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Tuesday, 28 July 2009

The weekend

A few interesting things happened over the weekend just gone!
I was walking along Peebles High Street on Friday when I saw all these old motor bikes parked by the pavement.

"Indians" they were!

That interested me, as when I was in NZ last year, I had been told by a friend, by the name of Munro herself, to look out for the display in Invercargill Museum about Burt Munro, the New Zealander who in 1967 broke the "under 1000cc" speed record on his modified 1920 Indian Scout bike, an event made famous in the film The World's Fastest Indian, starring Anthony Hopkins.
These bikes and their riders (of a certain age) were on their way to a rally at nearby Traquair, and of course I had to stop and take photos. They had come a long way. These ones were from Australia and America.

On Saturday I had an invitation from fellow blogger, and traveller, Alan, of garlic soup hunt and new yeti hunt fame, to join him on Sunday on a visit to a historic house in East Lothian where a friend of his was doing guided tours. I was happy to accept, and more of that in a bit, but on Saturday evening Linda and I headed off to South Queensferry to have a meal. The big "Homecoming" Festival gathering was taking place in Edinburgh city centre, so we made for out of town, thinking it would be quieter! Huh! That's what thought did! Queensferry was heaving! Was there another cruise ship out in the estuary, - there was one there last time - that people had come to see? No, not even that. It was just plain busy! A nice night, I suppose, and everyone had come down to the coast.

We did find somewhere to eat though, and eventually came back out onto the street to browse the shop windows. A new cafe bar is opening up this week on the north side of the street, with a huge picture window at the back looking out onto the Forth Bridges. It is a stunning view, so much so that, although the light was going, I decided to attempt a photo through the front glass window, to the bridge beyond the back glass window, and this...
... is what came out! You can clearly see the cafe through the front window, with the picture window and its view to the bridge, but above are perfect reflections of the buildings and the sky behind me, across the street, reflected in the front window! It's surreal!

There was rather a nice sunset too that evening, over - well, under, really - the Forth Road Bridge. I don't believe the saying Red sky at night, Shepherds' delight.... It generally rains the next day and it was wet in the morning!
However the sun came out for my meeting up with Alan. We spent a lovely afternoon, firstly having lunch in Haddington,
then driving out the short distance to Lennoxlove House, the country seat since 1946, of the Duke of Hamilton, whose ancestors would have been in line to the Scottish throne if Mary, Queen of Scots had not produced a son and heir.
We did the guided tour with Fay, Alan's friend, who has been showing visitors around the house for many years, so knows all the stories. No ghost though!!
It is a mixture of very old, old, and more up to date, originally having been a single fortified tower building with a barrel-vaulted ceiling in the great hall (this fireplace is a 20th century addition though it may have looked a lot like this in the past)with similar cellar beneath (now being used as a chapel), stairs within the 11 feet thick walls, sleeping accommodation on an upper floor and likely the troops in the uppermost section ready to defend the tower in the case of an attack from the English - as happened a lot in those days. That's not to say the Scots didn't do their share of attacking the towers and castles of the north of England, because they did, so each country was as bad as the other (says she, diplomatically).

Like in a large number of other towers alterations and modernisation took place in in about the 17/18th centuries when there was no further likelihood of attack. Stairways were moved, windows enlarged to allow more light in, and new buildings were added on to modernise still further. Various families have owned this house, the Hamiltons only moving here just over 60 years ago, and each has done their bit to create the house we see now.
I like this calm sitting room with its great glass chandelier, light blue painted walls, large fireplace and cosy chairs and sofas. There are plenty of ancestral portraits around the whole house, with the occasional one by Henry Raeburn and Augustus John.

We saw the room known as the Queen's bedroom, with its enormous four poster bed with intricately carved wooden decoration that may have come from India,
and the room where the large rent desk is to be found. There's a nice little touch about the desk, as once a payment had exchanged hands, been recorded in the accounts book and the money tucked into the large drawer, the Duke (or his factor) might offer a glass of liquid refreshment, and the corner metal embellishments were in fact covering doors that opened to reveal a convenient ledge on which to rest a glass.

Later, after tea and scones in the 20th century tearoom, Alan suggested that we should have a photo of the two of us and Fay, so we chose the sundial on the lawn in the sun, as the place to pose while the photos were taken.
So here we are, Fay, Alan and myself! Thanks again, Alan, for the invitation. It was great, and lovely to meet you.
From the sublime to the ridiculous - well not so ridiculous - Alan wanted to get to IKEA before he went home to Glasgow, and always happy to pay a visit there myself, I tagged along. I'm collecting ideas for my new-look living room and bedroom, after the alterations are done, and think I know what I will do with them - furniture-wise. This store features strongly in the "Where To Buy What" list.
Shopping completed and an ice-cream demolished, we parted company in the car park, he to Glasgow and I, supposedly to Peebles, but a sudden idea had me heading back once more to East Lothian to visit my friend Jean at Dirleton and her sister, my great pal Edwina, who is visiting with her husband, from Berkshire. It was great to see them all again and we spent the evening at Jean's house, having a good blether over tea and Jean's banana cake, before the night overtook us and I had to leave for home.
I talked earlier about going out with Linda on Saturday night, and recall listening to the car radio as I was driving up to Edinburgh to hear that the road between Peebles and Eddleston was closed because of an accident. My thought at the time was that it must have happened after I drove through Eddleston, but since then I think the report must have said the road had been closed but was now open - you know how these things are on the radio but you don't necessarily pay a lot of attention till you hear placenames you recognise. Anyway, I discovered yesterday that my Canadian friend and her sister were involved in the accident, and although Jean - another Jean - is now out of hospital, bruised and sore, her sister, who was visiting from Norway, will have to be air-lifted back to Norway for treatment. Jean couldn't speak too well on the phone when she called - too sore and miserable - so after ascertaining that she and Gigi were as well as could be expected, I said I would call on her next week, giving her time to feel a bit better, I hope. She and Jimmy had been due to fly back to Canada tomorrow, but now she will be staying put in Edinburgh for a while. I do hope both she and Gigi recover well.
Talk again soon.

1 comment:

Alan McWilliam said...

Hi Evee. It was great to meet you on Sunday and I look forward to another blog reunion one of these days.