The Farmer’s Almanac tells me that today is the Autumn Equinox. Goodbye summer, hello fall! But with us it was still birthday season. To round up last week’s celebrations, we treated ourselves to an overnight getaway to the West Coast, to Helensburgh in Argyll & Bute. Our first stop was an unscheduled one for the Dafter, at the services in Stracathro. I thought my farther-afield readers might like to see a photo of the slogan emblazoned along the building:
“Ye may gang faur and fare waur” in translation is: “You may go far and fare worse”. We didn’t eat there so I can’t say!
Helensburgh is a very pretty town, built on a hill stretching down to the Clyde. It has beautiful tree-lined streets and a great number of the houses are enormous Victorian mansions built by wealthy Glaswegians in the 19th century. We stayed in one such house:
Despite its imposing architecture, “Westward” was a lovely, comfy and very welcoming family B&B. One of the very best we’ve stayed in, in fact. Would you ever guess from the porch that Denise and her family had lived in Australia for some time?
We slept in a roomy and very pleasing family suite, on comfy beds with beautiful linens and towels. (Well, we didn’t sleep with the towels, but it was tempting!) In the morning, we had breakfast in a charming room:
Like his mistress, Geo the cat was extremely welcoming:
Geo, like our Tilly, has not always had an easy life. But he sure is good at purring!
We felt so at home in Denise’s house – which isn’t always the case when travelling with a child. I particularly loved the examples of beautiful needlework all around:
Our breakfast was absolutely delicious. Michael relished the bacon and black pudding, and the Dafter and I enjoyed being vegetarian and eating everything else.
Sunday was a driech day, but I very much enjoyed my walk to church:
Even on a rainy day the seafront view was not without its charms, I thought. I especially like the wee palm trees – hopeful!
And this was crying out for an act of defiance:
I went to church for the first time at a Christian Science church, which I found very fascinating. (No, they have nothing to do with Scientology. Yes, the church was founded by Mary Baker Eddy in 19th-century Boston. Yes, they are Christians.) At the church I met up with a dear friend, who treated us all to a delicious lunch.
Last of all, we went to visit Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s masterpiece, the Hill House. This house was built for the Blackie family, who were publishers. It sits right at the top of the town, looking out over the Clyde:
Sadly for my blog, one isn’t allowed to take photos inside the house. So I will have to direct you to the National Trust for Scotland’s page about the Hill House, which shows you some of the interiors (click on the photos). It is amazing to think that the house was built in 1902. It still seems so modern – it must have been completely mind-blowing 108 years ago. I loved the stencilled walls, the inset stained glass, the beautiful woodworked ornamentation, and the embroidery.
Going around the outside of the house, I found many pleasing details:
And I was very struck by how Mackintosh seemed to have used architectural elements of Scottish castles in his design. See how the below corner of Hill House, with its rounded turret and small windows, resembles Craigievar Castle, for example:
We had to tear ourselves away to drive back to Aberdeen. We took the Drymen road, which was very beautiful:
And I will leave you with this rather stunning view of Stirling Castle as one approaches from the West:
We got home in good time for the Dafter’s bedtime. And it really felt as if we’d been away far longer than just a night.