Sunday, 29 July 2018

Creeping about Craignethan Castle

So, we had intended to do the jousting today at Caerlaverock Castle today - an event I had really been looking forward to, but with the hubby on antibiotics for a chest infection and myself fighting off a cold, the predicted forecast of 98% chance of heavy rain and thunder just meant it was a no-go. A two hour drive to stand in the rain, whilst most weekends wouldn't deter me, was just not going to happen. Guaranteed we'd have all gotten grumpy with one another and just ruined the whole weekend!

We've done pretty much all out 'local' dog friendly castles, and have been scoping those further afield but still within sensible day-tripping distance - at 45 minutes away and promising a riverside walk in addition to a day wondering about a castle, we settled on giving Craignethan Castle a shot. 

Its a stout little castle that isn't done justice in the photos. One of the most intact of the ruins about the central belt, its boasts plenty of spiralling staircases up towers and down into cellars. We timed our visit well, arriving just as another couple were leaving, so basically we had the place to ourselves. We allowed Missy off the lead owing to the very narrow spiral staircases, and explored some of the peculiar features of the castle - particularly the caponier (the only surviving one in Scotland, apparently) which is basically a roofed building in a ditch for shooting people from.

Unsurprisingly, with it being designed by James Hamilton of Finnart, the kings master of works in the 1500's, its the most 'modern' of the castles in the area. With only the roof really missing, and the majority of the internal castle intact, its genuinely interesting to see how an architect of castles would build their own home. It was recently home to a badger, a story that went viral, and they were keen to keep the momentum going with a badger themed kids quiz and a badger sticker should you get the questions all right. We helped Missy with the quiz, and were pleased to come away with a sticker for the effort - certainly one of the most enjoyable quizzes we've done for a while! Altough Missy is barred from badgers, her last encounter with one left her with a lot of stitches and left the ubby and I with a rather large vet bill! Cute animals, but dangerous!

Within the grounds of the castle is the entrance to Netham Gorge, a mile long riverside walk into the nearby village. We were over confident of ourselves, and found the trail very steep with lots and lots of steps - a good walk, but perhaps not suitable with all the rain we've had! Missy had a tremendous time running through the undergrowth and hunting voles and bunnies. The village didn't turn up anything dog friendly but, as it was hammering with rain by that point, we didn't venture far, so I cant say that is the case for sure! Turning round, we all headed back to the car and dried off on the drive home.

Now for a well deserved cup of tea (or two) whilst we wait for a gap in the weather for Missy's evening walk - not that I think she's worried about one as she's fast asleep on the sofa in her dressing gown!

Sunday, 22 July 2018

Dunfermline Abbey and Palace

It was another Historic Scotland site this weekend with Dunfermline Abbey and Palace. The weather has cooled down a little but is still bright and warm, just perfect for days out strolling about castles and graveyards and absolutely ideal for Missy who loves sunshine, but not heat.

The site is split into three parts - the palace, the abbey and the knave, and each part is a distinct building on its own. We were a bit confused at where we were to be at first as the knave is attached to the back of a working church and there was a Canadian pipe band practising for a march, so the area was much busier than we expected! We found the Historic Scotland shop though and got ourselves in. The chap running the site was great, we asked about areas Missy might not be allowed in, and he was happy to give her full reign of the place (though obviously not the actual working church!) and offered to let us into the palace through the gardeners gate if we wanted owing to the spiral staircase being very tight. We declined the offer and, though Missy managed the narrow stairs, next time I would just go through the gate - they were very narrow indeed and she wasn't very keen on getting down them!

The palace and the abbey are predominantly ruins. One wall and the foundations remain on both sites and the knave itself is completely intact. All of the signs are well written and illustrated and, as always, the hubby and I helped Missy with the kids quiz. She's doing well on her history lessons and I think she enjoyed the break from the usual central-belt history of the various Douglas clans and Mary Queen of Scots. Instead we learned about St Margaret in the original church and then about Queen Anne who had it expanded and rebuilt in the 1500's.

After we covered all three parts of the site (and Missy was perplexed as to why we would want her posing in a fireplace), we went for a lovely walk through the adjacent Pittencrieff park. There was a Chinese garden, an Italian garden, large areas of lawn, lots of forestry bits and, most importantly, hundreds of squirrels. A sign warned of free roaming peacocks, but no other dogs were on leads and there was no peacocks to be seen, so we allowed Missy to stretch her legs and brush off the cobwebs and go for a good run. There was a big King Charles Spaniel meet up going on (there was about twenty dogs) and lots of other playful pooches trying to distract Missy from her squirrel conquest.

After that we went for a bumble through the town centre (a few very nice craft shops, lots of places to eat, usual sort of thing) and then called it a day. It had been getting progressively nicer and warmer as the day had gone on and we figured it would be nice to spend the last few ours of sunshine out in the garden.

In other news, I've been getting back into my sewing (I have a few projects I cant share just yet), but I was really pleased to put together this little dress for myself:

Sloths, koalas and pandas? And pockets! And a pretty bow! What more does a dress need? I've finally figured out how to use the tailors dummy as more than just a coat hook to drape my latest project on. Its a hobby I'm constantly learning in, and with my next big project being an Edwardian boating coat, I'm sure I'll continue learning for a while to come!

Saturday, 21 July 2018

A List of Adventures!

Looking for somewhere a bit more unusual to take your four legged friends? It can be difficult scrawling through web pages trying to look for dog policies in places that someone somewhere has obscurely mentioned may be dog friendly, so to save everyone time, I've put together all of Missy's adventures into a list (broken by region) to hopefully save everyone else a little stress.

Missy out ghost hunting at the abandoned asylum!
Please share any suggestions of places we've yet to discover ourselves across the UK - Missy is always on the lookout for new adventures!


Edinburgh and the Lothians:

Beecraigs Country Park
Antonine Wall/Falkirk Wheel
Bangour Village Hospital (abandoned asylum)
Union Canal (Ratho - Edinburgh)
Hermand Beechwood
Cramond Island
Cairns Castle
Cammo Estate
Korean War Memorial and Witchcraig Woods

Camera Obscura and World of Illusion
Summerhall Gallery
Almond Valley Heritage Centre
National Museum of Flight
Muiravonside Country Park
Bo'Ness and Kinneil Railway
Scottish Seabird Centre

Historic Scotland Sites:
Blackness Castle
Craigmillar Castle
Linlithgow Palace
Crichton Castle
Tantallon Castle (revisit)
Dirleton Castle and Gardens (revisit)
Dunfermline Abbey and Palace
Craignethan Castle
Thistle Knights Tours (Edinburgh Ghost Walk)

Bathgate Highland Games
Linlithgow Jousting
Siege on the Forth
Edinburgh Kiltwalk
Arthurs Ambles
Prepare to give Fire!
Dalkeith Show
40s/50s day @ Bo'Ness Railway

Kingdom of Fife:



Historic Scotland Sites:

Glasgow, Clyde and Ayrshire:


Historic Scotland Sites:

Perth, Kinross and Angus:


Historic Scotland Sites:
Huntingtower Castle (dogs not permitted in buildings)

Central and West:



Historic Scotland Sites:

Dumfries and Galloway:


Crawick Multiverse

Historic Scotland Sites:

North and Grampian:

Culloden (dogs must be kept on leads)

Landmark Adventure Park
Jacobite Cruise Loch Ness
Dunnator Castle

Historic Scotland Sites:
Corgarff Castles (dogs not permitted in buildings)
Fort George (dogs not permitted in buildings)
Clava Cairns

National Trust Sites:
Crathes Castle (dogs not permitted inside)


Greater Manchester:




The Lakes:

Grizedale Forest
Whinlatter Forest


If you've found somewhere fun to go through this blog, Missy and I would love to hear about it - please let us know and share your travels with us!

Saturday, 14 July 2018

New Lanark

Whilst not technically a dog friendly attraction, we had a great day at New Lanark. This is one of those funny places for me - I have a childhood nostalgia of New Lanark, and just assumed it was one of those places everyone had done a million times, and for nostalgic sake was never too worried about going back just in case it wasn't as good as I remembered. Well, turns out it's not the place everyone in Scotland has been, perhaps in the central belt, but the hubby who grew up in Dundee had never heard of it until recently and, every time we drive south and pass it, he points it out and states we should go sometime.

Well, sometime was eventually this weekend! The weather has cooled, making a day trip out with Missy a bit more feasible, but it's still nice enough for shorts and t-shirts, meaning that it's still pleasant for us humans to walk about all day. A quick Google trawled up some old TripAdvisor posts stating that dog were allowed in the village, but not the buildings. I can confirm that that is still the case! Dogs are also not allowed on the tours (which was a pity, but fair enough) and apart from that, so long as you follow the usual dog-about-town rules, you're all good for a lovely day!

New Lanark itself is a marvellous little cotton-mill village nestled against the Clyde and is historically important more for the way it was run than the actual buildings (which are now listed and protected). As a quick overview, Robert Owen (the owner of the mill) encouraged the idea that a happy workforce was the best workforce - he had a school and insisted all children until 10 (preferably 12) remain in full time education, and held classes in the evenings for the adults to also learn to read and write. It holds the title of having the worlds first workplace nursery and a workplace sick-fund, so therefore free healthcare. Very forward thinking for 1817!

Missy with 'Annie'
In order to demonstrate what life was like at the mill, they have a 'ride' where you meet Annie Macleod, a little girl who lived at the mill, and she explains how it was different to other mills before getting to walk through part of the working mill. They have restored the schoolhouse, Robert Owens house, the village shop and mocked up some of the tenements so that you can see how life changed from the 1800s to the 1900s. As Missy wasn't allowed inside each of these areas, the hubby and I took turns going in whilst the other walked her. A word to the wise, organise meeting points, the phone signal is pretty non-existent and we wasted a lot of time at the beginning walking about in circles trying to find one another!

With both a race and a wedding on, it got very busy after lunch. There is access to the Clyde Falls (via a lovely woodland walk), so after we had seen everything, we let Missy stretch her paws along the river and all went looking for dipper birds and herons together. A perfect way to end our little impromptu day out!

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Prepare to give Fire!

Its that time of year when all the activities and events are on - and with the tremendously good weather, I've found myself wanting to do all of them! Today, my friend, Missy and I did the Prepare to give Fire! event at Dirleton Castle. Ironically, it wasn't that long ago I last visited this castle, but it seemed worth the trip as the other Historic Scotland events this weekend were at non-doggy castles.

Right from the start it was a scorching day and, sunscreen liberally applied, we arrived early and got a chance to chat with the reinactors - they're great people, and are always friendly. Missy stole cuddles off of a chap in a very dandy hat and enjoyed getting fussed over. They all checked if Missy would be alright with the noise and, after explaining that the only thing that upset her last year at the Seige on the Forth was the petard, they all agreed that it was the noisiest and reassured me that whilst it was on display, there wasn't any intention of setting it off.

There was the canon demonstration at midday, so we watched that before looking about the castle. With us both being into out photography, I'm ashamed to say that we took more photos of the flowers than the castle itself! It was a nice break getting into the cool castle and then it was back into the sun to meet the barber surgeon.
Lets put it this way, with or without medical help, chances were you weren't going to make it - getting help was probably a more painful way to go!

We found a nice cool spot under some trees and chilled out together until two when it was the musket demonstration. Whilst Missy was absolutely fine temperature wise, she had clearly had enough by that point. I'm not going to complain that its too hot (no one wants to be that person), but what it has been is simply too long and she's been getting tired easily. My friend suggested the beach and, with Yellowcraigs only a mile away, it seemed like a great idea.

We may make a beach dog out of her yet! Getting into some cool water is exactly what she needed and we all had fun splashing about in the shallows. The waves are still too daunting for her, but she certainly went deeper this time before playing with the other dogs about the beach.

A perfect end to the day!

Monday, 2 July 2018

A Busy Weekend!

Well, it's been a busy weekend! The hubby and his friend were going to a wrestling show in Manchester on the Sunday, so politely asked to gatecrash at my sisters, at which point I decided to gatecrash the weekend too and get a chance to hang out with family. We had planned a doggy beer festival and the Dogs Trust Doggy Fun Day down in Manchester whilst visiting my sister, but the weather has worked against us! I think we all love the notion of an endless Indian Summer, but the reality is that at 30C all day every day, life in our temperate little county ceases.

We arrived Saturday morning and were told that the beer festival was quite far away and it wouldn't be fair to put dogs and small children into the car for so long, which we all agreed was a sensible thought (especially after driving so long anyway!) so we did the local festival (or gala day as we call them back home). It was a good shout, the weather had hit high 20s so we stuck to the shade and mooched about the stalls taking our time.  I paid for my niece to play in the bouncy castle and my sister bought a crepe for me and we enjoyed them together watching her play whilst the hubby and brother-in-law had burgers. Missy was more interested in the burger, as was my nephew who is a true one year old carnivore.
The highlight of the festival was a Punch and Judy show. I haven't seen one since I was a kid and had thought the PC brigade had banned them completely (killjoys) so was more excited about it than the kids. It wasn't PC in the slightest, although Judy hit Punch more than he hit her and the puppeteer, realising we were totally game, basically trolled the hubby all the way through the show, calling him out, getting him to say hello to all the characters and even sing with the crocodile - he took it in his stride (the hubby, not the crocodile) and we had a great laugh.

A private meeting between cat and dog?
Sunday we had the sensible, but unfortunate news that the dog fun day had been cancelled - with at least 29C forecast, it was deemed unsafe for the dogs and was going to be rescheduled. Whilst we agreed it was for the better to cancel, and appreciated that the welfare of the dogs came first, we had hammed up the idea of a day with lots of dogs and that we'd enter Missy into the waggiest tail competition to my niece and, no matter how sensible the logic, when you are four, if you've been promised a waggiest tail competition no reason is good enough for it to get cancelled. A hunt on Google using all the different key words we could think of didn't throw up anything indoors that Missy could come along to, and eventually I found a beach themed dog cafe called Central Bark - the day was saved!

It was basically a doggy day care/dog friendly cafe rolled into one and had a lengthy list of milkshakes and a varied menu that catered to everyone in the group. We skipped on the doggy day care and enjoyed the indoors beach theme and met lots of other dogs. The BIL has the very common phobia of dogs after being nipped as a child by a German Shepherd, so it was good to see him actually enjoying the canine company and that the phobia wasn't going to be passed on as both niece and nephew patted and hugged the dogs and gave them all popcorn. So the niece got the doggy day she wanted and my sister got to top up on doggy cuddles!
We then went onto the local park and let the kids play for a bit before getting back to the house before the heat of the day struck. It was ice creams and a dip in the paddling pool after that, rounding off a very good day (although Missy skipped the paddling pool and alternated between sunbathing and chilling out indoors on the sofa). With it being so hot, what we all needed was a more chilled out day, so it was absolutely perfect. My hubby and his friend went to the wresting and I played board games with my sister and BIL - we beat Pandemic and just had a really nice time hanging out together.

My sister had work today and the kids had nursery, so it was a quick morning and lots of cheerios and goodbyes before waiting for the traffic to pass and catching up with the BIL. We went back to Central Bark this morning for breakfast before going on the road again and opted for an hours 'soft play' for Missy so that the grownups could catch up. The location is convienent enough that, on our next visit down, we'll probably use the full day doggy day care so that we can do a non-doggy day - an option that's very useful as trying to get something to suit a young family and a dog can be difficult!
Although, with the BIL deeming a pug we nicknamed 'Haggis' as his spirit animal, I suspect they will be back before us!

A really good weekend, even though it completely failed to go to plan!