dear diary :: driving north

On Saturday with the rain still lashing down and the road spray coming up to meet us we made our way along the M6 as we headed for Scotland and by the time we crossed the border the sun had appeared and the world looked suddenly like a veil had been lifted. 

We pulled off the road just past Gretna in the sleepy little village of Dornock to eat our soup and sandwiches. We parked near to the little church we discovered on a previous visit – the one with the historical gravestones with viking links I mentioned in this post.

By now it was a long time since we ate breakfast but once our rather ravenous appetites had been fully satisfied, almost to being a little stuffed (who was it put in a bag of crisps and some biscuits), we took a gentle stroll down the lane to see what we could find. 

Exploring is always a favourite pastime of mine so we followed the lane round to the right as it skirted around the bottom of the graveyard.

The wind coming across land from the Solway coast in the distance was quite forceful but for anyone with a love of the sea lying in this tiny peaceful graveyard, as overgrown and wild as the surrounding countryside, and only the sound of the wind and birdsong must surely be a heaven of its own.

To the left the lane meanders round a bend and past a cluster of outbuildings and barns and a very large house stands complete with a magnificent copper beech in the grounds and a tiny blue seat outside the gates waiting for passers by to stop and rest a while. 

The verges sheltered a little from the winds by the stone wall were laden with heavy drooping branches of elderflowers.

Once back on the road we decided to take the route through the centre of Annan, a nearby small town famous for its connections to the Scottish writer and philosopher Thomas Carlyle who is know to have said ‘A man without a goal is like a ship without a rudder’ and ‘Music is well said to be the speech of angels’, amongst many other quotes.

As we sat at the traffic lights we spotted a sign ahead we had not noticed before pointing to the harbour.  Now for those who do not know this area Annan is located to the north of the Solway Firth but is a little way inland so the harbour it refers to, as we found out, is on the River Annan that winds its way inland from the estuary.  We followed Port Street all the way down until we couldn’t go any further and this is the harbour.

I was amazed at how narrow this channel is but it obviously does have boats going in and out at high tide. There was plenty of decay round about – some quite sad looking boats have been left to rot on the harbour side – a sorry end for some of them.

The same sad end for the Albert Hall which was thought to be a former town hall. All around Annan there are run down buildings and many run down areas that remain neglected as the local council, like in many other towns, struggle to improve or maintain them. Property is lingering unsold, or unwanted or just unloved….

….. but every so often you come across a little pocket of delight and someone who takes pride in their surroundings.

We continued our journey to Castle Douglas and just made it in time for a quick look around the impressive craft shop on the main street. Closing time in many of these small towns can be 4 o’clock but luckily for me the craft shop stays open until five. It has an expansive stock that is far better than any Hobbycraft shop over two floors and an annexe or two – you can buy anything from wool to watercolours – but on this visit I was purely ‘window shopping’ from the inside of course.

Afterwards we joined the queue for our usual tea of chip butties and a piping hot cup of tea from Moore’s award winning fish and chip shop.  Saturday tea time is a busy time but well worth the wait.

Fed and watered once again we continued on to Newton Stewart so we could shop at the tiny Sainsbury’s – it was the best part of the day with the evening sun reflecting off the sea as we drove around the bay. 

We usually buy fresh butter, cheese, yoghurt and milk from here together with a fresh loaf and rolls and some frozen peas rather than bring them from home. DH treats himself to a bottle of red wine and I go for the bar of dark chocolate.

At last we reach the cottage and still in daylight which is not difficult at this time of year in Scotland – even down in the south it is light until very late. So much has grown since our last visit – this is the view that greeted us from our caravan window looking out to sea – a pure mass of frothy flowers. I just love it.

Bedtime beckons…I will be back tomorrow with more tales from the garden. x

13 Replies to “dear diary :: driving north”

  1. I love all your posts but there’s always such a lightness about your Scottish ones especially as you travel up there.
    justjilluk has captured it in one word above!


  2. I’m also looking forward to your snippets of life adventures north of the border. You’re reminding me that Spring and Summer will be along soon. It’s only a short while till the 21st – then our days will slowly lengthen. It won’t warm up for a while though.
    So enthrall us with your summer adventures and gardening pleasures please.
    Take care


  3. I like how you make the journey part of the pleasure (at least once you get off the motorway) by taking little side forays (not to mention the fish and chips). And what a lovely scene when you arrived. Can almost imagine standing there and (as Jill recommends) taking a deep breath…and smiling.


  4. That wouldn’t have been what I envisaged either if I saw a sign which read ‘harbour, ‘ although it is clearly in regular use.
    It’s a shame about many of the buildings becoming run down. Sadly, it is the case in many small towns these days. What a joy to discover the little garden, however, it is beautiful.
    I hope your time at the cottage gives you the opportunity to relax and unwind for a while..x


    1. Sometimes just a lick of paint and a pot of flowers is all that is needed to make somewhere look better. It is a short visit this time so the relaxing bit might be a bit hard but it is nice to be away – so peaceful here. x


  5. Oh, I think you’ve written this post just for me!!! You know it is the the kind of adventuring or meandering that I love! I love the little “harbour” – I shall have to go there myself. And the flowers! And the long long days.
    Not sure about having a cup of tea with hot chips though. (And what’s a buttie? I’m off to google it.)


    1. Oh yes. A chip sandwich. People do that here. I don’t. Can’t stand bread with deep fried potatoes. Just too much glug! Though strangely, I like the very occasional potato scallop – deep fried sliced potato in batter.


      1. We only have this on our trip to Scotland as it is the only place open at this time of day – there are no services on the A75 past Dumfries but the chips are good so we don’t mind a chip butty once in a while.


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