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.


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


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


Perfect Partners

The tearoom is a gregarious business enterprise. It will happily snuggle up with bookshops, garden centres, farm shops, antique shops, art galleries, post offices and all manner of tourist attractions. I can’t think of any existing venture that wouldn’t be enhanced by the addition of a nice tearoom.

A slightly unusual, but excellent, pairing is that of sweet shop and tearoom, and there is a fine establishment in Arbroath that brings these two delights together under one roof. I’ve mentioned this tearoom before, but it’s high time there were some photos of it.

The sweet shop is very well stocked, with rows of old-fashioned sweets in jars and some particular treats I haven’t seen in any other shop:

The tearoom is generally very busy and it’s worth booking a table in advance if you want to be sure of a seat. This is a rare view of empty tables, but they filled up quickly after I’d taken the photo:

Each place setting has a different napkin ring:

They have all sorts of delicious cakes and scones on offer (including enormous meringues), and they provide excellent lunches from a surprisingly large and varied menu. Unusually for a tearoom, they’re also open for evening meals at the weekends in the winter (and during the week in the summer).

On one of my recent visits I had toasted focaccia with roasted peppers, pesto, olives and feta cheese, which came with a side salad and crisps (aka potato chips):

They serve leaf tea with blue and white china teacups, which come with tea strainers, ready to catch the leaves from the teapot as you pour:

Works of art

Today I took my small mother to the largest town in Angus, Arbroath, home to quite a few tearooms (at least one of which is particularly good and will be featuring in my guide book).

To work up an appetite for lunch we took a cold, windswept turn about a park near the sea. This park had some strange-looking trees in it, strange because they had no branches low down, only up near the canopy:

Another day when I’m back in Arbroath I’ll take a stroll along the promenade, which stretches off into the distance. I didn’t even know it existed until today.

The lunch was good, but I didn’t take any pictures for fear of causing distress. As usual when I visit tearooms, I whipped out my notebook in this tearoom and began scribbling in it as I perused the menu. While I was doing this, the waitress came over and asked me to desist from this activity because it was upsetting the management. They thought I was a rival tearoom owner stealing their prices, or perhaps planning to undercut them, so I had to assure them I was only writing a book about tearooms and was thinking of including theirs. After that they were much happer. I will be revisiting that tearoom again soon, and perhaps then I’ll be able to snap a sneaky shot, but only if it’s not going to upset anybody. One doesn’t want to cause anguish to people who are supplying one’s lunch, after all.

After lunch we drove on, intending to visit a tearoom not far from home that needs another visit, but instead got waylaid by a large wooden rooster outside a farm shop and cafe along a little quiet road in the middle of nowhere (or so it seemed to me):

Inside the shop there was a host of food and gift items creatively displayed:

The tearoom was warm and welcoming with pretty spotted tablecloths and orange teacups on the tables. An entire wall at one end of the room was painted with a jolly rural scene:

And at the other end of the tearoom, in a separate section, there was a fine figure of a kilted Scotsman outside his wee hoose:

The art wasn’t confined to the walls either. Behold the delicious cakes consumed – mandarin cream sponge and malteser tiffin:

After our delicious and relaxing afternoon tea, it was time for home, under the watchful gaze of the rooster, who kept his beady eye on my mum as she left the premises.

Raspberry jam, haddock and carrot

Re: my previous post, I’m delighted to report that Dundee was full of jam today!

I did go for the scone this morning, not because the tea breads didn’t look tempting enough (they did, it was a dreadfully difficult decision) but because, as predicted,  I simply couldn’t resist the glorious raspberry jam.


It looks as if I didn’t slobber on much jam in the above picture, but I piled on as much as I could without it slopping off the scone too much (I got it all over my hands, if truth be told, and enjoyed licking it off).

An excellent tearoom visit and, what’s more, the parents chose a different tea bread each (date and walnut, and fruit loaf) so I got to taste those as well. As tasty and delicious as the tea breads were, I’m very pleased I went for the scone.

Incidentally, the jam is for sale to take away.  I tried to buy some but although they had the jam, they had run out of jars. It was suggested that I might like to bring in a jar of my own and have it filled up, but since I was about 20 miles from home and on my way somewhere else, that wasn’t really feasible. I did briefly consider going to a shop, buying a jar of inferior jam, emptying out said jar and then going back to the tearoom for a refill, but I thought that might be slightly ridiculous. Far better to go back another day, have another wonderful scone and jam experience and take an empty jar with me, just in case. I’m looking forward to it already.

The next food stop was Arbroath, which was bathed in lovely sunshine this afternoon, but in order to work up a bit of an appetite we went via Monikie Country Park for a stroll. If you ever happen to be driving around in the Dundee/Angus area wanting a bit of exercise and wondering where to get it, I heartily recommend a stroll in this excellent park. In the summer it even has a cafe in the grounds, which makes it worth visiting even if all you want to do is haul yourself from the car, fill up with goodies and then slump back behind the wheel again.

The park is very flat, with tarmac paths through some woods and wide, flat, grassy banks running around three reservoirs. This makes it an excellent choice for anyone with a buggy, pram or wheelchair. There are also toilets, an adventure playground and other interesting features. (If you click on the first mention of the park above you’ll find out more about it). Parking is free at this time of year, although between Easter and September it costs £2 for the day. It got the thumbs up from my dad too:

Just before leaving the park I gave the Arbroath tearoom a ring and booked a table. I was glad I’d done that, because when we arrived they were very busy and a queue was forming. Our table was in the conservatory, which was a little unfortunate due to our position being out of the line of sight of the waitresses. They forgot to bring us menus, and then they forgot to take our order. However, they apologised, and after we’d ordered what we wanted, the food came quickly, and was exellent. I had one of their specials, beer battered fish with chips and petit pois, and a glass of Elderflower presse.

If you’ve been to Arbroath, you’ll perhaps have noticed how fish-dominated the town is. There are a number of fish shops, selling a variety of seafood, but Arbroath smokies are the big thing. There are several suppliers of smokies in Arbroath, and Spink’s is perhaps the best known (click on Arbroath smokies above for Iain Spink’s website and a definitive answer to the question ‘what is an Arbroath smokie?’). My mum had Arbroath smokie pate with oatcakes, which I tasted and thought was superb.

Any visitors to these shores searching for somewhere to taste some top quality Scottish fish would do well to call in at Arbroath. There are other fishing villages and towns up and down the country, but Arbroath can compete with any of them, in my opinion.

Thus filled with fresh fish, we had a gentle wander round the harbour, enjoying the sunshine and watching the waves crash onto the stony beach, dragging the stones back with a loud roar. The roaring stones were very good free entertainment, and I was slightly loathe to leave because I found it so absorbing, but hot beverages were calling, not to mention little sweet somethings, and so it was off to our third tearoom of the day. I hadn’t actually planned to go to three today, but it’s always nice to have a wee bonus.

Number three was an old favourite in Edzell (see previous post ‘A wee bit of Angus’), and I again opted for the cafetiere of decaffeinated coffee, this time with a chunk of deliciously moist carrot cake:


It was jolly tasty, and I enjoyed it greatly, despite having stuffed my face with fish and chips not long before.

All in all, I can say that Friday 27 January 2012 was a fine day for tearooms and, who knows, tomorrow might be another corker. Tomorrow my mum, my dad, my sister and I are all meeting in Dunkeld for lunch, at a tearoom that does wonderful scones. They also have my favourite tearoom teapots, and hopefully I’ll have some photos to show you after the visit.

This has been a long post, so if you’ve managed to read all the way down to here, well done! I wish I could bestow upon you a scone with that wonderful raspberry jam slopped all over it as a prize for your efforts.