/ Scotland2016

Mon - The Curse of Arran

OK this is getting stupid, we may have to run to England to escape the curse we are currently under.

I'm getting ahead of myself again, first things first. It's time to move on from Muirkirk and after yesterday's unsuccessful Sunday lunch forage we decide to go to a town known for its food, Castle Douglas in Galloway, just west of Dumfries.

It's a pleasant, sunny drive down through the rural cattle land of Ayrshire. Despite being a Bank Holiday (we believe it is such in Scotland as well as England) we pass a local butcher advertising pies etc so have an excellent sausage roll for lunch. The road south is good too, a new surface much of the way and long straights. However we have picked the time where the local power company is laying cables beneath the road surface. Since the cables are just crossing the road not running parallel then the road works are short-lived but they seem to be doing this every couple of miles so we encounter several such breaks in our otherwise good run.

Rather than make a beeline for Castle Douglas we have more than enough time to drive through the Galloway National Forest towards Wigtown. The forest is a lovely drive, much like the New Forest. We are driving along part of the Galloway Red Kite trail. We fail to see one. This is also an area with Red Squirrels. We fail to see one. Finally we do see red, Red Deer, a first for us, at a Forestry feeding station (similar to the one at Bolderwood in the New Forest). An interesting drive too with lots of good bends. One was made far more interesting than need be by meeting a Merc traveling far, far faster than safe exiting a bend well on our side of the road. Oh well I suppose we know the van's brakes work. I may well have let it a wee swearie-word too!

So far the Curse Of Arran seems to have deserted us but then it starts! Wigtown is Scotland's book capital, a northern Hay-on-Wye. It is also the first large town we've stopped at that has public loos and we've been driving a while. The ladies are closed for repair but we could do with a coffee and I spot a Brew Dog bar just across the way. Oh, most excellent, several good, different craft beers to choose from. A half of something interesting would go down even better than a coffee and they will definitely have the now urgently needed toilet. Except for the fact that they don't open on a Monday. This is a pub, one of the few in Scotland that has interesting beer and it doesn't open on a Monday!!! But wait a paragraph or so, gentle reader, and discover how the curse really hits home.

Wigtown's book shops doesn't seem like bookshops. Many seem like houses with books in, some like cafes with books in. One smallish looking shop advertises itself as Scotland's largest bookshop. On inside this tardis there are a lot more rooms than we expected and a lot of books. We didn't buy any!

Castle Douglas is Scotland's food town. I know this because it says so on its website. It is certainly home to Sulwath Brewery, still going strong after 20 years it is one of the UK's most venerable micro-breweries. So the plan tonight is, park up, leave the van just after 6, a couple of pints at the Sulwath Brewery Bar and then some nice local produce at some small restaurant. Ah but, The Curse Of Arran [ cue suitable "dun dun dooon music"]. Sulwath Brewery does have a bar, it is open on a Monday. But it shuts at 6pm - hopefully no local magistrates are reading this but the owner took pity on us and sold us a half, to share.

Still we can find a nice restaurant [sinister music plays once again]. Not really, there is an Indian, a Greek and a Chinese but apart from the local fish and chip shop nothing selling such rare delicacies as local fish or farm produce. We stop in one of the many hotels, standard pub fare with sub-standard liquid classed as beer. In desperation we try the Co-op or Tescos for a ready roasted chicken to take back to the van. Nope!

I have to admit depression has set in at this point. As the hunter/gatherer leader of our tribe I had failed to source Sunday lunch and now Monday was a washout. Was this the point where I walk out to a lonely place never to be heard from again? No, the Market Hotel seems to have reasonable food. Never mind the crap beer, we'll drink wine. It was actually quiet good and huge portions.

Back to the van and the last of the Aldi whisky.