Pillars of Hercules

After a trip into the local metropolis of Perth for a bit of shopping the other morning, delightful assistant no.1 and I popped into the estimable Loch Leven’s Larder for a little luncheon.

There were two soups on offer: cream of celery and courgette, and curried green lentil. The delightful assistant went for the former, while I chose the latter.

I didn’t have my camera on me but I did snap my soup with my phone. It was all jolly tasty:

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Following the soup, we both fancied a bit of fresh air and exercise, and took ourselves off to the Lomond Hills in Fife.

The air was bracing and we trotted along swiftly under a lowering sky:

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We stuck to walking along the road, and were surprised by the amount of snow on the hill tracks:

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The biting wind was so cold that we imagined ourselves in the Antarctic, and paused to think of poor Ranulph Fiennes, whose recent trip there was cut short due to a horrible case of frostbite.

He had been hoping to be the first man to ski across the continent in winter, while some chums accompanied him in vehicles. The chums are now completing their expedition sans Ranulph, while he sits frustrated at home supporting the expedition from the UK. As he remarks rather wryly in this press conference, now that he’s had to pull out of the challenge, the Norwegians will no doubt step in and do the job.

I don’t know what the temperature was when we were in the Lomond Hills, but puddles by the road showed that it was above freezing. It did feel considerably colder then 0ÂșC due to wind chill, but nothing like it must feel right now in the depths of the Antarctic winter.

Feeling virtuous after our stretch in the open air, we sped off to the Pillars of Hercules, a wonderful organic farm shop and cafe, about which I have written on previous occasions.

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One of the many things I like about Pillars of Hercules is the seat cushions:

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I had forgotten that this place was the first cafe in Scotland to be certified 100% organic, but was reminded when reading the menu:

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We ordered our drinks and cakes at the counter and were given a number on a stick to take to the table.

It used to be the case here that when you ordered, you got a little wooden block with a number on it, and it wasn’t until I was searching around on the table for some way of making the stick stand up, that I noticed a hole in the tabletop.

Lo and behold, when I tried putting the stick in the hole, it fitted perfectly. An excellent idea, I thought (sorry for the darkness of the second picture, I don’t know what happened there):

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The delightful assistant had ordered a black coffee with cold milk and a slice of lemon cake. My photo is poor but I can assure you that the comestibles were anything but. I’m reliably informed that the coffee was lovely and I know that the lemon cake was because I tasted it – very lemony.

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I opted for a chai tea and a vegan apricot slice:

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The apricot slice exceeded my expectations. It was made with a wholewheat pastry base smothered in thick apricot jam and liberally sprinkled with seeds: sunflower, pumpkin and hemp, to be precise. I was very pleased with it.

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These little trips out that I take very regularly, often in the company of a delightful assistant or two, are a nice break from sitting staring at a computer screen and, I feel, a vital part of a healthy balanced life.

To update anyone who’s interested, this is Day 73 of the year 2013 and, in keeping with my resolution to get rid of 365 items by the end of December, I have so far managed to release 69. This means I’m four items behind in my schedule, but I have high hopes for getting rid of more stuff with a spot of spring cleaning.

I have also now completed the second draft of my novel and am putting it aside to gestate for a bit.

Any agents/publishers with a gap in their lists and looking for an average length of novel of the general fiction variety, please enquire within.

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Categories: Cake, Coffee, Fife, Healthy eating, Organic, Photography, Scotland, Soup, Tea, Tearooms, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 29 Comments

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29 thoughts on “Pillars of Hercules

  1. Here’s why we get along: the most important event of any day (be it at home or traveling) is Eating. I’m pretty sure you feel the same way ;-).

  2. The food at both Loch Leven’s Larder and the Pillars of Hercules looks delicious. Two more very worthy places to visit! I love the scenery in your first pic – very atmospheric and wintry. I have a great deal of respect and sympathy for Sir Ranulph Fiennes – he must be feeling so frustrated, and his fingers looked impossibly painful. When you read about the mission – 6 months in constant darkness, temperatures so cold that even inhaling the air could damage their lungs, unable to be rescued – it sounds like someone’s worst nightmare. I am in awe of anyone who can even consider that. Well done with your de-cluttering! And with your second draft of the novel. Is that it finished now?

    • I highly recommend both places, Jo. When I first discovered Loch Leven’s Larder I wasn’t too sure about it but I’ve been a few times recently and it’s been tip-top every time, their menu has improved and their fruit scones are outstandingly good (and enormous).

      It is a great pity for Sir Ran, that expedition had been 5 years in the planning, too, so he must really feel the pain of having had to pull out. He is extremely brave, as are all the other chaps involved, and I wonder how they achieve such stamina and self-belief. One of the very useful things in life that I’ve learned from him is the importance of running backwards. It hadn’t even occurred to me to do it until I read his book and now I do it regularly. He is quite the guru when it comes to exercise and fitness.

      Thank you for the decluttering encouragement, it feels good to be getting rid of things. The novel is indeed finished, or at least as finished as it can be for now. When I read it through the last time there were a few bits I thought could be improved upon, and I hope to make some changes when I read it again in a few weeks’ time.

      • Running backwards? How, where, how long for? What about unseen obstacles? What does it do for you in terms of fitness? Perhaps I shall have to buy his book, too!

        • As far as I can remember he prescribed 100 steps at a time, anywhere you like, for as long as it takes. As for unseen obstacles, it’s an idea to check your proposed path before setting off, but I do it on tarmac roads and I look over my shoulder as I go (it’s quite hard to run backwards in a straight line, I find). The reason for it is to use leg muscles that aren’t exercised by running forwards, I think. I did it uphill in the Lomonds and I felt it in the calves more than usual. I had a quick look at the book (Fit for Life) but I couldn’t find the bit about backwards running. I was reminded, however, that he has some helpful advice about all sorts of things, including avoiding illness, using mind over matter and making the most of vitamins in food.

          • Thank you for that! I might try it sometime although I’ll have the choose the road carefully, as you say. I’ve always thought Sir Ranulph had some very sensible ideas about health and nutrition – and certainly he has the willpower to see it through.

        • Oh, and by the way, he’s a chocoholic.

  3. Pillars of Hercules must be named that because it is a Herculean task to find it. The website gives a few clues but no directions. I’m guessing near Falkland, but which side?
    Well done on the novel – are you going to give us some excerpts?

    • You’ve hit on a little problem I had the first time I was looking for it. It is very close to Falkland, about a mile to the north-west of the village on the A912. There are small yellow and green (I think, if I’m remembering correctly, or they might be yellow and red) signs on the road both ways telling you to look out for it in 300 yards or something like that, but you could easily miss it. There’s a bus stop next to the entrance, which is a slightly helpful indication.

      I have wondered about putting excerpts of the novel on here but then I wasn’t sure how that would go down with potential publishers; I’m not sure what the protocol is.

  4. That’s a serious looking slice, Lorna!
    A novel- that sounds exciting. I’m back on track after my strange wander through your old blog.

    • It was seriously tasty slice. My old blog? You mean A nice cup of tea? I haven’t looked at that in ages. I forget it’s there, in fact. WordPress is so much easier to use than Blogger, I find.

      • WP is my first dabble so I can’t compare. I followed your url from a comment on mine and had a jolly trip.

        • It’s funny you should say that because I noticed the other day when I left a comment somewhere that my little blue and white teacup picture was linked with my old blog, so I changed it to this one. I don’t know how that happened or if it’s always been like that I didn’t notice before. Odd. Still, glad you had a jolly trip!

  5. I love the look of that apricot slice. Just the thing I love! You do find the nicest places to get away to. I have followed your lead about getting rid of something a day. I have lost count but I am doing well. Some days it is a number of things and some days none, so I think I am on track. Congratulations on completing the second draft of your book. Can we have a hint as to the theme of the story?

    • Thank you, and well done with your clearing out, that sounds like excellent progress! I haven’t come up with a blurb for the back of the book yet, that’s one of the tasks I hope to complete soon, so perhaps I could post that when I’ve done it to give an idea of the storyline.

  6. That’s a wonderful name for a cafe! The desserts look great too. I’m sure you can’t wait for spring… :)

    • It is a great name, isn’t it? Very memorable. You’re quite right Meg, I can’t wait for spring. There were some hardy souls sitting at outside tables but that was a step too far for me.

  7. Two stops for yummy eats in one day? Be still my beating heart. (That apricot thingy looks really good.) And you’re on the second draft of your novel? Wonderous! It looks like you’ve unlocked the secret to overcoming writer’s block: fortify yourself regularly with fabby tea and cakes and the words will come. Problem solved. :0) xo

    • To come clean, it was in fact three stops for yummy eats. I neglected to mention the first one as I didn’t take any pictures, but it was a very tasty tea and toasted teacake in Marks and Spencer. You’re bang on about what enables me to write. Just occasionally I sit down at my computer without a cup of tea and wonder why I can’t get the words down. Then I realise what the problem is and say to myself ‘what am I thinking, trying to write without sustenance?’

  8. I do envy you being able to go do some shopping in the “metropolis of Perth”, which happens to probably be my favorite city in Scotland. mostly because of friends but I always just feel at home when I get back and drive into the city. thanks for another lovely trip out and around tearooms. brrrr … it looks very cold there.

    • I commend your choice of city! Perth is a nice size for wandering around, and picturesque with the river and surrounding scenery. It is very cold here just now though, snowing today and feeling rather unexpectedly like midwinter.

  9. Congratulations Lorna, as being at piece 69 out of 74 or so (is a whole lot further than I!) plus they always say you must (get rid of the old) and make room for the new in life. As for a vegan apricot slice with hemp, I’ve certainly heard its good for you (so to hear) it’s actually tasty is a fantastic thing too. No doubt Hercules gets his strength from those hemp seeds ;)

    • Thank you, Alice, I do feel I’ve made some progress although there’s a long way to go till the end of December…The vegan slice did feel as if it was doing me some good, but was also genuinely very tasty, I really enjoyed it.

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