UK & Ireland, Day 5: Rebooked at the Scottish Borders

Sunday, 5/29/16

Since that highway travel stop was right across the parking lot from our hotel, we stopped in for some Starbucks for brekkie. I had a Banana Caramel Frappuccino, and Francisco had the Cookie Dough.
Starbucks Banana Caramel Cookie Dough
We began our day with a quick stop at Castlerigg Stone Circle.
Castlerigg Stone Circle
This is noted as being "the most atmospheric and dramatically sited of all British stone circles, with panoramic views and the mountains of Helvellyn and High Seat as a backdrop. It is also among the earliest British circles, raised in about 3000 BC."
We drove on to Penrith Castle, a now-ruined medieval castle in the northwest of England.
Penrith Castle
Penrith Castle
For lunch, we stopped at the Upfront Gallery & Coffee Shop where we had a really tasty Grilled Ciabatta with Goats Cheese and Olive Tapenade along with some Orange Marmalade & Poppyseed Cake.
Upfront Gallery & Coffee Shop
We visited Hadrian's Wall, Britain's most impressive and most important Roman monument. It's the best known and best preserved frontier of the Roman Empire. It ran across England from the banks of the River Tyne near the North Sea to the Irish Sea, and a significant portion of the wall still stands.
Hadrian's Wall
Hadrian's Wall
As we drove across the English countryside, we saw many fields of bright yellow flowers [rapeseed]. It is a mustard crop that is grown primarily for its seed, which yields about forty percent oil and a high-protein animal feed. It has also become the primary feedstock for biodiesel production in Europe.
The day cooled down and got very overcast as we inched our way ever closer to Scotland.  Our last big stop of the day was at Alnwick Castle, one of Britain's most iconic castles. Yes, it's the seat of the Duke of Northumberland, but more importantly, it took the starring role of Hogwarts in the first two Harry Potter films. ;-) Surprisingly, I didn't see much mention of its role in Harry Potter around the grounds - although they do offer broomstick training.  
Alnwick Castle
Alnwick Castle
We finished our drive into Scotland for the night.
Surprise, surprise; we got very, very lost in the British countryside and after backtracking, we turned on the GPS so we could get to our hotel at a reasonable time. Checking in to the Dryburgh Abbey Hotel, the desk attendant took our name and said "oh! We've been trying to get a hold of you." Apparently, there was water damage in the room they had booked for us, but thankfully, they had rebooked us at another hotel in town.
Dryburgh Abbey Hotel
She redirected us to the Buccleuch Arms Hotel, pronounced 'buh-clue' [good thing we asked her to spell it]. Even with her directions, we would have definitely still needed the GPS so we didn't regret having just recently turned it on.  Definitely very quaint - which means small and old, right?
Buccleuch Arms Hotel
We went down to the restaurant, and they were really busy, but we finally managed to get seated in the bar area.  We had a Veggie Coo, a tempura battered black bean and chickpea spiced burger. This thing was huge and definitely filling. We were very hungry, but unfortunately service was reallllly slow here. We probably would've gotten dessert, but we had little interest in sitting there for another half hour.  This was a trend we noticed across the countries we visited - pretty much all of the hotels had a restaurant and usually a decent one at that. I feel like hotel restaurants in the US tend to have either a fairly high-end restaurant or a craptacular one, if they have one at all. But also, restaurant service was much, much slower there than we were used to. We saw several people who had brought books with them for entertainment for the long waits between ordering/receiving food/paying check, etc.
Buccleuch Arms Hotel Veggie Coo


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