The Scots have given a lot to the world, haven’t we? If you were to telephone a friend to arrange a train ride to the local hospital, where your partner was being treated with penicillin for a nasty infection, you would have to say many thank yous to the Scottish pioneers and inventors who made it all possible.
We’re a very industrious lot.
But I think perhaps our most successful concoction – or my favourite, at the very least – is the humble amber liquid we call our National Drink.
No, not the fizzy one. The one that puts hairs on your chest and contributes to late-night debates in dark bars.
Yes, the distilling of whisky in all its many forms, from smokey to smooth, peaty to powerful, is a kindness the world will never truly be able to repay.
Readers who keep up with my cake-filled adventures will remember I recently made a trip to the Isle of Mull, and when my return journey involved passing through Oban, I knew I had the perfect excuse to indulge my love of a good nip… or two.
As well as being home to stunning views, independent shops, and more history than you can shake an ice cream cone at, the “little bay” also boasts The Oban Distillery, one of Scotland’s oldest sources of Single Malt Scotch Whisky.
Now, I know you’re all here to read about my scone scoffing, so I won’t witter on too much about my time among the casks. But believe me when I say, the tour (and tasting) is not to be missed.
Fast-forward a few hours, as I stepped back into the daylight, I needed some fortification for the next leg of my travels, and luckily I didn’t have to go far – just 10 steps to the right, in fact.
Underneath a set of white awnings, the entrance to Julie’s Coffee House is brightly decorated with bulging pots of flowers and clusters of tables and chairs, making for a very warm welcome. And when I stepped inside, the tantalizing smell of freshly baked scones confirmed I was in the right place to put my very specific set of skills to good use.
Baked potatoes, filled sandwiches, hearty soups and gooey toasties filled the menu, but I was happy to settle for a coffee (served in very stylish Denby mugs, no less) and not one, but two scones.
Well, I had to make sure both savoury and sweet were up to scratch.
I’m happy to report the lemon and raspberry bake was perfectly moist, while the cheese version had a crust on top worthy of a Paul Hollywood handshake. Simply divine.
What’s more, the staff were the cherry on top of the cake, providing first-class service throughout my visit, and blinked not an eye when I ordered two scones just for myself. That’s my kind of people.
Now, if anyone can advise where I can find a whisky-flavoured scone, I’ll know where to set my sleuthing sights next.
Warm, friendly and filled with locals and tourists alike. 8/10
Nestled bang in the centre of the busy town, just 200m from the Tourist Information Centre. 9/10
Homemade and, evidently, quite famous. 8/10