We’ve been on our annual pilgrimage to Scotland, and returned. I wonder how many thousands of miles we’ve travelled over the years, just there and back?

The weather wasn’t great, but we enjoy being there. We stay with Joanna, whose guest accommodation is so comfortable that we feel guilty about how often we withdraw to our quarters, skulking like teenagers.

We go through to the East Coast, for John and Lawrence to attend golf at Gullane, and John and Eugene to go to St Andrews. We arrive at my brother’s for one day, and linger for three, enjoying their glorious garden. (Yes, I do know this is expressly forbidden in the Ladies Guide to Etiquette and Good Behaviour).Susan and I go to Falklands Palace, where somebody once rode a horse up the stairs, and where I on a previous visit, dressed all in black sitting in a quiet spot on the stairs. waiting for John and the children to emerge from the kitchen, was mistaken for a ghost by a startled passer-by. Did he think I was the ghost of Mary Queen of Scots, I wondered, or some Witch of Doom?

Another day, with Eugene and Susan, we go to an exhibition in Dunfermline of the Embroidery of the History of Scotland. The hall is full of people from all walks of life, examining the work with great interest. It is beautiful, interesting, amusing in places and skilful. We buy a book, and I hope to see it again.

On another day, Joanna and I, escaping the children left in care of the men, travel to Linlithgow and have coffee with my oldest (ie she’s known me the longest ) friend and her husband, and talking to her flows as smoothly and easily as it did when I was 19. The Company Secretary of the Brewery we both worked for brought her to me when she arrived and said, Please look after Miss B – and we’ve been looking after each other ever since.

Later that day we had lunch with a friend of my mother’s, whom I had not met for maybe 40 years (she is younger than I am) and we were lucky hat she had been one of the team of ladies who had laboured to produce the Scottish embroidery, so we were able to question her about the methods they used and the difficulties they had to overcome. She is also an authoress and a book has been published from her father’s war time diaries of the Arctic Run. (Ice and Fire by Leona Thomas).

John and I go back to Linlithgow later where I visit Norman Cummings fabric shop. I have just finished an enormous spool of white thread which I bought there 30 years ago, so I buy another and two pieces of train fabric, which Ewan has inspected and requested a cushion cover and pyjama bottoms which should be possible.   I also bought in Glasgow xome pink cherry blossom Japanese type cherry blossom cotto (gils’ dreses; bluse and trousers for me), plus some green gingham to back a quilt in progress for the swing, and a blue linen with seagulls on it.   I quite fancy a dress of it, but my friend Barbara, whose advice I value, thought it might look like a sofa…   You know if you made up the dress you’d see ‘sofa’ whenever you looked in the mirror.  I think she’s right as well.)   We collect our friends Nan and Steve and cross the river (the third bridge has its pillars solid in the water stretching their arms out to meet their neighbour) to an attractive little eatery in North Queensferry which used to be a post office and is now a rather elegant restaurant though not easy to manoeuvre. The food is delicious and we reminisce about our holiday in France last year and plan future outings.

Back in Glasgow, we take the children to Largs for the day to give their parents a day to themselves.

John and I go to Hill House in Helensburgh, a Charles Renee Macintosh house overlooking the Clyde. There is a party of Americans visiting, whose tour seems to rejoice in the appellation ‘Rhodes Scholars.’ Whatever the ‘Rhodes Scholars’ may (or perhaps not) have studied, good manners is clearly not on the list, for I hear several peremptory commands barked out to hapless waitresses, “Tea! I feel like intervening and saying to the ill mannered customer, ‘Your rudeness is not acceptable here. ‘Please’ is mandatory in polite English.’ But needless to say, I pass quietly on to other pleasures. Joanna and I go looking at shops, having coffee etc. I buy a black and white Linea dress in a sale.   We have lunch with Joanna and the girls in the House for an Art Lover.   I buy a handbag ( as I do nearly every time I come here) in the Burrell.

We have lunch with Lawrence’s parents. John and Lawrence and his father play golf. We go to the Transport Museum; and on an outing to Luss, we take a boat out on Loch Lomond.

Then it is time for us to return. Joanna comes driving in tandem with us, and we stop on the M6 tollway motel for the night. You always think as you pull in that it’s too early, you could make it home; but once you stop driving you find you’re really tired, and next morning that it’s a long way still to get home.

When we came down to England first, we used to cheer when we crossd over the Border into Scotland. We still do that, but now we cheer when we come across the Border into England as well. It is, I’m happy to report, still an open border.   Do visit Scotland.   It’s a lovely place and the natives are, for the most part, friendly!