My job takes me to lots of different parts of the country, but I rarely get chance to stop and see them. This time with the long drive up to Scotland I decided that I was going to take a couple of days off on either side and actually go and see some touristy sights.
I stayed overnight with my brother in Sheffield, so headed north up the M1, and then carried on up the A1, I love Northumbria, and wanted a break from motorway driving. I stopped off for lunch in Whitley Bay, just north of South Shields, and had a lovely time scrambling on the rocks, and laughing at this labrador bouncing around in this pool.
On a very grey morning I stopped off in Falkirk to see The Kelpies. They're even more stunning in person, and I imagine the sensation of going underneath them in a boat must be completely surreal.
Then it was up to the Highlands for my workshop. Not a huge amount of time for anything but work, but a couple of people in the guild recommended I look out one of the ancient stone circles a couple of miles away. Easter Aquhorthies is a recumbent stone circle from the Neolithic period, and is pretty impressive.
Leaden Skies were a feature of my time away, though I had it lucky in comparison to home where they had nearly 15cm of rain over the course of 3 days.
My last stop on the way home was New Lanark, a place that I have driven past so many times, but never been able to stop! It's a lovely place, a very nice balance between a living community (people still live in many of the mill cottages), but also educating people about the past. Though I suspect I would have felt differently if I wasn't visiting on a Monday after the Scottish schools had gone back. It's less of a textile historical site, and focuses more on Robert Owen. He was a socialist utopian, who believe in all sorts of crazy things like children going to school and not working, clean decent quality housing for his employees and an 8 hour working day. He was also one of the founders of the co-operative movement. A real reformer when the dark satanic mills were at their height.
In an effort to burn off some calories from all the meals out I even took a walk up to the Falls of Clyde. I also took lots of photos of displays as some research for Newtown Textile Museum (particularly relevant as Robert Owen was born in Newtown and buried there, we even have a small museum in town about him). We have a lot of work to do over the winter, and need to make some decisions about displays (providing we can find funds, even if you're not local we can accept donations via the website, and maybe you can plan a visit next year to see what we've done with the money). Having examples on how other places present information will help us make some informed choices.
When all's said and done though, it's hard to beat home when you get a view that looks like this...