Girl Power

(This post follows on from the previous one, which is why I’m just diving in here expecting you to know what’s going on.)

Having worked up an appetite browsing round The Book Shop, my delightful assistants and I trotted across the road to find our lunch, in another of Wigtown’s bookshops.

Many of the town’s bookshops have specialised in certain genres, and this one is dedicated to the work of women’s literature (anything and everything written by, for, and about women, although they do also have a small section in one room labelled ‘male authors’, as a sort of token gesture to the gents). Apparently, it’s the only extant specialist women’s bookshop in the UK, and one of only 13 in the world (how they obtained this information, I have no idea, but it sounds impressive to me).

I failed to mention that prior to visiting The Book Shop, we did in fact call into the ladies’ bookshop (it has a clever name which I’m tempted to divulge, but that would break my vow of secrecy on the subject of tearoom names) for a snack first. In my last post I showed you a fruit scone, which was what I had by way of a morning nibble, along with a pot of tea. Delightful assistant no.1 also had a scone:

Delightful assistant no.2 had a coconut creation, which exceeded expectations on tasting. It was very moist and extremely coconuty:

The tea and coffee they serve here is Fairtrade, and the jams and chutneys are made by a local family-owned business.  As mentioned in my previous post, the jam was plum and was exceptionally good.

The tearoom is very much a part of the bookshop, having lots of books within easy reach of the seats. This corner was where we sat:

Or we could have sat more in the body of the shop:

Or, indeed, in this lounge-type area:

Which has a wood burning stove and an interesting ceiling:

The menu contained a good number of interesting vegetarian and vegan options and I chose the vegan shepherdess pie, which was made with puy lentils, courgette and onion in a spiced tomato sauce, topped with mashed potato. It was served with steamed carrots, turnip and cabbage, and was absolutely delicious (according to the waitress it was cumin that gave it the excellent flavour):

I washed this down with a bottle of fragrant Rose Lemonade, a drink I came across last year and have become quite fond of:

I was so deeply involved with my own meal that I seem to have failed to record what my delightful assistants had, but I think one of them had the same as me and the other had cottage pie, which was similar but with meat in it.

Thankfully, because the portions weren’t too large, we had room for dessert. There were a number of tempting choices but delightful assistant no.1 and myself opted for the rice pudding, which came as a magnificently stodgy block:

Delightful assistant no.2 went for a chocolate brownie, but unfortunately my picture of it is blurred. The brownie came with a jug of cream, which delighted both assistants, and when the attentive waitress noticed that the jug had been emptied, she swiftly brought along another jugful. I don’t think the cream was meant for the rice pud, but when there’s cream on the table and the assistants are in attendance, it tends to get sloshed onto whatever’s available:

Feeling very happily filled, we took ourselves off for a poke around ‘The Hut’. The bookshop itself contains around 8,000 books for sale, but you can find another 17,000 to browse through in the Hut, a sort of little warehouse of several rooms attached to the back of the shop. Some of them were interestingly cramped and full of makeshift shelving:

And one of them was bright and full of boxes that we were invited to rummage through. I don’t know what the significance of all the portrait photos is, I admit to being perplexed by them:

On the way out, I was tempted by a piece of coconut sponge on the counter, but I was still too full of rice pudding to do it justice. A fine reason for a return visit, I think:


35 thoughts on “Girl Power

  1. This is just great!! Having to taste some dilicious food while strolling around for some good books. I guess that this is so English… But I love it… Thanks for sharing this! 🙂

  2. That rice pudding looks soooo fantasticly stodgy 🙂 And with extra cream on top too – such a shame I had a ‘Well Being’ check up the other day and need to lose half a stone or I would have tried to make this at home!!

  3. I’d love to poke around there for a day or two!! (The vegan food only makes it the more tempting.) That coconut concoction – – yeah. My ahem, “assistants” go for butter the way your “assistants” wield the cream ;-)!

    • I thought of you when I saw all the vegan options. I was really impressed by the menu and the food was very tasty with a nice home-cooked feel to it. My assistants are also very partial to butter, preferably in large slabs.

  4. That is my version of Heaven…tea, snacks and books! We don’t have that in Canada. I used to live in a small town that did have a tea room with books for sale called the “Blooming Bean” and my friends and family would all go there, until it closed down. I was heartbroken! Your post reminds of those days thanks!
    I want to be one of you assistants too!

  5. Very interesting! Perhaps a bit dark and claustrophic in places, or maybe that’s just the lighting. The food looks good. Rice pudding…. no, no, no! 🙂

    • Yes, it was a bit claustrophobic, a tad difficult to get into some parts and the lighting wasn’t quite adequate, but that all added to the charm of the place. Another very odd thing was the temperature, some of the rooms in the hut were very warm and others freezing cold. It was, altogether, quite an intriguing experience. You didn’t care for the rice pud? 🙂

      • That’s interesting about the room temperatures… they either need a paranormal investigator or a plumber, perhaps! I really love the look of the rice pud! But I am trying to keep off dairy products 😦

        • Oh yes, right enough, I remember about the dairy now. Do you think it’s making any difference? I hadn’t thought about the paranormal explanation, that might well account for it. Such a spooky little town!

          • Yes, it does seem to make a difference! I used to drink 6-7 cups of tea with milk per day, now limited to just one. Wigtown does sound spooky – I’m surprised there are no well-publicised ghost tales associated with it.

            • I’m glad to hear the reduction in milk is proving helpful. I’m also very surprised about the lack of literature on the Wigtown ghosties, maybe I’m just not looking in the right place.

  6. Oh my gosh this all looks so cosy, I love the mixture of bookshop + café. I’ll be visiting Edinburgh this weekend for a few days, do you have any tearoom/café recommendations?

    • I haven’t taken tea in Edinburgh for so long that my own information is a bit out of date, but I can tell you that I’ve had several tearooms in the city recommended to me recently, although I haven’t yet been to any of them. They are: Eteaket, in the city centre on Frederick St (; Frederick’s, also on Frederick St (; Loopy Lorna’s in Morningside (, also lovely photos on the Facebook page if you can check that out); Bon Papillon in Howe Street ( and Mimi’s Bakehouse in Leith ( – I’ve heard it’s an idea to book as it’s very popular). And, of course, there’s always The Elephant House on George Street where JK Rowling famously used to sit and write Harry Potter. Have a great weekend!

  7. Just exactly the type of place I adore. Loved both bookstores. The first reminded me of one of my ancient English professors who had precarious columns of books stacked to the ceiling, like a maze, in his office. The second reminded me of a book called “Perfect English Cottage,” which I keep next to my bed, and Miss Marple. Love all things stodgy and quaint, including rice pudding!

    • I had a university professor whose office was very like the description of your English professor’s place. I think there are certain types of academic who thrive in bookish chaos. ‘Perfect English Cottage’ sounds as if it would describe Miss Marple’s cottage in St Mary Mead. Are you familiar with the British TV series of Miss Marple starring Joan Hickson in the leading role? She was wonderful and the TV series was excellent, I have the set on DVD and they bear watching time and time again. I made rice pudding today after looking at that photo, it just put me in the mood for some comfort food.

      • I’ve watched and Geraldine McEwan and the Julia McKenzie Miss Marples and enjoyed them both. I’ve not seen the Joan Hickson episodes, but I think I spotted it on Netflix. I hope you enjoyed your rice pudding!

  8. Lorna, I love your writing. The photos are excellent too and now my tummy is rumbling, but I find the way you have with words is as delicious as the food in the photos.

    When I moved to Scotland twenty years ago I missed women’s bookstores, which used to be quite common in university towns in the States. If it’s true there are only 12 others in the world besides the one in Wigtown then the number has shrunk – but I’d like to think that’s because women authors have a much bigger presence in all bookshops.

    Rose lemonade, wow! I want some!

    • Thank you Christine, what a lovely comment to receive, especially from someone whose writing I so much admire. I was surprised to read that statistic about women’s bookstores, I wonder where they got it from. Perhaps all the other 12 are in the States? When I did a quick Google search for ‘Women’s bookstores’ I found a list of more than 13, and the one in Wigtown wasn’t on it. Perhaps they’ve used different criteria to define what a women’s bookstore actually is. Next time I’m there I’ll try and remember to ask.

      I recommend trying that rose lemonade, it’s quite widely available in places that stock the Fentiman’s drinks.

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