Designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, the Willow Tearooms opened for business, at 217 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, in October 1903.
The name ‘Sauchiehall’ is derived from two Scots words: ‘saugh’ being a willow tree and ‘haugh’ meaning meadow, so presumably at some point in the distant past Sauchiehall Street was a willow meadow. It doesn’t look much like a willow meadow these days:
The Willow Tearooms consisted of two areas: the tea gallery and the Room de Luxe. We were seated in the gallery, which had a spacious, airy feel to it, overlooking the jewellery and gift shop below:
By the time we reached the tearoom it was after 2.30pm and we hadn’t had any lunch. We had, I’m relieved to say, had large and exquisite scones earlier in the day, but by this time I was ready for a good scoff of some tasty treats.
Afternoon tea, despite the name, was being served all day and we both decided it was just the thing for us.
For anyone unfamiliar with the concept, a traditional afternoon tea generally consists of small sandwiches, small scones, small biscuits and small cakes served on a tiered stand. There can be any combination of these delicacies, and this was what we got at the Willow Tearooms:
On the ground floor, so to speak, were the sandwiches. We were each supplied with 4 of these dainty little nibbles. I asked for a vegetarian selection and my favourite sandwich consisted of strong cheddar cheese with tomato on soft seeded brown bread:
Being ravenous at the time, I fairly wolfed my sandwiches, washed down with a truly superb pot of tea. There was an excellent selection of teas to choose from and we both had the Willow Tea Room special, a lovely blend of Ceylon and Assam teas. It was a beautiful dark golden colour and had a wonderfully rich, full flavour.
Back at the tiered stand, the first floor provided scones with jam and cream, but it was what was on the top floor that took my attention after the sandwiches.
I was quite tempted by a pecan covered item, but I thought it might be a bit too solid after the sandwiches:
After some deliberation, I opted for meringues sandwiched together with cream while my lovely assistant chose an individual lemon meringue pie. Two little pieces of shortbread accompanied the cakes:
I got into a right old mess with my meringue:
But fortunately I had been thoughtfully provided with an attractive Art Deco napkin:
After the meringue I really had no interest in my scone. I took a nibble of it but I’m afraid I’d been spoiled with a superior scone earlier in the day, so I left it at that and instead slooshed down another cup of marvellous tea.
On the way back to the car (driving in the centre of Glasgow and trying to find somewhere to park is much like attempting this madness in any other city) we walked down the very busy Buchanan Street.
I was born and brought up in the city of Edinburgh, but having lived out of a city for some years now I found being back amongst thronging crowds a little overwhelming. I was surprised by the number of people walking around the city centre on a Thursday afternoon in March:
Buchanan Street has some interesting architecture, and the entrance to the Princes Square shopping mall is particularly eye-catching. This 19th Century building has been covered with flowing decorative metalwork, which includes a quite spectacular peacock with his tail feathers fanned out, elegantly surveying the street below from his lofty perch:
Near the car park I saw these two fellows, somewhat burdened by a terrific weight on their shoulders. I don’t know what the building is but walking past it made my neck ache:
Before going to the Willow Tearooms my delightful assistant and I had enjoyed a stroll around Glasgow Botanic Gardens. After seeing those poor chaps above I feel the need of something restful to end this post with, so here are a few snaps from the Botanics. I was especially interested in this notice:
The botanic gardens were free to get into and, quite unusually, there was no charge for the glasshouses either. My lovely assistant was very taken with this flower, from the Shrimp Plant, which does indeed bear some resemblance to a shrimp:
There was a pond in the glasshouse that had some fish in it:
I liked the little succulents floating on top of the pond. They looked so perky and healthy:
As did this beautiful vibrant pink plant:
So that was our jaunt to Glasgow, a mixture of plants, crowds, interesting buildings, tea and tasty morsels.
When I lived in Edinburgh I enjoyed the bustle, the wide variety of human life swarming the streets, the noise, the buzz and the excitement. These days, although I quite like visiting cities, I always feel a huge surge of relief to escape back into the countryside.
Thank you Glasgow, for an interesting visit, but hello beautiful Perthshire, I’m glad to be back: