C is for Castle
There's something about Scottish castles. They come in all sorts of shapes, styles and sizes but each one is uniquely beautiful and makes me feel all patriotic. We're very lucky in our neck of the woods, Aberdeenshire has more than it's fair share - some well maintained grand stately homes but many ruins in varying states of disrepair. I can find two within a half hour walk or so from my Mum and Dad's house!
I decided early on in our A-Z date planning that I wanted C to be for castle! We'd picked Dunnottar and planned a day out, walking from Stonehaven up the hill and along the cliffs, but the weather had other ideas. Due to its location, perched on a cliff, the torrential rain had forced them to close Dunnottar for the day. As I said, Aberdeenshire is fortunate in the castle department and we used this to our advantage. A quick change of direction inland and we found ourselves at Drum Castle, near Banchory.
Drum was passed to the National Trust for Scotland by the Irvine family not that long ago. It's an unusual looking castle that almost looks like 3 separate buildings stuck together - from the tower gifted by Robert the Bruce himself, to the Jacobean extension and the additional Victorian architecture.
We were greeted by cheery and enthusiastic NTS staff, and a few of the rooms had guides ready to answer any questions and point out all the interesting bits! You can wonder freely around the displays which feature some bedrooms, a dining room, drawing room and children's nursery. One guide took great delight in pointing out the Peterhead granite used on the grand fireplace, after we'd told her where we were from!
My favourite room by far was the library. I wish I'd taken better pictures, but over 3000 books dating from the 1500s live here on the floor to ceiling bookcase, around the entire room - full on beauty & the beast style! Speaking of the beast, check out that self portrait watching over the books from above the fireplace!
At the moment Drum Castle is home to a number of artworks from Aberdeen's art gallery while it goes through renovation works. I've never been to the gallery - it had been an idea for A but it was closed! - so I was happy to get a little taster. There's a fair mix of Scottish creations on display until the end of March. The most interesting being the 5 Set Conversation Pieces by Ayrshire born Christine Borland, which features five bone china skulls, each placed inside a blue and white patterned china pelvis. Kinda morbid yet intriguing!
An American family were the only other visitors while we were there, and it was interesting to hear things from their perspective around the castle. Simple things like the Irvine boys being known as the Deeside "loons" made them giggle, and then look at us as if we had three heads when we explained loon means boy, and quine is a girl!
I'd have loved to have been able to explore the gardens more but the rain just wouldn't let up. We did make a dash for the nearby chapel though, splashing up the stone steps and through the snowdrops. Ducking through the door, we enjoyed the shelter of the stone walls, light seeping in through the gorgeous, colourful stained glass windows.
The chapel is still in use and can be used for christenings and weddings - it's small and intimate, perfect for such a special occasion. Personally if you're thinking of Drum for your wedding ceremony, I'd recommend hiring the library!
We wrapped up the day with the most obvious C date - the cinema! We loved T2 for all its nostalgia and "been there" moments around our Scottish capital. Is Trainspotting as big in the rest of the UK as it is in Scotland?!
Choose castles. Choose Drum. Choose alphabet dating and changing plans so you don't have to walk in the rain. Choose eating local. Choose Aberdeen. Choose pulled pork. Choose hush puppies. Choose what we do for D on our next date! Choose LIFE! ;)