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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Since we weren’t meeting the family until 7:30, we had the entire day to get to the distillery and back and have some time to freshen up before catching the bus over to Carnoustie. Responsible thing to do. And this way we could both drink and not have to worry about driving afterwards.
I wanted to avoid driving through Aberdeen so we headed cross-country at Stonehaven. Once I got up into familiar territory, I no longer needed Satnav Sally. I followed my heart – after a stop at the public toilets in Alford.
We encountered roadworks after we left Craigellachie, near the junction of the A941 and B9102. Another side road comes in just south of the junction so the traffic lights controlling things were odd to say the least. We sat there for quite some time before getting a green light.
Two bottles of 18 year-old Cardhu purchased (£69.00 each), we used their toilets and started back towards Broughty Ferry.
Curious to know if anything else had been done with Wardhouse Mansion since our last visit, we came home by way of Keith and Huntly so I could go through Kennethmont for a look.
We stopped at a petrol station in Keith to get a bottle of water (I know it sounds strange when we’re having to look for toilets all of the time) because we were thirsty. While I waited in the car, I shut the engine off. No need to idle. Well, Monty decided not to recognize the keyfob! He wouldn’t start! So here we are stuck in Keith with a car that won’t start and we have to be back in time to get to Carnoustie for 7:30! Would the vacation end on a downer (more than usual) like it started?
Eventually, Monty saw things our way and he started. Phew! After 27 hours for a flat tyre, I shuddered to think how long it would be for this before we got help.
Nothing new on the mansion restoration at Wardhouse. Wanting to avoid Aberdeen again, we got off the A96 at Kintore and went across country and found ourselves on the B974 Cairn O’Mount. Narrow road, lots of potholes along the edge. A wonderful viewpoint that we didn’t have time to stop to enjoy. Besides the weather wasn’t conducive to stopping.
This archway in Fettercairn is amazing! It’s plenty wide on its own, but the road is narrow and the curbs twist and turn making it extremely difficult to navigate.
We made it back to the hotel about 5:30 – plenty of time to freshen up and get ready to go meet the kin. So, since we were taking advantage of public transit, we stopped in the bar downstairs for a drink before heading out to catch the bus.
Our reservation was for 7:30 at The Aboukir Hotel. Don and I arrived first followed about half a large glass of red wine later by the rest of the gang.
It was hilarious how the Canadians all sat on one side of the table and the Scots on the other. It wasn’t planned. It was just the way we sat down. I wanted to be on the end because I’m left-handed and we were the first to get there.
It’s really hard to get good photos of everyone all at once.
Lorraine was the first to go to the ladies. When she came back, she wasted no time telling Lise and me about the heated toilet seat! That brought on peels of laughter.
I went next and she was right. It was warm! It also had bidet functions built in. Now how’s that for up-market?
Lise went last and took her phone in with her. She came back with a photograph of the control panel for it. More laughs!
After a wonderful night catching up with everyone, the time came to call it a day.
We parted company outside the hotel – some of us on foot, some of us via public transit.
When we returned to the hotel in Broughty Ferry, we put our things in our room and went to the bar for a nightcap.
Our wonderful holiday quickly coming to an end – our last full day would be tomorrow – driving back to Glasgow, returning the rental car and getting ready for our flight home on Monday.
I booked our return train tickets long before we went to Scotland. When I knew the train and our seats, I immediately contacted my friend, Chris Longmuir, with the carriage and seat numbers so she could book a seat with us.
The bus stop was close to the hotel, so we walked there and boarded the #5 and told the driver we were going to the Dundee Railway Station. Two return tickets in hand, we settled in for the ride.
When we reached the Nethergate (Stop 1), the driver exited his driving compartment and told us this was the best stop for the train station. We were both impressed that he remembered us and our destination.
A short walk to the train station and we redeemed our tickets at one of the self-serve kiosks before heading to the platform to await our Virgin East Coast train to Edinburgh.
Anxious and excited to spend the day in the city with Chris, it was hard to settle on the train. We chatted about publishing print books and ebooks and changes that needed to be made or which version of the document to use. I’d done it before and had no problems but the current (I’ll call it WIP) gave me grief… hence the request for advice.
The Edinburgh train crossed over the Forth Bridge. This has been on my bucket list for a long time. The bridge looks like it was constructed from a Meccano set.
The train windows were dirty so that didn’t help the picture. In the background, you can see the current Forth Road Bridge and the new, still under construction, crossing.
Before we left the station, we stopped at the bathrooms. 30p to use the toilets but they were clean and the attendant made sure the lines of patiently waiting customers moved smoothly.
I had booked us on a tour of “The Real Mary King’s Close” for about an hour after we arrived in Edinburgh. The printed ticket confirmation said we needed to be there about 30 minutes before the tour started.
Having taken the train into Edinburgh Waverley on more than one occasion, I didn’t realize there was a way from there to the Royal Mile that didn’t require walking up a steep hill. Chris took us on an alternate route, although a bit longer and out of the way, required less effort and on reasonably level ground.
After we checked in at the ticket office and were told we had plenty of time, we decided to look in the nearby whisky shop to see if they stocked 18 year-old Cardhu. They did stock a 21 year-old. For a mere £350.00 we could buy it. On this day, the Bank of Canada exchange rate from UK pounds to CAN dollars was $1.7059 so a bottle of whisky would have cost us $597.00!!! Yikes!!! We knew we could get the age we wanted from the distillery and we had free time on the next day (not meeting my cousins until 7:30 for dinner) so decided rather than traipse around Edinburgh all day looking for what we wanted, we’d wait and make a distillery run on Saturday.
While Chris picked up a few Christmas presents in the shop, I went out and took a few pictures.
How appropriate… Writers’ Court. Chris and I are both writers – just different genres.
And, no the Tattoo Office has nothing to do with marking your skin (permanently or temporarily with henna).
Because Mary King’s Close is under the City Chambers, you’re not permitted to take photographs. *sigh*
Our guide, Paula, was a hoot! Knowledgeable, friendly, and funny. Even though I don’t have photographs of my own to remember the tour, I do have a guidebook and a few other mementos.
Back on Princes Street, we waited at the bus for the #22 that would take us to Ocean Terminal (a waterfront mall and ticket office for the Royal Yacht Britannia).
There’s the #29 headed in the opposite direction.
When our bus arrived, we bought two day passes which would also get us on the trams.
The tour of the Royal Yacht Britanniais completely self-guided. You’re provided with an audio guide (looks like an overgrown cellphone) which is available in a number of languages. They also have a guide in Braille for visually impaired visitors.
We had a late lunch/snack in the Royal Deck Tea Room. I had coffee and fruit scones, Don had chocolate cake, and Chris had a bowl of Carrot and something soup.
Here in the Verge Inn, you have the chance to take “Corgi selfies” (see the wee guy on the left of the photo) or take selfies wearing these hats. No, the beer isn’t real. It’s resin coloured to look like beer with a light foam head on top.
After departing the yacht and Ocean Terminal, we boarded the #22 and returned to Princes St where our next adventure began… a ride on the Edinburgh trams!
We had to walk to one of the stations in the middle of Princes St so that Chris could buy a ticket. Her Angus council bus pass didn’t count for nowt here. Now that we were all legal, we boarded the next tram and rode it to Murrayfield Stadium. Out here the main railway line and the tram line aren’t too far apart.
On our way back to the city centre, Don struck up a conversation with a guy stood near where Chris and I sat. Said guy was reading a Stephen Booth novel. Don told him that Chris also wrote crime fiction (embarrassing her) but she pulled our her stash of book postcards and gave them to him.
The tram ride was another thing crossed off a bucket list (not mine). My next thing was a pint at the Oxford Bar, Ian Rankin’s local. Seeing how Chris was with us I hoped he wouldn’t think I was a pyscho Canadian stalker… LOL!
By now, it was getting later in the day. The next train back to Dundee that stopped in the town Chris lives in departed from Edinburgh Waverley at 7:30. We still needed to get a bite to eat to get us through until tomorrow.
I settled for a photo so I could say, “I’ve been there” but I’ll definitely be back again and have an IPA or something before leaving.
Over supper, still thinking we had to be back at Waverley for the 7:30 train, I checked our tickets. We were locked in to a Virgin East Coast return or pay a fee to change it.
Chris checked her train schedule that she carries with her and luckily for us, that happened to be the 8:30 train. We could have stopped for a quick drink before stopping in at TGI Fridays on Castle Street. Oh well. It did give us some more time for evening photo ops.
When I visited with my cousin, Eric, a few days ago, he mentioned climbing to the top of the Scott Monument with his father back in the day. He claims they carved their initials in the wall at the top level. Must climb up sometime (oh my aching knees) and see if they’re still visible.
When we arrived back at the railway station, we still had some time before we needed to be at the platform. Where else does a writer go but a bookstore?
And look who I found! Fellow loveahappyending author, Sheryl Browne, and her novel The Rest of My Life. She’s in some pretty good company there with Stuart MacBride and Kathy Reichs.
All too soon, our wonderful day came to an end. We were getting off the train in Dundee and Chris was carrying on up the line to her stop. At least the turnstiles in Dundee were open so I got to keep our tickets as souvenirs.
It finally started to rain and drizzled as we made our way back up to Nethergate and a bus stop to catch our return bus to Broughty Ferry.
After we returned to the hotel and deposited our things in the room, we went to the bar for a drink. Whilst chatting with the young barman, we found out that he’d come to Canada on a hockey scholarship. Then we narrowed it down to Ontario (most people wouldn’t have a clue where our city is in the grand scheme of things). Come to find out, he stayed in Cornwall! That’s only a little over an hour away from us. And he played some hockey in Brockville, too.
Tomorrow, in addition to supper with the clan, we have a “side trip” to the distillery. Another adventure.
Jeff, our host at Duncan House, and his black lab joined the group of folks in the dining room. He apologized profusely for not remembering me (actually, putting the name with the face). With the number of people who stay in his wonderful Georgian B&B, I’m not surprised, nor was I offended.
After a hearty breakfast, including porridge, we set out. Shortly before we left home for Scotland, we received an email telling us that Craigmillar Castle would be closed until Sept 20th. The picture of the property included in the Historic Scotland email intrigued me and it being after the 20th, and the castle being close to (if not in the ‘burbs of Edinburgh) so en route to Broughty Ferry, the satnav was programmed to take us there.
I ended up driving Monty further into the city than I wanted thanks to roadworks (as in a humungous hole) in Craigmillar Castle Road. So I had to drive by that end of the road, follow the diversion signs … AND ignore Satnav Sally.
Two school buses (not like our North American ones) parked back to back on opposite sides of the car park. No way on earth Monty would fit between their snouts.
I parked sort of on the edge of the road and we strode to the ticket office/gift shop. “One concession (aka senior), one adult and toilets,” was the buzz phrase of the day. He stamped our “zero charge” receipt with the combination we needed to gain access to the facilities and off we went.
My favourite place! I’ll even do the spiral stairs to get there… 😉
Years later, the windows have been filled in but the fireplace remains.
The school children were amazed that in two different towers of the castle there were bathrooms. One group called over to the other, “we’ve got a loo!” and the other replied “So do we! We have a loo, too!”
The view from the castle ramparts is amazing. The clear weather made it easy to see and recognize North Berwick Law (we’d seen it last year on our way to Dunbar and on the train to Edinburgh).
Driving towards Craigmillar Castle, we had spectacular views of Edinburgh Castle and Arthur’s Seat but no place to pull over for a photo op. I was chuffed to bits to get this view from Craigmillar’s ramparts.
As we approached the Forth Road Bridge, the first of many signs for Scotland’s Secret Bunker popped up. It had been a possibility on previous trips and we happened to have the time, so decided to make it a reality this trip. Canada has the Diefenbunker (which we’ve visited) so we needed to compare the two locations.
Imagine a Cold War Shelter capable of running the country from under an innocuous farm house? Now that the cold war threat is over (or is it) things aren’t so secret anymore.
Unfortunately, the roads leading to it aren’t so smooth, so again the buzz phrase when we bought our tickets was “One concession, one adult and toilets” but this time I added “and not necessarily in that order”.
Finally, we reached our destination for the night. When I booked, I thought we’d get the same room as last year but this time we got one on the ground floor at the front of the hotel (corner of Queen Street and Claypotts/Westfield Road). Finally, a place where we didn’t have to lug everything up at least one flight of stairs!
Tomorrow morning, we’re catching the train in Dundee to Edinburgh where we’ll spend the day with our good friend (fellow author and crime writer), Chris Longmuir.
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.
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!
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).
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.
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.
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!”
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.
This cute gallery in the shape of a boat stands on Abbey Row across the street from the graveyard.
After a wander around the town, we made our way to The Waggon Inn where we had a delicious meal.
Paused for a selfie on the way back to Duncan House after our meal.
Tomorrow we head north to Broughty Ferry and back to the same hotel we stayed in last year.
Temple Sowerby was our final destination today. Barring traffic slowdowns due to incidents and/or roadworks, we could make the trip in just over three hours. In reality, that doesn’t happen.
One of my acquisitions yesterday – a companion for “Robbie” Raven. His name is “Phil” Flyer. So far they get along well. A few more days of these close quarters, as in the jute bag, will tell if they’ll remain friendly towards each other.
The first leg of today’s journey was a short jaunt up the road to visit my cousin and his wife in Dragonby.
I first met Eric in 2013. Here’s a picture from that visit…
I think we’re like fine wine… improved with age. What do you think?
We had a lovely visit before it became time to move on to Temple Sowerby and the King’s Arms Hotel.
Once we set up hubby’s CPAP machine, returned the bottle of distilled water to the boot of the car (one less thing for tomorrow morning), we went down to the bar for a pint where we chatted with a couple of the locals.
The conversation turned to fishing (one of them brought his newest fishing rod in to show to his friend) and they told us the fishing was bad this year compared to others. The one put it down to the flooding in late 2015/early 2016 (same floods mentioned in my earlier post about Brougham Castle) ruining the river.
The hotel’s key rings are huge! It seems like they’re made from newel posts. You certainly won’t lose them. I should have used my DSLR to take a picture rather than my phone, but that would have required effort.
We decided after yesterday’s driveway issue, we’d park Monty on the street when we got back to the guest house after our day out.
When we arrived at the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Visitors’ Centre, they told us the Lancaster Bomber wasn’t there because of the weather. It remained in Holland but they hoped it would be back the next day. If the weather was as bad there as in this are – low hanging cloud cover, fog and rain – it was better off to be on land, even if not where we were.
Because the Lancaster is the plane most people come to see, they gave everyone a 20% discount on their entry fee. Thanks to the guidebook I purchased, a month later when I wrote this post, I was able to identify the different planes in the hangar.
Unfortunately, this was the only Lancaster we got to see today. Similar to Pheasant under Glass… this is Lancaster under Glass. 😉
We purchased a pair of gorgeous, crystal wine glasses with the Lancaster engraved on each among other things.
After leaving the ‘planes’ and ‘automobiles’ parts of the day, we thought we’d do ‘trains’ since the Lincolnshire Wolds Railway was nearby.
No such luck. It was closed. Even the car park barrier prevented us from parking and having a wander. Probably just as well, since the weather was awful.
Not ones to give up, we perused the area attractions map we picked up and thought we’d try the Gainsborough Model Railway. It, too, conspired against us… but we know where it is.
When we arrived back at the guest house, I parked Monty on the street (a lot further away than I wanted) but between the time we took our stuff in and left to go out for supper, a parking spot had freed up out front.
Hubby stayed there and I quickly got into Monty, turned around and parked into this much closer location.
We walked to the Aston Arms Pub for supper.
I ordered the Vegetable Curry. When asked if it was the one with broccoli in it, I assumed vegetable curry would include broccoli so said yes.
I ended up with their Broccoli and Cheese bake instead but OMG! It was to die for!
Come time to leave I waited for Don to come out of the gents, I watched someone (who had been in the AA and from what we could tell from where we were sat, drinking) drove out of a parking spot and thought they would try to back up into the same place…?? No idea what the logic was.
Well, they backed into the car they were parked beside. One of the peeps in the car got out and attempted to direct said person out of there ASAP to the point where she moved the traffic cones (car park being readied for the market the next morning) so the chain would drag on the ground and the driver could get out and away. And get away they did.
It wasn’t until we got outside and I saw the damaged bumper on the parked car that I realized they actually made contact. Until then, I had thought to myself that it was mighty close and they didn’t miss it by much.
The damaged car belonged to a girl who worked at the bookies’ in the square. The car park has CCTV so the guilty party(ies) will get their comeuppance.
While searching for a website for the pub to include in my post, I stumbled onto this little gem. I had no idea that The Aston Arms was the inspiration behind Saturday Night’s Alright…
Mind you, after what we saw in the car park out front, well, I can see believe it.
After dropping off the maple syrup that we’d left behind (I left it in the suitcase and never gave it a thought yesterday) at Catton Old Hall, we carried on towards our other stops for the day.
My author friend, Nicky Wells, invited us to lunch at her house. The last time we’d met for a meal we spent the entire afternoon talking about writing and publishing and everything in between.
I’m not sure what Nicky’s husband was preparing for us when I took this picture, but he’s certainly in deep thought.
Over a wonderful selection of Tapas (mushrooms in a creamy garlic sauce, tear and share bread, mussels in sauce, Spanish Omelette, fish cakes, Chorizo sausage in a red wine sauce, and cheese and olives and likely other things I’ve forgotten). The meal was delicious!
This time the conversations went beyond the nineteen to the dozen on the subject of writing and publishing, we dabbled in the Brexit debate… was it good, was it bad. The Wells family move from Bristol to Lincoln… and a number of subjects in between.
All too soon, our wonderful afternoon came to an end and he had to carry on down the road to Market Rasen.
I hurt Monty today. After yesterday, driving around trying to find Castle Acre Priory, through the Bailey Gate, down Blind Lane (aptly named because it’s so narrow that the leaves on the trees touch both sides of the car as you drive down it. Yikes! Thankfully, I never met anyone.
But after that and traversing a number of other narrow roads with passing places – all without incident, I might add, a brick wall and narrow, driveway (at an awkward angle to enter) thwarted me. Monty got scratched on the front, passenger door.
It took some maneuvering but I managed (with some navigational help from hubby to get Monty righted and into the driveway. It wasn’t like this was the first time we’d stayed at this guesthouse either. It was the third time! Just Monty was the biggest car.
We were so stuffed after all the delicious food nibbled on all afternoon, that we didn’t even attempt to go out for a meal.
When we arrived at Manor Cottage yesterday, I didn’t photograph our room so got some pictures this morning before breakfast. We’d spent the night in their daughter’s room on the top floor of the house.
The small window in the background is the one in the picture I took last night from the driveway. If you look really closely, Robbie Raven is peeking out of the smaller jute bag in the chair.
It had rained overnight, and quite hard from what we heard over breakfast this morning. A train derailed because of a landslip, and many reports of localized flooding.
We hoped none of the roads we’d be travelling to get to Catton Old Hall would be submerged under flood waters.
About 4:00 pm, we arrived at our destination without encountering floods. The downside to driving in the rain is it makes you have to go to the bathroom a lot more.
Stopping at services to use the bathrooms, the ones in the petrol station/convenience store were out of order. However, a Little Chef was located in the same complex. Their toilets worked but a huge sign on the door stated they were for restaurant customers only. Two small tins of Pringles purchased, we used the facilities and carried on.
The Wi-fi up in our room was terrible. I connected with my phone and it dropped out seconds later. Neither my laptop nor iPad could connect at all. Frustrating to say the least.
The Woodman Pub opened for supper at 6:00 pm. We’d eaten there on a previous trip to this area. The food was good then so we assumed it would be this time. Being a Friday night, we should have booked a table.
When we walked in the door, one of the barmen informed us it would be 7:30-8:00 before our food was served, but we were more than welcome to pick a table and have a drink.
While we sipped our first beer, we perused the menus and decided what we’d like for supper. They took our order, again telling us it could be a long wait. At least now, our meals were in the queue. And we received them long before the estimated time!
After a delicious meal (every bit as good, if not better than the first time we’d eaten here), we walked back to Catton Old Hall. It stopped raining while we were in the pub.
Before going inside, I snapped this picture with my phone of the hotel illuminated by floodlights.
Tomorrow, we’re having supper with hubby’s cousins at a country pub called The Fur and Feathers. It should be fun. There are some castles and other historic things I’d like to see while we’re in the area so we’ll do them earlier in the day.
After yet another hearty breakfast, we set out for our first stop of the day – Caerphilly Castle – a CADW property in Wales, who also honour Historic Scotland memberships.
Quite the wee bomb parked next to us in the castle car park. Monty looks like a tank compared to this sleek little number. Look at his arse end hanging out over the end of the spot! I could have pulled in further but what dangers lurked behind the greenery? This girl didn’t want to find out.
Paid and displayed, we walked through the park to the castle. Geese, ducks and seagulls all vied for the bread a little girl and her father fed them.
The south-east tower leans due to subsidence but people reckon it to Cromwell knocking it about.
Should you desire, you can rent out the Great Hall here at Caerphilly Castle for weddings and other celebrations.
Time to leave for our next stop along the way to our final destination for the night. But first, I wanted to take some pictures in the park. I’d glimpsed the ‘stone circle’ and the tree-trunk dragon en route to the castle.
I marvel at the architecture of the ancient ruins in the UK every time I visit. Nothing compares to them back home. The fact they’re preserved amazes and pleases me. On this side of the pond, we’d tear it down rather than restore it.
By now, we’d spent enough time at these two CADW sites. We needed to get on the road to Middleton Cheney.
Driving through Banbury, we experienced a diversion for a street fair. The rides and other amusements were set up on the driving surface and the vehicles funneled onto the pedestrianized section of the street.
Manor Cottage, on Main Street, in Middleton Cheney proved difficult to find. I ended up phoning and getting directions as I drove.
Given a room on the top floor, only the necessities would come into the house.
Our hosts were going out for the evening so left us a key to the back door so we could get in when we returned from a meal.
I’d creeped Middleton Cheney on google maps and discovered a pub just up the road. They displayed their menus on the website and the food sounded good and was reasonably priced.
Unfortunately, I made the mistake of ordering our pints before asking for menus only to find out the kitchen was closed.
Our host had mentioned a chippy up the road, which also had some seating. We finished our pints and walked on. Never finding the chippy, we did find the Dolphin Inn. Another pub. Walked in and asked for menus. They didn’t do meals but a Chinese Takeaway did and we could bring the food into the pub to eat.
We brought our electronic devices downstairs so we could catch up online and use the wonderful lounge. The aroma of wood fires smelled delightful.
Another travel day tomorrow so we made it an early(ier) night.
My Scottish roots and writing by Melanie Robertson-King