Tag Archives: Team GB

Café Belgica

Admittedly, this is not the first place that comes to mind when seeking out a good scone a) it’s a huge furniture warehouse b) it’s situated in a pretty uninviting industrial estate … but, like us, you might be surprised. We used to come here quite often looking for the odd quirky piece of furniture but, hallelujah, since our last visit they have reorganised everything and added Café Belgica … and it seemed like the busiest part of the store. Internal view of Café BelgicaIt is well set up and there is a good range of food and drinks on offer … including scones. Ours fruit scones were good and served with a generous tub of clotted cream. The friendly lady who was looking after us, however, was having to work very hard negotiating a rather odd table layout – definitely something they need to look at in future. A scone at Café BelgicaNot topscones unfortunately but enjoyable nevertheless. Café Belgica is providing something of an oasis in what is really a huge refreshment desert … a place to chillax away from the cares of the outside world and, perhaps more importantly, away from the Winter Olympics. Never mind the brouhaha about Kim Jong-un’s sister making Mike Pence look like a bit of a plonker, or the fact that banned Russia is competing … but not as Russia? Even more ridiculous is the sight of commentators working themselves up into a lather over whether Team GB might beat Team Nigeria by 1/1000th of a second … at sledging! Does anyone seriously care? Maybe we just don’t understand. In common with 99.999% of the population we don’t know anyone involved in ‘skeleton’ (head first on a sledge) or ‘luge’ (feet first on a sledge) so are not in a position to discuss the finer points. As youths we used to take part in our own Tin Tray Championships which consisted of a group of idiots sliding down the Ochil hills on beer trays totally out of control … a bit like Brexit negotiations! Could Brexit become an Olympic event … a gold medal to anyone who can find a way to keep us in the EU.

EH51 0PU     tel: 01506 243954     Café Belgica

Coffee on Wooer

Goodness knows, we really try to point out the positives whenever we can but it has been very difficult recently. Like our last post about the Brenachoile at Trossachs Pier, some places just leave you no choice but to report it as it is .. this is another. We were strolling idly through Falkirk, as we do, and when we came on this place we were intrigued. Situated on Wooer Street (a derivation of ‘weaver street’) it wasn’t too hard to see how they came up with the name. street sign for Wooer Street, FalkirkThese premises have undergone many incarnations over the years and this was obviously the latest. When we went in we stood and waited because we weren’t sure what to do. There were about four young lads doing headless chicken impersonations but none of them paid us any attention. Eventually we managed to capture one and asked if it was table service or self service .. no answer to the question, just “what do you want”. The answer was “two coffees” at which point our attendant fled … we didn’t know if they did scones or not. Pat sat at a table and I went over to the counter where, voila, there were some scones. I jokingly asked the young chap if he had baked them that morning? He lifted one, felt it, grimaced, then unsuccessfully tried to penetrate  it with a fork, at which point he said “I wouldn’t if I was you”! So we didn’t. This is the first post we have ever put up without a picture of a scone, apart from the famous Buckhaven scone, but we felt duty bound to report anyway. A piece of carrot cake was substituted and it was rather nice; the coffee was good as well, if a little bitter near the end. It’s a tremendous shame because these lads were all trying very hard but obviously lacked training and direction .. a bit like a rudderless ship.

section of COW menu
section of the menu but no indication of when ‘close’ was??

There were so many mixed messages amongst the jumble of stuff which only served to make the place look untidy and confused … and the menus chalked up behind the counter were all over the place! We guess the overall look was supposed to be ‘shabby chic’, but it wasn’t working … just ‘shabby’.Interior of Coffee on WooerWhere was the captain of this ship …  what was he/she thinking about?? Much the same could be said of the politicians who took us out of the EU. Where are they now and what were they thinking about? Still, nothing to worry about as Team GB comes in second only in the medals table to the USA … 67 in all. We are now officially a ‘sporting superpower’, whatever that means? Not all countries have money to burn like the UK so at a cost to the taxpayer of over £4m per medal that could easily be seen as cheating. Nothing against the individual athletes, they are just ‘doing what they want to do’, good luck to them, but now, as well as paying for their medals, we are doubtless going to shower them with honours too .. for just ‘doing what they want to do’! Promise that’s the last rant about the Olympics. According to the Coffee on Wooer’s rather glitzy but equally confusing website, they are setting out to challenge the big high street coffee shops. Maybe so, but they still have a huge amount to learn from them! Falkirk needs businesses like this so let’s hope they get it right eventually.

FK1 1NJ      tel: 01324 278026      Coffee on Wooer

Brenachoile Café

Here we are in the Trossachs … again! If you are going for a sail around Loch Katrine on the Sir Walter Scott steamship you will have to get on board here at Trossachs Pier. It’s a busy place because the smaller Lady of the Lake also does cruises and Katrinewheelz  will kit you out if you want to cycle round the loch to Stronachlachar … busy, busy!  The Brenachoile Café sits on the hill above the car park giving it a great view of the loch and all the activity below.

View from the café
View from the café

We were just passing the time while some our younger and fitter compadres climbed the nearby Ben A’an, a fantastic wee hill that, once upon a time, we used for practice rock climbs. It even has it’s own guide book … I distinctly remember ‘The Last Eighty‘ causing me some problems. It was a dull day so the prospect of a good cuppa and a scone was uppermost in our minds. Sadly it was not to be. The Brenachoile Café probably suffers in the same way as many such places that have a captive audience .. if you don’t come here there is nothing else for miles, so they, unfortunately, can get away with inferior food and inferior service. They don’t close until 6 but at 3.30 they were piling chairs onto tables as if they were closing … not a good look and more than a little unwelcoming. What a shame when the whole place is buzzing! Brenachoile 03Our coffee was okay but the scone was pretty dire and just as disappointing as the rest of the place. Almost as disappointing as Bloomberg’s 2016 report on the performance of world currencies. The great British pound languishes in last place as the worst in the world, just behind the Argentinian peso. Still, none of that matters a jot when we have wall to wall coverage of things totally meaningless in Rio … like a cosy anaesthetising blanket!  As long as Team GB is doing well … we don’t need to know about anything else … do we? The Brenachoile is run by the Winnock Hotel in Drymen. There is much room for improvement before they see any medals or awards from us!Brenachoile 04FK17 8JA         tel: 01877 376799            Brenachoile Café

Forest Hills Hotel

This is a real dead-end kind of place .. but only because it is at the end of a dead-end road! To be precise it is not quite at the end of the road because you can go on a few miles to Stronachlachar and Inversnaid but you have no choice but to come back the same way. Having said that, Rob Roy, whose country this is, probably had a hundred ways in and out of Kinlochard … but he wasn’t driving a car. Staying in the village for a few days, courtesy of our intrepid and generous Trossachs correspondents, afforded us a chance to explore the local scone scene. Previously we have reported on one of our favourite places, the Wee Blether in the centre of the village, but there are scones everywhere in the Trossachs. Forest Hills 05The Forest Hills Hotel was just along the road and seemed like a good place to start. It holds a particularly fond memory for me from almost forty years ago. I was the official photographer at a family wedding and at one point I remember assembling the bride and groom and both sets of parents in front of a fireplace for a group shot. Forest Hills 01The hotel has undergone massive changes since then and I wondered if the fireplace had survived almost four decades of modernisation and change. It had, and still stands proud, pretty much as I remembered it. In fact the main part of the hotel was remarkably unchanged. Forty years ago we were sipping champagne which had been transported in suitcases all the way from France, but this time, of course, we were on scone safari. Pat just wanted a cup of tea so it was up to me to order a scone for myself. Turned out they came in twos (one plain, one fruit) but something was obviously lost in translation because when they arrived there was two for Pat as well! Heyho, she scoffed them anyway, no problem! Forest Hills 08Three different jams as well as a generous bowl of cream and the scones themselves were just the way we like them … warm, not too big, slightly crunchy on the outside and beautifully soft and light inside… mmmmm, topscone! Nowadays the hotel has all the necessary accoutrements to make it into a ‘spa’ resort. It is slightly ironic, however, to see lots of people pounding treadmills in a hot sweaty gym when they are surrounded by beautiful countryside and hills where they could be getting much better exercise whilst breathing pure clear Trossachs air … what is that all about?

View from the hotel towards Loch Ard with endless exercise opportunities
View from the hotel towards Loch Ard with endless exercise opportunities

Perhaps, more to the point at this particular time, what are the Olympics all about? Once a noble amateur sporting spectacle, in recent years it has succumbed to the powers of capitalism and lost it’s moral compass. Too much flag waving by multi-millionaires and pontificating by knights of the realm! The world would be a much better place if there was no professionalism in sport … can’t think of a single good thing to come from it. If Team GB does well there will be calls for vast amounts of money to be invested to maintain our place in the world as a great sporting powerhouse … if it does badly there will be calls for vast amounts of money to be invested to transform us into a great sporting powerhouse … as if it matters? Never mind Russia’s drug taking, financial and medical advantages over others are just another form of cheating! The fact that we might beat Team Vanuatu in the hop, skip and jump is supremely irrelevant to almost everything that really matters … it is all a grotesque nonsense and a waste of money.

not a cossetted Olympic event ... a proper swimming event at the loch
not a cossetted Olympic event … a proper swimming event at the loch

On top of all that we are expected to listen to endless banal drivel from multi-millionaire commentators and pundits. Olympic tennis turns out to be a rerun of Wimbledon? Olympic golf … we despair! The sooner they have ordinary dads building an IKEA Billy bookcase as an Olympic event the better. Rant over, must get back to the scones, they’re very good … gold medal even.

FK8 3TL         tel: 0344 879 9057          Forest Hills Hotel