The world’s longest tapestry and a very fine scone

A couple of weeks ago my dad and I trotted off to Edinburgh to see the world’s longest tapestry and have a mooch round the Scottish Parliament building, where the tapestry was on display.

Such an expedition required sustenance, and we called in at Mimi’s Bakehouse in Leith en route for energy giving morsels:

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Delightful assistant no.2 making himself at home in the plush surroundings of Mimi’s Bakehouse.

The delightful assistant ordered a cappuccino and a plain scone:

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A plain scone at Mimi’s: imagine a scone of normal proportions and then double it to get an approximation of the size of this gargantuan delight.

I went for tea and a fruit scone:

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Large dishes of butter and jam next to an outsize scone, all very satisfactory.

To my surprise the fruit scone was highly spiced, and extraordinarily fluffy inside:

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Spiced fruity fluffiness inside a Mimi’s scone.

Although the fruit scone was remarkably good, the plain scone really took the biscuit, so to speak.

Not only was it inordinately fluffy but it was also immensely buttery and melted in the mouth. The texture was that of a perfect scone but the taste was more like that of a croissant:

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Mimi’s plain scone of immense butteriness, I think of it now as a croisscone.

The plain scone was so good that not only were we completely enchanted by it during our time at Mimi’s, but it kept coming up in conversation at various points throughout the day.

It was a Scone Great, the sort of scone that, if there were Royal decorations for baked goods, would be in line for a Knighthood.

Having thoroughly enjoyed our comestibles, we scooted up into the old town of Edinburgh. Our destination was Holyrood, where a very modern sort of building sits directly across the road from a more aged one:

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The modern: Scottish Parliament building, opened in 2004.
Although it looks like concrete the facing is in fact made from granite, purchased from an Aberdeenshire quarry at considerable expense.  Initial estimates for the building’s construction were between £10 million and £40 milllion but the ultimate price tag sat at a whopping £414 million. Despite this, and the fact that construction took longer than anticipated, it has won numerous architectural awards. I don’t know why there are giant haidryers stuck to it.

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The aged: gateway into Holyrood Palace, the Queen’s official residence in Scotland.
Building began here in 1128 but most of what can be seen today dates to the 16th and 17th centuries.

I had only once before been to the Parliament building, some years ago, and at that time it was possible to simply walk in off the street.

On our recent visit, there was a police presence outside the entrance (just one lone policeman, but I daresay he could summon others pretty quickly if required):

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Entrance to the Scottish Parliament building, complete with strolling policeman.

Inside, we had to queue up in an airport-style security area where our bags, jackets, belts, phones, etc. went into boxes and through a scanner, while we passed through one of those full body scanner doorway things. The staff on duty were wearing bulletproof vests:

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Tightened security at the Scottish Parliament building.

Once safely inside with guns left at the door for collection on the way out (just kidding), we made our way into the main hall where the massive tapestry was on display.

It was hung in sections and there were lots of people milling about inspecting the stitching.

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The tapestry is a highly educational creation, as well as being a work of art. Prior to visiting the exhibition, I had no idea there had been a false alarm threat of Napoleonic invasion on my birthday in 1801:

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One of the many panels in Scotland’s Tapestry. The whole thing is 143 metres long, more than twice as long as the Bayeux Tapestry.

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Detail from the Napoleonic Threat panel; each panel took at least 500 hours to complete.

It was so busy in the hall that after a short time we toddled off upstairs to look at the Parliament’s Debating Chamber. It’s rather a splendid place and I’ll post about it separately.

In the meantime, here’s one last detail from the tapestry, showing a Scottish soldier fittingly togged up in tartan garb:

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Categories: Architecture, Coffee, Edinburgh, Photography, Scone, Scotland, Tea, Tearooms | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 38 Comments

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38 thoughts on “The world’s longest tapestry and a very fine scone

  1. Hi Lorna! A great outing and beautiful tea and scones to boot. It looks like a very similar set up to the one at Parliament house in Canberra (Australia’s Capitol) yes it’s long & tedious but there’s always great art to be found at the end (and often) afternoon tea too! Hope you’re enjoying the beginning of the week!

    • Thanks Alice, I can imagine the Parliament House at Canberra would be a very interesting place to visit. These kinds of things can be pretty tiring though, as you say, so sustenance is vital.

  2. That’s my kind of scone…the plain, buttery one. What a wonderful outing for the two of you. Enjoyed viewing the tapestry through your lens.

    • I think you’d have loved that scone, Linda. I keep thinking I’d like to go and have another one but it’s a 120 mile round trip, so I might need to find some other reason as well. The tapestry is an amazing piece of work.

  3. I was disappointed with the tapestry. Firstly because it was so crowded with people going all directions that I got claustrophobic but secondly because it is much more a cross stitch than a tapestry in my view. The display area was woefully inadequate and queuing for half an hour outside to get in didn’t help either.

    • Oh dear, that does sound disappointing. We didn’t have to queue for that long, although it was very busy inside. I think I enjoyed the visit partly because we didn’t spend much time in the tapestry area due to the crowds, but went up to the debating chamber instead which was airy and calming. We sat there for quite a while and relaxed, but I expect I’d have left the building feeling quite differently about it if we hadn’t had that little breather upstairs. I agree that the display space is too small, they need to have a bigger area and control the numbers. Somewhere like the Gallery of Modern Art would be a better place to have it on show.

  4. Fascinating… I think I’m more eager to find the Scone great – or perhaps the Great Scone – the Scone of Scone maybe? – rather than the tapestry… maybe I’d do the tapestry after…

    • I can understand your preoccupation with the scone. Given the option of having another of those scones myself, or revisiting the tapestry, I think I know which I’d choose.

  5. I love traveling vicariously with you and your assistants. You guys have such fun. And the eating…

  6. It sounds a terrible kerfuffle to get in! Can I view the tapestry online, Lorna? It looks quite interesting. But then I wouldn’t get the scone :(

  7. Very interesting!

  8. Is it a modern day tapestry? It looks very modern. I love the Scottish soldier in tartan garb. Everything has already been said about the scone, but it does look fabulous. What a pleasant outing for you and your Dad.

    • It is quite modern looking, yes. I like the way it’s been designed, there’s a bit of quirkiness and humour in it. That scone continues to linger in the memory…

  9. so fabulous! a day out at Mimi’s and seeing the tapestry. I have always wanted to go to Mimi’s and try out the baking there. everything looks so delicious! I like your style, Lorna!

  10. The Scone of Greatness really does deserve its own accolade! I cannot imagine how anyone can get a scone to rise that much! It looks fantastic. Mimi’s obviously has an excellent reputation. I like your pictures – I must say I prefer Holyrood Palace to the Parliament Building – and I love your idea of the hairdryers. Perhaps symbolising hot air, who knows?! The tapestry is amazing – what a fantastic achievement, and something that will hopefully survive for future generations to enjoy. I have never been inside the Parliament building so I am looking forward to the next episode!

    • I love your idea about the hairdryers! :-) Holyrood Palace takes some beating, but the Parliament Building is an interesting place to visit. Very different in style from its Royal neighbour but it has its own appeal. It’s a pity that the tapestry isn’t easier to see, due to the crowds and the cramped space its displayed in, but I believe it’s going to be touring around other places anon. That business with the scone is perplexing. How did it rise that much? I’m wondering if a lot of baking powder was used, or a combinatinon of baking powder and some other raising agent. I would love to know.

  11. I enjoyed reading your blog today. Your trip was well told by your pictures and your writing. I caught your sense of humor and your enjoyment of life. Now I think I will make myself a cup of tea but will only have a slice of toast with it. But will use my wife’s homemade crab apple jam on it. Or is it jelly?. Oh well it taste great.

  12. Mimi’s Bakehouse in Leith looks cracking

  13. I was intrigued by this tapestry when it was mentioned on Journeys to Scotland Blog and I hope I am able to see it when in Scotland next year.
    The external decorations on the New Parliament House do indeed look like hairdryers!

    • I hope you get to see it, Heather. Hopefully by then there will be fewer people rushing to view it, it’s caused quite a stir in the capital recently. I honestly have no idea why those hairdryers are there, or if they’re supposed to be something else, it’s a mystery.

  14. 120 miles round trip for the perfect scone…sounds reasonable to me!

  15. As is often the case, your posts make me hungry!
    And I loved this line – “It was a Scone Great, the sort of scone that, if there were Royal decorations for baked goods, would be in line for a Knighthood.”
    And the giant hairdryers – I laughed out loud!! I much prefer the aged building. But then I usually do.

    • Thank you very much, I’m so pleased the hairdryers made you laugh, they are rather preposterous aren’t they? The old palace is a beautiful piece of craftsmanship, and I agree with you that the older ones are usually more apealing.

  16. Thanks for this post, Lorna! I was very interested to see your photos of the tapestry – I must see it if it comes closer to me – and had a laugh at the Scone of royal proportions and taste. (Perhaps it should live in Scone Palace? Yes I know, wrong pronunciation…)

  17. You’ve had another fantastic adventure and what an amazing tapestry! I thought the plain scone looked delicious and something you don’t soon forget… :)

    • How right you are, Meg, that scone is one that will linger long in the memory. It was good to see the tapestry, too, there’s been a fair bit of hype about it in the news here.

  18. That is some tapestry, great post Lorna.

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