Tag Archives: K6 telephone box

Wild Olive Tree Café

If you can’t see anything resembling a café in the above picture that’s because it’s hidden within the St George’s Tron Church, the rather large pointy building sitting centre stage. The Church of Scotland opened it in 1808 and it’s still going strong today. We had heard a rumour about this church. The rumour could have been about all the fantastic work they do in conjunction with the Glasgow City Mission and the Bethany Christian Trust to help the most vulnerable people in Glasgow … as explained to us at some length by ‘big Andy’, a lovely bloke who seems to take care of everything here. The rumour could also have been about their ‘gifted soup/coffee’ scheme whereby you can buy an extra coffee or soup which they then offer to people who can’t afford them. The rumour might even have been about their green credentials or the fact that all their bread comes from the Freedom Bakery in Low Moss prison but no, it wasn’t any of those. Would you adam & eve it, it was about scones! We had heard from a very well respected source that their scones were worthy of inspection … and that’s what drew us in here … yes, we are are actually that shallow! Recently the congregation and the Church of Scotland spent over £3m refurbishing the whole building and The Wild Olive Tree Café came about as part of that redevelopment. Internal view of St George's Tron Church and the Wild Olive Tree Café in GlasgowIt is intended to provide a place of quiet sanctuary away from the hustle, bustle and general madness going on just outside the door in Buchanan Street, Scotland’s busiest shopping street. In here, the almost serene atmosphere, seems like another world. The café specialises in soup, scones and cakes … what more would you want? As for scones there was a choice of:

  • Spiced Sultana
  • Apricot Date & Vanilla
  • Cheddar & Sunflower seed
  • Goats Cheese & Caramelised Onion … wow, and all freshly baked!

I opted for the the spiced sultana and Pat went for the cheddar and sunflower seed … both were wonderful. Scones at the Wild Olive Tree Café in St George's Tron Church, GlasgowMine had a lovely crunchiness on the outside and deliciously spiced on the inside … never before tasted a scone like it! Pat’s was beautifully cheesy with a lovely crunch courtesy of the sunflower seeds. There wasn’t anything not to like about the whole experience … nice surroundings, friendly service, good presentation and fantastic scones … even my drink was Dear Green Coffee, roasted right here in the beating heart of Glasgow … excellent! These were definitely the best scones we have had in ages .. no problem awarding a topscone here. It many ways this place reminded us of our recent visit to the Glasgow Gurdwara where our Sikh friends were also doing lots of good work with the needy. The only problem with both this place and the Gurdwara is that they are required at all in this day and age. Britain is one of the richest oil producing countries in the world yet there are still thousands of people in Glasgow and every other major city who are on the breadline … how come? The lowest state pension of any developed country in the world doesn’t help … lots of old folk living in poverty and hopelessness.

Painting of the Last Supper by I.D. Campbell at St George's Tron Church and the Wild Olive Tree Café in Glasgow
The Last Supper using guests at the Glasgow City Mission as models

This eight foot long painting hangs in the café and kind of encapsulates the situation. It is a depiction, by the artist-in-residence Iain Campbell, of the Last Supper featuring Jesus among men who have fallen on hard times.  We have seen the original Last Supper by Da Vinci in Milan but this version seems much more powerful … sorry Leonardo! At the supper Jesus said “remember me” but somehow all these men seem totally forgotten. Jesus is one of them … you pick! Meanwhile our wonderful government can still spend billions on weapons of mass destruction and, at this very moment, are actively contemplating going to war with Syria? Trump and May haven’t had a war yet so it’s probably to be expected. On whose behalf would they go to war … certainly not these guys, they’ve got much more immediate things to worry about!

Internal view of St George's Tron Church and the Wild Olive Tree Café in Glasgow
the Wild Olive Tree … pruned to within an inch of its life
G1 2JX            tel: 0141 248 2049           Wild Olive Tree Café
ps: To be or not to be … the Pedant has sent us a picture of a brace of K6 telephone boxes in Stratford upon Avon. The question is, are they protecting that wastepaper bin or are they taking it into custody?Two K6 telephoe boxes in Stratford-upon-Avon

Buttercup Cafe

Can’t actually remember the last time we were in North Berwick but it was certainly some years ago. On this visit, if it wasn’t for the fact that we know better, we would say that everyone in town was more than a little devious, Machiavellian even … you know who you are! But that’s another story. Sign for the Buttercup Cafe in North BerwickNorth Berwick itself is a lovely little seaside town with lots of art galleries, craft shops, restaurants and cafes. It consists almost entirely of rather grand Victorian houses and is surrounded by golf courses … and, to top it all off, not content with one beach, North Berwick has two. It was called North Berwick to distinguish it from South Berwick (now Berwick-on-Tweed) which, at one time was in Scotland rather than England. In the 16th century the town was a hotbed of witchcraft with many more witches being tried here  than anywhere else. One Agnes Sampson was accused of making a potion which made the seas rough for King James VI and his new wife, Anne of Denmark on their return voyage to Scotland. In 1591 she was tortured until a confession was obtained then burned at the stake. Thankfully there’s not so much of that sort of thing going on these days, or at least we did not see anything like that on our visit.Internal view of the Buttercup Cafe in North BerwickThe tiny Buttercup Cafe is in the centre of town and has just a four tables and a serving counter. The predominant decor is surf boards. Now although the waves just a few meters from the door were definitely big enough for surfing the temperature, at a smidgen above freezing, definitely was not … brrrr! A scone at the Buttercup Cafe in North BerwickThe welcome here though was very warm and we were soon kitted out with a fruit and a plain scone and offered a wide range of jams to go with them. They were nicely presented and each scone came with a generous pot of clotted cream .. what’s not to like? Nothing as it happens but we eventually decided that, wonderful as they were, the scones were not quite topscones … shame. Isn’t it wonderful how, with no proof whatsoever, Putin has been branded public enemy number one because of the Sergei Skripal affair. We are not taking Putin’s side, far from it, but we do think he has good reason to be more than a little disgruntled at the actions of the West recently and May’s refusal to provide him with a sample of the deadly toxin is impolite if not Machiavellian. In fact, knickers have become so twisted that Brexit has barely got a mention recently … gosh, who would have thought it!

West beach, North Berwick
Stormy day on west beach, North Berwick

EH39 4HE    tel: 01620 894985     Buttercup Cafe FB

p.s. This K6, constructed in the Lion Foundry, Kirkintilloch was found at the west end of the High Street in North Berwick. It had been converted for use as a cash machine but retained an outside telephone … for very small people??A K6 converted to a cash machine in North Berwick

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.

Robertson’s Coffeehoose

As we headed out from the shelter of Gills Bay near John O’ Groats on the Pentalina ferry we could think of no better description of what lay ahead of us than that of Neil Gunn “beyond the mainland the blue of the sea was more intense than the blue of the sky, and the Islands of The Orcades lay at anchor like fabled ships: long shapes, with clean prows to the west, with sheer sides, not riding the sea but crouching to it with that odd menace which, like tenderness, is for ever at the heart of strength”. Gunn also says that “all adventuring races have been drawn to these islands”, so, after the Romans and Vikings, now it was to be the turn of sconologists! In the name of ornithology (Pat has started a new list) and sconology, we were enduring the remains of Hurricane Maria … boy, it was windy. So it was that, somewhat relieved, we sailed into St Margaret’s Hope on South Ronaldsay and our first ever encounter with an Orkney scone at Robertson’s Coffeehoose … just the spelling announced that we were somewhere  a little bit different. Interior view of Robertson's Coffeehoose, St Margaret's Hope, OrkneyThe interior reminded us of Ireland.  When we lived there you would go into a grocery store and find a few beer pumps gracing the end of the counter … it was the same here. Turns out that it used to be the general store but has recently been converted into a café/bar and now plays a significant role in the local night life. We were served by a young girl who not only made us feel very welcome but also regaled us with stories of the history of Robertson’s and The Hope, as the town is known locally. The town may have got its name from Margaret, Maid of Norway and uncrowned Queen of Scotland, who died here from the effects of seasickness in 1290 on her way to her coronation. Luckily, we had no ill effects on the crossing but we deeply sympathise. A scone at Robertson's Coffeehoose, St Margaret's Hope, OrkneyIt may have had been the warmth of the greetings or maybe it was to do with the ‘hard to stand up in’ weather outside, but our scones were particularly welcome and tasted delicious. They were warm and served with butter and a generous pot of jam … no cream but hey, we were out of the storm so who cares? All things considered we thought that this scone just slipped into the topscone category … well done Robertson’s.  After the Maid of Norway’s demise the disputed succession sparked the Wars of Scottish Independence. When we read of the extraordinary goings on in Catalonia, you realise that it should be so much easier for Scotland to become a self respecting independent country. After all, that is what most people under sixty  want and, as stated in the Treaty of Union, the UK is a union between two equal countries, Scotland and England, so Scotland is already a country in its own right.  However, in 1707, when the Speaker of the House of Commons  said “we have won Scotland … and we will bind her fast” he wasn’t joking … the democratic deficit, designed to subjugate Scotland, has worked well in ensuring just that. Of course, in Catalonia there’s also a lot of unionist sentiment but we can’t help feeling that, like Scotland, the problem will not be resolved with anything less than independence. A K6 from the Saracen Foundry on South RonaldsayIn our previous post from Hotel Montefiore in Israel we reported on a K6 made in the Saracen Foundry. Lo and behold, on our way to the Tomb of the Eagles at the southernmost tip of South Ronaldsay what should we come across but another. This one was being used as an exchange library for books, CDs and DVDs.

Be warned, we are on Orkney for a few days so there may be more Orcadian scones to follow. By the way, the Tomb of the Eagles was closed so not even a dead eagle for Pat’s list!

KW17 2SR      tel: 01856 831 889        Robertson’s Coffeehoose FB

Hotel Montefiore

תֵּל אָבִיב-יָפוֹ‎, that’s Hebrew for Tel Aviv and  تل أَبيب-يافا‎‎, that’s Arabic for the same thing but what else does Tel Aviv have other than two languages that are completely indecipherable to most of us? Well it’s famous for lots of things e.g. this is where Jonah set sail from before he was eventually swallowed by a fish and, rather interestingly, the city was established in 1909, by dividing up sea shells on a sand dune in a kind of lottery. One hundred and twenty shells were collected from the beach … sixty white and sixty grey. People’s names were written on the white shells and plot numbers were written on the grey shells. A boy drew names from one box of shells and a girl drew plot numbers from the second box … brilliant! Now, however, besides having a population of almost half a million people, it transpires, according to our Middle East correspondent, that Tel Aviv now has scones … surely a measure of how far and how civilised it has come in a relatively short time. The Hotel Montefiore is the place in question. Internal view of the Hotel Montefiore, Tel AvivOur correspondent sets the scene:

“A sanctuary of peace in the centre of Tel Aviv? No seller’s cries? No TVs. No politicians arguing? No gunshots? No, none of that … just the occasional customer’s chuckle. The cafe was a real surprise….ochre interiors with subtle illumination and dark furnishings, palm trees and in the background I think I detected Paul Desmond’s sax. Nubile waitresses attired in elegant black summer dresses waving menus elaborated in the King’s English served the scones and poured the jasmine tea. We cannot deny that our appetites had already been whetted by reading those weekly experiences of our scone mentors in Scotland. A scone at the Hotel Montefiore, Tel AvivThe objects of our desire were delicious. Crunchy on the outside and softish inside with a few raisins. Squarish instead of roundish but the taste and consistency were just perfect. Even my Granny in Dublin would have enthused”.

Given such a wonderfully detailed and enthusiastic report as well as an endorsement from a Dublin granny, we feel we have no option but to award the Montefiore a topscone … or at least a topscone for a foreign scone! We also notice on the hotel’s website, for all you really keen sconeys already booking your flights to Tel Aviv, (hopefully not with Ryanair), that: “Hotel Montefiore invites guests to unwind and enjoy a happy hour of expertly crafted cocktails along with complimentary scones, coffee and tea” … go get ’em! Many thanks to all our correspondents for expanding our horizons so deliciously.

66 88 3 Israel    tel: +972 3 5646100   Hotel Montefiore

A white K6 in Hull
White K6, tweeted by Petroc Trelawny
K1 telephone box at Tintinhull
repro K1 in Sumerset

As a response to our question in our previous post “what colour is a red telephone box?” perhaps it was only to be expected that ‘the Pedant’ would forwarded a picture of an albino K6 located in Hull … what ever next? If anyone can spot a K1 we would be delighted to hear from you … photographic evidence please.

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?

 

 

200 scones

It was in March 2016 that we posted “A Ton of Scones” to commemorate that extraordinary feat of human endeavour … not quite on the same level as Ernest Shackleton and David Livingstone perhaps, but hey! We analysed how many scones had been categorised and offered some profound observations on the future of sconology. Well that was then and this is now. Just over a year later and yet another ton of scones have bitten the dust in the name of research and enlightenment. To celebrate, we thought we would bring you a slightly different scone … not one that you can simply go out and buy or sample for yourself but rather one (or two) that were specially baked for us … no one else, just us! Who would do such a thing we hear you ask?  A thirteen year old lass and fellow scone enthusiast from Connecticut is the answer … over here on a visit with her family. Apricot and Pear scones baked by Leah Sepples She baked us a single apricot scone and a single pear scone, and presented them both beautifully. Any slight apprehensions we might have had were quickly banished as we began to eat … they were truly excellent, wonderfully soft and absolutely delicious … definitely worthy of a topscone award. It seems only fitting that we dedicate this 200th scone to her and all the other youngsters who bake … we hope it is they, rather than the meek, who inherit the earth. There may be hope for the US after all if they can produce more Connecticutters like this! The motto of Connecticut is “Qui Transtulit Sustinet” which translates as “He Who Transplanted Still Sustains” … a bit odd but curiously appropriate for someone who has come all the way over here to do some special baking. Many thanks LS, a very much appreciated treat.

As always, we owe much to our global correspondents for keeping us abreast of scone activity, or lack of it, in parts of the world that we cannot reach. We try our best but we simply can’t be everywhere! Postcard of a K6 telephone box on IslayLately, readers may also have noticed a slight tangential drift from purist scone reports into a dalliance with red telephone boxes. One of our correspondents, sometimes simply referred to as ‘The Laird’, has a wandering brief and recently he took time out to send us a card from Islay. The card featured a pictorial K6 and a scone report from the coffee shop in Ardbeg distillery. Apparently the scone was decidedly below par and would have been totally dismal had it not been for some of Arbeg’s other products which, it is reported, went a long way towards alleviating the deep disappointment.

Thanks to all, here’s to the next 100!

 

 

Browns

Having already reported on scones in Harvey Nichols and the Dome you might think we would be running short of alternatives on George Street In Edinburgh? Not a bit of it, there are plenty more and Browns is just another one on Edinburgh’s principle shopping thoroughfare. We had actually been invited to an evening event nearby but with a couple of hours to spare what else would you do but head for afternoon tea? Browns has some history for us because as a young couple with no money and no experience of posh restaurants this was our first foray into what is oft referred to as “fine dining”. Internal view at Browns of EdinburghIf memory serves us correctly we were all dressed up to the nines and slightly nervous about being in such auspicious surroundings. That was many years ago and this is our first return visit – it doesn’t look nearly as intimidating as it did then! Has it changed, or have we changed … probably both? Today, it does not look like the small intimate restaurant of memory but rather its, almost cavernous interior, and perhaps slightly impersonal atmosphere are more in keeping with a mid-range establishment. Nowadays, we don’t think that even they would class themselves as ‘fine dining’. Afternoon tea at Browns of EdinburghWhatever, what about our afternoon tea? Champagne in the afternoon always seems a little bit naughty but this was very nice champagne and an excellent start to proceedings … see, it’s us that’s changed, we probably had pints on our first visit because we didn’t know what else to ask for! Presented on a sort of chrome wheel contraption there was a fair assortment of cakes and sandwiches with two small scones each. Call us old fusspots if you wish but we prefer to have bread sandwiches with the crusts cut off rather than the little mini rolls used here … arrgghh, we have changed … a slice of square sausage with tomato sauce between two slices of plain bread used to be the highlight of our culinary lives.top tier of afternoon tea at Browns of EdinburghThe scones were nice. When they first arrived we felt them and they were nice and warm but, by the time we got round to eating them, that was but a memory. A scone at Browns of EdinburghAll in all, this was very relaxing and enjoyable and a great way to kill some time but the scones, although good, did not quite make the grade and everything else, excepting the champagne, was just a little bit flat. The service, for example, was okay, but like a lot of places that automatically add a service charge to your bill, they did not have to try too hard. Picture of a telephone box at Browns of EdinburghOne of the nice things about Browns is that they have lots of interesting photographs hanging on the walls. We thought this one would enable us to test your knowledge of red telephone boxes bearing in mind that we supplied a handy indentification guide in an earlier post at the Butterchurn. Obviously it is not a K4 but could it be a K2 or a K6? Answers on a postcard. Continuing with the quiz theme we thought it might be interesting to measure, in scones, how much time Theresa May has left as Prime Minister. You probably think we are not taking politics seriously, but really, with Michael Gove, the only man who can instantly poison any environment he walks into, being appointed Environment Secretary … and the odious DUP in coalition talks with the government … oh, and the Queen’s Speech being delayed because of the need to write it all down on goatskin paper, what is there to take seriously? This is the second post since the general election result became known and Theresa decided to carry on as if nothing had happened … how many more scones can we post before she is deposed? Answers on the same postcard as the telephone box.

Edinburgh looking dramatic in evening sunshine
Edinburgh looking dramatic in the evening sunshine

EH2 4JS         tel: 0131 225 4442         Browns Edinburgh