I missed this photo last week of a bunch of Scottish performers entertaining in central Glasgow:

This week we are staying out in the country about 15 minutes north of Dumfries. This is pretty rural, in fact a tractor drove past 100 times today towing a trailer of silage, but apart from that there is very little traffic. The drive here had lovely scenery, rolling hills and all that:

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This area is called Glenmidge, which I think is the name of a creek that runs along the road, and it consists of about a dozen houses surrounded by farmland and steep hillside covered in trees. The wider settlement area is Auldgirth. You can just see the roof of our cottage at the foot of the hill, on the left of the lamppost in this photo:


This photo is of the hillside directly behind our cottage:

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Old Smithy Cottage, our house for the week, is relaxing, spacious, and peaceful. Last night was probably the best night sleep I have had in this trip to date. While we enjoyed last week in Glasgow the constant noise of the nearby motorway isn’t good for sleep, nor are squeaky beds. Here in the middle of nowhere, yet not far from somewhere we have no traffic noise at night, lovely surrounding country side views, curtains that block out most of the light (the sun seems to get up at 4am and only go down around 11pm), a comfortable bed that isn’t too short and has the right amount of duvets and blankets. The Old Smithy Cottage use to be a blacksmith workshop prior to conversion into accommodation:

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One of the highlights to me of staying here is looking out our kitchen window and watching the red squirrels.


Monday afternoon we drove to Dunscore, a nearby village, in search of a Doctor for Amy. I wouldn’t blog about this except I am sure you would like to learn about an embarrassing moment. I found what seemed like a large cottage where the medical office was supposed to be located and parked outside. Karen and Amy went on in while I straightened up my car park and gathered up my stuff; you know the usual phone, WiFi device, drink bottle etc. I had planned to walk around the village while Daniel read in the car but after a quick survey I found the village didn’t really consist of anything to look at. So I decided to go in and see how Karen was getting on. I walked in the front door which was open, saw a young girl making far too much noise, and heard TV blaring in the room on my left which I concluded must be the coolest waiting room I have ever seen. Two ladies, busy talking, walked out of the room toward the door. I was puzzled as to where reception was so I walked into the passageway further peeping through the slightly ajar doors hoping to see Karen. It didn’t look quite right so I turned and interrupted the two ladies asking if they had seen Karen and Amy. They looked confused so I clarified that they had popped in to make an appointment to see a doctor to which they said that the medical office was next door just around the corner and that this place I had been searching through was their house! Now that’s a good one!

I regrouped and drove off to Dumfries (once Karen and Amy were finished). Due to road works we decided not to venture over the bridge into the city but to park just down the road and walk. Remarkable we parked directly opposite a barber so our first stop was all of us getting a haircut. An hour later we walked to a little museum presented in the oldest standing house in Dumfries, two floors each with about three rooms which had previously being used as two homes. The visit ended up being rather lengthy as the gentlemen who looked after the place gave us a detailed tour explaining the different rooms and contents which were from around Victorian times. One room was set up as a dental surgery – one I am grateful I have never been in as a patient. The dentist drill consisted of a foot peddle with a large wheel, like those on old singer sewing machines, turning a small wheel connected to cable that turned the drill around. The dentist had to pump the peddle up and down while keeping his hand steady enough to drill your teeth. No thanks! Unfortunately it was getting late and also threating to rain so we did not spend long in the city but planned to return another day.

So far on in our travels we have not visited a Chocolate Factory; however, on Tuesday we could tick that off our list! We drove about 40 minutes south to the Cocoa Beans Chocolate Factory situated on a farm near Twyloan. For a short while Daniel and Amy ran around a playground, similar to Chipmunks back at home but smaller and then they were ushered into a chocolate making workshop. Unfortunately adults were not allowed in, we could only watch through the glass windows as the kids painted themselves with chocolate and created three works of art: a solid chocolate animal from a mould, a chocolate slab, and a chocolate coated marshmallow animal. Here they are:

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That was a half hour of sweet fun for them. Next they were back into the playground while Karen and I had a Mocha and cake. I should add that while they were in the chocolate workshop we looked on while sampling a couple of chocolates ourselves. Here are a few photos of the selections:

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I had hoped that we would be able to have a tour through the real chocolate factory part of the business however that area was off limits even to the greatest of fans. Nonetheless we had an enjoyable time and Daniel and Amy played for hours in the inside and the outside playgrounds. I even had a go down the slide – once!

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Although Daniel and Amy could have happily spent the rest of the day playing we dragged them off to drive a little further south to Kirkcudbright on the coast. Although we had eaten lunch it was a little to healthy so while Karen was at the Tourism office I brought a small amount of fish and chips, our first since leaving New Zealand. That made Karen happy as she had mentioned fish and chips several times that past week. They weren’t too bad in fact very nice except the price. It’s a good thing they don’t cost so much in New Zealand. We walked around the block and popped into a small museum along the way then we drove down the coast a little to Nun Mill Bay to see the shipwreck. It was raining a little by then so we didn’t stay long.

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Wednesday I had the simple task of driving to the doctors in a village about 9 miles north of here. Unfortunately my GPS position wasn’t getting picked up and of course there is no internet here so I did the best I could going the way I thought I was supposed to go. By the time the appointment started we were in the middle of nowhere driving very slowly along a rocky road wondering if it was best to turn around or continue with the direction we were heading. Nothing more to say except show you a photo of the track we were driving on:

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That night we had our neighbour, the owner over for dinner as her husband was away for the night. We had a lovely time chatting together.

We were too tired to go out anywhere on Thursday, except McDonalds so the kids could use the internet, so our next sightseeing day was Friday when we drove back down to the coast, this time slightly further along to Rockcliffe. Daniel and Amy enjoyed taking me out on to the rocks to explore. I felt old and was pleased to survive the tour.



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We said goodbye to our Hamish and Margaret on Saturday morning and then drove back up north.

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(Week 22: Saturday 14 July – Saturday 21 July 2012)