Tag: history

A visit to Moffat and the Annandale Arms Hotel

Remember in my life update post I mentioned that I’d been to Scotland? The purpose of the trip was a meeting the husband needed to go to in East Kilbride, but he suggested we stay in a little town called Moffat. He’d been there before so was familiar with the area, and he booked us into the Annandale Arms Hotel, right in the middle of the High Street.

We arrived to a very warm and friendly welcome and, even though we were earlier than the allocated check in time, our room was ready so we were able to settle in. The hotel has a comfortably furnished reception area, good size dining room and a small bar.

Annandale Arms reception desk

Annandale Arms hotel reception

Annandale Arms lounge area

Annandale Arms cosy corner

The room was bright and airy with two huge sash windows, and the bathroom had a large powerful shower. It was quite obvious that everything had been recently refurbished, and to a good standard.

So, what’s in Moffat?

Not a lot really – as I mentioned it’s only a small town, but it’s very quaint. Picturesque houses, bunting in the street and some nice independent shops; unfortunately we hadn’t realised that Wednesday appears to be a half day for most of the retailers so we were restricted to browsing through the windows (of the shops, not the houses!)

Moffat quaint house

Moffat side street

Moffat Weavers Tweed Shop

Moffat pub and rooms

I did pick up a couple of good planting tips though. This chair planter would be easy to recreate – I’d paint it a bright pink colour I think.

Moffat chair planter

This quirky record planter made my vinyl purist husband shudder, such a waste of records! It wouldn’t hurt if they were rubbish ones though I don’t think?

Moffat record planter

There are a handful of teashops and quite a few pubs – we had lunch at the Rumblin Tum cafe, and then stopped off at the Black Bull for a drink – again recently refurbished and a lovely place to drink, eat or stay.

The old cemetery in Moffat is home to graves from the 1800s. I find old cemeteries fascinating – the detail on the graves of the family and the ages they died.

Moffat cemetary

Moffat cemetary view

There was a large memorial in the middle of the cemetery.

Memorial in Moffat cemetary

And this plaque outside on the gates.

Moffat cemetary sign

Devils Beef Tub is a 500 ft deep hollow formed by four hills. It’s a popular tourist walk these days, but in the 1800s it was obviously less traversable. John McAdam, mentioned, was the inventor or “macadamisation” – an effective and economical method of building roads which did much to improve travel and communication.

St Andrews church has been in situ for 125 years.

Moffat church

The Star Hotel is the narrowest hotel in the world! It’s in the Guinness Book of Records!

With the onset of rain and a strong breeze (typical that our trip coincided with the end of the heatwave!) we headed back to the Annandale Arms.

We ate dinner and breakfast in the hotel, and both meals were amazing. For dinner I had pate to start, and the husband had haggis moneybags (haggis wrapped in thin pastry). For main we both had venison which was absolutely sublime. Tender, well cooked, just incredible, and served with black pudding mash (yum).

At breakfast we both went for kedgeree, which again was fresh and flavoursome and delicious.

Both dinner and breakfast menus were very comprehensive, with lots of choice. The hotel obviously prides itself on the quality of it’s produce and it shows through.

One last highlight was the duvet, which is the best bed cover I have ever slept under IN MY LIFE and, when we checked out, one of the staff members kindly went back to the room and took a photograph of the label for me so that I can track one down to recreate the Moffat experience here in Birmingham!

It was a short but very sweet trip, and I’d have no hesitation in recommending the town and the hotel to anyone. It would be an ideal stop over when heading further up to the Scottish Highlands, which is something we’ve talked about doing in the future (just add it to the ever growing list of places we want to visit!)

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

Days out: Black Country Living Museum

It was my Mother-in-Law’s birthday last Sunday so I suggested a trip to the Black Country Museum. M-i-L is in her 70s so has memories of some of the things there and, from a selfish point of view, I haven’t been for years and really fancied it!

The museum recreates life from the 1900s through to around the 1950s in the “Black Country”, which is the part of the West Midlands in the UK that was dominated by heavy industry during the industrial revolution and became known such because of the black layers of soot and coal dust which settled over the area. Legend has it that Queen Victoria drove through and lowered the window blinds on her carriage so not to have to look at the grimy landscape. Despite all that, people from the Black Country are known as “salt of the earth” – hard working, straight talking, down to earth people with no airs and graces.

I’m originally a Black Country girl, born in West Bromwich, although now I live in South Birmingham and have done for the past 10 years.

The museum has a range of “living” exhibits; houses reclaimed from demolition or clearance that have been painstakingly rebuilt brick by brick within their grounds; a working mine to demonstrate the conditions of miners during the industrial revolution, chainmakers, old cars, a running tram, an old fashioned fairground, chemist, bakery, sweet shop and general stores. Many of the buildings are manned by volunteers in period dress who will chat and answer questions and show the history of the time. Two of the main attractions are the pub (The Bottle & Glass) which serves traditional ales and the fish and chip shop which serves traditional fish and chips cooked in beef dripping and served in paper. I can confirm that they are very very good indeed!

There’s also an 1800s school where visitors can partake in “lessons”, a canal boat trip which takes visitors through the canal tunnels and into open caverns which were mined in years gone by, and horses being led along the street!

I think it’s so important for places like this to exist, and I do wonder what the future of them will be when the generation of people that remember some of the details first hand are no longer around. Considering a lot of kids these days don’t even remember time before mobile phones, I can imagine this is quite mindblowing for the younger generation!

Here are some pictures from the day.

The museum is great value at £16.95 for an adult ticket (or £15.95 if booked online in advance) and the ticket is also valid for a whole year, so you can return as many times as you like, which is ideal if you live not too far away, like me.

Have you ever been to the Black Country Museum? Let me know!

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

A trip to Cheshire – Beeston Castle

This weekend we travelled up the M6 to the greenery of Cheshire, staying overnight on a voucher deal (more on that tomorrow). We were about a mile and a half from Beeston Castle, which is run by English Heritage, so we planned to drop the car off at the hotel and walk to the castle, have a mooch around and take some pictures.

Entrance to Beeston Castle

Entrance to Beeston Castle 2

When I checked the website last week, I was thrilled to find that there was an event on at the castle – Clash of the Knights. This involved a tournament of 4 teams clashing on the battlefield in a re-enactment of medieval Britain. A historical camp was set up and there were demonstrations of clothing and weapons, plus music and areas for children to battle against each other (although the weapons weren’t real, obvs!)

Clash of the Knights

Clash of the Knights

We took a picnic.

Picnic at the castle

Picnic - strawberries and cream

And cheered on the knights.

Clash of the Knights

Clashof the Knights 4

Clash of the Knights

Clash of the Knights

Clash of the Knights

(did you know that shields, contrary to popular belief – and Hollywood representations – were made of wood? Metal would be too heavy and dent easily, plus if someone hit a metal shield the knight holding it would get painful reverberations up their arm. Wood is lighter and more forgiving. Shields would be thrown away at the end of each battle and replaced for the next one).

Then we climbed up to the castle ruins.

Beeston Castle

At the bottom of the hill are the remnants of what would have been the ramparts. The views were stunning.

Beeston Castle

Beeston Castle

The castle ruins are up a rather steep hill, and an even steeper slope.

Beeston Castle 2

Beeston Castle

But again the views are fabulous – 360 degrees of countryside.

Beeston Castle

Beeston Castle

Beeston Castle

Beeston Castle

We had a fabulous afternoon of sunshine, fresh air and history. A perfect Saturday!