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.We 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.
On the opposite side of Brodick Bay from our hotel stands the imposing Brodick Castle. We have been here before but having looked across the water at it for the past few days we thought another visit might be worthwhile. But first, so that you can get this scone in context, a little history. Some sort of fortification has been on this site since at least the fifth century. By the tenth century Norse influence had grown, and Arran was controlled by King Hakon of Norway, but when some Scottish upstarts began to question his authority, he sent a large fighting fleet to sort things out, resulting in the Battle of Largs in 1263 … which he lost. He retreated to Brodick and then to Orkney where he died the following year. The ensuing Treaty of Perth in 1266 ceded Arran and other islands to the Kingdom of Scotland. Oliver Cromwell occupied the castle for a while and then it fell to the Hamilton family who occupied it for several centuries until 1957 when it was gifted to the nation by the Duchess of Montrose to avoid death duties. The National Trust for Scotland eventually took it over.. and now we are here! The grounds are immaculately kept and there is a tearoom for visitors but of course today we’re sitting outside in the spring sunshine. Like most NTS places, it is self-service so we duly selected a mixture of cheese and fruit scones – sometimes, if we are feeling particularly daring, we mix things up and have half each. Everything was fine though we can sometimes get a little irritated by the presence of the ubiquitous tubs of Rodda’s cornish cream. The Arran Creamery is just down the road, do we really have to bring it all the way from Cornwall? The jam was from Manchester … c’mon NTS, do you know what the ‘S’ in your name stands for … what must tourists think? The scones were very nice but not quite nice enough for a topscone. We got plenty exercise chasing fly away napkins but, all in all, it was a lovely scone-break in a beautiful setting. We have probably traveled on a couple of dozen ferries over the past year or so and, as a consequence, have become quite familiar with Caledonian MacBrayne. It was once said that “God gave us the earth and CalMac the Western Isles” .. a slight, inferring that the ferry company held the islands to ransom. There may have been an element of truth in that at one time but, with the introduction of RET (Road Equivalent Tariff), not any more. Our trip to Arran, involving four ferries, cost a grand total of just over £50 for a car and four passengers … not too bad. So, we are delighted with the news that the Scottish government, in the face of all the EU regulations, have managed to award the ongoing £900m contract to publicly owned CalMac over privately owned Serco .. and build their ships on the Clyde .. even King Hakon would have been proud.
We had walked along the beach to the Castle from our hotel but decided to get the bus back. The bus stop on the main road opposite the castle entrance makes waiting for the bus a real pleasure. There were seals sunning themselves on a rock and an oystercatcher’s nest on the seaward side of the wall … you are almost annoyed when the bus comes. Amongst other things, today we saw siskins, sedge warblers, guillemots and red-legged partridges … alas, still no eagles.
KA27 8HY tel: 0844 493 2152 Brodick Castle
Well here we are at The Milk Barn on the south side of Falkirk on a dull chilly day. The upcoming General Election has well and truly kicked off with all parties promising more scones tomorrow. Main issues seem to be: 1. should banker type folk get more cream on their jammy scones 2. should ordinary folk (i.e. not bankers), get any jam 3. is the EU meddling with our scones 4. should folks north of the border be allowed to call their scones Scottish instead of British. Being Scottish the last one is of particular interest because once again the main unionist parties are demonstrating their complete lack of comprehension of what Scotland and its scones are about and in so doing seem to risk the Union itself. From a sconologist point of view, the unionist parties should really be promoting United Bakeries, who make brilliant scones. Unfortunately they are in Norway .. which isn’t even in the EU, so maybe not. Interesting though that all MPs are effectively sacked and then have to win back their jobs by tempting us folk not only with scones but probably with jam and cream as well. It will be an interesting few weeks.
The Milk Barn is a great bit of diversification by the Reid family who run Glen Farm but probably not the sort of place to go if you don’t have children, the noise levels can be pretty high. On the other hand if you do have children it is a must do destination. There is a great play area inside for smaller kids, an adventure playground outside for the bigger ones, a large grassed area for playing football, a fab ice cream parlour where you can watch it actually being made. You can even milk Glenda the life-size fibreglass cow! So great fun if you are looking for the kids to be entertained while you try and sneak in a quiet cup of tea and, of course, a scone.
The scones are home baked and although mine was an odd shape it tasted fine and butter and jam were provided free .. oh, and fab strawberry tarts
The place is busy most of the time and although the staff were run of their feet they still managed to be smiley and friendly .. well done.
FK1 3AA tel: 01324 630703 www.themilkbarn.co.uk