Category Archives: Scotland

#COVER #REVEAL ~ 2nd Edition of A Shadow in the Past

Here it is – the shiny, new cover for the 2nd Edition of my debut novel, A Shadow in the Past. I’ve been busy editing the content and getting my girl ready to return to the world of print and ebooks.

When a contemporary teen is transported back in time to the Victorian era, she becomes A Shadow in the Past…

Nineteen-year-old Sarah Shand finds herself in Victorian Era Aberdeenshire, Scotland and has no idea how she got there. Her last memory is of being at the stone circle on the family farm in the year 2010.

Despite having difficulty coming to terms with her situation, Sarah quickly learns she must keep her true identity a secret. Still, she feels stifled by the Victorians’ confining social practices, including arranged marriages between wealthy and influential families, and confronts them head on only to suffer the consequences.

When Sarah realizes she has fallen in love with the handsome Laird of Weetshill, she faces an agonizing decision. Does she try to find her way back to 2010 or remain in the past with the man she loves?

Here are the covers for the series side by side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Updated buy links to the 2nd Edition of A Shadow in the Past to follow.

 

 

 

HUNTER’S CHASE by Val Penny #tartannoir #Edinburgh #crime

hunter's chase

Hunter’s Chase

by

Val Penny

 

hunter's chaseRELEASE DATE: 2nd February 2018

PUBLISHER: Crooked Cat Books

SERIES: The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries #1

GENRE: CRIME

Hunter by name – Hunter by nature: DI Hunter Wilson will not rest until Edinburgh is safe.

DI Hunter Wilson knows there is a new supply of cocaine flooding his city and he needs to find the source but his attention is transferred to murder when a corpse is discovered in the grounds of a golf course. Shortly after the post-mortem, Hunter witnesses a second murder but that is not the end of the slaughter. With a young woman’s life also hanging in the balance, the last thing Hunter needs is a new man on his team: the son of his nemesis, the former Chief Constable. Hunter’s perseverance and patience are put to the test time after time in this taught crime thriller.

BUY LINKS

AMAZON UK: https://goo.gl/5Gwmv6

AMAZON US: https://goo.gl/uNbsgo

 

Author Endorsements for Hunter’s Chase

 

Erin Kelly – author of psychological thrillers including ‘Broadchurch’ and ‘The Poison Tree’

“A gripping debut novel about power, politics and the importance – and danger – of family ties. Hunter Wilson is a compelling new detective and Val Penny is an author to watch.”

***

Stuart Gibbon – Former Murder Squad DCI & co-author of ‘The Crime Writer’s Casebook’

“A cracking read featuring the unforgettable DI Hunter Wilson.”

***

Kate Bendelow – author of ‘The Real CSI: A Forensic Handbook for Crime Writers’

“An exciting debut – a police procedural that is refreshing, gripping and witty. I really enjoyed it and can’t wait for the next one.”

***

Michael Jecks – author of unmissable historical mysteries including the ‘Jack Blackjack’ crime series including ‘Rebellion’s Message’ and the ‘Knights Templar’ mysteries including ‘The Last Templar’ and the contemporary spy novel ‘Act of Vengeance’

“This tartan noire book is a real coffee-cooler. I had three cups of coffee that went cold, forgotten while reading. Val Penny created a cast of characters I want to see in another book as soon as possible.

This is a truly astonishing debut from a writer to watch for the future.

Believable characters, gut-wrenching scenes, and a plot that sizzles along. A taut police procedural that is up there with Ian Rankin, Alex Gray and Quintin Jardine.”

Hunter's chase

About Val Penny

 

hunter's chase

Val Penny is an American author living in SW Scotland. She has two adult daughters of whom she is justly proud and lives with her husband and two cats. She has a Law degree from Edinburgh University and her MSc from Napier University. She has had many jobs including hairdresser, waitress, lawyer, banker, azalea farmer and lecturer. However she has not yet achieved either of her childhood dreams of being a ballet dancer or owning a candy store. Until those dreams come true, she has turned her hand to writing poetry, short stories and novels. Her first crime novel, ‘Hunter’s Chase’ set in Edinburgh, Scotland will be published by Crooked Cat Books on 02.02.2018. She is now writing the sequel, ‘Hunter’s Revenge’.

www.authorvalpenny.com

www.facebook.com/valerie.penny.739

Friends of Hunter’s Chase – www.facebook.com/groups/296295777444303

https://twitter.com/valeriepenny

 

It’s Robbie Burns Day – House of King style

I’m remiss this year in getting an online Burns Day celebration together. Shame on me. But, I have a valid excuse. I’ve had my head down working on my next novella. If you go by word length, it does qualify as a full-fledged novel, but that’s neither here nor there.

celebration
January 25, 1759 – July 21, 1796

It’s Robbie Burns Day. Will you celebrate the bard today with haggis, champit tatties and bashed neeps?

Here at The House of King, we’ll be having a toned down version of previous Burns Night celebrations. Although I don’t have a wee haggis, I do have some frozen sliced haggis (great with a Scottish breakfast) so it will do, especially since I’m the only one who truly enjoys eating it here. I made Cock-a-leekie soup shortly after Christmas and it’s in the freezer and for the toasts to the lads and lassies afterwards, I have a bottles of 18-year old Glenlivet and Cardhu.

celebration
The “Guest of Honour”

Address To A Haggis

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o’ the puddin-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o’ a grace
As lang’s my arm.

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o’ need,
While thro’ your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An’ cut you up wi’ ready sleight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like ony ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm-reekin, rich!

Then, horn for horn,
they stretch an’ strive:
Deil tak the hindmost! on they drive,
Till a’ their weel-swall’d kytes belyve,
Are bent lyke drums;
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
“Bethankit!” ‘hums.

Is there that owre his French ragout
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi’ perfect sconner,
Looks down wi’ sneering, scornfu’ view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him ower his trash,
As feckless as a wither’d rash,
His spindle shank, a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit;
Thro’ bloody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread.
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
He’ll mak it whissle;
An’ legs an’ arms, an’ heads will sned,
Like taps o’ thrissle.

Ye Pow’rs wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o’ fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu’ prayer,
Gie her a haggis!

And a wee bit of light reading for ‘after the feastie’.

 Enjoy your Robbie Burns celebrations no matter how/where your celebrate.

#TellaFairyTaleDay

Today is…

#TellAFairyTaleDay!

Never heard of it before? Well, you can read more about it here. The stories can cover everything from Grimm to urban legends.

Scottish legends, myths, and mystery are found in A Shadow in the Past, so what better time to celebrate it?

Even the cover exudes fairytale mystery. Once upon a time…

#TellAFairyTaleDay
cover by Aidana WillowRaven

Nineteen-year-old Sarah Shand finds herself thrust back into the past. There she struggles to keep her real identity from a society that finds her comments and ideas strange and her speech and actions forward, unlike Victorian women. When Sarah verbally confronts confining social practices, including arranged marriages, powerful enemies commit her to a lunatic asylum. After falling in love with the handsome Laird of Weetshill, Robert Robertson, she must decide whether to find her way back to her own time or to remain in the past with him.

Available from the publisher 4RV Publishing or amazon

And then there’s the sequel … Shadows From Her Past

A cruel twist of fate returns Sarah Shand to her life in the year 2010 where she discovers she is a patient in Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and has been for months. Struggling to come to terms with the situation, she insists she belongs in the year 1886 at Weetshill mansion with her husband the Laird, Robert Robertson, and adopted daughter, Jenny. Her family and consultant physician try to convince her she was dreaming or hallucinating but Sarah refuses to believe them.

Robert, who has experienced strange things at the stone circle at Gordonsfield Farm, somehow breaks through the time-space continuum and visits Sarah in his future. He pleads with her to return to the past but his cryptic messages only confuse her.

Medical student, David Robb, himself a descendant of the Robertsons of Weetshill, befriends Sarah. Fascinated with her stories of the past, after her release from the hospital, he takes Sarah to meet his parents, the current owners of the mansion and surrounding land.

This year, the winter solstice and lunar eclipse occur on the same day. Will a trip to the stone circle during this combination of events create the magic Sarah needs to return to 1886 and her family there? Or will she remain in the present and make a life with David?

Available to buy from amazon.

Do you have a favourite fairy tale? I’d love to know what is is. Tell me in the comments.

#SEWES2016 ~ Sept 25 – Broughty Ferry to Glasgow

#SEWES2016

Sept 25 – Broughty Ferry to Glasgow

Our last full day in Scotland… 🙁 So sad. After we checked out of the hotel and packing our suitcases so we thought they were of reasonably equal weight, and as few packages as possible once we dropped off the rental car, we struck out.

I knew we’d forfeit some diesel but we’d be between a quarter tank and empty if we took the most direct route. With our experiences with rental cars on this trip, I didn’t want to run out and be stuck waiting for roadside assistance to come with a jerry can to give us a drop.

I remember seeing this tower on the cliff on my first trip to Scotland in 1993 when I took the bus from Glasgow to Aberdeen. Back then I was petrified to drive so close to a big city on my own.

Sept 25
Kinnoull Tower on the cliff (centre of the photo)

I stopped at many laybys (parking areas) along the A90 between Dundee and Perth where we switched onto the A9 after a brief stint on the M90.

We were both to the point where we needed toilets so when we saw the signs for Dunblane (which were clearly posted WC – aka water closet) along with the Historic Scotland signage for Dunblane Cathedral, we decided to make that our ‘port of call’.

Following the signs for the “WC” we drove into the village. Said signs became more and more obscure. A public car park was located off a narrow street near the cathedral – still used as a working church. No matter how bad I need the loo, I couldn’t pass up this photo op.

Sept 25
Dunblane Cathedral

We walked back to where the signs for the public toilets pointed. The council office which was closed on Sundays. ACK! I spotted an older woman across the street so approached her and asked where the public bathrooms were. “There are no public toilets in Dunblane anymore,” she replied.

Panic! We both needed a toilet badly.

“But, go up the street to the cathedral and off to the left. Use the toilets there.”

If I didn’t have to go so bad, I would have hugged and kissed her. We strode up to the hall but chose the wrong entrance so had to navigate through the church crowd who had gathered after Sunday service. We didn’t make the same error when we left.

Sept 25
Dunblane Cathedral
Sept 25
Dunblane Cathedral

We dropped Monty off at the convenient Europcar rental return (across the road from the hotel) with his proper paperwork. A bit more complicated than on previous car rental returns but we got through and sent on our way. The collision damage waiver (CDW) and roadside assistance looked after our woes from earlier.

We arrived back at the airport hotel before the 2:00 pm check-in time but our room was ready and off we went. 8th floor and a view of the planes landing on one side and the M8 motorway on the other.

Sept 25
Glasgow Airport from our hotel room
Sept 25
Plane landing in the approaching storm
Sept 25
Rainbow
Sept 25
Clearing up a bit?
Sept 25
Airport activity

Before we both crashed and burned, we went for a walk around the airport complex past the Holiday Inn Express, the Europcar rental return (no sign of Monty) and back to the hotel.

We had a meal in the bar at the hotel where we’ve had excellent service in the past. This time not so much but the food was good.

After returning to our room, I took advantage of the twilight and got some more photos.

Sept 25
The M8 motorway from our hotel room
Sept 25
Plane landing at dusk

Leaving tomorrow would be hard. Since leaving Broughty Ferry I tried to come up with every excuse I could think of to stay.

We double-checked the weight of our bags so come morning when we had to put our last night/morning things away we knew,  what suitcase to put them in.

Breakfast tomorrow at Beardmore (hopefully, still in business) then people and plane watch while we wait to board.

 

#SEWES2016 ~ Sept 21 – Temple Sowerby to Kelso

#SEWES2016

Sept 21 – Temple Sowerby to Kelso

We decided that when we left Temple Sowerby this morning, we would attempt to visit  The Devils Porridge Museum in Eastriggs one more time. We weren’t far away and had plenty of time before we needed to arrive at Duncan House in Kelso.

My computer scared me bad. I mean scared me real BAD. When I shut down my laptop this morning, Windows 10 decided it needed to download and install updates. You can prevent it from happening, but I didn’t know how at the time. I chose install and restart. Except it didn’t restart. It went through the motions and it looked like the days of DOS or a Linux system starting up. We’re talking command line code happening… until it froze.

I froze in panic! The computer had to be turned off at some point for travelling, so pressed the power button until it shut down. I turned it back on and the same thing happened all over again. Visions of taking it in to the store I bought it from when I got home flashed through my mind. No computer until then? Whatever would I do? Sure I had my iPad and hubby had his laptop but still, you develop a relationship with your own computer. You know its quirks and idiosyncrasies (at least I thought I did).

After checking out of The Kings Arms Hotel and leaving some of my books’ postcards at the hotel – gal checking me out of the hotel asked if I knew the author – I said yes, it’s me. Well, that prolonged the process because we had to talk about writing and reading and what not. She told me there’s a book club in Temple Sowerby. So maybe one of these days, they’ll read one (and maybe all) of mine.

On to Eastriggs and the museum. We arrived there about 10:15 to a reasonably empty car park. Yay!

Robbie Brodie (I think that’s his name), gave us an overview of the original munitions plant that occupied the land between Eastriggs and Gretna.

Sept 21
map of the HM Factory Gretna
Setpt 21
#s 1-5 from the above map
Sept 21
#s 6-10 from the above map
Sept 21
uniform worn by the munitions girls
Sept 21
one of the nitrating pans

Another event depicted here at the museum is the Quintinshill Rail Disaster.

Sept 21
petition to the King asking for the signalmen charged in the disaster to be pardoned

On the upper level of the museum, they have an area set aside for research, and another for “selfies”. Here, clothing from the era is available to try on and take your picture in – including an army helmet!

Sept 21
Don modelling a helmet
Sept 21
Me wearing a hat

I rather like my chapeau even if I don’t look best pleased in the photo. Note to self… try to find something similar when I get home.

Before leaving the museum, I did namedrop. As in my crime writer friend’s name – Chris Longmuir and her historical novel, Devil’s Porridge, set at the actual munitions factory here.

I wanted to visit Hermitage Castle, one of the many properties under the care of Historic Scotland. It happened to be on our route to Kelso (more or less).

Sept 21
Hermitage Castle
Sept 21
Hermitage Castle
Sept 21
within the walls of Hermitage Castle
Sept 21
The chapel grounds at Hermitage Castle

After leaving the castle, I got my fill once again of narrow roads with passing places – and cattle grids. I really don’t mind these roads although they’re much better when the visibility is better. You don’t want to end up having to back up to a passing place if you don’t have to. I drove and put hubby to work taking pictures out the windscreen.

Sept 21
driving on one of the single track roads…
Sept 21
in a passing place on a single track road
Sept 21
Hope nothing is coming from the other direction…
Sept 21
Waiting in a passing place for the oncoming vehicle

The Waverly Route Heritage Association has preserved a section of track and we spotted this passenger carriage on our right. Despite passing place etiquette not allowing for such things as photo ops, the traffic was so light, I couldn’t resist.

Passenger carriage
Passenger carriage on the Waverly Route
Sept 21
Viaduct on the Waverly Route
Sept 21
Approaching a cattle grid
Sept 21
Tree canopy created by the lorries
Sept 21
Civilization! A road with centre markings
Sept 21
At the intersection of the B6357 and the A68
Sept 21
Approaching Jedburgh Abbey

Once through Jedburgh, it didn’t take long before we found ourselves at Duncan House in Kelso. This is the third time we’ve stayed there and since the first time, have said ‘next time we’ll stay for more than one night’. So far it hasn’t happened.

Call it premonition, but the night before I looked up an email from our host (from the previous year) to check the combination for the lock box.  If I hadn’t, we might not have been able to get in, although I carried printed confirmations of all of our accommodations and other pre-booked events with me.

The first thing I did when I got up to our room (same room we’ve had each time, too) was pull out the laptop and its power supply. Plugged in, I powered up. A huge wave of relief washed over me when the lock screen came up. Not sure what crawled up the computer’s butt in the morning but at least now I could say ,”It’s alive!”

Sept 21
River Tweed and Floors Castle from our room at Duncan House

Knowing the computer survived, we walked down to Kelso Abbey. On the way, a woman outside one of the shops approached us with bags to collect gently used clothes. I had something else in mind for them. After accepting them, we continued on to the abbey, poked around the ruins there and through the cemetery on the other side of the street.

Sept 21
Kelso Abbey

This cute gallery in the shape of a boat stands on Abbey Row across the street from the graveyard.

Sept 21
Huggins Haig Gallery

After a wander around the town, we made our way to The Waggon Inn where we had a delicious meal.

Sept 21
The Waggon Inn

Paused for a selfie on the way back to Duncan House after our meal.

Sept 21
After a delicious meal at the Waggon Inn

Tomorrow we head north to Broughty Ferry and back to the same hotel we stayed in last year.

 

#SEWES2016 ~ Sept 12 Bankend to Skipton

#SEWES2016

Sept 12 – Bankend to Skipton

Today we’re headed south into England. Reclaim a bit of land for Scotland, although I’m not sure how threatening our appearance is and will they give up some turf for the Saltire.

At least today we had a car. Good thing since we were driving to Skipton (some 125 miles from Bankend).

Since we didn’t get to visit The Devil’s Porridge Museum yesterday, we opted to stop in on our journey south.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be again – no place to park in their small car park. Not knowing Eastriggs that well, and the location of other places to leave the car, we didn’t stay. Disappointed, especially since my friend, Chris Longmuir recently released her latest historical crime novel Devil’s Porridge set at the large munitions factory located between Eastriggs and Gretna during WWI.

We saw this castle from the main A66 road on last year’s trip and with it’s proximity to the motorway decided we would visit it this year. Remember my earlier post when I mentioned perks to being an Historic Scotland renewal member? Not only do we get into Historic Scotland sites free of charge, but also English Heritage ones. And Brougham Castle is one of their properties.

Sept 12
Brougham Castle

Severe flooding in Cumbria in the latter part of 2015 and early 2016 took out a huge section of the Brougham Old Bridge. Signposted from the main road, when we got to the right turn onto Moor Lane, we had to navigate around the road closed sign. Just before the bridge on the right, is a small parking area.

Sept 12
Brougham Old Bridge

It’s rare I get to feel tall, but I did today. Even I had to ‘mind my head’ to pass through this doorway.

Sept 12
Standing with the palms of my hands flat on the underside of the door frame
Sept 12
The warning sign
Sept 12
River Eamont and area from the top of the castle

No visit to a ‘manned’ property is complete without a trip into the gift shop for a memento or two. I always buy a guidebook of the property so I can look back at it later. Well, I even found this little guy… Isn’t he cute?

Sept 12
“Robbie” Raven

For those of you who have read The Secret of Hillcrest House you’ll know that a crow figures in the storyline. So, I figured being the wacky eccentric author that I am, I needed a crow… raven.

Guidebook, raven, a few other goodies, and a jute bag to put everything in bought and we headed further south to Skipton.

Today was the first chance I had to take a photo of our second rental car.

Sept 12
Our second rental car – “Monty” Mondeo

When we arrived at Highfield, the car park (2 vehicles only) was full. Follow on around the corner to a pay and display one. Of course, we got there too early for overnight parking.

Checked into our room, we walked back for the car having been told the one vehicle would be moved by the time we got back. The white Fiat now parked on the street, Monty had ‘off-street’ parking. You can see his left front wheel and fender in the photo below.

Sept 12
Highfield Guest House (our room has the reflection of the street light in the windows)

I researched a few places where we could eat supper once I connected to the Wi-fi, but in the end, decided on The Devonshire Inn (a Wetherspoon Pub).

Sept 12
Devonshire Inn

After fish and chips with mushy peas, washed down with a couple of pints of 1664, we wandered back to the guest house by way of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

Sept 12
Narrow boats moored along the Leeds and Liverpool Canal

Tomorrow we’re taking the Steam Train from Embsay to Bolton Abbey. Should be fun.

#SEWES2016 ~ Sept 11 – an ‘off’ day

#SEWES2016

Sept 11 – Bankend to Gretna to Glencaple and back to Bankend

Things didn’t quite go to plan today. Because we booked in to Hutton Lodge for two nights, I wanted to use today to visit the Devil’s Porridge Museum in Eastriggs. It didn’t happen.

Driving around on an inflate-a-spare, limited to 50 miles and 50 mph, didn’t allow much leeway. We’d already driven the day before and would be again later to go for supper, although we hoped for a resolution long before then.

We didn’t dare leave the B&B either because that would be the time the tyre fitter would arrive.

The phone calls started again about 10:00 am. Phone the rental company, they say phone roadside assistance. Call roadside assistance, they say call the rental company. Send an email to the girl who rented us the car. Out of office message.

Things continued this way. The last words the recovery guy said the previous day “tyre fitter will be out by noon”. According to their computer system, he made the repair on the side of the road near Shawhead. Nope. Didn’t happen.

Finally, the ‘ace in the hole’ was played. American Express says no resolution – no payment. That got things moving. They were sending someone out with a new car.

About 4:30, I heard the rumble of a diesel lorry outside the B&B. Sure enough it was the ‘real’ recovery vehicle. He shook his head over the entire situation, but loaded Iain Insignia onto the rollback ready to drive us to Glasgow Airport to get us a replacement vehicle.

While all this happened, a phone call came in from an associate with the rental company branch in Carlisle. He was bringing us a new car and would an automatic be all right.

Recovery driver took the call and the two agreed that rather than float the car all the way back to the airport, we’d rendezvous at the Gretna Gateway Outlet Village.

Resolution closer but not there yet. When we rendezvoused, guy from Carlisle wanted a credit card# to pay for the full tank of fuel in the replacement vehicle. Nope. We paid for a full tank on the first car and only drove it 130 miles. He, too, shook his head over replacing the car over a flat tyre.

Once all the paperwork was completed, and I signed on the dotted line(s), we took possession of a black Ford Mondeo, which in North America is a Ford Fusion. I drove the exact same car to my book launch for A Shadow in the Past in Kansas back in 2012, but that’s another story.

Iain Insignia – starting mileage 3490 miles (almost brand spanking new!)
Iain Insignia – ending mileage 3620 miles

The Ford Mondeo – starting mileage 51403 miles (been around the block a few times)

It was late and we were hungry, so we drove straight to the Nith Hotel for supper. Rather than risk setting off another car alarm, we drove in the same direction the car faced and drove past Caerlaverock Castle and through the hamlet of Shearington on our way back to Hutton Lodge.

The day wasn’t a total waste. I had haggis (award winning no less) with my bacon and eggs at breakfast, got some blog work completed, and some manuscript formatting done, but it wasn’t the way I wanted to spend the second day in Scotland.

#SEWES2016 ~ Sept 10 – Glasgow to Bankend

#SEWES2016

Sept 10 – Glasgow to Bankend

The wait to clear customs hasn’t changed. It still takes forever. And that’s because of the queue to talk to a person. Through there and on to the car rental desk. Another long wait but that was the paperwork. Pre-pay for the tank of fuel because it’s cheaper, roadside assistance, etc. Our little car wasn’t quite so little. We took possession of a Vauxhall Insignia, 6-speed turbo diesel. We headed off to the ASDA store in The Phoenix Retail Park for at least one bottle of distilled/demineralized water for hubby’s CPAP machine.

When in the UK and driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road, whilst sitting on the ‘wrong’ side of the car, and shifting gears with the ‘wrong’ hand, I am the designated driver. So no drinkies for me if we have to drive to a place for a meal. Besides, my husband hates driving over there. Did it once and that was enough.

I had brought my unlocked Samsung phone with me so I picked up a pay as you go SIM card. Figured, I could use it if we needed a second phone (purchased a plan through Rogers for hubby’s BlackBerry before we left home). After last year’s paying £10 for a SIM card that wouldn’t work, I wasn’t going to spend that much again. So this time I opted for ASDA’s own SIM card which only set me back 50p.

When we were over in 2000 we had seen Dunure Castle from the main A77 road. I had pretty much forgotten about it until seeing one of the BBC Scotland photo galleries in the weeks leading up to the trip. So, we put the location into Satnav Sally and off we went.

Dunure Castle is free but you have to pay to park in their car park because it’s all part of a larger complex with playing fields, playground equipment and public toilets. It cost us £2.50 to be able to wander in the remains of the castle and use the toilets before moving on.

Here’s our pretty blue car, that I named Iain. He’s the same size as a Buick Regal, which is bigger than my Chevy Cobalt that I drive every day.

Sept 10
Our first rental car “Iain Insignia”
Sept 10
Dunure Castle and doocot (dovecote)
Sept 10
Dunure Castle
Sept 10
Firth of Clyde with Ailsa Craig in the background
Dunure Castle
Dunure Castle
Sept 10
Doocot (dovecote)

Despite the beautiful blue sky, the wind blowing in off the water made it cool. Not quite jacket weather but I had a long-sleeved, black (soak in the sun’s rays) top on and even with that, I felt the chill a few times.

Not quite the way we drove from Dunure Castle but you get the idea. We went across the A719, the B7023, B741, A713, A712 to meet up with the A75 near Crocketford. Got my fix of narrow roads with passing places the first day. Add some cattle grids and narrow gates and it made for quite the adventure.

I mentioned earlier our ‘first’ rental car… well, there was a reason for that. Whilst driving across the aforementioned series of roads, we had a flat tyre. Meeting a car on a narrower road and getting over to make room for both of us to pass, some mud  sucked me off the edge and into a cleverly disguised pothole. And pothole is being kind. It was a bloody crater! It made for a bump but didn’t give it much thought at the time.

A bit further along the road, the tyre pressure indicator light came on. I pulled off the road but we couldn’t see anything amiss. At least now we were on the main A75. I limped into a lay-by, thanking our lucky stars that we decided to add the roadside assistance package (fix your car or bring you a new one) to our rental package.

I made the first of many phone calls at 3:00 pm. We were still stuck on the side of the road waiting at 6:00 pm! Eventually, the guy came and put the spare tyre on. They wouldn’t authorize us to do that (my husband is a recently retired mechanic) because we could jack the car up in the wrong place, damage the car, it could fall off the jack… yadda, yadda, yadda. They farted around long enough that the tyre company the rental and roadside assistance people use had closed for the day.

Two of the many phone calls were to the B&B where we were staying. The first call, I left a message on the answering machine explaining the situation. Then when 6:00 came and we were still sat there, I called back and spoke to them. At least we had one less worry… our room would be waiting for us no matter the hour we arrived.

See Shawhead on the map above? That’s how close to Dumfries we were. We sat there for 3 hours while the guy sent out to find us and get us mobile again looked for us on the other side of Dumfries!

He assured us that a tyre fitter would be at our B&B before noon to finish the job. He took down the address of where we were staying, and sent us off on our not-so-merry way.

After checking in at Hutton Lodge, getting the same room as we had last year, and our membership material from Historic Scotland waiting for us, we drove over to the Nith Hotel in Glencaple for a late supper. By then, I could have used a stiff drink but since I was driving (and limping around with a wounded car), I couldn’t.

After leaving the restaurant, while turning the car around on one of the narrow streets, I set off someone’s car alarm. I didn’t touch the car but there wasn’t any more than an inch of space on either side of the wing mirrors between the cars parked on both sides of this wee lane.

Not the nicest way to start a trip but with any luck, everything will get fixed in the morning.

 

#SEWES2016 ~ The adventure begins

#SEWES2016 ~ Scotland, England, Wales, England, and Scotland

September 9, 2016

Like my hashtag for the trip? #SEWES2016? We’re SEW-ing – and looking forward to our time in these countries.

Things right from the beginning have been weird. I renewed our membership in Historic Scotland back in early May to ensure I remained a ‘renewal’ member. There are more perks to that status. Well, the cards didn’t come. I contacted them in June as they sent out replacements cards. They didn’t come. I get the magazines quarterly so our mailing address is correct. Emailed them again, this time we decided to have them mailed to our first destination. They arrived there but only a few days before us.

Originally, the flight was supposed to be non-stop from Glasgow to Toronto but a stop over in Montreal was added after we booked.

As is the norm when we travel anywhere, I don’t pack until the day we’re leaving. Why do it sooner? It only gives you the opportunity to unpack, repack and do it all over again many times. And if your forget to pack something, there are stores in other countries. We have to buy distilled/demineralized water for hubby’s CPAP machine. Since water is heavy, we don’t want to cart a bottle of it in our checked bags anyway. Not to mention, if the plastic bottle broke in the suitcase, everything would be a soggy mess.

We booked a park and stay at the Quality Inn and Suites on Ambler Drive in Mississauga so we could leave the car there and take advantage of their shuttle bus to get us to and from the airport.

Here we are ready to embark on our adventure. Do we look happy? Excited? Nervous? Any or all of the above?

#SEWES2016
front seat selfie

It’s rare when we’re on vacation that we get photos of both of us together. Usually, it’s just one or the other. But, with my BlackBerry Z10 having front and rear cameras (so does my unlocked Samsung Galaxy Prime), it makes it easy to get pictures of us both together.

#SEWES2016
hotel lobby selfie

I don’t wear headbands a lot but decided to give them a go for this trip. I tie my hair in a ponytail for taking photos but there are always a few wisps of the mop that are too short to stay in (or even reach the elastic). And I can be guaranteed that the wind will blow these bits of hair in front of the camera lens. So it will be ponytail plus headband and we’ll see how that works. If it doesn’t then the tried and true method is to have hubby hold the blowing stragglers in place.

#SEWES2016
departure gate selfie

After flying Club Class with Air Transat in 2014 when we went to Paris, we decided never again to fly economy.  I mean if you’re going to be stuck in that cigar tube for 7+ hours, you might as well be comfortable. Wider seats, fewer passengers to have to share the loo with, blanket, neck pillow, slippers, and earbuds – this year all packaged up in a reusable cloth bag. And the other part of the comfort kit (designed to look like blue jeans) had a toothbrush and toothpaste, earplugs, lotion and lip balm, sleep mask and socks.

And did I mention champagne? Plus you get real glasses, real cutlery and real plates!

I did take a ‘champagne on the plane’ selfie but by then the excitement had got the better of me and I couldn’t hold the phone steady. It certainly wouldn’t have had anything to do with the three glasses of red wine I drank before boarding… 😉

Go figure, google maps can’t calculate the driving directions from Toronto to Glasgow…

Come back again tomorrow for the next installment of our #SEWES2016 adventure.