A Sunny Saturday in 1300s Arbroath

Arbroath Abbey has always been a favourite haunt and we’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve visited over the years.
It is a place of calm tranquility, steeped in history, and I always feel at peace there.

This weekend there is a re-enactment event; held annually in honour of the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath (6th April 1320); so today’s visit wasn’t quite as tranquil, what with the clash of swords as the Scots & English forces battled through the Wars of Independence.

The medieval encampment came courtesy of The Historic Saltire Society, a living history group based in Inverness who perform all over the country.

The society members are all very friendly and eager to talk about the history of the period.

We all had an attempt at some medieval calligraphy using quills, reeds and iron gall ink.

The professionals made us some personalised bookmarks to show us how it is really done…

In our defense, they did get to use proper nibs!

We also saw how cloth would have been woven.

The lunch tent was well-frequented, although somewhat surprisingly there wasn’t a cauldron of pottage in sight!

The camp jester was on hand to show us various medieval games & pastimes.

The Armoury was a lot of fun! The guy we spoke to spent ages talking us through all the protective clothing and weapons. 

There is always ample opportunity for audience participation.

Offspring #2 found himself conscripted into the schiltron.

Whilst the kids army is always fun

Obviously the finale is The Big Battle… 

The event continues on Sunday, so if you happen to be around Arbroath, pop along!

Oh, and no trip to Arbroath can be complete without a good portion of fish and chips!

We can definitely recommend The Bellrock.

Do you have any annual local events you enjoy attending?

Have you heard of Arbroath Abbey, or The Declaration?


I’d love to hear!

Hugs, 

Crafty xx

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Kellie Castle & Gardens

We spent a lovely few hours at Kellie Castle & Gardens today.

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It was really warm, the first gloriously hot day we’ve had for ages, so we spent quite a lot of time meandering around the gardens.

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There are hundreds of varieties of flowers, shrubs, trees, fruit & veg.
The gardeners definitely have there work cut out for them, tending to all the beds, lawns, paths and little nooks & crannies.

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We stopped halfway round for a picnic lunch and enjoyed basking in the sunshine for a while.
It was delightful.

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There are so many interesting plants & beautiful spots that I can’t begin to choose a favourite!

There are lots of little spots to sit and enjoy the surroundings

There are lots of little spots to sit and enjoy the surroundings

and lots of little gems,  hidden behind gates and hedges

and lots of little gems, hidden behind gates and hedges

Not to mention trees which are crying out for fairy doors to be fitted!

Not to mention trees which are crying out for fairy doors to be fitted!

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I don’t *think* this is the tree that the 5th Earl hid INSIDE for the entire summer of 1746, secretly being fed by his butler, whilst evading capture after the battle of Culloden; but it makes for a great tale!

Did i mention the chickens? there’s a little hen house in the garden and they roam around the paths…

Did i mention the chickens? there’s a little hen house in the garden and they roam around the paths…

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You may remember me mentioning fruit and veg? Well, it’s all organically grown and some is used in the on-site tearoom whilst more is displayed for sale in a small summer house in one corner of the garden. There’s a price-list & an honesty box, and you can purchase freshly picked produce.

We came home with a bag of broad beans and some green & yellow courgettes.

We came home with a bag of broad beans and some green & yellow courgettes.

Alongside the walled garden there is also a lovely sunny courtyard, where you can enjoy a spot of lunch or tea & cake. The stables afford a great exhibition space for local artists (today there was a chap who painted gorgeous watercolours of the surrounding landscapes, birds & fauna), alongside a permanent exhibit on the life & works of 20th century sculptor, Hew Lorimer, son of the famous Scottish architect Sir Robert Lorimer.

There was a castle at Kellie in the 12th Century, although the oldest part of the structure now standing dates from around 1360. It took us about that long to get around the gardens but, eventually, we did make it inside!

Hew and his wife, Mary, continued the Lorimer family’s lease of the castle for a number of years until the 1950s death of the then Earl, at which time his successor agreed to sell. It was then after Mary’s subsequent death in 1970 that the trust purchased the property, meaning that many of the furnishings are original to the house.

There are some delightful pieces to be found in the house, but a very strict (and utterly necessary, for the conservation of the items!) “NO PHOTOGRAPHY” policy is in place; so I’m afraid you’ll have to go visit and see for yourselves!

One new addition since our last visit is the opening of a room at the very top of one of the towers. it is laid out in keeping with a previous use as an artist’s studio and visitors climbing the spiral staircase all the way to the top are limited to four at a time because the structure of the floor is a little weak. This fact, of course, made the trip up the stair all the more exciting!

A few more things to especially look out for:

  • The intricately painted 17th Century paneling in the dining room.
  • A rather tetchy letter written to Professor James Lorimer by one of his young students ( a certain Robert Louis Stevenson) requesting he hurry up and dispatch his examination results.
  • The ornate plaster ceiling in the Library is one of the oldest in Scotland.
  • The bed canopy Mary created from a lace wedding veil/train, gorgeous golden yellow silk salvaged from a parachute and half a gilt edged mirror. (The woman sure knew how to up-cycle!)
  • The recently discovered mural by the celebrated Arts & Crafts pioneer, Phoebe Anna Traquair.

And finally:

  • The doll in the nursery; whose face will forever haunt your dreams. Seriously.

Venturing back outdoors:

If you are ready for some more fresh air, there is a lovely woodland walk around Kellie Woods. There is plenty of wildlife to spot around the trees and pond, as well as an adventure playground.

There is also an amazing smell of wild garlic during summer months, whilst bats can be spotted later in the season.

If I have tempted you to make a visit, you can find the opening times & entrance fees here. It would also be remiss of me not to add that if you are going as a family and/or are planning to visit a few National Trust for Scotland sites, you would probably be better looking into a yearly NTS membership . You CAN also sign up for this at any manned site, so you could choose this option when you arrive somewhere! Not only do you help support the great work of the NTS with your regular payments, it is also cost effective; and you also receive a few perks like free parking and a quarterly magazine.

We are often to be found visiting historic sites, it’s one of my favourite things to do! Do you enjoy visiting these sorts of places? Please share in the comments!

An impromptu escape…

Today was a lazy Sunday. Well, as lazy as it can be when the alarm goes off at 7; so the OH can drop Teen1 at the bus station to get to work and you know your new washing machine could be delivered pretty much any time…

As it was, it arrived around 11; so after we got it plumbed in, my day mostly revolved around making some sort of dent in the mountain of laundry that had accumulated!

After Teen1 got home and we sat down for dinner (maple roast pork, potatoes, broccoli & carrots; in case you were wondering…); Teen2 started getting ready to go to *Yet another social event* about 40 minutes drive away.

Realizing that the Dad-taxi would have to do the roundtrip twice, I suggested tagging along to keep him company.

It was quite a nice night so we had a wander around town. image

I had forgotten how many interesting little buildings there are dotted around St Andrews.

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I especially love this stationers & bookshop. I always think it wouldn’t look out of place in Diagon Alley! image

It started to get a little rainy, so we stopped off for a drink. image Have you tried one of Starbucks’ new Caramel Coffee Jelly drinks yet? Yeah, I know! It sounds weird! But, it was really good.

image I also had time to work on today’s list for the #listersgottalist challenge.

The rain had stopped by closing time, so we took a stroll round past the castle & cathedral ruins, along by the water and down to the harbour.

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We're not sure WHAT this is/was!  We think perhaps an old public paddling pool?

We’re not sure WHAT this is/was!
We think perhaps an old public paddling pool?

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I love taking pictures where something is ‘framed’ with something else, like through windows, doorways & gates. I guess it’s one of my ‘things’.

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We had a giggle at the blatant yet tenuous link employed as a marketing tool here...

We had a giggle at the blatant yet tenuous link employed as a marketing tool here…

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It was really fun to just hang out together for a couple of hours image and having been reminded how nice a town St Andrews is, we’re planning on heading back across during the week; when everything is open. It’s actually been a while since we’ve had a family visit to the castle & cathedral, and there are tons of places to choose from if we decide to stick around for something to eat.

Have you had any opportunity for a few hours impromptu escape recently?

As always, thanks for reading xx

The World’s Oldest Working Post Office

Did you know that the world’s oldest continuously working post office is right here in the UK?

Plaque on the wall of the Sanquhar Post Office.

Plaque on the wall of the Sanquhar Post Office.

Sanquhar is a small town in Dumfriesshire, Scotland; it’s kinda out of the way and you probably wouldn’t pass through it unless you were in the area (or have a Mum living there!)

I guess that’s partly why this little treasure survived – if it had been in a larger city, it would have been “improved” years ago; closed and shifted somewhere newer, bigger, more efficient. Instead, there it stands; quietly sending mail for the past 303 years.

And the best bit? Thanks to new Postmaster, Manzoor Alam and family; who stepped in at a time a feared closure was almost definite; it will continue to do so for years to come.

Mr Manzoor; Postmaster, Stamp Collector, Postal Historian & Mail Hero

Mr Alam; Postmaster, Postal Historian, Stamp Collector and; let’s be honest; Mail History Hero!

Mr Alam, Sir, we; the post fanatics; salute you!

As many of you know, I have a bit of a ‘thing’ for all things postal; so it may come as no surprise to know that special hand stamped postcards featuring this Post Office were on pretty much regular order with the previous Postmistress. They certainly prove very popular over on Postcrossing!

Fortunately, I am informed that Mr Alam fully intends to continue this service!

Such an unassuming little place, I especially love the old bay window.

It’s such an unassuming little place, I especially love the old bay window.

The idea of a postal museum in the town is also something the Alams have been giving some consideration to. I, for one, think that would be a great idea; and one that Royal Mail, Post Office counters & Historic Scotland etc should support.

We should be proud of our history, not let things close because ; as we are so often told; they are no longer new & shiny or deemed profitable enough.

I'll be walking through these doors again very soon, and I'll be sure to say hello from you all!!

I’ll be walking through these doors again very soon, and I’ll be sure to say hello from you all!!

What do you think?                                                        I’d love to see your comments below!

And, as always, thanks for stopping by!