Happy New Year, my scone-loving friends! We’re only a few days into a new decade and a good friend of mine is already on the brink of breaking her New Year’s resolution.
I’ve never understood the point of those things anyway, especially if it involves diets and fitness.
But then my willpower hasn’t ever lasted more than a month.
So I’m being a devil on her shoulder today. Just eat the cake, Mary – what harm will it do?
We’re in The Heron Farm Shop and Kitchen, a wonderful café perched on a hill in the middle of the Lanarkshire countryside, just outside Strathaven.
Before us is a glorious cake display, laden with sweet treats. Perhaps it was a little cruel of me to bring her here.
She’s fretting about Slimming World “syns”. I tell her it would be a syn not to try a fruit scone as they look so good.
Alas, she ignores my advice and orders a salad while I indulge in one of The Heron’s signature baguettes – and a fruit scone, naturally.
When our food arrives I’m actually a little jealous as her salad is piled with roasted butternut squash, sweet potatoes and feta cheese.
But that envy evaporates when my lunch arrives – a hot garlic chicken baguette inspired by owners Emma and Angus’ trips to the Isle of Coll Hotel.
I can smell it before I see it. Packed with chunks of warm, juicy chicken smothered in garlic butter, sitting on a bed of crisp lettuce and drizzled with mayonnaise, it’s simple yet utterly delicious.
I’ve never been to Coll but it seems they know how to do a decent chicken baguette. I may have to make it my next Scone Spy destination.
Speaking of which, the scone is a very worthy indulgence – large, light and sweet with a decent amount of juicy fruit inside.
A home-made strawberry jam complements it wonderfully. After scoffing one half, my friend’s longing gaze catches my eye and I surreptitiously slide my plate across the table. It’s gone in a heartbeat.
When it comes to healthy eating, deprivation leads to failure in my mind. Its best to enjoy everything in moderation. Halving a scone with a friend helps, too.
After our meal, we take a look around the farm shop. It champions local producers from across Lanarkshire and Ayrshire, selling everything from fresh veg and artwork to McLean’s gin, distilled down the road in Strathaven.
It’s clear you don’t just leave The Heron with a full belly, but a bag full of goodies as well. If only I’d discovered it before Christmas!
I think I’ve decided on a New Year’s Resolution after all. I’ll make an effort to shop local and support small businesses.
Investing in delicious gin, chicken baguettes and scrummy fruit scones? Well that’s a resolution I might just keep past January.
After the festive mayhem, it’s a light, peaceful and friendly retreat. 9/10
A little out the way, but worth seeking out for wonderful food and majestic country views. 8/10
Heartily recommended. 9/10