322: Lockerbie

OS Explorer map 322, Annandale: Annan, Lockerbie & Beattock – I do not own this map, but I have visited it before I started this blog. Visited for this post 26th December 2017.

The day before the one featured on this entry was Christmas Day, on which my extended family did our usual odd-numbered-years thing of having a large gathering, eighteen of us this year, and doing large quantities of food and presents and so on. But, unusually, everyone left our house at a reasonable, and my parents and I went to bed reasonably early, because today we set off to Scotland! First though, some Christmas photos (hover over for captions):

 

So yes, my parents and I are on holiday; our eventual destination is to be at our little holiday cottage on the Isle of Harris for New Year, but we’re taking it slowly and staying in places on the way up so as to explore a little of Scotland (we often try to go to different places on the way each time we drive up). I expect to get a good few map posts out of this trip!

We set off from home at about 9:30am to start our drive up the M1 and M6 – we had a little under seven hours of driving ahead of us as we were staying the night in the Cairngorms. At about 11:40 we had a “wee and tea” break, as Mother Dearest put it, in a service station. (Service stations don’t count for a map according to my Rules.) Some excitement was had over snow-capped Cumbrian hills and over rainbows; among other conversation I recall telling Mother Dearest about closed train lines in Northamptonshire.

We then shortly after 1pm, soon after having crossed the border into Scotland, got off the motorway to look for somewhere to have lunch, which happened to be in the town of Lockerbie. We entered the one open pub and duly ordered and ate our food – I had some macaroni cheese which was very nice despite actually being penne not macaroni, and which came with some rather overly crispy but satisfyingly strong garlic bread. [1]

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There were some people at another table eating a roast dinner, leading Father Dearest to get a little jealous since it wasn’t on the menu, and so he asked whether there were any specials – but alas no, the people in question were the owner’s family. I had some orange juice that came in a very small portion of only 125ml; the bottle was clearly meant to be a mixer rather than a drink alone. That does, alas, occasionally happen in pubs and is always disappointing.

After we exited the pub, I had a very brief wander a hundred yards or so up the street to where there were some statues of sheep outside a church, which I found quite attractive. They were, according to the words in the floor, present to celebrate the Lockerbie Lamb Market (or some similar name); apparently back in the day (the day in this case being the mid-nineteenth century) 50000 lambs or some other large number would be sold there each year. Father Dearest kindly accompanied me to the sheep to photograph me with them!

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And that’s it! We got back in our car and back onto the A74(M) (what the M6 becomes when it crosses the border), and continued our drive northward! Expect fairly regular posts for a good while as we’ll be visiting a lot of map areas this next week, and after that I’m immediately returning to Scotland with ASNaCs.

Now I was very happy recently to discover the Timeline feature on Google Maps. I recently got an Android phone for the first time, just this November. [2] It turns out that Google has been tracking my phone’s location and saving it regularly (I assume this is because I had turned on the feature that allows you to find your phone on a map from a web browser using its GPS functionality). Naturally I’m really happy about this, because, look, more information about my past that gets archived and I can access! [3] Also Google is good at letting you download your data, so I imagine I can save this and keep it forever with my other digital archives! Also, the system is really clever; when I looked at the record of a day, Tuesday 19th December, when I went to London and visited a friend, and then came home, and then later that evening went to a Chinese restaurant with my parents, I found that it had worked out exactly which modes of transport I used when, which trains I went on from which stations, and even knew the exact Chinese restaurant that we went to. I’m really impressed! Anyway, because of that, here is the track of our journey this day, 26th December 2017.

29-12-17_track

Previous visits

The one previous time that I have come to this area was in summer 2016. That summer, Vesper, Millicent, Queenie, Erithacus and I went on a walking trip that we named the Holy Island Trek, for the reason that the initial idea was to walk from Lindisfarne to Iona. [4] Planning of routes (with liberal use of the tools on the wonderful OS maps website) showed, however, that taking a suitable amount of breaks as we didn’t think we were all that fit, we wouldn’t be able to do that unless we took five weeks over the thing. Therefore by the time when we started the trip the plan was to only walk about two-thirds of the way, skipping the section between Melrose and Arran. In the end, various problems ensued; only Vesper, Millicent and I were able to be away from home for more than a week, and we ended up keeping our car with us rather than walking the whole way; we ended up walking I think about half of the total distance, about 180 miles in just over three weeks, in a rather disjointed fashion as we also did some driving. I expect the Holy Island Trek to feature quite prominently in these “Previous visits” sections as I got to a fair bit of Scotland and Northumberland on it!

Now Lockerbie was somewhere we came to only on the second last day of our time away, when we had successfully reached Iona and were on our way back home. We had stayed the previous night at a Travelodge in Cumbernauld near Glasgow due to a violent deluge, and were to stay this night in Cumbria. We visited the Antonine Wall, and our other intended activity for the day was to visit the Ruthwell Cross. Following the sage advice of Maggie the Navigatrix (i.e. my satellite navigation device), we got off the A74(M) to head towards Ruthwell, but were intrigued by brown tourist signs pointing us to the “Ukrainian POW Chapel“. [5] Initially planning to ignore it, we turned into the place in question when it turned out we passed right by it, and parked in a distinctly dilapidated-looking caravan site. However, following the signs to the chapel in question, we found it to be quite delightful despite its unassuming exterior.

 

The chapel was apparently constructed by a community of Ukrainian ex-prisoners of war who were captured by the Allies in WWII. However, come the end of the war, they could not go home as they could not expect a warm welcome from their new Russian overlords and so were eventually allowed to stay in Britain. And they built themselves this pleasant little orthodox chapel. (I hope I remember that correctly)

From here, we carried on on our way to Ruthwell, where we saw the fabled Cross and were very happy.

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Vesper, Millicent and I looking manically happy at finding the Ruthwell Cross later that day!

Now, on the Holy Island Trek, we kept an Annal, a diary in which one of us recorded what we did each day (see more at The Beginning). The relevant part of the entry for this day, in the clipped sentences of Millicent, reads:

Got back in the car to drive to Ruthwell but on the way we passed a sign to Lockerbie’s “Ukrainian POW Chapel” which was too tempting to miss. Turned out to have been built in 1947 by Ukranian exiles from their home. Carried on to Ruthwell…

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[1] I have a love of garlic. My rule for places where garlic will work well is that “garlic makes everything better, except desserts, and things that are not food”. The solution to bad garlic breath is, of course, for everyone else present to also eat garlic. I made garlicky mushrooms on toast as one of our starters for our Christmas dinner yesterday!

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My very garlicky mushrooms at the right of my Christmas dinner starter plate!

[2] Until now I have been a dedicated Windows Phone user; I just love them. However Windows Phones are now officially dead and no more are being produced, so I had to give in. Of course I got an Android rather than an iPhone; I am a bit of an Apple-hater.

[3] I know some people, most people even, get concerned about privacy and things like that when their their data is being collected, but I’ve just never really understood that; I don’t find it at all bothersome for some reason. I think that being able to feel like you’re always being watched, that what you do is being recorded, is really very comforting; it makes me feel safe. If I try to think about it, I suppose it’s possibly because it means there’s a single authoritative true version of my past, and so no-one can ever claim it to be otherwise to my detriment. But it’s a more instinctive reaction than that. Meh, I’m odd, I know.

[4] Lindisfarne and Iona are both early monastic sites, which feature heavily in the history we learn studying ASNaC!

[5] I love the Undiscovered Scotland website; I always check that when travelling in Scotland to find things to go to see.

9 thoughts on “322: Lockerbie

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