A freebie!

Well, nothing is ever free and I’m sure it was well paid for through interest payments on a bank loan I’d taken out last year! Anyway as a reward from the bank I’d the opportunity of a free night in a hotel.

Now, I could have chosen from anywhere across the UK but what’s the point of a free stay when you end up paying several hundred of pounds travelling to and from the venue! So I chose one nearby and found the opportunity to visit my youngest son in Dundee at the same time.

My day started on Thursday 4th July catching up with my eldest son near where he lives with his partner at Shawlands, Glasgow. He’s nearing the end of his Masters degree at Edinburgh University and has been endlessly submitting job applications without much success. It’s a tiring process as many young people in a similar position know only too well! It was great to catch up with him, we’d not spent much time together in recent months, so a bacon roll, coffee and chat was priceless.

Next up was a drive to Dundee where my youngest son is about to enter his final year studying graphic design. He’s found a part time job and been staying in his student accommodation at Dundee throughout the summer. His girlfriend from Chile is arriving next week and staying for a month so they’ve much to look forward too. They met when on university exchange to Australia then spent time trekking throughout Indonesia, he then visited her in Santiago during February this year.

His work is in the hospitality sector which means 03:30 finish and I could see he was a bit weary by it. The pay helps much with bills though and he’s looking forward to moving to a new flat in a few weeks. We had an early dinner at a restaurant attached to a Premier Inn as he was due at work that evening. I have to say I find the quality in these restaurant locations quite poor compared to 20-years back. Despite the stodgy uninspiring food I enjoyed his company and chat.

The hotel I’d chosen for the freebie was the the Old Churches House at Dunblane which was on the route home from Dundee. It’s easy to by-pass the town of Dunblane and in doing so miss out on some fine eateries, coffee shops and of course the Cathedral.

The hotel was lovely, staff great and the room clean, large and well equipped. I had a view over the Cathedral, the restaurant was busy and there was a great atmosphere.

As I’d been driving most of the day I decided to head out on foot. Back in 1996 I’d been a police inspector when the massacre of primary school children and their teacher took place at the local school. Whilst not involved in the response I knew many colleagues that had been, both on the day and in the weeks and months thereafter. A few years later I was to spend 7-years training others in responding to critical incidents and the Dunblane tragedy was often used as a case study.

I therefore had a feeling of connection with the events that day and for many years hoped to visit the Memorial Garden in the local graveyard. It was a short walk from the town centre. It was good to spend time in quiet reflection and pay respect to those that lost their lives, their families and all those involved or touched by the tragedy. I was struck by the headstones showing their ages ‘5 years old’ one after the other. It brings about a meaning and importance to life!

I returned to the town centre and found a cracking shop that stocks steak pies along with choices of Guinness, Pepper, Black Pudding and Haggis!

There was also the post box painted gold to celebrate the winning of the tennis gold medal by Sir Andrew Murray at the 2012 London Olympic Games. Dunblane of course being his home town.

I found a nice riverside walk around the rear of the Cathedral, then retired for the night, but not before a large glass of red was consumed back at the hotel.

I had a fab sleep in an enormous bed and left the following morning after a full Scottish breakfast. I enjoyed my stay at Dunblane and pleased I visited the Memorial Garden. Do visit the town, I recommend the Old Churches House Hotel for a good friendly stay.