Photo by Martin Westlake
Tea house owner, Gaynor Salisbury, shares her favorite spots in Edinburgh.
Name: Gaynor Salisbury
Neighborhood: Morningside, Edinburgh, Scotland
Occupation: Owner of Loopy Lorna’s Tea House, named in honor of her late mother. The café, which serves a wide variety of teas kept hot by a collection of quirky tea cozies, beckons the diverse Morningside community with the smell of its “scrummy” cakes, all baked on-site.
I moved to Morningside 18 years ago purely by chance, but I’ve not wanted to leave since. It’s very self-sufficient, a little village within Edinburgh. You can get everything you need—from food to lingerie—without having to go into the city center.
It’s very green where I live. It’s a two-minute walk to a beautiful woodland at the Hermitage of Braid. You could be in the middle of the countryside, it’s just so pleasant. It makes me think I should have a dog, but I haven’t got time for a dog. Students take picnics and chill out on sunny days. I go there to get away from my laptop and to clear my head. I like to sit by the stream, listening to the water while going through ideas I have for Loopy’s.
I named Loopy’s after my mum, Lorna [who died in 1997]. She was quite eccentric. So is the whole family. We’re all a bit bonkers, hence the “loopy.” I was brought up in a poor background in Liverpool. We didn’t have many treats, but my mum would bake lovely puddings [the British term for “desserts”] and fantastic scones. And she was very into her tea. “Tea is the best drink of the day,” she would say. “Tea can solve all your problems.”
To me it is quite true. Have a cup of tea and all is well. Some of the teas we serve at Loopy’s have health benefits, but a lot of it is about feeling good and going to a relaxing place. The whole ceremony of using loose-leaf tea in a pot and pouring it with a strainer forces people to sit down and relax. Often you get groups of local mothers with babies who use Loopy’s as a meeting place—a cup of tea and a chat is just what they need.
Loopy’s does suit the mix of people here. We have families, elderly people, wealthy people, but you will also find the place heaving with young people at the weekend. It is a bit of a haunt for authors. Local comedy writer Dr. Ken B. Moody is often ensconced in a corner with a cup of tea and a bowl of Thai cauliflower soup. He also likes our sticky buns. Alexander McCall Smith [author of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency novels] can also be spotted.
If you are part of a community like ours, I think it is important to give back to the community as well. That is something my mother taught me. We often provide cupcakes for the local schools’ fundraising events, and we host charity events at Loopy’s.
Morningside is full of independents—even the cinema is independent. Once you have a base of independent shops, others tend to grow. It produces a mentality—people don’t want mass-produced, chain brands. That’s one reason Loopy’s has been so successful.
I often spend Saturday afternoon with my daughter Hanneke, who is 18. She buys her clothes secondhand, and I get most of the crockery for Loopy’s—old, good-quality china—from charity shops. The mismatched sets we use are just a bit different. There is a hospice shop down the road, and I will buy a saucer there that no one else will buy. You can spend days walking up and down, picking up all sorts of things you never thought you needed.
See all of Gaynor Salisbury’s favorite places in Edinburgh:
This cinema has big comfy sofas, and you can take a glass of wine in with you.
The deli is right down the road from Loopy Lorna’s. It’s the only place in Scotland to get the best French butter, and they sell some delicious rare cheeses.
I love old books, and this secondhand shop has a huge range, from classics to modern literature.
Outside there is a beer garden with benches and colorful tablecloths. Inside, there is bric-a-brac everywhere, including an old penny-farthing bicycle. I go for a traditional drink of real ale, like Belhaven. They have a brilliant selection of malt whisky.
The clothing and gifts here are all fair trade. Most come from cooperatives in India and Africa.
The owners are a South African brother and sister, and they do great coffee. Try their Elephant Soup, which has lentils, peanuts, and a type of African dried meat called biltong.
My favorite purchase at this thrift shop was a floral tea set which we still use in Loopy’s. stcolumbashospice.org.uk
A great escape from the city. The nature reserve is a 10-minute walk from Loopy’s. It’s a great to way to work off too much cake.
The hub of the community! At the Church Hill Theatre, 33A Morningside Rd.
A beautiful building that has lots of good amateur productions.
>> Next: The AFAR Guide to Scotland
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