Top Temperatures

According to the boffins at the BBC weather centre, Tuesday the 7th of May has been the warmest day of the year so far in Scotland.

It also happened to be the day I earmarked for a little day out with the delightful assistants.

Our first stop was Le Jardin Cafe at Kinross, about 45 minutes into the journey.

It was over 4 hours since I’d had my breakfast, so I was ready for a little something, and I opted for a pot of tea and one of their delectable apple and cinnamon scones:

The two assistants chose coffee and fruit scones. The scones were accompanied by dishes of outstandingly delicious apple and plum jam, which were heartily consumed.

Suitably refreshed, we buzzed off on the road again into lovely sunny weather, heading for the county of Dumfries and Galloway.

Due to misunderstanding my road atlas, I didn’t quite manage to reach my desired destination and ended up not in the village of Moniaive as intended, but 40-odd miles away in the town of Moffat.

Moffat is a place that offers several attractions to the tourist, one of which is a big sheep (a ram, in fact) on a plinth above a drinking fountain in the town centre. Rather curiously, it has no ears, and apparently never has had any:

The Moffat Ram – a trifle deaf perhaps, but a fine fellow nonetheless

It was sculpted by celebrated Scottish sculptor William Brodie, and gifted to the town in 1875.

Another point of interest in the town is the Moffat Toffee Shop:

A Moffat institution, not to be missed.

This splendid shop has been in existence (although not always on these premises) for about 120 years, and is still run by the same family who started it up in the late 1800s.

I’m getting ahead of myself here but after our lunch, which I’m about to detail below, the delightful assistants and I entered this haven of confectionery, where I captured them attempting to make off with two large tubs of sweets:

Assistants trying to abscond with stacks of sweets

They managed to restrict themselves to 200g bags of two types of sweeties, and I purchased some deliciously melting praline delicacies, which I meant to photograph before we wolfed them yesterday. I do still have a bar of interesting chocolate to try, however:

A treat still to be savoured.

To get back to the proper order of things, before we went into the sweet shop, we wondered where we might partake of a little luncheon.

Although Moffat is a busy tourist centre, particularly in the summer when coachloads of visitors appear, it’s not what I’d call a hot spot for tremendous tearooms.

Given this state of affairs, we decided we’d try one of the hotels for our meal.

The first one we looked at is quite a landmark in these parts, indeed it bills itself as ‘The Famous Star Hotel’. I suppose it has good reason to claim this accolade since it features in the Guinness World Records as the world’s narrowest hotel.

The Star Hotel with a crow helpfully flying over the roof to give scale to the picture.

It’s only 20ft wide, but it’s one of the tallest buildings in the main street and it stretches out a considerable way at the back:

If you look along the side of the Star Hotel you find that it goes back a fair distance. I think it looks like a steam engine at the front with a string of railway carriages behind.

We mulled over the menu outside, but felt we needed a little more stretching of the legs before sitting down again and so wandered along to another hotel.

This rather magnificent building was designed by Robert Adam and was built in the 1750s for the Earl of Hopetoun:

There were several seating options, including the sun lounge:

But it was such a glorious day that we chose to sit outside:

The back of the building proved to have some nicely rounded walls. Our table was just behind the tall dark green tree left of centre below:

As is the norm in Scottish hotels, there was one token veggie option on the menu (a pasta dish, which is frequently the case), but I wasn’t in the mood for pasta so I plumped for fish and chips:

The assistants both went for cottage pie, which came with lovely baby carrots:

I must say, the fish was particularly good, the peas eminently edible and the chips nice and crispy. The assistants declared their meals equally acceptable.

Despite tantalising choices on the menu, we decided to save our puddings for a tearoom on the way home, but we did enjoy sitting in the sun admiring the Moffat House Hotel garden and an attractive little seating area that would be delightful with rambling roses growing over it and a cream tea spread out on the table:

On our way out of the hotel, delightful assistant no.1 spotted an extravagantly finished banister rail. This is part of the original, and extremely impressive, Adam-designed cantilevered staircase that spirals up inside the building. I imagine he made it swirl a bit extra at the bottom for aesthetic reasons:


After leaving Moffat, we stopped to look at some fair weather cumulus clouds which were bubbling up from the skyline:


As usual, my post is elongating beyond a healthy length so I’ll save our afternoon snacks for a separate article.



28 thoughts on “Top Temperatures

  1. Love the picture of the two delightful assistants trying guiltily to conceal the fact that they’ve nabbed a bottle of sweets each. Can there be a finer day out than morning coffee, lunch and afternoon tea? And the beauty of Scotland to boot.

  2. P.S. If you’re aiming for Moniaive (a nice spot by the way) and you end up in Moffat, you need to sack your navigator – they’re miles from each other!

    • I even had a tearoom in mind in Moniaive, it was a bit disappointing, but never mind. The problem arose when I slipped onto the M74 thinking I’d come off two junctions down, only to find that you could only join the motorway there, not leave it, and the next exit was nearly 20 miles further on. I was trying to save time with a wee bit of motorway but I wouldn’t have made that mistake if I’d stuck to smaller roads. A lesson learned!

  3. I used to live on Moffat Road in Richmond BC. What a coincidence. I love the look of the town. Sometimes getting lost is fun because you find something new and different. I’m off to Spain. Will catch you later when I return

    • That is a coincidence. It’s a nice little town, and you’re right that getting lost can be fun. We enjoyed the journey regardless of where we ended up, so that was the main thing. Have a great time in Spain. Arriba!

  4. I can’t believe you would just dob your assistants in like that! 🙂 Do peas always come as standard with fish and chips there? I think pies here used to come with peas and mash. Not so much anymore though. That bannister’s quite something. I like how the different pieces of wood are visible. Looking forward to the afternoon tea post. The more the merrier!

    • Re: dobbing assistants in, it may seem harsh but was for their own good; they need to be kept in check or they’d run riot. Peas are a very common occurrence with fish and chips here, at least when ordered as a sit down meal. If you get fish and chips as a take-away meal it doesn’t come with peas on the whole, although in chip shops in certain parts of the country ‘mushy’ (sort of mashed) peas are offered as an accompaniment. I should have taken a picture of the whole staircase spiralling up through several floors because it was quite spectacular.

  5. woohoo for some lovely summery sunshine and a nice day out. love the pictures …. I particularly liked the picture of your assistants making off with the sweeties. lol. love that sun lounge … absolutely gorgeous!

    • Yes, sunshine! The sun lounge was delightful, it would have been a very nice place to sit and doze of an afternoon but the tables were a bit low for eating off. Nice to be out in the garden though, there aren’t many days in the year here when I’d choose to sit outside rather than inside a restaurant.

  6. What a beautiful day…with the sun shining ….and the town is so quaint, not something we find around my part of the world. That scone looks scrumptious…but the cottage pie really made me hungry 🙂 So enjoyed reading your post. Linda

  7. Your warmest day was on my daughter’s birthday. It wasn’t so warm here.
    Your photo of the narrowest hotel reminded me of the shortest street, we saw it when we were in Wick. Apparently it is in the Guinness Book of Records too. I love your description of the hotel looking like an engine pulling the railway carriages.
    I notice your father had chosen Pandrops as his sweetie of choice. My dad used to give my siblings and me a Pandrop each to suck in church. I think it was his way of keeping us quiet!

    • A happy belated birthday to your daughter! I didn’t know that the shortest street was in Wick, although apparently the narrowest street is to be found in Moffat, opposite the Star Hotel; if I’d known that when I was there I’d have had a look for it. Those pandrops were giant ones, and are one of the Moffat Toffee Shop’s best sellers, I believe. Pandrops are a bit of a sore point in my life. We were also given them in church to keep us quiet, but my memory of them is that they were fished out of the bottom of my mum’s handbag and generally covered in bits of fluff and pen marks. We ate them all the same, mind you.

  8. What a lovely day out! The scones at Kinross look really good. I didn’t know those things about the Moffat hotels, although I have looked at the Star before and wondered at how narrow it is. I love your comparison with a train! It looks as if you had lovely weather for your trip. That bar of dark chocolate with pear and almonds looks very interesting! Looking forward to the second instalment!

    • Thank you Jo, I can recommend those Kinross scones, I’ve had them on numerous occasions and I always look forward to the next one. The Star Hotel is an interesting looking place, isn’t it? I haven’t been inside but I’d like to go one day. According to my dad the restaurant is upstairs, which is a bit unusual. I’ve tried a bit of that chocolate and I’m not sure what I think of it. I like the thin layers of slivered almonds throughout the bar but the pear is a bit synthetic tasting.

  9. What a charming place! I would have probably bought even more candy than the assistants so I think they bought a reasonable amount. I think the long, narrow hotel is wonderful. I’m looking forward to more of your adventures!

  10. Clearly you were destined to go to Moffat! I love all these photographs – the extra swirl is particularly wonderful, and the hotel like a railway train is very cool. I was thinking the same as David: a day involving morning snack, lunch, and then afternoon snack sounds delicious to me.

    We had a spectacular day in Aberdeen on Tuesday as well. My daughter and I actually spent an hour in the garden, without jackets on! Lovely.

    • Clearly we were! It occurred to me later on that we might have avoided something terrible in Moniaive, but I daresay that was my conscience trying to make up for the fact that I made a mistake with the directions. Isn’t it marvellous when you can go outside without at jacket on in this country? It’s a big event when it happens.

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