The second day dawned wet and grey. The plan was to go into Kenmore, the little town just half a mile from the resort, and just walk around a bit. I made a hearty breakfast of eggs, toast, bacon, and orange juice. Jonathan downed one of the mini boxes of cereal as well (growing kid and all). We gathered up cameras and maps and headed off for our first day in Perthshire, Scotland. I have to say this – Perthshire is perfectly situated for getting about in Scotland, especially where we were. We were smack dab in the middle of the country, making everything around us pretty accessible within a couple hours drive. I highly recommend to visitors to the country to find somewhere around Pitlochry to stay. Now, on to our day.
Kenmore is a very small town. It sports a hotel with a restaurant, a church, an antique shop, a few houses, a school, and that’s about it. We walked down the path that led from the old Taymouth Castle gate toward the castle. It started sprinkling lightly, but not enough to make us bring out the umbrellas. The walk was beautiful and peaceful. The path was lined will all sorts of trees we’d never seen before. We’re from a land of lodgepole and Ponderosa pines, grand fir and cedars, aspens and birch, larch, maples, and cottonwoods. I’d never seen a beech before. I have no idea what some of the trees were. All I know is, they were beautiful. The yews really caught our attention. We have small yew shrubs around that people plant in their yards, but I’ve never seen wild ones, and never any as large as the ones we saw. I found myself marveling at the different flora as we walked along the path. We finally realized the castle was a lot farther along than we’d thought, so we decided to turn back and drive to the other entrance so we could see the castle – our first. The narrow roads were still a challenge, this being only our second time on them, but we drove slowly and had no mishaps. When we finally arrived at the castle, we were disappointed to find it surrounded by a chain link fence and covered in large green tarps. Apparently, it was closed while it was being remodeled into a 6 star hotel. Previous visitors had commented on how beautiful it was inside, so it was disappointing to not be able to see it. We decided to drive the few miles into Aberfeldy and explore there.
Aberfeldy is a really cute little town. Oh, a warning to Americans. We tend to call everything a town. We’ll say things like “hey, I’m going into town tonight. Do you want to come along?” We might use that phrase whether we’re going into Portland from one of the suburbs, or whether we’re driving 45 miles from our cabin in the woods into the population 350 town closest to us, or just going from our subdivision into the part of town where the movie theaters are. Well, in the UK, they make a distinction between a town, a village, and a city. Once we said something like “how large a town is Birmingham?” and the person to whom we were speaking quickly said “it’s a city”. Ah-ha… so…how big is a city versus a town? I suspect Aberfeldy might actually just be a village, not quite meeting the qualifications for townhood. Nevertheless, it is a great little village. The first thing we noticed as we entered Aberfeldy was a road sign, their version of a caution sign, that read “Elderly People” with an icon of two people, slightly bent, with canes. Okay….so we were to be on the lookout for random old folks crossing the streets? Jonathan, naturally, insisted Tom and I stand under this sign as he took our picture. You’ll see it on the photobucket site. We saw several of these signs sprinkled throughout Scotland. We realized they were positioned wherever there was a nursing home. Interesting. We saw other interesting signs. One was a pretty typical pedestrian crossing sign – an adult and child and a crosswalk – but the school signs were interesting. They showed kids running. Oh, and emergency exit signs in restaurants and stores made me laugh. You know how you’re always told never to run in an emergency, right? Well their signs show a person fleeing and the word exit. I guess in the UK you’re supposed to run as fast as you can to get the hell out in case of emergency.
Aberfeldy has a cute little town center with a little roundabout in the middle of it. There is a co-op grocery store there, some cute little shops, and a Bank of Scotland. We went into the grocery store and bought some necessities – Coke, cookies (biscuits), potato chips (crisps), sausages for breakfast, and a few other things. I honestly believe Coke has a monopoly in the UK. You could find Pepsi, but it was really hard to find Diet Pepsi, and I never could find it cold. But any flavor of Coke you wanted – lime, cherry, vanilla, you name it, it was there and cold. Weird.
Down the street, we found the most delightful bakery. You have to visit a bakery daily in Scotland. They have the BEST stuff! We went in just as it started raining a little, ready for something hot to drink and sweet to eat. An older Scot gentleman and his buddy were ordering something he called “double D’s” “for the way they look” he told us. Basically, they’re meringues and whipped cream, and yes, they do look like “double d’s”. Jonathan ordered banoffee pie, I ordered scones and clotted cream. Tom just had a latte. We chatted a bit with the teenage girls working the counter, mostly so we could listen to them talk and find out a bit about life in Aberfeldy. Our first Scottish meal out among the natives, so to speak, and it was delightful. The older man and his buddy were really delightful, very friendly, and great to listen to. We were loving it!
After our snack was consumed, we continued our walk along the main street of Aberfeldy, meandering into shops, buying some coffee since all we had at the room was instant, and marveling at some of the unique sculptures we found in one of the little gift shops. But Aberfeldy is a village, and it didn’t take long to exhaust our shopping options. On to Pitlochry…..