The Tour pt 11 – So long to the Saltire

Something we’ll all be saying if Oily, sorry, Alex Salmond has his way and brings independence to Scotland. An event which will also cement his place in the history books – though I’m sure that has never crossed his mind. The ‘Yes’ campaign started up here this week at least two years prior to any referendum, bringing to the forefront all those Scot’s who love their country so much that they chose to live in er, America. Hmm.

Anyway, the reason for the title is not the above but the fact that we spending our last night in Scotland – Moffat to be precise, in Dumfries & Galloway. We’ve just returned from a drive around punctuated with a meal and a few pints at one of the local boozers. So, if this makes even less sense that usual, at least you’ll know why!

Right, where were we. Oh yes, Edinburgh. After the ‘day off’ on Wednesday we were back on the tourist trail, visiting the Royal Yacht Britannia in Leith. I’ll apologise now for the lack of a decent picture of the ship from the outside. Britannia is moored  next to a shopping centre which you have to navigate through to get to the ticket office. The face of capitalism. Anyway, to the ship itself. Now, I love boats, well ships, but I didn’t think I would enjoy this so much. You are given an audio guide to take around with you in what is quite a structured tour, starting at the bridge and moving down, through the officers quarters to the Royal bedrooms and their private and formal reception rooms. The final stop is the engine room which is just brilliant. Immaculately clean – as it always was. The commentary is informative and witty without bombarding you with facts. The ship is simply stunning from top to bottom and I want one. I offered Patsy as a straight swap but they were not interested. A terrific attraction and well worth a visit if you’re in this neck of the woods. If you are a Caravan Club member you get twenty percent off too. Lovely.

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Well, to be honest, there is not an awful lot more to tell you about Edinburgh. After the Yacht we bussed and walked in to the city, skirting the old town and Grassmarket. On Friday we went in to town again but ended up on a bus out to one of the suburbs later on We skirted the pretty suburb of Murrayfield with the famous stadium and further on Edinburgh Zoo. On Saturday, after a morning excursion to the nearest supermarket we lazed around by the van enjoying the sun and listening to the cricket on the radio – just one of the best things ever invented to fall asleep to. There’s nothing like it. Saturday evening brought with it the cultural highlight of the tv schedules that is the Eurovison Song Contest. Several large glasses of Cab Sav helped to numb the worst of it – and to laugh at the rest.

Sunday, and time to leave Edinburgh. I dearly hope that we’ll be back one day. It’s ironic that the much better weather we have been longing for, perhaps in a way, stopped us seeing more of the city. Having been wrapped up against the wind and rain for such large parts of the trip it was so nice to be able just to sit out and relax in the sun.

The sixty-five  or so miles to Moffat was straightforward – eventually. On the way out of Edinburgh  I turned left before the polite lady on the SatNav told me too although had we carried on we’ve have wound up on the same road. At the next junction I followed her directions exactly and found ourselves heading back towards the city centre. Fortunatley, Edinburgh city council had provided a roundabout less than half a mile up for such an eventuality. I will be forever grateful

The rest of the journey was uneventful. We arrived in Moffat ok and the SatNav deposited us safely. At a garden centre. This time a large empty car park came to our rescue and we were soon pulling up the site entrance. There was a blackboard by the entrance saying that no vans could be accommodated before midday. It was eleven o’clock. We ignored it.

Good MORNING the woman behind the counter said pointedly as I walked in. I apologised for arriving early, but as we were only here for one night it wasn’t a problem. By midday we were sited, fed and watered too.

P5270001Moffat is a pleasant place with a buzzing high street and the sun had certainly brought everyone out. It’s famous for wool judging by the erection in the high street.We had a quick look around then headed south to Lockerbie. Famous of course for the wrong reasons and back in the news again so recently, we wanted to go to the memorial which is just outside the town. As you will see, there is a large plaque listing all those killed. To side and around are further individual plaques. There is an interesting little visitors centre too, staff, entirely voluntarily by an enthusiastic old lady who showed us around and offered to answer any questions we had. We didn’t have any but that didn’t deter her. I think she was glad of the company. Thank gawd there are still people in the world like this, giving so selflessly of their time. She gave us directions out to Tundergarth, where the nose cone of the plane landed and where there was another simple yet poignant memorial.

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The weather all day has been stunning and the sun was still blazing as we left Tundergarth to head back for grub and grog. Sun however, means shadows and it is in shadows that dangers lurk. There was a loud bang and the car lurched violently as the front nearside wheel happened upon a pot hole that must have been the size of a  crater. Pulling over as soon as it was safe to do so, we got out to inspect the damage. Nothing was obvious and indeed the car was still driving ok so it appears that somehow we got away with it. Perhaps Oily should spend less on his ‘Yes’ campaign and more on fixing the bloody roads. At least then, when the referendum comes, people will be able to get to the polling stations in one piece.

Right. A bottle of something cold awaits. Tomorrow we cross the border back in to dear old England and head for the Lake District. And if this weather continues it’s going to be terrific.

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