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.