Tag Archives: Madonna

The Carnegie Courthouse

Dornoch is a beautiful little town and, over the past few years, we have already reported on two other scones here, Gordon House and Dornoch Castle, so it was a something of a surprise when our Trossachs correspondents gave us a heads up on yet another … at the Carnegie Courthouse. Many people come here for the town’s history, or the beach or just to wander among the cafés and antique shops … so it’s quite busy even at this time of year. This scone like the other two are in a cluster around the Cathedral. Although the courthouse was built in 1849 it only began life as a tearoom/shop in 2013. It was named after Andrew Carnegie who was not only the richest man in the world at one time but lived locally in Skibo Castle and was a great benefactor for the town. Name plaque at the Carnegie Courthouse, DornochThe tearoom features a mural depicting the courtroom as it would have been when in use and portraying some of the local faces. It is great that as well as the likes of Carnegie, the Duke of Sutherland, Madonna (she got married in the Cathedral) and Tom Watson the golfer, there is also Janet Horn (the last witch burned in Dornoch), Bill Wright the local milkman and, most importantly, Carol MacKay the proprietor of the tearoom

A mural at the Carnegie Courthouse, DornochSo what was our third Dornoch scone like? Very good actually so there was not too much difficulty making a topscone award. Pat had cheese and I had fruit but they were both deliciously crunchy on the outside and wonderfully soft and light inside. A scone at the Carnegie Courthouse, DornochThe whole place has a good atmosphere and we were very well looked after by the staff. As you can probably gather we are fond of this town so who knows when we might find ourselves returning … yet another Dornoch gem not to be missed. But what would these good folks in the above courtroom have made of the current state of the UK government? Just after the last General Election we asked you to guess how many scone blogs there would be before Theresa May had to resign. There have been quite a lot more than we had imagined and, wonder of wonders, she is still hanging on, albeit by the skin of her teeth. It begs the question though … just how bad does her administration have to get before she is sufficiently ashamed and does the decent thing? There are two problems a) she doesn’t seem to have any shame and b) who would replace her? Chances are, unimaginable as it is, it could be worse. In the courtroom, you can almost see the perplexed looks on their faces

IV25 3SD    tel: 01862 811632     The Carnegie Courthouse

Dornoch Castle Hotel

Where would you go when there is barely a cloud in the sky and you fancy a walk on a beach …. Dornoch, obviously. There is also a link between this post and the previous post for the Cafe at the Carnegie Hall in Portmahomak because just up the road from Dornoch is Skibo Castle, once the home of philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie. Dornoch itself is famous for many things; the last witch in Scotland was burned here in 1727; the golf course is judged to be the 5th best outside the US; the thirteenth-century Cathedral, Pat’s first holiday destination when she was at school, but most famously of all, of course, Madonna had her son, Rocco, christened in the Cathedral before her marriage at Skibo!!

the beach at Dornoch
the beach at Dornoch

Having little  requirement for burning, golfing or christening, we headed for the beach .. and what a beach! Miles of beautiful sand stretching as far as you could see. Needless to say, in early April, it’s not quite warm enough for lazing around on the beach and we had forgotten our buckets and spades so it wasn’t too long before we thought that a scone wouldn’t go amiss. We knew that there were good scones at Gordon House because we reviewed them last year, but in the interests of continuing research we thought we should try somewhere different … so here we are at Dornoch Castle Hotel, just across the road from the Cathedral. Dornoch 03Originally built as the Bishop’s Palace, it has been here a quite a while and certainly retains some of its old-world charm with eight foot thick stone walls and a big welcoming log fire. The hotel is a slightly odd mixture of old and new with the bar area, where we were, being quite characterful but the dining room at the rear of the hotel is very modern and seems strangely out of keeping. Dornoch 05Never mind that though what about the scone testing. Well, once again the scones were okay, but nothing to write home about … so what exactly are we doing writing about them .. answers on a postcard? They were nicely presented with jam and a pot of whipped cream but the scones themselves were definitely not topscone material, though enjoyable enough.

Oh dear, cream first??
Oh dear, cream first??

We had an Englishman with us so we had to post a photo of his effort at preparing a scone. These days we are nervous about not giving glowing reviews because, in the past week, we were given the devastating news that McEwens of Perth had suddenly closed down … and some disingenuous folk have suggested that it was because we did not rate their scones highly enough. Joking aside this really is bad news because McEwens was one of our favourite shops .. family run, a bit quirky, a bit old fashioned, a bit of an institution, it’s passing is very sad, it will be sorely missed, especially by the 130 people who worked there. For Perthshire, it is the equivalent of Tata Steel closing down in Port Talbot but we don’t think there will be any similar governmental attempts at a rescue package .. end of an era. So, although Dornoch Castle Hotel did not get a topscone award either we really hope, in spite of that, it continues to prosper for many years to come.

excellent whisky display
excellent whisky display

IV25 3SD         tel: 01862 810216        Dornoch Castle Hotel

The Olympic Studios

It has been some time, thank you for all your concern; some thought we had died .. scone overdose somewhere, others thought we had been kidnapped by over-enthusiastic sconeys. Well, none of the above, we have been in Londonland .. might as well call it that because it is completely detached from the rest of the country. Unlike vast tracts of Scotland where everyone speaks with a home counties accent … here, hardly anyone speaks English and the Range Rovers are almost as big as a £2m house .. mad, but great, all at the same time! Okay, okay, the scones, what about the scones?  Olympic 04The Olympic Studios, complete with it’s statue of Captain Marvel up on the roof, is a very popular haunt for us when we are in the deep south .. either for a meal or to see a film, but this is the first time we have been here in sconey mode .. would we be disappointed? The building itself has had an illustrious past. Byfield House, the residence of the Governor of St Helena and its dependencies of Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, stood on this site until 1906 when it was demolished and  replaced by a cinema and theatre … Charles Haughtry and John Gielgud first trod the boards here. In 1908 Christabel Pankhurst, took to the stage and gave a rousing and provocative speech .. not about scones but something to do with votes for women; six days later she was arrested at the House of Commons and imprisoned with more than twenty other suffragettes.  In 1966 it became the Olympic recording studio and was used by the Rolling Stones, Beatles, Led Zepplin, Madonna, Jimi Hendrix and our personal favourites .. Massive Attack!  U2 were the last to record here in 2009. Now it is a cinema again and is appropriately showing the newly released film, Suffragette. More importantly though it has a restaurant and cafe .. selling scones .. and what scones! Olympic 03By far and away the best scones we have had in ages. Very light and fluffy on the inside with a delicate crisp outside .. absolutely fabulous darling .. and at £3 for two scones with plenty jam and clotted cream, the price was not too difficult to swallow either. Another small but lovely touch in the Olympic is that they just give you water and glasses without you having to ask for it .. great! So there you have it, possibly the best scone in Londonland .. unless we find another of course! Olympic 05One hundred years after the suggragette struggle, and after our great Winston Churchill spent a year refusing to speak to the first woman to enter the House of Commons, it seems beyond belief that, in 2015, women are still struggling to get equality. Someone (it must have been a man) said that the best way to make women more comfortable in the workplace was to double glaze the glass ceiling .. well, how would men feel if they were obliged to take the same maternity leave as their partners; would they feel as secure in their careers, would they wonder about reorganisations happening in their absence, new people coming in, others leaving … we don’t think men would handle it at all well. That does not make men different from women because women find it just as difficult. And it is not as if having babies is some sort of peripheral activity, it is fundamental to absolutely everything .. everything. Mind you recent statistics reveal that twelve men commit suicide in the UK every day, far higher than the female equivalent figure, so men don’t have it that easy either. Anyway whoever, woman or man, made these scones, we are sure that Miss Pankhurst would have been proud .. probably even prouder it it was a man!

SW13 9HL      Tel: 020 9812 5161    Olympic Studios

Gordon House

Dornoch is a beautiful little town just north of Inverness and in her schooldays Pat used to come here on holiday. It is centred round the Cathedral which held its first service in 1239 but is more famous recently for being the venue in 2000 for the christening of Madonna’s son Rocco. There is also a world class golf course (voted 5th best course outside the USA) and a fantastic blue flag beach. In many ways Dornoch has it all but of course the question is can it produce a decent scone. Amongst all the antique shops and hotels there are lots of possibilities but we eventually chose Gordon House on the High Street close to the cathedral.

Cafe area behind the displays
Cafe area behind the displays

Lots going on here as well because Gordon House combines a gift shop, art gallery and café. Great selection of delicious looking home baking but of course it had to be the scones for us.
After a poor start to the day the weather had cleared up nicely so we sat outside and watched the good people of the town going about their business. The last witch to be burned to death in Scotland met her unfortunate end here in 1727 so we were hoping that the same fate had not been dished out to the scones. Talking of witches, we hear that the Home Secretary thinks that the UK will face its worst constitutional crisis since Edward VIII abdicated if Scots get involved in democracy … and London has banned bagpipes!  The world truly has gone bonkers. IMG_7717 This snippet from NewsBiscuit kind of sums it up. “Meanwhile along the north coast of France coastguards and emergency services have been working round the clock to cope with boat loads of Daily Mail readers crossing the Channel in dangerously overcrowded makeshift vessels. ‘They come here seeking a better life and to get away from persecution,’ said François Berthand, manager of the Calais Detention Centre known locally as ‘Little England’. ‘They come here telling tales of being forced to eat Tunnocks tea-cakes, ceilidh dancing and longer-term deficit reduction strategies. Some weep uncontrollably and hug and kiss us. When they start being nice to the French, you know something must have really spooked them’”. No worries about burnt scones though, when they arrived they looked like proper scones and tasted really good .. no cream but sometimes you just have to rough it. We also think that the artist exhibiting in the gallery was the self same artist who baked the scones, now that’s talent. It is always nice to come across a place which is making a big effort to cater to a wide range of customers, and succeeding, well done … but change that LED lighting, it may be efficient but it looks weird, you can get warmer ones!

tel: 01862 811737          Gordon House