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And suffering from a very sore throat, usually a harbinger of a nasty cold but I am resisting as hard as I can, and it certainly didn’t spoil my enjoyment of Bolsover Castle.

I was still able to get in touch with my inner Cavalier and marvel at the wall paintings, paneling, fireplaces and lantern which make this such an interesting and fabulous place; I love castles of all types, but always enjoy most those that are intact and restored.

Followed this up with a trip to Sutton Scarsdale which sadly is a ruin, even though featured in detail in Country Life as recently as 1919. Depressing.

Now concentrating on ministering to my ailments before another trip tomorrow.

So a literary day out; on a beautifully warm and sunny Wednesday we headed to Kipling’s home in East Sussex and it was a lovely experience. The house, Bateman’s, is, as you can hopefully see from the really not terribly good picture attached, is a genuinely beautiful building, full of wonderful things relating to the great man himself.

And that’s the interesting thing – I’m really rather fond of Kipling. When I was growing up, and especially when I was a student, reading Kipling was not the done thing – he was reactionary, imperialist, war-mongering and lots of other unpleasant things, usually said by people who had never read anything that he’s written. The most you could hope for was that people my age liked the Disney version of The Jungle Book.

I quietly hid my deep affection for the Just So Stories, but the more I read about Kipling the more interested I became, and although like all great artists he was probably a pain to live with, I came to see  him as rather a lovely man. So it was a real thrill to visit his house, see his things (the Book God was particularly taken with the Rolls Royce), and come home determined to pull together a Kiplingesque reading list:

  • Just So Stories – in a Penguin paperback with the author’s own illustrations; I do love these, especially How the Alphabet was Made
  • Puck of Pook’s Hill – am appalled that I’ve never read this
  • The Mark of the Beast – with an introduction by Neil Gaiman, this is a collection of Kipling’s dark and fantastic tales
  • O Beloved Kids – Kipling’s letters to his children between 1906 and 1915, the year his son was killed in the Great War
  • Something of Myself – Kipling’s memoir of his life as an author, written the year before he died
  • The Hated Wife – a short life of Carrie Kipling, not a woman who seems to have attracted much warmth
  • A Circle of Sisters – the story of Kiping’s mother Alice, and her remarkable sisters who all became the wives or mothers of equally remarkable men

So I’ve managed to wangle myself a week off work, most welcome given how busy I have been recently, as a means of celebrating my wedding anniversary at the end of May and the Book God’s birthday (which was yesterday).

We hired a car for a couple of days and have been tootling about the Surrey/Sussex countryside, indulging in what I have come to call “falling in love with houses we can never afford in places it would be impractical to commute from”.

This didn’t stop us identifying at least half a dozen large country piles which could be dream retirement homes. Assuming we win the lottery, that is….

On Monday we spent the day in Arundel, one of our favourite places (see not terribly brilliant photograph at the top of this post); this mostly involved eating a very, very nice lunch in a local hotel, the purchase of fudge, and a visit to a fabulous shop specialising in walking sticks.

On Tuesday, we headed down towards Portsmouth, mainly to visit Portchester Castle, an amazing place which consists of a Norman Castle in one corner of a huge Roman fort site (which has the best preserved Roman fort wall north of the Alps, apparently) with a lovely little Norman church in the opposite corner and a huge amount of space in between. While we were there a party of schoolchildren arrived for the traditional summer school trip – lots of small children being very excited to the accompaniment of teachers saying “shhhh” a lot.

We then headed to the Royal Armouries at Fort Nelson which basically allowed the Book God to look at a lot of very big guns. Which kept him happy.

Read slump seems to be over in that I am reading more, though still not finishing anything, but the week is yet young.

20091017 The TrosssachsThis is the last full day of our holiday in Scotland; we start our two-day drive back to London after breakfast tomorrow, so this is also probably my last holiday post, though I don’t actually go back to work until Friday.

So today we just piled into the car and took advantage of the cold autumn sunshine to go for a picturesque drive around the Trossachs (not very good picture to the right) with a drive-by of Doune Castle where, amongst other historically important things, bits of Monty Python and the Holy Grail were filmed.

20091015 Falkland PalaceThis is one of my absolutely favourite buildings in Scotland, and shamefully this is my first visit in years, but it’s still beautiful and still being lived in and I still very much want it for my own. And of course to get there you have to go through Auchtermuchty (my second favourite Scottish place name after Ecclefechan). The sun was shining and all was well with the world. Can’t believe I start the long drive back to London on Sunday…


Oh, and finally some idea of the autumn colours, again from Falkland…

20091015 autumn colours

20091013 Edzell CastleWe’ve now decamped to Perthshire, and for our first full day in the area we decided to take one of our favourite drives through Blairgowrie to Kirriemuir to Edzell, where we stopped off at Edzell Castle. This is one of our absolutely favourite places, and I’ve included a picture of the gardens which doesn’t do it justice by any means.

Then to Banchory, where we picked up Queen Victoria’s trail, through Ballater (where we stopped for afternoon tea at what was the station where the Royal trains would stop, and shopped in a grocer’s with the Royal Warrant on the wall), before skirting Balmoral and heading back Perthwards via Braemar and Glen Shee.

Would love to share pictures of the gorgeous autumn colours but a mixture of dampness and low cloud made getting a decent snap difficult; perhaps later in the week I’ll be luckier.

20091011 Loch KenSo today being the last full day here in Ayrshire we decided just to point the car east and go for a drive. We were rewarded by glorious warm autumn sunshine, beautiful scenery, peace & quiet whenever we stopped to admire the view, and a number of beautiful houses to covet, all of course in the middle of nowhere and totally impractical. Still, you can dream, can’t you?

20091010 Cardoness CastleCardoness Castle is near Gatehouse of Fleet in Galloway and was built by the McCulloch family as a fortified house which would protect them during their various feuds with neighbouring families.

It’s a really dramatic building, easily spotted from the main road and really enjoyable to visit if you (a) love old ruins (which I do – I could insert a joke here about the Book God but will resist the temptation…) and (b) can guarantee some reasonable weather which we managed to do once again today.

I chickened out, though, and let my fear of heights prevent me from getting to the very top of the building where you have a magnificent view of the local countryside which is, after all, the point.

20091009 Mull of GallowaySo today we decided to brave the potentially awful weather and head down to the Mull of Galloway, which is the southernmost point in Scotland.

And is very, very, very windy.

Getting out of the car and into our weatherproof gear was a logistical feat which tested our skill, and once outside it was all we could do to stay upright. And as you can see from my very wonky picture of the lighthouse, I didn’t do a very good job of that.

But being blown around by a strong wind is extremely exhilarating, and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

20091008 Bladnoch DistilleryWell that’s only a little bit of what I’ve been up to on what has turned out to be the sunniest day of our holiday so far. We drove to Wigtown which is the most bookshoppy town in Scotland, famous for its book festival (which has just finished), and very pretty in a typically Scottish way.

We sampled several of the bookshops but came away virtuously empty handed, and headed off to the main attraction, a tour of the Bladnoch Distillery which involved refreshing my memory on how whisky is made, tasting some of the output, and buying a bottle to take home, as you do….

Bride of the Book God

Follow brideofthebook on Twitter

Scottish, in my fifties, love books but not always able to find the time to read them as much as I would like. I’m based in London and happily married to the Book God.

I also blog at Bride of the Screen God (all about movies and TV) and The Dowager Bride, if you are interested in ramblings about stuff of little consequence

If you would like to get in touch you can contact me at brideofthebookgod (at) btinternet (dot) com.

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March 2023