This 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. On 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. It 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. They 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.
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.
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!
Today we are back in Linlithgow having had all our cobwebs removed by storms Gertrude and Henry .. thankfully it has now calmed down a bit. This time, on the recommendation of several friends, we’re looking for Brodies tearoom .. not as simple as you might think. It turns out they are in the process of revamping the tearoom and currently don’t have a name outside their premises .. so instead of putting up our usual external header view we have given you a view of some the items in the loo. Apparently the plan is to take over another cafe further along the road, which will be ‘modern’ and make this one their ‘vintage’ tearoom. From the decor you can see that it is already fairly vintage. Pat decided to have a fruit scone and I opted for a walk on the wild side with the white chocolate and pear .. a new one on me. Both were very good but, yet again, not quite topscone material! Mine, however, was good enough to get a ‘top weird scone’ so at least we have been able to make an award. For those wondering, a weird scone is usually one that is not plain, fruit or cheese .. okay! Sometimes when you go into to a cafe like this you just know it is going to be good and so it was with Brodies .. the food, the service were everything it should be. We hope though that when they finish their refurb the end result is not quite so cluttered, or if it is that is more thoughtfully cluttered .. less is more kind of thing.
Just along the road from Brodies is a 13th century pub called The Black Bitch .. a name which is a trifle unusual in our modern, politically correct world … there is a perfectly logical reason, however, for the name and indeed why anyone born in Linlithgow, man or woman, is referred to by the same name. In times gone by, the King sentenced a thief to be tied to a tree on an island in the middle of the loch .. to starve to death. It would, of course, only have been a matter of time had it not been for the intervention of the thief’s big black greyhound dog (not the one made famous by Billy Connelly) which took it upon itself to swim out and keep him supplied with food .. maybe the odd scone or two? When the King discovered what was going on the dog was tethered to a tree on another island until they both perished .. happy days! The town’s folk felt the dog’s fidelity and generosity of spirit pretty well summed up their own character so they adopted it as the emblem for the town’s coat of arms and henceforth anyone born in the town was referred to as a black bitch .. told you it was logical! We think that George Gideon Osborne may have been born in Linlithgow .. he certainly deserves the title but perhaps for different reasons! His eleven personal meetings with Google resulted in a 3% tax burden being levied against the corporation .. of course it would have been embarrassing to charge them more when his own family business doesn’t pay any tax on their property deals? This week he also managed to provide Aberdeen with a ‘super generous’ rescue package which, coincidentally, exactly equals one month’s rental of the Crossrail tunnel boring machine .. which, like everything else, is being built on the proceeds of Aberdeen’s oil .. collapsed or not! Is that island in the loch still available .. we’ll make sure no animals are endangered this time! In the meantime we look forward to Brodie’s expansion .. another report may be required?