Scones I have known – no.9

I had quite a few scones on holiday in Cumbria last month, but the best was saved till last.

After leaving our holiday home at Red Hall Farm, on our way back north we took a detour to Lanercost Priory, about half a mile from Hadrian’s Wall.

We didn’t have time to visit the priory itself, but we did visit the award winning tearoom next to it.

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Lanercost Priory Tearoom, gift shop and information centre.

The delightful assistants opted for coffee and a slice of lemon cake between them.

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Pleased to find there was leaf tea on offer, I chose a pot of Darjeeling accompanied by a fruit scone.

fruit scone with jam

The scone hadn’t been long out of the oven and was still slightly warm. With a little butter, it was absolute bliss. The poor old jam that came with it didn’t have a look in.

Lanercost scone

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Scones and autumn colours

This morning, after meeting my sister in northern Perthshire to lend her delightful assistant no.1 for the day, delightful assistant no.2 and I made our way southwards in a leisurely manner.

As we drove along admiring the scenery our thoughts turned to snacks. We pulled in at the Watermill Tearoom in Blair Atholl, pleased to find that it was still open for the season (it closes for the year at the end of October).

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Dating back to the 16th Century, Blair Atholl Watermill is one of the few remaining working watermills in Scotland. A notice in the tearoom explained that the wheel wasn’t turning today due to low water levels in the mill lade that feeds it.

The bread and cakes sold in the tearoom are baked using the mill’s own wholemeal stoneground flour, and the fare on display always looks deliciously wholesome.

My delightful assistant fancied something savoury rather than sweet and opted for a rectangular cheese scone.

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I went for a fruit scone with raspberry jam and we both had cappuccinos. The scones were fresh and tasty, and revived us for the next leg of the journey.

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Hopping back into the car, we headed south towards Pitlochry. After reading Jo’s post about Killiecrankie on The Hazel Tree blog yesterday, I felt inspired to have a look at the colours lining the River Garry.

The Garry cuts through a deep gorge called the Pass of Killiecrankie and, as Jo noted in her post, the valley is often partly in shade, particularly at this time of year when the sun is low in the sky.

It was an unusually windy day and there was a haziness in the air, no doubt produced by dust particles being blown about all over the place. Despite these inconveniences there were a number of visitors happily snapping away with their cameras from the Garry Bridge, which gives an excellent view both north and south along the river’s course. Adding a nice bit of drama and lighting to the scene, a rainbow appeared above the trees to the north.

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Looking north from the Garry Bridge towards Killiecrankie.

From the other side of the bridge, looking south, it was evident that the river level was quite low. This reminded us of the notice we’d seen in the Watermill explaining why the mill wheel wasn’t turning.

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There was more shingle bank than river just below the Garry Bridge.

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River Garry with a big white bank of shingle and not much water.

The weather forecasters have been warning that high winds will be stripping some of the autumn leaves from the trees this week. There certainly have been a lot of leaves blowing about today, but since many of the trees have yet to swap their green for fiery hues I’m hoping for more magnificent colours in the weeks ahead.

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A few twigs and leaves on the road but plenty of greenery still around near Blairgowrie in sunny Perthshire.

Scones I have known – no.6

One sunny morning around Easter, delightful assistant no.1 and I tootled up to the village of Braemar in Aberdeenshire in search of mid-morning refreshments.

We stopped outside the lovely tearoom, Taste, and admired some daffodils planted in a tub outside the front door.

Inside there were more daffodils in vases on the tables, and small flufffy Easter chicks dotted about beside a string of fairy lights over the fireplace.

Amongst the treats on offer there were freshly baked plain scones, shaped like stars.

Scones I have known - no.6: plain, Taste in Braemar, 27 March 2012.

Scones I have known – no.6: plain, Taste in Braemar, 27 March 2012.

Scones I have known – no.1

Blogging has taken a back seat in my life lately, but now and then I feel I’d like to post something, just to keep my hand in. In order to avoid having to spend much time on it, I’ve come up with a cunning plan.

Rootling through my photographs I discover that I have lots of pictures of scones. It is my hope that this will be the first of several posts featuring ‘scones I have known’.

I was inspired to create this new feature after enjoying the exploits of the Dull Men of Great Britain, a splendid institution run by and for men who appreciate the simple things in life. For example, one Dull Man photographs roundabouts, another has his own milk bottle museum and yet another collects traffic cones.

I envisage featuring scones old and new in the coming weeks and months, and I’m sure I have enough photographs to keep me going for a good long time. I admit that I’m prone to starting new things with great enthusiasm only to see them trickle off into oblivion before too long, but you just never know when something enduring will begin.

Scone no.1 is a date and cinnamon delight I consumed on the 24th of April this year at the Macmillan Coffee Shop, Quarrymill, on the outskirts of Perth. I remember it particularly because it was the first scone I had this year at this fine establishment. ‘Quarrymill’, as the delightful assistants and I call it, is only open from April to September, and it is with gladness each spring that we revisit it.

I must admit that I haven’t, by any means, sampled every tearoom in Scotland, but of those I have sampled (and there are a fair few) Quarrymill ranks as one of the very best for scones. I really don’t know how many Quarrymill scones I’ve consumed in the past few years but I do know that every single one has been a triumph.

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Scones I have known – no.1: date and cinnamon, Quarrymill, 24 April 2015

New year, different perspective

I pinched the title of this post from Annie of An Unrefined Vegan, because the post she wrote on this subject rang true with me.

When I started this blog, in January 2012, I was intent on writing about tearooms and little else. For that reason the blog name I chose, Lorna’s Tearoom Delights, seemed fitting. I started the blog in tandem with a book I was writing about tearooms, and my vision for the future was a series of books about tearooms and endless blog articles on the same subject.

Recently, however, I’ve felt rather restricted by this title and that’s probably why I’ve branched out and started new blogs dedicated to different subjects. I currently have eight WordPress blogs on the go, some of which I haven’t made public, but it seems ridiculous and unnecessary to have so many.

Thanks to Annie’s post, I’ve decided it’s high time I stopped feeling restricted by Lorna’s Tearoom Delights. A number of my loyal readers have assured me in the past that they don’t mind what I write about, but I’ve always felt guilty about new people following me and expecting this blog to do what it says on the tin, so to speak.

I don’t want to lose all my followers by closing the door on Lorna’s Tearoom Delights, so I’m hoping a change in perspective won’t put too many people off.

I’ve been writing about chocolate bars on my newest blog, Any old excuse, but from now on I’m going to do my chocolate posts on this blog, along with anything else I feel like writing about.

If you follow this blog for tearooms alone, I apologise for the dearth of them lately. I can’t promise that tearooms will ever be such a feature of this blog as they were in the beginning, but since I do still enjoy visiting such places I’m sure the odd tearoom post will pop up from time to time.

Thank you to everyone who follows this blog, particularly those who’ve been dropping in for years and leaving comments. Getting to know people through blogging has been, and still is, a real pleasure. It’s something I wouldn’t want to give up now.

To finish off this post, here are the delightful assistants on a recent trip to Crieff. After a nice lunch at Crieff Hydro we took a stroll around the grounds. I led them along muddy paths and across a rocky field, made all the more interesting by low angle sunlight dazzling them as they walked. They appear to have enjoyed the element of uncertainty, which got me to thinking that perhaps there’s a gap in the market. If I were an entrepreneurial type I might start up a company running assault courses for geriatrics, but I think I’ll stick to providing the occasional treat for the assistants.

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The delightful assistants – shielding themselves from the glare, or not sure they want to see where this blog might be heading?

 

The Wee Blether

Not only is the title of this post a Scottish expression meaning ‘the small talkative one’, it’s also the name of a tearoom that sits in a little village along a dead end road on the north bank of Loch Ard near Aberfoyle in Scotland.

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A side wall of the Wee Blether tearoom and post office, Kinlochard.

The tearoom is a most interesting place, with plenty both outside and inside to draw the attention.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALots of teapots hang outside the tearoom, a situation that apparently came about by a happy mistake.

Hoping to make a sculpture from broken bits of pottery, the owner asked people for donations of their old teapots, but was given such a plethora of fine pots in good condition that she abandoned the idea of smashing them up, and instead slung them onto hooks around the building.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere’s seating inside and out, and on a warm sunny day you might imagine you were somewhere a little more exotic than bonnie Scotland.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAInside, the tearoom has a friendly, welcoming feel and, naturally enough, more teapots.

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After consuming jacket potatoes with very generous salads, my delightful assistant and I tottered out into the sunshine for a short walk to work up our appetites for sweet treats.

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Loch Ard, near Aberfoyle.

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Carved owls in a garden in the village of Kinlochard.

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Burgeoning foliage, Kinlochard.

Back in the Wee Blether, we turned to the ‘Ye Shouldnaes’ [things you shouldn’t indulge in] section of the menu:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy delightful assistant was particularly attracted by a three-layer Victoria sponge filled with raspberries and cream.

It was served freshly stabbed, giving the fork little chance of sliding off the plate onto the floor.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI was very taken with this arrangement, and can imagine how satisfying it must be for the waitress to plunge a fork into each slice of cake ordered. If I worked at the Wee Blether I would go out of my way to recommend sponge cakes to customers.

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Scones, on the other hand, don’t come with forks but at the Wee Blether they come in a very decent size (£10 note for scale):

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My scone was so large that I initially cut it in two intending to take half of it away in the napkin, but, what do you know, when it was time to leave the whole thing had mysteriously vamooshed.

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A large scone – now you see it, now you don’t.

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A foreign land

A couple of weeks ago the delightful assistants and I went off on an excursion to a foreign land.

Not all that different from Scotland, it must be said, the land in question being the first stop south over the border: England.

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Our destination was the island of Lindisfarne (aka Holy Island), off the Northumberland coast.

One of the exciting things about going to Lindisfarne is that you have to drive through the sea to get there:

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Having consulted the tide tables before setting off, I’m happy to report that we avoided the above predicament.

We drove along an exposed strip of tarmac that wound its way across the sand and mud flats to the island. It felt quite exciting, knowing that a few hours later the road would be under the sea.

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It having been quite a long drive from sunny Perthshire, we were ready for a spot of luncheon and opted for al fresco paninis in the garden of the Pilgrim’s Coffee House:

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The sign outside very helpfully informed canine patrons of the facilities:

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To digress for a moment, this reminds me of a sign that was stuck up outside my local Catholic church. It said something like ‘No dog fouling’ and had been attached to a railing, not at eye height for humans, but a few inches off the ground at a position I can only assume was aimed at the dog rather than the owner.

Back at the Pilgrim’s Coffee House a dog sat quietly, not checking his email but gratefully accepting pieces of scone laden with jam and cream. Sadly, I didn’t get a picture of the treats, but here he is sitting nicely:

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The island measures 2.25 miles from east to west and 1.5 miles north to south.

We concentrated our wanderings on the village area, which has a surprising amount to offer visitors.

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One of the streets in Lindisfarne.

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Entrance to the parish church of St Mary the Virgin.

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Inside the church: six wooden monks carrying a coffin.

The sculpture above depicts St Cuthbert’s body being removed from the island during Viking raids in 793 AD.

St Cuthbert is the patron saint of the north of England and was at one time the Bishop of Lindisfarne. He’s a particularly interesting saint, one of the curious things about him being that when his sarcophagus was opened some years after his death, his body was found to be in tip-top condition.

Right next to the parish church are the remains of Lindisfarne Priory, seen below with the church on the left and Lindisfarne Castle in the distance on the right.

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From left to right: church, priory and castle.

We didn’t have time to visit the castle, but I would like to pop down and look round it on another occasion. It was built in the 16th century and sits on the highest point in the island.

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Lindisfarne Castle seen from the churchyard of St Mary the Virgin.

The weather was lovely, with hazy sunshine all day.

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Delightful assistants soaking up the sun in a public garden.

Once we had wearied ourselves of walking, and despite the temptations of staying on the island….

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…we scooted back across the sea and, not far over the border into Scotland, happened upon a delightful refreshment stop in the small town of Coldstream.

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Stanwins Coffee Lounge, on the High Street in Coldstream.

We were gasping for beverages and I was delighted to find that Stanwins offered Lady Grey leaf tea, something I don’t see as often as I’d like to.

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Delightful assistants happily awaiting treats.

The cafe had a Scandinavian feel, with a Danish poster on the wall and fresh, neutral decor.  The lovely lady who served us said her husband was Danish and instead of the usual toasties for lunch, they offered open sandwiches and other Scandinavian-inspired fare.

I don’t think any of the things we had were particularly Scandinavian, but they were jolly tasty.

I had an enormous toasted teacake with Lady Grey tea, delightful assistant no.2 had shortbread and a cappuccino, and delightful assistant no.1 went for a slice of Swiss roll and a pot of breakfast tea. This was the Swiss roll, which was apparently delicious:

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We all enjoyed our trip to Lindisfarne, and hope to go again one of these days.

Perhaps, if the next visit is post-referendum*, I might get an English stamp in my passport.

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Grassy path, Lindisfarne, with water tower on the left.

*In less than four months, on 18 September, Scotland goes to the polls to vote on the issue of Scottish independence. The question we’re being asked is ‘should Scotland be an independent country?’ If the majority of voters tick the ‘yes’ box, Scotland will cease to be part of the UK and become an independent country within the European Union.