Friday, June 01, 2007

Happy Returns

So now to report back on the anniversary weekend.

Mrs Wife set off from sunny Montrose on the Saturday morning, bound for Gretna but with no accommodation booked. In hindsight, this probably wasn't the smartest move, given that it was a Bank Holiday weekend and we were heading for a town popular with wedding parties.

Nonetheless, we arrived at the Tourist Information office at Gretna Gateway Village (a discount retail park offering clothes, houshold goods and food at knockdown prices) and the kind ladies managed to find us what seemed to be the last B&B room in the whole of Dumfries and Galloway. Except that it was in England, but only by a mile.

We'd only been to Gretna once, passing through en route to visiting Mrs Wife's family down south. In truth, there isn't much to see - the Old Blacksmith's Shop and the retail village are about the extent of Gretna's attractions, at least outwith the football season.

So instead of hanging around, we visited Carlisle on the Saturday evening, where gruesome hen parties marauded the streets in search of fresh meat. There's a strange mix of accents in the Borders: native Scots mingling with the broad Geordie brogue, which can make drinking in the area a surreal experience.

Starved of excitment in Gretna, we visited Dumfries on our anniversary, where we turned our hands and feet to go-karting. Needless to say, male driving skills won the day, and I left Mrs Wife trailing in my wake (twice), despite crashing during an audacious overtaking manouvre.

In Dumfries we also saw a charity raft race on the river Nith, which given the cold wind and rain, seemed foolhardy at best.

Other local landmarks we visited were the camera obscura, our visit coinciding with one of the day's few dry spells, Robert Burns' house and his mausoleum.

For some reason, I didn't even know that Burns had a mausoleum - I thought he'd been buried in an unmarked pauper's grave. Which just goes to show how ignorant I am - his tomb is a majestic white building with locked gates and a statue of the man himself. This is doubly ignorant considering that I may be related to Scotland's most famous son.

Sunday's anniversary meal was a splendid affair in Smith's at Gretna Green, a luxurious hotel that doesn't seem to fit in with the rest of the village.

We had no plans for our journey home, but decided that a trip to Blair Drummond Safari Park near Stirling was as good a way to spend the afternoon as any.

I have hazy recollections of visiting the park with Mither and Faither as a wee boy, and of monkeys climbing on the roof and bonnet of the car. There were no monkeys this time around, but we did get VERY close to a pride of lions. We watched as several lionesses wandered past our window, followed by a male lion. The male stopped right beside Mrs Wife's passenger window, where he showed his disdain for us by pissing on our bonnnet. There was no question - we were his bitches.

So, in a car smelling of lion piss, we headed back to less-than-sunny Montrose, stopping only to watch the third installment of the Pirates of The Caribbean series in Dundee. I was most keen to see Keith Richards playing a pirate, a role which he pulled off with aplomb - although it was hardly a departure from his daily life.

And there you have it - a weekend of mausoleums, rock'n'roll pirates, go-kart crashes and lion piss. My second anniversary will struggle to live up to that.


BobG said...

Sounds like a good time. Congratulations on your anniversary; I have been married almost 34 years, and have no regrets at all.

mirk said...

You had a good time then young sir.

Did you see autograph that Burns cut into the window glass at his house there?

Philip said...

Sounds like a great anniversary.

Mine's today!

mirk said...

I just remembered you were correct in thinking Burns was buried in a paupers grave.

It was only in the 18 hundreds the great burgers (probably all MacDonald's) of Scotland decided he needed to be remembered with a wee bit more esteem and built the mausoleum.

Now I wonder what clan the burghers are from :0)