There is a small town in Scotland called Doune (pronounced ‘doon’, as in Lorna Doone).
My delightful assistant and I tootled down to Doune recently, to do a bit of tearoom research, and noticed some mugs in a shop bearing the legend ‘Doune, Perthshire’.
This surprised me because I had no idea Doune was in Perthshire. It’s only a few miles from Stirling and I had always assumed it was in Stirlingshire. When I got home I checked up on this and discovered that although Doune does indeed (geographically speaking) reside in Stirlingshire and is administered by Stirling District Council, its postal address puts it in Perthshire. Curious.
My reason for mentioning all this is that I deliberately left Doune out of my tearoom guidebook to Perthshire, but that is not because it doesn’t have an excellent tearoom, because it does.
I didn’t take many photos inside the tearoom because it was rather busy, but I did snap a delicious home-made quiche. There were two different quiches on offer and we both plumped for the roasted vegetable option, which came with a side salad, potato salad and French bread:
It was extremely good, the quiche just melting in the mouth (I suspect it had been made with cream), and it provided sufficient energy for a mosey around the town afterwards.
Doune is an attractive little place with some lovely buildings. These houses can be found on one of the side streets off the main street:
The town has a number of shops, including some surprises, such as this one (you don’t often see independent mapmakers’ shops in Scotland these days):
We enjoyed ambling through the backstreets, looking at burgeoning gardens and interesting features:
We were particularly interested in a wooden gate at the top of some well-worn stone steps. The wall only came part of the way up the gate on either side, and was the entrance to somebody’s garden, as my delightful assistant discovered after climbing the steps and peeping over the wall:
Some of the houses appeared to be getting swallowed by their gardens:
One particularly splendid, previously ecclesiastical, building had been split down the middle and made into two houses (the split occurs between the two arches at the bottom). I would be very interested to take a look inside:
Some decades ago there was a railway line running through Doune, but the only vestige now remaining is the well kept Station House:
I don’t know if they’re discernible from this picture or not (you might need to click on the photo and then click again to enlarge), but on this gate there were various creatures and plants, including a tortoise at the right hand side of the middle crosspiece and several little mushrooms and insects along the crosspiece:
Just beyond Station House there is a new housing development, and we were surprised to find a nature reserve, complete with swans, tucked away amongst the buildings:
Prior to the 1970s this area housed a sand and gravel quarry, but has now been made into a wildlife reserve containing several ponds and bird hides:
When we ventured down to the water’s edge, the swans and their cygnets came over to say hello:
As we walked alongside the main pond we noticed that quite a few of the trees had keeled over and were now growing out into the pond more horizontally than one might expect. It made me think of Amazonian swamps:
When the sun shone, the reserve looked beautiful in its lushness:
I had been under the impression that bracket fungi only grew on dead trees, but there were several live trees covered in fungi in the reserve:
After our walk round Doune Ponds, we headed back to the car, sadly too late to partake of tea at the tearoom we’d lunched in, as it had closed by that time. However, I knew of another place nearby that stayed open a bit later, and so we headed off there for a little refreshment.
The first tearoom had been offering Lady Grey tea, and I had been thinking about this during our walk and getting myself very much in the mood for some. I had virtually no hopes for the second place having Lady Grey because it is quite an unusual tea to find in tearooms and I had no memory of having seen it there before. Imagine my utter delight when I discovered that they did indeed have Lady Grey!
My delightful assistant had ordinary black tea, and we shared a rather solid, but agreeably lemony, lemon drizzle cake:
I can imagine this being a bit of a nightmare to dust, but the tearoom’s lampstand made from stacked teacups and saucers added a nice touch to the surroundings: