Day 16–July 2–Paisley Abbey

On our last full day in Scotland, we deliberately took a day off from tourist stuff and went to church–the church where Kristin’s great-great grandfather and mother were married. The pews do not have hymnals; you are given one as you enter the sanctuary. We did not know to ask for the version with music; the standard version only has words. We will remember this the next time as we would have loved to sing; we have long been fans of John Rutter and other modern British composers, and attending a service made it very clear from which traditions their melodies and harmonies derive.

After church, we went to the parish hall for coffee and had some very interesting conversations. All of them started out with a few minutes of delicate questions and discussion that could be summarized as “did you vote for the idiot Donald Trump?” followed by a frank series of questions that can be summarized as “how on earth did elect an idiot like Donald Trump?”

When coffee time was over, we walked through town and visited the high church on the top of the hill in town to walk the cemetery. Like the Greyfriar’s cemetery, the monuments were very interesting; you could tell when money flowed freely and when times were tough. We had a late lunch/early dinner at a pub before heading home to pack for an early train to London and then the Eurostar to Brussels.

When you attend a service in the Church of Scotland (and probably England too), make sure to ask for the big hymnal with music, as the standard hymnals only have words.
The high church cemetery has some beautiful rose bushes–a welcome spot of bright color in what is otherwise a relatively harsh landscape.
Paisley--High Church

Day 15–July 1–Isle of Bute

We had planned a day trip to the Isle of Bute based upon the weather forecast, and were rewarded with a generally good day. Because of high winds, the ferries were running late so we had about an hour in the Wemyss Bay train station waiting for the ferry. It was actually kind of nice as the Victorian-era station is an architectural delight. We both took a lot of photos. The castle on the island is historically significant to the viking era, but only took an hour or so to tour the ruins. The highlight of the island was lunch at the cafe/pub Brechin’s on Bridge Street. The food was great. It was raining and we were the only customers, so we ended up having a long and enjoyable talk with the owners about island life, life in the UK, and life in general.

After lunch, we walked through town and along the beach to the Royal Bute Yacht Club. There were some sights that would could have seen, but we had already overdosed on castles and estates.

By the time we got back to Paisley, the weather cleared and we had both the time and energy to explore the wonderful Victorian-era fountain that was recently renovated.

This was another day when we appreciated good rain gear.

The Victorian-era train station in Wemyss Bay is beautifully maintained and offers many interesting photos.
Isle of Bute--Victorian Train Station and Ferry Terminal
We were castled out and opted to walk down to the Royal Bute Yacht Club instead of take a bus to another estate. The water is fairly shallow and has a lot of seaweed, so the keelboat class sailed here has heavily swept blades.
Isle of Bute--Sailing Club
On the ferry back to Rothesay, we were treated with a closeup view of the last surviving ocean-going paddle-wheel ship, the Waverley, which does escursion service from the Isle of Bute. The Waverley was built in 1946 by a preservation society.
Isle of Bute--Oceangoing Paddle Wheeler
The Paisley fountain is worth a visit, even if you are not necessarily visiting Paisley. It park and fountain were originally constructed by a thread mill owner to make the working-class neighborhood a little less oppressive.
Paisley--Victorian Fountain

Day 13–June 29–Another Day at the Library

Today was another rainy day, and we really needed another day at the Mitchell Library, so we took the train in and spent another fruitful day at the library. I spent more time with guild records, and ended up reading a very interesting history of penal transportion to America before the revolution. Convicts were essentially slaves and conditions were so bad that second time offenders who had been previously transported to America would advocate for execution rather than another trip to America.

This was another day when we appreciated good rain gear.

On the way back to the Glasgow Central train station from the Mitchell Library, I noticed this van parked in a bike lane. Some things are universal.
Glasgow--Bad Parking

Day 14–June 30–Bus Tour of Ayreshire

We had planned for an all-day bus tour of Ayreshire, the county where both of our ancestors had started out. The two major stops on the tour were Culzean Castle and the various museums and monuments to the poet Robert Burns. Culzean Castle provides an excellent history of the late years of the monarchy and the landed gentry in England and Scotland. The tour’s time budget of about two and a half hours was enough time to tour the castle, the grounds and enjoy a reasonably leisurely lunch in the cafe.

We understood that summer in Scotland is about like a winter in Texas, and had packed for day-time temperatures as low as the high 40s. For the walks around the Culzean Castle grounds, I used the fleece pullover, wind breaker, wool hat, and fleece gloves that I had brought for cold days and I was not overly warm.

The grand entry to Culzean Castle is not as grand as some other estates; like most castles, it grew over time and the original site did not have room for the grand entry that would be built by a later generation.
Ayreshire Tour--Culzean Castle
The sandstone used in the castle and walls has weathered at dramatically different rates, giveing some visually interesting details to otherwise dull walls.
Ayreshire Tour--Culzean Castle
The entry path at Culzean Castle is the most interesting feature by far.
Ayreshire Tour--Culzean Castle

Day 12–June 28–Library in Kilmarnock

Kristin had planned to spend the day at the library in Kilmarnock to view some records held only there. I had planned to go, but had a cold and stayed back at our AirBnb instead. Kristin took the train in from Paisley to Glasgow Central and from there to Kilmarnock. Unfortunately, the archivist had not checked the catalogs closely when she responded to Kristin’s inquiry a few weeks before the trip; the record was actually on loan to another library. Kristin still had a fun if rainy outing.

This was another day when we appreciated good rain gear.

Kristin’s walk from the Kilmarnock train station to the library took her through a park where a wedding was being held; she thought the men wearing formal kilts was worth a photo.
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