You can wipe that smile off your face…

Posted by on 5, Oct 2023 in 2023 - Cathedrals, Europe, Tilly the Tandem, UK, Western Europe

You can wipe that smile off your face…
Broughty Ferry
Dundee residents
Press photo at Perth Cathedral
Fab evening with Colin & Di
Not so fab, damp, cold ride to Tillys tearoom
The Falkirk Kelpies
Not our finest moment !
Forth railway bridge
Our cosy Cabin..

I remember staying in bnb’s where you had to put money in the meter for hot water and the landlady had her customer service training at Colditz.  I thought they had all long gone but the ‘Luxury airbnb’ we booked at Broughty Ferry was doing a sterling job of maintaining the tradition.

We’d booked 2 nights with a harbour and castle view, and had planned a leisurely cycle to get there. Our Oberleutnant Landlady sent us a message telling us to arrive before 3pm as she was going out later. That’s fine if you’re in a car, but obviously we weren’t and were a good way away. So we upped our speed to 6mph and headed through Canoustie golf course to find the road at the far end closed.  Another of those cycle a couple of Kms down a dead end road to then find the sign saying closed. 

So about we turned and retraced our route then wound our way back to the route but by now we’re now a bit later that our 3pm deadline.

After yet another road closure and about turn we rolled up at Stalag 17 which decievingly looked remarkably like a georgian house about 15 minutes after our appointed time.

The Oberleutnant greeted us with an exasperated look and said we needed to wheel our bike up the front steps then down the back ones into the car park.  Could you open the electric gate for us please? “Nein” came the reply.

We got Tilly into the car park and got told to just leave our bags as the Commandant wanted to show us our room and go on patrol, sorry out. We dared not obey..

Our room was ok, a bit like a room you’d get if you’d been sent to stay with an ageing relative in the country. It wasn’t actually dirty but needed a good clean if you know what I mean.  The paint was tired and could do with repainting and the bedlinen was plucked.

Now you may be thinking ‘hes a fussy bugger’ but let me explain.  Normally we aren’t too bothered about these things as we are tired and in need of a shower and by the time we’ve had a shower it’s time to eat, then sleep then breakfast, then repeat…so as long as the place isnt a pig sty, we can usually put up with it.

But…we’d already had the wonderful greeting and the room had a ‘washing left in the machine too long’ smell.  We had our showers and noticed the smell more, so we headed out to dinner and asked SS Sturmenfuher if she could change the duvet while we were out as it was smelly….Big mistake….She brought the Gestapo in and started questioning us about what the smell was. I described it and she said it couldn’t possibly be this and she hadn’t got a spare duvet cover (in an enormous Georgian house remember) as the one she took off this morning was still in the washing machine.  Well..I think we’ve found the problem then …… However she was on a rant by then and suggested that perhaps we should find somewhere else to stay…At 7pm…. with every hotel booked for miles around.

We declined this very diplomatic ‘f*** off’, and said we would leave the duvet on the landing with the 4 bin liners of rubbish that were there presently and sleep in our sleeping bags, which we did. But not before enjoying a great meal at a pub on the quay watching the build up to the Scotland/ England game, that frankly no English supporter gave a monkey about and every Scot we saw looked like thier whole lives depended on the result.  I asked one of the tartan army who he thought would win and he said England, I wished him luck as we left which he looked completely thrown by and England promptly scored .  Oh well, nice walk back to the wail of the wounded bagpipes….

We left the next morning and the Commandant was fortunately out on manoeuvres so we missed her, and headed on to Dundee to a Premier Inn for a couple of nights instead, where the bedlinnen smelt fresh and clean and the staff couldn’t have been more helpful.

We’ve just had a fab run of sunshine and warm cycling but Dundee skipped the autumn and went straight to winter.  It was cold!  We went out for dinner and had all our layers on and were frozen when we’d walked the 500m back to the hotel so the next morning went to every outdoor shop in the city to look for packable lightweight puffas and then found them at M&S !

Once warmed up we went to the cathedral and managed to get our stamp and then visited the V&A museum on the quay which is a fabulous building with not a lot inside it except some nice Bakewell tart.  We loved the building and the cavenous space inside is impressive, but you just felt it needed more exhibition space.

Earlier in our trip we’d meet Catherine and Huw, a lovely couple who lived just over the river in Newport on Tay and they came over and met us for Margaritas and Mexican Tapas at a fab little Vegan restaurant for dinner and told us all about his outstanding mountain/hill climbing …nearly 1000 in Scotland alone…and the munroes he’d done twice !

We’d managed to get a ahead of ourselves  for our scheduled stop with Team Matilda at Matildas rest at so had a leisurely cycle to Perth and a visit to their Cathedral who were having an open day.  As we seemed to be just about the only visitors we got treated like Royalty and had to recount our story of the Cathedral tour to everyone, who kindly then all told us the history of the cathedral each. We even got interviewed to go into the local Parish newsletter… ‘Sassanch Heathens Heading Home’.

We then pootled on to meet up with Colin and Di and e-Matilda and while Tilly and the 2 Matilda’s partied the night away in the garage, we spent  a fabulous evening of winning and dining and a very therapeutic dip in their hot tub. How do we pack one of those in our panniers??

The next day we all cycled on for lunch at the appropriatly named ‘Another Tilly Cafe’ on a pretty chilly and damp day, saying our farewells they headed home and we plodded on toward Edinburgh as the heavens just opened arriving at our Premier Inn looking like we’d just been pulled out of the river…

It’s best not to think about the ‘meal’ we had at the adjoing Hungry Horse that night, presumably named that as you’d have to be a very hungry horse to eat the food there. I’m sure as meat eaters it may have been better, but the veggie stuff was worse than dire…never again !

More sunshine greeted us as we headed into Edinburgh the next day and it’s a good job too. If the weather had been anything else we’d have just given up, got on the train and come home!

We’d had a lovely cycle, past the Kelpies, and along the shore and then came to the ‘Cycle route closed’ sign. Right where it’s closed with no advance notice as usual.  Not to worry, we foolishly thought… there’s a diversion.

This was up a slip and slide mud bank climbing up at more than a 20% incline..  We had to drag and push the bike one step at a time up it, trying to get footholds in the water and mud sliding down the side of the hill.  It took ages and we did get to the top without ending up flat on our faces and thought, ok, we are here now and should be fine.  In your dreams pal!

The track was ok to start but then the forestry workers tractors etc had turned it into a quagmire. Our shoes came off in the mud and we eventually came to ruts about 30cm deep we had to man handle the bike across through the mud.. Atrocious churn up of the path by the forestry and no way this should have been on a diversion route. By now we looked like we’d been in a mud bath and when we stopped for coffee at the first place we came across, the owner gave us buckets of hot soapy water to clean both us and Tilly.

Needless to say this detour had taken ages and we only just arrived at Edinburgh Cathedral before it shut for the day to get our stamp – which they didn’t have. It summed the day up.

It was a nice cathedral and a return to the grander English style rather than the Parish church Scottish style we’d got used to.

The welcomer gave us some gift aid envelopes to cut the badge out and stick into our passport and we then cycled on to our campsite for the night.

With rain forecast we’d opted for a cabin, which was a glorified wooden tent, but warm, cosy and with a fridge! The site only did a 2 night minimum rental, but took pity on us and let us have it for one night and after a very challenging day, we slept like logs, avoiding another downpour outside….


  1. So glad Matildas Rest passed the test as opposed to Broughty Colditz Ferry!
    Great blog … so glad we didn’t fail!

  2. Sounds like word has got out that you’re an Ipswich Town supporter. It would help if Linda put a dog collar on you and symbolically flayed you on arrival.

    • We saw more Ipswich shirts on the trip than Norwich! (1-0) ????

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