Tag Archives: Brexit

Café Belgica

Admittedly, this is not the first place that comes to mind when seeking out a good scone a) it’s a huge furniture warehouse b) it’s situated in a pretty uninviting industrial estate … but, like us, you might be surprised. We used to come here quite often looking for the odd quirky piece of furniture but, hallelujah, since our last visit they have reorganised everything and added Café Belgica … and it seemed like the busiest part of the store. Internal view of Café BelgicaIt is well set up and there is a good range of food and drinks on offer … including scones. Ours fruit scones were good and served with a generous tub of clotted cream. The friendly lady who was looking after us, however, was having to work very hard negotiating a rather odd table layout – definitely something they need to look at in future. A scone at Café BelgicaNot topscones unfortunately but enjoyable nevertheless. Café Belgica is providing something of an oasis in what is really a huge refreshment desert … a place to chillax away from the cares of the outside world and, perhaps more importantly, away from the Winter Olympics. Never mind the brouhaha about Kim Jong-un’s sister making Mike Pence look like a bit of a plonker, or the fact that banned Russia is competing … but not as Russia? Even more ridiculous is the sight of commentators working themselves up into a lather over whether Team GB might beat Team Nigeria by 1/1000th of a second … at sledging! Does anyone seriously care? Maybe we just don’t understand. In common with 99.999% of the population we don’t know anyone involved in ‘skeleton’ (head first on a sledge) or ‘luge’ (feet first on a sledge) so are not in a position to discuss the finer points. As youths we used to take part in our own Tin Tray Championships which consisted of a group of idiots sliding down the Ochil hills on beer trays totally out of control … a bit like Brexit negotiations! Could Brexit become an Olympic event … a gold medal to anyone who can find a way to keep us in the EU.

EH51 0PU     tel: 01506 243954     Café Belgica

Sundial Café

Kidnapped by Robert Louis StevensonWhen Robert Louis Stevenson was writing Kidnapped he chose Limekilns as the final point of escape for David Balfour and Alan Breck as they fled the redcoats in 1752 . An odd choice when you look at the sleepy little village today, however, it wasn’t always like this. Its sheltered natural harbour meant that it once had a thriving fishing industry and, as its name suggests, burning lime was another. However, in the 18th century, the harbour also served as the northern terminus for a ferry service from Bo’ness on the opposite shore … maybe that’s why Stevenson chose this place? Anyway, Alison Hastie, the local innkeeper’s daughter rowed them across and the two young fugitives successfully escaped … hurrah! Nowadays, of course, they could just have walked across the river using any one of three bridges … okay, you are not supposed to walk on the rail bridge but if you were fleeing for your life?? We got here by using the new Queensferry Crossing … without expansion joints it is a very smooth drive … but how have they done that, where does the expansion go? Having arrived in Fife we decided to take the more more indirect but more picturesque coastal route back home on the north side of the Forth and Limekilns is one of the first villages you come across. It is home to the Sundial Café.

The sundial at the Sundial Cafe in Limekilns
Sundial dated 1689

Unsurprisingly it gets its name from the sundial high up on the corner of the building. In Scotland, these things are only of use on the rare occasions when the sun actually shines but presumably when this one was installed there were not that many alternatives. Inside, on the ground floor, it is small and cosy with a large log burning stove but there is also a fairly large seating area upstairs. It has only been open a few years but it is pretty obvious that the renovation of the 400 year old building has been done very sympathetically. When we arrived mid afternoon they only had two scones left, one fruit and the other cheese and bacon. We decide to have them both and share, half each … what are we like?

Internal view of the Sundial Café in Limekilns
Upstairs and downstairs in the Sundial

They were very good – the fruit one came with plenty of jam but they didn’t have any cream … boo! No topscone but a lovely place with friendly people … highly recommended. A scone at the Sundial Café in LimekilnsIn 1362 King David II, as kings do, gave Limekilns harbour to the monks of Dunfermline Abbey  to encourage trade with europe … oh, with the shambles that is Brexit, for that sort of initiative these days!  Shock horror,  as we sit gazing out towards the North Sea, BP has announced that it is to double its North Sea oil production and keep extracting for the next forty years. In 2014 it was explained, in no uncertain terms, what a liability the dribble of oil that was left was for Scotland … so now the liability has just got a whole lot bigger … thanks Westminster, what would we do without you? If Scotland ever gets its independence the maritime border with England, surreptitiously redrawn in 1999 to run just off Aberdeen will have to be extended yet again to take in all the oilfields around Shetland … what fun!

KY11 3HN     tel: 01383 873370      Sundial Café TA

ps something for all our telephone box enthusiasts, not a K2 or a K6 or even made of iron. A wooden Post Office telephone box from the 1930sOne of our wonderful correspondents has just sent this picture of a wooden telephone box taken at the National Museum of Scotland. According to the information it is dated 1930s and is from the Hope Street Post Office in Edinburgh. Apparently a lot of post offices provided these payphones for customers when few people had telephones at home. Things have changed since then. Thank goodness for social media, otherwise how else would we know that Scotland’s thirteen Tory MPs had voted to remove powers from the Scottish Parliament?

Kilmahog Woollen Mill

Firstly, let us wish you all a good new year, may it be a great one … in spite of all the dodgy politics.

Now, what you have all been waiting for … the first scone of 2018! It wasn’t the balmy -1°C temperature that drove us in here in search of woolly underpants, but simply that we were out and about on a beautiful sunny day enjoying the scenery and this is where we ended up … quite by accident. It was a bit nippy though! For those unfamiliar with Kilmahog (quite a few we suspect) it is just outside Callander at the junction of the Trossachs and Lochearnhead roads. It’s a tiny hamlet of just a few houses yet manages to sport two woollen mills … the Trossachs Woollen Mill and the Kilmahog Woollen Mill as well as a pub (The Lade Inn) with its own microbrewery. At one time the Oban railway ran through here but it is now a cycle track and popular as part of the Rob Roy Way. Still standing at the road junction is the 19th-century toll-house where Queen Victoria once had to cough up some money in order to continue her journey.

Samson's putting stone near Kilmahog
Samson’s putting stone on Bochastle hill

Best of all though, on the small hill opposite Kilmahog there is a massive rock, known locally as Samson’s Putting Stone. Legend has it that, Samson, one of the Fingalian giants threw it  three miles, from his home on Ben Ledi during a competition with rival giants. Some say he actually threw it from Ben Lawers … a phenomenal twenty three miles.  Yet others say it is a glacial erratic left by a receding glacier … but, to us, this explanation seems slightly far fetched. One thing is clear … these giants did not tidy up after their games! The woollen mill itself is pretty big and, of course, stuffed full of everything tartan you could imagine … yes, underpants! Internal view of Kilmahog Woollen MillThe café part is quite big as well and obviously is set up to deal with bus parties in the summer. When it’s busy you probably would not notice the rather utilitarian nature of the place but when it’s quiet it becomes rather obvious. The service was what we would normally describe as ‘surly‘ and far too Scottish for our liking. With Brexit on the horizon we had better get used to it … no more of our eastern european friends eager to work and giving excellent happy service … what an idiotic world we live in! A scone at Kilmahog Woollen MillOn the upside, our somewhat low scone expectations were confounded when it turned out to be surprisingly good …. fresh and slightly crunchy on the outside. They charged a fortune for the jam but the cream was plentiful and good. On its own, this could have maybe squeezed into the topscone category but the overall experience let it down badly … shame! Expectations were further confused by a warning sign in the toilets. It seemed to suggest that you would only get hot water if the wind was blowing from a certain direction, or the moon was aligned with Mars … Warning notice at Kilmahog Woollen Millor, maybe it was simply down to Samson being in a good mood … who knows? It certainly heightened anticipation when using the cold tap. So our first scone adventure of the year had mixed outcomes … good to be on the hunt once more on such a lovely day but a frustratingly disappointing scone experience over all …. things can only get better! Or maybe not … as Theresa May gets on with rearranging the deckchairs we hope that at least she, unlike the local giants, will at least tidy up after herself because it is bound to end up in a mess no matter how much she shuffles them. In the USA, Oprah Winfrey is thinking of running against Donald Trump. We have no wish to take anything away from Ms Winfrey but how on earth did it get to this?

FK17 8HD    Tel: 01877 330268    Kilmahog Woollen Mill TA

2017 scones

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

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

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

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

The 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

Margo’s Bakehouse

We know … it’s been over three weeks since Ham House, our last scone! Some of you probably thought we had flown the country, ended up in jail .. or died, but no, we have just been very busy and sconology has had to take a back seat … pathetic, we know. No more though! Back in the spring, one of our correspondents, ‘the Laird’, gave us a tip off about an establishment in Polmont which he thought had rather good scones. It was called “The Wee Calf” but, a few days later, when we went to investigate we were thwarted by the fact that it had closed down permanently. The new management team were there, however, and they informed us it would be reopening quite soon. Obviously this was no good to us at the time, but now, after our recent sconological hiatus, we decided to reinvestigate since it is only a couple of miles from home and we only had an hour or so to spare. Aldi sign near Margo's Bakehouse, PolmontIt’s still in the same place, tucked up the side of Aldi’s supermarket which has a huge sign welcoming you to its Polmont branch … goodness knows where they thought Polmont was when they were making the poster. Under its new owners the Wee Calf has been reincarnated as Margo’s Bakehouse. The unprepossessing exterior is carried on into the interior … this is a no frills kind of place but who cares if the scones are good? Internal view of Margo's Bakehouse, PolmontWell they were good but they were also ginormous, probably the biggest we have ever come across, thank goodness we had opted to share one. Having decided against the usual prepacked tub of cornish cream we just had some butter and a generous helping of strawberry jam … but then it had to be generous to deal with such a big scone. A scone at Margo's Bakehouse, PolmontIn fact, all the food here seemed to be on the generous side. You know that saying “you can’t have your cake and eat it too” well that definitely holds good here even if you did want to eat it … everything is big. That saying could also be used to typify Britain’s ‘strong’ negotiating position in the Brexit talks that seems to run along the lines … “we want all the benefits of being in the club but we don’t want to actually be in the club” … brilliant! It looks like the EU will have to explain the facts of life to the UK in words of no more than one syllable. Anyway, the staff in Margo’s were very friendly and helpful so we hope that they continue to prosper … but maybe persuade Steven, the chef, to curb his enthusiasm when making the scones. Thanks to ‘the Laird’.

FK2 0PZ      tel: 01324 720007       Margo’s Bakehouse

K6 telephone box at Cricklade in the Cotswolds from the Saracen foundry in Glasgow Another correspondent, ‘the Pedant’, has reported a K6 outside a Thai restaurant in Cricklade in the Cotswolds. It’s in a pretty sorry state but is interesting in that it was made by the Saracen foundry in Glasgow. Before it closed this foundry was located in Possilpark but it was originally situated just behind the Saracen’s Head pub which opened in 1755 and is still thriving today … testament to the good drinking folk of Glasgow. It boasts a real witch’s head in a display case on the bar so we think it’s a pub that could probably tell a few stories. Since we seem to have acquired quite a few telephone box spotters perhaps we should say a little more about them. There were K1 to K8 models designed but some never got beyond the prototype stage. The K2 was too big and expensive and the K3 was prone to breakages. The K5 barely got off the drawing board but the K6, designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott in 1936, was by far the most successful. K2 Sir John Soane's Mausoleum in Old StPancras ChurchyardThe design for the roof of the K6 is inspired by the mausoleum of Sir John Soane in St Pancreas churchyard. We had thought that K6s were made completely of cast iron but apparently all the doors are made of teak. Some 60,000 were produced and there are still around 20% remaining around the country. So iconic are these boxes that nowadays you can even buy a K6 sofa.K6 sofaYou can get your very own K6 sofa by clicking here. For the pedants amongst us the K6s were painted  “currant red” but the K8, introduced in 1968 was the brighter “poppy red” and that became the standard for all boxes when they were repainted. Therefore, should you happen to have a K6 in your garden, or your bedroom, it should be painted in the slightly darker shade BS381C-Red538. Bet you really wanted to know that … only on allaboutthescones! Many thanks to ‘the Pedant’ for the photos.

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

Café Jaques

After our last visit to the Edinburgh Festival where we visited the very french La Barantine boulangerie, we are back – and this time we are in Café Jaques which is just along the street from Petit Paris … have the French invaded, are we really leaving the EU? Petit Paris at the Edinburgh International FestivalWith every day that passes we look more and more continental. Al fresco dining at the Edinburgh International FestivalLots of al fresco dining.Street performance at the Edinburgh International FestivalNo idea what’s going on here – it was completely silent for us but they were having a brilliant time with their headphones. The EU certainly seems to have come to Edinburgh … but maybe the photo below gives a clue as to why we have Brexit … oh no, she’s American!SMUT in the Grassmarket at Edinburgh International FestivalAfter dithering over “Abrupt Erotica” we felt the need for a calming scone and it just so happened that it was Café Jaques that came to the rescue … phew! Not that we escaped completely, there was a bunch of  Festival folk sitting outside the window having a great time you just can’t escape the happiness of Edinburgh at this time of year … maybe they had all been to “Smut While U Wait“?Happy festival goers at Café Jaques in the Grassmarket, EdinburghBut lets be serious for a second, we came in here to get away from all the nonsense and for a bit of sensible sconing … even though it was going to be French yet again! Internal view of Café Jaques in the Grassmarket, EdinburghBy comparison with the shenanigans going on outside this place was a little oasis of peace and tranquility. They only had fairly large fruit scones so we decided to share one. This time, would you believe it the coffee was Italian … you would think that in Café Jaques they would at least have French coffee. Not only that, when our scone arrived it was presented already halved through the middle with its insides exposed to the elements … has the world gone completely mad? A scone at Café Jaques in the Grassmarket, EdinburghWe had to reassemble it so that you could see it as it in its unmutilated state. Not to worry this was a very reasonable scone and a good attempt for someone French … they’ll get the hang of it eventually. Touching Greyfriar Bobby's noseElsewhere in the city people were queuing up to touch Greyfriars Bobby’s nose in spite of a huge campaign to stop it from being worn away.  Self evidently the campaign was not working so why not put a collection box there so that you have to make a contribution if you want your wish to come true … that way they could have a brand new statue ever year. Anyway, Edinburgh on this visit looked fantastic and very continental … lets hope the Scottish government can miraculously find a way to keep us in the EU, after all that’s what Scotland voted for … sorry keep forgetting, it doesn’t matter what we vote for in Scotland! Vive le Festival d’Édimbourg!

EH1 2JU    tel: 0131 220 5358       Café Jaques TA

Riggs Coffee House

Coffee cup at the Riggs Coffee House, FalkirkCall us boring, call us unadventurous if you like … our previous post on Sorochas was from Falkirk and here we are again posting from Falkirk. We can explain … we haven’t been anywhere else! So … continuing with our boring unadventurous lives we ventured once again into the nether regions of the town, this time to Riggs Coffee House, which until a month or so ago, was Forth Valley Butchers. Advert at the Riggs Coffee House, FalkirkIt’s hard to keep up with our ever-changing high street as yet another coffee house replaces a traditional business. The burning question, of course, was … would this newcomer have scones? Riggs specialises in Italian coffee and makes quite a song and dance about it – the advertising appears everywhere. It is difficult to understand the thinking behind putting a picture of a young, presumably Italian, stud lying on a beach with a beautiful girl and a Vespa, in front of people in Falkirk on a wet windy Wednesday afternoon. A tad annoying … especially when you’ve always wanted a Vespa … got the beautiful girl already! Doubly annoying when there’s great local coffee, made and sold here in Falkirk, in the form of the Cat’s Pyjamas … why don’t they make a song and dance about that, it’s very goodThere is a problem though – what sort of equivalent picture could be used to advertise Scottish coffee?? Tricky one … suggestions welcome. Anyway Riggs is on the corner of the High Street and Lint Riggs (fields of flax) which used to be the centre of the linen industry in the town. The flax (lint) was prepared here before making its way a few hundred yards to Woo’er (weaver) Street to be made into garments. All that is long gone now and in 1903 the state of the street was considered to be so poor that it was demolished in its entirety and a new Lint Riggs (the one you see to the right of the header picture) was built. Interior view of the Riggs Coffee House, FalkirkRiggs Coffee House is tastefully done up but when we entered the chap behind the counter looked as if his entire staff had just phoned in sick … not a happy chappie! He did have scones though! Apparently he had not intended to stock such unitalian items but a lady came in one day and offered to supply him … the resultant trial period had  scones flying off the shelf so now they are a permanent feature … one up for the scones! A scone at the Riggs Coffee House, FalkirkThere was a choice of plain, fruit or treacle and we opted for fruit. They were very good, nice texture, plenty fruit and they went very well with the much vaunted Italian coffee which, in spite of not being quite “the cat’s pyjamas”, we had to admit was very good. In fact, with the exception of the scone, nothing we had here; jam, butter, coffee, came from Scotland … shame! In the end this was not quite a topscone … good effort though, well done that entrepreneurial lady. Oh, by the time we were leaving your man’s demeanor seemed to have improved dramatically so we wish him and his venture every success.

FK1 1EY        tel: 01324 627028       Riggs Coffee House FB

One of our correspondents, fondly known as “The Pedant” has been in touch to say he came across a K6 (Kirkintilloch variety) at the Henry Moore Collections in Much Hadham, Hertfordshire. Don’t worry the telegraph pole sticking out of the roof is not a new design feature.A K6 at the Henry Moore Collection in Much HadhamMuch Hadham sounds like the sort of place that the EU should be conducting its Brexit negotiations. Last year, the oil company Shell, which operates in 70 different countries, paid tax in all of them e.g. it paid the Norwegian government £4.3 billion to add to its £1trillion Wealth Fund. Our brilliant negotiators here in Britain ended up paying Shell £187 million so presumably Shell must operate out of Much Hadham as well.

A K2 telephone box in London
A London K2

How come, with all the hundreds of billions of oil money that has rolled in over the past thirty years the UK, in stark contrast to Norway, has simply acquired massive debts … where did it all go? While you write your answers on a postcard can we make a plea for some Norwegian negotiators to come over and help us with the Brexit talks. Still on the subject of telephone boxes, our ever adventurous Trossachs correspondents have sent a photograph of a rarely seen K2 on a recent visit to London. Don’t know precisely where it was manufactured but was most likely, Kirkintilloch. We will endeavour to be more adventurous in future – we must be running out of new cafés in Falkirk anyway … musn’t we?



The National Shooting Centre

You’ve heard of shooting stars, but have you heard of shooting scones? No, let us enlighten you. As you are aware, we leave no stone unturned in our bid to bring you the latest scone news, however, the situation described in this post even surprised us. We knew that friends were involved in shooting but when they visited us, we had no idea they were competing at the European down-the-line Clay Pigeon Shooting Championships … eh?? Turns out that the venue was a shooting school half way between Falkirk and Slamannan and recently, having had a load of money spent on it, had been designated the National Shooting Centre for Scotland. Flags flying at the National Shooting Centre, ScotlandAlthough it is only a few miles from our house (sometimes we can hear the guns if the wind is in the right direction) we were totally unaware of its new elevated status, in fact, we were pretty much unaware of anything to do with it. Out of sheer curiosity we decided to go along and see what it was all about. Imagine our surprise when we came to the end of a dirt track on the high and pretty desolate Slamannan plateau and emerged through some scrubby trees to find what must have been about seven or eight hundred folk milling around, most of them carrying shotguns … surreal or what? Strange for mere sconeys like us, who lead very sheltered lives and are not used to seeing guns … to see sooo many!Competitors at the National Shooting Centre, ScotlandThe site is huge and the competition was in full swing with shooters shooting on numerous specially designed crescent shaped stands. Five competitors per stand each taking it in turn to shoot the ‘birds’ as they call them … the orange coloured clay pigeons.

Clay pigeon cassette at the National Shooting Centre, Scotland
Some ‘birds’ waiting to be shot

Although we are now conversant with all aspects of the sport,  suffice to say, at this point we didn’t have a scooby.

Scottish ladies team shooting at the National Shooting Centre, Scotland
Scottish ladies team … the ‘bird’ highlighted has only nanoseconds to live

We did know, however, with guns going off everywhere, that it was noisy … very noisy! Everyone had ear defenders on … except those who were simply here to eat the scones they had spied earlier in the clubhouse. Eardrum fatigue eventually drove us back in that direction.

Internal view of the National Shooting Centre, Scotland
Team strategy meeting for the Welsh in the clubhouse

The scones looked good but the lady who was serving was slightly wide-eyed and more than a tad frazzled, valiantly coping with multitudes of hungry gunmen on her own. Against all the  odds her sense of humour was still evident, though when I asked if she had personally baked the scones … oh, if looks could kill! To make matters worse she had to pre-load the scones using large catering packs of butter and jam which slowed things down considerably … perhaps it was just as well that we had decided to share a scone between us. A scone at the National Shooting Centre, ScotlandAt last we had two halves of a scone but, because our lady had been rushing, one half just had a dollop of jam in the centre. It needed spreading but there was nothing around that bore any resemblance to a knife. Presumably, in a place with hundreds of guns, a knife might be deemed dangerous! I had to use my finger, there’s a first time for everything! The scone itself was quite good, almost finger lickin’ good, but you know our criterion for a topscone, so this one was never going to make the grade … enjoyable enough though, especially on an wet windy day like this. What sort of people compete in a sport that involves shooting brightly coloured bits of clay in the rain? Do they have to be totally mad or just half mad? We asked a chap from the South African team, and he replied curtly “you don’t have a life unless you shoot“! Are they mad … well no more than a bunch of people trying to get a small ball into a tiny distant hole in the ground by hitting it with a stick.  Seriously though, these folks are completely dedicated and because the level of competition is so high, extremely skilled. cartridges at the National Shooting Centre, ScotlandWith our new found knowledge we could regale you with the differences between down-the-line, traps, skeets, over & unders, the handling properties of Brownings and Perazzis versus Berettas, and all sorts of other things you can’t even begin to imagine … however it is probably easier if we just explain the UK’s strategy for Brexit … yes, that would be much much easier because they still don’t have one! Huge thanks to A&C for letting us share this experience.

FK1 3AL     tel: 01324 851672     National Shooting Centre Scotland

UPDATES: Plastic K6 telephone boxes in Aberfoylethe couple we met on the Isle of Rùm who were making a holiday nettle cord eventually completed it and sent an update. It eventually included nettle from Camusdarach, Rùm, Arisaig and Mellon Udrigle and finished with bramble from the shores of Loch Maree … because they couldn’t find any nettles?? Our Trossachs correspondents are back in their natural habitat after their sojourn to St Kitts and Nevis and sent a picture of a K6 they spotted in Aberfoyle … made in China we think. Many thanks to all for keeping us up to date.