Saturday, 8 September 2012

Day Tripper, Yeah...

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;

Parley Gardens
a lovely garden with some interesting art work. I chatted at length to a very old man who told me it used to be the place where the donkeys lived before they were moved to a sanctuary. It's is now owned and run by his son who keeps it open to the public so everyone can enjoy it. It was free to enter and had a tin in which you could donate to the British Heart Foundation, which I did.

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There's also a wonderful pottery/gallery. I had to force myself past almost everything it sold.

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.


angryparsnip said...

I am amazed ! What an interesting story and how exciting to find the town after all these years and it is a beautiful town.
The cake and coffee look great too !
Thanks for the tour.

cheers, parsnip

india banks said...

These photographs are stunning, Eryl. I love the pumpkin-colored palace and how beautifully you've adapted to impoverishment xx

Pat said...

There had to be cake!
A rewarding outing. Have you met Mum?

Lulu LaBonne said...

I'm loving the photography ... cake looks good too.

BTW looking at your blackboard in the last post I'm inspired to try some of you repertoire. In return I offer you my easy vegetarian fallback - variations on rooty gratins; layers of celariac, apple and potatoes with cheese, cream and nutmeg is pretty good.

savannah said...

what a great day, sugar! your words and the photos made me feel as if i were walking along side you! the cake and coffee look delicious, especially under that delightful smile! xoxoxoxox

Anonymous said...

better write an ebook or something so you can eat all the cake in cafes you want!

Eryl said...

Parsnip ~ all good things come to those who wait is beginning to feel like my motto!

India ~ I am, of course, only telling you the positive bits and not about the times you can hear me wail about such things my squeaking shoes and inability to replace them.

Pat ~ I met her for the first time recently in an Edinburgh restaurant with several other family members, and liked her very much. I now have an invitation to go with Dave for the next visit.

Lulu ~ thanks for that, it sounds delicious.

Savannah ~ the smile's fab, isn't it? I could easily have done a whole post on all the interesting artworks in that one tiny courtyard garden.

Denise ~ Dave thinks that if we had money we'd get enormously fat, and he's probably right. Whenever I imagine being well off cake is involved!

nick said...

How fortuitous that you suddenly discovered the Dutch-style village you'd heard about. And what a lovely little place it is! I can't resist local cafés either. I'm always ready for a good cup of coffee and a traybake.

And Dave's right about impoverishment keeping the fat off!

Pat said...

Eryl: that sounds promising. Mine was quite fierce but I knew all was well when she knitted me a special tea pot cosy to fit my special small tea-pot.

Eryl said...

Nick ~ Ooh, tray-bakes! If you ever go to Arran the tearoom of Machrie golf course has (or did the last time I was there) the best tray-bakes ever.

Pat ~ it does, I'm quite hopeful after having been rather nervous. When D told her I was English she said: "Not another one!"

The tea cosy definitely sounds like an acceptance, and a rather lovely one.

The Weaver of Grass said...

What a lovely post Eryl - firstly because the pictures are so interesting and the village looks fascinating, secondly because that coffee and cake look scrumptious and last but not least, because you sound so happy. I am so pleased.

Eryl said...

Weaver ~ thank you.

Linnhe Mara said...

I have fond memories of Culross, many of them as a child when we would go for Sunday drives over the bridge and stop for a while to marvel at the tiny doors on most of the properties.

I think my most vivid memory of all though has to be the time Alan came to see me, a few days after I'd suffered whiplash having had an accident going to see him. I didn't want to stay in the house so suggested Culross as an easy, short trip. We parked the car overlooking the Forth and spent the next hour or so not in some romantic clinch but debating the correct pronunciation of various place names, especially Culross!

Rachel Fox said...

We do regular trips down to England from Angus and must try and stop at Culross one time... it's always good to have a new stopping-off place!

Golden West said...

Happy to join you - thanks for taking us along!

Eryl said...

Linnhe ~ as you can imagine the pronunciation of scottish place names, in fact scottish nouns in general, can be a major problem for me. Especially when dealing with people who tend toward absolutism. And I have now been corrected several times regarding the pronunciation of Culross. Unfortunately there have been differences in those corrections so I still don't know how to pronounce it. What did you decide on, I've had Cu'ross, Coo-ross, Caross, Cue-ross and C'ross?

Rachel ~ have you ever stopped off in Moffat, we don't have a palace but are jolly nice?

Golden ~ how lovely to see you! And, you're most welcome.

Titus said...

Oh God, I have to go there!

Eryl said...

You do!

Elizabeth said...

What a super outing!
Lve the magic lost Dutch village.