Posted on 15 September, 2013
Hello there. I’m Amanda and I am probably the worst blogger in Blogland.
It’s been almost a year since my last post and so much has happened since then. We’ve moved house again, (we moved house twice in six months last year), my beloved and I got married in October 2012 (our 1st wedding anniversary is approaching fast and I’m eagerly looking for something to make), I now have a beautiful, baby grandson called Harley, I turned 40 (in the most fabulous fashion in the Big Apple) and our wee girl has left home to pursue her dream of becoming a farrier (very emotional time . . . lots of tears . . . thankfully all mine and not hers).
For our Wedding Day, I knitted my top using Rowan Kidsilk Haze and I also made the lace covered skirt myself too. The knitting part was easy peasy, but sewing that skirt was more difficult than I had thought it would be. I had only been sewing for six months when I decided to make a skirt to wear for our wedding, and I underestimated just how complicated pattern reading can be! Even trying to interpret what size to make was a challenge. However, I got there in the end and I was delighted with my outfit.
For my 40th birthday last month, hubby flew us off to New York for 2 weeks. I took thousands of pics and I still haven’t sorted through/photoshopped them all.
Anyway, I’ll go back to the house move part and tell you a bit more about where we are living. We’re now in Galston, the ‘Historical Heart of Ayrshire’. Galston means the place of strangers and it comes from the Gaelic word Gall (stranger) and the Anglican word tun (hamlet or enclosure). Galston’s ‘Historical Heart of Ayrshire’ title comes from its associations with William Wallace, Robert the Bruce and the Campbells of Loudoun and Cessnock.
This is the road into Galston. Can you guess which supermarket are building a new store here? The Balmoral Mill can be found on the road into town. It may not look like much from the outside, but inside there’s a wonderful shop selling various brands of knitwear and also a Coffee Shop too.
There has been a knitwear business on the Balmoral Mill site since 1899. Galston was once a thriving textile town inhabited by handloom weavers, stocking makers and Ayrshire White Needleworkers. There were four lint mills producing linen yarn for the weavers and there were also two lace and madras factories in the town too. As well as the textile industries, there was also a thriving mining industry. The men of the town would ‘go down the pits’, and the women worked in the textile factories.
Loudoun Castle, the family home of the Campbells of Loudoun is on the north side of the town. The castle was built in 1807 (around an earlier keep dating from the 15th/16th century) and was tragically destroyed by fire in 1941 leaving a roofless walled structure. Loudoun Castle was once known as the ‘Windsor of Scotland’. Drafts for The Treaty of Union 1707 were discussed in the gardens (under the Auld Yew Tree) and the Wallace Sword once hung on the castle walls.
This is all that can be seen of the castle ruins from the main road. The castle sits in the grounds of the now closed Loudoun Castle Theme Park, and I don’t think the castle is accessible by the public. I will look into this though, as I would love to take a walk up to the castle ruins.
Barr Castle is another castle in Galston. Unfortunately no-one knows exactly when it was built, but architecturally it dates back to around the 15th century. The castle is 3 floors high and is now a museum. It used to be known as Lockhart’s Tower. One of the Lockharts from Galston is supposed to have returned the heart of Robert the Bruce to Scotland after it was lost while being carried to the Crusades (this was a dying wish of the King).
The castle is very prominent on the drive into town and I have to pass it to get to my street. I still haven’t made it inside yet (it is open by appointment only), as unfortunately I didn’t make it to the Door’s Open Day event last weekend.
Two local legends are associated with this castle. William Wallace was said to have jumped from a window into the branches of a tree to escape from English soldiers (historians believe it to be an earlier tower as Wallace lived during the 13th century). Wallace’s men were also supposed to have played a handball game against the walls (again probably an earlier tower) to help them keep fit for battle. The people of Galston still played this handball game until quite recently and were World Champions at this sport. It was last recorded being played in 1939 with players using a clenched fist to hit a hard ball off the side wall of Barr Castle. Other famous people to have visited this castle are George Wishart and John Knox who both preached from within the castle.
And this is where we are living now:
It’s a wonderful house. Maybe not as grand as Lainshaw House, but it’s perfect for us. There’s a little burn along the side of my neighbour’s house and a local walking route goes right past the back garden. The house has a converted double garage that we all use as a hobby room. I’ve got all my yarn and fabric in there. It’s such a great space for sewing as it is so bright and airy (although it doesn’t stop me leaving knitting/crochet/sewing projects lying around the rest of the house).
A week after my last blog post, our landlord decided to sell up and we found out we had to leave Stewarton . . . just 6 days before we were getting married. We are hoping to stay here a bit longer – but you never know, maybe I’ll have moved house again before I get another blog post done!