Last Friday dawned dry and bright, the only dry day in the week, so we decided to drive to the very historic Fife village of Culross, which is pronounced Cooris. Although we’ve visited Culross Palace at least three times we had never tackled the very steep and stony road which leads to the Culross Abbey. It is now a ruin and a lot of the stones from it have been ‘robbed’ to build the nearby manse.
The tower of the abbey church which is in use today stands in what was the middle of the original abbey. It was founded in 1217 by Malcolm, 3rd Earl of Fife. It was home to Cistercian monks who wore white habits.
The metal stairs are very steep, I went down backwards.
And parts of the original abbey can be seen in the manse garden. What a wonderful feature to have in your garden!
The ‘modern’ Abbey Church is still in use, it’s a shame it was closed when we were there, it looks like it would be very interesting internally. I did have a good old mooch around the graveyard though.
I know it isn’t everyone’s idea of a good afternoon out but it hit the spot for me!
If you don’t mind walking up a very steep hill on at times a painfully uneven surface this is an interesting place to visit, as much for the lovely wee houses on the way up as for the grand but ruined abbey. A lot of the houses in the village are now owned and rented out by the Scottish National Trust, they were ruins before they took them over and refurbished them, but I’ll keep the photos of the houses for another blogpost.
St Andrews in Fife is one of my favourite places to visit, but because of the lockdown we hadn’t been there for months, actually possibly we hadn’t been there at all this year. So on Saturday we took the opportunity to pay the town a visit. It was a bit daft doing it on a Saturday as it was bound to be busy but we were visiting family further along the coast so we killed two birds with one stone.
It looks a bit grey and cool but it was really quite a hot day, by Scottish standards. The queue for the ice cream shop was too long for us to stand in. The beach was packed, but we just sat on a bench (wearing our masks) and didn’t bother going on to the sands, we just people and dog watched, the dogs were more entertaining, chasing the waves.
It was strange to see the gates around the cathedral closeed and padlocked, I had to tale photos through the railings.
The archway below is over the road that leads down to the beach, down a steep road. If you want to read a bit more about the town then have a look here, there are some great photos.
If you are looking for tips on what to do around St Andrews have a look at My Voyage Scotland here.
I’m not finding it too difficult to be stuck at home, I’m a home bird anyway and as we’re retired it hasn’t made an awful lot of difference to us, but speaking – at a distance – to my neighbours, the men in particular are finding it very wearing. On the plus side, one of the men said that he and his wife hadn’t murdered each other yet! But as he said that he was dragging his lawnmower out of his shed, and I had just been thinking that his grass was looking scalped. It’s looking even more so now as he’s mowing it every second day.
Anyway, if you’re also feeling a bit antsy you might enjoy settling down to watch the You Tube videos below
Series 1 episode 1 of Paul Murton’s Grand Tours of Scotlands Lochs. Legends of the West – Argyll and Loch Etive. This one is a cracker, history, geology and beautiful scenery – what more can you want?
Don’t miss Grand Tours of the Scottish Islands – Northern Skye.
If you fancy something different from gorgeous scenery you might like to take a wee look at some of Scotland’s Treasures in – The National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh . This is a BBC documentary, eye candy of a different sort.
Last week when we were in Dumbarton, where I grew up and Jack was born, we had a wee walk through the town centre, which like most has seen far better days. Inevitably there were empty shops, but they have tried to jolly things up by covering the shop fronts with these gorgeous photographs of ‘The Rock’. In fact I took the photo on my blog header from the top of this very historic rock which is a volcanic plug. Because of its strategic position at the confluence of two rivers – the Clyde and the Leven – it has been used as a fort and stronghold, and was even used by the army in WW1 and WW2. There’s a tradition (accordng to the author Rosemary Sutcliff) that the Romans had a naval station here and they called it Theodosia, which I believe means given by the gods.
Whenever I see this place in the distance I always feel that I’m home. I don’t know who took these photos but they are very good I think, probably the first one was taken by a drone.
It’s over a year since we visited Peterborough in the English county of Cambridgshire. We were on one of our road trips and hadn’t ever been there before, but we had wanted to visit the massive antiques fair that they have in Peterborough for ages. Actually it’s held on a Froday and Saturday unusually, and if we had stuck to our original plan and gone there on the Sunday we would have been very disappointed. As it was we didn’t have much time to look around the city, but we did take some photos of the outside of the large cathedral we were too late to get inside. It was a golden evening in September when we got there. The cathedral has a very interesting history, you can read about it here. Mary, Queen of Scots was originally buried in the cathedral but when her son King James V succeeded to the throne on Queen Elizabeth’s death he had his mother’s body exhumed and re-buried at Westminster Abbey.
The Norman Arch below is well used as you can see, I believe a car crashed into it a few years ago though.
But I was fairly amused ot see that the local Pizza Express is housed in a Tudoresque building. I wonder what sorts of businesses these premises have hosted over the centuries. I wouldn’t like to have their insurance bill!
I’m hoping to go back to the fair sometime this year and will definitely make sure that we see inside the cathedral then.
The wee town of Oakham which is the largest in the tiny county of Rutland in England’s East Midlands was in the news a couple of weeks ago and it reminded me that I had never got around to blogging about our visit there last year.
On the news many of the Oakham inhabitants were up in arms about the threat of a McDonalds opening there. Quite understandably really as they didn’t want the quaint old buildings there and the ambience being tainted by the modern plastic golden M that inevitably comes with a branch of McDonalds. It turned out though that the plan was for the outlet to be on the way out of Oakham, so in the end the permission was given. I was thinking to myself that the town has a Wotherspoons in the middle of it, which is hardly upmarket, but not quite as ‘in your face’ as a McDonalds.
Anyway, I dug through the photo files and this is the result. Some of these cottages definitely wouldn’t look out of place in an episode of Midsomer Murders.
There’s a market twice a week in the town, it’s held near the ancient octagonal pyramidal Buttercross which still has stocks in it as ypou can see below.
I have to say though that the satellite dish attached to a thatched cottage below is almost as incongruous as a McDonalds sign, but people must have their telly choices I suppose.
The town was ‘en fete’ as you can see from the bunting in the photos below. It’s an undeniably quaint place and I can see why they want to keep it that way in town.
On the other hand there’s nowhere for younger people to go to meet friends by the look of it, it might be just a wee bit snooty! Well there is a castle there, but that’s for another blogpost. Meanwhile, those thatched cottages are all very well, but I know for a fact that you have to share them with a lot of small mammals – and some not so small come the cold weather. So my choice would be to live in a converted signal box just like the one below. I love them, it’s a shame this one is still in use as a signal box. Just imagine, you could get the housework over and done with in no time flat!
On a lovely blue sky day in mid August we were in Dunfermline doing mundane but necessary domestic stuff, but when our wandering took us down to that dip and turn in the High Street which leads to the grand entrance gates of the Pittencrieff Park, we decided it was too nice a day to walk past them. I didn’t have my camera with me so the photo below is from the Wiki page.
So I was only able to take some photos using my phone, which isn’t great but better than nothing. As I recall – it was the day that Fife schools began again after the six weeks summer holidays and as ever Jack was particularly happy that day as he is now retired from teaching! Below is a photo taken from the park of the botanical glasshouses with Dunfermline Abbey and the Palace ruins in the background.
The hanging plants looked luscious and I wish I could get mine to look half as good. I think I need to do a lot more plant feeding than I have been doing.
Through the archway are some of the formal gardens.
From part of the park you can get a good view of Dunfermline Palace ruins.
There’s a very good website here called The Castles of Scotland and there’s lots of information on the abbey and palace if you’re interested.
If you look carefully at the photo below you will see more or less right in the middle of it the three white looking sort of pyramid shapes which are the cable supports of the new bridge over the River Forth, the Queensferry Crossing.
If you happen to be in Dunfermline it’s definitely worth having a wander around their unusually central Pittencrieff Park. The land for it was gifted to the town by Andrew Carnegie, the town’s most famous son and if there was ever going to be a patron saint of libraries it should be him as he financed so many of them.
While we were visiting Gladstone’s Library at Hawarden in North Wales we took a trip to the nearby small town of Mold. It was the morning and seemed like a nice bustling sort of place, full of locals going about their business. On our wanderings around we spotted this old church called St Mary’s which turned out to be quite historic. Sadly we weren’t able to get into it.
But the information board outside was interesting. The church was built/funded in the 1480s by Margaret Beaufort, the mother of Henry Tudor.
The church was built in thanksgiving for Henry’s victory at the Battle of Bosworth Field.
The gravestones seem to have been re-arranged over the years and I doubt if many of them are really marking the actual grave of the person named. Most of them were written in Welsh but it seems to me that Welsh women keep their husband’s name after they die as women do in England too. Of course in Scotland the name on a gravestone is her maiden name, it makes life much easier for people doing family research I think.
It’s a very grand church for such a small town but it’s such a shame that the locals haven’t managed to organise some volunteers to show people around the church – at least during the summer months, and make sure that nobody can vandalise it. Apparently vandalism has been a problem in the past. The old church in the teeny town I live in manages to keep the chuch open with volunteers in the summer, and it’s a focal point for people walking the Fife Pilgrims Way.
Directly across the road from the church is this Tudor building which has lovely old diamond paned windows. I waited and waited for that car to move, but although the driver was sitting in it he seemed determined just to stay there staring into space. I suspect he moved as soon as we left the area!
If you happen to find yourself in the area of Mold it’s worth a visit, but there doesn’t seem to be much else of interest around there, or if there is – we missed it!
The city of Chester is a lovely place to visit if you want a wee bit of a change from the rural scene in nearby Wales which is where we were staying for a few days when we visited this place. Chester is absolutely choc full of history. We stuck to the townscape but if we had done our homework beforehand we could have visited a Roman amphitheatre and all sorts – next time maybe.
Chester was founded by the Romans in AD 79 and in the photo below you can see that there’s still quite a lot of the original Roman wall that they built around their fort still in existence.
We didn’t take many photos as there were so many people about, but in the one below you can see the famous Chester Rows – the two tier medieval shops which are still being used as shops today. There are lovely arcades which you can wander around in, keeping dry if it happens to be raining.
Next time we visit we’ll definitely be aiming for the Roman amphitheatre, which you can see here.
We did visit the Cathedral but that will be in another post.
The Landgate, Rye dates from around 1339 when the powers that were in Rye decided that they need a gate and walls to protect Rye from the sporadic invasions from the French, who managed to burn the whole place down, with only a few stone buildings remaining. We were there early before the shops opened to get this photo sans traffic.
But as you can see there were still plenty of cars about. Rye seems to have been captured by the French and settled by them several times. We’re all a bunch of mongrels on these British Isles between the Viking invasions and the Norman, Saxon and Angles too, there’s really no such thing as a ‘foreigner’. Not that you would believe that if you witnessed how many times we had to repeat ourselves whilst in England, despite not having strong accents – which is more than could be said for many of the people questioning us! It reminded us of why we only stuck it out in the south of England for a couple of years. I must say that I’ve never NOT been able to understand any accent if the person is speaking English – even if they originate on the other side of the world, so it puzzles me how anyone can be so insular.
From there it’s a fairly short walk, albeit uphill to Ypres Tower which is nothing to do with the battle in France in WW1. This was used as a prison until the middle of the 1800s for both men and women. Only in comparatively recent times were the sexes separated. The mind boggles at that!
The view in the photo below is the side which would have been nearest the sea.
People who didn’t ‘deserve’ to be imprisoned might just be stuck in the stocks for a length of time where they might be targeted by people who weren’t so unlucky. They wouldn’t have been throwing tomatoes at them I’m sure.
From the top of Ypres Tower you can see one of the local rivers which will lead to the sea, eventually. The sea has receded about two miles since Roman times I believe.
I think that the presence of three rivers in Rye probably goes some way to explaining how popular the town is as so many people love messing about in wee boats on rivers.
The tower in the photo below is what was the women’s prison when they were eventually separated from the men. It’s not very big so I hope there weren’t that many of them.
A narrow lane from the castle/tower takes you to The Castle Inn which no doubt supplied plenty of beer to the prisoners over the years. Smugglers who were due to be hanged were taken there for their last two flagons of beer.