Posts Tagged With: books

A life stripped bare

I recently finished reading the book, “A life stripped bare”. The author, Leo Hickman, is a journalist at The Guardian newspaper and this book came about after his employer set him the challenge of trying to see if he and his family could live more ethically over the course of a year.

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He began his experiment by inviting three auditors into his home, to assess his family’s green credentials. The auditors consisted of a director of Friends of the Earth, the founder of the Planet Organic shops in London and a researcher at Ethical Consumer magazine. These three people went through Leo’s home, pulling things out of his kitchen cupboards, reading the labels on cleaning products and probing him about all aspects of his lifestyle. As I read the book I felt mighty glad that nobody was rifling through my cupboards in a similar manner, but some of the what they said was certainly relevant to me.

I admire people who make big changes to their lives in order to lower their carbon footprint or try to live in a more community minded way. My brother Fergus, who went missing in September, was one such person. On his website he recorded his thoughts about a variety of ethical concerns, some of which caused him a great deal of mental anguish. He suffered from depression, and in his darker moments felt overwhelmed by the huge scale of many of the world’s problems. He didn’t just worry about them, however, but made a concerted effort to do something practical in response. A lot of what I read in this book reminded me of him. It also made me think more about which aspects of ethical living instinctively appeal to me, and which I’d find much harder to take on board. I don’t think it’s necessarily a good thing, for example, that I don’t know where my bank invests its customers’ money, or if the companies I choose to interact with have a poor track record when it comes to human rights or environmental issues. Those things should matter to me, but because they don’t impinge on my day to day life I find it easy to put them to the back of my mind.

On the reverse cover of the book are the following three questions:

How often in life does convenience triumph over ‘doing the right thing’?

Can you really make a difference?

What does ‘ethical living’ mean anyway?

I now have a better idea of how to answer those questions for myself and I imagine most people would agree, in theory at least, that it’s worth trying to live more ethically by making choices that cause less harm to ourselves, to others, and to the local and global environment. An interesting aspect of the book is the inclusion of letters that were sent to Leo from all over the world. Although he did receive a few discouraging messages, the majority of correspondents were positive and encouraging.

The main message I took away was that although none of us can do everything to solve the world’s problems, we can each do something, and something is better than nothing. As Leo Hickman says, “you can’t save the world single-handedly, but you can make more of an effort than you did yesterday.”

I think I have now become more aware of what is meant by ‘ethical living’. If all we do initially is to give a bit more thought to our actions, we’ll be in a better position to have a positive effect on society. I hope I can not only keep that message at the forefront of my mind, but get into the habit of applying it in practical ways. I don’t think this book would have had the same impact on me had I not witnessed first hand someone deliberately living as ethically as they could. For that, I have Fergus to thank. Unfortunately, I can’t tell him about this in person but it’s a comfort to know that he’s left such a positive legacy.

Categories: Books, Organic, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

List of books read in 2014

In response to a request from Connie in my last post, this post contains a list of the books I read last year.

Divided into fiction and non fiction, they’re listed in the order that I read them (although I jumped about between fiction and non fiction throughout the year).

Although the oldest non fiction title was published in 1997, about half of the fiction was published before that. The oldest fiction title on the list is Rudyard Kipling’s “Kim”, which was first published in 1901. This edition (below) was printed in 1957 and belonged to my grandmother.

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It’s probably not very difficult after skimming the list to guess that Agatha Christie is one of my favourite authors. I had previously read all of those on the list, bar one. I’m extremely grateful that she was so prolific, because I can read and re-read her books without returning to the same ones too soon after they were last read. There are 12 of her books on my 2014 list, and I fully anticipate devouring a similar number this year.

One of the best finds for me last year was Eric Ambler (1909-1998), who wrote spy stories. After reading “Cause for alarm”, which I came across by chance in the library, I sought out some others and three of them are on this list. I did start a fourth one that he wrote later in life, but I couldn’t get through it.

Another highlight last year was reading two creations by fellow bloggers, Shona Patel and Annie Oliverio. Shona’s book is a fictional story set in India and Annie’s is a non fiction guide to caring for someone who’s dying. I found both of these books outstandingly well written and compelling.

Fiction

“Hector and the search for happiness” by François Lelord (2002)

“Mutiny on the Bounty” by John Boyne (2008)

“Maskerade” by Terry Pratchett (1995)

“Seven dials” by Anne Perry (2003)

“Murder in the museum” by Simon Brett (2004)

“The curious incident at Claridge’s” by R T Raichev (2010)

“The scheme for full employment” by Magnus Mills (2003)

“A judgement in stone” by Ruth Rendell (1997)

“Miss Buncle’s Book” by D E Stevenson (1934)

“Teatime for the firefly” by Shona Patel (2013)

“The collected stories of Rumpole” by John Mortimer (2012)

“The affair of the bloodstained egg cosy” by James Anderson (1975)

“Five star billionaire” by Tash Aw (2013)

“The island” by Victoria Hislop (2005)

“The witness at the wedding” by Simon Brett (2005)

“Second time around” by Marcia Willett (1997)

“The house on the cliff” by D E Stevenson (1966)

“Sleeping murder” by Agatha Christie (1976)

“The best man to die” by Ruth Rendell (1969)

“Shroud for a nightingale” by P D James (1971)

“The behaviour of moths” by Poppy Adams (2008)

“Easter Island” by Jennifer Vanderbes (2003)

“Sleeping Tiger” by Rosamunde Pilcher (1967)

“Dumb witness” by Agatha Christie (1937)

“Deadline” by Barbara Nadel (2013)

“Cause for alarm” by Eric Ambler (1938)

“Cover her face” by P D James (1962)

“The good thief’s guide to Vegas” by Chris Ewan (2010)

“Skios” by Michael Frayn (2012)

“Kim” by Rudyard Kipling (1901)

“Journey into fear” by Eric Ambler (1940)

“The Bad Quarto” by Jill Paton Walsh (2007)

“Every man for himself” by Beryl Bainbridge (1996)

“Epitaph for a spy” by Eric Ambler (1938)

“Gaudy night” by Dorothy L Sayers (1935)

“The bride’s farwell” by Meg Rosoff (2009)

“Devices and desires” by P D James (1989)

“Trent’s own case” by E C Bentley and H Warner Allen (1936)

“The pale horse” by Agatha Christie (1961)

“They came to Baghdad” by Agatha Christie (1951)

“The body in the library” by Agatha Christie (1942)

“A pocket full of rye” by Agatha Christie (1953)

“A murder is announced” by Agatha Christie (1950)

“The Thief” by Ruth Rendell (2006)

“The moving finger” by Agatha Christie (1943)

“The Sittaford Mystery” by Agatha Christie (1931)

“Blood at the bookies” by Simon Brett (2008)

“Destination unknown” by Agatha Christie (1954)

“Ordeal by innocence” by Agatha Christie (1958)

“And then there were none” by Agatha Christie (1939)


Non-fiction

“Pirates, Plants and Plunder” by Stewart Ross (2005)

“The idle traveller’ by Dan Kieran (2012)

“The lost city of Z” by David Grann (2009)

“A terminal illness primer for caregivers” by Ann Oliverio (2014)

“Mindset” by Carol Dweck (2006)

“Sea legs” by Guy Grieve (2013)

“59 seconds” by Professor Richard Wiseman (2009)

“Affluenza” by Oliver James (2007)

“Arthur Conan Doyle – beyond Sherlock Holmes” by Dr Andrew Norman (2007)

“Up with the larks” by Tessa Hainsworth (2009)

“Quirkology” by Professor Richard Wiseman (2007)

“Seagulls in the attic” by Tessa Hainsworth (2010)

“Round Ireland with a fridge” by Tony Hawks (1997)

“The mould in Dr Florey’s coat” by Eric Lax (2004)

“Screw it, let’s do it” by Richard Branson (2006)

“Himalaya” by Michael Palin (2004)

*   *   *   *   *

This morning I finished a non fiction book I started reading a couple of weeks ago. Having got into the habit of keeping a note of books last year I might as well carry on and see if I can do it for two years running.

Thanks to Professor Richard Wiseman, my year got off to a spooky start with the book below. I like a bit of the paranormal now and then, so I’m hoping for a few more ghoulish surprises in the next 12 months.

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Categories: Books, Photography, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 25 Comments

Enter 2015

I was inspired the other day by reading a post by fellow blogger, Darlene Foster, about building on the success of 2014. (You can read it by clicking on her name.)

In the post she details the goals she set herself for 2014, and reports on how she got on with them.

Towards the end of December 2013,  I did a post about my resolutions for the coming year. My main aim was to keep a note of all the books I read throughout 2014.

I started a blog about it, which I made private after a while to take the pressure off having to write decent English, and I’m pleased to report that I managed to stick to my goal.

I was hoping for a minimum of 60 books, and by last night my final count was 66, with more than three times as many fiction as non fiction. I had imagined the split would be more equal, but since I’m attempting to get my own stories published, perhaps it’s advisable to spend more time immersed in fictional worlds.

On that topic, I entered a number of short story competitions last year, none of which I won. I also failed to get any stories published in magazines that I submitted to. I felt despondent at the time, but now that we’re starting a new year I’m putting all that behind me and cracking on with more writing, in the hope that one of these days I’ll produce something publishable.

When it comes to resolutions and, for that matter, daily ‘to-do’ lists, it’s helpful to throw in some easily achievable targets alongside the more challenging ones, which leads me to my other main goal for 2015.

As mentioned in a previous post, I’m aiming to consume at least 52 different chocolate confections throughout the year and write about them on one of my other blogs, Any Old Excuse. I’ve posted about a few already, as a sort of warm-up act.

Whatever your goals or ambitions for 2015, I wish you well with them and hope that the coming year is full of pleasant events that cheer and comfort you.

Happy new year!

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I’m looking forward to seeing some spring flowers, like these beauties outside the excellent Storehouse of Foulis near Dingwall (top tip for lunch if you’re ever in that neck of the woods needing refreshments).

Categories: Blogging, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 28 Comments

New Year’s Resolutions

Around this time last year I did a post in which I stated that one of my new year’s resolutions was to give away 365 items throughout 2013.

At the time I had every intention of fulfilling this aim, indeed I felt utterly determined to achieve it.

However, as is the norm with resolutions, it started off well and then tailed off after a while.

I didn’t manage to record the expulsion of 365 items, but I did make it to 111, a mere 254 short of my target.

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Funky necklace with matching bracelet – two of the items I managed to put someone else’s way in 2013.

This year I am again contemplating resolutions, although I have no reason to believe that I’ll be any more successful with them than I’ve been in the past.

For a period of about three months in 2013 I made a concerted effort to note down the books I read in that time, including the title, author and a short review of each one. Despite only doing it for three months I found it quite an effort, which makes me seriously question the advisability of making a resolution along these lines.

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If books aren’t your thing, perhaps you could master a new skill in 2014 (you might need to click on the picture to read the quote on the bookshelf).

Despite already having more blogs than I can keep up with, I’ve created another new one, Lorna’s Books, where I hope to record every book I read in 2014. (You can get to it by clicking on the blog name, but there’s not much there yet.)

Although choice of reading material is a very personal thing and what I say about a book might be of no value to another reader, I quite enjoy reading other people’s book reviews and so I suppose there might be the odd blogger who would be prepared to read mine.

This project is mainly a test for myself, to see if I have the self-discipline to achieve something I’ve tried and failed to do on several occasions in the past. At the moment I wouldn’t bet on success, but you never know.

In order to avoid feeling depressed if my resolution fails, I should perhaps also set myself an easier challenge, such as eating a scone and drinking at least a pint of tea every day.

The only problem is it would lack any real challenge.

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A stollen scone: one of the delights of the festive season.

Categories: Blogging, Books, Photography, Scone, Scotland, Tea | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 37 Comments

A competition for using your imagination

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.

 

Categories: Blogging, Books, Inspiration, J K Rowling, Rabbits, Tearoom Delights, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 46 Comments

One year on

At the end of June 2012 I self-published my first book, “Tearoom Delights”.

Since then I have come into possession of two more self-published books which I’d like to mention.

The first was spawned, like my own, from a blog.

The blog, which ran for a year, was written by fellow blogger, Noemi, and was entitled Desayunos Veganos 365 (365 days of vegan breakfasts). It documented Noemi’s breakfast every day, 365 different breakfasts for the whole of 2012, with beautiful photographs of her delicious looking food and drink.

As someone who rarely deviates from her pint of Darjeeling, toasted bagel and bit of fruit, I was utterly astonished by this feat.

At the end of the year a book was produced, and having enjoyed the blog so much I felt I had to have a copy to drool over. Here it is:

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The cover of a beautiful book full of inspiring breakfasts by Noemi Iza

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The back cover is as beautiful as the front.

A selection of pages from inside reveal some of Noemi’s wonderful fare:

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One of the photos even features my wee book (thank you, Noemi!), very fittingly sitting next to cinnamon spiced tea and cranberry scones:

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Noemi’s delightful book can be purchased, here, in both hardback and paperback format.

The second book comes from closer to home and was written by John Palfreyman, a cycling enthusiast who lives a few miles away from me in the town of Coupar Angus.

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John’s admirable little book with a lovely view of the Sidlaw Hills on the cover.

In a way, his book is similar to mine, in that he’s written about cycle routes in the same areas as I wrote about tearooms.

He’s passionate about cycling, and about the area in which he lives, and his book is a little treasure for cyclists and non-cyclists alike. I like the cartoons he uses to symbolise how hard each route is:

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I feel exhausted just looking at that chap on the far right.

The book is packed with lovely photographs, details 25 different routes of varying lengths and levels of difficulty, and includes a list of cafes, restaurants and inns in the areas covered (as well as mentioning my book for further reading – thank you, John!).

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You get lots of great little photographs along with the text, all beautifully reproduced throughout the book.

It also has an excellent map tucked into the back:

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The map is folded up and slotted into a plastic tab at the bottom right hand corner of the inside back cover and is double-sided showing two different scales.

At £5.99 for the book and map, I think “Adventures on Two Wheels” is an absolute bargain.

It can be purchased from Waterstones in Perth and Dundee, Stewart Tower Dairy, the Post Office in Stanley, the Joinery Coffee Shop in Meigle and the Beatrix Potter Centre in Birnham, as well as various places in Coupar Angus. It will also soon be available from Tourist Information Centres in Perth, Blairgowrie, Pitlochry and Dunkeld.

Considering the book was only published last month, I think John has done an amazing job getting it into retail establishments and I wish him all the very best with future sales.

As for me, I don’t have any plans to self-publish another tearoom book any time soon, but I have written my first novel and am currently working on the second.

All I need now is a nice agent or publisher to take me on, but if that doesn’t happen then I might consider self-publishing the first novel as an e-book.

To everyone out there who’s already self-published (and I know there are one or two amongst my regular readers), I take my hat off to you. I know how much work it is and it’s great when you have something at the end to show for it.

To anyone thinking about self-publishing, I doff my hat to you, too, and encourage you to do it. It may not make you much money (initially, it might actually lose you money) but it is a satisfying thing to do, and can bring you a nice sense of achievement.

Categories: Angus, Books, Perthshire, Scotland, Vegan, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 32 Comments

Bargain Books – Only 10 Days Left!

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.

Categories: Books, Forest, Guide to tearooms, Highlands, Laggan, Photography, Scotland, Tearoom Delights, Tearooms, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

Bargain books

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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

Categories: Angus, Books, Dundee, Perthshire, Scotland, Tearoom Delights, Tearooms, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Sometimes bad news is good news

When you’re trying to write something that’s proving very awkward, blogging can be a great respite.

Today I’ve been attempting to rewrite the synopsis of my first novel, which has been something of a millstone round my neck for the past couple of months. (For anyone not in the know, a synopsis is brief outline of a story.)

Depending on who you speak to, when submitting a novel for publication the synopsis should be anything between 1 and 10 pages long, but the ideal size as far as I can gather is about 2 pages.

The difficulty is that my book is 363 pages long, so in writing the synopsis I have to identify the salient points and condense them into less than 1% of the whole book. It might sound easy to write less rather than more, but unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be.

It took me 6 months to write the book, and I have a horrible feeling that it could take me the same length of time to write a synopsis I’m happy with.

Writing the actual book was a picnic compared with writing the synopsis.

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A lovely picnic courtesy of The Donkey Sanctuary (www.thedonkeysanctuary.org.uk)

Despite not being entirely happy with it, last month I sent out my synopsis to a couple of agents.

On the plus side, I received my first rejection yesterday.

Strange, you might think, to refer to this as a positive result, and prior to receiving it I’d have said the same. I was fully expecting my first rejection to make me feel miserable and dejected. I admit that it did come as a bit of a disappointment, but it also made me feel curiously buoyed up and encouraged.

It made me think about all the other authors who’ve had rejections (and from what I’ve read on the subject, that would appear to be pretty much every author who’s ever submitted a manuscript). I’ve had my novel rejected, ergo I must be a proper author.

Comparing it to receiving an OBE might be stretching things a bit, but I definitely feel as if I’ve joined the ranks of a noble and esteemed group of human beings.

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The library of my dreams: Sir Walter Scott’s study at Abbotsford. If you haven’t visited Abbotsford I can highly recommend it. It’s undergoing renovations at the moment but is due to reopen this summer. http://www.scottabbotsford.co.uk

Admittedly, I’m no closer to publication as a result of this rejection, but most of the books I’ve read were written by people who were, at some point, in the same boat.

On a completely different note, another strangely positive thing happened here today.

Several weeks ago my mum fell and tore some ligaments in her groin. Since then she’s been hobbling about in great pain, impatiently waiting for the injury to mend itself.

Last week, her doctor sent her for an x-ray and today she got the results. The x-ray clearly showed that it wasn’t just ligaments to blame for the discomfort she’d been feeling, she had in fact broken her pelvis.

She was inordinately pleased about this; her first broken bone, aged 77!

In response to her jubilant reaction, we celebrated fittingly with tea and cake.

Tea and cake to celebrate delightful assistant no.1’s first broken bone

I think I put too much lemon curd in the middle because it was determined to escape wherever possible.

Categories: Architecture, Blogging, Books, Cake, Inspiration, Lemon, Photography, Sir Walter Scott, Tea, Teacup, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 50 Comments

Mhor Bread Tearoom

As mentioned in my last post, the delightful assistant and I took ourselves to a new tearoom in Callander the other day. (New to me, that is, although the delightful assistant was sure she’d been there before.)

I’m not sure why, but I had been anticipating something quite refined, possibly with starched white linen tablecloths.

The reality was quite different, with mismatched old chairs and something of a studenty feel about it.

It took me a few minutes to readjust my thinking, but when I had, I settled in very nicely.

This tearoom is part of a larger Mhor family, incluing Mhor Fish (a fish and chip shop in Callander) and Mhor Hotel (a luxury boutique hotel).

In 2007 the Lewis family, who own and run the Mhor businesses, took over the Scotch Oven bakery, which had been supplying bakery items to the good people of Callander for over 100 years.

In its current guise, the bakery offers artisan breads as well as traditional Scottish bakery goods. All of the bread is handmade using locally milled flour, and I was very much looking forward to sampling it.

Given the cold weather I opted for the Soup of the Day, which was chilli, sweet potato and honey, and came dished up with chunks of locally made bread.

The delightful assisant decided to have her bread toasted, with poached eggs on top:

Before our meals came, cutlery was delivered to the table, along with some upmarket butterpats.

I got two of these for my bread, and the delightful assistant was cock-a-hoop to get no less than three for her toast.

With my first mouthful of chilli soup, steam came out of my ears and I began to breathe fire. ‘Tingled’ hardly covers it, but that was what the roof of my mouth did, and I was very glad I’d ordered a glass of tap water. I quickly slooshed some of the water down to dowse the flames, and stuffed bread in to dampen the raging inferno.

At that point I really thought I wouldn’t get through more than perhaps 3 or 4 spoonfuls of soup, but as I slowly persevered, stuffing in bread and throwing back water, I gradually became adjusted to the heat and did, in fact, manage to finish the whole lot.

As a culinary experience it was somewhat alarming at first, but it most certainly warmed me up, and the bread was absolutely top notch.

To get to the tearoom you have to go through the bakery. We did this quickly on our way in, but on our way out we lingered and observed the wares. There were pies aplenty:

There were also cakes and puddingy things. A pear tartlet (bottom right, below) was selected as a souvenir for delightful assistant no.2:

Last but not least, the bakery had some fine looking loaves on display in the window. I was tempted, but resisted.

Nicely warmed up and filled by our luncheon, we took a stroll along Callander’s main street, calling in at the rather splendidly housed tourist information centre:

We passed some interesting buildings, including this one with its name painted onto the wall:

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We were bound for a place I had specifically wanted to visit:

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This little place has quite a reputation amongst bibliophiles. It’s a well stocked and very reasonably priced second hand bookshop whose owners not only sell, but also bind, books.

I’m sure the sign in the window is applicable to a fair number of Callander’s visitors:

Inside, I was delighted to find a copy of a book I had been considering buying full price at £9.99 recently. I got it at Kings for the bargain price of one shiny new pound:

Categories: Architecture, Baking, Books, Bread, Callander, Cheese, Photography, Scotland, Soup, Tearooms, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 42 Comments

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