Mopping up in Scotland: tea in Paisley & Ayr; coffee in Motherwell

Finding the best places for coffee and tea in every UK cathedral town and city is not always the easiest of tasks.

In Paisley earlier in the summer, we failed to find a place we liked for tea, and the old weavers’ cottages were closed when we dropped by.

In Ayr, we had more luck on the tea front, but then our tea shop closed down – AND the Cathedral was locked because Father was on holidays…

Then in Motherwell we struggled to find anything of quality, and its heritage centre, with views out across the town, was closed also on the day we were in town.

So, on the way home from our Lismore and Dunblane trip last week, we dropped by Paisley, Ayr AND Motherwell to tie up a few loose ends…

The Sma’ Shot Cottages in Paisley only open at midday on a Wednesday so there was time for a quick coffee back at Malatso Deli – the Fancy a Cuppa? favourite for coffee in Paisley. Owner Marc was over at his new takeaway outlet, so it was Drew from LA who served up the cappuccinos – and a great job he did too.

The restored 18th century weavers’ cottages are a fantastic place to take afternoon tea in Paisley. Who cares if the lemon meringue pie was a bit wonky (proves it was home-baked by one of the volunteers here), or that the tea came just in fair-trade bags?

Front of Sma' Shot Cottages in Paisley

Here, it’s the context that counts; and the Sma’ Shot Cottages tell a great tale of Paisley weavers fighting for their rights back in the 1850s. You can even sip your tea sitting right by one of the weavers’ tiny beds in the dining room – wow, they must have been short…

Tea by the bed at Sma' Shot Cottages in Paisley

What a great place – and such a shame there aren’t enough volunteers to allow it to open more often.

So to Ayr, where we finally found the Cathedral open – it’s locked not just for Father’s holidays, apparently, but because of thefts from the chapels in recent years – shame. Mind you, from my chats with a few of the locals who attend mass there, some wouldn’t mind there being a new theft… of the rather abstract Stations of the Cross lining the walls. I kind of liked their freshness, but it’s true it’s hard to tell which is which…

Ayr Cathedral

Just as important for FancyaCuppa? was the discovery that Carol had taken over the tea shop we had reviewed earlier in the year and had re-opened just a week ago.

It’s hard to judge a place that’s opened in a hurry only a week earlier, and she’s being less ambitious than the previous owner over just how many cakes and things to bake on-site.

Most significantly for us, though, she has kept the supply of Suki Tea, guaranteeing a good cuppa with whatever cakes and scones she ends up making.

Suki Tea and scone at Carol's Coffee Club in Ayr

And with young Courtney not only helping to serve up, but also tasked with getting them up and running on Twitter and Facebook, there’s hope for a healthy future for Carol’s Coffee Club in Beresford Terrace – AND we have our tea venue in Ayr back for our site.

And, finally, to Motherwell. It’s not the easiest place to fall in love with, it’s probably seen better days when the Ravenscraig steel works was open, and it wasn’t helped last Thursday with the rain just pouring down incessantly.

BUT, we finally found a good cup of coffee in town. Kuppas Hardback Café sits right in the middle of Motherwell Library. It’s one of three or four such coffee shops run by North Lanarkshire Council in their local libraries…

Motherwell Library for coffee

Means there isn’t much raucous banter going on, but very friendly service, a nice cappuccino and – lovely touch, this – shortbread and scones made by the local authority’s school dinners service! Wow, if the meals are as good as their shortbread, those Motherwell school kids are lucky bunnies.

Coffee and shortbread at Kuppas Hardback Cafe in Motherwell Library

The path between the library and the Heritage Centre in Motherwell actually gives you a better overview of Motherwell’s past than the Centre itself. It has key dates and milestones carved into the paving stones, including football references (well, they are top of the SPL right now…).

Motherwell in the paving stones

Five stories up, the Heritage Centre gives you great views over the surrounding area, though in the pouring rain you can barely see where the Ravenscraig Steel Works were. And what a shame they moved their permanent exhibition about Motherwell’s links with the steel industry.

I know they needed to find a home for the city archives, but surely a town like Motherwell should be celebrating its industrial heritage – at least in the Heritage Centre???

Video: Pondering Paisley for coffee and tea

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