AS an avid spy of scones, my work takes me up and down the country.
Of course, it’s always great to discover a new gem, or dine in the hipster cafes of the moment that everyone is talking about.
But every once in a while, it’s nice to go back to an old favourite.
Today, I find myself out in the country, negotiating the winding back roads of Lanarkshire. And I stumble across Craigend Nursery.
Three years ago, I came here to sample what I can only describe as a triumphant treacle scone.
It took me back to my childhood, when they were my absolute favourite.
I vowed to return and have another one day, and now, here I am, in need of refreshment, and keen to see if these tasty treats are still the same as they once were.
It’s a dreich Saturday morning. The rain is tipping down, it’s cold and windy, so Craigend is pretty quiet.
A few couples are hugging mugs of hot tea or coffee and tucking into breakfast rolls.
I’m famished so, even though it’s nearly lunchtime, I opt for the full Scottish breakfast.
Square sausage, bacon, fried egg, black pudding, potato scone, tomatoes, mushrooms, beans – and even a wee bit of haggis, it’s certainly Scottish and there’s no doubt after working my way through this I’ll be full.
When the waitress brings a coffee and a couple of slices of toast and butter, I wonder how I will fit it all in.
Everything tastes great and, before I know, it I have a clean plate.
Still space for a scone, I ask myself? Well, given the nature of my job, I’m prepared to take one for the team, even if that means being rolled back to the car!
As good as it was, I shun the treacle treat for a plain one. Variety, after all, is the spice of life.
But I’m not disappointed. It arrives hot with butter and jam. It looks great, and it tastes even better.
Firm on the outside and sumptuously soft on the inside, it’s heaven on a plate.
By the time I leave, every table is filled and hungry diners are forming an orderly queue, clearly the people of Condorrat like a lie-in on the weekends!
It’s then I spot something I hadn’t noticed before.
A door at the back of the gift shop guarding a hidden oasis.
And it literally is that because opening it uncovers a huge room full of sand.
I don’t recall seeing it last time. Maybe it was added long after I’d gone.
But Craigend’s huge indoor sandpit has undoubtedly added to its charm – and is a huge pull for families who want to enjoy the beach all year round.
So if you’re lunching with a little one, why not work off your meal by building a sandcastle or two?
It will certainly take you back to your childhood, and that’s never a bad thing!
WARM WELCOME 9/10
LOCATION, LOCATION 9/10
SCONE SCORE 9/10