Visiting an artist friend is interesting, not only for the range of beautiful pottery and calligraphy items she produces and sells at home and online, but for the fact that her house is on the site of the Battle of Drumclog. “The battle of what” we hear you say! This battle, on June 1st 1679, is one of the few victories the Covenanters were to have over the government forces of Charles I. Like almost every battle since the beginning of time it was fought between two forces, both of which had God on their side … and it was fought on a Sunday for goodness sake!! During this contratemps, the government commander, John Graham of Claverhouse‘s horse was killed and he fled the field on foot but eventually took his trumpeter’s horse to make good his escape. The now defenceless trumpeter, a fourteen year old boy, was caught by the Covenanters, killed, and his body thrown down a well which is still known as Trumpeters Well. We tell you all of this simply to illustrate the point that the behaviour of our ruling classes has not changed very much in the intervening centuries … the Mays , Goves, Johnstons and Trumps of this world would not think twice about dislodging a young boy from his mount if it meant to saving their own skins … or are we being unfair? When we left Drumclog we decided to stop off at the Garrion Bridges Garden & Antique Centre in the Clyde valley. It used to be good for antiques but we found that a recent revamp of its facilities has not done it any favours in that respect … now, it is much more into gardens and gaudy knickknacks. Café du Jardin however is tucked away in a corner and specialises almost exclusively in afternoon teas – an oasis of calm. There is another much bigger café which caters to ordinary people. Not being particularly hungry we asked if they could just do a couple of scones … no problem! When they arrived, however, they obviously could not break the afternoon tea habit because “just a scone” turned out to be more akin to a mini afternoon tea … and all for the price of a couple of scones! The problem with this sort of thing is, of course, when people as weak willed as ourselves are presented with all these extras, whatever self discipline we might have had goes completely out the window. There was a plain and a fruit scone each, plus meringues, muffins, eclairs and macaroons … aaarggghh! One of the noticeable things about this place is a wall which acted like an interference pattern, playing havoc with your eyes and inducing a state of confusion which meant we ended up eating almost everything … that’s our excuse and we are sticking to it! Although decorated to a high standard, in our opinion, it would be much nicer with more subtle lighting that would relieve the ‘fluorescent’ effect that is never particularly appealing. Besides all that, this was a nice quiet place with very attentive staff that provided welcome respite from the shopping frenzy going on just outside the door … topscone!
The Covenanters were dedicated to preserving God’s rights on earth and were described at the time thus: “They were terribly in earnest. The passion that was in them , like all great passions, refused to be divided. Their idea possessed them with a force and a fulness to which we find few parallels in history. It haunted their sleep , it awoke with them in the morning – it walked , like their shadow, with them to business or to pleasure – it became the breath of their nostrils and the soul of their soul.” Today, when you read of a terrorist plot foiled in Australia it is perhaps worth remembering that religious extremism is far from a new phenomenon … just ask any young trumpeter.
ML2 0RR tel: 01698 372288 Café du Jardin