It has been three days since I last wrote for my blog, and with a fairly erratic Internet connection it may be a day or two before I can post again. Here is the catch up.
Friday 22 May
An alarm got us out of bed for an early start as we anticipated a long day heading to Scotland, but in the end the trip was not so bad. We made fast progress up the A1 (M) motorway stopping at Alnwick where we visited Barters, a very famous and enormous second hand bookshop. The store occupies a large hall with close packed shelves as high as a person could reach, and several other large rooms. One room has a model railway running around at shelf top level. Paulette found a children’s book she couldn’t leave behind.
A wander around the attractive, partially walled town followed along with the compulsory morning coffee before we headed north again passing Holy Island and Bamburgh castle which we have visited previously.
Next stop was Rosslyn Chapel which has become a popular tourist destination since being featured in Dan Brown’s book The Da Vinci Code. The Chapel is a lovely 15th century stone church with extraordinary carving, particularly inside. The notoriety the place achieved from its inclusion in the best selling book has been a blessing for the trust which maintains the chapel because the enormous increase in visitors has meant the now have the money to maintain the building which had been in serious disrepair.
There was quite a big crowd when we arrived so we had a good look around and I made a sketch of part of the very complicated interior, lunch at the adjacent cafe followed, then we went back inside for another look while it was quieter.
Having a bit of time before our friend was expecting us at her place 20 miles or so north of Edinburgh I set the GPS for a car park near the city centre, driving there was a bit of a nightmare but we found a park, wandered up the hill towards the castle then down the Royal Mile. After an hour or so we paid six pounds to get our car out of the parking building, spent an half an hour in rush hour tail backs, crossed the Forth road bridge ad got a very warm welcome when we arrived at Milnathort.
Saturday 24 May
Loch Leven in Kinross has been the focus of the last two days. On Saturday Rosemary came with us to Leven castle which, except for its location, is just another ruined square tower with a wall surrounding it. But it is on a small island in the Loch with beautifully kept grounds and large trees. To get the island we took a small launch and as the weather was great the outing was very enjoyable. The castle has associations with William Wallace and Robert the Bruce but most importantly Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned for a year.
Today, Sunday we borrowed bicycles from Rosemary’s family and Paulette and I cycled around the Loch. The trip is 21km and takes in open marshy country, some forest areas and has good views, some important wildlife habitats and historical features from standing stones to sluice gates. The weather was not quite as good as yesterday and we were faced with strong head winds as we headed back. All in all a great variation on just sightseeing.
This afternoon we had a good walk with Pippa, Rosemary’s six month old dad hound who is pretty small our walk took us right around a golf course, maybe four or five km so there’s been plenty of exercise again today.