Day 12: Tuesday, 11 August 1998

Stirling Castle

Seth with Magnum in Stirling station
Seth with Magnum in Stirling station

A large enough castle, and up on a big hill, but swarming with tourists, including us. It was a stark contrast to Tantallon and Dirleton, where we'd had the places almost to ourselves. This was an Attraction and the feel was quite different. I didn't enjoy it much, and looked forward to getting away from the buses and the throngs.

What I enjoyed most in Stirling was my first Magnum in five years. A Magnum is a particular brand of ice cream with a chocolate shell on a stick. It's very good, and it had been exactly five years, give or take only a day or two, since my last one in Scandinavia. I'd seen them around before our day in Stirling, but always as we were heading to dinner or lunch. Here, at last, I finally found one when I was prepared to devour it.

Also in the train station was a business card machine. You drop in a few pounds, type in your information, select a layout, and out pop a dozen or so business cards. I'd been meaning to make non-business cards for some time, and they'd be handy to have while traveling, but there was a problem with the machine. The keyboard didn't have the @ or ~ symbols! I couldn't enter my email address or URL without them, so there wasn't much point in making cards. Feh! I wonder how old the machine was.

Auchterarder

Walking to Auchterarder
Walking to Auchterarder

We walked a long way into town from the train station, then we walked a long way looking for a promising dinner. I was tired, and I was hungry, not having eaten in Stirling. I was also looking for something good, less willing to take risks with food than usual. I'd been disappointed by our dinner the night before in North Berwick, and I was a little resentful at having been disappointed by a restaurant that wasn't my first choice. I'd let Ian have his way without much argument. That's my own responsibilty, of course, but I was hungry and grumpy and I wanted something to make up for it.

We finally did agree on a place -- not too hard once I agreed to a place, since everyone else considerately had turned down their own pickiness to compensate -- and dinner turned out to be quite good. I don't remember what I got, though I remember wanting to find salmon and not being too disappointed. Whatever it was, it was well prepared and it was far more than was needed to make me not hungry. It was a nice place, complete with bar and friendly service folks.

The reason we'd come to town in the first place was to check at some ruins that wouldn't be surrounded by other tourists. We weren't against tourists in general -- only those who weren't us. Ian had a vague idea of where they might be, so we headed off. We never did find any ruins. We walked for an hour or so through a mostly residential neighborhood. A side road turned out to have a farm that was old, but hardly ruined, and the main road just kept winding deeper into where people lived.

From one perspective, our little jaunt was a failure. We didn't get to see what we went to see. But we did get to see things, and they were different enough from everything else we saw on our trip to make it a great evening.

After lots of walking down that road, we decided we'd gone as far as we had time to go, and called a taxi whose number we'd forethoughtfully acquired from the nice people running the restaurant. Qarin had a cell phone, so she called and we all sat waiting on a stone wall in front of a picturesque B&B. In retrospect, we probably should have asked to use a phone inside anyway, just to meet the people there.

View From Gleneagles station at night
View from Gleneagles station at night, with 5 second exposure. (I couldn't see this well.)

After not too long, though long enough to make us worry, a man whose name I forget arrived in his car to drive us to the train station. By this time it was dark. I vaguely recall having ridden in the front. Why did I always get the best seats? Our driver had a phone in his car and accepted some more assignments as we headed to the station.

When we got there, I got to watch as at least four rabbits scattered from the road ahead. Some train stations have litter; this one had rabbits. It also had a really big bug, which someone has a picture of.

My memory of riding in the car is wrong, and it's wrong in a fascinating way. I remember being in the front seat, and I remember thinking about how cool it was that I was sitting on the wrong side to be a passenger in the front. But when I conjure up an image of it, I always picture myself on the right side. Presumably my brain is thinking to itself, "Let's see now, there was a phone in the middle, and it was dark, and it was rather car-like (it being a car after all), and I was on the passenger side. Ok, well passengers go on the right, so I'll just arrange all that stuff like so. Here you go! Here's what you saw!"