Publican at the Trust

5 January 2009

The Twelfth Day of Christmas.  And snow!

I finally got my wish to see snow.  We awoke this morning to some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever imagined. It wasn’t a lot of snow—you could still see the tall grasses through the white blanket. But it was gorgeous! After scraping off the car windows enough to see to drive, we left the snug little “Nestle Inn” and headed on south, toward our ultimate destination of London, our point of departure.

We made a planned stop at the lovely village of Peebles—a place where when driving through in the past, we’d said we needed to come back! It’s so lovely, that my words in 2005, were “I could sure live here!” Now, I think we’re both ready to live there at a moment’s notice!

We shopped a bit, enjoyed four new beers in two new pubs, and took a bunch of photos. The village straddles the River Tweed, and is made all the more more picturesque for doing so.  My main photo today, however, is of the gentleman who ran the Bridge Inn—an old pub right next door to a fabulous old church (which tolled the hours and played the Westminster Chimes just like Big Ben) that the locals call simply “The Trust.” When I asked why, I was told by one of those locals that it was because they had to trust him! To which, he reached out and hugged me to his side and said, “Would you trust me?” I winked and told him I wasn’t sure yet; I didn’t know him well enough yet to say! That made all his buddies laugh, and seemed to make us fit right in.

If you look closely at the tap label in my photo, and then look at this;  both picture the very pub we were in.

I finished my gift shopping in Peebles, and although we didn’t want to leave, we knew when we did that we were right to make stopping there a priority. It is as sweet a town as we wanted it to be!

It is so hard for us to drive south from Scotland. We are so emotionally tied to this beautiful land. And driving south through The Borders is always one of the hardest parts of the trip here.  Now, add to that, the perfect winter scene from a Currier and Ives painting, and a girl who lives in Texas, but grew up in the North and misses it so much.  What do you get?  Tears.  Emotional, involuntary tears.

It started small . . . just wet eyes and a slight catch in my voice. But, ’round every corner the scenery was more beautiful, and before I knew it, I couldn’t wipe the tears off my cheeks fast enough to keep my turtleneck sweater dry.  I was a bit of a basketcase, really—completely unable to control the steady stream of tears for about half an hour. We stopped a couple of times to take photos, but none of them truly do justice to the breathtakingly beautiful sights we were seeing.

Tonight, we are in Kenilworth, England, in a small-ish boutique hotel in a very old building. The entire block of this little village “downtown” is protected historical property. We ate a very tasty meal (and got a marvelous history lesson about the area from the pub manager—an archeologist who loves everything historical and knew his stuff!) at the pub across the street called The Virgins and the  Castle, and decided not to drive any further. So, we popped right across the street from the pub and discovered this gem.

At the bottom of the almost circular very steep staircase leading from our room to the hotel lobby, a brass plaque is mounted to a very irregular, mostly vertical old wooden beam in the wall. It reads:

“The original Castle Tavern within which you now stand was built around this tree in 1538.”

I think that’s totally cool! The hotel has been recently remodeled, but in the process of “boutiquing” it, they have kept the bones of the five-hundred year-old structure intact, and obvious. The floors slant, the doors to rooms are all different sizes and many sport warnings to duck. I took a quick tour round the maze-like hallways, and I’m not sure there are more than about three or four rooms on any one “level” of floor! Mother and Dad and Kyle’s babes will all know exactly what we mean if we compare this hotel to the one in Ruthin! Completely charming, and tastefully modernized. An unexpected, last-minute delight.

Tomorrow, if we’re lucky, we’ll run down the road and pay a quick visit to the ruins of the Castle where Robert Dudley thrice hosted visits from his Queen Elizabeth, . . . and we’ll imagine.

~MB