The lion, the unicorn and the tarts

A few days ago the delightful assistants and I trooped off south for a little outing.

To make the most of the daylight hours, rather than call in at a tearoom en route we stopped at a service station to pick up takeaway coffees and biscotti to wolf on the journey.

Our refreshments kept us going until we reached the village of Broughton in the Scottish Borders, where there is a fine establishment called the Laurelbank Tearoom.


Our table at Laurelbank: drinks delivered, food on its way, expectations high.

I ordered the soup of the day, which was carrot and courgette. It was accompanied by a soft, warm brown roll whose only down side was that it wasn’t twice the size. Still, it was very nice and slipped down a treat with the tasty hot soup.


Lovely soup with a small but delicious roll.

Delightful assistant no.1 went for a ham salad which was delivered with another of the nice brown rolls.


Ham salad complete with tasty brown roll.

Delightful assistant no.2 chose one of the hotΒ specials: roasted peppers stuffed with vegetarian haggis and topped with cheese. A surprising combination, I thought, but he very much enjoyed it.


One of the things that pleased me about this dish was that it came not with the more common green or red peppers but with yellow ones, which are (apart from the orange ones) my favourite. It wasn’t my meal, and I didn’t taste any of it, but if I’d ordered it I’d have been well chuffed.

We were all very happy with our savouries and, although the Laurelbank Tearoom offers excellent sweet treats, we decided to toddle on elsewhere for a bit of variety and to allow out appetites time to regain their previous vigour.

On our way out of the village we stopped to admire some lovely autumn trees in the local park:


Beautiful autumn colours in Broughton.

This park is, in fact, the local school’s playing fields, and is named after a Royal personage of note.

There are two gateposts at the entrance to the playing fields, and the one on the right features a lion:


King George’s Field right side gatepost lion, Broughton.

While the one on the left has a unicorn:


King George’s Field left side gatepost with a unicorn.

This is one of 471 such parks throughout the British Isles dedicated to the memory of King George V, who died in 1936.

After the king’s death, in addition to a statue in London commemorating him, a foundation was set up with the intention of designating playing fields all over Britain carrying his name. It was agreed that a memorial of this sort was in line with the King’s thinking about the importance of exercise.

Of the 471 Fields set up in Britain, 85 were established in Scotland.

Heraldic panels were displayed at the gateway to each of these fields, and in England, Wales and Northern Ireland these were to be positioned with the lion on the left and the unicorn on the right, but in Scotland the positions were reversed, as in the Broughton playing fields above. Only the Scottish unicorns are depicted wearing crowns.

I think these differences are to do with the royal coat of arms, which features a lion and a unicorn; on the Scottish version the unicorn is always on the left wearing a crown, whereas in the rest of the UK the unicorn is on the right and crownless (the lion always has a crown, wherever he is, the bold beast).

We drove out of Broughton along a beautifully autumnal road, passing a very well kept farm with elegantly sculpted deer at the entrance:


Ratchill Farm entrance with sculpted deer (there were four altogether, two on either side of the driveway).

After a mooch round the John Buchan Museum in Peebles (well worth a visit if you’re a Buchan fan), we headed off to the Scots Pine Tearoom in Eddleston for afternoon tea and cakes.

The choice was very good and I was in a quandary but couldn’t resist a mincemeat pie with crumble topping:


Mincemeat pie: stuffed with dried fruit and spiciness, topped with sugary crumbly topping.

Delightful assistant no.1 had that enduring staple, the fruit scone:


Fruit scone for delightful assistant no.1; she specifically requested this ‘well fired’ one.

Delightful assistant no.2 chose something he has a weakness for, and was in the right part of the world to obtain – Border tart:


Delightful assistant no.2’s cake heaven: the fruit-filled, icing-topped Scottish delight that is Border tart.

I enjoyed my mincemeat tart very much but, unusually, I was still hungry afterwards. Perhaps I ate it too quickly and didn’t give my stomach time to catch up, but in any case I’m afraid I made a second trip to the cake counter and came away with another treat in the form of a fruit scone.


Treat no.2 for me: a fruit scone, washed down with tea. I struggled with the last few mouthfuls as I expect my stomach had begun to register recent consumption of mincemeat tart.

Rather full of treats and awash with tea, I rolled into the car with the delightful assistants and we headed home through lovely autumn countryside.



38 thoughts on “The lion, the unicorn and the tarts

  1. Lovely autumn photos!! πŸ™‚
    I was just wondering what veggie haggis would mean… I ate the normal version a couple of times back in my meat eating days, can’t say that I recall being a fan, but maybe the veggie option is better for me πŸ™‚

  2. I always enjoy your posts and it is fun to “armchair travel” with your blog! On our recent trip to Scotland a friend and I used your book for a lovely day out. We made it up to the Watermill in Aberfeldy and it was just as wonderful as you said it would be! We went for morning coffee and then looked around and afterward ordered our lunch! Our day was complete with a stop at the Drummond Castle gardens.

    • Thank you, Heather, I’m so glad you’ve been able to visit some nice tearooms in Scotland and that you enjoyed your visit to the Watermill. It’s many years since I visited Drummond Castle gardens, I’d like to go again now that you’ve reminded me of it.

  3. Really Lorna – a fruit scone after mincemeat tart? That is so wrong on so many levels. But the tart does look nice and delightful assistant number 2’s border tart shows that he has excellent taste!

    • What’s wrong with that? Perhaps the scone should have come first, right enough. I love Border tart too but I would pick off the icing (thankfully I have a delightful assistant who is always glad to hoover up such things).

  4. How lovely! I have never visited Broughton, and Edleston seems worth a visit just for their mincemeat tart and Border tart! Both look SO delicious. I’m guessing that this was quite a long drive for you, but it looks as if you were well rewarded! That is very interesting about the parks dedicated to George V – I had no idea about that tradition. The deer sculptures look very well done, and lifelike. Love your last photo – what gorgeous colour!

    • Thanks, Jo. Both Broughton and Eddleston are worth a visit if you’re mooching around the Borders, I’d say, especially if you’re after a treat or two. I love going down there, the only fly in the ointment is the Edinburgh bypass and bridge traffic, which can be tedious. It’s amazing about all those playing fields, isn’t it? An unusual legacy. I agree about the deer, very well done.

  5. Blimming heck it’s lucky we are going out for morning tea today! Major crave-fest going on here, I want to try Border tart and Veggie haggis. Needless to say they won’t be found here, but I will try to do my best to find some stomach-filling substitutes. Your photos are delicious, and I should know by now that your blog can be dangerous too early in the day!

    • I’m glad to hear you were off out for morning tea and I hope you found something delicious, even if it wasn’t Border tart or veggie haggis. Perhaps the blog header should carry a warning, such as “Beware: posts may contain cakes.”

  6. Another lovely autumn day in bonny Scotland! It’s such fun to “travel” to all these interesting places with you–and to vicariously eat all those goodies. And any woman who can munch a slice of mince meat pie and a big fluffy scone in one sitting is okay by me! You go girl.

  7. You find the most amazing desserts! I wish I could visit over there some day. My husband’s mother was from Scotland but she lived too far from me to teach me some of her recipes. I don’t think there’s a bad scone in all of your countryside. Have you ever had a bad one? Mine always turn out rather stout and not fluffy at all.

    • Scotland is awash with sweet treats, which probably goes some way to explaining the health statistics of the nation. It’s a pity you weren’t able to cadge some recipes off your mother in law, I expect she had a few sugary treats up her sleeve, so to speak. I can report that I have, on the very odd occasion, had a bad scone. However, the percentage of bad ones is very small indeed. I don’t know how many scones I’ve eaten so far in my life but I can think of only a handful of poor quality examples, and I can only remember one occasion on which I couldn’t finish a scone because it was so bad. That’s a very unusual situation indeed, I’m glad to say.

  8. How fascinating about the playing fields! I had no idea. That mincemeat tart looks very much like the mincemeat pies my Granny would make for Thanksgiving – often from venison shot by my Grampa!

  9. Hi Lorna, love a trip to the gardens & parks and a shrine to King George is no exception. There’s no doubt that Scotland is the spiritual home of the Royal Family.

    On another note, is that an upgrade to I see? If so, I would love to ask you some questions re your advice on hosting/etc as opposed to Any chance I could email you? πŸ™‚

    • I hadn’t thought of Scotland as being the spiritual home of the Royal family, but you could be right. Queen Victoria famously fell in love with the country and bought Balmoral to use as a summer retreat, but there are certainly links with other royals and Scottish places. I don’t know much about King George V, I’m sorry to say.

      Feel free to email me about WordPress and I’ll tell you everything I know (which won’t take long!). My email address is:

  10. yummy … your food looks lovely. time for a snack I think. I didn’t know about the John Buchan Museum in Peebles. I really like Peebles and would like to check out the museum. thanks for your lovely post.

    • Thanks Alison, the John Buchan museum only recently moved to Peebles. For many years it was housed in an old church building in Broughton and it was badly in need of a revamp. Since the move it’s been modernised and made far more attractive. We even got in for free because the front door had been taken away and they were waiting for it to be refitted. Not sure why that allowed free entry but perhaps they thought they couldn’t charge for making people look round an exhibition with chilly winds blowing through. One of the ladies on duty that day was John Buchan’s granddaughter, which was a nice touch.

  11. Thanks for explaining the differences in the royal coat of arms and the placement of the lion and the unicorn. I find that sort of information fascinating. The autumn coloures are lovely.

    • I’m glad you liked it, Darlene, I think it makes things a bit more interesting when you find out a little background, like being taken on a guided tour rather than wandering around aimlessly on your own. I only learned about the lion and unicorn while writing this post, blogging is a good way of educating yourself.

  12. I love your title too…and that is one gorgeous looking scone, but the tarts are so interesting too. You are making me really hungry reading these posts (as I’e just read three back to back since I got behind while traveling…am tempted to get up and bake a fresh scone right now πŸ™‚

  13. That mincemeat pie looked extremely delicious. Never liked mincemeat till someone produced one from a recipe that involves a custard layer very heavily infused with brandy underneath the mincemeat and topped with sweetened whipped cream. I loved that pie. Not the same without the mass quantities of brandy, though.

    Thanks for yet another lovely food and autumn post!

  14. food as always looked brilliant – the gateposts were posh and the sculpted deer what can I say – you always mange to find somewhere that has yummy food – it would be great to see an anonymous post where you were dissapointed – ha ha

    • Thanks Scott, as tempting as it might be on occasion, I try not to post about places that disappoint because it might have been an off day for the staff, or the chef or whatever, and it seems unfair to judge somewhere on one bad experience. If I have more than one bad experience in the same place I just don’t go back. Also, one man’s meat is another man’s poison – what doesn’t suit me might well suit someone else. I must say though, on the whole, I have really good experiences of food outlets in Scotland and I’m happy to be able to sing their praises.

  15. How delightful to be able to stop at a tearoom for just tea and pie or cake or scone. Here in Northern California wine tasting systems to be the thing

    How delightful to be able to stop at a tea room just for tea and a dessert…sounds much cozier than the options here in Northern California which include wine tasting or fast food. Along the coast salt water taffy is a favorite or clam chowder if you’re lucky. Love going along with you on your trips!

    • Thank you, we are very well off for tearooms in Scotland. I’d like to try salt water taffy, it’s not something I’ve ever seen here. Your area is very well known for wine, isn’t it? All that lovely sunshine you get up the west coast must make for some lovely days out.

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