These may be the scariest words on the planet for someone approaching a right hand drive vehicle for the first time. The day before we left Edinburgh, with our rental car awaiting us in the morning, we took a driving lesson. One hour each behind the wheel with Michael, the most unflappable person I’ve ever met. We each had our hour of white-knuckle driving on the left hand side of the road, learning about merging, roundabouts (there are two kinds) and standard speed limits. We survived our lesson and went to the airport with trepidation. Some of the things that you immediately do wrong are to look the wrong way, attempt to enter a roundabout going the wrong direction, go to shift with your right hand and turn on your wipers instead (gears are on left). Then there’s driving too close on the left, and too close on the right, both at the same time!!! Roads are often narrow, I swear standard lanes are narrower than in the US.
I’d looked up historic sites on our route that would give us a break from driving. Our first stop was about 20 minutes down the road at Castlelaw Hill fort, just off the Edinburgh bypass. Not much of a surprise that we were already ready for a break.
Even in blustery weather, the site was impressive, three rings of earthen embankments encircling the top of a hill, with occupation going back to the Iron Age, about 800 BC, and perhaps even earlier. There is also a subterranean chamber that may have been a hiding place, a storage space or ritual space. Called a “souterain,” similar rooms from medieval times hid priests after Catholicism was outlawed. (Author Erin Hart makes great use of a souterain in her mystery novel Haunted Ground.) It was a bit drippy crawling in and out of the underground room.
We moved on toward southern Scotland. Our next stop was Coulter Motte, a tiny flat-topped hill that used to hold a castle. There’s nothing left but the mound.
After this break, we got serious and headed for our destination, Aird Farm B&B in Crossmichael, near our new place in Dalbeattie. We move in tomorrow. The B&B is great, with bird feeders by the sitting room. We saw blue tits, great tits, a Great Spotted woodpecker and many of the usual suspects.
On our drive out for dinner we spotted a red-legged partridge, a very weird dude. (The photo is not by me).
Dinner at the Kings Arms in Castle Douglas poring over the bird book.
It was great to be out of the car for a while, but tomorrow is move-in day including grocery shopping, so I’m going to have to get used to driving. We split the driving 50-50 so that we both learn how to do it. I still feel nauseous when I get into the car in the morning.