Tag Archives: Boris Johnston

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

Café du Jardin

Drumclog Monument
Monument to the Battle of Drumclog

Visiting an artist friend is interesting, not only for the range of beautiful pottery and calligraphy items she produces and sells at home and online, but for the fact that her house is on the site of the Battle of Drumclog. “The battle of what” we hear you say! This battle, on June 1st 1679, is one of the few victories the Covenanters were to have over the government forces of Charles I. Like almost every battle since the beginning of time it was fought between two forces, both of which had God on their side … and it was fought on a Sunday for goodness sake!! During this contratemps, the government commander, John Graham of Claverhouse‘s horse was killed and he fled the field on foot but eventually took his trumpeter’s horse to make good his escape. The now defenceless trumpeter, a fourteen year old boy, was caught by the Covenanters, killed, and his body thrown down a well which is still known as Trumpeters Well. We tell you all of this simply to illustrate the point that the behaviour of our ruling classes has not changed very much in the intervening centuries … the Mays , Goves, Johnstons and Trumps of this world would not think twice about dislodging a young boy from his mount if it meant to saving their own skins … or are we being unfair? When we left Drumclog we decided to stop off at the Garrion Bridges Garden & Antique Centre in the Clyde valley. It used to be good for antiques but we found that a recent revamp of its facilities has not done it any favours in that respect … now, it is much more into gardens and gaudy knickknacks. Café du Jardin however is tucked away in a corner and specialises almost exclusively in afternoon teas – an oasis of calm. There is another much bigger café which caters to ordinary people. Not being particularly hungry we asked if they could just do a couple of scones … no problem! Cream tea at Café du Jardin at the Garrion Bridges Garden & Antique CentreWhen they arrived, however, they obviously could not break the afternoon tea habit because “just a scone” turned out to be more akin to a mini afternoon tea … and all for the price of a couple of scones! Scones at Café du Jardin at the Garrion Bridges Garden & Antique CentreThe problem with this sort of thing is, of course, when people as weak willed as ourselves are presented with all these extras, whatever self discipline we might have had goes completely out the window. There was a plain and a fruit scone each, plus meringues, muffins, eclairs and macaroons … aaarggghh! Interior of Café du Jardin at the Garrion Bridges Garden & Antique CentreOne of the noticeable things about this place is a wall which acted like an interference pattern, playing havoc with your eyes and inducing a state of confusion which meant we ended up eating almost everything … that’s our excuse and we are sticking to it! Although decorated to a high standard, in our opinion, it would be much nicer with more subtle lighting that would relieve the ‘fluorescent’ effect that is never particularly appealing. Interior of Café du Jardin at the Garrion Bridges Garden & Antique CentreBesides all that, this was a nice quiet place with very attentive staff that provided welcome respite from the shopping frenzy going on just outside the door … topscone!

The Covenanters were dedicated to preserving God’s rights on earth and were described at the time thus: “They were terribly in earnest. The passion that was in them , like all great passions, refused to be divided. Their idea possessed them with a force and a fulness to which we find few parallels in history. It haunted their sleep , it awoke with them in the morning – it walked , like their shadow, with them to business or to pleasure – it became the breath of their nostrils and the soul of their soul.” Today, when you read of a terrorist plot foiled in Australia it is perhaps worth remembering that religious extremism is far from a new phenomenon … just ask any young trumpeter.

ML2 0RR       tel: 01698 372288      Café du Jardin