North of the Tay and south of the Forth, the weekend saw us in cahoots with Rieko as we visited some old and new haunts. First to Dundee, there to see the V&A, designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma. The exterior is a delight to photograph, especially now that the gardens are flourishing. Next door the RRS Discovery was interesting and if it was a bit chilly, then it only served to remind of the privations experienced on the expedition to Antarctica. After a pit stop at the DCA, we called in at Dundee train station so that the lady herself could make some arrangements. Of course the randomly allocated ticket clerk was bi-lingual and of course her other language was Japanese. That made a potentially protracted transaction simple.
Home via the supermarket for essential supplies, and ginger pork cooked by our guest. Next day, after yet another instance of Kirsty knows best saw us traversing one of West Lothian’s more challenging farm roads, we finally arrived at Hopetoun House. This beautiful mansion, a tourist attraction in its own right, is enjoying a boom due to its being a film location for Outlander. It’s a glorious example of two styles of Scottish led architecture, designed by William Bruce and then altered and extended by William Adam. We had an interesting tour, a chat with the guides, and I was even able to tell them a thing they did not know*, which does not happen often.
There were views of the three bridges from the roof terrace, but for my money the best views are on the return journey, since the road is almost at sea level and the vistas are not occluded.
The next destination was new to us, Midhope House, also a filming location for Outlander, derelict but atmospheric. I’m going to have to watch the series now, if only to find out how they erased the telegraph poles from the long shots.
Blackness Castle was brisk and busy, those floors are still made of bedrock and it’s no place for your Manolos, but it offers an insight into medieval life, as viewed from the river. And after a brief call to the farm shop (Blue Murder Cheese, Badger beers) it was home again to beautiful sushi and then an early night.
As ever it’s a grand opportunity to see your own country from the point of view of a tourist, and a foreign visitor. There could be more in the way of multi lingual information, disabled access is not always clearly indicated, some staff assume that you have already read a 16 page induction leaflet on how their premises operate, but mostly it’s endlessly fascinating and of course beauty lurks round the most unexpected corners.
*the roof terrace has been open since the 80s.