Birnam and Dunkeld: Perthshire
October is a lovely month in Scotland – a great time for trips into the countryside and last week Jim, John, Ryan and I enjoyed a drive up to Perthshire.
Jim is designing a website for Birnam Arts and Conference Centre and had a meeting there so as Ryan was off school for the October week, we all went along for the ride.
It was a lovely day, sunny and mild, and in no time we were whisked up the M9 via Stirling and Perth and onto Birnam. We had a wee stroll around the village before Jim headed off to his appointment and we strolled a half a mile or so on into Dunkeld.
Everywhere Ryan goes the football goes too so we had a kick around in the park at the outskirts of the village before checking out the tea rooms on the main street. Everywhere was full so we headed down towards the Cathedral and bagged a table in Spill the Beans Cafe. The homemade chicken and leek soup was fabulous and we also had roast beef sandwiches, salad and nachos. Ryan couldn’t resist the hot chocolate and marshmallows. Afterwards we hung out in Cathedral Street, browsing in The Ell National Trust Shop, where Ryan spent his pocket money on a toy Nessie and John bought some lovely Christmas Cards – he also bought two hand-painted ceramic ducks in the nearby charity shop and I picked up a dark brown fine wool scarf for a pound! My other special finds were two CDs, ‘Everly Brothers: Greatest Hits’ and ‘Elvis Presley – Love Songs’.
We wandered down to the River Tay, the only people in the picnic area, and sat for a while admiringthe elegant bridge and the swift flowing river. We were enticed across the street into Dunkeld Antiques by the ‘closing down sale’ sign. A cavern of a place in an old church, I wish I had seen it in its full glory, but there were still plenty of impressive antiques including antiquarian books, tables of ornate silver cutlery, beautiful dishes and hanging from the high ceiling were magnificent crystal chandeliers. The glass cases were half empty but still on display was some attractive jewellery and watches. There was also some lovely pieces of furniture and lots of sports memorabilia.
I enjoyed a chat with Marjorie, a local woman who had worked at Dunkeld Antiques for many years. It was such a wonderful place that it was sad to see it closing down but the owner was retiring after running the business for twenty six years – so at least it wasn’t shutting down through lack of custom. I bought some turquoise ceramic hoop earrings – they are really beautiful and Marjorie sold them to me half-price. She had lived in the West End of Glasgow for a while and, as often happens, we knew people in common – Anita Manning , Great Western Auction, who was my next door neighbour for sixteen years. Both John and I had done stints at the auction, when it was in Otago Street, so we enjoyed a great blether with Marjorie.
We were so enthusiastic about Dunkeld Antiques that when we hooked up with Jim again we went back for another look. The sale is on until the end of October, 2014, catch it if you can.
Another highlight of our trip was spotting Dougie MacLean, the Scottish singer, getting into his four wheel drive. I’ve seen a lot of videos of him lately singing his song Caledonia, which became a kind of anthem for the Referendum so he seemed very familiar to me. I’ve also met him briefly at the Pitlochry Amber Folk Festival, but of course he doesn’t know me, still when I called out he gave us a very cheery wave.
Nice folk in Birnam and Dunkeld and a very nice place to visit.
We had fun on the way home singing 60s love songs and some rock ‘n’ roll.
Pat Byrne, October, 2014.
This section: Travel
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