Lindsay and I hung out at his house for about a week after our trip to the Western Isles. By the end of the week, we were getting antsy and were more than ready to head out of town to explore some more.
On Friday, October 4th, we left Aberdeen and headed south to Edinburgh. We planned on visiting several sights along our proposed route for the next few days. The sites included a couple of castles and palaces, a quaint and well-preserved medieval town called Culross, some fantastic engineering feats, such as the Falkirk Wheel, and a visit to a particular place I visited a few years ago – the Fords of Frew.
Our first stop was Edinburgh. Once we got checked into our B&B, ‘The Alison,’ we were able to park the car there for free. Parking is a premium in Edinburgh so we were extremely grateful to have unlimited parking as long as we were guests. We caught the bus to the old part of town about a mile up the road to visit The National Museum of Scotland. After traveling south from Aberdeen earlier that morning, we still had an hour or two to explore at least part of the museum in the late afternoon before they closed for the day.
The museum is free and is absolutely enormous, with several floors and various sections. We couldn’t possibly see all of it in one day. They finished remodeling it in 2011 and upgraded their exhibits, so it had all of the very modern conveniences and yet retained its Victorian traditions making it a pleasure to visit. After traveling around Scotland and visiting various historical sites these last 5 years, I’ve been looking forward to seeing the unique ancient treasures and artifacts from those sites. The treasures have been preserved and stored in the museum for safekeeping where everyone can see them as opposed to being scattered about in private collections.
In the main mezzanine of the 3 storied, glass-roofed central hall, there were some very different and interesting pieces on display such as this Victorian drinking fountain, a printing press, and a fresnel lens from the InchKeith lighthouse on the Firth of Forth.
Nearby on the main floor in another section was another huge room with all kinds of examples of various modes of transportation, including full-size airplanes! They had old cars, motorcycles, steam engines, bicycles, balloons…you name it!
We explored one of the art exhibits on an upper level and finished up our tour for the day by going up the elevator to visit the rooftop. At that level, there are lovely 360-degree views of old town Edinburgh, including the castle, which is close by. It also provides several interpretative panels so you can identify the buildings on the skyline by their spires or rooftops.
For dinner that evening, Lindsay took me to a really cool old pub he used to go to years ago when he lived in this area called “The Old Bell.” It was just down the street from our lodging and was teeming with a lot of local folks who appeared to be ‘regulars’ at their favorite hang out spot. It was cozy and welcoming, and just what we were looking for. On top of the wonderful ambiance and charm, they also served really great food at very reasonable prices.
The next day we headed straight back to the museum when they opened in the morning. We spent quite a few hours exploring many more of its vast number of exhibits and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. I was particularly interested in finding anything related to Scottish history, and I wasn’t the least bit disappointed. They had 4 separate floors relating to all things Scottish, starting with the first inhabitants, the Picts during ancient history, on the first floor.
Each subsequent floor featured a different portion of history right up to the present day. The displays were well lit, with easy-to-read labeling, and the multitude of artfully crafted artifacts was a delight to see with my own eyes. Exquisite workmanship!
One section contained superb specimens of native species in the natural environments around Scotland…
…Lindsay even found an exact copy of the first car he had ever owned as a young man; a plethora of youthful memories flooded his head, causing him to grin from ear to ear!
Although we spent most of the day exploring the museum, we barely put a dent in it. We could have probably spent another couple of days to see everything. It is so full of beautiful treasures. I will definitely return time and time again until I have enjoyed them all!
However, for the time being, we had seen all we could possibly muster that day. We also needed to retrieve our car at the B&B and spend the rest of the afternoon driving west about 40 miles to the town of Stirling, where we had reservations for the night.
We checked into the YHA hostel, which is located just a few doors down the lane from Stirling Castle. Once we were settled, we headed down the quaint winding cobbled roads to the center of town nearby to a delightful little pub called ‘Nicky-Tams’ for supper. We each enjoyed a very delicious serving of “Balmoral Chicken,” a tall cold brew, and we were also pleasantly surprised to have live music to enjoy with our meal as well. What a perfect way to end the day!
The following day, October 6th, we spent the morning exploring several different sites near Stirling after a hearty and filling breakfast. Lindsay was so surprised by the abundant traditional Scottish breakfast he received at the hostel. I suspect he was expecting it to be a bit skimpier because it wasn’t a full-scale hotel or restaurant or something, and even made the comment that it was the best breakfast he’s had for a very long time! The Chef literally beamed with pride when he personally went up to him to thank him.
We didn’t have any particular plans for the day and decided to just wing it, see what we could find, and possibly fit into the allotted daylight hours. We started driving in a westerly direction as we left Stirling and headed out into the countryside to visit a charming little village perched upon a hill called Kippen. Nearby are some farms and other various landmarks that are related to our shared ancestral surname – Frew.
The first time I visited these places was a few years ago. I wrote a blog about it called “The Fords of Frew” & the Village of Kippen. As an avid follower of my blog, Lindsay has read every single one of my many blog posts over the years; therefore, he already knew about the places we were headed to, but he was also quite curious to see them for himself.
The small village of Kippen was still and quiet on a Sunday morning, and nothing was open. We drove around the little village while I pointed out the Cross Keys pub in the center of town and the Parish Church that I had visited the last time I was here. We parked the car in the village center and noticed a signboard posted in the little park nearby. The sign displayed a map of the village, and also provided some tidbits of historical value.
As we read about the village, I realized there were a few historical sites I had previously overlooked. So we walked around and explored them. Although volunteers have already spent many hours cleaning up and beginning the refurbishment of the ancient grounds, the decrepit old graveyard with a bell tower dating back to 1691 is still unsafe for the general public to enter. All we could do was peek over the fence to have a look.
Nearby were several other historical buildings such as the old ‘smiddy’ (blacksmith shop). We peered through the windows and then followed the winding cobbled lane and found the old hotel for cattle Drovers called the “Black Bull Inn” from 1729.
Next, we got back in the car, drove back down the hill the village is perched upon, and headed toward the River Forth, which runs through the valley below. I had something else I wanted to show Lindsay – the Bridge of Frew! Of course, this is a newer and more modern bridge, and I’m almost positive there used to be an older one in the vicinity, but just the same…
We continued to drive down the road until we came to the fork that leads out to the various Frew farms. I explained to Lindsay that we wouldn’t be able to get out of the car to access the Fords of Frew near the end of the road, but I thought he might enjoy seeing them from the side of the road in the distance and the various Frew Farm signs along the way.
Just before we reached the Lindsay’s farm, called ‘Easter Frew Farm’ we were able to see the river winding its way toward the ocean and possibly catch a glimpse of the Fords of Frew in a narrow spot along its banks in the distance.
He asked if I was going to stop to say hello to the Lindsay family I had met on my previous visit. I told him, “No, I hadn’t planned on it. I don’t want to bother them again, especially on a Sunday morning. We can just drive down the road so you might catch a glimpse of the fords and then turn around to go back the way we have come because the road ends at their farm. Besides, I doubt they would even remember me.”
Soon after that, we arrived at the Easter Frew Farm, where the road widens, and I could turn around. The place was tranquil, and no one seemed to be about anyway, so I backed up the car to make a 3-point turn to head back in the direction we had come. Just as I was about to pull forward out of their driveway entrance to head back the way we came, a big semi-truck and trailer, (called “Lorries” in the UK) appeared around the corner of the barn. He stopped when he saw me in his driveway and waved hello.
I couldn’t be rude and just drive away, so I shut off the car, got out, and walked over to the driver to say hello and explain why I was in his driveway. Boy, was I ever wrong when I made a comment to Lindsay earlier about them not remembering me! He certainly did, and we proceeded to have a great conversation. I asked how his family is, and he brought me up to speed about all of them, including all the news about his new granddaughter that evidently is the apple of his eye! Lindsay wandered over, and I introduced them. It was a nice, yet unplanned reunion, and I have to admit it made me feel good that they did remember me, and fondly.
After visiting for a short while, Mr. Lindsay apologized and announced that he needed to get the truck delivered somewhere by a specific time, and therefore, had to run. We told him it was no problem, but that it was great that we had the luck to see him in his busy schedule. Just as he was leaving and we were about to walk back to the car to go ourselves, his lovely wife, Leslie, came around the corner from the fields with their two friendly canines running along beside her. After her husband drove off in the truck, we had another lovely visit with Leslie, too, and it turned out that she had a pleasant surprise for me.
Allow me to explain…
I have written a total of 203 blog posts (including this one) in my three blogs at WordPress over the last 5 years. The blog posts cover a lot of territory. The places I have visited range from very iconic to completely trivial in nature. One of the fun features of WordPress that I enjoy as the writer is that WordPress provides statistics about my blog posts for me. For instance, it tells me how many people have looked at or read any of my posts. It doesn’t identify the people by name, but it does tell me what country they are from. It’s enjoyable to see that people from all over the world have visited my site. It also tells me which posts have been viewed the most. This is where the blog post, The Fords of Frew & the Village of Kippen, come in.
I would have thought that a more well-known sight that I have visited and written about would have drawn a lot of attention, but again I was mistaken. When I first visited the Fords of Frew and wrote about meeting the lovely Lindsay family quite by chance, it wasn’t a very long post with lots of cool pictures or anything that would perhaps make it stand out. It was just kind of a short story of a day in the life of this traveler who was searching out a site that bore her surname, and kind of an obscure name at that! But it never ceases to amaze me when I view the statistics about my blogs.
Go figure! Since I posted that particular blog post about the Fords of Frew, someone from somewhere has looked at it almost every day since it was published! It has been viewed more than any other blog post I have written, and amazingly has been seen twice as many times and the next most popular blog post that is in second place! I have also received the most comments on that particular post than any other as well! Who would’ve guessed? Certainly not me!
Here comes the lovely surprise – the best part as far as I’m concerned…
While I was standing there talking to Leslie, the conversation turned when she asked me about my blog. I shared with her what I just shared with you. Then I asked her if she had ever seen it or read it and if so, what did she think? I wanted to make sure it had met her approval.
She whips out her smartphone from her pocket, and by golly shows me that she has the blog post already open in one of her windows! I was so touched, it almost made me cry right there on the spot. I think I did, at the very least, have to wipe a tear from the corner of my eye. As a writer, I am naturally always hoping someone will find my stories interesting, informative, helpful, or inspiring, as you might imagine. To have someone whip out their phone and have one of my stories open at any given moment was like receiving nectar from the gods! Thank you, Leslie, for making my day! I will never forget that.
With those lovely thoughts, this is where I am going to end this post. Lindsay and I visited several other sites later that day. Those sites include another famous and iconic ancestral Stewart castle nearby called Doune Castle. It also served as a filming location for both the Outlander and Game of Thrones series. We also visited a completely restored and preserved medieval town, Culross, several miles away, and we enjoyed a nighttime visit of the Kelpies! You can look forward to hearing about those places in my next post. Until then, keep on traveling and exploring, and I encourage you to consider sharing your stories with others as well.