Stirling, Scotland: Day 4

Whirlwind. The days all run together. It feels like I’ve been here for months, instead of just a few days. The last time I posted, I was going to take a nap the day I arrived in Stirling.

After being on my feet so much and then spending 12 hours + on the bus up from London, I got a chill and crawled into bed with my clothes on, including jacket and socks. I was under a warm duvet, and still shivering. However, after a two hour nap, I awoke feeling much better. Arianna, my host, and I went out to find something to eat. The regular pub restaurants close their kitchens at 7:30pm, and it was 8pm by that time, so we settled for Indian. Wow, so glad we did. The Taj Mahal was delightful. We each had a Taj Mahal specialty: I got the lamb, Arianna got the chicken. We shared a rice and naan. I had an Indian beer, half-pint. Nothing was too spicy, and the beer went perfectly with the meal.

Brian the tour guide at Stirling Castle

Couldn’t rest properly that night; woke up every hour or two until 6am, when I fell into a deeper sleep and didn’t get up till 9:45am. At 12:30pm, after a couple of cups of tea, I went out to explore. Stirling Castle is just up the hill from her flat, so that’s where I went. I bought a ticket and joined a guided tour, which made the entrance fee worth every pence.

View of Stirling Castle from Arianna's flat

Lord Erskine and Sandy the servant showing proper respect at Stirling Castle. Note the codpiece!

When that was over, it was 2pm so called Cathie. She and her husband Bill came to pick me up, and we went to Linlithgow Palace, where they not only bought my ticket in, but also the booklet. Bill stayed in the courtyard, and we wandered through the 2nd floor and back down. Back to the car, and then we went to South Queensferry, which is a suburb of Edinburgh and right under the Forth Rail Bridge. We ate at a little pub called Hawes’ House. I had fried mushrooms and fish and chips, plus a lime and lager. Yummy. Had tea after. They took me by the youth hostel in Stirling, where I reserved a room for the next night, then right to Arianna’s doorstep.

Forth Bridge at Sunset

Forth Rail Bridge by Cathie Wilson

Thinking she would be right there (it was around 7:20pm), I sat on the very cold stairs inside the vestibule and waited. And waited. And waited. I worked my puzzles, but then nature called and I was miserable. About 8:30pm, a neighbor came home and invited me up for coffee. I asked for water instead and the toilet. Almost instantly, Arianna called and said she was home! Her sister had called and she’d had to take time to talk to her and was later than she’d expected to be.

Arianna with Matilda 27 February 2011

No problem, I went in and took a shower and warmed up, then packed my bags and climbed into bed. I slept much better that night, only getting up 2 or 3 times. Woke up at 7:30am, got dressed, finished packing, had a cup of tea, talked to Arianna a little, then strapped on everything and walked to the youth hostel. Arianna’s mom was coming to town on Monday and I needed to leave.

At the hostel, I checked in, put my bag in my room (I had the room to myself), and went down to the kitchen to have some yogurt before hitting the shops. I found a catalog shop called Argos, and they had a rolling bag for about £12, but it looked flimsy. I was heading to the mall to look when Cathie called and said she was coming after me. She took me to an outlet shopping center, where I found a decent bag for £25. It’s semi hard-sided, and rolls nicely on 2 wheels. I still want a backpack instead of my big shoulder purse, but maybe I can find one at Argos for cheap.

Cathie and I went to the Wallace Monument, but when I realized I had to climb up TO the monument, and then climb up INTO the monument, I declined. Cathie said she wasn’t going to do it. I took a picture or two from the car park, and then we took off.

Cathie, trying to keep Hamish from having Matilda for a snack.

We ended up seeing Hamish the Hielan’ Coo, who was being fed buckets of veggies and fruit. He was gobbling it all up like crazy! Matilda got her pic made with him and Cathie. We went down the road a block and had a little lunch (brie and bacon panini for me and tea).

Matilda and Erica at Rob Roy's Grave

Next she took me to Rob Roy’s grave site, and she took a pic of me and Matilda there. Cute side story: there was a couple hanging out by their car. The girl told us that her boyfriend had just proposed and she was thrilled. Very cute. He was telling his parents on the phone at the time.

Cathie Wilson at home

Cathie then drove me to Aberfoyle, along the Trossachs Trail. We didn’t get out, but just drove hairpin turns that almost had me carsick, except the views were so stunning, I hardly noticed. We went to Dunblane to pick up Bill, where I saw their home (very nice; Cathie does a lot of needlework).

One of Cathie's tapestry needlework pieces

We then drove to Bridge of Allan, just north of Stirling, to Clives restaurant. I had a starter of haggis, neaps, and tatties (just a wee portion), then a burger steak sans bun, with chips, cole slaw, and dressed salad leaves. A glass of merlot red wine just topped it all off and I was stuffed. Then they drove me back to the youth hostel and dropped me off.

Last night was so nice. Had the hostel room to myself. However, I woke up around 2am and couldn’t go back to sleep. I turned on the light and worked a couple of crossword puzzles, and finally turned the light out at 3:30am. Woke groggy at 8am and took a shower, then washed my cargo pants, undies and bra in the sink and hung them to dry. Breakfast isn’t served at the hostel at this time of year, so I had tea with no milk :o( and yogurt with a few mini-chocolate digestives, left over from the bus ride.

Besides the new rolling bag, I felt I needed a backpack for my laptop instead of the big purse I brought. Went back to Argos and bought a laptop sleeve and big red and black backpack, all for £18. Now to try to sell the Golite Travelite bag to recoup that money spent! Don’t get me wrong: the Golite is beautiful and nice, but I packed waay too much for this trip and it’s too heavy to carry or wear as a backpack.

Found the library and registered and am trying to get all caught up on my internet correspondence. The council office is across the road, so later I’ll pop in and see if I can get help locating Keith.

The workaway couple in Italy asked me to come early next week to stay for 4-5 weeks. I now have to figure out how to afford to get there. Originally I’d planned to ignore my ticket’s 23 March return and just travel until next fall and figure out a way home, but now I wonder if that’s feasible. I’m down to about £70 and that won’t last long.

Now, if anyone wants to donate to keep me traveling, my PayPal email is ;o)

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