Crumbs! When you leave it so long in between blogs to write to tend to forget all the amazing things that happened.
Our journey from Newcastle to Symington our next house sit in Scotland took about 3 hours and we went the pretty route via Carlisle , Gretna Green and Dumfries and Galloway past the Grampian mountains. We stopped for a break at Gretna Green to see the blacksmiths shop where they marry couples who have eloped. Years ago many English couples under 21 and those whose parents didn't approve of them getting married,were not allowed to get married, so they would leave their home towns and elope to Gretna Green which was just across the border into Scotland .In Scotland at that time, it was still possible to get married without parent's permission and the local blacksmith had authority to marry them over his anvil. I went to Gretna Green when I was 17 just after I passed my driving test, it was lovely and quiet then but now it has become very commercialized, which is a shame. The whole village has hundreds of hotels offering wedding packages and become a massive wedding venue. In fact, while we were there a piper playing bagpipes preceded the couples exit from the blacksmith shop followed by guests who all had their photos taken.
The Dumfries and Galloway forest set alongside the Grampian Mountains is also an area of outstanding natural beauty. There are loads of traditional Scottish houses which resemble one storey bungalows which line the streets through each town and village, In fact, a double storey property can look quite out of place.
Symington (pronounced sigh ming tong) as the locals keep reminding us is on the west coast of Ayrshire between Troon and Kilmarnock and not far from Ayr. It is weird all these same I know from years of listening to the football results and had imagined them to be much bigger places. However, In Scotland everything is smaller than you think. Symington is a very small country village about 4 miles from Troon on the coast also another fishing port. The area is amazing countryside with rolling hills and we are housing sitting for a couple who also have a home in New Zealand. We are looking after a 15 year dog called Scooby and 15 year old cat called Cleo. The house is an old Victorian house in the centre of the village on a main but quiet road which the couple have recently renovated and it has a very large farmhouse kitchen diner which we spend most of our time in. Nigel is in his element as it's perfect for cooking . The couple love their food and have lots of interesting ingredients and said we can try some if we want to. It has window sills full of fragrant and aromatic fresh herbs and the garden is laid out to lawn on one side and the other being rows of raised beds which grow organic vegetables . Heaven! The bottom of garden is like a forest with fields at the end. Nigel said this would be his dream house if in a different location.
Scooby is getting very deaf and is suffering from arthritis and Cleo is the most affectionate cat I have every met . When I am working she comes up and tries to sit on my lap and computer to get attention . Stuart and Lisa said the cat doesn't really play with toys other than chasing a rolled up piece of paper into a ball so I wanted to see if we could find a toy she would like. I found a frog on a fishing rod. To my surprise Cleo loved it chasing the dancing frog especially when it was dangled over the side of a dining chair and hung in mid air.
While in Ayrshire we decided to see a few sites so I searched the internet and found a place about 10 miles away called the Electric Brae or Gravity Hill. This place has attracted thousands of visitors each year who get out of their cars, handbrakes off and watch them move of their own accord (with no driver, seriously) uphill . Apparently, there are several of these mysterious places around the world where this phenomenon happens. Very strange. So we set off and got to the ¼ mile of country road where this is supposed to happen , marked by a guide stone (it did have a road sign but visitors kept pinching the signs) and took hand break off and got out of the car . Nigel said he wasn't sure it would work as we have an automatic! But the car started moving very slowly. The phenomena can be explained by simple light reflection. Although to all intents and purposes you appear to be travelling uphill, your car is actually travelling downhill. So of course if you leave the handbrake off the car will move unaided if the slope is large enough. It's a trick of light.
We also went to see Loch Lomond about an hour away just north of Glasgow. A well known land mark and tourist area and drove part way around the loch or Lake which is huge. Scooby had a fantastic time although we couldn't let her off the lead, as being deaf she might not hear us to come back so had to keep on the lead. We saw an old paddle steamer they were trying to renovate which had been very active in early 20th century and had been given lottery funding to help pay for the repairs. We were also hoping to go to the highlands and Loch Ness ,but thought better of it when we realised it was still another 4 - 5 hours north of us . Eek, never realised Scotland was so big! I found that the distance from Brixham to Scotland is roughly the same distance as from the Scottish border to the most northerly point of Scotland. This seems another really long blog so will give more information on Ayrshire sit and following next time