THE CASE OF THE MISSING SPECTACLES
The noise from the motorway traffic almost next to the Old Smithy was slightly more than noticeable, I suspect they have that tarmac down that makes a whistling sort of noise from the tyres. But maybe it was because the wind was in that direction as later on it became very quiet and I had a wonderful nights sleep, making up for the less than three hours of shut-eye the night before. I had worried I may have to move further up the carpark during the night if it got too windy as it is an exceptionally high and open spot here, but there was no real wind – and I know what real wind feels like now. There are huge numbers of blown over and fallen trees everywhere, I am not sure if that is normal for Scotland or if it has been an unusually windy winter.
Parked in the layby the night before last I felt so ill at ease that I didn't actually undress but just got under the top quilt fully dressed, even keeping my socks on (though I did take my shoes off!) But last night I had a lovely hot shower before popping into bed. I hadn't put the slides out, though there was plenty of room – I didn't want to look too cheeky. With the bedroom slide in its a case of clambering into bed, as the bed is then almost, though not quite, in front of the sliding bedroom door as it opens. And unless you are prepared to walk about on the bed the cupboards are a bit more difficult to access. I will get used to things and have them arranged better as time goes on.
Its another grey and wet morning but the view from here must be panoramic on a clear sunny day. I feel I should be able to 'see the sea' but the weather is too grey to see any real distance, even though I got the binoculars out. I cooked myself a nice breakfast and had plenty of tea and by then it wasn’t actually pouring down so I decided to take my camera back up for some more photos, I only had the phone with me yesterday, really not expecting to see much of interest at all but as you will see from the pictures they have made a real effort to make it a worthwhile stop
I was still the only vehicle in my part of the carpark though there were about twenty or so cars further up including a smart, large, multi seat taxi type. Everyone I passed had a carrier bag so they do a good trade here. One was a Japanese guy and when I gave him a cheery good-morning he looked astounded. There were a little group of young Japanese men and women wandering around, one girl came into the ladies as I was washing my hands. I expected her to be in the cubicle for ages as apparently the Japanese are a bit uptight about such things, but she was only a few seconds and rushed out without washing her hands. I can only assume she was so appalled by the lack of piped music and heated toilet seats that she intended to wait until she got back to Japan.
The ladies on the museum till recognised me from yesterday and though I was perfectly prepared to pay to go round again they insisted that I had already paid and was welcome to take another look. They even switched on the tape in the actual forge which I hadn't been able to see round owing to the wedding ceremony taking part in there, and a very interesting little talk it was too.
Forgive me if some of the dates are a year or two adrift but this is done from memory. Originally the ages for marriage in both England and Scotland were twelve for girls and slightly older for boys. Marriage was simply a case of stating the fact of wanting to be married in front of other people and you were married. By about 1750 England decided that marriages should be performed in church and in public and also that the marriage age be increased, and that those under the age of 21 could not wed without their parents consent. Scotland was invited to pass a similar law but declined saying that marriage was a private affair between two people and nothing to do with the church or the state, and under the Act of Union of 1702 Scottish laws held good in Scotland and England. So if you wanted to get married against your parents wishes, or presumable wed what we would now regard as an underage girl, you could do so and didn’t need a licence, banns or church. You could just go to Scotland state your intentions before anyone, and you were wed.
The Blacksmith's Shop here was at the meeting place of five major roads, and to those travelling by coach it would be an easy stop just over the border, though, through good marketing and publicity it has become known world wide.
Having got back to Thebus the sun was beginning to break through and as it was my intention to spend the night at a camping site near Coniston Water in the Lake District, after a minor contretemps with Strict Lady we got underway.
I am relaxing into the driving more, and as I have no need to rush anywhere as long as I am not specifically holding anyone up I feel I can go along at my own pace which at least gives me a little time to look round and take in the scenery. As we got down towards Cumbria some high hills on the east of the motorway were topped by snow, blindingly white in the now quite strong sunlight (must get some sunglasses – having done so little driving over the last few years I haven't needed them.)
I had been reading on the motorway services website about the southbound services at Tebay, which has its own farm shop and excellent food, and as Phoebe had just finished off the last of the Red Poll mince and stewing steak we brought with us supplies need to be replenished.
The services are more like an upmarket food hall and there is a beautifully appointed and quite luxurious cafeteria, and some jolly good food there is too. I bought some sirloin steak, a nice piece large enough for two reasonable meals for me and it was just over £5 – I asked the butcher what animals the beef was from and he said this weeks was from Belted Galloway (interestingly I didn't see one single Belted Galloway on my trip through Dumfries and Galloway)
I also had some Cumberland Sausage, and black pudding to try as a comparison with the black pudding from Scotland which looks quite different. A quatern of locally made Sour Dough bread, some Foccacio baked onsite with basil and tiny tomatoes, and a Scotch Pie which the lady behind the counter informed me was made with mutton and seasoning. I also bought Phoebe some brisket of beef which the nice butcher chopped into pieces for me and she turned her nose up at when I got back to Thebus.
We went off to fill up with Autogas, as the gauge was already nearly on empty. I had a bit of difficulty but a pleasant man engaged in washing down all the petrol pumps gave me a hand when I couldn't get the filler to uncouple. I had already re-programmed Strict Lady and switched her off and on again as she seemed intent on taking me back to Carlisle, so we were ready for the off. Hold on a minute – where were my driving glasses.
Searching high and low I couldn’t find them. I asked in the kiosk – no – not there. I drove back through the carpark against the traffic flow (fortunately it was quite quiet) and re-parked in the coaches area to retrace my steps inside and ask at all the counters I had visited. Nothing - but everyone was most helpful and took my mobile number in case they were handed in. I decided to pay for twenty four hour parking to give me time to ransack Thebus insides. And feeling too wound up to want to cook bought a couple of sandwiches.
On the Motorway Services reviews site lots of folk said although it was good and clean the prices were exorbitant. Now in general I find all prices exorbitant wherever I go – this comes from not having been anywhere much for the last twenty five years, plus having a naturally mean streak, but I thought for the quality offered the prices compared favourably with anywhere similar. I had a salad sandwich made from delicious fresh seeded bread, and bursting with fresh salad, rocket, lettuce, cucumber, grated carrot, tomatoes and red peppers – quite large, very fresh and costing £2.75 which I thought was perfectly reasonable value especially for a motorway service stop.
I looked everywhere I could think for the glasses including where I had taken Phoebe to 'stretch her legs' which was all she actually did do as there were too many lorries for her liking. Then back in Thebus I emptied all my coat and cardigan pockets, my handbags, the drawers, the computer bag everything and everywhere I could think of. Naturally I asked for St. Anthony’s help (the patron saint of lost things) and eventually I found them almost concealed beneath Phoebes Tuffies Nest. I think when I walked off to do the shopping, or more likely on my return her tail must have flicked them from their resting place on the dashboard.
Feeling much better I ate my sandwich and had a glass of wine as I felt I needed one, and also tried the Scotch Pie which was excellent and good value at £1.35. I shall go back tomorrow for a few more.
I am pleased in a way that I have stopped here overnight as I am now very close to the Lake District and it will allow me to explore it a little on the way to the Camping Site whereas I may have needed to rush to get there before dark. So everything works out for the best in the end, especially if it would stop raining for our travels tomorrow. Fingers crossed.
Old Blacksmith's Shop Gretna Green
Old Smithy Gretna Green
Gretna Green Anvil
Old Forge Gretna Green
Letter from Last Working Blacksmith at the Forge
Some of the Fine Collection of Carriages, Coaches and Other Anitque Transport in the Museum
If you click on the photos a larger image comes up
Big, Bigger, Biggest
Thebus parked up in the lorries and coaches section at Tebay Services
If you have to stop on the motorway I don't think you will find better than this
It was a grey day but I would think the views from the restaurant in the summer would be lovely.