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On Thursday, 23rd July, I was again to be with two people with whom I had been in contact for a while, but had never met.  My late mother’s second cousin and I were have lunch together at New Abbey. On the way, I stopped at Dumfries to explore a little. (Note the sun, it won’t stay for long and it was chilly.)

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This is still the top of a Burton shop.

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The tiny entrance to this Hole i’ the Wa’ looked so fascinating that I thought I might take a coffee there on my way back down the main street.

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Greyfriars Kirk and Robbie Burns

I know it doesn’t do the building any good, but I do like seeing vegetation growing where it’s not meant to.

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My eye was caught by these – and other elsewhere in the window – gentlemen!

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I soon found myself in an elegant, no doubt former residential, part of Dumfries, now largely occupied by the professions.

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Beyond the restaurant, these buildings are the courts and the procurator fiscal’s office.

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When I went back to the Hole i’ the Wa’, I was greeted by this along the alleyway:

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The inside of the inn was as large as the entrance was small, with a variety of bars and rooms. I was able to tuck myself in a corner with my coffee and observe.

Well refreshed, when going back down the high street intending to return direct to the car park, I was tempted right, sideways and downhill, as it looked to me as if there might be a riverside at the end of that road.  There was indeed, quite a picturesque one with some nice bridges, of which here is one, over the River Nith.

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It was raining by the time I got back to the car park.

R. and I had arranged to meet and lunch at the (New) Abbey Cottage Tearoom, next to Sweetheart Abbey, and we were able to dodge the showers just long enough to have a quick look round before eating.  This once Cistercian Abbey was founded by Lady Dervorgilla of Galloway, wife of Lord John Balliol, in 1275.

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In the Tearoom, the waitress had some difficulty in getting our order out of us, we were talking so much about who was related to whom, how well had each of us known so-and-so, and general getting-to-know-you conversation, but eventually she got a look in, and we ate, rather slowly as we were talking so much.

We moved on to R. and his wife’s home, deep in the hills, built not in the dark red sandstone of Dumfries and New Abbey, but in the pretty granite of the country we were now in.

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I think I could live with such a view

The talking continued, and continued, more on family history, (R. has done a lot of genealogical work on my maternal grandmother’s side), then on R.’s former work as a sound engineer for the BBC, and then on music.  R. is a very competent pianist, and his father was organist at St George’s Cathedral, Southwark (I hadn’t realised there were two cathedrals in Southwark before) and used to compose.  He showed me some songs his father had written, in a beautiful manuscript.  I really wanted to try some of them, but didn’t dare suggest it, limiting myself to just reading a few bars of some of them in my head.  How I wish I’d said something, because, as I learned later, too late, that was just what R. wanted as well.  And I’m not usually one to hold back…

Later in the afternoon, the three of us standing in the kitchen, I saw a red squirrel out in the garden!  Beautiful.  I took my camera, and was planning to sit quietly out there to see what I could snap.  I was outside for just a few minutes, and got this,

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then the rain started again.  From inside, I managed to take nothing of real wildlife interest, but this at least shows some of the abundant granite boulders lying naturally in the garden.

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As the evening before, the encounter ended with a pleasant meal out at the Mabie House Hotel, conveniently placed for my drive back to Lockerbie. As we left, it was so warm that we nearly drove away without our jackets.

I had just one day of my holiday left, and absolutely nothing planned for it.