Category Archives: Scotland

What to do in Scotland; attractions in Scotland and the best places to visit in Scotland.

Arts & Crafts Trail in Kirkcubright

The Arts and Crafts Trail in Kirkcubright, in south west Scotland, celebrated it’s 15th year in 2018. It’s usually held over the first weekend in August.

In 2018, there were 108 venues on the Art and Crafts Trail, predominantly in town. I arrived one hour before the official opening time of 11am, to ensure a good parking space and get my bearings.

The Sea Hames willow sculpture was located by the harbour car park.

Some local residents also opened their gardens to the public during the event. I popped into see one, as the rain had stopped when I came out Kirkcubright Galleries.

The theme of the 2018 Arts and Crafts Trail was pirates. Some local residents were participating by having pirate pictures in their window.

I spent quite a bit of time at the Tolbooth Arts Centre, which was hosting three exhibitions.

The winning entries from the Rotary Young Artists’ Competition were displayed in the stairwells.

I loved the jewellery display by Red Squirrel Crafts, desgined and created by Beth Currie.

The crocheted jewellery inspired by nature.

My next port of call was Cochrane Hall.

I enjoyed my visit to Greengate, the former home of Scottish illustrator Jessie M King, whose work I had seen earlier in the day at Kirkcubright Galleries.

Greengate is still home to an artist, Pauline Saul, one of the founders of the Arts and Crafts Trail.

The view from the Garden Studio, venue 33, reminded me of the scene painted by Peploe, which I had seen that morning in Kirkcubright Galleries.

The Harbour Cottage Gallery is in a great location.

Below are photos of some of the other venues on the Arts and Crafts Trail in Kirkcubright.

I did manage visit one of the venues located outside Kirkcubright, at the Marrbury Smokehouse, which sits beside Carsluith Castle, as you drive west of the A75 towards Dumfries. I was only able to the pieces by Ruby Marr which were on display in the cafe. You had to come to an evening event to see the full exhibition.

I reckon that you could spend two or three days on the Arts and Crafts Trail in order to visit all the venues. I think it is a wonderful event. Everyone at the venues was so friendly and welcoming. There is so much artistic talent in the area.

Visiting Gatehouse of Fleet

I popped into the town of Gatehouse of Fleet in Dumfries and Galloway when I was driving from Barholm Accommodation in Creetown to Kirkcubright, I’d read that there was a pop up artist’s shop in the town which I wanted to see.

There is free parking with public toilets in the town centre. As it was a lovely morning, I decided to go for a short walk along the Water of Fleet. I spotted a picnic bench, next to a wooden sculpture, with a river view, so decided to return there with my flask.

Then I crossed the road and walked down to the Mill on the Fleet, as the pop up artist’s shop was on the top floor there. As I approached the mill, I saw an enormous wooden sculpture.

There were a couple of enormous mill wheels outside the building.

There’s a small wheel at the side of building.

On the ground floor there’s the Mill Cafe, which has some outdoor seating.

On the first floor, there were exhibits charting the history of Gatehouse of Fleet, There was scale model of the town.

Information boards related some facts about the town.

For kids there were some historic costumes for dressing up.

There was also an old school desk.

You could try your hand at carding, spinning and weaving.

I liked the collages made by local children.

I enjoyed the views down over the river.

One part of the top floor is a book shop.

I was very impressed the artist’s shop. The quality of the work was high and the prices reasonable.

I really enjoyed my stop in Gatehouse of Fleet and spend more time there than I planned. 21 recommend it as a pit stop if you are driving on the A75 between Dumfries and Stranraer.

Kirkcubright Galleries

Kirkcubright Galleries opened in June 2018. I was keen to visit, as Kirkcubright has a reputation as an artists’ town.

I liked the wrought iron work on the gate in front of the the main entrance door.

My first impression positive. The staircase was beautiful and there was a feeling of light and space.

The first floor cafe had views over to the church opposite.

As I have a National Art Pass, I didn’t have to pay the £4 adult admission fee to see the Stars of Scotland temporary exhibition. My favourite piece was by the Scottish colourist J D Fergusson. Unfortunately, photography was not permitted in the exhibition.

The permanent collection is housed on the ground floor.

I really liked the decorated chairs by William Miles Johnstone, a bird and animal artist.

There were some gorgeous ceramics.

Peploe’s depiction of Kirkcubright is more colourful that reality.

Jessie M King, who lived in Kirkcubright, was best known for her book and magazine illustrations, but she also designed fabrics (for Liberty), jewellery and painted pottery.

Below are greetings card designed by King.

Below are two of her illustrations for Wynken, Blyken & Nod by poet Eugene Field.

There were sculptures of animals and their young by Phyllis M Bone.

Below are some photos of other exhibitions at Kirkcubright Galleries.

Kirkcubright Galleries is open on Monday to Saturday from 10am to 5pm. On a Sunday it’s noon to 5pm. It’s free to enter, except for some temporary exhibitions. There’s plenty of free parking in Kirkcubright.

Carsluith Castle

You can visit the ruins of a 16th century tower house at Carsluith Castle, in Dumfries and Galloway, in south west Scotland.

The castle is located just off the A75. It’s open all year and it’s free to enter. You could combine a visit to Carsluith Castle with a pit stop at the adjacent cafe. If the weather is dry, you could sit outside.

There are stone steps to ascend the castle.

The higher you get, the better the views of the surrounding countryside and Wigton Bay.

I had the place to myself when I visited around 10am on a Saturday morning.

Spring Fling Art Open Studios in Dumfries and Galloway

Spring Fling is an annual art and craft open studios event in Dumfries and Galloway, in south west Scotland. I attended the event in late May 2018.

The studios are dispersed over a wide geographic location. The event organisers suggest six colour coded routes to follow. However, I decided to draw up my own itineraries, based on visiting the studios which were of the most interest to me.

This was a complex task, especially as I am not familiar with that area. I also had to factor in different opening hours and the travel time between venues.

Below are photos from a few of the Spring Fling studios which I visited.

Peter Wareing

Andrew Adair

Annie Cooney

Christime Hester Smith

Jo Gallant

Penny Lilley

Phil Mcmenemy

Wendy Kershaw

Ir you’re interested in arts and crafts, I recommend a visit to Spring Fling. It’s a great opportunity to meet the artists, see them at work and purchase their pieces.

Barnhill Rock Garden in Broughty Ferry, Dundee

If the weather is dry one of my favourite places to visit in Dundee, is Barnhill Rock Garden, in the seaside suburb of Broughty Ferry.

It’s usually quite sheltered in the garden, with the trees and shrubs offering some respite if there is an easterly wind. I’ve visited at all times of year.

There are plenty of benches and picnic tables in the garden. Plus, there is free on street parking and the all important public toilets.

I really like sitting by the pond, but there is only one bench with a good view of the pond.

It never seems to be too busy at Barnhill Rock Garden. If it’s a good day weather wise, most people seem to head for the beach. If the weather isn’t great, the cafes in Broughty Ferry are more appealing to many.

When I visited Barnhill Rock Garden last Summer, there was one of the giant penguin sculptures which formed Maggie’s Penguin Parade.

Logan Botanic Garden in Dumfries and Galloway

I’d read about Logan Botanic Garden, but was it’s located in rather a remote spot in the south west of Dumfries and Galloway (15 miles south of Stranraer), I hadn’t visited. When I saw that one of the outdoor dance performances of Les Impromptues: A Breath of Fresh Air was taking place there, I knew I had to visit.

Logan Botanic Garden is part of Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. The location, close to the warning effect of the Gulf Stream, means that it is Scotland’s most exotic garden.

When I arrived at the garden on a sunny Sunday afternoon, the car park was already full, so I had to park the car on a grass verge at the side of the driveway.

I was entranced by the Les Impromptues: A Breath of Fresh Air especially the dance around the fish pond.

There’s a cafe with outdoor seating around a smaller pond with a spherical slate feature.

There was a Royal Society for the Protection of Birds stands aimed at kids.

I spent around an hour in garden after the dance performance.

The fish pond was my favourite part of the garden, despite it being too hot for my to sit in the sun on a bench at the side of the pond.

There was a section planted with palm trees.

The Conservatory is huge.

You can have a picnic in the shade of Tasmanian trees.

There’s a boggy area where Gunnera grows.

The Woodland Pond was so pretty.

You can learn more about the garden in the Discovery Centre.

I have to say that Logan Botanic Garden is one of the most beautiful gardens which have visited. Despite the car park being full the garden, it didn’t seem too busy.

The admission fee is £6.50 for adults, £5.50 for concessions, kids go free. The arden is open daily from 1 March to 15 November, from 10am – 5pm (4pm in November and Sundays in February. If I lived closer, I think that I’d buy an annual pass, which costs £29 per year if you pay by direct debit. The pass also gives you free entry to the glasshouses in Edinburgh plus Dawyck, and Benmore Gardens.

Rozelle House Galleries & The Maclaurin Gallery in Ayr

I did an online search for art galleries in Ayrshire, when planning my drive south to Dumfries and Galloway for the Arts and Crafts Trail in Kirkcubright. My search brought up the Rozelle House Galleries and the Maclaurin Gallery in Ayr.

Initially, I was a bit confused wondering if the two galleries located in different places. But they are adjacent.

Rozelle House is a former mansion house which was gifted the Royal Burgh of Ayr in the late 1960s. It then became an art gallery. In the mid 1970s, the stable block and servants quarters and became the Maclaurin Gallery.

There were plenty of parking spaces in the free car park when I arrived early on a Thursday afternoon.

I started off in the Maclaurin Gallery, which is accessed through the courtyard.

I really liked William Dick’s The Paper Works  exhibition.

As it was raining, I had a  rather quick look around the Sculpture Park.

Then it was back inside to the Rozelle Galleries.

There’s a Henry Moore sculpture at the bottom of the staircase.

I thought that some of the pieces by the Ayr College students in their HND Art & Design exhibition were wonderful. The young woman portrayed on the left below is constructed with jigsaw pieces.

The man on the right below was made by painting on a tapestry.

Below are photos of some of the other exhibits.

Upstairs at Rozelle, there was an exhibition of Alexander Goudie’s painting depicting Robert Burns’ Tam o’Shanter. Most didn’t appeal to me, being too dark coloured. The one I liked was of Brig o’Doon.

The basement walls outside the toilets had been painted by local young people.

I highly recommend a visit to the Rozelle Galleries and the Maclaurin Gallery in Ayr. It was free to get in and the galleries are open Monday to Saturday 10am to 5pm and noon to 5pm on Sundays. But do check before you visit as many museums and galleries opening hours have been reduced and charges introduced to see some exhibitions, due to spending cutbacks by local authorities.

Review of Premier Inn Dundee Centre

I stayed at the Premier Inn Dundee Centre for two nights in October 2018. My stay cost £60 for a double room, booked several months in advance on the non-refundable Saver rate.

I’ve stayed at the hotel in the past, you can read my review here. The hotel was closed for in 2016 for a year long renovation and extension. When it reopened in early 2017, the number of rooms had more than tripled from 40 to 148.

Premier Inn Dundee Centre is in a great location on the Tay estuary, next to Discover Point and close to the V&A Dundee (which you can just make out at the end of the esplanade in the photo below).

An unwelcome change, is that you now have to pay to park at the Premier Inn Dundee Centre. It costs £3 per night, which very reasonable for city centre parking.

It’s pretty confusing in the car park, especially if you arrive after dark.  The The car park is meant to be for Premier Inn guests and customer of the adjacent Beefeater restaurant. However the car park is not run by the hotel or restaurant (owned by Whitbread0, but by a private car park firm.

There are machines in the car park, but they  are for Beefeater customers, who pay £2 for three hours, which they can reclaim when they order in restaurant.

Premier Inn guests should use the machines the hotel lobby. The strange thing is that you don’t get a ticket to put on your windscreen. You enter your car registration number as part of the payment process. Be sure that you enter the registration number carefully. If you enter it incorrectly, you could end up with a £100 parking infringement charge.

I arrived at Premier Inn Dundee Centre around 9.30 with the intention of making the most of the day. Check in time is !4.00.  I checked with the receptionist, that paying the £6 for my two night stay would cover parking until noon checkout time, two days later. She said that it would.

I attempted to phone the hotel the day before arrival to request a room with an estuary view. But I wasn’t put through to the hotel, it was a customer relations office. They said that my request would be passed onto the hotel, but could not be guaranteed. When I asked the receptionist about the parking, I also asked if my request had been received. She said that they didn’t accept requests in advance, that I would have to make the request at check in. To increase the chance of my request being granted, I decided that I would need to return to the hotel at exactly at check in time of 2pm.

I arrived back at hotel a couple of minutes after 2pm. I couldn’t see any spaces in the Premier Inn/Beefeater car park. I think that some visitors to the V&A Dundee are parking in that car park. It’s cheaper than the adjacent Discovery Point car park, which quickly fills up with museum visitors. This made me think that it would be wise not to move the car, as I might not find a parking space upon my return.

At reception, I was allocated an estuary view room on the third floor. I was so glad that I had persevered to achieve my goal, as the hotel remodelling included the fitting of floor to ceiling window, so the views were great despite the grey, wet weather.

The room was great; tastefully furnished, spacious and comfortable. There was plenty of desk space. My beef with Premier Inn is that they are still so mean with tea and coffee supplies. You only get two teabags, two sachets of coffee and four little milk pots in a double room. Everything’s Premier, except the hot drinks supplies.

You can request more supplies at reception, but you might not feel like trailing down there. It seems such a penny pinching policy when it feels like a lot of money has been spent on the room.

I liked the fact that there was a sofa, so that could have a comfy seat without having to sit on the bed.

The bathroom was spotless with lovely tiles.

It was nice and quiet in the room. I heard no external noise, not even the hotel banging fire and room doors.

I spent most of the time in the room sitting by the window admiring the view. Fortunately,there was a small table by the bed, which I was able to move over to the window, which was ideal for laying he Chromebook so that I could work with a view.

In summary, I thought that the Premier Inn Dundee Centre was very good value for money at £30 a night. The room was of a high standard. But I think that the car parking policy needs to made much clearer to guests in their booking confirmation and on the machines in the lobby. Plus, Premier Inn need to be more generous with tea and coffee making supplies.

Hidden Door Festival in Leith, Edinburgh

The Hidden Door Festival in Leith, Edinburgh ran from 25 May to 3 June 2018. I attended the event on the second Saturday the 2nd of June.

I mainly attended to see the contemporary art exhibitions. Most of the art was exhibited the State Cinema.

I liked the copper panels in the foyer.

It was very colourful in the colonnade of Leith Theatre, across the road from the State Cinema.

I also saw a few performances.

Hagit Yakura – Air Hunger was wonderful.

photo courtesy of Hidden Door

I also enjoyed Claricia Kruithof – Untitled (labyrinth), which was performed outdoors in the courtyard of Leith Theatre.

I made my Edinburgh stage debut at Alice Mary Cooper’s Bean Counter, when I was selected from the audience to play the part of the bean counter’s oath taking official.

photo courtesy of Hidden Door