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Posts Tagged ‘Cushion’

Mimi’s Bakehouse is a tearoom I’ve been wanting to visit for some time. It’s situated in the Leith area of Edinburgh, a part of the city I know reasonably well, having inhabited three different flats in the vicinity.

Edinburgh, and Leith in particular, has been on my mind quite a bit lately. In the past couple of weeks I’ve read two Ian Rankin books set in Edinburgh, and the main character in my own novel (still under construction, currently at 25,000 words) lives in Leith.

All of this, combined with my desire to meet up with a chum who lives in the great metropolis, led to me nipping down there last week.

The day was dreich (wet, damp, dull and – some might say – a bit miserable) but, arriving a bit early, I wandered round some of my old haunts.

One never knows, on revisiting a place, quite what one’s feelings will be. I was half expecting to be irritated by the noise and traffic, put off by the general busyness of the city, which has sometimes been the case when I’ve been back to Edinburgh after my quiet life in leafy Perthshire. However, I was surprised to find that I felt happy, exhuberant and delighted to be back. Quite a few of Leith’s streets are cobbled, rather than covered with tarmac (is this known in the US as asphalt? I’ve never been too sure): I was glad to see this old chap again, a fellow I often used to walk past and bid good day to: Although some of the shops, pubs, cafes, etc. have changed since I was last here, it was reassuring to see that some looked exactly as I’d left them. This wee pub has probably looked much the same for the past 200 years, dating back as it does to 1785: Inside, Mimi’s provided a bright and welcoming contrast to the weather. Indeed, far from feeling the chill outside, the ladies on the wallpaper appeared to be feeling the heat: We opted to sit in one of the sofa areas, which was decorated with some stylish cushions: The main point of interest to my mind, however, was the cake counter. I opted for the coffee and walnut: If I’d been in a chocolate mood I would have found this creation hard to resist: And if I’d been craving the malty crunchiness of Maltesers, this little gem would have been top of my list: To go with my cake, I ordered Teapigs Chai tea, which came in a little teapot with a slice of orange on the side: The cake was heavily iced (a bit too much for me on this occasion, although if I’d been desperate for a sugar rush I’d have scoofed it back readily enough), but the sponge itself was extremely light and fluffy:

Just as coffee and walnut is one of the cakes I frequently like to try, my chum is very partial to a caramel, or millionaire, shortbread. Mimi’s had large slabs of the stuff on offer, and he jumped at the opportunity, pairing it with a cappuccino: I wasn’t too fussed about trying it, since it looked a bit heavy and solid to me, but when I tasted a little corner I was astonished by its melt-in-the-mouth texture. The biscuit, toffee and chocolate disappeared together in a most pleasant manner. It was, surely, one of the best of its kind.

Mimi’s is, altogether, rather a stylish establishment. The ladies toilet can be located by this attractive notice on the door: The black and white theme evident throughout the tearoom itself, is continued in the bathrooms: After our delicious repast, my comrade had to get back to work and I thought I’d get a little exercise by way of trotting round the Botanic Gardens, which were on my route out of the city. The colours were beautiful but it was raining quite heavily. One good thing about going to the Botanics on such a wet day was that I virtually had the place to myself, including the magnificent hot houses: While I was pounding the pavements in Leith and driving through the city, I noticed that there are lots of new tearooms that weren’t there in my day.

The trouble, if you can call it that, is that there are far more tearooms to sample than I have the capacity for. Just as I don’t expect to die with an empty in-tray, neither do I anticipate managing to consume all the cakes I would like to gorge on in this one short lifetime. If ever there were a reason for reincarnation, that must be it.

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About 30 miles south-west of Aberdeen there is a small village called Fettercairn.

I’ve passed through Fettercairn on quite a number of occasions, and each time I’ve thought that I must stop and have a look round one of these days. That day came earlier this week, when my delightful assistant and I deliberately went there for a look-see.

Fettercairn is perhaps best known for its rather splendid arch, which narrows the main street so that only one car can pass through at a time. It was built in honour of Queen Victoria and her husband Albert, who stayed overnight in Fettercairn en route to Balmoral in September 1861, and I think it’s quite a magnificent structure:

If you walk under the arch you’ll see that it’s on a bridge with a river running under the road. The view over both sides is rather attractive:

On the north side of the arch there is that most wonderful of businesses: a nice cafe. If you’re needing a little refreshment while wandering around in this area, you might do as we do and dive in there post haste.

It being the middle of the afternoon when we rolled up, I wasn’t holding out much hope for a scone, but I’m delighted to say that not only did they have scones, they had three options available: plain, fruit and – irresistible, to my mind – walnut and apricot:

My delightful assistant was more in the market for an iced cake, and plumped for a slice of the generously three-tiered coffee and walnut sponge cake:

Both the scone and the cake were excellent, the scone being a most interesting texture with chewy apricot and crunchy walnuts, and the cake being intensely coffee flavoured. My scone was fairly studded with small apricot and walnut lumps:

We both washed our eats down with decaf lattes, which were also extremely good.

Great success so far, but what of the facilities? I had a feeling they might be interesting and so I trotted off to investigate. I wasn’t disappointed:

One area of the cafe had been given over to young visitors, and was very well equipped, with a large assortment of reading material as well as toys and games:

A sign on the wall read “We’re here for you to play! While mummy drinks coffee and chats away!”

Near the counter there was a small sofa with some attractive cushions on it. This was my favourite one:

Enlivened by our refreshments, we trotted outside to have a look at the village square, which contained some nice stone buildings:

The Fettery Shoppe was selling luscious looking plump red strawberries, and we bought a punnet. I would have included a photo of them here but they sadly disappeared before I thought of it.

If you’re ever driving up or down the country to or from Aberdeen and have a little time to spare, I would highly recommend a little detour into the pretty village of Fettercairn, and a good old gaze at the arch.

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At this time of year in my part of the world we don’t expect the weather to be up to much, and we certainly don’t expect clear blue skies with no clouds. However, to the delight of many, this is what we’ve had lately, along with record breaking temperatures.

With such amazing weather yesterday, I thought it only right to take my delightful assistant out for a jolly jaunt, and to give my poor pained wrists a rest from typing.

It’s not only typing that aggravates them, it seems that whatever I do, or don’t do, the pain persists. While having a moan to a friend about this the other day, I suggested rather sarcastically that perhaps I should stay at home and twiddle my thumbs, but, as he quite rightly pointed out, twiddling my thumbs is one thing I probably shouldn’t do. So, even thumb twiddling is off the menu at the moment. Am I tugging at your heartstrings yet? Cue sad violin music:

Thank you to Musicasa2ndlanguage for that beautiful little interlude.

We chose to go north, to the village of Braemar (featured in a previous post) for our first refreshment stop. Next to the tearoom there was a wee hoose with window surrounds that matched the daffodils in the garden.

I wonder if the owners change the paintwork with the seasons, to match whatever’s in the garden. Unlikely, but you never know.

Braemar is blessed with three tearooms, which is impressive for such a small place, and this is probably my favourite one.

The main body of the kirk, so to speak:

There was also a little side area boasting a superfluity of paper lampshades:

Up at the counter there was an extremely tempting vanilla sponge on display, but because we were already looking forward to lunch we resisted it and instead shared an attractive plain scone, which came with some very nice plum jam:

The tearoom had done a little Easter decorating, with lights and tiny fluffy yellow chicks perched amongst a pile of logs in an old fireplace:

I thought the chicks were delightful:

In the main room the tearoom was quite plainly decorated, with solid cream or dark brown walls and not many pictures. This provided the perfect backdrop for the table decorations: a single beautiful yellow daffodil in a vase on each table:

We sat in window seats, partly to look out and partly, I think, because we were drawn by the cushion covers:

There aren’t many days in the year when I’d choose to sit outside a tearoom in Scotland, but while we were taking tea indoors the staff put seats outside in the sunshine, which looked very inviting:

Before we left I made use of the facilities and was amused by a glass framed photograph (I couldn’t altogether avoid reflections, unfortunately) on the wall outside the toilets.

I don’t wish to be unpatriotic, but when it comes to bagpipes this is a child after my own heart:

From Braemar we drove east towards the Royal town of Ballater, stopping en route to admire the wonderful Invercauld Bridge or, to give it it’s quainter name, the Old Brig O’ Dee, but I’ll keep the details of that for another post.

In the meantime, here’s a shot of the lovely old bridge to whet your appetite:

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This week’s Tearoom of the Week comes to you from the Kingdom of Fife. As my delightful assistant and I were driving through Fife the other day I wondered why Fife is known as the ‘Kingdom of Fife’. Apparently it goes back to Pictish times (about 2000 years ago) when Scotland was divided into 7 kingdoms. Fife was one of them and for some reason the name ‘Kingdom of Fife’ has stuck, although it’s the only one we still refer to in that way.

The tearoom in question is a favourite of mine that I’ve been using as a carrot to help me finish my self-imposed task of collecting tearooms in the areas of Perthshire, Angus and Dundee. It’s so close to Perthshire that I’ve often been tempted to sidle into it over the past few weeks, but somehow I’ve managed to keep away until now.

What could be better than a tearoom that grows its own food? That’s precisely what happens in this place, for it’s attached to an organic farm. The farm was established in 1983 and grows a wide variety of salad items and vegetables, and produces lots of free range eggs from its 150 hens. The tearoom is fully organic and vegetarian, with most of the menu items being available as vegan and gluten free options. Here’s what greets you when you’ve bumped down a rough pothole-filled track:

The outside decking area has been built around a tree:

It was a bit chilly for sitting outside, not to mention a tad damp and very windy, so we headed indoors and found a nice little table for two tucked in a corner with pretty cushions on the chairs:

As soon as you open the door to this place your senses are assaulted. It has the kind of earthy smell you often get in healthfood shops, a creative mixture of herbs and spices, and right inside the front door is a magnificent array of fresh and organic fruit and vegetables:

Once you’ve successfully negotiated the fresh produce you’re hit with lots of other exciting things on shelves, many of which are edible. In addition to freshly baked bread, packets of biscuits, interesting chocolate and the many other food and drink items, there are organic shampoos, soaps, brushes, detergents and all sorts of other environmentally friendly products:

The whole place has a rustic, healthy, wholesome feel about it and it always makes me (and other customers, by the look of the lady below)  happy to wander round the shop or sit in the cafe.

One of my favourite menu items here is the salad, and I’m sure there’s nowhere else I’ve been that serves a fresher salad with fewer food miles. My assistant and I both chose the salad, with oatcakes for me and seeded bread for her (rice cakes are another option):

I was particularly surprised by the broccoli, which is not normally one of my favourite vegetables, but was prepared to perfection in this salad bowl. I could very happily have eaten a whole bowl of this broccoli, which I find quite astonishing. Every time I’ve been the salads have been different, because the ingredients change with the seasons. This is the way we should eat food, I suppose.

After a most delicious lunch, which included some excellent Rooibos tea for me and a glass of sweet cloudy apple juice for my assistant, we had a look round the shop and I bought a toothbrush, and three replacement heads (for the toothbrush, that is):

One thing I was tempted to buy, but didn’t, was some of the beautiful earthenware they had on display. The glaze was sort of pearlescent and I thought some of the individual pieces were very attractive. I was particularly keen on the domed butter dish towards the bottom right of this picture, which I thought was a most pleasing shape:

Some of the bowls had a magnificent lustre:

Before tootling away from this organic haven of healthiness, I visited the facilities, which are situated in what is more or less a large garden shed:

The somewhat basic privy arrangements might not please everyone, but I quite like them because they remind me of happy childhood camping holidays.

I feel I’ve come to the end of this tale, but the only problem with finishing here is that when this post is put onto my Facebook page it displays the last photograph. I have a feeling that ‘Tearoom of the Week (5)’ and then a picture of a toilet might not inspire many people to read on, so here’s a salad I had at the same tearoom last year instead:

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