Tag Archives: Conservative party

Cadell’s Café

Connections are funny things … they happen in the most unexpected ways. For instance what do you think connects the following:

  • the town of Falkirk in central Scotland
  • the Battle of Trafalgar
  • the K4 telephone box
  • the seaside town of Cockenzie, just east of Edinburgh
  • the town of Barga in central Italy.

The answer is Cadells Café of course! Perhaps some sort of explanation would help. The cannons used by Wellington at the Battle of Trafalgar and the K4 telephone boxes were all made at the Carron Iron Works in Falkirk which in 1759, was founded by one William Cadell whose home was Cockenzie House in which we now sit eating scones in Cadell’s Cafe. The house is situated in the town of Cockenzie which in turn is twinned with the town of Barga …. simple!! Attentive readers will remember we mentioned Barga recently in the post about Brian’s Café. Brian was a member of the Serafini family who originated in Barga. It’s a small world! Internal view of Cadell's Café in CockenzieAnyway Cadell’s Café is situated in the ‘secret garden’ of Cockenzie House alongside a grotto decorated with seashells and a ruinous claret tower … we use the word ‘ruinous’ advisedly? No such problems in the cafe however. We were ushered in out of what was a bitterly cold day and sat beside a lovely log burning stove … what could be better? A scone at Cadell's Café in CockenzieThe scones were nicely presented with a good pot of jam but unfortunately along side was the ubiquitous Rhodda’s Cornish cream. Most of you already know that we have nothing against Rhodda’s but we just feel that it would be better to go for local cream, Scotland has loads of it. The scones were nice and crunchy but maybe just a tad too much. In the end there was no topscone but we thoroughly enjoyed our visit and would not hesitate to go back. Returning to the subject of connections … FaceBook’s raison d’etre is connections. Poor old Mark Zuckerberg probably never thought he would be accused of helping rig national elections when he started trying to connect the students on his campus at Harvard University. Mind you he probably never thought that within a few years he would have $70billion in his hip pocket either.

The harbour at Cockenzie
Cockenzie harbour

What seems of even greater interest to us is the role of Cambridge Analytica, the British company that allowed FaceBook’s data to be harvested. It’s a company which donates huge amounts of money to the Conservative party and is run by some of the movers and shakers in the Torys. Maybe it’s not only the US election that was rigged … what about the 2014 Scottish independence referendum … oooo!!

EH32 0HY     tel: 01875 819456       Cadell’s Café TA

Lead Mining Museum

Lochnell Mine sign at WanlockheadOkay, here’s the question – where would you go if you wanted to get your hands on some gold … you know, just you and your shovel … South Africa, Australia, North America? These are all good bets but where would you go if you wanted to get your hands on some of the purest gold in the world … none of that rubbish stuff? What about Wanlockhead, just south of Glasgow?

Inside the Lochnell Mine at Wanlockhead
inside the Lochnell mine
Old photo of miners at Wanlockhead
Hardy souls

Gold at 22.8 carats was mined here for years along with silver, copper and lead, in fact, people still come here to try their hand at panning for gold … if you find it, it’s yours.  The principle metal mined here was, of course, lead, and considering the village is located in the Leadhills perhaps that is not too surprising. On our visit they took us to the furthest extremity of the mine then switched the lights off and lit a candle to let us see what the working conditions were like back in the day … it’s dark, very dark! What’s more, the miners had to buy their own candles which, at that time, were very expensive, however, if you were holding a giant chisel all day while your colleague belted it with a sledge hammer we don’t think you would have thought twice about buying the brightest candle possible even if it cost a lot of money. They just placed the candle in the rim of their hats … doesn’t bear thinking about! Railway sign at WanlockheadWhat else is Wanlockhead famous for? Well it is the highest village in Scotland and maybe even the UK, a position hotly disputed by the village of Flash in Staffordshire which also claims the title but we think that they are just being a bit … flash! Whichever proves to be true we think the Museum of Lead Mining may well be the location of the highest scone in the land … or at least that is what we are claiming until someone proves otherwise. The village is so high that when we were there it was completely enveloped in cloud making it seem a wee bit spooky and sombre. The approach to the tearoom didn’t do anything to lift the spirits but once inside it was a different story … it was bright with cheery welcoming staff … and scones. Interior view of the visitor centre at WanlockheadWe’ve had soft scones, hard scones, fruit scones, cheese scones, treacle scones, woeful scones and topscones but this scone was going to be the highest. Was it going to be any good though?

Perhaps they thought the altitude might have weakened us

As it turned out they had all been baked earlier in the day by a lovely young lass called Leagh, one of the waitresses. It always pleases us when young folk just attempt making any kind of scone, never mind a fine collection of plain, fruit and cheese ones. Well Leagh’s scones were very good indeed.A scone at the visitor centre at Wanlockhead We briefly considered a topscone award but reluctantly decided that some presentational problems and a lack of local butter and jam just let it down … shame! An all too common problem where the management cannot be bothered to source local produce. In fact, in our opinion, the academics have had far to much say in the running of this entire museum … it has a very complicated pricing structure and the whole place seems to be held in a kind of straightjacket of rules and regulations. There’s the Miner’s Library, the second oldest subscription library in the world, where you can look at manikins reading books but you are not allowed to do the same … no one is allowed near the books. Exterior view of the miners library at WanlockheadAlso the place sounds more like a spaceship with all its air conditioning and dehumidifiers. These are not particularly rare books and, given its multifunctional past, it has survived centuries of village meetings, birthday parties and generally enlightening the minds of miner’s children, only now to be preserved in such a way as to render it completely useless … really stupid! Almost as stupid as the result of the general election in a few weeks time  which looks increasing like it will go to the Conservatives … miners will be having to buy their own candles again … sorry, of course that won’t be necessary, miners were done away with years ago … by the Tories.

Interior view of the miners library at Wanlockhead
The library set up in 1756 by miners to educate their children.

Don’t let our minor irritations with some aspects of this museum deter you from visiting, it is fascinating and very much worth a visit … and almost a topscone!

ML12 6UT           tel: 01659 74387          Museum of Lead Mining

The Biscuit Café

Culross 11On a nice day there are fewer nicer places to be than Culross in Fife. Maybe the only even nicer place would be The Biscuit Café in the centre of Culross. It is part of the Culross Pottery and Gallery whose resident potter Camilla Garrett-Jones makes lots of lovely stuff and runs pottery classes here and in the South of France.

A piece by Camilla Garrett-Jones
A piece by Camilla Garrett-Jones

The café is upstairs above the shop and its interior is very homely and welcoming. At the back there is also a small but lovely sheltered garden area set out with tables and chairs. The Caffia coffee was the best we had had in a long time; we even got the very obliging staff to grind some beans for us to take home. The scones were also very good though Pat’s cheese scone could have done with a touch more cheese and the fruit in my fruit scone was also a wee bit sparse .. so no ‘topscone’ award here but these are tiny criticisms in the overall scheme of things.Culross 09  All in all Culross is a great wee place and well worth a visit. It was founded by St Serf in the  6th century and legend states that when the British princess (and future saint) Teneu, daughter of the king of Lothian, became pregnant before marriage, her family threw her from a cliff. She survived the fall unharmed, and was soon met by an unmanned boat. Knowing she had no home to go to, she got into the boat which sailed her across the Firth of Forth to land at Culross where she was cared for by St Serf who became a kind of father of her son. He ultimately became St Mungo, patron saint of Glasgow. As a rank outsider, Jeremy Corbyn must have felt a bit like Teneu in the Labour party leadership race but, like her, he has triumphed beyond all expectation. Doubtful that he will ever be sainted but perhaps we will now see a more humane side to British politics. If nothing else, at least we can now see some daylight between Labour and the Conservatives, so hooray for that. A cheer also for this café with its combination of arts and crafts, shop and cafe .. in fact you could say it ‘takes the biscuit’ .. sorry!

Fruit and veg are also on offer
Fruit and veg is also on offer

 KY12 8JG            tel: 01383 882176            The Biscuit

JamJar Café

Bridge of Allan is the kind of Belgravia of central Scotland .. a favourite hangout for the well off to live and play so there are lots of hotels, cafés, bars etc. Today we decided to stop off at the JamJar Café.  A nice day though not quite warm enough to sit outside on their pavement patio area but inside it is toasty no matter what the weather with a couple of big log burning stoves blazing away all day. It has the atmosphere of a well run but relaxed bistro and you can get pretty much anything you want from a Sunday lunch to a snack. Jamjar04
Needless to say we were after the scones so I got my usual fruit one and Pat got a savoury cheese one. Since our last post, of course, the election has come and gone .. and what an election. The media are having a field day trying to figure out what happened with the loss of three party leaders within as many hours. Scotland, typically some might say, has gone off on its own in a direction almost diametrically opposed to England which managed to get PoshDave returned with an overall majority thus proving that polls are not worth the paper they are written on. Again typically, Scotland seems to be getting blamed for all the ensuing problems; bringing down Labour , bringing down LibDems and, for all I know, bringing down UKIP, though I am not sure that can actually be classified as a problem. NastyNige bleating on about his 4 million votes being worth only one seat whereas the SNP’s 1.5 million  votes gets them 56 seats … conveniently forgetting that the SNP only stood in 59 seats compared to over 600 for UKIP. However, the most interesting statistic to emerge was the one that determined that if every single voter in Scotland had voted Labour (or any other party) it would not have made the slightest difference to the result .. and that for me encapsulates ‘the Scottish problem’. When it comes to voting, Scotland may as well not bother .. except maybe this time with virtually the whole country turning yellow, it might be different .. emphasis on ‘might’. Anyway PoshDave and his classmates can pretty well do as they want now but I suspect that most of England will not be happy with the results .. and that, along with the EU, the Union, and him being unpopular within his own party, may turn out to be the least of his problems .. “he is gonna catch a cold, from the ice inside his sole” as Christina Perri would say. Jamjar02It will be fascinating to see how it all pans out. Meanwhile the scones in the JamJar Café were consumed with varying degrees of indifference. Pat didn’t finish her cheese one and although I finished both of mine (I got two because they said that they were a little bit small but they probably just wanted rid of them) it was only because I was peckish. They did not seem fresh and certainly not produced on the day.  Everything else looks good in the JamJar, and it’s busy so they are obviously not depending on their scones. On the plus side log burning stoves are great, the service was efficient if not overly friendly, the daughters of Bridge of Allan are probably forced to work here so they can experience ‘the real world’. No passwords for the wifi, it is just there, brill … so why is the website so useless?

FK9 4HR      tel: 01786 831616      www.jamjarcafe.co.uk

Bingham Hotel

What a day! Not only is the temperature about 22 degrees here in Richmond on the banks of the Thames the atmosphere is such that you could swear you were on Lake Como. Only cloud anywhere is that the Conservatives have just announced a ‘right to buy’ scheme for housing associations. Are they completely bonkers, have they lost the scone completely? The last scheme rolled out by Maggie was a disaster for the country and now they want to repeat the whole process presumably in the vain hope of getting a few votes from loads of prospective landlords. If I am not mistaken it is also illegal but I guess they will just change the law. Back to serious stuff! When you are in Richmond you could do a lot worse than visit the Bingham Hotel for afternoon tea. It is in a fantastic setting with gardens going down to the waters edge and beautiful interiors.

Bingham 04The champers thing just had to be done and it was not long before Francesco who took us under his wing delivered us two beautiful glasses while we struggled with trying to decide which tea to have .. eventually it was Rooibos for me and Jasmine Pearls for Pat .. lovely.

As you might expect everything was beautifully presented, fantastic linen napkins, delicate floral chinaware. Bingham 02There was four different types of sandwich, four plain and fruit scones, four assorted cakes and our scones came nicely wrapped in a napkin to keep them warm .. what more could you ask for. Bingham sconeWell, unfortunately, the scones were a little bit disappointing. They were too sweet and the texture was too fine so that they seemed more like a cake than a scone. Also the Bingham is a little on the expensive side but then again you are not going to get this sort of afternoon tea experience on the cheap, far from it. Overall the whole experience was most enjoyable and we would definitely recommend it.

TW10 6UT       tel:020 8940 0902      www.thebingham.co.uk