Audlem car park was more lively than normal for an early Monday morning with the departure of 50 or so Probus members and their spouses/guests leaving for a week of fun and tourism in Scotland. Had we known then what we subsequently discovered was that our heavy suitcases filled with bobble hats, waterproofs and sturdy shoes could have been replaced with sun hats, shorts and sandals. Not a complaint, you understand!
We made good time up the M6 and found ourselves in the pretty town of Appleby in Cumbria. The view from the bridge over the river was most attractive and we all enjoyed a stretch of the legs. Most importantly the timing was perfect for an early lunch of coffee and cake for some and beer/wine and sandwiches for others. From there we headed over the border to our home for the week at the Macdonald Crutherland Hotel in East Kilbride. The approach to the hotel down a long drive through extensive gardens was inviting and we were not disappointed to arrive at the attractive low-rise hotel bathed in sunshine. After a welcome cup of tea and settling into our rooms we enjoyed the first of our daily excellent evening meals.
Tuesday saw us making our way into Glasgow. We were joined on the coach by a delightful guide who led us on a wonderful winding route through the city with an amazing amount of information along the way. At the end of the two-hour tour it was a quick hop to the river and our second activity of the day. We arrived at the Riverside Museum which is a fascinating collection of all forms of transport housed in a very pleasant modern building. Plenty for everyone to explore at their own pace and a good cafe for lunch at the end. Leaving the museum building on the water side there is a tall ship moored which was interesting to wander around. It has to be mentioned that all this took place in brilliant sunshine which showed everything off at its best. A compulsory ice cream for many was enjoyed while awaiting our transport home.
Wednesday saw us heading for Dumfries House in Ayrshire in glorious sunshine yet again. The house was most imposing on approach in beautiful gardens and we were enthused to begin our tour. Inside we were greeted by HRH Prince Charles who gave us a short history of the house and renovation in which he has been heavily involved. (Well, OK it was a video). We were split into small groups lead by delightful guides for our tour of the house which very much has the feel of a lived-in house rather than a museum. Mind you, we were very firmly requested not to sit on any of the £1.4 million Chippendale chairs! At the end of the tour we had time for a quick walk round the gardens and were sorry to leave. However, had we known the delights in store for the afternoon we would not have minded so much.
We were on our way to the World Heritage Site of New Lanark, founded as a cotton spinning village in the 1700s. The whole area (bathed in sunshine of course) was so attractive and one hardly knew where to start. After lunch we all went our separate ways to explore the various options, including a visit to the Scotland tapestry and a delightful walk along the river to view the rapids and waterfalls. Ice creams before boarding the coach seemed to be a popular choice once again.
The week is flying by and we are already at Thursday. Another treat visiting the House for an Art Lover by Charles Rennie Mackintosh. We were greeted and directed round the house by a delightful and very knowledgeable young man. This house is so different to all the usual historic houses and one certainly needs the information provided to get the most out of the visit. Once again we saw the house at its best sitting in beautiful grounds, bathed in sunshine. We were back on the coach after a welcome cup of coffee discussing what we had just seen. Some of the ladies wondered if we could really live with no ledges for our knicknacks!
Our afternoon treat was a cruise on Loch Lomond. We had a boat to ourselves with lunch provided and just a little information along the way. The magnificent scenery spoke for itself and the weather was good enough for most folk to choose an outside seat. Towards the end of our two-hour cruise we had a little cloud and (oh no) a few drops of rain. However that was very short lived and we were back to the hotel in sunshine.
Our last day was to Edinburgh. A visit had been arranged for us to the parliament building. We were seated in the almost empty building and addressed by a guide who was most informative and knowledgeable. The building is very modern and impressive and one could certainly envisage the excitement and atmosphere on sitting days. The whole area round the building is good to explore, being next door to Holyrood House, so the ancient meeting the modern. Our group split up for the rest of the day — some taking in the sights of the castle, medieval town, etc., others enjoying a little retail therapy and others an organised tour of the royal yacht Britannia. Many of the group had been on the yacht before, but those for whom it was a first enjoyed it immensely.
The last evening of our Probus holidays are always special, as was the case this year. There was an address by our President including some rather good jokes and many thanks to the hotel staff, driver, etc.
Our long journey home was made less tiresome by a delightful couple of hours in Cartmel. The atmosphere in town was quite special with lots of young families enjoying the sun, an antiques fair and plenty of outdoor seating for lunch. Such a lovely little town to wander round, pick up an odd postcard, purchase some sticky toffee pudding and of course partake of an ice cream.
It would seem that everyone had enjoyed this trip enormously and we all send our sincere thanks to Jan and John for all the research, planning and organisation.
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