I was going to show you around a couple of castles- Stirling and Edinburgh- but given that Sarah is currently suffering an overdose of history and doesn’t care whether she ever hears anything about Robert the Bruce, William Wallace or the Jacobites again, I figured we’d have a break from that on this cold, wet and windy Scotland afternoon. The fire’s on, I have a cup of tea, and Sarah is watching Mamma Mia on the telly, so I figured I’d show you around where we are right now.
We’re in Old Balwill Cottage, just outside the village of Buchlyvie- which, I was told by the waitress in the Indian restaurant last night, I’ve been mispronouncing all week. Rather than Buck-livvie, I should have been saying Book-livy, like in ivy. Anyways, that’s where we are.
The cottage used to be an old signal cottage when the railway went through here between Stirling and Balloch. Now it’s the perfect spot to trip around the Trossachs. We’re just 30mins drive from Stirling, 60mins to Edinburgh, and right in the middle of some great walking tracks…if we had the time and energy to do that, that is.
Much of the cottage is styled with art and artefacts brought back from Southern Africa by the owners- right down to an amazing self-drawn painting of elephants in the sitting room…although the lovely Rona tells me that it involved an overhead project, a ladder, and plenty of patience!
Speaking of the sitting room, check it out… Skylights placed in the roof provide extra light on a dark Scottish day, and central heating and the fire does the rest. The owners supply a starter pack of logs for the fire, and we picked up some more from the garden centre just down the road.
The cottage has a fully self-contained kitchen with pretty well all you need, and seating either in the kitchen,
or for 8 in the dining room.
The cottage has three beautifully decorated bedrooms. A main on the ground floor with ensuite (with a sinkable deep bath and power shower)
and two lovely rooms and another bathroom on the first floor.
There’s even a separate laundry room with washer, dryer, and drying racks. And beautifully white-washed floorboards. I want those floorboards. I was saying to Grant only this morning, how I could stay here for ever. I absolutely have sitting room envy.
If you want more information on the cottage, the link to the website is here.
Over the last four days we’ve even adopted the pub up the road as our local. They do a mean mac cheese, and pour a bloody good pint.
At Balfron, just a few miles up the A811 and on the A875, are banks and all the usual services. There’s also the Indian restaurant I referred to above- Saffron- with iridescent pink yoghurt (I hate to think) and the absolute best chicken tikka I think I’ve ever eaten.
Apparently there’s also an oak tree where William Wallace is said to have rested and later Rob Roy is supposed to have hidden. Whatever, this is a William Wallace free zone for now.
Up the road on the junction of the A811 and B822 at Kippen is the Woodhouse Farm Shop, selling all sorts of gifts, Scottish cheeses, and other amazing produce. I couldn’t resist this journal.
About 20 miles up the road is the town of Callender, big enough for all main services and two sweetie shops. Grant’s challenge is to walk past one- so far he hasn’t succeeded.
Notable mention has to go to Eat Mohr Fish. Their seafood chowder is jam-packed full of salmon. I ordered the mac cheese. Full of leeks and with a herby crumb, is one I’m going to attempt to re-create at home. We had a great chat about mac cheese in general with the guy who ran the restaurant. Apparently Mohr Bakers do a mac cheese pie that’s good with tomato sauce. He also said that their food truck does a dirty mac. The mac cheese is baked, then cut into rounds, fried, and slammed into a roll with pulled pork. I feel a heart attack coming on.
Anyways, we’re off back into England tomorrow, overnighting in Chester, with another full day of driving on Monday into Stroud. I’ll use those days to fill you in on the castles…