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Posts Tagged ‘Vintage china’

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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If you happen to be free next weekend, Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 October, and you’re in reach of the Birnam Hotel in Perthshire, you might like to pop along to the “Meet the Makers” fayre being held there from 10am to 5pm on both days.

It’s hosted by Exclusively Highlands, who are advertising it on their Facebook page.

The reason I mention it is because I’m going to have a stall there, flogging my little book,

some lovely vintage china (not the best of photos, the china looks much better in real life – come and see for yourself),

my sister’s handmade teacosies,

and her cushion covers.

I attended the fayre (I don’t know why they’ve adopted this spelling of the word) last year, the very first time it had been held there, and this year when I found myself with things to sell I thought it might be nice to take a stall and see if I could do a bit of business.

I’ve attended a couple of craft fairs elsewhere in the last few days and noticed that, although there were plenty of punters milling around showing an interest, there was a distinct lack of money changing hands. I’ve spoken to stall holders and other retailers, and they’ve all reported sluggish sales this year.

Quite understandable of course, I myself haven’t bought anything from any of the fairs I’ve been to this year, and in previous years I would almost certainly have shelled out for something.

I watched an interesting series of TV documentaries recently about economics (that might sound a tad dull, but they were enthusiastically presented and well researched), in which the point was made that in order for an economy to work money has to change hands frequently. The problem at the moment seems to be that most of us don’t feel inclined to let go of what we have.

photo courtesy of http://www.telegraph.co.uk

Part of what makes us feel a bit nervous about spending, even if we have a regular income, is that our money doesn’t seem to be worth as much as it used to be. Only a few years ago my savings account yielded twice as much interest as it gives now, and the media is full of doom and gloom about how things are only going to get worse. Not surprisingly, all of this makes the ordinary chap in the street feel a little protective of the money he’s got.

My dad made the point this morning that, in terms of starting up in business, I’ve picked just about the worst time to do it, which is quite true. I also chose the worst time possible to leave a secure, well-paid, job in 2008, just when the recession struck and companies put a freeze on hiring new staff. However, when you get yourself into a bit of a hole like that, it forces you to use your resourcefulness and challenges you to find new ways of staying optimistic. I can’t say that I always manage to do either of these things, and I confess to spending far too much time worrying about it and feeling somewhat demoralised, but learning to count your blessings is a very useful tool in life, and one that can be equally valuable whether you’re living on the breadline or lounging on your megayacht shovelling away the caviar.

From what I remember of the Birnam Fayre last year, crafts on sale included photographs, sculpture, jewellery, handmade chocolates, children’s books, tweed handbags, glassware, biscuits and wood carvings. I can’t remember how many stalls there were but I would guess at 30+ and most of them were housed in the hotel’s rather grand and very spacious hall upstairs.

I don’t think my stall will be in that room, which is a pity, so if you do call in be sure to have a peek into the other little areas dotted about. I might even give you something for a knock-down price. In fact, if you quote ‘Lorna’s little bargain’ I’ll guarantee you a quid off any item you buy. Can’t say fairer than that in these straitened times.

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This week’s Tearoom of the Week involved a day out built around visiting this tearoom. There’s so much to relate that I’m splitting it into two posts: Part One – Savoury, and Part Two – Sweet. Like a good girl, I’m having my savouries first.

Last week I took my two most delightful assistants down to the seaside village of Pittenweem in Fife, in search of a chocolaterie cafe I’d heard tell of but never been to.

Inside, the cafe had a slightly run down, studenty feel to it, which reminded me of cafes I used to frequent during my student days in Edinburgh:

Not quite shabby chic but kind of grungy

As tempted as I was to dive right into some of the chocolate options, I was pretty hungry and decided on a bowl of hearty vegan bean soup to start with. All three of us had soup (different types) which was served in vintage china, with a little tower of lightly toasted Ciabatta slices on a side plate. This was my bean soup:

A meal in a vintage china bowl

There was a lot to look at in the room, from chocolate-themed pictures:

Framed chocolate adverts Lyon and Delespaul-Havez

To a colourful metal sculpture:

Metalwork as art

The deep windowsills were filled with numerous wooden puzzles, books and games that had been provided to keep the customers entertained:

Entertainments for the punters

There was a wooden puzzle on our table when we arrived, which we tried in vain to solve. The waitress, seeing our strife, took pity on us and exchanged it for an easier one, which we managed to fit together nicely:

A solution found, to the satisfaction of all concerned

Our soup had been quite filling, so rather than pile in some sweets straight away, we left the cafe for a stroll through the town with the intention of returning once we’d worked up an appetite.

Pittenweem is an interesting little place, with some unusual and attractive architecture, as well as a way-marked coastal path.

There were some beautiful sandstone buildings leading down quite steeply sloping streets to the sea:

Steeply sloping streets in Pittenweem

And buildings with doors below street level (in front of the yellow door is a stone step up to the street, although I admit it’s not all that obvious in the picture). The yellow paintwork against a whitewashed wall looked almost Mediterranean in the sunshine:

Yellow paint with white walls looks Mediterranean on a sunny day in Pittenweem

The Fife coastline is dotted with small harbours like the one in Pittenweem, and in fact this one is the most active of those around this section of the coast, known as the East Neuk of Fife.

Fishing is still quite a big thing in Pittenweem

When we visited it was all very quiet, apart from a couple of rowing boats full of enthusiastic and energetic sailors. We had seen them out at sea, battling against the waves and no doubt getting very wet in the process.  I wondered if they had picnics with them. If I’d been foolhardy enough to get into one of those boats I would at least have stashed lots of comforting supplies in my pockets first.

All quiet in the harbour but outside that the wind was blowing fairly ferociously

There were lots of interesting little bits of architecture near the harbour, including this very fancily shaped corner piece of wall:

Beautifully shaped bit of architecture

And this lovely building looking out to the harbour, with a stained glass window set next to the doorway, and the house name carved into the back of a bench seat outside:

Lovely building near the harbour with a stained glass window

On a street leading up from the harbour there was a wonderful wall which had apparently been built around a big lump of rock that was already there:

Lovely sandstone in Pittenweem

For a bit of exercise and in order to enjoy the sunshine and fire ourselves up for our sweets, we took a bracing stroll along the coastal path:

A shed sign marks the way

A breezy bracing walk along the coast

As we reached the shoreline we passed through the edge of a links golf course. This type of golf course is very typical in Scotland and no doubt extremely challenging for the golfers concerned, what with gusting winds off the sea:

The coastal path goes through the golf course at Pittenweem

On the shore there was a large chunk of concrete emblazoned with a patriotic message. These sorts of messages appear all over Scotland and I’m not entirely sure why, but I daresay they’re written by Scots who want to be released from the tyranny of their English neighbours. Personally speaking, I’m very fond of the English, not to mention the Welsh and the Irish, and I like being a part of Britain. If I took tea with Alex Salmond (leader of the Scottish National Party and staunch campaigner for Scottish independence) I think I’d keep him off that topic and stick to safe subjects such as the weather, where he was going for his holidays and whatnot.

Patriotic message to remind us of our neighbours

If you still have the stomach for a bit more of Pittenweem, and some photos of sweet stuff, you might like to have a look at Part Two of this long post, but I need to toddle off and write it first…

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This week’s choice is one of those excellent farm shop-tearoom combinations, where locally grown produce and locally baked cakes stroll hand in hand along leafy country lanes (if I was a gifted cartoonist I would insert a little doodle of a carrot ambling along a grassy path with a sponge cake, but maybe you can imagine such an image).

It is located in a very beautiful area of rolling farmland, with a duck pond across the road from the tearoom (the first two photos were taken last summer, hence the leaves on the trees):

There’s a loch nearby which has a road going all the way round it and it’s a lovely peaceful place for an easy stroll:

The tearoom sits in a courtyard not far from the loch. The courtyard also contains a shop full of handcrafted items, some antiques, books and clothing, and a separate farm shop selling locally grown produce, preserves, etc. I really can’t account for this, but rather than take photos of the buildings to give an idea of the layout, all I have of the outside area is two tractors:

This one appears to have been made out of an oil drum and some leftovers:

The tearoom has been done up several times since I first started visiting it, and it’s more popular than ever these days. One of the reasons for that could be the size of the cake slices (although I must admit the entire menu is exellent, with several delicious hot meals available). Given the lack of scale, it’s hard to see how big this is, but the cake itself was a large one, cut into only eight pieces, making each slice a very substantial portion. This was a carrot cake:

Seeing how big the slices were, my beautiful assistant and I decided to share a piece and plumped, not unsually, for the coffee cake. We had both secretly wanted to go for the Victoria sponge, but each thinking that the other was more keen on the coffee cake, we remained silent in a very British manner, and ended up with our second choices. This was the Victoria sponge we were both secretly longing for:

The coffee cake that won the day:

It was served, as shown, on a very pretty tea plate, and turned out to be quite superb! I’m sure the Victoria sponge would have been equally good, but there were no complaints about the coffee cake, that’s for sure.

My other delightful assistant (my dad) had also joined us for this excursion, in order to take a little refreshment and get some exercise in the peaceful countryside nearby. He had a lemon slice:

The tearoom sells a few gifty things and also has a fine selection of tea packets for sale near the counter:

As I was leaving the tearoom, I managed to sneak a quick shot from the doorway while no-one was looking:

After our tea and cakes we took a leisurely stroll around the loch, passing a village school (I call it that becuase it’s so rural, but in fact there’s no village in sight, it’s just in the middle of nowhere, next to the farm and tearoom). The school catchment area must be fairly wide, because the community is quite spread out in this neck of the woods. It includes the area known as Glenisla, beautifully declared in mosaic form on a wall next to the school:

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