Some years ago my sister in law told me she'd heard there was a village in Scotland whose architecture was Dutch in style. She couldn't remember what it was called, or where in Scotland it was, but thought I should search it out. I asked a few people, got blank looks, and then pretty much forgot about it.
A day or so before his first (bi-monthly) visit to his mother after I'd moved in, Dave suggested he could drop me off somewhere along the way. After considering this for a while I thanked him but declined. The only place I could think of was Edinburgh and because I hadn't yet acclimatised to my new impoverishment I couldn't imagine spending a whole day there. My usual Edinburgh day trips consisted of either going to an exhibition or mooching round the sites and shops. Both these options included at least one stop for coffee, and another for lunch. And I couldn't imagine not doing those things.
Fast forward five months, to the end of July, I had become quite used to existing on bugger all, and my horizons had expanded. I could now quite happily spend hours in the countryside and eat nothing at all. So I asked Dave if he could recommend anywhere of interest that wouldn't take him too much out of his way when his next visit was coming up. He gave me a few examples, I googled them, and found a link to Culross. When I clicked on this link I realised it must be the place my sister in law had mentioned all those years before.
It's a National Trust restored medieval village that was built on trading links with the Low Countries. What made it perfect for me was that as well as being picture book pretty it's on the coast, and is surrounded by modern industry. Across the river (Forth) is the huge and spewing Grangemouth power-station. Driving through the landscape to Culross you could be in a Terry Gilliam movie, and then, pah dah! you're in the illustrated Hans Cristian Anderson. Culross is all painted houses and hanging gardens.
There's a pumpkin coloured palace (I didn't go in as it cost nine quid but was told by a couple of lovely chatty women who live nearby and visit regularly that it was lovely inside);
which you can look down on from the back and out to the power station;
a ruined abbey;
Luckily it has a garden tea room
where I did stop for coffee and cake.
I had a lovely day ambling up wonky streets, past multicoloured houses in the sunshine. But I think the broken down old pier was my favourite bit.