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A trip to Dumfries House is on our guests’ top 10 things to do when they visit the area … but beloved and I have never been.

The house is beautiful and the art & furnishings collection was “saved” by HRH the Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesey in 2007 from being split up and sold and in addition to the fabulous Chippendale furniture you can also view a collection of Prince Charles’ own watercolour paintings.

A tour of the house costs £8.50 pp but we splashed out and took the one and a half hour Grand Tour for £12.50 pp and it was wonderful. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable and witty and talked the entire time (feat of memory too).

They’re busy working on extending the grounds and there is a coffee shop too. Why not put it on your Top 10 list too?

Dumfries House is about 70 mins by car from Balkissock

Copyright © 2012 by Cordelia

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Afternoon Tea in the Conservatory

It turned out to be a foul summer’s day.  The rain, although admittedly warm, came down like stair rods all morning.  The guests, whom we were expecting in the evening, arrived a little after lunch.  They had given up on sightseeing and decided warmth and comfort were a better option.  This is even more understandable when you consider that they lived in beautiful, sunny Barcelona and arrived on a motorbike!  With leathers hung up in the laundry room to dry, guests showered and changed and the offer of putting the bike in the garage declined, our guests made themselves comfortable in the conservatory with a cup of tea, scones and biscuits and a book each to read.

And wonderful guests they were.  They were touring the country, as they had done for a number of years and their English put our three words of Spanish to shame.  They were pleased when I presented them with a Spanish feast for their evening meal and we all chatted by the fire long into the evening.

The Log Fire

A full Scottish breakfast was requested and, with the sun beginning to break through, on their bike they jumped.  And that’s where everything stops, literally, for a while at least.  The motorbike refused to start.

As his lordship knows as much about motorbikes as I do we called a recovery service!

“He’s on a job at the moment Mrs Galley”, said the operator when they phoned back an hour later “but will be with you in an hour”.

You have to remember that these are “mechanics’ hours” which are quite unlike any measurement of time that you or I are used to.  As time went by the guests progressed from the conservatory, to sunbathing on the lawn, to seeking shade from the mid-day sun.  The recovery service did eventually arrive, having phoned twice for directions despite being confident that he knew the area … three and a half hours later!

No, the saga doesn’t end there … after two hours of blowing pipes (whatever that is?) and lengthy calls to the bike manufacturer, the bike was officially declared ‘sick’ and needed to be taken to the nearest main dealer – 90 miles away and “no, it won’t fit into this van, I’ll have to call for a recovery vehicle which will take about an hour”.

Yes, a mechanics’ hour once again! By then, the sun had vanished behind the storm clouds and thunder was rattling around the hills above Balkissock.

Knockdolian Hill

The guests had retreated to the shelter of the summer house to continue reading their books and I was preparing the tea when the recovery vehicle arrived.  Not a good advert for our automobile recovery services!

As I said earlier, lovelier guests we couldn’t have asked for, they remained upbeat throughout “it’s only one day, we’re fine” their parting words following profuse thanks for the extended hospitality.

To be continued ….

Copyright © 2011 by Cordelia

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