Friday, November 26, 2010

day out in dunkeld

I made it back in one piece from the wilds of Perthshire, though I encountered many dangers. The first near-death experience occurred when I had to jump off the train onto the extremely low platform. After witnessing my clumsy manoeuvre, the station staff brought out the safety steps for the other passengers. Other near-death experiences followed, mainly involving me slipping on snow and ice a lot. It's sort of traditional for me to fall over in Dunkeld (once falling quite spectacularly down a hill, bruising my behind and getting a fit of the giggles, which morphed into embarrassing sobbing) so I did well to stay upright all day.
The first top sighting of the day occurred before we had even left the train station, when I spotted this classic postcard propped in the window of a station building. Addressed to "Ladies who pilates," it reads, "THUNDER, LIGHTNING, TORRENTIAL RAIN, TRADESMEN WITH DRILLS, NO TELEPHONE, NO TV, NO SUN. Having a lovely time - wish you were all here! Love D."
As you might expect in a small town on a snowy mid-week day, lots of Dunkeld was closed. We did a fair amount of peering through windows and were particularly disappointed that the vintage shop, both antique shops and the amateur art exhibition were all closed. There was plenty still open though, including the most wonderful looking shop that was closed for the day when we were in Dunkeld over the summer.
Here it is - the Blue Magpie. Gah! I can hardly tell you how lovely this shop is. The lady who owns it is obviously very artistic and everything is displayed so beautifully. She sells lots of materials and kits for sewing, knitting and crochet enthusiasts, as well as a whole range of handmade loveliness and vintage crafty bits and pieces. We weren't allowed to take any pictures inside, but I wish we could have so I could have shown you her beautiful displays. She had loads of lovely old shelves and drawers and cabinets full of jars and bits and pieces. She had crochet hooks displayed in cute woodland vintage vases. Everything was just gorgeous. We spent a long time oohing and aahing, but I was quite restrained and only bought myself a cute pencil sharpener and a few buttons, as well as a ladybird yoyo to put in with my niece's Christmas goodies. Even Graham did not leave empty-handed and bought himself some wind-up tin toys, declaring that he "liked toys with sharp edges."
This textile heart-shaped wreath was hanging outside the shop and gives you some idea of how lovely it might be inside. Graham was in a strangely chatty mood (I spent about 30 minutes lurking awkwardly as he waxed lyrical about northern soul with one shopkeeper) and was practically acting like my agent with the lady in this shop. By the time we left, I had agreed to send her some images of my work and some ideas for a window display. Ha ha! The thought of taking over the windows of such a lovely shop is amazing, but I do feel somewhat under-qualified/out of my depth, so I doubt I will be pursuing it. You never know though - if I was struck by genius... ;)
After a good wander round the streets and shops, we went to the pub in the top left of this photo for stovies. Sadly, there was a bona fide stovie disaster. Since we were there last, they had changed the vegetarian stovies from broccoli and stilton to veggie haggis, neeps and... mushroom gravy! Nooooo! The one thing I simply can not, will not, must not eat is mushrooms.
Graham got lovely Cullen skink stovies though. How much more Scottish can you get? Perhaps have it with a whisky? Oh, look, he did. I had very tasty macaroni cheese. I think I will have to make stovies soon to help me get over the disappointment. I haven't made stovies for ages. Last time I made them, I went to a dance class afterwards and spent the evening blushing as everybody complained that somebody smelled of soup. Oh dear.
On the way to the toilets, I stopped to peruse the selection of photographs and was particularly taken by this one of a man cutting his grass with a scythe.
This sign outside the men's toilets made me snigger. After stovies, we walked over to Birnam, which is kind of the neighbouring town/village, but more like part of the same town. Even the train station is called Dunkeld & Birnam. Birnam is very well connected to the world of literature, being home to the Beatrix Potter centre (she holidayed in the area all through her life and drew lots of the local wildlife) and to the Birnam woods, mentioned in Macbeth (the woods that walk, as prophesied by the witches). We went for coffee and cake, then holed up in a local pub while we waited for our train.
We played darts. It was the first time I had ever played. I wasn't any good at it really, but was better than I had imagined I would be. Most of my darts at least hit the board.
After that, we played quite a few games of pool and put some songs on the jukebox. I lost every game of pool I played, but then I always do. I think I have won one game of pool in my life and that was only because Graham potted the black. The jukebox had a fun function where you could search for songs by the date they were in the charts. I discovered that Geno by Dexys Midnight Runner was number one when I was born. Anyway, we had a fun time (drinking beer and Canadian Club a la Don Draper) until somebody...
..discovered the (unexpected) avant garde jazz section on the jukebox... Oh no. Cue 20 minute epics with no discernible beat or melody and the arrival of lots of puzzled locals. At least Graham had fun, sitting in his comfy chair and stroking his imaginary beard and, to be fair, one woman did thank him for adding a touch of sophistication to the place. Ha!
So, despite the cold weather, lack of mushroom-free stovies and the avant garde jazz, we had a lovely day in snowy Dunkeld. The end.


  1. Sounds ike the perfect day out ot me! I love Macbeth, after teaching it once I asked the kids what they'd learnt from it and one boy said, quite seriously, 'never trust a woman'. Genius x

  2. Aye, you're never too young to learn that valuable lesson... ;)

  3. I love going to Dunkeld too. I agree there are some fab shops there. I've never been in The Blue Magpie though. Must try to next time - it was closed last time I was there.

  4. Hi there,

    I have kept your interesting blog about Dunkeld up for some time. I am also a fibre artist and have been a veggie forever (am 52 now)
    I also recently became the new and very proud owner of the Atholl Arms Hotel (white one on corner)
    I thought you may be interested to know that I have implemented a new menu for the pub and it has loads of veggie options including a veggie burger. We are also going to make a vegan section in the kitchen and hope to get certification from the vegan society by the end of this year.Its quite strict, as it should be.
    My fibre art web site is and I hope to have some stuff on display in the hotel. I am always looking for artists to display their work so give me a shout if you would like to talk about that.
    Happy crafting...Christine

  5. Thanks, Christine. Sounds good! Though whether I can persuade Graham away from the stovies of your neighbours is another matter... :)


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