20.10.2016 - 26.10.2016
From Bamburgh, we headed north once more and got properly Scottish this time, driving through the beautiful border towns and arriving at Kirriemuir, our home for the next fortnight. Scotland scored five stars for its autumnal colours and bonnie sunset. Claire, Scott and Jack made us welcome in their home – and Jude the border collie scored five stars for being the smartest dog we had ever had the privilege of housesitting.
Kirriemuir is the birthplace of J.M. Barrie (author of ‘Peter Pan’), AND the birthplace of Bon Scott (of ACDC fame) – so quite the cultural hub. It was also the place where Sir Hugh Munro spent a lot of his time, so it was incredibly fitting that we should spend our Sunday climbing CairnGorm Mountain and bagging our third munro with Hannah, Elise and Pete. The weather seemed more wintry than autumnal up in the hills, with a light dusting of snow falling as we made our way up the goat track towards the summit. The temperature was about three degrees in the sun at the carpark before we started the climb – so I’ll let you guess what the temperature must have been by the time we reached the peak! We cheated a little by catching the funicular down the mountain, and then headed into town to queue for a table at the Mountain Café, along with everybody else who believed the rumours about it being the best café in Aviemore. I had my doubts – especially when Pete’s mulled wine was chilled – but when I bit into the sweet potato and caramelised onion tart, all the time spent waiting on the stairs was suddenly worth it. Delish.
Unfortunately, upon our return home to Kirriemuir we came across people who appeared to be trying to break into the house next door to ours. The other neighbours came out to see us and we learned that the resident of the house in question had not been seen for at least a week and the dog was still indoors. The police arrived, and the ambulance arrived… but the situation was such that they could not be of any assistance.
The next couple of days were thankfully uneventful, and we enjoyed some semblance of a boring, normal routine. We took Jude for walks up on the hill, where we could survey the whole of Kirriemuir and appreciate the autumn colours while she appreciated any stick or ball that we threw for her. We walked around the cemetery (one of the most beautifully located cemeteries that I have visited) and found J.M. Barrie’s grave, which Jude was nonplussed about. Simon did some work, and I didn’t. We even had the pleasure of speaking to Scotland Police as they came around trying to put together a timeline of events, but of course we couldn’t be much help.
On Wednesday, we decided it was time to go adventuring again, and after the morning walk, we set off for Stirling to visit the Battle of Bannockburn monument and visitor centre. The 3D films managed to find a balance between entertainment and education, and then, after a fairly cursory introduction to the art of war, we were sent into battle. Simon and I were both allocated to King Edward II’s English army, and while we certainly contributed to altering the course of history slightly, the overall outcome was still the same as it had been in 1314 – victory to the Scots. Apparently my kamikaze approach to managing the cavalry wasn’t enough to put down Robert the Bruce’s attack.
We spent the rest of the afternoon at nearby Doune Castle, whose place in history was rather overshadowed (in my mind, at least) by its use as a filming location for Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It seemed only fitting, then, that the traditional audioguide available at such locations was narrated by Terry Jones. It was amazing how easily the information about a 1975 comedy film fitted in with the information about a medieval castle and its former inhabitants. Definitely the most entertaining audioguide we’ve had yet. Almost enough to make us want to eat spam for dinner…