A long weekend on the Forth and the Tay

I’m sitting in a cottage at Coombe Mill in Cornwall at the end of a wonderful Christmas week away with my family. It’s been a peaceful, much-needed week away from the bustle of London and work. I’ve been thinking about my blog and how neglected it’s been in recent months.  Some of the other families staying at Coombe Mill this week are also bloggers – and it’s been rather lovely to meet them in person after reading about them online for years. Meeting them has reminded me of how much pleasure I get from my blog, especially looking back on years past and smiling at all the memories I’ve written about.  So I really don’t want to give it up.

I hope you forgive the absence and all the catching up I need to do. For now, here are a few snaps from a weekend away we took during half term at the very end of October. We headed up to Scotland to visit family and to revisit some favourite places and explore new ones.

During the trip we made our first visit to Dundee. I can’t quite believe I’ve never been there before given how often I travel in Scotland. It’s a great city with so much on offer.  I had no idea that the V&A had recently opened a branch in the city, its first outside London.  So we headed straight there to have a look. As you’d expect for a design museum, its architecture was striking and beautiful. It looked so dramatic jutting out over the Tay, and I loved the snatches of views you got across the city and estuary as you walked around the interior.

We barely took any photographs, but we easily whiled away an hour inside.  The children loved the everlasting bubbles installation where a robotic arm created sweeping bubbles in the gallery!

I loved the full recreation of the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Oak Room.

Something else I didn’t know about Dundee was that Captain Scott’s ship, Discovery, was built in the city – and amazingly is now a museum there.  Given how much I love stories of Scott and Antarctica, I can’t believe that fact escaped me – but I was so excited to find out more!  I adored the contrast of the striking new V&A alongside the century old iconic ship.

We spent ages in the museum alongside the ship, learning more about her construction and what life was like on board and during the expeditions, as well as information about Antarctic exploration today.  There were loads of hands on activities and information stations for the children.  It took all four of us to complete this gigantic puzzle:

But the highlight was, of course, getting to go onboard. So much of the ship was open to explore and was lovingly restored so we could see Captain Scott’s quarters and where his crew lived.

Above deck we loved finding the wheel and ship’s bell.

We had such a good time – and I am sure we’ll be back again soon.  There seemed to be so much more of the city to explore, as well as the gorgeous coastline nearby.

But we had to head back down South to our flat for the weekend – down on a different estuary – the Firth of Forth. We based ourselves for the short break in a little AirBnb apartment in the pretty seaside town of Aberdour. We enjoyed a chilly evening on the beach nearby and scrambling on the rocky shoreline enjoying views over the Forth to the city of Edinburgh (which the children are helpfully pointing out below!):

Keeping to the water, we explored another coastal landmark during our stay north of the border – Blackness Castle.  Given this sits just a few miles from my grandparents’ home where I’ve visited countless times, it’s a mystery to me how I’ve never been to the castle before!  We loved it.  It’s in such a dramatic location, jutting out into the estuary with the cold waters splashing up against the walls of the castle, and the famous Forth Bridges as a backdrop.

We enjoyed exploring ourselves, reading the helpful information panels to find out what live was like in this bleak location centuries ago. For such a small castle, there were real contrasts from the luxurious living quarters for the ruling Lords to the basement prison which saw prisoners soaked by the incoming tide each day! Harsh!

Extra highlights during our visit were the ‘Scotland from the Air’ photographs on display around the castle rooms (which just made me want to come back for another longer holiday) and a piper striking up a tune as we walked around – very atmospheric (and loud!)

After all those new experiences, we also enjoyed the familiar. I always love taking Alex and Sophie to see their grandparents and great aunt while we’re in Scotland. And it was particularly special this trip to be able to celebrate Sophie’s 7th birthday up there with them. Sophie loved her Colin the Caterpillar cake!

And here are my duo with their Great Auntie Margaret:

And with their Great Grandparents, still going strong in their nineties.  It’s such a privilege that Sophie and Alex now know them well. I hope we’ll be back up again to visit early in 2020…

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