Thursday, April 28, 2005

Holiday Part 2 - Scotland and back

A long drive from Manchester to Dumfries in Scotland, where Robert Burns came from. Lots of museums there, all mentioning Robert Burns and his family, curiously omitting any references to his mistress. Perhaps the religious Scots prefer to think of him as a hero of the working classes, and idealise him somewhat. Found a reasonable B&B on spec, and were treated to Peruvian music at breakfast – very uplifting.
We climbed up Criffel mountain the next day. The path was very boggy and we had to pick our way carefully, till we got to the more rocky areas nearer the summit. At the top the wind was bitterly cold, so we lingered only for a couple of photos before making our way down again. Next we had a look at the ruined Sweetheart Abbey in New Abbey, founded by Devorgilla, Lady of Galloway, in memory of her husband John Balliol (founder of Balliol College Oxford and ex King of Scotland). Devorgilla is buried in the presbytery with a casket containing her husband's embalmed heart (they must have ripped the heart out of his body to do that - a bit sick?)
Then on to our B&B in Kippford, Roughfirth House. I can recommend this place highly – it has amazing views over Rough Firth, Almorness Point and Rough Island. The pub in town, the Anchor Hotel, served good food and excellent beer from the Sulwath Brewery. We spent a day walking around the area, doing a loop up to Castlehill Point and back through Rockcliffe, stopping at the excellent Cottage Tea Shop there for coffee and a light lunch (I had homemade mushroom soup – Bill had whisky flavoured ice cream!). Next day we explored Castle Douglas and decided to inspect the Sulwath Brewery Shop – also meeting the owners and getting an impromptu brewery tour. The lake in Castle Douglas was nice to look around, and you could also purchase locally-made ice cream from the Warden’s Office (alas no Whisky flavour).
We were a bit reluctant to leave in the end and may well go back there to explore the area further!
However the bright lights of Glasgow were beckoning. We checked in to our B&B (huge room) near the Tennents Brewery, then headed off into town to meet the minibus to take us to Fyne Brewery, at the top of Loch Fyne. And what a great trip it was! The minibus took us along most of the length of Loch Lomond, and we saw some amazing views of the loch and the mountains. Then we saw the tip of Loch Long before arriving at the start of Loch Fyne, The Brewery was at a small farmhouse in a truly beautiful setting. The owners had moved there from Alresford, not far from myself and Bill! There were 4 beers to choose from, and we were told to just help ourselves – Piper’s Gold, Vital Spark, Highlander and Summerled. The owners also brought out pastries containing haggis, curried egg or smoked salmon!! We were told later that they’d refused to accept payment from CAMRA for the visit so it was a truly generous welcome. It was my idea of heaven – sitting outside in the sun supping beer and eating pastries in good company.
Bill took photos of the Brewery and I took a photo of the farm’s Highland Cattle but they looked a bit fierce – didn’t go too near. Then the equally stunning trip back, and a commotion when the driver refused to stop at a good pub on the way back, saying the minibus had only been booked till 7pm. These jobsworths!
Bill went to the CAMRA AGM on Saturday and Sunday, and I went shopping. Was particularly impressed with Buchanan Street and Argyle Street (Bill not fooled by my arty pretence when I said I’d visited the Buchanan Galleries!) Also went with Bill to the Gallery of Modern Art and the Transport Museum, both very good for free.
We visited as many pubs as we could get to (the underground was on strike, and Rangers/Celtic playing each other) – my favourite was the Babbity Bowster but I have to admit that the Deuchars IPA in the Samuel Dow was the best beer of the holiday. There was also a folk club meeting at the Samuel Dow, which Bill and I joined – we won a bottle of wine in the raffle! Had a good curry in Sauchiehill Street with Julie and Nick, but the best meal in Glasgow that I had was the smoked venison salad at the Babbitty Bowster.
Bill drove all the way back, reluctant to grant me a pee stop till he’d got over half way :-[ We stopped for lunch at the Plough in Bignall End, Audley (near J16 of the M6) – a very good range of beers including one from Townhouse. I had a lovely Lamb Rogan Josh there as well.
Bill then drove all the way back to Farnborough but still had the energy to take Simon and Jane to the Sandrock, Wrecclesham for a few bevvies before dropping the hire Ka back to Kendalls. What a star! :-*

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