Feb 11, 2018

Dumbarton Scotland - Lunch at Overtoun House

Getting closer to finishing up the pictures from our 2017 Sottish Adventure......challenge is on to get them all done before we leave for Ireland in a few weeks.  Unfortunately day 6 is taking several posts, and this one won't finish it up.
In 1985-1986, this was my 'driveway' and on this day of our trip we were able to return to have lunch at my old home.  The house is open for tea only on weekends, so our driving tour of Scotland had totally been planned so we would end up here on this day to be able to go inside.
Anyone who has gone back somewhere special after 30 years should have probably told me - there really is no going back.  Even when I was getting these pictures together and wanted to have a few old ones mixed in with the new, I realized that my old pictures were all looking out from the house and the new ones were looking in.
Overtoun Bridge Steps 2017
Overtoun Bridge Steps -2016 - I wore my pink fingerless gloves ALL the time

When we stayed on the Isle of Skye our B&B hosts were from Dumbarton and they had told us of all of the changes in town.  My arrival in 1985 as a 20 year old was my first time out of the country.  Actually it was a lot of first - first time on a plane - dragging around the luggage with no wheels - since no one had thought that brilliance up yet.  But even though the US was a different place in the early 80s - this little corner of Scotland truly could feel like you had stepped foot into a much earlier time in the century.
My first flight led to my first taxi ride.  The driver took me to the centre of town - right to the rock.  Not sure why - although I remember that I was trying desperately to understand his accent.  I had exchanged dollars for pounds before I left - but I didn't have coins so I couldn't use a payphone (remember those?), but he did lend me some, I called the house and they gave him directions and I ended up where I needed to be.  The view above was taken on one of our walks from the house into to town.  I don't remember thinking it was especially long.  Now, I would be grateful to have a car.

  
I have all of my first letters home from countries I lived in.  My first letter home from Scotland jumps RIGHT into the fact that we had eggs IN CUPS for breakfast.  Another American and I had not known how to eat them.  I mentioned how weird it was.  It was not the first time I was to be the object of humour to my new British friends.  As it so happens, this morning my husband and I had eggs for breakfast.  IN CUPS.  With tiny spoons even.  I didn't know that I had written it - nor that I had saved it in my scrapbook.

Dumbarton 1985 - my caption on the back of this photo is great!
Our drive this trip took us through Loch Lomand - such a lovely area.  Next time we will stop.  It had been the place of picnics in the 80s, as it was close to our house.  The weather was beautiful and SO many people were out enjoying the Loch, the water, the walks - that we just assumed that all the traffic was "park people"  You see, my house, was up a lovely remote little lane.  There was a pub (where I learned you eat hamburgers with a knife and upside down fork on my second day in Scotland).  And lots of sheep.  And peace and quiet.  And so few people that when you go into the shops, you just leave your babies out in their prams on the walk.


But the GPS was suddenly telling us the Milton Brae was right there and to turn.  By the car dealership.  And the STARBUCKS. In all of the traffic.  

A couple more turns, less the traffic and it did begin to look like we were in the right place.


This is the picture I have kept for 30 years.  The nice thing about "old" homes is that they tend to look the same - for a very long time!!

My best friend had a mini cooper while we lived there.  Oh, I loved her car! 

 The property is now also part of a park.  We spent many afternoons hiking up the crags and around the creeks.  It is where I fell in love with Scottish Bluebells and learned to avoid Scottish nettles.






Overtoun Circa 1985 - I felt so fashionable in my stirrup pants!  

Once inside- some of the colors were a little different, but overall - so much of the same.  They had free wifi (which when traveling internationally is the only way I can get on Facebook) - so I was able to get on and tag several friends who had lived there with me.  Even typing the words "Overtoun has wifi" was surreal.
Obviously when we lived there it was waaaaay before cell phones and selfies - just paying for film, let alone the developing meant we didn't take a lot of pictures.  This time I took pictures of every nook and cranny of the downstairs that I could to share with them.

There had been statues that we decorated - but they were gone.

There had been a phone box - where we could call home (for more than $4 a minute), it was gone - but there was a great little stand that sold mugs, tea towels and more.

The room where they now serve tea looked just the same.  We called it the Angel Room.  For obvious reasons.

So many memories in this room.  It was in this room that someone carried their small tv and we watched coverage of the Challenger accident.  I scorched several skirts standing too close to heaters because I was always so dang cold.


A family lives there now - and the upstairs is their private quarters.  The kitchen and the dining room where we had eaten were also blocked off.

We enjoyed a nice lunch.  The family that runs the tea room has an American side - so it was a fun mix of a Scottish menu with some 'twists'
As we waited for our food and I continued sending pictures to friends - I looked around and thought how strange to be in this room with my daughter - who is just a few months older than I was - when I had been living there. 

Not one time did it ever occur to me that maybe 30 years in the future I would return with my husband and daughter to have lunch in the Overtoun tea room.

After we finished lunch we walked around the grounds.




I lived in two rooms during my stay.  The first year - my window faced out the front.  The second was my favorite and you can see our window here - and our "fridge," as we just kept our food out on the windowsill.  


We had some great times in the backyard.  One of my favorite memories is from the 4th of July.  The day was spent in a fun "Us" vs "Them" round of games, American bbq foods, a huge cake shaped like the USA.  And the weather was glorious.  Our trip had glorious weather.....my memories of living there do not include a lot of beautiful weather.  Maybe I was there during a bad couple of year stretch?


July 4, 1985

The stairs at the back of the house were such a fabulous place for group pictures.  


Some of the quaintness of the area was missing.  I am not sure if it was missing from the actual place or from me.  When we walked while I was younger, I often felt as if maybe Pooh or Beatrix Potter perhaps would just pop out.  There were horses, cows, lots of sheep.  
Even my pictures seem really old.  But I do see animals grazing just outside our yard - which makes me feel like it wasn't all just a dream!

Because they are far away, the picture doesn't do them much justice - but these are our crags that we often hiked up.  The view was spectacular.




We hadn't needed the guides, but they are here now for those who do!

I desperately wanted to go in to town and run into the shops.  There were a couple of small things that I had wanted to pick up and I had 'saved' getting them for here - just so I could run an errand in Dumbarton.
We still had a couple of other places on our days list to try and get to (and you won't believe it when you see just how long this day ends up being!) so we hopped in to the car to head in to town.

There is also a castle in town.  Whether it was not a thing to see then - or whether it had cost money (and it had been scarce back in the day), I had not ever been to it either.

As it stood - the traffic was bumper to bumper - let's say I was gobsmacked!  Maybe it was all the football games getting out??  We tried to find a place to park in town and quickly realized that was a dream that was quickly going to have to die.

We did find a car park near the entrance to the rock and the castle - but just went up to get some pictures so we could get out of the traffic.  During our entire stay in Scotland there was really only one place that we encountered busy-ness and crowds.  And it was in my sleepy, little 1940's town of Dumbarton.  Crazy!

I closed my eyes as we drove out.  I will choose to remember it with bakers windows full of signs that I am not sure of the meaning of and taking our pastries out to eat them along the water's edge.
Just a couple more stops on Day 6....before we stop for the night - at a Sheep Farm!!


Two quick other things.  I didn't buy many things while I was there - but apparently this postcard was worth whatever the few pence it costs.  It does reinforce the memories that I have that it was damp, dark, rainy and wet for much of the time there! 

Secondly - if you would like to read about the journey that has taken us the first 6 days of the trip 

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