In recognition of the fact that Canada came to our rescue in the last post, Second Cup, we thought we would come here to Comrie because it is twinned with Carleton Place in Ontario. Actually, that’s rubbish, it’s entirely coincidental, we are really visiting an aunt who lives nearby … but the twinning bit is correct. But first, please bear with us if we digress a little. This is how the start of war was reported the day after it was announced in 1914. According to the headline, Scotland was not at war with anyone, yet somehow that trifling piece of misinformation didn’t matter – Scotland was most definitely at war. There is some equivalence in the here and now where, in spite of Scotland overwhelmingly wishing to stay in the EU, it is leaving anyway … simply because England wants to leave. We mention all this for no other reason than the fact that it was brought to mind by the trout, pictured below. It had spent the day when WWI was announced quietly swimming around Loch Earn, presumably just minding its own business … perhaps it was the last living creature to have died never having heard the words “World War” … that, along with its size, makes it pretty special.
By way of compensation, however, this brownie has spent the intervening 100 or so years above the fireplace in the rather comfy surroundings of the lounge here at the Royal Hotel in Comrie. If it could talk, we think it would have a few stories to tell. 72 years earlier Queen Victoria may have sat in the same lounge during her stay in 1842, hence the name “Royal Hotel” … maybe she was eating a scone?Comrie itself is a picturesque little village which, amongst other things, boasts a New Year Flambeaux procession involving birch poles of burning tar being marched through the village somewhat akin to Burning the Clavie at Burghead. The procession is followed, in the wee small hours, by a fancy dress competition … sounds like fun, one of these years we might give it a try? Also, the village, by virtue of its location astride the Highland Boundary Fault, experiences more earth tremors than anywhere else in the UK and is often referred to as the ‘Shaky Toon’. Unfortunately our scones were a bit ‘shaky’ too. There was no cream but other than that there was nothing particularly wrong with them … just nothing particularly right with them either, so sadly they missed out on a topscone.
Let us finish by continuing with the wartime theme. Comrie is home to the WWII Cultybraggan POW camp where Rudolf Hess is rumoured to have been held. Not something of which a village would be unduly proud, you would think. Last year, however, Heinrich Steinmeyer, a former Waffen-SS prisoner of the camp, left the village £384,000 in his will, as an expression of “my gratitude to the people of Scotland for the kindness and generosity that I have experienced in Scotland during my imprisonment of war and hereafter.” It is now over 70 years since the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau camps but they had rather different stories to tell … well done Comrie!
ps: in the same edition of the Telegraph which features the headline, at the start of this post, the Harrogate correspondent recorded his disappointment: “war is somewhat upsetting the season, and a number of visitors have left for home”.
PH6 2DN tel:01764 679200 The Royal Hotel