Saturday, 17 September 2011


Have you seen that VisitScotland ad? The one that Neil Oliver of Coast fame does the voice-over. The one showing gorgeous Scottish locations. Wellll, that's what I thought it would be like when we moved here - every weekend spent at a beautiful loch, around a state clanshouse or castle, dining in restaurants with the finest Scottish fare, and with a bit of crafty-ness thrown in.
Err the reality was mostly rain, Falkirk and a woeful lack of farmers' markets or decent restaurants. Considering this is a pretty old town, there is not much to discover in terms of the "HISTORY" though I do still have to visit the Falkirk Wheel.
This is a sad excuse - truth be told I've been lazy and wallowing in self-pity at leaving London. Glasgow and Edinburgh are very close. There is a lot to see up in Central Scotland and to discover craft wise. But it needs effort to get there and rain just makes me want to curl up on the sofa and watch TV.
This Thursday the Sun was shining it's wonderful Autumnal glow and I got off my backside, picked up tot and went to Stirling to meet my mother in law. From what I saw, there is a pretty decent shopping centre there and plenty of places to eat (shame we chose a cafe in the Thistles centre which was dire). After lunch, we walked up to Stirling Castle. The approach is magnificent as you walk past the Old Jail and a Cathedral before walking up some steps to enter the Castle grounds. The Castle has just undergone a part refurb which looked odd as part of the structure was a bright yellow colour compared to the rest of the greystone buildings.
I was a bit shocked at the entrance fee of £13 so decided to opt in for the Historic Scotland membership so we could get money off in other historic locations.
There are two sides to the Castle - the history of James V and his wife Mary de Guise who was the mother of Mary Queen of Scots. The other side is the history of the Argylls and Sutherland regiment who were based at the Castle. Unfortunately, we spent too much time at the latter which whilst interesting meant the little one was not willing to spend at the Royal Court parts. Part of the regiment history detailed their role in India...not comfortable reading for me however, the history of the regiment in the Crimea and WW2 included some heartbreaking letters sent by soldiers to loved ones at home. Luckily the refurbished Royal Court had less to read (reminding me a lot of the updated parts of Hampton Court) - making the experience more interactive with museum staff who were in 16th Century dress.
I was in complete tourist mode taking in photos of the statue of Robert the Bruce, the magnificent views and the sumptuously decorated Queens Chambers. Me, and quite a few Americans of course ;) I'll definitely be returning to visit the Castle more (perhaps without the little one!) and to walk around the grounds which whilst not extensive have amazing views.
And a bonus on the way home, we passed Macrees which is a yarn shop I've bought online from. So I managed to slip in a bit of crafty-shopping. All in all, a lovely Autumn day and one of many I hope.

Robert the Bruce

Annoying tourist woman in shot

Refurbed Great Hall

View from Castle

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