Bargain Books – Only 10 Days Left!

A couple of weeks ago I signed up as a seller on Amazon so that I could flog my book there.

Regular readers may recall that I did a post about this, in which I mentioned that I was reducing the price of the book, due to being undercut by other sellers on Amazon.

Since then, I have been umming and aahing about that decision.

It had been in the back of my mind to put a time limit on the sale, rather than reducing the online price permanently, but for some reason I didn’t do it.

I suppose the reason was that I got very confused about Amazon. It took me a while to work out that if other people want to sell my book more cheaply than the recommended retail price they’re welcome to do that, but I don’t have to compete with them (for one thing, they have to get their copies from me, so I can charge them what I like even if they then sell copies on at a loss – which, believe it or not, they do).

The gist of all this is that my reduced price of £6.30 (including p&p to UK addresses – overseas destinations have higher postage costs) will be available online for another 10 days only. After 17 June 2013, I’ll probably stop selling it on Amazon and let the other sellers battle it out, and I’ll revert to selling it at the RRP of £7 (plus p&p) elsewhere online (i.e. ebay).

Since this has been a particularly dull post, perhaps I could offer a picture of a nice forest near Laggan in the Central Highlands:

The Laggan area was the setting for the fictitious Glenbogle in the BBC TV drama series, “Monarch of the Glen“. I recall some scenes being shot in woodland like this, so perhaps they filmed in this very spot; it certainly looked lovely in the afternoon sunlight yesterday.


English Garden Tea

Being rather partial to a tearoom, I used to think I really ought to aim to open one of my own.

Then I realised that if I was providing tasty fare to the hungry customer, I wouldn’t be sitting at a table being waited on.

I had already found my tearoom niche: walk in, nosh up, walk out.

Very fortunately for me, not everyone thinks like this.

Blessed are those angels in human form who invest time, energy and money in delightful tearooms into which I can wander when in need of sustenance, and from which I can depart when replete.


If I were such an angel, and wondering how to go about becoming a successful tearoom provider, I might well turn to the English Garden Tea Room company to assist me.

I follow this company on Twitter and they recently very kindly sent me a stack of teas to taste:

I wasn’t expecting this volume or choice, and I was quite astonished when I received the boxes.

Rather fortuitously, my brother and his family came to visit at Easter and when my brother’s partner learned that I’d been sent all this tea and was feeling a bit overwhelmed about tasting it properly, she sprang into action.

She made a cup of each of the eight English Garden teas and labelled the brews with their packaging:

She then brought me, my mum and my brother (who were lounging around chatting) each tea in turn, and recorded our scores out of 10, as well as recording her own. Each tea was tasted black, to keep things on an even keel (ignoring my dear mama’s repeated comments of the ‘I’d like this if it had milk in it’ variety).

Later on, my dad and my sister appeared and also tasted the teas, marking down their scores on the little pieces of paper that had been provided for the purpose:

Before tasting I had my own ideas about which teas I’d like best; my preconceptions were overturned quite spectacularly.

The eight teas were:




Earl Grey

English Breakfast



Being an enthusiastic consumer of black teas, but rarely venturing into herbal arenas, I assumed that the black teas would be those I’d prefer. I was pretty much convinced that two of my most frequently chosen beverages – Assam and Darjeeling – would top my list of English Garden teas.

Here, however, was the order in which I liked them, with my score out of 10 in brackets:

Earl Grey (9)

Camomile (9)

Peppermint (8)

Darjeeling (7.5 – I just couldn’t decide on 7 or 8)

Green (4)

Lemon (4)

Assam (2)

English Breakfast (1)

There were many views and comments on each tea and although on some occasions other people completely disagreed with me (rather shocking, since when I taste a tea and make a pronouncement about it I assume I’m right), I was delighted to witness the passion with which each taster spouted their own opinion.

9 was the highest score given for any tea (2 scores of 9 for Camomile), and 0 the lowest (1 score of 0 each for Camomile, Earl Grey and Green).

I didn’t attempt to guess the outcome prior to tasting, but if I had I certainly wouldn’t have put any money on peppermint coming home in a blaze of glory.

This is the order in which they were rated, with a score out of 60 in brackets (6 tasters each scoring out of 10):

Peppermint (37)

Camomile (33)

Earl Grey (31)

Lemon (30)

Assam (30)

Green (27)

Darjeeling (27)

English Breakfast (25)

Tasting tea is all very well (and it is, to my mind, an excellent way to pass a Saturday afternoon), but sooner or later one needs a bit of stodge to balance out all the liquid.

What with it being Easter and all, I had baked a Simnel cake (which, for anyone not in the know, is a fruit cake traditionally decorated with marzipan and with a secret layer of marzipan in the middle of the cake; the marzipan on top is often browned under the grill or with a blow torch):

The making of Simnel cake apparently dates back to Medieval times. The cake is traditionally decorated with 11 balls of marzipan on top, symbolising each of Jesus’s 12 apostles minus the traitor, Judas Iscariot.

I’m a bit late to be wishing anyone a Happy Easter, but I hope that wherever you spent it there were tasty treats involved.


A warm summer’s day

If you live in the northern hemisphere, as I do, you might be longing for a bit of summer sunshine round about now.

The UK has been exceptionally wet in recent days, with numerous flood warnings and TV pictures of dramatic rescues by the Fire Brigade of people in cars stranded in deep water. It’s also been very dark, with constant heavy cloud, and all of this has made my thoughts wander back to happy summer days of sunshine and warmth.

Scotland is prone to a lot of cloud, but that doesn’t always mean it’s wet and cold to boot. One particular day in early August was quite cloudy, but it was one of those still, jacket-free days where the sun, when it does break through the cloud, feels gloriously warm on the skin.

My dear mama had told me about a tearoom in the little town of Thornhill, in Dumfries and Galloway, in which she and the pater had taken a very pleasant luncheon while on holiday in those parts.

Thornhill is a fair distance from where I live, and a bit further than I would normally venture on a day out, but since the weather was fine and we got an early start, I whisked the small assistant (said maternal parent) off south-westwards towards the Dumfriesshire hills.

This picture was taken on a different occasion, but as it happens to be en route to Thornhill, I’m bunging it in to give an idea of some of the scenery we passed through:

The Borders hills

We arrived there around lunchtime, but since we’d stopped for a snack on the way we took a stroll around the town to work up our appetites. I don’t appear to have taken any photographs of the main street in Thornhill and so I’ve borrowed this one from the excellent website, Undiscovered Scotland:

The main street, Thornhill

We ambled along the backstreets, which were quiet and had lovely views of distant hills, as well as some strange-looking trees:


Along one little street I was surprised to see a fairly impressive memorial, remembering one Joseph Thomson (Explorer):

Joseph Thomson, Explorer, Memorial

According to Wikipedia, this Thomson  (1858-1895) was “a Scottish geologist and explorer”, who not only has an African beast named after him (Thomson’s Gazelle) but avoided confrontations among his porters or with indigenous peoples, neither killing any native nor losing any of his men to violence.”

The same article claims that he is the originator of this apparently oft-quoted motto: “He who goes gently, goes safely; he who goes safely, goes far.”

I can’t say I’m familiar with the quote, but at least now if I ever come across it I’ll know who said it.

Thomson was born in the village of Penpont, a couple of miles from Thornhill, and some time I would like to have a mosey round there to see if there are any references to him. I seem to remember that Penpont, despite its small size, also hosts an interesting looking tearoom, which gives me an added reason to investigate it.

The memorial has rather a nice bas-relief (if that’s the term I want) on one side, showing a lady holding an unfurled scroll displaying a map of Africa:

Bas-relief on Joseph Thomson memorial

Just beyond this memorial a sign caught our attention:

Coo Lane sign

The lane in question enticed us to walk down it:


I’m assuming that the lane was named after the Scottish word for ‘cow’ because at the end of this lane there was a field, and perhaps in days gone by this was a busy highway for travelling cattle. There were no coos there when we visited, but there were some sheep, many of which were flopped out on the grass soaking up the rays:

Relaxing sheep

The delightful assistant and I were both very warm by this time, after plodding all over the place in the unusually balmy weather, and luncheon was calling.

The tearoom we were bound for was called “Thomas Tosh”, which I think has a splendid ring to it. I particularly like the idea of using the shortened version of Thomas and ending up with the name “Thos Tosh”. Unfortunately, I don’t know who Mr Tosh is, or was, but he’s given his name to rather a nice eatery.


The building housed not only a tearoom, but an art gallery and a shop selling gifts, crafts and food.  I believe it used to be some sort of church hall:

Thos Tosh indoors

Each table had a little stack of blue serviettes packed into a rack made from two sets of crossed teaspooons. From a distance they looked quite like the Scottish flag. You can see them at the nearest table in the picture above, and close-up below:

Teaspoon racks

We both chose to have salads, which were large and packed with interesting ingredients. The delightful assistant had a chicken salad:

Chicken salad at Thos ToshAnd I had a tuna salad:

Tuna salad at Thos Tosh

We were so full after our salads that we didn’t have room for pudding (a tragedy, since there were delicious looking cakes and hot puddings on offer), and so we tootled off back to the car and headed north for home.

About half an hour after leaving Thornhill we felt the need of a cup of tea, and ventured into Starbucks, which is handily just off the road in a service station at Abington. I don’t often admit to going to places like Starbucks, but I must say they do a very lovely chai tea.

Not being a very frequent visitor to Starbucks, I forget each time that I need to lie to the baristas. When I ask for a chai tea, they ask if I take milk. Being a reasonably honest sort of cove, I say ‘yes’, which results in them giving me what I consider to be a measly half cup. The problem with this is that a) I love their chai tea enough to drink a large quantity of it, and b) I only take a dash of milk.

My delightful assistant prefers the chai tea latte, which comes sweetened and puffed up with hot fluffy milk and the cup filled, as a good beverage should be, absolutely to the brim.

Here, for comparison is the difference between our two drinks, my black chai tea with a dash of milk on the right, and her chai tea latte on the left. I hadn’t drunk any of mine when this was taken:


I’m hoping that by reminding myself of this recurring misdemeanour, I will have imprinted the nightmare of it on my brain, so that the next time I visit Starbucks I go in fully prepared for their misleading and devious questions.

Tearoom Delights Guidebook

If you haven’t seen my Teacups Press blog post, you might not know this yet but my book, “Tearoom Delights: a little guide to delightful tearooms of Perthshire, Angus and Dundee” is now available!

I picked it up in boxes two days ago from the printer. I’m pleased with it, and happy that it’s come to fruition as I’d hoped. Now I just have to try and shift all these copies…

For the meantime, it’s only available on ebay, or from me directly (by emailing me, Lorna, at Unfortunately I can’t process credit cards at the moment and so the payment options buying from me are cheque (sterling), cash, postal order or bank transfer. You can use a credit card via an ebay account.

Very soon the book will hopefully be available in local bookshops, tourist information offices and tearooms.

A lot of things make me think of my grandparents, and doing this book is one of them. This rather yellowing picture is of me with my grandad, as a tot at the seaside:

I often think of my grandparents, and this grandad in particular because he’s the one I remember best. When I’m feeling stressed by modern day life, and computer challenges in particular, I take some sort of comfort from thinking how much more baffling it would be for my grandad, if he were alive today. He would be astonished by blogging and the internet in general because he died before it all took off, and I sometimes wonder if life was simpler and easier in his day, although I wouldn’t want to give up all the comforts and conveniences of life in 2012. I suppose every generation has its good and bad points, and there is much to be thankful for in this day and age.

Back to the book, something I wish I could show to my grandparents, but am very grateful to be able to share with my parents. For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to dedicate a book to them, and now that I’ve been able to do that, I feel very satisfied.

It’s not easy to market your own work, perhaps especially for most Brits who are brought up to believe that blowing one’s own trumpet is to be discouraged. There are other cultures that are more comfortable with the idea of personal success and achievement, but it’s part of the British psyche to downplay things and be self-deprecating. (I have been told that this is a charming aspect of the British character, although I could imagine that some people might find it intensely infuriating, exasperating and possibly quite ridiculous.)

Luckily for me, fellow blogger and Tearoom Delights customer, Christine, has done a lovely post about my book on her blog, Writing from Scotland, and I would like to direct you there for an independent review. The teabag mentioned on her blog varies, incidentally, and if you have a special preference I can offer the following choices:

Earl Grey

Lady Grey

English Breakfast



I hope that no-one receiving a book now is going to be disappointed by the teabag I chose for them, but if you are, please let me know and I will gladly send an alternative.

Here are a few more pictures of the book. This, as you may have gathered, is the front cover:

And this is the back:

This is a wee sketch on page 25:

If you’re thinking that £7, plus postage and packing, is a lot to be spending on a small book about tearooms you might never even visit, you could be right. However, if it helps you to make your decision about whether or not to splash out on a copy, here’s a bit of extra information. £7 will get you:

  • 104 black & white pages with 49 illustrated line drawings/lettering
  • 6 full colour photos on the inside and outside covers
  • a coloured fold-out map on the inside back cover with tearoom locations
  • 23 tearoom reviews with a useful information section for each one
  • a page on local history by my dad
  • a few pages of witterings from me by way of an introduction

If you order it direct from me, you also get a teabag (woohoo!). That’s it really, I hope it’s worth £7 to the kind people who’ve purchased it so far, and to anyone else who parts with their hard earned spondoolicks in the future.

A number of hats

After I published a post about my new book being available on ebay, Scott of Land-sea-sky suggested that I should write a post about how this made me feel.

Incidentally, if you like lovely photos I strongly recommend having a look at his blog, which has some cracking shots on it. He has some superb landscapes, architectural features and still life photos, and one of my favourite shots can be found here.

I published my ebay post last Friday and was intending to get the book to the printer two days ago, on Monday, but that hasn’t happened. The book itself is finished and the printer has it ready to go, but I’ve had a few problems with the cover photos. The file sizes are huge, and I can’t send them by email, so I’ll need to take them into the printer on a data stick (I was actually there today and could have handed them in, but I didn’t realise at the time that this was going to be a problem).

So, how am I feeling about all this?

Well, I feel happy that the text is all done and has been proofread many times, by various people (although I fully expect to find mistakes when it’s printed as perfection is very hard to achieve!)

– image courtesy of The Mark Blog

but I feel frustrated by the problems with the photos and the added days that this is taking.

– photo courtesy of EduGuide

My aim was to get it all finished by the end of May and available in mid-June, but alas I will have to exercise some patience and accept that it’s going to be a week or two later than I would like.

– image courtesy of Doug Savage

Like lots of people, I’ve always wanted to write a book, and in fact I have written the first half of a completely different book, which I was originally intending would be my first. Unfortunately, I ran out of steam on it, so I decided to write a guidebook to tearooms instead.

This tearoom guidebook has dominated the past 5 months of my life, but I’ve enjoyed becoming a writer, I like wearing that hat. However, as soon as the book is available I’ll need to get a couple of new hats, and become a salesperson and a marketing person as well.

– photo courtesy of The Straight North Blog

Thankfully, I have some very nice little helpers, one of whom is my sister, who has been doing a great job of plugging my book whenever she can. She also very kindly had some bumper stickers printed for me, and this is the one on my rear windscreen:

If you want to plug your blog while you’re stuck in traffic or parked somewhere, you might like to think about having a bumper sticker made up too, I think it’s a great idea.

On the subject of advertising, my dad gave me a little poem to encourage me:

The codfish lays ten thousand eggs;

the homely hen lays one.

The codfish never cackles,

to tell you what she’s done.

So, we despise the codfish,

the homely hen we prize –

which demonstrates to you and me

that it pays to advertise!

Sales and marketing are skills that I don’t think I naturally possess, but which I am trying to learn. I want to try and make the proposition of buying my book an attractive one, and I want people to feel that if they fork out £7 for the pleasure, they’ll get something they feel has been worth the expenditure.

As much as I wanted to do it, including photos in the book would have made it too expensive to produce, and so instead I’ve done some line drawings to illustrate it. I’m no great artist, but I have quite enjoyed the challenge of coming up with a few doodles and I hope that these make the book a little bit quirky and unusual. This is one of the drawings I didn’t use, showing a few chocolates for sale:

I plan to make photos available on my teacupspress blog, so that anyone wanting to visit a specific tearoom will be able to have a look at some pictures before they go.

Amazingly, several people have already ordered my book through ebay, for which I am most grateful because it’s given me an encouraging boost just when I was beginning to flag a bit.

I understand that not everyone wants to buy a book about tearooms in Perthshire, Angus and Dundee, but it’s nice to be sharing my writing journey on this blog with you, and I will be boring you with photos of the finished article when I have copies to show off.

Teacups Press

After what feels like ages (actually about 4 months), I’m now nearly ready to publish my first guidebook to splendid tearooms, part of the forthcoming Tearoom Delights series.

I’m aiming to get it to the printer in the next week or so and then, hopefully, receive the finished article in mid-June. Between now and then, however, I have a few reviews to complete and some odds and ends to tidy up.

Yesterday, to refresh my memory before finishing the review, I revisited one of the featured tearooms.  I had never had a scone in this place and I was very keen to remedy this situation, particularly as on a previous visit they had looked very good indeed. Yesterday the options were fruit, plain or banana and brown sugar. The banana and brown sugar looked so good I couldn’t resist:

The photo really doesn’t do it justice, it was an outstandingly good scone. I had thought that it was a piece of dried banana on top, but it turned out to be fresh banana which just melted in my mouth, all soft and delicious. I washed it down with beautifully fragrant Lady Grey tea (a vague glimpse of a fruit scone can be seen behind the milk jug, the choice of my delightful assistant):

The weather in Scotland, indeed the whole of the UK, has been unseasonably warm over the past couple of days, and after our refreshments we headed to a very quiet country road for a stroll amongst the livestock and wildflowers. I made chums with this very curious cow, the only one of the herd who seemed remotely interested in having her picture taken:

I also found some attentive sheeps with lovely black-faced lambs. Whenever I see sheep, I say ‘sheeps!’ just because it amuses me:

One of my favourite trees is the hawthorn, and the roadside verges were filled with hawthorns in beautiful bloom:

It was a very hazy start to the day, but it was in the mid-20s (very warm for Scotland) and by late afternoon the haze had burnt off.  This picture was taken while the haze was still very much in evidence, and the temperature was rising:

I don’t know if this is a worldwide phenomenon, but it’s not all that unusual to find an old bath plonked in a field in the Scottish countryside. What is more unusual, however, is finding one that still has the taps on:

Back to the subject of the book, one of the things I had to do was come up with a name for my publishing house (in reality, more of a publishing corner of a room). I was amazed to find that many of the names I came up with were already in use, but eventually I settled on one that would appear to be fairly unique: Teacups Press. It now has its own little website (WordPress blog) although there’s not much on it yet.

In due course, I’ll be posting more information about the wee book, how you can get a copy if you want one, and all that sort of thing. At the moment it’s coming out in an A6 paperback format, but if it does well I’d like to try and make the series available as e-books.

In the meantime, this is what’s going to be on the front cover: