Thursday, July 07, 2005

Sunny Scotland – Holiday Part II


We were up and at ’em quite early (for us) on the Saturday morning. It’s amazing what you can do when there’s a cooked brekky included in the cost of the room *grin*

Heading off once more on the A1, Wookie started scrutinising the map for places of interest to stop on the way. The first thing he read out to me was Holy Island, also known as Lindesfarne so we decided to pay a visit as we would get there around lunchtime.

Unfortunately our plan was scuppered by this:

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It seems we had picked entirely the wrong time to try and visit the island as high tide was about an hour away and we had another three hours to wait until the causeway was safe again. If you look at the larger picture you can see the white lines of the road going off into the distance under the water. Sadly we couldn’t afford to wait so we had to be content with a picture of the island.

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A little further up the road Wookie spotted a road sign pointing off into the middle of nowhere and gleefully cried 'Duddo! That’s in the book!' and off we went into the wilds of Northumbria.

A little explanation is required here methinks. The book is The Meaning of Liff. A delightful little tome in which the authors have taken unusual placenames from across the world and come up with come up with definitions for them as if they were words in the English language. For example:

Duddo: The most deformed potato in any given collection of potatoes.

Wookie has had this book for many years and has come up with a scheme to collect the places in the book by visiting them and getting photographs of himself standing next to something that proclaims the placename. So in the case of Duddo this occasioned him standing next to the road sign at the entrance to the place while I took a picture of him. I won’t torture you with those photographs. One thing that particularly tickled him was that Duddo itself was a very small village almost entirely surrounded by potato fields.

He has also come up with a system of scoring points based on the book. So the photograph gets him some points. Having a postcard from a place gets you points. Having lived in a place (as I have) gets you even more points, and so on. He plans to do a website about this scheme at some point but whether it’ll ever be done remains to be seen.

So after standing around like pillocks taking photographs of road signs, much to the amusement of the drivers passing us, it was back to the main road again on a heading for bonnie Scotland.

We had plenty of time to make the trip north so rather than sticking to the main roads we did meander across country rather a lot, mostly along the coastal roads to better appreciate the scenery. This occasioned two more stops for Liffage. The first of these was a place called Aldhame which consisted of a row of about 10 houses along the road, and a farm, and the only sign of a name being engraved on a rather old stone wall, which is what got photographed in the end. As it turns out this place wasn’t in the book after all, Wookie’s memory had failed him here.

The second place was Luffness (Hearty feeling that comes from walking on the moors with gumboots and cold ears.) This was very hard to find and may not even exist as a place anymore, although it is still marked on the map. In the end we had to settle for a sign on the gates of a big old mansion house.

Sadly Wookie hadn’t actually brought the book with him so he completely missed out on several other places along the way including the place we stopped for a picnic lunch, Dunbar.

After all this wandering around, time was getting on so we decided to make a push for the hotel. We headed back to the A1 and off to Edinburgh. Zooming round some very interesting road interchanges took us around the city and on a bearing for the Forth Bridge. As we went over the road bridge we marvelled at the ironwork of the Forth Rail Bridge and tried unsuccessfully to spot the poor souls on decorating duty.

The rest of the journey was quite uneventful. We spent most of the time following signs for The Open until we found ourselves in the vicinity of St Andrews and then tried to find the hotel.

I had booked us into a place called Stravithie Country Estate, which sounded rather lovely. It took us a little while to find the place but eventually we spotted the sign at the end of a wooded driveway and heading up it brought us to this:

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The room itself was in the basement of the house, in what would have been the kitchens or other such rooms originally. We were amazed at the size of it and the view from the window was lovely.

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There was even a french window to allow access to the gardens at the back of the house. These were quite steep with a small burn (brook) running along the bottom, which apparently contained trout although we didn’t try and confirm that.

We settled in and then went down into St Andrews for dinner at a lovely little restaurant called The Eating Place, which does the most amazing pancakes, but I wouldn’t recommend having one for dessert unless you have an immense appetite. I did, and I only managed to eat half of it.

We ended the evening with a stroll along the smaller of the two beaches, as the sun set.

(Sorry Gem, you'll have to wait for the next installment for the sunset photos)