Scone of the Week #7

Today we returned to one of our favourite scone stops: The Rocking Horse Cafe at Rock Midsteads Farm. To get there from the A1 north of Alnwick, take the turn off for Christon Bank and after a few hundred yards you will see signs to follow for the cafe.

As usual we got a warm welcome. The Rocking Horse is one of the most dog-friendly cafes I know and many of the customers bring their four-legged friends along. Today the humans were joined by a Bedlington Terrier, a West and the cafe’s two resident border collies, Sam and Tess. Sam obviously thought that we were deprived as we didn’t have a dog with us, so he kept us company. What a friendly soul he is, and so well-behaved.

The cheese scones were as delicious as ever, served warm, with generous pats of butter and no foil wrappers to wrestle with. They were crumbly without being dry, with a good flavour and a decent crust. One of the best!

I ordered hot chocolate – and had a choice of types – either powder or proper chocolate. I went for the latter.

After a while of stirring the chocolate on the swizzle stick into the hot milk, it dissolved to make a deliciously chocolaty drink, perfect for a cold, blustery day.

I was sat next to the namesake rocking horse, so couldn’t resist taking a photo.

Since our last visit, one of the cafe staff, Janet, has opened a dog-grooming business next door and she splits her time between the two. Her new venture is called Hair of the Dog. I just love the name!

As we left, I noticed that the woods by the farm entrance were carpeted with snowdrops. Simply breathtaking.

I’m still under no illusion that winter is not over. Despite being so close to the sea, which can take the edge off the cold, we still get deep snow some winters, and little or none in other years. So far, all we’ve seen here in Northumberland this winter is a dusting on the tops of the Cheviots. Have you had snow where you are ? (Don’t forget to say where that is.)

On the Coast: Ponies, Eider Ducks and Signs of Spring

We had a drive up the coast today and came across these ponies on Annstead Dunes , a Northumberland Wildlife Trust nature reserve north of Beadnell. This was a small herd of six Exmoor Ponies, one of our native breeds. They were brought here some years ago as part of the reserve’s management plan. Several groups of ponies graze on the course grasses, which allows wildflowers to grow, improving the biodiversity of the site.

The Exmoors are very distinctive: bay with a pale “mealy” muzzle, pale underside and ring around the eye. We catch sight of them regularly when we drive up this stretch of coast, sometimes grazing, sometimes trotting along the dunes in a tight herd. It’s always lovely to see them.

We drove south to Howick, where there is a place to park by the Northumberland Coastal Path. K took the dog for a walk while I looked around to see what I could see and did some knitting.

The sea was quite calm, so conditions were reasonable for spotting whales and dolphins but nothing was about, and not many birds either, just a few gulls and a pair of eider ducks.

You can just make them out as dots on the water: the striking black and white male and the drab brown female. Eiders often mate for life. It’s too early in the for this pair to be breeding yet though.

With nothing else about, I got on with my knitting. I’m still making my socks -it’s a very compact portable project for knitting on the go.

There are some definite signs of spring about. We saw these winter aconites growing under a hedge on our trip out today.

All of a sudden there are clumps of snowdrops everywhere, including these in our garden. We do often get snow in February or even March, so winter will be with us for a while yet, but it always feels positive to see the first flowers of the year.

What is your favourite sign of spring?