Just when you think you have done all the tearooms and coffee shops in your home town, lo and behold, another one pops up. Mind you the Larder has been open quite a few months now … we just hadn’t noticed it. Getting noticed is crucially important for all new businesses yet unbelievably this place has neither wifi or a contact telephone number … and, to make matters even worse, it has a big glossy Costa directly across the road. The Larder, therefore, has the dubious distinction of being the only establishment we have ever reviewed for which we cannot find a phone number. It also ‘borrows’ its wifi from another business nearby and it doesn’t have a website. We fear for the Larder’s future … no matter how good the scones are. It’s a shame that we were the only customers because the two young girls who appeared to be running the place were trying hard. Maybe some home baking would set us on the right track? No, they simply buy their scones from Costco, a huge wholesale warehouse in Glasgow. However, any preconceptions we may have harboured about warehouse scones were quickly dashed when they actually turned out to be quite good .. on the large side but quite light and fluffy on the inside. No hope of a topscone here but service, tea and coffee were all good … we wish the Larder well and hope they get themselves sorted out before long. This week it was hard to miss stories about suffragettes and the amazing things they had to do to get noticed. It was, of course, the centenary of women getting the vote in 1918. Strictly speaking only 40% of women got the vote then as opposed to 58 % of men – the rest had to wait another ten years. Nowadays most people find it totally incredible that all this was happening only 100 years ago. It’s a bit like the internet – young people think it has always been there … they think the ‘right to vote’ has always been there too and are surprised to learn that it is in fact a relatively recent innovation. Back in 1707, at the Treaty of Union between Scotland and England, ‘the people’ would have loved a vote. According to accounts at the time, 99 out of 100 ordinary people were against the Union but of the 175 eligible voters 106 voted in favour and the rest, as they say, is history. We would like to think that, when Scotland becomes an independent country again, people will look back 100 years from now with the same incredulity afforded to the suffragettes at the fact that we were once ruled by another country. We will let you know how the Larder gets on.
Have not been here, to the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) for some time so it is nice to be back. It should be said right at the start that this gallery has become most famous in Glasgow folklore and indeed throughout the world, not for any of it’s exhibitions but for the traffic cone on the head of the Duke of Wellington outside … today his horse was having a turn of wearing it. There are dedicated followers of the cone .. called ‘coneys‘ … like sconeys but not as sensible, and they are very active on social media to the point that there is now a worldwide coney movement.
Originally placed there by a drunken student almost thirty years ago, the city fathers used to religiously remove it because they thought it was not fitting for a city of Glasgow’s stature. However, faced with an endless supply of drunken students, they came up with a cunning plan to raise the height of the plinth in a such a way that the cone would be banished forever. After a massive ‘keep the cone’ march and protest on social media however they backed down and now the cone is a fairly permanent feature with many tourists coming to see it and buy postcards, teeshirts etc. Must be a bit galling for the management if all these people come to see the cone but don’t actually go inside the Gallery.
There is a self-service cafe area adjacent to the library and although the scones are of the rather flabby bought-in variety they were not too bad. On a previous visit, many years ago, we had a lovely young French art student with us who explained everything with amazing clarity but unfortunately, on this occasion, she was absent and appreciation of what was on offer was left to our own somewhat limited powers of artistic interpretation. Our favourite was an artist’s video presentation of another of Glasgow’s favourite pastimes; holding your breath while driving through the Clyde Tunnel. It was of children and you get so involved you end up holding your own breath. This Youtube video is not the exhibit we saw but you can try it for yourself … let us know how you get on. Another exhibit took us back to an earlier post about suffragettes .. one suffragette in particular, Christabel Pankhurst .. and here she was again … isn’t it great that these two events have been brought together by the power of scones! Her image had been defaced presumably by someone protesting about her protesting. Feeling inspired by what we had seen; the refugee crisis in europe; Scotland’s place in the UK and the difficulties some sconeys have fitting into normal society, we have created our own artwork entitled ‘Isolation’ … a reflection on being different and trying to integrate with a strange and sometimes bewildering world. Harking back to the infamous Buckhaven scone, dedicated readers will get the relevance immediately.
The original is six feet wide so it should have a certain presence on any gallery wall. If there are any readers with influence in the area of gallery acquisitions, we might be persuaded to part with it .. lottery funding may be necessary! Seriously, if you are in Glasgow, Royal Exchange Square is lovely at this time of year and GoMA is definitely worth a visit … you might be inspired as well!
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? The 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! By 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! One 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!