Perth, former capital of Scotland, and my new home for a while

As scary as it sounds for me, I can say that I settled for a while. After my job interview, I went travelling in Northern Scotland for about a month, before coming back to Perth to start working at VisitScotland as a Seasonal Visitor Services Advisor. I moved in with my nice Polish flatmate.

There’s obviously a few things to visit around Perth, and working at the Information Centre, it was my duty to discover them all (unfortunate I know!) One of my first days out was to Scone Palace.

Scone Palace and the couple who gave me a ride
Scone Palace and the couple who gave me a ride

Scone Palace

Scone Palace, pronounced Scoone, was the crowning place of the Scottish Kings. We decided to walk to Scone Palace as it’s only two miles from the centre and it was a nice day.

We took different ways to come in, I used the VisitScotland pass and he went through the gardens while I visited the Palace. On my way to the gate, an elderly couple was driving past and offered me a lift to the gate. I visited the palace, learning about the history of the illegitimate Belle. It sounds like something of a Disney or Pixar movie really. After learning about the place, I joined my flatmate outside of the palace. We could hear peacocks in the trees so we spent a little bit of time watching them moving from one branch to the other. They are massive and yet they somehow manage to stay up in the trees. Impressive.

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Peacock at Scone Palace

We had a look at the chapel and, of course, at the replica of the stone of Destiny, on which the kings were crowned. The original stone is now in Edinburgh Castle, after having been moved around a lot over time.

The park is quite extensive and we spent the afternoon walking around, meeting a white peacock and some horses. When we passed the kid’s playground and I saw the small zip line, I couldn’t resist and got on it. Let’s just say I’m not child size anymore and I think I went a bit faster than one is supposed to go!

Entrance to the maze
Entrance to the maze

Later on, we walked past the old cemetery and entered the Murray Star Maze. We might have cheated slightly to get out as we noticed a small shortcut leading to the stairs and the platform. Once on the platform, it’s a lot easier to find your way out! On our way back to the city, someone offered us a ride back, which was very nice.

Perth Museum and Ferguson Gallery

A few days later I decided to have a look at the Ferguson Gallery and the Perth Museum. They are both free entry so it’s worth having a look, especially on a rainy day! The Ferguson Gallery is located in the old water tower, next to South Inch park. The museum shows the work of John Duncan Ferguson and his wife on the first level and on the second level, there is some artwork from local artists. It was interesting to see, but I’m not really the gallery type so it was a quick visit.

Perth Museum and Gallery
Perth Museum and Gallery

Afterwards, I went to the Perth Museum and Gallery. The museum has different exhibitions on display and when I visited they had an interesting exhibit about the history of the city. I learned a few things, but as I wasn’t really in the mood to read much that day., I moved on to the other rooms. They have a pretty big collection of taxidermied animals on display which I wasn’t very comfortable around. They creep me out. So I decided I had had enough museums for one day and went for a stroll in the park instead.

Black Watch Castle and Museum

On my next day off, I managed to build enough motivation to go visit the Black Watch Castle and Museum. It is a museum dedicated to the Black Watch Regiment. It covers the history from 1725 to pretty much now. I really don’t understand the appeal of war. The domination of other humans to claim territories… Fighting with people simply to convince them your way of life is the only valid one, instead of joining each other in peace and seeing the culture differences as a plus. I don’t know that I’ll ever understand the propaganda, but regardless it was interesting to read about the history of the regiment and see the many items on display.

The river Tay becomes a playground in the summer
The river Tay becomes a playground in the summer

Highland Games

One thing not to be missed by anybody coming to Scotland between May and mid-September is the Highland Games. The games are held in various places throughout the summer and in Perth, it was on August 9th. The Highland Games were pretty fun to watch. There was a competition of pipe bands, dancers, individual pipers, bicycle race, running, tug of war, and my favourite: the heavy weight!

Perth Highland Games, man in kilt throwing something heavy
Perth Highland Games

They sure like to throw stuff around! They started with the 16 and 22 lb shot putt followed by the 28lb for distance. Throwing two different hammers as far as possible, throwing a 56lb kettle bell for height and my ultimate favourite, tossing the caber! Caber tossing is basically picking up a tree trunk. Running with it to create momentum, stopping quickly and throwing it in front of you. The caber needs to flip and land on the bigger end before falling to the ground as close as possible to the twelve o’clock position. The caber is about 18ft long and weighs about 150lbs. All of that wearing a kilt, of course! So entertaining!

Scotsman ready to toss the caber
Caber tossing, Perth Highland Games

The day of the games, I was joined with an international girls team. My two couchsurfers, Ziska and Anne from Germany, AurĂ©lie, my French friend and Sara, my new Polish friend. We had a great time walking around from one event to the other. The weather was also great, not very warm but sunny for part of the day. Enough to come back with a red face. It’s so easy to forget to put sunscreen on in Scotland. The sun (when present) is often hiding behind clouds and it’s never really warm enough to feel like summer, so it’s quite easy to get a sunburn in Scotland. Not what one would expect giving that the local tan shade is mostly paper white. But it does allow me to blend right in!

Highland Games bands
Perth Highland Games

Kinnoull Hill

I went to Kinnoull Hill a few times during my stay in Perth. Kinnoull Hill is a Woodland Park located just a few minutes walk or drive from the center and it boasts great views especially next to the tower. On one of those few glorious summer day where it was even warm, I went up Kinnoull Hill after work. On my way up there I somehow got lost, well not lost but I didn’t take the road I had meant to take. But I did find raspberries on my way up so it made up for the wrong path. The views from the viewpoint and the tower are truly gorgeous. It so relaxing to get up there and just sit still for a while. There are many paths one can choose and even some wooden sculptures scattered along the paths. Apparently there are 10 different sculptures, but I have yet to find them all.

View of the tower overlooking the river
Kinnoull Hill

On that gorgeous summer day, when I was ready to come back down to the city, I followed a different path, going through a very dark forest, a perfect setting for a horror movie! It was still very sunny out, but that forest was so dense it was almost pitch black. I was glad to be there during day time and I tried to focus on something else than the Blair Witch Project and other movies of the kind until I got back on the streets.

Perth Sculpture Trail

One of my favourite walks to do in the city was to go across the river on the railway bridge and come back through the park. There’s a lot of sculptures and gardens and it is a lovely walk. I did bring all my couchsurfing guests and friends on that walk. The views of the city make up for a great picture opportunity, and you get to feel like you are in nature. At least, away from the cars. Until you come back over the bridge that is!

Railway bridge and river Tay
Railway bridge and river Tay

Perth has a lot to offer and it was a good place to be for a few months, especially with a great flatmate and nice coworkers. I had settled back down into a routine, which I oddly found nice for a short while. At the end of my contract, as I had obviously done a decent job, I was offered an extension in Pitlochry. I took the job and decided to move a few miles North for another couple of months.

Perth Bridge at dusk
Perth Bridge

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