some scone testing in the deep south. Will UKipNige be right about English scones being the best … will there be more jam and cream the further south we go? You will, of course be first to hear the findings.
Well here we are at The Milk Barn on the south side of Falkirk on a dull chilly day. The upcoming General Election has well and truly kicked off with all parties promising more scones tomorrow. Main issues seem to be: 1. should banker type folk get more cream on their jammy scones 2. should ordinary folk (i.e. not bankers), get any jam 3. is the EU meddling with our scones 4. should folks north of the border be allowed to call their scones Scottish instead of British. Being Scottish the last one is of particular interest because once again the main unionist parties are demonstrating their complete lack of comprehension of what Scotland and its scones are about and in so doing seem to risk the Union itself. From a sconologist point of view, the unionist parties should really be promoting United Bakeries, who make brilliant scones. Unfortunately they are in Norway .. which isn’t even in the EU, so maybe not. Interesting though that all MPs are effectively sacked and then have to win back their jobs by tempting us folk not only with scones but probably with jam and cream as well. It will be an interesting few weeks.
The Milk Barn is a great bit of diversification by the Reid family who run Glen Farm but probably not the sort of place to go if you don’t have children, the noise levels can be pretty high. On the other hand if you do have children it is a must do destination. There is a great play area inside for smaller kids, an adventure playground outside for the bigger ones, a large grassed area for playing football, a fab ice cream parlour where you can watch it actually being made. You can even milk Glenda the life-size fibreglass cow! So great fun if you are looking for the kids to be entertained while you try and sneak in a quiet cup of tea and, of course, a scone. The scones are home baked and although mine was an odd shape it tasted fine and butter and jam were provided free .. oh, and fab strawberry tarts
The place is busy most of the time and although the staff were run of their feet they still managed to be smiley and friendly .. well done.
Pitlochry is a huge tourist destination and has lots of good hotels but Fonab Castle Hotel is definitely at the boutique end of the market. We have stayed here before and thoroughly enjoyed everything about it .. the service, the decor, the setting, in fact everything you would expect from a 3 rosette AA 5 star hotel. It also has recently added a very fine Spa facility which you might want to try, especially if you have overindulged in the scone department .. believe me, it is very easily done. This time we were here for a champagne dinner (as you do) and if that was not indulgent enough, we managed to squeeze in a cream tea in the afternoon. We have long thought that the Fonab might actually produce the best scones in the world but, of course, these things require constant checking. We were not to be disappointed. Beautifully served and presented with crisp white linen napkins, clotted cream and a variety of jams .. the scones were to die for .. light and fluffy, melt in the mouth .. how do they do it?
Later, at dinner we had an opportunity to ask the head chef Paul Burns what the secret ingredient was .. and he actually told us … ‘happiness in the kitchen’, brilliant, definitely going to try some of that. As you might expect Fonab Castle is not the cheapest place to go for a scone, it is about £11.00 for a cream tea but you do get first class service, beautiful presentation, two fabulous scones, beautiful views of Loch Faskally and as much tea or coffee as you can drink. You should definitely try it.
We were actually heading for the Loch Fyne Oyster Restaurant and Bar at Cairndow only to find out that they don’t do scones .. nor much else to go with a cuppa .. black mark. Undaunted we went next door to the Tree Shop Café where we were told that they did not have any scones either .. aaargghh! Since there is nothing else for miles we ordered some other goodies to go with our cuppa. On finding a seat however we looked over only to see a whole new batch of steaming hot scones being removed from an oven. A’hmm, what are these?
The lovely lady serving us apologised profusely saying that she had completely forgotten that there was a batch baking. No problem whatsoever, our cakes were exchanged immediately for fresh hot scones.
The Tree Shop is what you might call a typical garden centre café .. a bit soleless and nothing to write home about … and as it turned out neither was the scone but we enjoyed it nevertheless
Because it is situated in Tyndrum at a bifurcation in the road, one road takes you north to Fort William and the other west to Oban, this is a an extremely busy stop-off place for cars, motorbikes and tour buses … just as well it has a huge car park to cater for all the traffic. There are several shops as well as the Green Welly café which is correspondingly big and must cater to thousands and thousands of tourists, hence you can get pretty much anything you want on a self service basis. Needless to say it was the scones we were after.
To be fair they were better than expected but struggling to get above average … which is pretty good for someplace so busy. Jam was extra. All in all it was pretty much what you would expect from a place like this .. did the job and that is what the Green Welly is set up to do.
When you visit Oban and have done McCaig’s Folly, the shops, the harbour and the distillery you may feel in need of a cuppa and a scone. The Coffee Corner is not far from the Harbour and opposite one of Oban’s best pubs, Aulay’s Bar. Don’t get your hopes up too far however. Not much in the way of atmosphere and the surroundings, like the scones, were a bit utilitarian. No table service and the scones come pre-buttered .. just why anyone would want to do this is quite beyond me .. do they know how much butter, if any, people want? My scone came with too much butter and the scone itself could probably best be described as ‘firm’. My coffee was fine as was Pat’s tea. We wish The Coffee Corner well but it needs to brighten itself and it’s service up a bit .. just a bit tired and uninspiring. We like to promote the small independent businesses wherever possible but just as well Costa, next door, don’t do scones.
PA34 4LL tel: 01631 562 588 Coffee Corner TA
It is not every day you drive 13 miles down a dead end single track road .. for a scone, especially when neither of us were feeling great with flu still hanging on both of us. Was it worth all the effort .. you bet! Greeted by Catherine and some very welcoming staff we were soon seated in front of a blazing fire in the bar and before long our scones were brought to us, toasted (wonderful touch) and with little jars of cream and jam, fantastic, what more could you ask for .. especially when you are not feeling one hundred percent.
And all excellent value considering the fabulous surroundings and the stupendous location.
Scones by the fire and fabulous view towards Ben Lui with a crannog in the foreground this scone experience could easily make it into our ‘top scones’ category.
Ardanaiseig (pronounced (ar-den-ass-ay) was built in 1834 by Colonel James Archibald Campbell when the journey was not a 13 mile drive on a single track road but one on horseback. They obviously thought it was worth it, and we agree. If you do make it you should also have a look at the huge oil painting in the dining room which the current owner (Bennie Gray, antique dealer) had modified because he did not know anyone in the original. There are other similarly adapted paintings dotted around the corridors.
If you find yourself in Dunkeld on a wet March day and a bit tired of walking round the town you could do a lot worse than pop into Palmerston’s Coffee Shop on the main street. It is small and welcoming with a wonderful display of home made jams which have been super successful in the World Jampionships over recent years. We had the raspberry and nectarine and it was not difficult to see why it had been such a hit. Also, each table had a note with the wifi password .. great, wish everywhere did this rather than tediously having to ask. Scones are a little bit different in that they are obviously baked in the round and then quartered to give a sort of triangular end result. They were light and airy with generous amounts of fruit and we could have had plain or even a rock bun. Served with a little bowl of clotted cream we thought it was great value for money. Come to think of it, it does not have to be a wet March day, anytime would be good for Palmerston’s.