After three agonizing months, my camera was finally shipped back to me from the States.  It was, blessedly, still under warranty and since it had a malfunctioning part that required the entire camera to be replaced, I am extremely thankful that it broke when it did.  A month or two later and I would have had no camera and no warranty to cover it!  God was very kind to me.

As soon as I got it back, I knew I had to go somewhere this weekend.  It’s a busy time of semester, but I sacrificed a productive Saturday to go on an adventure.  And it was a fabulous trip.

 I woke up at the ridiculously horrific hour of 6:00 on a Saturday morning.  I don’t think 6:00 and I have met for years…

My train left at 7:15 for Dumfries.  I had the original lofty goal of seeing Caerlaverock Castle and the nearby Sweetheart Abbey, but the bus system is very unfortunate on Saturdays from Dumfries, so I had to choose one of the two to see.

Of course, it had to be the castle.

Fortunately, spending half a day wandering through Dumfries was not exactly a hardship.  I had to wait until 1:00 to head to the castle and the train came in at 10:30, so I had plenty of time to kill.

The weather turned out ridiculously nice.  After a whole week of cloud and cold, I was morosely positive that my outing was going to be windy and rainy.

But I think that my good luck green t-shirt for Saint Patrick’s Day did the trick because it was very nearly warm and the sun was most definitely out.

Dumfries is a lovely little town with lots of fun buildings and a pretty High Street to walk along.

I enjoyed the randomly ostentatious red fountain.

A river runs through the city with a couple of pedestrian bridges going across it.

Using a DSLR camera takes a lot more work than a point and shoot. You have to constantly adjust settings if you want an ideal shot, but it’s completely worth the time and effort.  Whereas a point and shoot will often wash out a sky or lose the brilliance of the colors, you can tweak and tweak and tweak some more to get exactly what you want with a DSLR.

This is why I was so happy to have my camera back.

Anyone up for some perilous bathing?  Sounds exciting!

Crossing the old bridge.  I found out from a plaque on the other side that this bridge is built on the foundations of an older one that was built in 1280 out of timber.

This stone one, they say on the plaque, is the oldest multi-spanned bridge in Scotland, first mentioned in 1426.  That’s an old bridge for you.

I always feel a bit odd when I see something as mundane as a bridge or a sidewalk and find out it was around before my country was even discovered…

Lamp post!!!  A good view of the larger part of the town as well.

I love how the clouds reflected off of the still surface of the water.  What a perfect sky!

You might be interested to know that Dumfries is where Robert Burns (known fondly as Rabbie) spent is final years.  His house is in town and he is buried nearby.  As a result, Dumfries has plenty of monuments and museums in his honor.  I stopped at the Robert Burns Centre as I was walking along the river.  I was treated to the creepifying life-sized model of Rabbie featured above.  He seems to enjoy watching telly more than you would have thought.

The flowers are arriving in Scotland as well.  I love the budding trees, especially, so I spent a bit of time playing with camera settings and photographing away.

Close ups are fun!

Actually, this is a cropped photo.  I took it from just a little closer than the photo above and cropped it close.  This shows you just how good the quality is of these photos!

At the Robert Burns Centre, I picked up a handy pamphlet that took you through a Robert Burns walk in town to see all the sights.  The first one I found was this statue of him looking very poetical and literary.

I think it’s a dog at his feet… or a lion?  Hard to say.  One never knows with these poets.

Below the statue, a very pretentious white and brown spotted pigeon was wandering about.

Burns spent many hours writing at the Globe Inn.

Across from his house, this garden with cute little heart shaped rose plots includes a plaque with the first two verses of his famous poem.

The house is on a quiet street out of the way, very pleasant.  I almost missed it.

No one else was there.  This is apparently not a hot spot for tourists.  It was full of memorabilia, which I enjoyed, especially the books.

Below is a cookbook belonging to Jean Burns called The Art of Cookery Made Easy.  I kind of want to try some of the recipes!

Here’s where the magic happened: Burns’ writing desk!

His wife and son earned a statue as well across from the church where she and Robert Burns are buried.

My last stop was St Michael’s to see the mausoleum.  It is a great old churchyard with amazingly old stones.  The ones who were contemporaries of Burns have an extra plaque to let you know.

Beautiful and sad.  I do love reading stones in old graveyards, though.

So… yes, I found the mausoleum.  It was not exactly as impressive as I had expected, though.  Oh well.

I returned to town and waited for my bus.  My real destination still awaited: Caerlaverock Castle!

Despite about fifteen minutes of panic when my bus didn’t appear, I did finally make it to Caerlaverock, which is out pretty much in the middle of nowhere.  I was dropped off on a roadside and told to be there at 4:15 to meet the bus back to town.  Missing the bus was not an option.

Caerlaverock sits in a beautiful, clear green field.  It’s very impressive when you come around the bend and see it.

We will now enter the castle and you will be treated to an exhaustive photographic record of my wanderings through it.  Feel free to scroll quickly.  I am not ashamed of my excessive number of photos.  It was a good day.

I like taking photos of hallways within the old castles.  They look so haunted, in a good way.

This was not much of a castle for lengthy explorations and climbing towers or sneaking around dungeons, but it was fairly satisfying.

Some of the inner walls had beautiful carvings leftover.

I really wished there were some higher points to climb up to.

Wild flapping startled me in one dark room.  Using the flash revealed a demonic little pigeon huddled in a corner.

The castle is entirely surrounded by a moat.  Despite the stereotype, this is the first castle I’ve been to that actually has one!

I loved this window.  The view looks like a picture that has a stone frame around it.

I was coming down the stairs of one of the few upper level areas in the castle when I ran into two little girls who were there with their parents.  I’d seen them earlier charging around the grounds shrieking about ‘dragons in the moat!’

They saw me, gaped for a moment, and then promptly begged me to take their picture.

Sometimes, it was a trick getting a good balance of depth and light…  If I wanted a good, blue sky to show up, sometimes I had to darken the foreground.

The whole time I was walking around Caerlaverock, I was listening to Anne of the Island on audiobook.  It was the perfect accompaniment to my trip.  Anne’s imagination inspired mine.

What I imagined as I walked through this ruin (something I imagine often) is how the four Pevensies must have felt returning to Caer Paraval in Prince Caspianand finding it in a ruin.  They would have walked the halls the way I did, but they would have slowly begun to recognize the rooms and halls and remembered how it looked in its prime.

The castle is triangular, something else I’ve never seen.  From the back, you can see how it narrows to the front gate.

A roof seems to be missing…

Caerlaverock Castle: claimed!

Perfect reflections in the moat.  It was surprisingly windless that day.

1634 above the door.

Again, I had more time than I needed to see the castle, but I didn’t mind.  I had an audiobook, a castle, and plenty of sunshine.  I walked around the grounds and took to the woods.

Apparently, there’s another castle this way…

Yep, here it is!  Before the triangle, there was this one.  But, this castle was built in marshy land and at some point they probably realized that they had made a miscalculation in their choice.

Knight 1: ‘So… whose idea was it to put the castle in a swamp?’
Knight 2: ‘Shuddup!’
Knight 3: ‘Say, how do we feel about triangles?’

Had to use my imagination a bit more with this one.  I can’t say I was inspired to claim it…

This is the best vantage point to see the castle.  You can see the moat and the triangular shape.

For the last half hour, I sat at a picnic table with a view of the castle and the mountains, listened to my book, and ate a snack before heading back out to my roadside to await the bus.

No bus station for me.  I sat on a little mound of grass by the road and waited.

This last shot is from the window of the bus as I headed back to Dumfries to catch my bus home.  Altogether a lovely day.  My camera is back and I am happy.