Wednesday 15 June 2022

Arran Special 3 - The Queen's Secret Bolt Hole


We're off to Brodick Castle this morning. The royal bolt hole. Ever wondered where the Queen goes when she wants to escape? It's here. A bit of internet sleuthing reveals all. Brodick has been a royal retreat for most of the 20th century and continues to be so. Her last documented visit was back in 1997 when she couldn't totally escape the media as she had to open a park.

I dare say she's been here since, as have most of the royal family during the last century, There are numerous documents around the house attesting to this. Those of you who follow me on Steve's Nature Plus will know that I have recently developed an interest in history, At school, I had brilliant biology and geography teachers (thanks Messrs. Mee and Tomlinson) but really naff history teachers. My late wife, Christina, rekindled my interest and Ishbel has stoked the fires so look out for some off tangent historical blog posts from me in the coming weeks. I've discovered that history can be amusing! I'm currently developing an History of Things page on facebook so pop in and have a look.

I could quite happily live in this castle. I've never been materialistic, but have you ever noticed that dwellings are? My cottage in Crete was undemanding but the Victorian semi that we had in Bournemouth was not. Someone had boarded up the old staircase and Christina and I spent weeks restoring it to its old splendour. The house demanded it. Same with The Old Cornmill. It demands style. That's one of the reasons I started Steve's Vintage Collectables. I buy stuff at auction, live with them for a bit, then sell them on at a modest mark-up. The mill and I are happy with this arrangement.

Some lovely silverware in here but the cost of silver is skyrocketing. You may have noticed that world inflation is going through the roof. Everyone is going EPNS now, for wedding presents, retirement gifts etc. EPNS stands for electro plated nickel silver and was really big in the late 19th and early 20th century. With people getting more environmentally friendly they are shunning modern disposable junk and buying real made-to-last stuff. Personally, I love sitting down to breakfast with a bit of faux silverware about me, The queen does the same. Can you spot the difference? The toothpick holder is solid silver, the rest is EPNS. What is more, it's environmentally friendly. Buying stuff that was made over 100 years ago means that you are not fuelling modern mass production. Look into my store at Steve's Vintage Collectables for gift ideas.

But, enough of the advertising, let's go outside into the gardens and see what's about. I believe that they have a red squirrel hide out there. Another one of Arran's big 5. Oh, this is interesting, they have a plant hunters walk. Like many Victorians, the Hamiltons, who owned the place, were plant hunters and their garden is a fantastic place to walk through.Full of exotic palms and the like. Let's see what we can find lurking in the undergrowth.

Wow! Russulas. They're early, down south you don't usually see them until August. You have to be careful with these. Nibble a bit and if it tastes a bit hot and spicy, chuck them. They could upset your tummy. If not, they're good to eat. If you ever happen to visit Madagascar, go to the market in Antananarivo (Tana for short), Local delicacy.

Couldn't see the squirrels. Too many humans in the hide, sheltering in the hide from the rain. Hoods up, let's amuse ourselves by watching the House Martins – sorry, Castle Martins (these are upper crust) – feeding their youngsters. See you again tomorrow.

Oh, and by the way, my book of short stories with female lead characters, Not Just For Twisted Women, seems to be attracting some press attention. If you haven't read it yet, check it out by clicking on the link below. It's only £4.99 and you'll enjoy it, honestly.

Too covidified to go book hunting. Sorry. Going back to bed now.

Thinking of printing a T-shirt that says 'I went to Arran and all I got was Covid' ha ha, it will pass.

All the best,


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