Tag Archives: EU

The Beast from the East

This is not a proper scone post. It is simply an attempt to reassure all those kind sconeys (particularly those in the southern hemisphere) who have enquired after our well-being in the face of the Beast from the East, Putin’s gift to the west. We are fine though things in general are pretty bad e.g. we have just heard that pastries from Greggs have been declared legal tender! The title picture is of our car which hasn’t moved for almost a week. We can hear readers in Canada and Norway screaming “they call that snow”? Okay, okay, don’t mock! Unlike you, when we get snow, we  just wait for it to go away the next day … but this time it has been here for days! Nothing in Britain has moved much in the last week … very few cars on the roads, no trains, no flights … but you know all that! Let us give you an instance about how Britain is coping. Yesterday, late afternoon, we decided to venture out as far as our local pub just to get out and have a walk if nothing else. We walked along the middle of the road, standing aside every time a car came along … only two passed. There was no one else out, the whole place was eerily quiet. We fully expected the pub to be  deserted, just a few hardy regulars, but no, it was ramjammed, we could hardly get in! We asked the harassed looking barmaid why it was so busy “cos nobody’s at their efing work” was the reply. That’s how Britain copes … just go to the pub! We don’t have any pictures of scones to share but we are sending you this one of a partial scone. It was sent by one of our correspondents who has a home office at the bottom of his garden. His wife had baked some scones and braved the snow and the icy wind to bring some, complete with apricot jam, to her beloved. He thought that he would send us a picture but, in his heightened state of ecstasy, promptly forgot until there was barely anything left.What's left of a scone and apricot jamWe can only apologise dear readers, but good competent scone correspondents are difficult to come by these days ..  a bit like politicians. We had to admire Theresa May saying that the EU would have to compromise  … is there a thinly veiled threat in there “if you don’t compromise we won’t leave”? Once again, thanks for all your concern but hopefully we will be out and about very soon and normal sconology will be resumed.

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

The Café by Benugo

When we were on Orkney we got a real sense of community. People supported each other by making local crafts and selling local produce … staff had time for a chat and all that. There was just a certain honest homeliness about the island and the people so we were not surprised to learn that it was voted best place to live in the UK, five years in a row … in spite of the wind! Today’s venue is about as far away as you can get from that … this could easily be where the Great God of Consumerism actually lives!

View from John Lewis' Café by Benugoby Benugo
View from Café by Benugo

It is, of course, Buchanan Galleries in Glasgow. Even the name of the cafe at the John Lewis store, ‘The Cafe by Benugo’, sounds a bit pretentious. Turns out that ‘Benugo’ is a company founded by Ben and Hugo Warner (see what they did there) in London in 1998.

Portrait of founder of John Lewis
John Spedan Lewis

They now service all the John Lewis stores as well as many others and have over 2,000 employees … well done Ben and Hugo. The John Lewis stores themselves are perhaps not too far removed from the community spirit we found on Orkney. They are run by the John Lewis Partnership, set up by John Spedan Lewis in 1920. After the store had been operating for over fifty years he had the revolutionary idea (for the time) that staff would be better motivated if they had a say in running the company and a share in the profits … something which continues to this day, all staff are ‘partners’ in the company. The JLPartnership also runs the Waitrose supermarket empire and is now a multi £billion business … a far cry from its first day’s takings of 16s 4d (82p) in 1864. What about the scones by Benugo? It is self-service and the seating area is spread around a vast glass balcony overlooking one of the busy concourses. Internal view of John Lewis' Café by BenugoWe opted for a ‘cream tea for two’ which at £8 seemed like good value. It was slightly odd, however, in that, usually with these things, you can have whatever you like to drink … not here! Pat wanted peppermint tea, no problem, but I felt like a coffee …. no, it had to be tea or nothing. A scone at John Lewis' Café by BenugoNo big deal but it just seemed like a slightly illogical  bit of inflexibility. The scones themselves were good though a little on the sweet side for our taste … no topscone unfortunately. Illogical inflexibility seems to be the order of the day with The Spanish government having just removed Catalonia’s autonomy … surely a massive blow to democracy and, unbelievably, it’s happening within the EU. Goodness knows where they will go from here but you can’t help feeling that it will all end in tears. Scotland should beware … devolution is currently under threat with the repatriation of powers from Brussels, many of which may never reach Edinburgh if Westminster gets its way. Hopefully Spain will take lead from John Spedan Lewis and get into some sort of partnership with the Catalans … it worked for him.

G1 2GF     tel: 0141 353 6677       The Café by Benugo

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.

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

La Barantine

So here we are in France at a nice little boulangerie/patiserrie! Okay, okay, after the last two posts from our home town we thought we should try and give the impression that we have become a little more outward looking … well we have actually but only as far as Edinburgh!  SMUT in the Grassmarket at Edinburgh International FestivalThe Edinburgh International Festival was in full swing … absolutely thousands of people all over the place. Just trying to walk down the Royal Mile becomes a tactical nightmare dodging the performers, leaflet distributors and tourists. There were also clues that the Fringe Festival was alive and well … we met ‘Sven from Sweden‘ who had a sizeable crowd enthralled with his antics. The climax of Sven’s performance was to surmount an unsteady pile of IKEA furniture with an IKEA microwave on top, remove a plate of IKEA Swedish meatballs from the microwave, then spin the plate of meatballs on his head while juggling with three IKEA toilet roll holders complete with toilet rolls. You simply do not get cultural insights like this every day … Sweden seems like a fun place! Contending with the milling hordes soon take its toll however so it was not long before we were in need of some refreshment and, having done Sweden, the next in line was France in the form of La Barantine in Victoria Street. Amazingly it was almost empty when we went in and we could have chosen from virtually any seat. It did not last however, a few minutes later it was very busy indeed … just like everywhere else! You had to place your order at the counter and, oddly for this city where almost all counter staff are from eastern europe, in La Barantine they actually seemed to be from France … promising! They had scones but only blueberry and raspberry … not so promising! A raspberry and blueberry scone at La Barantine patisserie, EdinburghWhen they arrived at our table they looked ‘interesting’, served on a rustic piece of slate with actual Scottish butter … it seems you have to come to a French café to get Scottish produce … good for them! We wondered if we would manage the Union coffee, however, without gagging. As it happened it was all very good. The scone was not as heavy as it looked … it was very moist but light at the same time and had obviously been freshly prepared. We swithered long and hard about whether these were topscones but in the end we felt they were just a tad ‘odd’ for such a prestigious award … pity!Internal view of La Barantine patisserie, EdinburghAfter convincing ourselves that the “Union Hand Roasted Coffee” referred to the EU rather than the UK, it was fine as well – the name actually refers to a union between the roasters and their Guatemalan farmers … so that’s good. Even though Edinburgh is completely bonkers in August it is also great fun and a great advertisement for Scotland. In spite of the multitude of people of all sorts of nationalities we don’t think there has even been the slightest hint of trouble in the entire month. We were just wondering what the chances were of meeting some Scottish folk when suddenly three emerged from the crowd … but they were imposters from Italy … vive le EU!Three 'Scotsmen' at the Edinburgh International FestivalEH1 2JP    tel: 0131 226 4927       La Barantine

The Bothy

We sailed into Port Mòr, the capital of the Isle of Muck, in great anticipation. For some reason this was the culmination of a long held ambition to actually visit Muck rather than just viewing it from a distance. Maybe it has something to do with the name? We were not to be disappointed … it is a great island … not in size, only 2 by 0.75 miles, but it just has a lovely feel to it. It’s fertile and the land seems well tended giving it a softer look than its neighbours Rùm and Eigg.

On the Isle of Muck looking towards Skye
Looking towards Skye in the distance with Rùm to the left

We walked the only road on the island, about 1.6 miles long, and the same Land Rover passed us five times … it was the only thing that passed.

On the main road on the Isle of Muck
Looking the other way towards Port Mòr … waiting for a corncrake to appear

We stopped at one point because a corncrake was calling in one of the fields but in spite of a lengthy wait, as usual, this shyest of birds, did not reveal itself. Muck has been owned since 1896 by the family of Lawrence and Ewen McEwen and currently has a population of about 38.

Internal view of the Bothy tearoom on the Isle of Muck
Everyone is outside

The island is famous for its succulent ‘Muck Meat’ derived from lambs that thrive on the rich grassland in this stress free environment. They also breed Highland ponies using a stallion that goes by the rather impressive name of ‘Strathmashie Seumas Mhor’. You can probably tell by now that we really like Muck … and to top it all off, they had scones in Port Mòr’s, Bothy tearoom. Sometimes you can just tell as soon as you walk into a place that there is a high probability of the scones being good … so it was  with the Bothy. We were served by Jenny McEwen who had made the scones earlier in the day. They were delicious and accompanied by a generous portion of homemade apricot jam and a knob of butter. Great coffee and sitting outside in the sunshine with chickens under the table waiting for crumbs didn’t do anything to lessen our enjoyment … easy topscone, well done Jenny and all the ladies who were providing great service in this tearoom. We only had three hours so before long it was time to make our way back to the ferry. Guess what we came across, you got it … a K6 standing high above the village … they really are everywhere, though this one was looking a wee bit sorry for itself. Unusually for such items in these parts it did not seem to have acquired an alternative use.

K6 telephone box on the Isle of Muck
Another Lion foundry, Kirkintilloch K6

When you are on places like this, you definitely get the feeling that no matter how disastrous things get in the outside world, life on Muck will just go on regardless. The same could be said for all the islands we visited … they are indeed another world … a quieter more peaceful world. What possible interest could Putin or Trump have here? Not a lot, and we think that the islanders themselves are very happy for it to stay that way.  On the other hand, EU investment has been good for this part of the world so lets hope that the same level of interest is maintained, in a year or so,  when such decisions are left entirely to Westminster … don’t hold your breath though. All too soon the hooter sounds on the ferry signaling that we must return to some semblance of reality … boo!

Port Mòr on the Isle of Muck looking towards the mainland
Our ferry waits at the Port Mòr jetty

PH41 2RP         tel: 01687 460057/462990         The Bothy

ps: For those interested in Pat’s bird count from Arisaig, Eigg, Rùm and Muck here, in rough order of observation, it is: robin, starling, swallow, blackbird, dunnock, house sparrow, hooded crow, oyster catcher, greenfinch, song thrush, grey heron, black guillimot, cormorant, eider duck, guillimot, manx shearwater, chaffinch, great black backed gull, herring gull, collered dove, golden eagle, feral pigeon, sea eagle, buzzard, whitethroat, rock pipit, artic tern, wood pigeon, pied wagtail, lesser black backed gull, raven, kittiwake, pintail duck, gannet, skylark, rook, kestrel, wheatear, lapwing, greylag goose, goldfinch, pheasant, corn bunting, mistle thrush, corncrake (heard). That’s 44 in total. I would give her 45 for that corncrake but I know our very strict birding mentor, RD, would not allow it. Oddly we did not see any swans or mallards and we just missed a storm petrel and some puffins … there were also quite a few warblers and such like that we could not positively identify. Pat was pleased with her total so that’s all that matters.

Pier House in Port Mòr on the Isle of Muck
Pier House in Port Mòr

The Wee Big Shop

Well … the morning after the night before … devastation, who is going to have to do the decent thing and get hitched? Guess it could be said that the Tories in their never ending quest to sort out their internal party politics, have led us directly towards the “coalition of chaos” that they were banging on about throughout the election campaign …. and here’s us thinking that they were advocating voting for them to avoid that … silly us.  Harsh reality means that Theresa May must now seek some sort of marriage with an equally unsavoury bunch in the DUP, itself a damaged party in a damaged parliament. It remains to be seen  what sort of dowry will be extracted by the DUP but whatever happens it is liable to be an unholy alliance. Maybe the answer is for Theresa and Arlene Foster to hook up here in Gretna Green and undergo an ‘unconventional’ marriage… given the current state of British politics nothing would surprise us. When we visited Gretna we had a scone her in the Wee Big Shop … it’s a kind of tardis, hence the name. Interior view of the Wee Big Shop in Gretna GreenThe place is swarming with tourists, Chinese, American, Japanese, you name it, they are all here rushing around buying tat before getting back on their buses and heading off to buy more tat in Edinburgh.  Scones at the Wee Big Shop in Gretna GreenThe café here is big as well and obviously caters for busloads all the time judging by the number of scones on display – the picture above is just a small selection. You are faced with a battery of different machines from which you know you can get tea or coffee in all its various forms but just no idea how to do it. Eventually some of the serving staff arrive to salvage the situation but even for them it takes a while … why not just serve the stuff in the first place, it would be so much easier and pleasanter. Scone at the Wee Big Shop in Gretna GreenWe eventually got to our table with our scone … no cream, unless you wanted the ubiquitous Rhodda’s Cornish yuk stuff. It was edible, that’s all we are saying. This whole place which is supposed to give you the ultimate in romantic weddings is entirely geared towards hordes of tourists which although not a bad thing in itself, doesn’t seem particularly romantic to us. It started because the law in England allowed parents to stop a wedding if either of the participants were under 21, whereas in Scotland, they could get married without parental consent and provided there were two witnesses anybody could conduct the ceremony … usually the blacksmith. Gretna was the first place over the border so this where the youngsters would come for their “runaway marriages”. Wedding picture at the Wee Big Shop in Gretna GreenAs you can see, even though we are over 21, we tried out the blacksmith’s ceremony … romantic or what? As far as we are concerned though this would be the last place on earth to get married unless you really, really, really had to … oh yes, Theresa and Arlene really really really have to … it will not end well. Next week, as the promised “strong and stable” UK enters into EU Brexit negotiations looking like complete plonkers, we don’t imagine that will end well either. Interior view of the Wee Big Shop in Gretna GreenDG16 5EA          tel: 01461 339912           The Wee Big Shop

Glen Lyon Tearoom

In order to explain our whereabouts for this scone you will have to bear with us while we explain a bit about the origins of photography … it will only take a minute … honest! In 1837 Louis Daguerre produced a photograph using a piece of silver plated copper … it needed a half hour exposure  but that was much faster than anything that had gone before so it was tremendously exciting at the time. Within twenty years however the process was superceeded by the Wet Plate Collodion process which used glass plates coated in a mixture of bromide, iodide and chloride … offering exposures of just a few minutes. To take a picture you first had to coat the glass plate, expose it in the camera while still wet, then process it before it dried … about ten minutes or so for each shot and all using highly dangerous chemicals! Anyway, believe it or not, today we had our picture taken using this process, courtesy of our friends Dave and Gill Hunt at Wildgrass Studios.

Wildgrass Studios

Dave is experimenting with the Wet Plate Collodion process for his own fine art work and we had volunteered to be guinea pigs. I started my photography career using 5×4 large format cameras but never with wet plates so I was fascinated to see the process in action … talk about going back in time! Electricity wasn’t around when these processes were being used but thankfully, with modern electric lighting we did not have to sit still for long … just long enough for Dave to remove the lens cap, flash, then replace it. Unfortunately, we did not see the finished articles because they all had be carefully dried overnight.

Photography at Wildgrass Studios near Killin
Pat waits to be shot while Dave prepares the plate .. developed plates washing

Wildgrass Studio is near Killin so, after our photo session, we decided to hop over the lower slopes of Ben Lawers, on a great wee road that is only open in the summer, to Bridge of Balgie and the Glen Lyon tearoom … see, simple explanation … we were having our picture taken. Interior view of Glenlyon tearoom, Bridge of BalgieFor Bridge of Balgie, this place is the Post Office and the supermarket. Though not quite a Tesco it has all the staples needed if you find yourself snowed in for a month or two. It also has a good reputation as a tearoom and for its scones. A scone at Glenlyon tearoom, Bridge of BalgieThere was one big problem though. Straight away, from the photograph, those of you who are aware of our proclivities, can probably tell that they did not meet with our overwhelming approval … we tend to like to decide for ourselves how much jam and cream to put on our scones rather than leave it to someone else. Presumably it is done to be helpful but it would be soooo much better if everything was served separately. What made it even more annoying was that the scones themselves were excellent and might even have been topscones if Pat had not had to scrape off most of the topping … I, on the other hand, ate the lot! Glen Lyon Roasters coffee poster at the Glenlyon tearoom, Bridge of BalgieThe Glen Lyon tearoom is a great spot though and they even roast their own coffee … if they could just serve the scones correctly it would be perfect. Just west of Bridge of Balgie lies the magnificent sparkling white Meggernie Castle, former home to Captain Robert Campbell who led the government troops at the Massacre of Glencoe. The castle is said to be haunted by some really horrible ghosts and with both of us being of a McDonald persuasion, all we can say is, “bloody well serves them right”! We see that Theresa May has given away her EU negotiating strategy by promising to be “a bloody difficult woman”  … does she not realise that anyone with half a brain can be ‘bloody difficult’ and that her counterparts in the EU now know that they are dealing with someone with only half a brain … but they probably knew that anyway.

View from the Glenlyon tearoom, Bridge of Balgie
View from the tearoom

We won’t see the finished pictures from Wildgrass for some time yet but, by the wonders of Photoshop, we can give you sneaky peek of what we look like floating around in a dish of water. Wet Plate Collodion picture from Wildgrass StudiosPerhaps, if there is enough in the way of popular demand, we might let you see the finished article in a later post. Many thanks Dave for your endless patience and for what was an absolutely fascinating experience … think I will be sticking with digital though.

PH15 2PP        tel: 01887-866221       Glen Lyon Tearoom TA

The Ground House

Although the City of Stirling is only about 11 miles away from our home we hardly ever go there … Edinburgh yes, Glasgow yes, Stirling no. Occasionally we might dip into one of the out-of-town retail parks but never into the city centre itself. Mostly we just drive past it on our way to somewhere else. It was recognising this sorry state of affairs that led us to purposely go from one of these retail parks into the centre  just to check it out. On the face of it, of course, Stirling has a lot to offer – a castle, a big pointy monument on a hill that can be seen from miles around and lots of other historic attractions full of guides dressed in period costume just in case you happen to be totally devoid of imagination. When you get to the centre however it is pretty obvious that Stirling, like most other towns, has not escaped the effects of all these retail parks on the outskirts … it looks a wee bit sorry for itself. Logo of the Ground HouseFinding a tearoom was surprisingly difficult, we ended up having to ask but were soon directed towards this place The Ground House Coffee Company on King Street. It has a pretty relaxed vibe with lots of students sitting tapping away on laptops and checking their phones but .. hey, so were we! The system is that you are given a menu, you take a seat and decide what you want then you go to the counter and tell them what you want, then you go back to your seat and wait for them to bring it to you … is this self service or not? Internal view of the Ground House, StirlingWe bucked the system and ordered before we sat down because they had a selection of plain, cherry, fruit and apple and cinnamon scones right there in front of us at the counter … no point in wasting time looking at menus. Pat opted for fruit and I thought I would try the apple and cinnamon for a bit of a change. They didn’t have cream (not even scooshie) and they didn’t tell us the scones were going to be toasted but when they arrived they had almost been char grilled. We are never sure if this is scone abuse or not? In a way it seems a bit unnecessary but in another way it can sometimes work out quite well … maybe you should just be given the choice. Turned out that The Ground House was a place of dilemmas: the ordering system; the toasted scones; the lack of cream; the question – do you have jam with an apple and cinnamon scone or do you treat it more like a savoury cheese scone?

Scones at the Ground House, Stirling
Toasted apple and cinammon to the left and fruit to the right … is this scone abuse?

If you know the answer to this last point please get in touch. I decided to try and answer it myself by having one half without jam and the other half with … but the result was that I enjoyed both! If I had to stake my life on it I would probably plump for jam, but it’s a very close run thing? We are constantly wrestling with such problems … stressful! At the end of the day we enjoyed the scones and the coffee was excellent … we would recommend The Ground House Coffee Company to anyone – their pizzas look great by the way! Internal view of the Ground House, StirlingJust across the road from this café, on top of the entrance to the Atheneum building, there is a statue of William Wallace … known as the Wee Wallace, presumably to differentiate it from the somewhat larger one on top of the hill about a mile away.  You can make out the Wee Wallace left of centre in our title photograph above. We wonder what he would have made of Theresa May’s announcement today that Scotland cannot have a second referendum … apparently because it would not be fair for the people to have to vote before they know the outcome of the Brexit negotiations. These weasel words try to ignore the fact that Scotland voted to stay in the EU … end of,  hence the need for another referendum before the UK leaves … or is she saying that the UK might not be leaving after all?? We don’t think so … Wee Wallace doesn’t think so either and the Big Wallace certainly doesn’t think so!

FK8 1AY      tel: 01786 357606      The Ground House FB