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Archive for September, 2012

There is a tearoom in the quiet village of New Galloway that comes worryingly close to perfection.

The idea of a perfect tearoom worries me on two counts:

1. I feel quite certain that it would overwhelm me

2. I suspect it might curb my enthusiasm for visiting other, lesser, tearooms

I’m afraid my photographs don’t do this place justice; ideally you’d experience it for yourself first-hand in order to soak up the refined and elegant atmosphere, but I realise that not everyone can do this so here are a few snaps to give a little flavour of it:

Everything about Kitty’s is top-notch, from the service, to the comfort, teacups, food and beverages. I sat beside the coal fire in the above picture one cold winter’s day and it was a most satisfactory experience.

My most recent visit was made a couple of weeks ago, when the delightful assistants and I zoomed our way (I was very excited to get there) from our holiday home at Culmore Bridge Cottages, to arrive in time for a spot of luncheon.

Kitty’s is situated on the main street in New Galloway, with green paint and a little flag outside that fills me with happiness:

No matter what the weather or your emotions at the time, when you cross the threshold of Kitty’s, you will almost certainly notice an elevation of the spirits. The delightful and well-presented staff are so welcoming that you could easily imagine they’d leapt out of bed that morning with the fervent hope that you, and you alone, would shimmy in and permit them to shower you with their delectable treats.

Each table is spread with two cloths, upon which teacups, milk jugs and sugar bowls with silver tongs are laid out most attractively. I was particularly pleased with my teacup on this occasion:

Kitty has a fine collection of china, displayed in glass-fronted cabinets and on shelves around the tearoom. I suspect she rotates the china laid out on the tables, because I don’t think I’ve ever been dished up the same design twice.

The china is just the start of things, and it only gets better once you peruse the menu and order your choice of grub.

Delightful assistant no.2 began his meal with cream of carrot soup, which came in a lovely wide Art Deco bowl:

He also had an enormous glass of cloudy lemonade which came with a slice of lemon in it, and followed his soup with a cheese and onion toastie:

Delightful assistant no.1 opted for the dreamily smooth and delicious leek and cheese quiche, which came as a large warm slice with salad, and was washed down with a glass of cloudy apple juice:

I very nearly went down the quiche route myself, encouraged by the waitress who was singing its praises, but all morning I had been reliving the memory of a certain dish that I’ve had here before, one of those that ranks up in the top echelon of meals enjoyed.

After a slight quichely waver, I wisely plumped for the dish of my dreams, the delectable Fat Naan – a naan bread stuffed full of curried vegetables, served with salad and a truly magnificent minted dahi (yoghurt):

It would be no exaggeration to describe this dish as divine.

After that, somewhat tragically, none of us had room of pudding. This almost made me cry because it meant I missed out on an opportunity to consume the stupendous sticky toffee pudding (I’ve had it here before and it remains in my mind as something unusually superb). However, I did enjoy a beautiful pot of Lapsang Souchong tea with my meal:

As an example of how caring the service is, along with the hot water pot in the middle of the above picture, I was given a cloth to wrap around the handle so that I could pour from the pot while maintaining a comfortable temperature in my fingers:

If you happen to be in the vicinity of New Galloway any time soon, I would strongly recommend a visit to Kitty’s Tearoom, not only because it’s an outstanding tearoom but because Kitty herself is retiring and the tearoom is now up for sale. Who knows how many more meals will grace those generously clothed tables before Kitty and her outstanding culinary skills tootle off into the sunset?

I fear that it would be a very tall order indeed for anyone to take over from her and maintain the same standards, and so I can only assume that this is the end of a truly magnificent era.

I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to Kitty and her lovely staff, for providing me and numerous other diners with exceptional tearoom experiences over the years. I feel blessed with profoundly happy memories that I hope to retain for the rest of my days, chief amongst them those miraculously flavoursome fat naans and truly unforgettable sticky toffee puddings:

The temptingly named ‘Mata Hari’, Kitty’s delicious sticky toffee pudding

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During my little holiday in Galloway last week I visited a number of beautiful gardens.

Things grow very well in Scotland’s south-west, thanks to a fair bit of rain, warm air from the Gulf Stream and a lack of hard frosts. For these reasons exotic plant varieties are more prevalent in Galloway than in much of the rest of Scotland, and local green-fingered souls make the most of it.

One of the fine horticultural havens you can pay to go round is Logan House Gardens, right next-door to the more well-known Logan Botanic Gardens. At one point a gate allows you to gaze from one garden into the other (they used to be part of the same estate):

The Logan House Gardens side of the gate, looking through to Logan Botanic Gardens

Despite having visited Logan Botanic Gardens many times, I had been snubbing Logan House Gardens since I was a tot (when I’m reassured I visited, although I have no memory of it). Sticking the camera through the gate, here’s what you can see of Logan Botanics from Logan House:

The main thing that put me off venturing into Logan House Gardens before was the lack of a tearoom. To my mind, a garden is all very well, but a garden with a tearoom is a far more attractive prospect. Since Logan Botanics has an excellent tearoom, it always won out, leaving poor old Logan House without my contribution to its upkeep.

Last week, after stopping at an exellent tearoom en route (the scones were so good that we went back the very next day for more):

An oustandingly good fruit scone near Logan House Gardens

my delightful assistants and I headed off to Logan House Gardens.

The gardens surround a large pink house, which is privately owned and not open to the public:

Logan House: a vision in pink

The grounds are quite substantial and contain a variety of habitats. In early September there was a dominance of foliage over flowers, and one of the things that struck me was the amount of green abounding.

At one corner of the garden there was a grassy avenue planted with palm trees on one side and monkey puzzles on the other. After a destructive storm on Boxing Day 1998, part of the avenue was destroyed. The small monkey puzzles in the foreground were post-storm additions, planted to replace the damaged specimens:

Avenue of palms and monkey puzzles

In addition to the above, Logan House contains prize specimens of over 20 different tree species, 14 of which are Scottish champions and 7 of which are UK champions. I forget now if this one is a champion or not, but in any case it’s a pretty spectacular fellow – the octopus tree, Pinus radiata:

Two small assistants scurrying away from the enormous tentacles of the octopus tree

An attempt to get the whole of the octopus tree into the picture (I didn’t quite manage it, but you get the idea, it’s large)

One of the areas I found particularly interesting was the Tunnel Walk, which was criss-crossed with interestingly twisted tree trunks and branches:

Twisting trees in the Tunnel Walk at Logan House Gardens

The light as I walked through this area had a magical quality. I felt that wood nymphs ought to be playing in the spotlight, and perhaps they were, I just didn’t see them:

Playground of wood nymphs

The website for Logan House Gardens claims that they have ’40 shades of green’, to which I would respond ‘at least’.

A few of the 40 shades of green

More greens

Before I started writing it, I entitled this post ‘Peace and contentment’ because when I thought of Logan House Gardens, that was what sprang to mind.

It’s a shame it’s taken me so long to appreciate its splendour, but I will certainly be visiting it again when I get the chance.

I’m looking forward to its welcoming driveway luring me in next time to surprise me with more treasures.

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