I have local, regional and national maps of Scotland lying out across the bed, and I wish to share some of the cool-sounding names of nearby towns. There is Inverkeithing and Lochgelly, Kirkcaldy and Ladybank, Dunblane and Dunkeld, to name but a few. And there are more familiar names like Dundee and Inverness, Berwick and Aberdeen. These names evoke a sense of charm, and it is even more heartening to hear them pronounced by locals who think there is nothing special in speaking them.
Our first excursion beyond our base in Kinross is a thirty minute bus trip to Perth, population 45,000, located central to all of Scotland. We are apartment hunting, and after checking out half a dozen property agencies, we have strolled through much of the quaint town. Our stroll took us along the River Tay and afforded us a great view of the iconic Perth Bridge which opens out to the North Sea. Thus, we learned that although Perth sits well into Scotland’s interior, it is also a seaport.
We were warmly greeted as we peeked into the 800 year old St. John’s Kirk (Church of Scotland) where the Presbyterian Church got its start during the Reformation in the 1500’s. We were offered a guided tour, but we opted for their self-guided walkthrough. Congregation members eagerly answer all questions. They want people to know the Kirk is not only a historic monument, but also a working church.
Just beyond St. John’s Kirk is High Street, a pedestrian promenade chock full of shops and restaurants. We are drawn to a tea shop with a cheery lavender-colored storefront called Curiositeaz. Their vegetable soup-of-the-day was a fortunate choice because we had left room for scones for dessert. I opted for the cherry-almond. Florence ordered the raspberry-white chocolate. Other dessert options will have to wait for a return trip, and if we end up in Perth that will likely happen.
The Cashmere Woolen Mill is just a 15 minute walk down the road from our hotel. Although the mill is not open for tours, they have a retail store where Florence got a pair of sumptuously soft Cashmere gloves and I picked up a merino wool pullover. The mill, which used to employ 2,500 workers, now operates with only 250 workers. We are told automation has accounted for much of the downsizing. Nonetheless, they keep manufacturing wool. Perhaps they need the wool to keep making kilts.
Florence insists she needs a photograph of me in a kilt, which I am not excited about. I guess we will have to see who prevails in the matter. Our Scotland adventures continue as we have booked a week’s stay in Edinburgh. We look forward to experiencing the big city and all it has to offer.
Happy Independence Day to my fellow Americans!