Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Garden’

Today we had a little visitor in the garden, snuffling amongst the leaves next to a hosepipe:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Hedgehog with hosepipe.

Jolly good for the garden, hedgehogs, as they enjoy a diet of slugs and other such pests.

They’re so useful, in fact, that people have been known to steal them.

I remember an occasion in my childhood (a time that was filled with hedgehogs, in my memory) when I was playing in the garden with a chum who lived up the street. After playing at mine we went up to her house and told her dad about a hedgehog we’d seen in my garden. He asked us to show it to him, so we took him back to mine.

On being shown the hedgehog, he promptly pinched it and took it back to his own garden in the hope that it would eat his slugs. My mum wasn’t too pleased.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Welcome, little visitor, do call again. Prime slugs are supplied free of charge.

Read Full Post »

In global terms, Scotland is a small country. (In terms of size, it’s apparently smaller than Austria, Tasmania and the US state of Maine.)

Although I’ve spent virtually all of my life in Scotland, there are still many parts I haven’t yet visited and a number of long-held ambitions as yet unfulfilled.

I did manage to tick one off recently though, when the delightful assistants and I buzzed up north towards the Moray Coast, to visit the Findhorn Community.

One of the many nice things about the area of Moray is that the council provide cheerfully coloured bins, and these were in evidence in the community’s streets:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Findhorn Community is rather an unusual place, and has grown considerably since it began in 1962.

Findhorn Community Centre near the entrance to the community.

In its early days, the founders created a bit of a stir by growing enormous vegetables, herbs and flowers, the girth of which they said had been achieved by communicating with the spirits of the plants.

For example, an average sort of cabbage weighs about 3lbs, but some of the cabbages grown in Findhorn weighed in at a whopping 40lb! That’s about 18kg, or nearly 3 stone (or the weight of an average 4 year old child).

I wish I had a picture of one of these enormous cabbages, but we searched the grounds of the community during our visit and found not one single outsize vegetable.

These days the community is more concerned with hosting environmental and spiritual workshops and promoting environmentally friendly practises in its ecovillage, so perhaps their days of growing gigantic vegetables is past, I don’t know.

As interested as we were in having a wander round the place, luncheon was calling so we headed straight for the community’s Blue Angel Cafe, tucked in amongst burgeoning foliage with seating outside as well as indoors:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Soup of the Day was green split pea, and delightful assistant no.2 and I both went for that.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

He had his with cheese and onion sandwiches on the side, and I had rice cakes. The soups came dished up in bowls made in the community pottery:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Delightful assistant no.1 had cheese and tomato sandwiches, which came with a lovely fresh salad, but unfortunately my photo of it is a bit blurred.

When we’d finished our savouries we went for a trot round The Park, the area of the community containing ecohouses, various small enterprises and gardens.

Beneath the signpost at the entrance to The Park there was an encouraging message:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

As we walked around, I must say I didn’t feel in the least bit worried. The sun was shining, the birds were singing and there were lots of interesting things to look at.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Findhorn Pottery Shop, a place to purchase a souvenir or two.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The weaving studio, where you can perhaps buy woven things to take home with you. I didn’t go in, but I did see some colourful woven items hanging in the window.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Boutique – a small building with all sorts of things in it. I believe it’s a kind of swap shop where you can bring something you no longer want and swap it for something someone else has left.

In addition to the businesses there were many ecohouses of interesting design, some leading directly off the quiet paths through the village and others popping up from amongst clusters of trees.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A curious roof emerging from the canopy.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

An unusual little house nestling beneath its curious roof.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

One of several ‘barrel’ houses, made from massive recycled whisky vats. Very fitting, since Moray is home to the world’s only Malt Whisky Trail.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Shire: currently for sale, at offers over £159,000. The outside wood is Scottish spruce and internal wall partitions are filled with sheep’s wool, which no doubt keeps it nice and cosy in the winter. If you want to see the full specification, you can find it here: http://www.lightbringers.info/eco-house-sale.asp

Perhaps my favourite building was this one, the Park Maintenance office:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A smiley whale, brightening up the ecovillage.

In the middle of The Park there was a wooded garden, designed for contemplation.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
In the middle of this wooded glade was something quite magical, a low stone built house with a grass roof and a small garden, where I daresay the forest folk come of an evening to sit and tell stories.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Little fairy house in a wooded glade.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The doorway into a magical kingdom.

Just outside the Peace Garden there was another garden, which was fenced off and had a most unusual gateway:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

No outsize vegetables to be seen here.

This garden contained several minibeast hotels (the little wooden boxes attached to posts in the picture below):

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A Mecca for minibeasts

Having exhausted ourselves strolling around in the sunshine, we headed back to the Blue Angel Cafe for a little refreshment.

Most unusually, delightful assistant no.1 didn’t want anything, not even a nice cup of tea, but delightful assistant no.2 had spied a lemon roulade on our previous visit and had been dreaming of it ever since:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It wasn’t quite as lemony as he’d been hoping for but it seemed to slip down quite well with a cappuccino.

As is often the case, I was lured in by walnuts; on this occasion they came embedded in a toffee walnut tart. It was sweet, sticky and highly acceptable. In company with a cinnamon chai latte it disappeared without any trouble at all:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

All the way round The Park we had noticed little wooden houses a couple of feet off the ground, which I initially thought were mail boxes and then realised were in fact lights. Each one was wired up and had holes at the front with a light bulb inside. I suppose they must double as hidey-holes for wee beasties.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Unobtrusive street lighting in Findhorn ecovillage.

Before leaving the Findhorn Community we called in at The Phoenix community store:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I was amazed by the range of goods for sale, particularly in the food area which had the most extensive range of nut butters I think I’ve ever seen, as well as many other interesting goodies of the sort you find in a wholefoods shop.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

They also had a good variety of wines and locally produced real ales, apothecary items, cards, books and gifts. I was prepared for the prices being higher than you’d find in towns and cities, but in fact in some cases the opposite was true. They were even competing with supermarket prices, which I thought very commendable.

Another surprising thing about the Findhorn Community is that it has its own currency, the Eko (1 Eko = £1), although the pound sterling is equally accepted.

Ekos

Various Eko notes (courtesy of http://e-info.org.tw/node/70731).

According to an article in The Scotsman last year, several pubs in the Moray area accept the Eko.

In 2012 the Findhorn Community celebrated its 50th anniversary, and I wonder what it’ll be like in another 50 years’ time. Perhaps this sort of community living will have grown in popularity by then and there will be other similar places dotted around the country. I suppose it’s possible that I might just live long enough to find out.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Read Full Post »

According to the boffins at the BBC weather centre, Tuesday the 7th of May has been the warmest day of the year so far in Scotland.

It also happened to be the day I earmarked for a little day out with the delightful assistants.

Our first stop was Le Jardin Cafe at Kinross, about 45 minutes into the journey.

It was over 4 hours since I’d had my breakfast, so I was ready for a little something, and I opted for a pot of tea and one of their delectable apple and cinnamon scones:

The two assistants chose coffee and fruit scones. The scones were accompanied by dishes of outstandingly delicious apple and plum jam, which were heartily consumed.

Suitably refreshed, we buzzed off on the road again into lovely sunny weather, heading for the county of Dumfries and Galloway.

Due to misunderstanding my road atlas, I didn’t quite manage to reach my desired destination and ended up not in the village of Moniaive as intended, but 40-odd miles away in the town of Moffat.

Moffat is a place that offers several attractions to the tourist, one of which is a big sheep (a ram, in fact) on a plinth above a drinking fountain in the town centre. Rather curiously, it has no ears, and apparently never has had any:

The Moffat Ram – a trifle deaf perhaps, but a fine fellow nonetheless

It was sculpted by celebrated Scottish sculptor William Brodie, and gifted to the town in 1875.

Another point of interest in the town is the Moffat Toffee Shop:

A Moffat institution, not to be missed.

This splendid shop has been in existence (although not always on these premises) for about 120 years, and is still run by the same family who started it up in the late 1800s.

I’m getting ahead of myself here but after our lunch, which I’m about to detail below, the delightful assistants and I entered this haven of confectionery, where I captured them attempting to make off with two large tubs of sweets:

Assistants trying to abscond with stacks of sweets

They managed to restrict themselves to 200g bags of two types of sweeties, and I purchased some deliciously melting praline delicacies, which I meant to photograph before we wolfed them yesterday. I do still have a bar of interesting chocolate to try, however:

A treat still to be savoured.

To get back to the proper order of things, before we went into the sweet shop, we wondered where we might partake of a little luncheon.

Although Moffat is a busy tourist centre, particularly in the summer when coachloads of visitors appear, it’s not what I’d call a hot spot for tremendous tearooms.

Given this state of affairs, we decided we’d try one of the hotels for our meal.

The first one we looked at is quite a landmark in these parts, indeed it bills itself as ‘The Famous Star Hotel’. I suppose it has good reason to claim this accolade since it features in the Guinness World Records as the world’s narrowest hotel.

The Star Hotel with a crow helpfully flying over the roof to give scale to the picture.

It’s only 20ft wide, but it’s one of the tallest buildings in the main street and it stretches out a considerable way at the back:

If you look along the side of the Star Hotel you find that it goes back a fair distance. I think it looks like a steam engine at the front with a string of railway carriages behind.

We mulled over the menu outside, but felt we needed a little more stretching of the legs before sitting down again and so wandered along to another hotel.

This rather magnificent building was designed by Robert Adam and was built in the 1750s for the Earl of Hopetoun:

There were several seating options, including the sun lounge:

But it was such a glorious day that we chose to sit outside:

The back of the building proved to have some nicely rounded walls. Our table was just behind the tall dark green tree left of centre below:

As is the norm in Scottish hotels, there was one token veggie option on the menu (a pasta dish, which is frequently the case), but I wasn’t in the mood for pasta so I plumped for fish and chips:

The assistants both went for cottage pie, which came with lovely baby carrots:

I must say, the fish was particularly good, the peas eminently edible and the chips nice and crispy. The assistants declared their meals equally acceptable.

Despite tantalising choices on the menu, we decided to save our puddings for a tearoom on the way home, but we did enjoy sitting in the sun admiring the Moffat House Hotel garden and an attractive little seating area that would be delightful with rambling roses growing over it and a cream tea spread out on the table:

On our way out of the hotel, delightful assistant no.1 spotted an extravagantly finished banister rail. This is part of the original, and extremely impressive, Adam-designed cantilevered staircase that spirals up inside the building. I imagine he made it swirl a bit extra at the bottom for aesthetic reasons:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After leaving Moffat, we stopped to look at some fair weather cumulus clouds which were bubbling up from the skyline:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

As usual, my post is elongating beyond a healthy length so I’ll save our afternoon snacks for a separate article.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Read Full Post »

If you happen to be in Scotland driving along the A90, the main road between Dundee and Aberdeen, you might be surprised by the dearth of good eateries along this busy route.

However, about halfway between the two cities, near the little town of Laurencekirk and about half a mile off the main road, there lurks a gem of a place called Balmakewan:

According to the website, Balmakewan is not only a farm shop and tearoom (housed in the old coach house building pictured above), but also a small family run mansion house, with holiday cottages to rent and a large selection of rhododendrons and azaleas for sale.

When you go through the doors of the old coach house, you find a very spacious and nicely laid out shop area:

Beyond this there is a big table surrounded by tins, jars, packets and bottles of food and drink for sale:

The big table is one of the places you can sit if you want to make use of the splendid tearoom facilities, but there are smaller options too:

Much of the seating appears to have been acquired from a church, many of the chairs having storage areas on their backs (see picture above) for a Bible/hymnbook. Old wooden church pews are also provided:

The tables are remarkably shiny, as can be seen in the picture below. The only other place I’ve seen wooden tables gleaming like this was in a small farm tearoom not far from Balmakewan. Perhaps it’s all the rage in rural Aberdeenshire.

The menu is more of a restauranty affair than you’d expect to find in the average tearoom, but helpfully they offer small portions as well as full size versions.

My delightful assistants and I all went for small portions in order to leave room for pudding.

Delightful assistant no.1 had smoked haddock with boiled new potatoes and spring greens:

Delightful assistant no.2 and I both opted for pea risotto, which came with creamy cheese fritters and was artistically finished with watercress and pea shoots. I thought it was one of the most beautiful meals I’d ever eaten:

I was particularly delighted by the curling pea shoots:

The main courses were very good, but what of the desserts?

Choosing a sweet was a fairly painful business. I’m often torn in situations where there’s a number of pleasing pudding options, and I had a sort of pleasurable nightmare at Balmakewan.

I almost plumped for St Clement’s Log, one of the day’s specials and the choice of delightful assistant no.1. I tasted a bit of hers and, although you might not get all this from the photograph, it was a creamy, moussey, extremely citrussy slab of near perfection:

Delightful assistant no.2 also went down the creamy pudding route, with Bailey’s and white chocolate cheesecake. Texturewise, it struck me as cheesecake perfection, melting in the mouth like a snowflake on the tongue:

Faced with such decadent delights, what do you suppose I went for?

Regular readers might not be too surprised by my choice of a very decent sized (enormous) fruit scone:

It was served with a little dish of swirling butter and a small cup of excellent strawberry jam:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Due to its great girth I struggled to finish it, but the accompaniment of a pot of Lady Grey tea helped it down nicely. The assistants both went for coffee.

Prior to hot beverages, with our main courses we had a carafe of water between us. In addition to that, delightful assistant no.2 had a bottle of Thistly Cross cider, an alcoholic beverage crafted in the Scottish seaside town of Dunbar.

He enjoyed it very much, but it left him ready for a nice nap, so when our luncheon was concluded he headed off to the car for a sleep while delightful assistant no.1 and I went for a little walk up a quiet road.

On the way we passed the garden of Balmakewan House, which had an unusual stone fence (or perhaps, being made of stone, it would be considered a wall):

There was also a curious old tower in a field that caught our attention. I have no idea what it was doing there, but I thought it looked rather nice sitting alongside some pylons (I like a nice pylon):

When we got back to the car, delightful assistant no.2 was awake and ready for a new experience, so we all whisked off to the nearby Steptoe’s Yard. I wrote about this amazing place on my Teacups Press blog last year but on that occasion it was only delightful assistant no.1 and I who visited.

As anticipated, delightful assistant no.2 was fascinated by the garden implements:

Despite the profusion of items on offer, we left empty handed.

It’s several days since we had this little outing, but while I’ve been writing this post the memory of that Balmakewan scone has been looming large in my mind. It exceeded expectations and days later I’m craving another. This, in my view, is an indication of scone greatness.

 

Read Full Post »

After my last post, I was thinking it was high time I did a post dedicated my two most delightful assistants.

Then, I thought, they really should be a more permanent fixture on my blog and so instead I’ve written a separate page about them. You can find it as a tab at the top of the blog, or by clicking here.

The picture below was taken last May and is a little corridor in their garden, between a fence and a wall, that they’ve left to grow wild.

It reminds me of the house and garden I was brought up in, where they did a similar thing. There was a section at the bottom of the garden that remained unmown and unplanted, and it was chock-full of long grasses, wild poppies and the like. There was a tree in the middle of it, from which my mum hung a wooden plank on two ropes to make a swing. I remember taking an old pan and a wooden spoon down there and mixing up recipes with soil and grass in, lost in my own little outdoor kitchen. Happy days.

Read Full Post »

The autumn colours in Perthshire are particularly good this year and, thinking that the Scottish Borders would be putting on a similarly spectacular show, I took the delightful assistants down there for a gawp at the weekend.

We were most surprised to find that, despite being further south, it felt like winter rather than autumn in the Borders. Many of the trees were completely bare and most of the leaves that were left on the trees were well past their flame-grilled best.

However, I’m happy to say that at our destination of Dawyck Botanic Gardens, nature’s loveliness was abounding:

A couple of beech trees had curious wrappings round their trunks:

There was a poem, entitled The Bandaged Trees, attached to one of the trunks, but I found it a tad depressing so I won’t burden you with it.

Looking up into the trees was beautiful with the sunlight on the leaves:

Dawyck (more or less pronounced Daw-ik) is a beautiful place to walk around, and even though there were a lot of cars in the car park, we met very few people as we strolled through the gardens.

Here are a couple of tiny assistants perched atop a lovely bridge:

The air smelled very fresh and I took lots of deep breaths. The amount of lichen on the trees was perhaps a good indicator of just how pollution-free the atmosphere was. Some of the birches looked as if they were dressed in furs and feather boas:

Bits of the garden were in the shade and quite frosty, an ideal hiding place for ice nymphs and frost elves. Apparently, if you run backwards making chirpy little whistling noises they sometimes pop out. I tried this, but I didn’t see any. Mind you, I find that trying to stay upright while running backwards takes up most of my concentration.

My camera battery died just past this bench,

which was a pity as I had been hoping to take photos of the lunch we had after our walk.

However, I wouldn’t like to sign off without a small morsel to share with you, so here’s a Christmas pudding scone* I made yesterday instead:

*so called because it was inspired by Christmas pudding, and contains sultanas, mixed peel, slivered almonds, cherries, dates, mixed spice, cinnamon, nutmeg and treacle, as well as the standard scone ingredients

Read Full Post »

During my little holiday in Galloway last week I visited a number of beautiful gardens.

Things grow very well in Scotland’s south-west, thanks to a fair bit of rain, warm air from the Gulf Stream and a lack of hard frosts. For these reasons exotic plant varieties are more prevalent in Galloway than in much of the rest of Scotland, and local green-fingered souls make the most of it.

One of the fine horticultural havens you can pay to go round is Logan House Gardens, right next-door to the more well-known Logan Botanic Gardens. At one point a gate allows you to gaze from one garden into the other (they used to be part of the same estate):

The Logan House Gardens side of the gate, looking through to Logan Botanic Gardens

Despite having visited Logan Botanic Gardens many times, I had been snubbing Logan House Gardens since I was a tot (when I’m reassured I visited, although I have no memory of it). Sticking the camera through the gate, here’s what you can see of Logan Botanics from Logan House:

The main thing that put me off venturing into Logan House Gardens before was the lack of a tearoom. To my mind, a garden is all very well, but a garden with a tearoom is a far more attractive prospect. Since Logan Botanics has an excellent tearoom, it always won out, leaving poor old Logan House without my contribution to its upkeep.

Last week, after stopping at an exellent tearoom en route (the scones were so good that we went back the very next day for more):

An oustandingly good fruit scone near Logan House Gardens

my delightful assistants and I headed off to Logan House Gardens.

The gardens surround a large pink house, which is privately owned and not open to the public:

Logan House: a vision in pink

The grounds are quite substantial and contain a variety of habitats. In early September there was a dominance of foliage over flowers, and one of the things that struck me was the amount of green abounding.

At one corner of the garden there was a grassy avenue planted with palm trees on one side and monkey puzzles on the other. After a destructive storm on Boxing Day 1998, part of the avenue was destroyed. The small monkey puzzles in the foreground were post-storm additions, planted to replace the damaged specimens:

Avenue of palms and monkey puzzles

In addition to the above, Logan House contains prize specimens of over 20 different tree species, 14 of which are Scottish champions and 7 of which are UK champions. I forget now if this one is a champion or not, but in any case it’s a pretty spectacular fellow – the octopus tree, Pinus radiata:

Two small assistants scurrying away from the enormous tentacles of the octopus tree

An attempt to get the whole of the octopus tree into the picture (I didn’t quite manage it, but you get the idea, it’s large)

One of the areas I found particularly interesting was the Tunnel Walk, which was criss-crossed with interestingly twisted tree trunks and branches:

Twisting trees in the Tunnel Walk at Logan House Gardens

The light as I walked through this area had a magical quality. I felt that wood nymphs ought to be playing in the spotlight, and perhaps they were, I just didn’t see them:

Playground of wood nymphs

The website for Logan House Gardens claims that they have ’40 shades of green’, to which I would respond ‘at least’.

A few of the 40 shades of green

More greens

Before I started writing it, I entitled this post ‘Peace and contentment’ because when I thought of Logan House Gardens, that was what sprang to mind.

It’s a shame it’s taken me so long to appreciate its splendour, but I will certainly be visiting it again when I get the chance.

I’m looking forward to its welcoming driveway luring me in next time to surprise me with more treasures.

Read Full Post »

A few weeks ago I took my delightful assistant to the pretty village of Culross (pronounced Coo-ross) in Fife.

To my mind, there is such a thing as taking too many photographs, and it’s something I suffer from quite a bit. The problem for me is that when I get home and download them, if I’ve taken too many I feel overwhelmed, and if I want to write a post I just don’t know where to begin and which pictures to choose.

Since the visit to Culross my camera has given up the ghost and I can’t say I blame it. The place is so ridiculously picturesque that it’s impossible not to snap a new view with every step. Since we spent several hours there, I came home with literally hundreds of pictures. You’ll be relieved to hear that I’m not going to post them all, and will attempt to limit myself to a reasonable number.

One of the big attractions of the village is Culross Palace, which dates from 1597. It’s in the care of the National Trust for Scotland, which means that the delightful assistant and I got in for free (we’re both members). This is the entrance to the palace:

It’s one of these attractions where you just wander around at your own pace, reading information sheets about each area, and there are guides in several of the rooms who can answer any questions you might have. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately for me, in this instance) you’re not allowed to take photos inside. Most of it was quite dark with small windows letting in little light even on a sunny day.

There are several unusual features of Culross Palace, but I think chief amongst these are the tiered garden at the back of the buildings, and the fact that both palace and garden are situated in a village that seems to be frozen in time.

The garden slopes upwards at quite a steep angle and is laid out on a number of terraces. Here are some of the steps leading between terraces:

Part of the garden is occupied by chickens, which delighted me. In fact, afterwards when we were discussing our favourite things about the day I chose the chickens as one of my highlights. I don’t know why it is, but I’m always very taken with chickens on a day out.

We spent a long time in the garden, enjoying the chickens and some beautifully scented stripy roses:

Of course, before all this we had to bolster our energies with refreshments. I’m doing this the wrong way round (you see, I’m all confused by the number of pictures, and too distracted to do anything about it in this post), but here’s where we took them:

I think it was the first time I’d ever seen teacups hanging in windows on strings. I think it was also the first time I’d seen Iron Goddess of Mercy tea on the menu.

The tea was an oolong from Taiwan, and with a name like that I felt unable to resist. The glamorous assistant opted for coffee and we both had fruit scones with jam and butter. My tea came in one of those nice heavy black Japanese teapots:

Those sheets of paper at the left of the teacup comprise the impressive tea menu. There were some exotic varieties with interesting information about each one and it was tricky to choose. I will obviously need to return and try some of the others in due course.

Nextdoor to the tearoom was a pottery and gift shop with some interesting tea things:

Beyond the confines of the tearoom, pottery and palace, Culross has much to offer the visitor. Just wandering through the little streets, some of them cobbled, offers a variety of beautiful buildings and a sense of the history of the place.

So many householders seemed to be taking pride in the appearance of their houses, with flowers galore, in baskets, tubs and gardens:

Even those with apparently nowhere to display flowers had tied flowerpots to the walls:

In addition to all these privately owned flowers, there was botanical abundance to be found in the Culross Old School Yard Community Garden which, with considerable dedication and hard work, had gone from being a wasteland to this:

With a wildflower meadow and a seat to enjoy it from:

On our way back to the car, via more delightful little winding streets:

we passed this 17th century house that had been made into an electricity substation, with a vintage motor parked outside it to please the tourists. This was a shot I considered entering as my ‘white’ photo in the recent Capture the Colour competition:

Two last photos, if you haven’t already wandered off (my apologies for the length of this post and the number of photos in it), the first showing a series of crow-stepped gables with pantiled roofs (pantiles were imported into Scotland from the Netherlands centuries ago as ballast in ships and traded for other goods):

and one last flowery picture of a yellow foxglove from the Culross Palace garden. Flowers were a big part of our visit, and I’d like my next visit to be at a different time of year, to discover what other treats Culross has up its sleeve and along its winding streets:

Read Full Post »

On holiday in Galloway last month, my delightful assistants and I visited Logan Botanic Gardens:

This is a pilgrimage each of us makes, usually at least once a year. Being members of the Royal Botanic Gardens (which comprises a set of four lovely gardens in Scotland, including Logan), like true Scots, we want to get our money’s worth.

The big bonus for me is that Logan also happens to contain one of my favourite tearooms in Galloway.

At first sight the striplights and tiled floor might seem a little stark and utilitarian, but I find this place warm and welcoming and I like the bright cleanliness of it. As soon as I step through the door I get a sense of having come home.

On this occasion, we had come here not only to enjoy the tearoom and look round the garden, but also to attend the Annual General Meeting. Despite all having been members for some time, none of us had ever attended any of the AGMs, and since this one happened to be on while we were in the area, we took the opportunity to pop in.

The meeting wasn’t being held until 2pm, so we rolled up in time for morning snacks, intending to munch those, mooch round the garden, have lunch and then drop into the meeting.

I noticed behind the counter that scones were being cut out of dough, and knowing that scones only take about 10 minutes to cook, I wondered if we might partake of these when they were ready. The lovely lady who was making them said that if we didn’t mind waiting she’d bring some over to our table when they were cooked, and in the meantime fetch us beverages to be getting on with.

So, we sat down with our drinks, and a few minutes later delicious piping hot scones appeared:

They were quite small and dainty, but perfectly formed and absolutely delicious. When the bill came I was surprised at how little we were being charged, and when we queried it we discovered that they’d cut the price of the scones as they were smaller than usual.

Thus refreshed, out we trotted for some fresh air and greenery.

I could do a whole post on this garden, but I will instead limit myself to showing you a hotel complex for minibeasts:

These hotels are at the top end of the market, the minibeast equivalent of a right royal residence:

I wondered if it was Prince Charles who came up with the hotel name. I saw him at Logan Botanics a few years ago when he had turned up to open something, although I can’t now remember what. I remember it was a lovely sunny day, and he was very tanned and wearing a sandy coloured suit that made him look like a pukka sahib abroad. (He was sort of abroad I suppose, having come from England).

After our garden stroll we strode back into the tearoom for a spot of luncheon prior to the meeting. We all opted for soup, the two delightful assistants taking lentil, while I chose minestrone.

Lentil soup:

Minestrone (it was probably the best minestrone soup I’ve ever had, I can still remember how good it was a month later):

The bread was also surprisingly good. I usually prefer brown bread, but this was very tasty, really crusty and crunchy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside.

We did wonder if there might be biscuits at the AGM, but in case not we had a little sweet thing after our soup. We got two pieces of Malteser slice to share between us:

I find it endlessly satsifying to break through the middle of a Malteser:

Nicely filled and not requiring the AGM’s biscuits, we filed into the meeting along with 20-odd other punters.

The sight that met my eyes caused me to gasp. Spread out inside the room was a magnificent buffet consisting of trays of sandwiches, scones, biscuits and cakes, and there were several pots of tea and coffee next to a stack of teacups. We looked at each other in a distressed way and wondered what to do about this situation.

Despite having no room for more food at this juncture, I simply could not pass up this veritable feast. I chose a small fruit scone (this was what the lady in the tearoom had evidently been making them for) with butter and jam, helped myself to a cup of tea and sat down in the back row next to delightful assistant no.1 (who was so full of lunch she couldn’t even manage a cup of tea).

After a bit of toing and froing with people finding seats and selecting goodies to nibble on, the chap in charge offered us another chance to take some treats before the meeting began. I really hadn’t room but I just couldn’t leave all that food there uneaten and looking deliciously at me. I thought perhaps that as the meeting went on I might develop an appetite, and so I topped my teacup up and helped myself to a coconuty cakey pink thing, which I laid on the windowsill beside me. Needless to say, it had gone by the close of the meeting:

After the meeting, which included a most interesting talk on ferns by a very enthusiastic fellow, we bid a fond adieu to Logan and its inhabitants, and are already looking forward to our next visit.

Read Full Post »

Yesterday my lovely assistant and I headed off to one of our many local antiques centres to take morning refreshments. It’s not just one antique shop, this place, it’s like a huge aircraft hangar full of different antiques companies, each selling their wares in their own little area. There are specialist sellers of furniture, books, pictures, jewellery, ornaments, postcards, clothing, china, cutlery, and a lot more besides.

It’s so big that my assistant and I, having mooched off in different directions for a while, then spent about 10 minutes just trying to find each other again. There was no mobile phone reception so we couldn’t even text or ring each other. Fortunately, they have a tannoy system so if I hadn’t found her when I did I might have gone to the front desk and ask them to put a call out; I feel sure this must happen to missing companions frequently.

Anyway, before all that happened we took ourselves into the tearoom:

I only had my mobile phone camera on me, but I snapped away all the same. The cafe here is more of a restaurant really, with a large dining area and a very nice lunch menu, but there are a few sofas as well, and we flopped onto a couple of them and ordered English breakfast tea (me), an Americano (my delightful assistant) and a cream scone between us. The nice waitress even brought us an extra plate and extra cutlery:

Cream scones are not something I allow myself to have very often, but I just felt in need of a little treat on this occasion, and since we were sharing one it wasn’t so bad. I was a bit unsure about the cream at first, it being that air-filled fluffed up stuff, but in fact it slipped down a treat with the strawberry jam.

En route to the toilets, I noticed some antlers being put to good use:

After our refreshments, and before we lost each other, we enjoyed a leisurely amble round some of the antiques stalls. Quite often when I’m out for a walk, especially on a warm summer’s day nowhere near a tearoom, or sitting in the garden feeling extremely lazy, I dream of having a butler appear out of nowhere with tea on a silver tray, something like this:

Ideally I would like him to present me with a pretty cake stand full of small sandwiches, scones and dainty cakes, but failing that I might be interested in chocolate bars full of sweets:

Especially the one full of chunks of Cadbury’s Twirl, although I worry that the background chocolate might not be as good as the Cadbury’s bits:

On the way out of the antiques centre I passed this beautiful old till, which isn’t used as a till any more but adds a bit of class to the reception area:

I wanted to visit a tearoom in the very Scottish sounding town of Auchtermuchty and in order to work up an appetite for lunch we had a little walk in the hills above the town.

On our way to park the car on a quiet bit of road we passed a garden with a notice in it that caught my eye. I am very fond of rabbits and this little sign made my day:

I was quite surprised to find that they have a website (my assistant thought that perhaps it was put up by an indulgent parent with a rabbit-loving child) and that it appears to be a well established little business. The website contains advice about keeping rabbits that was completely new to me (although I’ve never kept real rabbits, myself). This advice includes the following:

“Your Rabbit needs daily exercise outdoors in the sunshine. Around 4 hours a day is best, maybe split up into morning and evening. Remember to give them a bolthole to run into if they want to hide and also a shady spot if they get too warm. Your rabbit may be cooler in their hutch in a shaded place in the garden when it is very hot. Supply some toys for them to play with, and lots of fresh water. Provide tunnels for them to play hide and seek and watch them have fun.”

Some of the toys suggested for rabbits are: old telephone books, plastic keys and rolled up newspaper. I was particularly surprised to learn that 99% of a rabbit’s diet should be hay and that you should not feed your rabbit with lettuce. I thought lettuce was a close second to carrots when it came to what bunnies like to munch, but it seems I’ve been misguided for all these years. Even carrots, apparently, should only be given in small amounts as a special treat.

Beyond the rabbit rescue place we had a walk along a small road. It was a very dull dark day but I took a few photos in the gloom:

I always like a dry stone wall:

I thought this looked an interesting house. It had a new bit added onto the right hand side, but I left that out of the photo because it didn’t really enhance the building, to my mind:

It was quite an energetic walk and by the end of it I was very ready for a bite to eat in Auchtermuchty.

It often astonishes me that people manage to get through the posts on this blog, because I’m afraid they do tend to drag on and become quite intolerably long. In light of that fact, I’m going to save the Auchtermuchty tearoom for a separate entry.

Read Full Post »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,672 other followers

%d bloggers like this: