OS Explorer map 323, Eskdale and Castle O’er Forest: Langholm, Canonbie & Gretna Green – I do not own this map, and have not visited it before starting this blog. Visited for this post 2nd January 2018.
Preliminary note: This map visit is provisional, as the only places I visited were Eastriggs, in the overlap between maps 323 and 314, and Gretna Green, in the overlap between maps 323 and 315. I have visited map 315 before (at Gretna Greem), but not map 314, and according to The Rules, if I visit an area unique to map 314 before visiting an area unique to map 323, this visit will “flip” to counting for map 314, and map 323 will have become “un-visited”. However, despite my not having ticked off this map until now, this post will have a Previous visits section below – I’m choose to write here about Gretna Green, both since it seems appropriate as I went to Gretna Green today, and because whenever I visit map 315 again, I can write about Carlisle as the previous visit.
So. The last post ended with my parents and I leaving Fort William on our way home from Harris. From there, we drove south as planned. There was a bit of snow around on the ground in the higher-altitude parts of the route, but I managed to sleep through the worst of it. We stopped for tea at a hotel on Loch Lomond (it doesn’t count for a map as it was only a food/drink break directly on our travel route). Later, south of Glasgow, Father Dearest told us tales of the family in days past, of various characters, controversies and arguments.
Now, we needed to stop for dinner before reaching our B&B for the night, as there was none available there, and there were no places serving food close enough to it that we wanted to drive out again. Father Dearest expressed a preference for Chinese or Indian food as we hadn’t been to such a restaurant on this holiday, and Mother Dearest and I therefore went on the internet and found some candidates in the region of Gretna. The postcode went into Maggie the Navigatrix,  and we got off the motorway suspiciously early.
It turned out that due to a misunderstanding on how Tripadvisor worked, this place wasn’t in Gretna but in Eastriggs, a few miles to the West. On the way we were intrigued by brown signs for the Devil’s Porridge Museum (we later saw the thing itself) – later investigation found it to be a museum about the area’s wartime manufacturing heritage, the Porridge in question being explosives being mixed.  Arriving at the Chinese restaurant in question, I got out and went in and found that its dining room was closed and so it was only working as a takeaway.
We then drove to Gretna, where we were looking for an Indian restaurant. (My family has an obsession with the word “arse”, and on the way there was a long nonsensical conversation consisting primarily of words with “arse” inserted into them.) We turned around three times before we realised it probably wasn’t where we were looking, but checking the internet again revealed that, wherever in the not-that-big place of Gretna it was, it was in any case closed. Therefore we drove around looking for somewhere, eventually finding a hotel in Gretna Green for dinner.
We ate food there, and were very pleasantly surprised – Father Dearest doesn’t often think very much of Chinese and Indian food served in ordinary hotel restaurants and things like that, but it won his approval. The couple at the table behind us had just got married! After dinner, we got back in the car and drove off to our B&B, about which see the next post!
I’ve been to Gretna Green once before, in 2015, when first driving up to Harris with my mother, bringing furniture for the cottage (a trip that I’ve mentioned before, such as on my South Harris post, I think). We just stopped for lunch, which Mother Dearest remembers being very nice, a pub that apparently had interesting and unusual menu options, but I don’t remember it. I also didn’t take any pictures, so here is the first picture of that trip, taken a few hours later, of me driving.
(Apologies for this rather boring post; I hope that the last was more interesting and the next will be!)
 Maggie the Navigatrix is, of course, my GPS device, who has a conspicuous Irish acccent. This is because my previous (alas unnamed) device used to allow custom voices, and so I had downloaded a C3PO voice for it. Disappointed with the lack of this function on my new one, I chose the Irish English option for at least some fun to it. I do enjoy hearing “take the third exit” with stops rather than fricative /θ/ and /ð/ – [tɛɪk d̪ə t̪ʰɜɹd ɛksɪt]! My previous device died in 2014 on the Isle of Skye when it fell out of the open window when my car fell off the road into a ditch, on which see my post about the Cuillin Hills!
 I do love the brown tourist signs one gets in the British countryside; they often lead to delightfully weird little countryside museums or things like that, such as the time, described in a previous post, when, rather close to here actually, I ended up at the Lockerbie Ukranian POW Chapel!