Holiday: Day 1: Scotland (2022) – Heading for Troon (1/4)

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Morning Readers! ?. Hope Thursday finds you both well! ?

Day 1 – Thursday, 19th May

During the night (presumably to prepare us for Scotland) the rain put in an appearance, promptly followed by a few encores! ?. It made for a poor night’s sleep with the rain hammering on our skylight window. What a contrast to yesterday’s glorious day!

Breakfast View #1

Still, weather aside, our day began well with a hearty breakfast before we said goodbye to our overnight stop at Willowbeck Lodge.

Breakfast View #2

In a footnote to our stay, here is some additional information for those of you who might follow in our footsteps. As lovely as it was, and as hospitable and as friendly the staff were – the room we chose was just too small. Our 12′ x 12′ ‘roomette’ (called ‘Maple’) was bordering on claustrophobic. When you have to remember to close the bathroom door for fear of a head-on collision with your bed-edge together with the room’s sloping roof and single Velux-type window – there was no need to unpack the cat (the swinging variety!) as it was obvious that it was all a real challenge just to move around! Luckily, they do have larger rooms. Combine all the above with WiFi speeds struggling to hit 5Mbps and mobile speeds close to just half of that, then you can say goodbye to any serious connectivity.

9.36am: We left Carlisle and headed northwest to our first holiday stop in Troon (population c15000) – around 110 miles away.

Och Aye!

9.45am: We crossed the border into Scotland! ???????

Forecast for Troon

Just like yesterday, we couldn’t check in to our new accommodation – this time, The Salt Lodge – until late afternoon, so we arranged a tour of Dumfries House en-route in Cumnock.

Dumfries House

11.20am: Part of the Prince’s Foundation, Dumfries House, is an 18th-century posh pile, and is snuggled in amongst some 2000 acres of land. It’s a popular attraction, so popular in fact, you can’t just ‘turn up’ – pre-booking is essential.

But let’s first address the ‘elephant in the House’ – In spite of its name, its nowhere near Dumfries!! It seems that in 1748, one William Crichton-Dalrymple was determined to use the name anyway as the ‘5th Earl of Dumfries’.

We booked the 12-noon tour that lasted about an hour. Unfortunately, no photography was allowed, but take it from us, it’s impressive inside.

There was around 12 of us on the tour, and after a short introduction by Prince Charles himself (on DVD!), we were shown around some of the rooms by one of their very enthusiastic tour guides. We didn’t get his name, but he was ably assisted by ‘Scott’ (of course!) ?

Maybe a little history first: The House was completed in 1760 for just under £8000 (about £1.2m in today’s money) and through the years, three men were significant in its rise, rise, fall and rise! ?

The Adams brothers for the design, Robert Weir Scultz for the understated extension in 1897 (understatement wasn’t usually his thing!) and HRH Prince of Wales in 2007 for its timely rescue after the estate ‘lost its way’. The operation began in 2004 after the last resident, Lady Eileen Bute died (1993) and the House was eventually opened to the public in 2008.

The rescue of the Estate was clearly a mammoth project, requiring deep pockets. Neither the mighty National Trust nor English Heritage chose to get involved! ?

One of the House’s major claims to fame is that it contains 10% of ALL the authentic Chippendale furniture made by Thomas Chippendale in the UK! One piece – a sideboard – was estimated to be worth £12m (as a minimum – and that was 12 years ago!) ?. I hadn’t appreciated that Thomas Chippendale actually created a book with all his designs in, for others to freely copy, so to have all originals here, was quite something! ?

It was an excellent tour all round and just a shame there weren’t more rooms open to the public. Still worth the visit though! ?

1.10pm: Time to look round the grounds – and they didn’t disappoint!

We started with The Arboretum. We didn’t count them, but there are apparently 500 trees spanning 10 acres. Prior to PC’s involvement, it was a boggy and marshy mass of trees and scrub – an amazing transformation!

Next stop was the ‘Queen Elizabeth II Walled Garden’. I think it was the largest Walled Garden we’ve even seen! Very impressive!

Even the veg patch was enormous! ?

2.25pm: Time to move on. We were both impressed by how the House and the surrounding area had been rescued. An amazing feat whichever way you look at it! The House and Gardens are a major employer in the area too – the second larges in the area (after Ayrshire Council).

The Salt Lodge, Troon

The view from Lodge 7

3:05pm: Well, here we are The Salt Lodge, so close to the sea, I’m sure I’ll need to wear flippers in bed (or is that just an excuse?) ?

This is a seriously tasteful room. No expense has been spared and there was even bubbly in the fridge (as well as milk) – now that’s what I call getting your priorities right! ?. As I write this, the car is on a free charge just opposite Reception, so that’s one less thing to sort out! ??

We’re here for four days and we have a list (what a surprise… NOT!) ? to cover many of the cultural spots within an hour’s drive as we can! In many cases, it’ll be an opportunity to give our National Trust for Scotland cards a real workout. Our tentative list includes Robert Burns Museum (in Alloway), a visit to the Isle of Arran, Brodick Castle and Culzean Castle (in Maybole)… and maybe even more! ???

Techy note: WiFi in the room @ 10-15 Mbps/on the phone (4G) 15-30 Mbps.

See you tomorrow! ??

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