Tag Archives: Robert Louis Stevenson

Sundial Café

Kidnapped by Robert Louis StevensonWhen Robert Louis Stevenson was writing Kidnapped he chose Limekilns as the final point of escape for David Balfour and Alan Breck as they fled the redcoats in 1752 . An odd choice when you look at the sleepy little village today, however, it wasn’t always like this. Its sheltered natural harbour meant that it once had a thriving fishing industry and, as its name suggests, burning lime was another. However, in the 18th century, the harbour also served as the northern terminus for a ferry service from Bo’ness on the opposite shore … maybe that’s why Stevenson chose this place? Anyway, Alison Hastie, the local innkeeper’s daughter rowed them across and the two young fugitives successfully escaped … hurrah! Nowadays, of course, they could just have walked across the river using any one of three bridges … okay, you are not supposed to walk on the rail bridge but if you were fleeing for your life?? We got here by using the new Queensferry Crossing … without expansion joints it is a very smooth drive … but how have they done that, where does the expansion go? Having arrived in Fife we decided to take the more more indirect but more picturesque coastal route back home on the north side of the Forth and Limekilns is one of the first villages you come across. It is home to the Sundial Café.

The sundial at the Sundial Cafe in Limekilns
Sundial dated 1689

Unsurprisingly it gets its name from the sundial high up on the corner of the building. In Scotland, these things are only of use on the rare occasions when the sun actually shines but presumably when this one was installed there were not that many alternatives. Inside, on the ground floor, it is small and cosy with a large log burning stove but there is also a fairly large seating area upstairs. It has only been open a few years but it is pretty obvious that the renovation of the 400 year old building has been done very sympathetically. When we arrived mid afternoon they only had two scones left, one fruit and the other cheese and bacon. We decide to have them both and share, half each … what are we like?

Internal view of the Sundial Café in Limekilns
Upstairs and downstairs in the Sundial

They were very good – the fruit one came with plenty of jam but they didn’t have any cream … boo! No topscone but a lovely place with friendly people … highly recommended. A scone at the Sundial Café in LimekilnsIn 1362 King David II, as kings do, gave Limekilns harbour to the monks of Dunfermline Abbey  to encourage trade with europe … oh, with the shambles that is Brexit, for that sort of initiative these days!  Shock horror,  as we sit gazing out towards the North Sea, BP has announced that it is to double its North Sea oil production and keep extracting for the next forty years. In 2014 it was explained, in no uncertain terms, what a liability the dribble of oil that was left was for Scotland … so now the liability has just got a whole lot bigger … thanks Westminster, what would we do without you? If Scotland ever gets its independence the maritime border with England, surreptitiously redrawn in 1999 to run just off Aberdeen will have to be extended yet again to take in all the oilfields around Shetland … what fun!

KY11 3HN     tel: 01383 873370      Sundial Café TA

ps something for all our telephone box enthusiasts, not a K2 or a K6 or even made of iron. A wooden Post Office telephone box from the 1930sOne of our wonderful correspondents has just sent this picture of a wooden telephone box taken at the National Museum of Scotland. According to the information it is dated 1930s and is from the Hope Street Post Office in Edinburgh. Apparently a lot of post offices provided these payphones for customers when few people had telephones at home. Things have changed since then. Thank goodness for social media, otherwise how else would we know that Scotland’s thirteen Tory MPs had voted to remove powers from the Scottish Parliament?

The Hideaway Café

We often stop off in Bridge of Allan as we go to and from the north … for the size of the place it has a lot to offer. For me the reason for stopping is Woodwinters Wine & Whiskies, one of the best off-licences I know, or the excellent Allanwater Tinpot Brewery/Pub, whereas Pat likes several of the fashion shops. It was one of these fashion shops, Ruby Tuesday, that led us to this place, the Hideaway Café, tucked away at the end of a mews that runs down the side of the shop. We thought we knew Bridge of Allan quite well but had no idea this place existed. It is aptly named but well worth finding. It has a much more relaxed ‘coffee shop’ vibe than our usual Bridge of Allan haunts, Jamjar and Café 33. hideaway-01Everything on the menu , including the scones, is freshly prepared every morning. It also has an outside area with a playhouse for the kiddies, a surefire blessing for all the mums of Bridge of Allan. It was unfortunate that we arrived at the end of the day … there was only a single lonesome fruit scone left so we decided to share and put it out of it’s misery. hideaway-03Perhaps it was because it was the last that it caused us some difficulty. It was very very good, nice jam and cream, but we felt it lacked a certain freshness. Had we been earlier in the day it would definitely have achieved a topscone. Next time we will get there earlier and not spend so much time and money in Ruby Tuesday!! Bridge of Allan, like most spa towns is ‘nice’ … Robert Louis Stevenson visited every year in his youth … but it was not always so genteel. It got it’s name in 1520 when a narrow stone bridge was built to replace the old ford across the River Allan. Soon after that it became a sort of ‘klondyke’ town when copper, gold and silver mines were established nearby and by 1745 the bridge had been commandeered by a group of Jacobites who charged a toll to cross. Most famously of all, of course, in January 1963 the Beatles played the Museum Hall, now converted into luxury flats. At that time, even the Beatles themselves had little inkling of what lay in store for them … a bit like the Labour party at their recent annual conference in Liverpool. hideaway-02In spite of what seemed a reasonable, if not rousing, closing speech by Corbyn, the sight of a large part of the audience doggedly stuck to their seats and refusing to applaud does not bode well for the future of the party, or for that matter, the country, which desperately needs an effective opposition. With the Tories in almost as much disarray, the UK appears to be in some sort of free-fall. At home, Scottish Labour has shot itself in the foot so often there is nothing left below the knee except bloodied strands of gristle. What is wrong with the country?

Picture of childrens playhouse at the Hideaway Café
Kiddies playhouse

Perhaps it was summed up this week by Sam Allardyce walking off with £1m for a couple of months work as England manager … instead of being booted out on his ear as he should have been. Yet another example, like the bankers, of the ‘success of failure’. As long as we continue to reward those who fail us the future will look decidedly unpredictable. Perhaps they should all hole up in that kiddies playhouse at the Hideaway Café for a while until they have sorted themselves out?

FK9 4EN      no telephone       Hideaway Café