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Archive for the ‘Tearoom Delights’ 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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In 1997 a book was published by an unknown author living in Edinburgh.

It was to become a publishing sensation, but since nobody knew that at the time the first print run consisted of a mere 500 hardback copies, most of which went to libraries.

The book was “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”, by J K Rowling.

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Image from boingboing.net

If you want to buy a first edition, first print run, copy of the book today you’ll need to have several thousand pounds to spend on it, and if it’s a signed copy you’ll need several thousand more. The copy above apparently sold for $29,875 in 2011.

Then again, if you just want to read the book you can get the hardback in a new edition for less than £10 and the paperback for about half that on Amazon. If you’re lucky you might even pick one up in a charity/thrift shop for much less.

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A good rummage in a shop like this might just produce a Harry Potter bargain.

When I self-published a little guidebook to tearooms last year I had no idea how many copies to order, but I found out from the printing company I used that the more I ordered the cheaper each book would be.

Taking a complete stab in the dark and lured in by the lower cost price if I had lots made, I plunged in and ordered 2000.

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A small sample of my book stock.

Had I known then what I know now about the sort of quantity I was likely to sell, I would have paid more for each copy and ordered far fewer, but such is the benefit of hindsight.

On the plus side, lots of lovely customers have shelled out for this small tome, for which I am most grateful, and who knows I may even sell a few more before they become completely obsolete.

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New book by local author in the window of The Bookshop, Blairgowrie, last year.

I was chatting to my sister about this today, and telling her that I felt I’d like to do something with some of the remaining copies.

The only idea I’ve come up with is to make them into some sort of art installation, but beyond piling them up, sticking them to a lamp-post, or arranging them in a sculptural manner, I’ve had little inspiration.

She suggested I ought to have a competition for people to propose things I might do with them, and that made me think about writing this blog post.

This reminds me of a situation my dad was in a few years ago, when he was lumbered with boxes of a book that wasn’t selling (he was running a book stall at the time). I remember leaving a copy on a train once, and on a bus, and I think possibly even on a park bench. I hoped that in each case someone might pick the book up and read it, or give it to a second hand shop or something, but I really don’t know what became of them.

I could do the same with my book, except that I am still selling it online and in a few shops, and I don’t want to upset anyone who’s recently purchased a copy.

The longer I have it, however, the more out of date it becomes, and I’d like to work towards putting it to another use.

If you happen to come up with an interesting idea for what I might do with, say, a box of 100 copies, perhaps you could leave a comment below. There might well be a teatowel for the winning suggestion.

Since I haven’t yet broken even on the cost of producing the book, I’d like whatever I do with spare copies to cost nothing. I have given quite a few to libraries, but I don’t want to offload more onto them when the book is getting a bit dated.

I’ll be putting my own thinking cap on again, and if I come up with anything of interest I’ll post about it anon.

Perhaps I’ll try wearing a pancake like this beautiful rabbit, to see if that proves more inspiring.

 

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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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Sale - Bags

To celebrate the coming of spring (and ignoring the hail battering at the window as I type this), my tearoom guidebook has gone on sale today at the new knockdown price of £6.30 (including p&p to a UK address; extra postage costs incurred for shipping overseas).

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Fluffy springtime brood watched over by mother in Logan Botanic Gardens

I wanted to sell the book on Amazon, and in order to compete with the low prices offered by other sellers (notably, Amazon itself), I had to cut my price.

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To be fair to anyone buying it on ebay, I’ve reduced the price there, too.

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It’s nearly 11 months since it was published and I’m still surrounded by boxes of these little red books. I remember a year ago how nice it was to see the fruits of my labours, but after a while the novelty of drowning in tearoom guidebooks wears off.

If you fancy purchasing a copy at the sale price, I’d be delighted to sell you it from Teacups Press on Amazon or ebay. You can get to those pages in a jiffy by clicking on Amazon and ebay or their logos above. Copies are also available from a few shops and tearooms in the Perthshire and Angus area. For a list of stockists, please see here.

Thank you to everyone who’s bought a copy already (including many of my fine blogging chums), your custom is much appreciated.

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Splendid illustration courtesy of the magnificent Quentin Blake

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Quite a while ago I drove through the village of Muthill in Perthshire and noticed a very interesting looking establishment:

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Birdhouse Bakery: a bakery that looked to me enticingly like a tearoom.

It appeared to be a tearoom, which is always a sight that fills me with joy, but it looked as if it had been closed for a while. It was mid-winter and I assumed that this was the reason, but perhaps it had closed down for good.

Muthill is not a place I pass through very often, but ever since that first sighting it’s been at the back of my mind to have another bash at visiting the Birdhouse Bakery, in the hope of finding it open and serving the punters.

A few days ago, in the company of my two delightful assistants, that ambition was realised.

Since it was about 12:30 and the tearoom looked fairly small from outside, I was worried it was going to be packed out. Luckily, we sneaked in before the lunchtime rush.

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Delightful assistant no.2 going to look at the blackboard menu and taking in the cake display en route.

One of the things that immediately caught our attention was the wallpaper on one wall, which was chock-a-block with birdhouses and birds. We found a nice little table for three perched up against it.

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Close-up of the Birdhouse Bakery wallpaper

There was a little bird nesting on our table, too.

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After perusing the blackboard, delightful assistant no.1 and I ordered the day’s hot special: vegetarian quiche with salad,

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while delightful assistant no.2 opted for chicken and avocado salad,

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which came with some very tasty home-made soda bread.

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We all chose tea to drink, which came in a teapot with an avian chum atop it,

and some pretty teacups.

On this occasion, we decided to pass up the cake counter in order to drive on and see other places, but I have promised delightful assistant no.1 that one day soon we’ll go back just for the cakes. I must say, the scones looked very promising.

I’m delighted to have sampled this tearoom at last, and am looking forward to a return visit. My only regret is that I wasn’t able to include it in my tearoom guidebook because I think it should certainly be in there.

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A bit beyond the graveyard at Bendochy in Perthshire, there’s an Intriguing Sight parked up on grass just off the road.

At first sight it might not seem all that intriguing. If you’re familiar with the British landscape you might think it was just one of those old – probably defunct – red phoneboxes:

In my youth we didn’t have mobile phones. In order to make calls when out and about, we relied on the Post Office to provide red phoneboxes with public phones in them. You could shove a 10p piece into a slot to make a call, and when the money was running out the ‘pips’ would alert you to the fact that you were about to be cut off. This was all part of normal life.

In this day and age, with virtually everyone having a mobile phone, I don’t know how many red phoneboxes still contain working phones, but it seems to me to be not very many.

Britain’s red phoneboxes, or kiosks as they were first known, came into being in 1921, and were painted red to make them stand out. There have been a variety of designs over the years, all of which are illustrated and described on the impressively detailed website, The Telephone Box.

When you get closer to the phonebox at Bendochy, you find that where it used to say ‘TELEPHONE’ in the white space at the top, it now says ‘Bendochy’ and there’s a little ‘i’ after it, signifying ‘information’.

As you approach the door of the phonebox, you might think you’re seeing shelves of books inside:

And you’d be quite right:

The sides of the phonebox that are not supporting books or acting as the door, are mounted with pinboards, one of which has maps of the area stuck to it, and an explanation of what’s going on inside the phonebox:

The pinboard on the other side has been left for advertisements:

I keep meaning to pin up a little flyer about my book on the pinboard, and stick a copy of the book on a bookshelf.

Bendochy’s phonebox is just one of over 1,500 such boxes to have been adopted by local communities and put to good use now that they no longer contain phones.

The decomissioned boxes have found all sorts of new leases of life. Quite a few contain defibrillators purchased by local villagers and installed in case of medical emergencies. There are also phoneboxes that have turned into art galleries and grocery shops.

If you fancy adopting your local phonebox, you can do it for the bargain price of £1.00 by applying to British Telecom.

They have a website all about it here, and they’re very keen to hear from people with interesting suggestions.

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This particular intriguing sight first met my eyes about a year ago, and came into my world again just before Christmas.

One day in December, delightful assistant no.2 (the pater) had been off doing his salesman bit on local tearooms, asking them if they’d like to stock my book, Tearoom Delights.

He had previously left a copy of the book with the owners of the Joinery Cafe in Meigle, and called in again on this occasion to see if they were interested in taking any to sell.

If you’ve got, or seen, a copy of my book you might recall I wrote a review of the Joinery Cafe. In addition to delicious tearoom fare, they also sell various gifts and oddments.

Here’s an exerpt from the book:

“…on the previous few occasions I’ve been here I’ve been very taken with one particular item. I think it’s a draught excluder and is all joined together, but it looks like six toy dogs in a row.” 

Back at the Joinery Cafe, the owner said that although he appreciated the review I’d done of his cafe in my book, books weren’t a thing he was interested in selling. However, to make up for not stocking any, he wanted to present me with a little something.

On his return from the Joinery Cafe, delightful assistant no.2 told me this story and produced the little something out of a box.

Imagine my surprise and joy when I beheld the very thing that had caught my fancy in the Joinery Cafe and that I had written about in my book. I admit, I cried with happiness when I received this lovely gift:

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An Intriguing Sight: six little dogs all joined together – a draught excluder perhaps, or simply a decadence of docile doggies?

Not only are they delightful on their own, but they added a bit of sparkle to the festivities at Christmas:

Six little festive dogs

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