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Archive for the ‘Guide to tearooms’ Category

Delightful assistant no.1 and I recently took ourselves off to a tearoom we’d been meaning to visit for some time.

Berryfields, in the Perthshire village of Abernethy, used to be called Culdees, and in its previous guise it featured in my Tearoom Delights book.

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Culdees, as was, in Abernethy.

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Berryfields, as is (taken with my phone rather than my camera, resulting in a somewhat washed out look).

The same nice old stonewashed walls were in evidence, and the addition of fairy lights gave it a bit of festive sparkle.

It was a very cold day and luckily we managed to bag seats by the fire.

Since I wasn’t using my camera and most of my phone shots came out blurred, I’m afraid I don’t have a nice picture of the fire as it is now, but below is a picture of how it used to look in the time of Culdees.

It’s still similar to this, although nowadays there’s a sofa and coffee table where the dining table is in the photograph:

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Our seats were on the other side of the fire, and I had my back to the heat, which was jolly comforting.

We both ordered tea, which came with flowery china:

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Foodwise, there was a tempting selection of filling fare chalked up on a blackboard.

Delightful assistant no.1 ordered a baked potato with cheese and tuna mayonnaise:

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Filling burgeoning from a baked potato.

I opted for a panini with mushrooms and cheese, and was delighted by the proportions of the filling.

They were very generous with the mushrooms, which I believe had been fried prior to inserting into the panini.

It was all very tasty, and the salady items on the side could hardly have been fresher. Tip top.

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Next time I visit this tearoom I must take my camera and hopefully get some better pictures.

In the meantime, if ever you find yourself wandering around Abernethy longing for a tasty lunch, I recommend scooting up School Wynd and calling into Berryfields.

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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.

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Having published my first tearoom guidebook a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been feeling a bit lost.

It was great to get the book published after writing it, but there was a feeling of deflation once it had rolled off the presses. I’ve spent the past two weeks distributing and selling it (which I don’t find easy, or particularly pleasant) and now I want to get back to writing again.

I fully intend to continue my series of Tearoom Delights, but after spending 6 months on the first one, I feel I’d like to do something a bit different before the next one.

I’d been puzzling over this, wondering what to write next, when I had the idea of writing a travel book.

The book, as it’s shaping up so far (I’ve only written the introduction and the first chapter) is a bit about tearooms and a bit about other things that interest me on my little outings hither and thither. It’s rather like this blog I suppose, but without the supporting photographs, so I’ll be relying on descriptive text more than I do with my blog.

I’m a big fan of armchair travelling, letting someone else go and see places and report back through the pages of a book, although admittedly such books are usually full of thrills and spills, hardship and endurance, and a dearth of reliable cups of tea.

The sort of travel book I’m writing is slightly different from that, considerably less alarming and eventful, and quite possibly more dull.

Is there a market for this sort of book? I have no idea, but then I had no idea if there was much of a market for a guidebook to tearooms and I wrote it anyway. Sometimes, when something grabs you, you feel compelled to run with it, whether or not it looks like a good idea to anyone else. This has, admittedly, been my downfall on many occasions, but my thinking is that if you don’t try, you’ll never know.

Chapter 1 is all about Aberdour, a village in the Kingdom of Fife that boasts many interesting attractions, including one of the oldest castles in Scotland, one of the oldest churches in Scotland, and a prize-winning railway station. Here are a few pictures to give a taste of the place.

St Fillan’s Church, dating back to 1123:

Inside the church:

The lovely lane leading to the church from the street:

An exquisite bit of stone carving on one of the many interesting headstones in St Fillan’s graveyard:

An impessive beehive-shaped dovecot in the garden of Aberdour Castle:

What’s left of Aberdour Castle, the oldest parts dating back to the 12th Century. The big chunk in the foreground fell off at some point:

The most complete part of the castle:

One of the beautifully kept platforms at Aberdour railway station:

A street leading down to the beach:

Stormy clouds over the Black Sands of Aberdour (the more well-known Silver Sands are just around the coast from here):

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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 teacups@sent.com). 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

Ceylon

Assam

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.

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Yesterday, I do believe I had the best Danish pastry I’ve ever tasted (I’ve had them in Denmark, where they were pretty good, but this one may have topped even those).

My delightful assistant and I were heading north, in order to rummage around the astonishing second hand complex that is Steptoe’s Yard (I posted about it on my Teacups Press blog here, if you’re interested), and we needed something to sustain us during our exertions.

Slightly off our main route to the second hand shop, in a tiny village or indeed hamlet, is a tearoom I have been trying – and failing – to visit for some time now, ever since fellow blogger and ceramicist, Anne, recommended it to me. I have made various attempts to take lunch there, which have been sadly thwarted for different reasons, but yesterday I finally struck lucky and succeeded in enjoying morning refreshments.

It wasn’t the sunniest of days but, even so, I thought the outside of the tearoom looked very welcoming:

The entrance was pretty marvellous too, with a little porch:

The porch had attractive windows on either side:

The tearoom is run by Danes, who sell Danish designed homewares in the adjoining shop. The tearoom chairs reminded me of Ikea (which, admittedly, is Swedish, not Danish) and I found them very comfortable:

I should perhaps have expected Danish pastries in a tearoom run by Danes, but I might not have anticipated the options. There were cinnamon, berry and custard pastries, and I chose custard. I don’t think I’ve ever had such a fancy napkin in a tearoom:

The pastry had been freshly baked and was still slightly warm. The whole thing was incredibly light and the custard slipped down almost before I knew it. The pastry was tasty, light and utterly delicious. It was a decent size but I wouldn’t have been at all upset if it had been bigger.

My delightful assistant had a berry pastry, with coffee, while I had English Breakfast tea:

Inside the bathroom, there was a commendable supply of loo rolls, and a stack of small hand towels, including three hung up next to the toilet rolls:

There was also a choice of five different coloured liquid soaps, sitting in a wire holder, with instructions to “just squeeze the middle and soap will come out”. I squeezed the light green one in the middle and, right enough, soap came out, straight through a hole in the wire netting:

After enjoying our comestibles, we had a quick look in the shop, which appeared to be doing excellent business with a queue forming at the counter. The displays had been done beautifully, and I especially liked one featuring a small day bed full of teddies relaxing (not perhaps terribly clear in the picture, but the middle of the picture shows a metal bed or sofa lined with fabric and housing a number of stuffed creatures):

I’m delighted that I have finally managed to visit this tearoom, particularly as we took advantage of the special morning deal offering a pastry and a tea/coffee for £3. Unfortunately, this place is not included in my tearoom guidebook, because I didn’t manage to visit it in time, but I will be going back to have lunch there one day, and when I come to run a second edition of the book I hope to add it in.

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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.

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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:

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