We were heading to the north east for a few days and stopped overnight in Nuneaton on the way. One of Nuneaton’s most famous residents was Mary Ann Evans – better known as Victorian author George Eliot – who was born in Nuneaton in 1819. Many of the fictional places in her novels are set in the area and the town is very rightly proud of her. There are many references to the novelist in Nuneaton including a local hospital named after her, a hotel, a large building in the centre of town and a statue! The Waterstones here is in a modern building set over two floors. Due to the market it was difficult to get far enough back to take a good photograph of the front of the shop.
George Eliot statue
There are plaques on the side, one listing her notable works and the others read:
“1819 – 1880 Born at Arbury, Nuneaton. Unveiled by Jonathan G. Ouvry president of the George Eliot Fellowship, Great, Great Grandson of G. H. Lewes. March 22nd 1986. Erected by public subscription.”
“Mary Ann Evans (George Eliot). Novelist, essayist, journalist and poet. Lived at Griff House until 1840 when she moved to Coventry and later to London. From 1854 to 1878 she lived with G. H. Lewes who encouraged her to write fiction. Her novels brought her world wide fame. In May 1880, she married J. W. Cross and died in December at 4, Cheyne Walk, Chelsea. She is buried in Highgate Cemetery, London.”
We liked the town. There was a large, lively Saturday market and there are some beautiful buildings if you remember to look up! One of these, a former Co-op, is currently being redeveloped and will be an ‘Escape’ room. I’m pleased to read that they’re keeping the gorgeous Art Deco façade. We also thought the Town Hall building very attractive.
Currently reading Follow You Home by Mark Edwards, and listening to A Litter of Bones (DCI Logan #1) by J D Kirk
Carlisle is the only city in the beautiful county of Cumbria. There was a settlement in the area before the Romans came. When they arrived they built a town called Luguvalium which was an important place during the construction of Hadrian’s Wall. It is thought that the town fell into ruin after the Romans left, but later a castle was built on the site of the Roman fort and the town of Carlisle grew up around it.
Carlisle is an attractive city that we have visited numerous times over the years as we have family nearby. The Waterstones here is in a modern shop near the market cross area and is set over two floors.
Below left: Abbey Gatehouse. Top right: Carlisle Castle. Bottom right: Carlisle Market
Below left: Guildhall Museum. Right: Old Town Hall
The Cathedral – one of the smallest in the country, constructed from red sandstone.
We left Ayr for our next overnight destination of Penrith in Cumbria, and, rather than taking the direct route we decided to drive through the beautiful Galloway Forest Park. We stopped for a break at Glentrool Visitor Centre and to take some photos and then headed to what, in 2018, was named as Britain’s happiest town – Dumfries! Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns, lived in here for the last seven years of his life, and is buried in the town. The Waterstones here is located in an attractive 18th century town house, formerly owned by Richard Lowthian of Stafford and latterly a hotel. Only the façade remains now, the site being redeveloped in the early 80s.
There are two plaques on the front of the building. One commemorates a stay of ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’ and the other is for the Cyclists’ Touring Club, which was founded in 1878 – these plaques showed hotels that were ‘cycle friendly’.
The Midsteeple of Dumfries
This Dumfries Town-House was completed in 1707 and has been used variously as a prison, a court, a council chamber and as a Register Office for births, marriages and deaths – these days it is used as a theatre box office. On the front is a plate showing the distances to various towns.
Galloway Forest Park
Our next stop was the coastal town of Ayr. We arrived late afternoon so didn’t really get to explore properly before we went to check into our hotel but we did have just enough time for a quick walk round the town. The High Street is dominated by the Wallace Tower, which commemorates William Wallace, the Scottish revolutionist who was portrayed by Mel Gibson in the film Braveheart. The Waterstones is also located in the High Street – unfortunately there was scaffolding all over the front of the building, making it impossible to get a good outside shot.
Reminiscence by Malcolm Robertson
This statue stands at the site of the town’s old Fish market and marks the end of Ayr’s fishing industry.
We left Oban and headed east and then south through Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. We stopped at the pretty town of Inveraray which is located on the banks of Loch Fyne before heading to Newton Mearns for lunch. We didn’t have time to look in the town, but we visited Waterstones which is in a small shopping centre on just one floor before moving on to our next destination of Ayr.
Before we left Oban we had time to go up to McCaig’s Tower, which was erected by a wealthy banker, John Stuart McCaig, whose intention was to provide work for the town’s stonemasons during the winter. Sadly he died of a heart attack before the tower could be finished, so only the outer wall stands. The position up on the hill overlooking the town gives some great views.
Below – left: Cairndow, right (top and bottom): Loch Awe
Next up we walked to Argyle Street to the Waterstones there. We had around an hour to spare before our train back to Oban, and it had started to rain quite heavily by this time, so what better way to keep dry than in a book shop?! This Waterstones is set over three floors – the outside of the building is attractive and the inside has been refurbished recently and looks very smart!
We only had a few hours in Glasgow and hardly scratched the surface. Although we had been to Glasgow before it was a long time ago for both of us so we are planning to return at some stage and explore the city properly!
Merchants House was founded in the 17th century to give charity to “decayed and distressed” Merchants and Craftsmen of the city, and still helps with charitable donations today.
The City Chambers building was constructed between 1882 and 1888 and has served as a government building since it opened shortly after completion.
The Walter Scott Monument was completed in 1837 and was the first ever monument to be erected in honour of the famous Scottish author.
Currently reading: Bookworm: A Memoir of Childhood Reading by Lucy Mangan
The forecast today was for heavy rain so we hopped on the West Highland Line to Glasgow. The trip from Oban takes just over three hours and passes through some beautiful scenery – it must be one of the prettiest railway lines there are. On arrival in Glasgow the weather was much better so we walked to Sauchiehall Street, stopping for lunch at the Hard Rock Café. I don’t often have burgers but did today… although I didn’t splash out on the 24 carat gold-leaf version (seriously!). The Waterstones in Sauchiehall Street is the largest bookshop in Scotland and is set over five floors in an attractive building.
The Hard Rock Café
(It might seem an odd thing to share photos of, but I think the building is quite attractive inside!).