The bookstores in Wigtown were closed when we arrived on Sunday morning. Good thing. Our small house is already crammed with bookshelves stuffed with books. Plus our suitcases were bursting at the seams.
Not that an exploding suitcase would have stopped us. We’ve never met a bookstore we could resist.
The locked up stores were disappointing, though. Wigtown is billed as Scotland’s National Book Town. My brochure listed 13 bookstores in the small 4-block community. We had been prepared to gorge ourselves on the printed page. The dead ancestors could wait.
We were looking longingly at books through a window when a taxi drove up. Out jumped the driver.
“Welcome to Wigtown,” he greeted us. “I’ll open the door for you.
“Wow,” I thought to myself. “Here’s a service I’ve never seen a taxi driver offer before.”
As it turned out, he owned the bookstore and Wigtown’s only taxi. While customers browsed, he ran around picking up fares. “Hard to make ends meet with only a bookstore,” he told us. Peggy and I bought six books to keep his kids from starving.
Naturally we had to stop by the town’s graveyard. While Peggy busied herself reading book length tombstones, I checked out the martyred Presbyterians. Two had been staked out in the mudflats so the flood tide would drown them: a slow, terrible way to go.
4000 years ago a different religion held sway in the region. Druids were the priests of the day and mistletoe was the ‘in’ thing. Lining up huge stones in circles kept folks off of the unemployment rolls. Stonehenge is just one of numerous examples.
Outside of Wigtown we came across one of the early sites. I almost got a hernia thinking about what it would take to move the rocks. Some cows gathered to see if I was going to test my manhood. I refused. Instead I photographed the cows and the local scenery.
Kirkcolm is the ancestral home of my Great Grandmother, Jannette McRoberts Thomson Mekemson. A wild-eyed Shetland pony dashed over to greet us when we parked at the lower end of town. “Maybe,” I thought, “Great G’ma has been reincarnated as a horse and is excited to see me.
Or maybe the pony thought I was good for an apple.
Peggy and I took a leisurely ten-minute stroll from one end of the town to the other. The houses were neat and colorfully painted. I would have been happy to spend the day, or a week. The clock was ticking, however, and we had miles to go to our next destination.
First we took a quick detour across the peninsula following narrow roads to where Jannette’s father had been born. Then we headed on for Muirkirk, the Old Church B&B, a possible ghost, and the lonely grave of my Great Grandfather to the eighth, John Brown the Martyr.