Tag Archives: BBC

Forth Belle

What?? Sometimes we go to extraordinary lengths in order to broaden the horizons of our sconey readers but seldom do we have to risk life and limb quite like this. Nevertheless, undaunted, on a fine sunny day in March, we set sail from the Hawes Pier in South Queensferry into the uncharted waters of floating scones. We were aboard the good ship Forth Belle and the name of our trip was “The Blackness Castle, Three Bridges and … wait for it … Cream Tea Cruise” … okay, now you understand!

Rosyth Dockyard and the Prince of Wales aircraft carrier
Rosyth Dockyard with the partially built Prince of Wales aircraft carrier on the left

We were sailing up river under the old Forth Road Bridge, then the new Queensferry Crossing and before long we were passing the Rosyth Dockyard. Britain doesn’t have any planes to put on the aircraft carrier being built here but now that Putin has been forced to take on the mantle of bogey-man-in-chief we think the money will probably be found … presumably after we’ve forked out the £300b for weapons of mass destruction like Trident of course. If Putin eventually gets put back in his box and there are to be no planes, the Prince of Wales will probably be put on Gumtree or eBay… not him, the ship!

The restaurant on the Forth Belle cruise
Help yourself cream tea

For our cream tea we had to go below to the galley (hope you are heeding the nautical terminology) where there was a table from which we had to equip ourselves with the various accoutrements for a cream tea … thankfully there was someone to serve us tea and coffee. Okay okay, we may have over dramatised the life and limb bit somewhat but there were other dangers … because all the tables had been taken, we had to butter, jam and cream a scone on our knees with a plastic knife while the boat pitched and rolled mercilessly … okay, that’s over dramatised as well! A scone on the Forth Belle cruiseMaybe it was because of this high sense of adventure, maybe it was because of the chilling wind out here on the open water but our tea and scones tasted delicious. Obviously there was no topscone award, there were certain shortcomings when it came to things like presentation, however, overall we thoroughly enjoyed what we had … could have eaten another one. By this time we were at Blackness Castle which was as far up river as we would go before making the return journey. In a way we were mimicking German submarine U-21 which penetrated this far up the river in 1914 before turning back as well … they probably were not having a cream tea though!

Blackness Castle from the Forth Belle river cruiser
Blackness Castle , centre, looks like a battleship and may have scared off U-boat 21

The crew of the Forth Belle gave us all sorts of interesting snippets of information e.g. did you know that the iconic Forth Rail Bridge weighs 100 tons more when it is raining and grows in length by 7 meters when it’s hot? No, we didn’t know either but just think how many people you can bore at dinner parties with this sort of information. Alas, we didn’t see any seals or dolphins but there were plenty of cormorants, eider ducks and the like. The  cruise was great fun, highly recommended. Ours was the last of the day and the only one we could get because all the others were fully booked … what some people will do for a free cream tea!!

The Forth Road Bridges at sunset
Looking west from Hawes Pier

Our Kiwi correspondent kindly reported recently that even Ed Sheeran will do anything for a free scone. Ed Sheeran and New Zealand's prime minister Jacinda ArdernApparently New Zealand‘s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, couldn’t fit any of Ed’s eight NZ concerts into her busy schedule … so she invited him over to her place for a cuppa and a scone. He readily accepted because unbeknown to anyone up until then … he’s a fervent sconey! Why did the BBC not report this? It’s right up there with the usual stuff they like to report.

EH30 9TB    tel: 0131 331 3030     Forth Boat Tours

The Butterchurn

There are plenty of things that change as you get older but no one  ever mentioned to us that you start to run out of aunties. Between us we used to have loads of them but, sadly, now we only have two … and one of them lives here in Kirkintilloch and we are taking her out for lunch. Kirkie is a fair distance from our home town of Falkirk yet both towns are very much connected: a) the Forth & Clyde canal runs through both b) the Roman Antonine Wall runs through both and c) they both have an illustrious history in iron manufacturing. Aficianados of the world famous red telephone box know that almost all the K2 and K6 versions were made here in the Lion foundry and, of course, every single one of the limited edition K4s were made at Carron in Falkirk. For non-aficianados we have put together a handy guide which will hopefully help avoid any confusion. K2, K6 and K4 red telephone boxesAnyway, now that we have cleared that up, our aunt wanted to buy some plants for her garden so where better than Caulder’s Garden Centre right here in Kirkie which is also home to the Butterchurn Coffee House. Although we had been warned it was always busy we did not expect to be told that we would have to wait twenty minutes for a table .. and it’s not as if it is short of tables, it’s quite a big place. We were put on a waiting list.Internal view of the Butter Churn Coffee Shop, KirkintillochTrue to their word, however, we went back later and within a couple of minutes we had a table. The serving staff, although rushed off their feet, were very friendly and welcoming in that uniquely Glasgow kind of way … you find yourself talking about the weather, children and the price of tea in China in the act of giving your order. We had ordered a scone but decided, since we were having other things, to share it three ways. A scone at the Butter Churn Coffee Shop, KirkintillochUnfortunately it appeared with all the other food so we had to look at it all the way through lunch … and it did not look at all promising. Well, you would think, with our intensive studies in sconology, that we would be able to spot a good scone at some distance … you would be wrong, it was excellent, what do we know? We like our scones to be a little bit crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle but this one wasn’t, it was all soft but with a lovely texture … delicious! Nice jam and whipped cream as well. They also do lumpy bumpy cake … don’t ask!

View from the Butter Churn Coffee Shop, Kirkintilloch
View with the Campsie Fells in the distance

There have been other surprises recently! For us the biggest was how far the main stream media, including the ‘impartial’ BBC, went in distorting the facts about the local council elections. They managed to turn it, with just 20% of the vote, into a triumph for the Tories … apparently the SNP are going to have to rethink their entire strategy and drop all thoughts of independence … eh, the clue is in the name? What actually happened was that the SNP, after 10 years in power, increased their vote and took control of all the major cities whereas the unionist vote decreased … it takes real skill to twist that into a disaster for independence but par for the course really. The Tories did increase their vote but only because Labour voters could not bring themselves to vote Labour and switched, unbelievably in Scotland, to Tory. Table decoration at the Butter Churn Coffee Shop, KirkintillochIn France, Emmanuel Macron has become President! Perhaps not that surprising, but surprising in that no one seemed to like either candidate, they just voted for what they saw as the lesser of two evils. What has happened to world politics … everything is anti: anti-immigration, anti-EU, anti-globilisation, anti-this, anti-that? Our Kirkintilloch aunty is a wee treasure however … we had a great lunch and a surprise topscone. Apologies for the homophonics.Graphic for the Butter Churn Coffee Shop, Kirkintilloch

G66 1QF        tel: 0141 776 2304          Butterchurn Coffee Shop

Wee Lochan

Table decor at the Wee Lochan
Table decor

We visit Glagow a lot but it’s not often we find ourselves on the Crow Road in the west of the city … even less often do we find ourselves on the Crow Road with time to spare … but today was one of these days. You may have heard of the Crow Road because, in local dialect, it is sometimes used to describe someone’s demise, as in “he’s away the Crow Road” but much more likely is Iain Banks’ best-selling novel by that name which is set around the street. In it he describes a young man’s struggles with life and his attempts to find God, universal purpose and the afterlife … concepts his father point blank refused to accept. We have our own similar problems, but today, at least, we discovered that there is a God, in as much that, in this somewhat unpromising street, we came across the Wee Lochan, an absolute godsend. As soon as you walk in you just get the feeling that it is going to be good. The staff were happy, friendly and welcoming and although everything was set for lunch, when we said we only wanted coffee and a scone, a table was cleared immediately and we were ushered to our seats. Interior view of the Wee LochanThere are many nice touches in the Wee Lochan e.g. they have art exhibitions and don’t take any commission from the artists … fantastic! Best though, especially at our age, they have reading glasses hanging from a central pillar for folks who have forgotten theirs! A scone at the Wee LochanThe whole place is alive with chat … not a note of musac in sight … great, this place was made for us! Scones came in a variety of options; Pat opted for ‘cheese & chive’ whereas I went the safer and more traditional ‘fruit’ route. It was very busy so we had to wait a while but when our scones did arrive they were beautifully warm and the fruit one came with loads of jam and whipped cream. In order that we could judge them rigorously and fairly on your behalf we split the scones, half each … honestly the things we do for you readers! Pat started on hers and I could immediately tell by the wee smile on her face that it was topscone material. By the time I was getting near the end of my half of the fruit scone however I was feeling a bit reluctant to give up the other half … it was fabby! We did swap however and, as a consequence, we are reporting on a duo of topscones … well done the Wee Lochan.Interior view of the Wee LochanOdd, that after our last post about the Scottish Korean War Memorial, with the murder of the Supreme Leader’s half brother, it should be headline news again … purely coincidental we assure you. Someone commented that Korea’s problems are due, in no small part, to its lack of scones … but all civilised people now that places without scones tend to be a bit iffy! Anyway, brace yourselves, we are going to agree with Donald Trump … “the media is dishonest“. Okay, he is only saying it because they happen to be giving him a hard time at the moment but closer to home we have newspapers like the Mail, Express, Record and others all spewing nonsense, particularly when it comes to Scotland and Brexit … and the BBC backing them up. We definitely deserve better from our media! The world needs much more thoughtfulness … places like the Wee Lochan that provide spectacles for those who cannot see.

G11 7HT        tel: 0141 338 6606        Wee Lochan

Café Gandolfi

Believe it or not this restaurant/café derived it’s named from a camera … the famous plate camera made for 120 years by Louis Gandolfi and his family in London.

Picture of a 5"x4" Gandolfi plate camera
Gandolfi 5″x4″ plate camera

And believe or not, at the risk of appearing much much more ancient than I actually am, I did all of my training at Napier College in Edinburgh using these cameras. It wasn’t that long ago … honest! At the time, PhotoShop had not even been thought of so all converging verticals and other distortions had to be corrected using camera movements … and heaven help you if you got it wrong by a few millimetres, you were sent back out again until you got it right! When I see the ease with which photographs are taken nowadays, even I can hardly believe that this is what we used to use … complete with a dark cloth over the head so that you could see the upside-down 5″x4″ image on the ground glass … seems like another world. Recently we dropped in on a photographer friend at Wildgrass Studios near Lix Toll and imagine my surprise when he said “Bill, I have to let you see my new camera”. I expected the latest digital whizbang thingy but instead he dragged out a huge box from which he proudly produced an old 10″x12″ plate camera … and  he uses it to produce stunning images that he sells online … brilliant! As a plooky youth I did not really appreciate the fabulous workmanship in these hand crafted items and usually lusted after the all-metal MPP or Sinar equivalents … oh, the foolishness of youth!

Picture of stained glass at Café Gandolfi
one of Gandolfi’s stained glass pieces
Picture of artwork at Café Gandolfi
not the angel of the north – part of a permanent exhibit

Another photographer, Iain Mackenzie, who hailed from the Isle of Lewis, did appreciate them however, and when he decided, in 1979, to start up a restaurant in the old Merchant City, a very run down part of Glasgow at that time … he opted to call it Café Gandolfi, presumably to reflect the fine craftmanship he hoped to reproduce with his uniquely Scottish food. With it he introduced the first cappuccino machine to Glasgow and gave the city a taste of the flourishing café society it enjoys today. We were slightly fearful that such a trendsetting place would find scones a wee bit mundane however our fears were groundless … we were told that scones were available upstairs in Bar Gandolfi, so up we went! This is a relatively new addition but it is very much in the Gandolfi style. They normally have lots of art on display but unfortunately we visited in the few days between their monthly exhibitions. Not to worry we were looking forward to our Gandolfi scones … and when they arrived we were not disappointed. They were just the way we like them, crunchy outside and soft in the middle. Picture of a scone at Café GandolfiThere was no cream but the jam and butter more than made up for that. After much deliberation, however, we decided that they just missed out on topscone … but only by a very fine whisker, pity! Louis Gandolfi was an Italian immigrant who, like lots of other immigrants, decided to move here and establish businesses which would help and contribute to the overall well-being of both themselves and the UK. In other words, they expected, like most immigrants, to contribute to their host nation through taxes and such like. It is ironic therefore, to say the least, that Trump is now being hailed by his supporters as a ‘business genius’ for having paid no tax whatsoever in the past 18 years. Picture of the Gandolfi works in LondonAbhorrent as this may appear to all right minded people, it seems strangely indicative of the times we live in. If readers spot anyone who isn’t avoiding tax at this week’s Tory party conference we urge you to get in touch with the BBC … we are sure it would make headline news … not! We also suspect that Louis Gandolfi was a much better business man than Donald Trump could ever hope to be so it is appropriate that his name is commemorated so fittingly here in Glasgow … definitely worth a visit!

G1 1NY      tel: 0141 552 6813      Café Gandolfi

Roasted Bean

Okay, okay, the Crystal Palace Triangle is not so much a ‘scone desert’ as we first thought … we found another one! picture of garden area of Roasted Bean café in Crystal PalaceThis time it’s at the Roasted Bean café and, like the LWS café in our previous post, it is situated on the outer extremity of the Triangle where the influence is weakest. The Roasted Bean had plain and fruit scones so we thought we should take the chance to get back to some sort of normality after our gruyère and chive experience. Normality, however, is sometimes not all that it is cracked up to be. The girl who brought our fruit scone, semi-apologetically explained that the scraping of jam on offer was all they had left .. not a great start. On the plus side, we were able to sit outside in the ‘garden’ on what was a very hot day. picture of a Roasted Bean café sconeThe scone itself, although nicely toasted and tasted okay, the meagre jam and the strange synthetic butter missed the topscone marker by quite a long way. We have concluded that the Crystal Palace Triangle, though not a complete scone desert, is not the sort of place that sconeys should be frequenting … unless, of course, they have a peripheral interest in broadcasting?? Picture of the Crystal Palace TV transmitterCrystal Palace may not cut the mustard for scones but it does have the famous Crystal Palace TV transmitter which, with a coverage of more than 12 million people, is the most important in the UK . Of course, broadcasting aficionados will know that the first ever TV broadcast took place in our own home town of Falkirk when John Logie Baird demonstrated the new fandangled thing in what is now Johnston’s bistro in the Lint Riggs. You are probably also aware that the whole ‘TV thingy’ caught on in quite a big way and when the BBC was formed, the rest, as they say, is history. The BBC is about to get it’s new charter and whereas this transmitter probably does a good job for London it remains to be seen whether the BBC can adapt to the new politics of the UK and reflect a Scotland where all but three of it’s MPs support independence. So far it has done a miserable job … for instance, reporting a big independence rally in Catalonia whilst completely ignoring a similar rally in Glasgow on the same day is not a service, it is a disservice. With Scotland raising more than £300m in BBC licence fees and only getting £83m back, an urgent revision is required. RTE, the Irish broadcaster, buys all BBC channels for £21m a year so it does not need a brain surgeon to work out that an independent Scotland would be much better off  doing it’s own broadcasting and simply paying for the BBC in the same way as RTE … if it wants to. Do you think this transmitter could have anything to do with the mysterious lack of scones in the Crystal Palace Triangle?

SE19 3RY     tel: 07515 126190     Roasted Bean FB

The Tufted Duck Tearoom

Sometimes we go to the Scottish Antique & Arts Centre, either at Doune or Abernyte. Within a mile or so of Abernyte is the Rait Antiques Centre which we had not visited in a long time … and it’s all changed. It used to have a tiny café area at one end of the old cart shed but now the café seems to have taken over the entire place. There are still loads of antiques in this and the other studios but now you can sit anywhere and  the ambience is much more in keeping. It is no doubt down to the hard work and energy of Tim Hardie who has run the café since 2009. It was a nice surprise to see how it had developed … but how would the scones stack up? Tufted Duck 01Shock, horror, the people who were served before us had taken all but the last scone and we were fearful that the last specimen would also go before we had been served. No worries, Tim had reserved it specially for us … what a guy! The coffee was great and the scone was very good too. It wasn’t home baked but it was very light and somewhat cake-like in taste and texture. When we asked the somewhat frazzled Tim why he did not bake his own scones he just gave us a withering look and flew past at a hundred miles and hour. Tufted Duck 04Actually, even though he was extremely busy, he still manged to have a bit of friendly banter with everyone so well done him. Earlier in the day we had been in Perth and had had an interesting and lively encounter with a lovely lady who just happened to be a Tory. Now you might think that meeting a Tory in Perthshire is hardly something to write home about but this lady was especially lovely and especially lively. She, of course, declared that our Nicola was the devil incarnate and that everything to do with her and her party was indeed BAD … just as the media would have you believe. Now you would think, when the media never publish or broadcast anything about the SNP unless it is ‘SNPbad‘, that this is hardly surprising, however it is surprising that this attitude can prevail, even amongst ‘died in the wool’ unionists, when all the actual evidence points the other way. If they look at the facts, even hard nosed unionists should be prepared to admit that the SNP’s record in office is one of which they can be rightly proud. While Scotland’s democratic deficit starts to resemble the Grand Canyon, unionists seem to find it quite acceptable that  Scotland has absolutely no say whatsoever in what happens to it. The UK is clearly no longer fit for purpose, unionists, especially lovely lady ones, should be preparing for an amicable divorce rather than simply casting aspersions.

PH2 7RT       tel: 01821 670760      The Tufted Duck Tearoom TA

Café Circa – Abernyte

It’s quite a while since we have been here.  The lovely hamlet of Abernyte lies in the Sidlaw Hills just west of Dundee. According to its own historical society, Abernyte has never been visited by anyone famous and nothing of interest has ever happened here … quite an achievement for a village that’s been around for at least 800 years! Just along the road however there is Dunsinane Hill made famous by Shakespeare; “Macbeth shall never vanquished be, until Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill shall come against him.” At a tad over 1000ft many might think that the bard was prone to a bit of exaggeration but it does mean that Dunsinane Hill qualifies as a Marilyn (hill over 150m) … you probably are more aware of the hills over 3000 feet which are called Munros .. see the connection! Anyway some things happen in Abernyte, the Scottish Antique & Arts Centre was established a few years back on the outskirts of the village and 2016 sees the opening of Abernyte Brewery .. so, actually  it’s all happening here. Abernyte 03We used to be regular visitors to this SAAC and it’s sister establishment in Doune but, whilst we still like  rummaging around amongst antiques, other things have taken up our time lately and rummaging time has been sorely limited … but not today. We never know what we are looking for but when we see it we will want it and it will probably be something we absolutely don’t need … that’s how these places work. After some serious rummaging though you are slowly but surely drawn towards Cafe Circa, the restaurant at the centre of the Centre .. the smell of coffee becomes overpowering. The restaurant is a French/Scottish concern and has a reputation for good food but when we arrived Abernyte 07it was late in the day and there did not seem to be any staff around. I ended up having to go to the counter to find someone …  but after that we were looked after very well. Their head baker, Michelle Stewart, won an award last year for her efforts but  would her scones survive critical examination? No problem, nicely presented and excellent texture. The only slight blot on their copy book was the fact that we were not offered cream … like some other people who came after us .. boo! These scones were teetering on the brink of a topscone award but eventually just fell short .. shame.

restaurant set up for the next day
restaurant set up for the next day

If nothing has ever happened in Abernyte it would appear that nothing happens anywhere else either, at least according to the Auntie Beeb. With huge anti-austerity marches, taking place across Europe and now the Nuit Debout (Up All Night) movement coming to the UK, you wonder why there is no mention from our public broadcaster; maybe no time left after endless reporting of Wills and Kate’s jollies in former colonies; maybe it does not suit the government’s Remain stance on the EU. The BBC is akin to an anaesthetic for the masses … don’t be surprised if you get a fifteen minute news bulletin informing you that nothing has happened in Abernyte … they probably have a correspondent there just in case something does happen!

PH14 9SJ              tel: 01828 686044           Cafe Circa

Le Pain Quotidien

This place is just round the corner from Victoria station and was the chosen spot for a rendezvous with a group of Lithuanians .. don’t ask, it’s a long story. Le Pain Quotidian ( ‘the daily bread’) originated in Belgium but now has outlets in nineteen countries stretching from Brazil to India though this is the first we have come across. Le Pain 02 The emphasis is on providing a place for people to meet and do business or just have a good gossip and, to that end, they provide some long tables where people or families can gather round and do just that. It prides itself on it’s artisan bread made the traditional way … ‘bakers blend organic stone-ground flour, kneaded patiently by hand and baked in stone lined hearths’ .. whatever .. can they make a scone? In the interests of diversity, we thought we should try the ‘organic spelt & quinoa scone’. If nothing else it was definitely different and, from that point of view, difficult to compare with other scones. Le Pain 03A heavy mix as you might expect with a spelt flour but the added quinoa seeds, currants and almonds gave it a, not unpleasant, crunchy texture. It came with a pot of mixed strawberry/rhubarb  jam and a dish of what we thought was cream but turned out to be ricotta – an Italian whey cheese made from sheep milk. Now once we had got over the surprise of it being nothing like the cream we had been expecting, it was not that bad … in fact, with the scone itself being so completely different, the ricotta complemented the scone quite well … probably better than cream would have done. Le Pain 04This is the first  time we have come across quinoa (pronounced: kinwa) in a scone and probably demonstrates Le Pain Quotidien holding true to its basic philosophy of using good honest healthy ingredients .. apparently it originated from the shores of Lake Titicaca which is quite exotic in itself. At £5 per scone however, they are not cheap. Never had a hope of being a topscone but just for being sooooo different we think it qualifies for a top weird scone award .. won’t be rushing back for another but well done for broadening our scone horizons. Not far away there was a Stop Trident rally in Trafalgar Square. Isn’t it odd that we give so much attention to making nuclear power stations absolutely safe and then spend vastly more money planning for the creation of even bigger nuclear disasters .. bizarre. Of course, things have moved on. The big question now is not whether we should get rid of them but whether we can get rid of them fast enough before  The Donald and BoJo are ruling the world. The BBC‘s report on the rally just prattled on about how disappointing the turnout had been in spite of their own pictures showing umpteen thousands present.

BREAKING NEWS: In best BBC style, keeping you up to date with scone news, we have breaking news from our Trossachs correspondent .. the same one who, you will remember, gifted us some Dobbies scones at Christmas. Dobbies 01Apparently, when he went to pay for his cream scone the other day at Dobbies in Stirling he discovered that cream scones were subject to a BOGOF deal so he went home with another scone in a box which fed  four people the following day … all for £1.45 .. remarkable. Many thanks to our reporter. Obviously they were not spelt and quinoa scones but, in spite of the London prices, Le Pain Quotidien is worth a visit, a little bit quirky, good food, great service and nice atmosphere. It also has a good website with plenty of information and recipe suggestions.

SW1V 1JZ     tel: 020 3657 6945     Le Pain Quotidien

Glamis Castle

In this post we are visiting Glamis Castle for their Christmas Fayre but we did not expect it to be anything like as busy as it was … it was mobbed; great for fund raising and for all the locally based traders who had set up stalls in the castle grounds .. but maybe not so good if you are waiting for a scone in a long queue. Situated near the pretty village of Glamis there has been a castle here since 1376 though most of the present building dates from the 18th century. It has had a fairly chequered history with tales of witchcraft, ghosts, monsters and people being bricked up in rooms .. must be great to have enough rooms that, if you take a dislike to one of your guests, you just brick’em up!  The castle was the setting for Shakespeare’s MacBeth and was also the birthplace of Princess Margaret, however, it is probably most famous as the childhood home of Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon who eventually became the wife of King George VI in 1937 and after his death went on to become Queen Elizabeth the Queen MotherGlamis 02There is not much we can say about the obscene wealth and privilege of monarchy without the distinct risk of being cast into the Tower of London and left to rot for ever … so perhaps the least said the better. Having said that, the Queen Mum is a bit of a hero .. she had a magnificent wine cellar which we are trying hard to replicate, but best of all she managed to die owing umpteen millions, something we would love to emulate but are still looking for the right backer. Despite their largesse with royalty, we suspect that Coutts  bank would not happily entertain rather lowly sconeys .. even with our equally hedonistic lifestyle!

a very busy castle café
a very busy castle café

Because of the Christmas Fayre the castle’s old kitchen, which serves as a restaurant/tearoom, was busy busy busy. The staff were all working their socks off but in spite of lengthy queues everyone seemed happily imbued with Christmas spirit and content to wait their turn, chatting to each other. Don’t think there would have been any direct royal involvement in the making of our scones  ..  probably just a minion somewhere, but tGlamis 04hey were very good; well endowed with fruit; lots of jam and cream; nice crunchy exterior, but just one problem … a tad overdone on the bottom … a relatively small problem for us but, since the royals are obviously avid readers of ‘thescones’, that poor minion is probably being bricked up as we speak!

roast toasty wood burning stove in the old original range
roasty toasty wood burning stove in the old original range

Just to go off at a tangent for a minute … the NHS figures recently released by the government showing that NHS Scotland is the best performer in the UK is good news. We mention it here simply because, despite extensive coverage of these figures, you will not find that particular nugget mentioned anywhere by the BBC, not even BBC Scotland, so you may have missed it. Another thing you may have missed is the arrival of a new dictionary word; refuweegee …  a person who upon arrival in Glasgow is embraced by the people of the city, a person considered to be a local .. isn’t that rather nice in this season of goodwill to all men .. a sentiment very much in evidence amongst all the holly, mince-pies and of course, the scones, at Glamis. Unfortunately, if you are one of the few who did not make it to the Christmas Fayre you will just have to wait until next year .. it is on for three days but by the time you read this it will be too late .. sorry!

DD8 1RJ     tel: 01307 840393      Glamis Castle

M&S Café

M&S 010Ok, lower the lights, cue soft sexy music, “because this not just a scone … its an M&S scone”. A very successful TV ad that has fallen into everyday usage to describe everything other than what it was supposed to, M&S food … but this is food and it’s M&S food so will it live up to the hype? No problem, probably the best self service scone we have had so far. There were a couple of problems though; the coffee was decidedly average and the butter was too hard to spread on a light fluffy scone .. but the scones themselves were very good .. Pat had a very good cheese one. Now here is an interesting thing; in our last post you will remember that we were having to rough it at Gleneagles where everything was brought to us at our seat in front of the big open fire by a team of waiting staff  .. everything was absolutely first class. M&S 03By comparison, for the rather spartan surroundings of the self service M&S scones we had to buy jam and cream separately so that, unbelievably, they ended up more expensive than the Gleneagles ones. In total, for exactly the same order Gleneagles was just slightly more expensive because of the coffee .. but the coffee was perfect, a hundred times better than M&S. Just goes to show; one scone experience was light years ahead of the other but both cost much the same .. just so as you know. Understandably the news is still dominated by the Paris catastrophe however in its attempt to provide 24hr coverage the BBC has been reduced to wittering rather than reporting. If there were to be a scone disaster in Azerbaijan, we are sure the BBC would immediately be able to go over to their own scone correspondent in Baku. The day before Paris there were around 50 people killed in an IS bomb attack in Beirut  that went completely unreported, not a single cheep .. never mind what that says about standards of reporting, what does it say about us, did they just not want to bother us, what is the difference between the Paris and Beirut? M&S 02It is also sad to see the knee-jerk responses from politicians; declarations of pitiless war and increased security measures everywhere. Do they not understand that that is why we are in this mess and that a war on terrorism is about as futile as a war on drugs. Amongst all the talk there seems to be no cognisance of what appears to us to be the only way forward; go after Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and the UAE who, directly or indirectly, provide funds and succour to IS and al-Qaida .. make them pariah states, freeze their assets, let them know that they are not welcome instead of feting them like royalty, send their diplomats home .. whatever it takes until they sort themselves out! But of course that way might harm the bankers and arms dealers and that would be unthinkable because for every bullet fired and every bomb dropped they whoop joyously. It would probably mean a drop in our standard of living but we think we could get by on just one scone every second day if it meant we could live without fear .. oh no, just remembered that the US standard of living is non-negotiable so that probably is not going to work. And, of course, our media all too often simply reflects the foreign policy objectives of our governments. If we may continue the TV ad analogy .. if Carlsberg made foreign policy disasters?  Just remember, as our government ramps up the terror alert to “severe” that as many people have been killed by bee stings in the last decade as in terror incidents .. maybe even as many people have choked to death on scones?M&S 07

FK1 1EJ          tel: 01324 611161      Marks and Spencer