Needing a break from the relentless beauty of Edinburgh, last week I took a few days away to visit pretty Perth, Scotland. The Scottish Landlaird and I weary of each other’s company, turning a wee snippy and unpleasant left together too long; it’s not a bad thing separating us by a few hundred miles every
day or so few weeks. It can get unpleasant. He’s been a bachelor for decades, and I’m the American interloper. What was it Ben Franklin said?: “Fish and visitors stink in three days.” For the record, it’s been almost three months. It’s past rancid to skeletal, friends.
Plus, I’d never been to Perth. And it’s all decorated for Christmas:
Why Perth? Why not. It’s less than two hours from Edinburgh by train, so not too expensive transportation-wise. And, nicknamed the “Gateway to the Highlands” translates into this is where the rolling foothills start. I’d note the four days I stayed were too many from a tourist point of view, if you don’t have a car to roam the area. Since I needed time away, the excess wasn’t as big a nuisance; for the casual visitor, one or two days would be more than sufficient.
The old section of the city is charming – lots of churches and restaurants and shops – but most sites of interest are walk bys. You take a gander, take a photo, off you go. If you have a car, there are several castles and pretty little villages warranting another day or two using Perth as a hub. On foot, not so much.
While I’m thinking of it, I’ll recommend Cafe Biba (22 King Edward Street) for its tasty hamburgers. Tired of British fare, I popped in for lunch one day to treat myself. They put some sort of herbs in the meat, plus the cheddar cheese is glorious. Then, Murray’s Bakers (114 South Street) makes a mean apple crumble. They’re also award-winning, and the prices are surprisingly cheap. One apple crumble lasted me three days, all for under £2. For Americans, that’s about $3.50 or so.
If I’d arrived a day earlier I could have been there for the lighting of the holiday decorations, as well as the gin and chocolate fair and peak of the Christmas market. Arriving Sunday afternoon was cheaper, but I was tired and didn’t feel like battling whatever was left of the crowds milling around the pop up shops still open. Surprisingly, the majority of the market pulled up stakes early. In most cities the Christmas markets are there for the duration. Not so Perth. By Monday there was a chocolate stall, a couple food stalls, and three or four other specialty places for jewelry and other gifts. Not much choice.
The weather was abysmal in November, not that I should have expected otherwise. The day before I left was so rainy I spent most of it in the Airbnb apartment (right on the Tay River, overlooking Greyfriars Church Yard – BLISS), in the afternoon walking around the Perth Museum & Art Gallery. Plenty of paintings and sculptures there, plus local and natural history. A nice diversion. It’s also free, though nice people give a donation.
And of course I shopped. Taking a break from the rain, I fortuitously ran into a convenient Waterstones, where I finally broke down and bought this book I’d been looking at a while:
We know I can’t abide book orphans, so I also bought this, mentioned in the book above:
A wool shop may have been involved in one excursion, along with a miscellany of holiday shopping. As the landlaird’s daughter is cooking for Boxing Day, to which I’m invited, I found some gin and liquor-filled chocolates as a hostess gift. Other bits and bobs, as well, for various naughty and nice people on my list.
The mental break was necessary, and Perth did its job. I didn’t schedule myself, didn’t hurry anywhere, and slept ridiculously late. While I got some reading done, unfortunately I did no writing, which had been on the original itinerary. I brought with me the leather journal I had custom made when I turned 50, not a mark yet in it, figuring at this point of my life I have a whole lot to say. I’ll get to it. I just didn’t in Perth. As for the Landlaird? It was time enough to reset the friendship, at least for a while.
This week I’m headed to London for a day, to meet up with friends. In a week and a half or so a long journey down to Penzance, in beautiful Cornwall. I’m looking forward to it immensely, never having been to that area. I expect the four days allotted may be too short.
Do I have room to complain, though? I don’t think so. No. I don’t think so at all.