Tag Archives: Grangemouth

The Portonian Bakery & Tea Rooms

This is a bit of a nostalgia trip for us, or at least for me … and it’s only three miles from home! In spite of the short distance we hardly ever visit Grangemouth because it’s not the place it used to be … not that a town whose main feature is a petrochemical refinery was ever a must-see destination for anyone. Having said that, Grangemouth during the day unfortunately always looks like Grangemouth but at night, if you squidge your eyes a bit, with all its myriad of twinkly lights, it looks like Vegas. Back in the good old days, however, it did have a lot more going for it. I started my working life directly across from the Portonian Bakery and Tea Rooms in what was then Lumley Street. The architect Philip Cocker, in his offices next to the Bon Accord pub, was my lucky employer. I was head dogsbody … used and abused by all the staff but it was a great, I thoroughly enjoyed my time there. At lunchtime we could wander down to the refinery, then owned by BP, and use their excellent canteen facilities … not sure we were supposed to be there but, in those days, no one seemed to mind. After work, on the way home, you could take a wee detour through the docks gazing up at the ships, wondering where they had come from and where they were going to next. Today, everything is very different and none of it for the better. Cocker’s and the Bon Accord no longer exist. In fact Lumley Street itself has disappeared, replaced by the awful concrete edifice that is the La Porte Precinct shopping centre. The refinery, now Ineos, is still there but owned by one man and there is no way he is going to allow you anywhere near the place never mind let you in for lunch. The docks are fenced off … Bin Laden saw to that. As Trump so eloquently puts it … sad!Internal view of the Portonian Bakery and Tea Room in Grangemouth When I worked across the road, the 60s style building that now houses The Portonian Bakery & Tea Rooms was a Victorian tenement with shops on the ground floor and houses above accessed by open spiral stone stairs round the back. The tearoom gets its name from the fact that natives of Grangemouth are referred to as Portonians. Already depressed by the state of the shopping centre we came in here for a spot of lunch and, at first, it didn’t do much to lighten our mood. The multinational Costa coffee house across the road was strangely empty but this place was busy busy … what was going on? Eventually we worked out that it had to be down to price … we had a light lunch of sandwiches and a scone with coffee and a peppermint tea for the price of a couple of coffees in Costa. If it’s a price war that’s going on we know who is winning. That did lighten the mood considerably. A scone at the Portonian Bakery and Tea Room in GrangemouthWith it being a bakery we had relatively high hopes that the scones would be topnotch. They were good but with an overall softness which is not to our own particular taste. Now, answer this question … why are packs of frozen butter so often served with soft scones?? Unless you put them in your trouser pocket our down your cleavage for a couple of minutes it is nigh on impossible to achieve any kind of satisfactory outcome. In the end they were okay but probably not as good as their strawberry tarts. We didn’t have any strawberry tarts but we thought the picture might stimulate your salivary glands.Strawberry tarts at the Portonian Bakery and Tea Room in GrangemouthSince Westminster has been going about bullying other countries into agreeing with them about how utterly dastardly Russia is, there has been barely a mention of Brexit … as distraction politics goes it has worked perfectly … what next? In 2013, politics, or at least Labour politics, took a bit of a bashing here in Grangemouth in what became known in some quarters as the Battle of Grangemouth. It wasn’t a battle as such but more of an almighty industrial dispute but it did mark the moment when labour movement finally lost its way. It descended into factionalism and Jim Ratcliffe, the owner of Ineos, rode off into the sunset with a grin like the proverbial Cheshire cat. Even with Corbyn in charge, the Labour party still has not found its way … the other day they voted with the Conservatives to oust the popularly elected SNP administration in our own Falkirk Council … unbelievable … poor old Keir Hardie, would be spinning in his grave. Nice as this trip down memory lane was we probably won’t be back anytime soon … too many memories.

FK3 8AW         no telephone          Portonian Bakery & Tea Rooms FB

Mother Murphy’s Tearoom

We know that loads of you have been wondering whatever happened to Jim Murphy. Wonder no more he is alive and well and working in this tearoom in Falkirk .. okay, okay, it’s not that Jim Murphy. This Jim Murphy owns the place with his wife Debra and this one has much more honesty and vision … the vision to make this little tearoom a roaring success. Mother Murphy 01Only open a couple of months, it is still early days but all the signs are good … clean, tidy, homely, home produced food. Gleneagles it is not, but it is not trying to be anything other than what it is .. a great wee tearoom. Located at Ladysmill on the main road between Falkirk and Grangemouth we were lucky enough to be able to park right outside the door. Once inside we had the choice of Debra’s home baked blueberry or plain scones … dilemma!!

The Murphy blueberry
The Murphy blueberry
The Murphy plain
The Murphy plain

Unable to make such a momentous decision, we had one of each. Pat’s plain scone was accompanied by strawberry jam and my blueberry one with bramble and apple jam, both jams hand crafted by Jim .. there is no end to this duo’s talent!  There was one major problem however … the ‘thunder and lightening’ scone on the menu is only available on treacle scone days. Would they tell us what days were treacle scone days? No! Apparently it is an inspirational, spontaneous sort of thing that happens very unpredictably … so presumably we will just have to keep going back time and time again. Talking of time .. do you know what comes next in this time measurement scale .. decade, century, millennium, aeon, ??? Yes, you  guessed it .. it’s a chilcot. The best thing about Mother Murphy’s Tearoom is Jim and Debra. They are very friendly and seem really enthusiastic and genuinely happy with what they are doing .. and so they should be! We wish them every success and one day .. one day, we might get to sample that elusive thunder and lighting scone. If we do, you will be the first to hear about it. In the meantime we think all that talent and ingenuity deserves a topscone award .. so it is like Gleneagles after all!

FK2 9AU     tel: 07951 843512      Mother Murphy’s

Inchyra Grange Hotel

On the outskirts Grangemouth this is part of the MacDonald Hotel group and as such you have probably been in one not too far removed from this one. It has a Spa and swimming pool but was obviously a much smaller place at one time because all the external walls of the original building are now inside and the crisply carved sandstone lends a certain quality ambience to the dining room at least. Many places refuse to take afternoon tea bookings on the day “because it does not give chef enough time”?? Inchyra 04We arrived at the Inchyra Grange Hotel mob handed having phoned ahead to ask for afternoon tea for eight adults and two children .. no problem .. what a delightful change to some of the other places we tried. Still no problem when we upset their seating plan by actually turning up with three children instead of two, great! We each got a couple of scones as well as loads of sandwiches and cakes. The scones were very good and almost made the topscone award. Awards are not exactly being thrown at Jeremy Corbyn who, although being extremely popular with the voters, is vilified by the  rest of his party. He actually thinks that the Labour party should be slightly socialist .. perish the thought! All, except Corbyn, seem to have forgotten that at the last General Election there was virtually nothing to differentiate the two main parties and voters thought they might as well vote Tory  .. or not at all. 30% chose ‘not at all’. Perhaps that 30% is stirring because they now see the possibility of a viable alternative. One of the biggest criticisms of Corbyn seems to be that he does not ‘look’ like a prime minister .. so we will just elect the prettiest one then, never mind the policies? He has certainly enlivened the debate and the other three (who are they?) should take note. Anyway, Labour party machinations aside, the Inchyra Grange coped extremely well with everything we threw at them and even boxed up all the leftovers for us to take home … well done.

FK2 0YB        tel: 01324 711911         MacDonald Hotels