Scones I have known – no.8

Yesterday afternoon, on our way home from Edinburgh, the delightful assistants and I called into Loch Leven’s Larder near Kinross for afternoon tea.

During the drive I had been considering the possible scone options that might greet us on arrival. They usually have four varieties to choose from: plain, fruit, cheese and a daily special. I nearly always go for the special, and I was curious to know what it might be.

We arrived a little before 15:00 to find that the fruit scones had sold out. That left plain, cheese and the special which, on this occasion, was billed as ‘plum drizzle’. Having had a ‘drizzle’ scone here before I knew that it came with icing on top. On the whole, I prefer my scones without icing, but I did like the sound of the plums.

When we put in our order (breakfast tea and slices of summer berry pie for the assistants; ginger chai tea for me along with the plum drizzle scone) I was informed by the waitress that the scone was, in fact, cherry and not plum. Delightful assistant no.2 had suggested as much when he’d gone up to the cake counter to investigate the options and seen the scones for himself.

Cherry scones tend to be sweeter than most other varieties and so I briefly wondered if the added icing was enough to put me off. ‘I’m not sure if it is cherry actually,’ said the waitress. ‘Not to worry,’ said I, boldly. ‘Whatever it is, I’ll have it.’

When the scone arrived at the table there was an extra element of excitement involved in the proceedings. Was it cherry, or was it in fact plum? Going by this picture, what would you think?

mystery scone

If you said plum, I can inform you that you’re 100% spot on. There wasn’t a single cherry in that scone, but there were plenty of pieces of moist fresh plum.

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The heaviest bit of the treat was the icing; the scone itself was light, fluffy and utterly delicious.

In case you’re interested in what the summer berry pie looked like, here it is without cream, as consumed by delightful assistant no.2 (who is very good about watching his cholesterol).

summer berry pie sans cream

And here’s the other piece, as consumed by delightful assistant no.1 (who, when it comes to cream, takes full advantage of her daily prescription of statins).

summer berry pie avec cream

East Neuk treasures

A few days ago, on a beautifully sunny morning, delightful assistant no.1 and I tootled off to the Fife coast.

We made first for Crail, a small fishing village in the East Neuk (‘neuk’ is a Scots word for ‘corner’, referring in this case to the north-east corner of the county of Fife).

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Crail harbour

Sitting on a bench watching people enjoying the small sandy bay next to the harbour, we felt as as if we were on our holidays.

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As with the village of Culross, which lies at the western end of the county, Crail is full of interesting buildings that have been very nicely restored by the National Trust for Scotland.

Crail house with flowers

Crail houses

Crail building near harbour

Quite a few of those near the harbour are holiday cottages available to rent, such as this one with the unusual name of ‘Peppers’.

Peppers

Across the road from Peppers is a small house squeezed in between two taller ones. Curiously, it appears to have two front doors, one above the other.

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The nameplate above the lower door reads ‘Lobster Cottage’. Very fittingly, above the topmost door, two lobsters cling to the panelling around a dormer window.

Lobsters

Like the other East Neuk villages, Crail is known for its seafood and there is a fish and chip shop in the main street that was doing a roaring trade when we went there for lunch.

Delightful assistant no.1 ordered a small portion of breaded haddock with chips and peas, and I ordered the battered version.

Shortly after we arrived, a group of foreigners sat down at the next table. When the waiter came to take their order they asked him to explain the difference between breaded and battered fish. He did his best, but because of the language barrier it was difficult for them to understand. We offered our plates to them for inspection, which appeared to assist them in their decision making.

breaded haddock

Breaded haddock: white fish coated in breadcrumbs and grilled.

battered haddock

Battered haddock: white fish coated in batter and fried.

After lunch we enjoyed a leisurely mooch around the village before heading for our next refreshment stop, a coffee shop called Simpatica in the village of Kingsbarns a few miles away. It had an attractive postbox outside it.

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The left hand side of the building contained a few tables, while the right hand side was given over to an antique shop.

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After resisting the temptation to buy a small bookcase in the shop, we sidled over to the coffee shop and inspected its wares.

Delightful assistant no.1 plumped for a pot of English Breakfast tea and a slice of fruit loaf.

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I chose a bit of nutty ginger chocolate traybake and a pot of Lady Grey tea.

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The china was of the mismatched vintage variety, and I was fortunate to get an abundantly floral teacup and saucer.

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Still feeling quite well filled after lunch, I had thought I might wrap up some of my cake to take home. Somehow or other, however, it completely vanished in the tearoom.

It’s been a while since I’ve written about a tearoom on this blog, not because I haven’t been to any recently but because it’s been some time since I’ve been to a particularly good one. I’m delighted to say that Simpatica got a big thumbs up from me and my delightful assistant, and we’re looking forward to another visit.

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Intriguing sights no.10

I was walking along a street in the seaside town of Arbroath recently, when I passed a front door that had an unusual protuberance near the bottom of it.

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On closer inspection, it appeared to be a dispensary of medicinal liquid.

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I didn’t try it out but I felt reassured by its presence.

Scottish 2016 Calendars for sale

Roll up, roll up, get your 2016 Scottish calendars here (or, rather, on ebay).

Scotland 2016 calendar cover

A4 size, wire bound at the top with a hanging hook.

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13 bonnie Scottish scenes (one per month plus an extra one on the front) to brighten up your wall throughout the year.

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Big clear numbers for easy reading at a distance.

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£10* a pop (plus postage).

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*I’m sorry they’re so expensive for what is quite a small calendar. The larger the quantity I ordered from the printers the lower the price per item, but I was wary of making the same mistake I made with my tearoom book (ordering far too many), so I played it safe with a small order.

On the up side, each calendar is accompanied by a four page information document, giving a bit of background about the locations photographed.

calendar and notes

A free teabag is also included with every calendar. You can choose from Earl Grey (blended black tea flavoured with oil of bergamot and lemon) or Bold Kenyan (a bold and earthy black tea grown in Kenya), or leave it entirely up to chance and get a surprise when it arrives through the post.

teabags

Delivery worldwide by Royal Mail (1st or 2nd class within the UK; airmail or economy to the rest of the world).

Intriguing sights no.9

There are many uses for old British telephone boxes that no longer house public telephones.

One of my earlier intriguing sights (no.3) was a phonebox that had been turned into a lending library.

Today, as I was driving through the village of Spittalfield in Perthshire, I saw another box being used in quite a different way.

phonebox Spittalfield

As you can perhaps make out, it contained foliage of some sort.

When I opened the door I was greeted with the pleasing sight of burgeoning tomato plants in pots sitting on the floor of the phonebox.

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An old phonebox turned into a greenhouse.

The delights of Ninewells

I’ve been in and out of Ninewells hospital in Dundee a fair bit recently, not for my own health reasons, but in order to to visit delightful assistant no.1. She has unfortunately had to spend much of the past three weeks there.

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Delightful assistants in Ninewells. Sandy the donkey is attempting to get his teeth into a bag of freshly picked pea pods.

I’m pleased to say she’s currently recovering after treatment for gallstones and will hopefully get home for good tomorrow.

As hospitals go, I quite like Ninewells. The wards I’ve seen are bright and welcoming, and many of them have wonderful views out across treetops to the Firth of Tay and Fife beyond.

It wasn’t until last week that we discovered secret treasures lurking outside at the back of the buildings. One of these delights was a garden containing a labyrinth.

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Labyrinth sculpture at the back of Ninewells Hospital, Dundee.

Near this is a Maggie’s Centre (Maggie’s is an organisation that supports cancer sufferers and their families), designed by renowned Canadian architect, Frank Gehry.

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Maggie’s Centre, Dundee, with delightful assistants admiring the labyrinth.

The delightful assistants and I were able to wander around this area in the afternoon sunshine during visiting hours. We all appreciated a little time outside as a change from sitting in the ward.

Beyond the Maggie’s Centre lies a large arboretum containing beautiful big trees, some of which are 250 years old.

On the edge of the arboretum is a welcoming hospital community garden containing herbs, flowers, vegetables and various interesting features.

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One area of the garden has been set up specifically to appeal to wildlife and contained something that fairly gladdened my heart.

Small tearoom for visiting birds and beasties.

Small tearoom for visiting birds and beasties.

As you might almost be able to make out in the picture above, on a wooden block next to the tearoom there were a few tiny dinosaurs. Delightful assistant no.2 was very taken with them.

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His spouse attempted to draw his attention to other things, but he only had eyes for the dinosaurs.

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Delightful assistant no.1:

Delightful assistant no.1: “Shall we move on to another part of the garden now?”
Delightful assistant no.2: “I want to stay and play with the tiny dinosaurs.”

Getting from the hospital to the gardens wasn’t easy because the obvious route, signposted within the hospital, had been closed off. It took us over half an hour to find our way out to the back of the building by an alternative route, and almost as long to get back in again. On the plus side, we got to walk along a curious temporary metal road in the sunshine.

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If you happen to be in Dundee with a bit of time to spare I can recommend a mooch round the back of Ninewells Hospital. The paths beside the community garden and throughout the arboretum have been designed with wheelchairs in mind and there are well positioned seats so that visitors can rest their weary legs.

If you need a bit of refreshment the cafe inside the hospital serves drinks and snacks throughout the day, and between the hours of 14:30 and 18:00 they reduce the price of all hot beverages to £1 each. A bargain.

On Sunday 9 August the community garden is having an open day from 14:00-17:00. Admission is £3.00 (children get in free) and there will be various activities, a plant sale and tea and cakes on offer.

Scones I have known – no.7

I consumed this scone only a few hours ago in the Pine Cone Cafe outside Dundee.

Although rather crumbly, the scone was soft inside and crisp outside, and absolutely packed with dried fruit.

It was very reasonably priced at £1.50 (served with butter and jam), and it slipped down a treat with four cups of tea (the teapot was a good size and came with a free refill; I gave it my best shot but didn’t quite manage to drink it all).

Excellent value for money and jolly tasty, to boot. Well done, the Pine Cone.

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Scones I have known – no.7: fruit, Pine Cone Cafe outside Dundee, 22 July 2015.