IF you go down to the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise.
You’ll find a ravenous Scone Spy, with a rumbling belly and muddy shoes communing with nature… if you’re anywhere near The Big Red Barn, anyway.
I’m at South Melbourne Farm, Elsrickle, just north of Biggar, having taken a wee detour while travelling between Edinburgh and Glasgow, and needed somewhere to refuel with a good old cuppa and a tasty scone.
The Big Red Barn might seem like it’s out in the middle of nowhere but it’s a popular stop-off point for folk travelling across the central belt and is busy when we arrive.
As well as the cafe, there are numerous other reasons to stop by.
It’s got a shop, a pie stall called the Little Red Pie Shed and, with 80 acres of woodland, a number of signposted walks to explore, hence the tagline “food, goods and woods”.
Inside, it’s nice and bright with a huge, round cake display that you simply can’t miss.
And there’s shelves teaming with jars of jam, chutneys and so on, many of which seem to be made in-house, plus various fancy nicknacks which are sure to please tourists.
But I’m more interested in the menu.
Deciding I’ll grab a pie for the road, I go for smoked salmon and poached egg on wheaten toast which turns out to be a thick slice of Northern Irish soda bread, and rather nice, too.
The staff are lovely and our drinks and food come out very quickly, even though they are rushed off their feet.
Now I’m not usually one to go on about a salad – I’m more of the carb-loving kind – but the butternut squash and bean salad that comes with my dish is delicious!
It’s not the best smoked salmon I’ve tasted, to be honest, but it’s a nice dish all the same.
And since I’ve done some walking, a wee cake indulgence can’t hurt.
I try a slice of carrot cake, which is sadly a bit more style over substance.
The spices make it taste more like Christmas cake (it’s still far too early for festive treats!) and the cream cheese frosting is more like sweet royal icing.
The fruit scone is very nice, though, but what really makes it is the homemade strawberry jam.
It’s so good I’m tempted to buy some on my way out, before I remember I already have a dozen jars of jam and marmalade in the cupboard back home.
It comes with the scone-scoffing territory.
It’s only when we’re back on the motorway I realise I’ve forgotten to grab a pie for later.
Ah well, I know where to stop for lunch on the way back then.
WARM WELCOME 8/10
LOCATION, LOCATION 7/10
SCONE SCORE 7/10