Set amidst the beautiful rolling hills of Dumfries and Galloway (where all of Scotland’s finest features – mountains, lakes, sea and land – are gathered together) and putting on its best kilt to the coast, is Kirkcudbright – pronounced Kir-coo-Bree. It’s a charming little Harbour town, which holds its own with the bigger and better known brothers, Edinburgh (Edin-brer), Aberdeen and Glasgi (Glasgow)!
Every year (Covid-19 permitting), this little gem places host to a 7-week festival of fun, laughter and good old-fashioned family entertainments. Most days there’s something on for just about every one – be it joining in the Scottish dancing in the Harbour square; listening to the pipes and drums rehearse for their big parades; or watching the wonders of the ‘Kirkcudbright Tattoo’. Eat your heart out Eddie, Kirkie has you in a fist of…fish!
There’s nowhere better to sip, swap stories of your day at the ’boutiques’ and munch your freshly fried fish and chips, than the Harbour square. It’s the centre of the town; the car park ; and theatre for all things not found elsewhere. The haunting images created by the backdrop of McLellans castle – a remarkable ruin in its own right – and softly swishing sounds of the waters below, make for a most pleasant (nay, enchanting) al fresco dining experience.
But it’s about the ’boutiques’, I particularly wanted to tell you. No matter that Kirkcudbright is quite rightly known as ‘The Artists Town’, with its many art shops, galleries and arty historical connections. Let’s not dwell too long on the fact that this tiny gem has more gleam and glamour along its mainly flat and wide roads, than the Gypsy King’s cloaks, thrones and crowns (I’ll tell you why that guy has got a mention in a mo!)
The ’boutiques’ are really something else. Put from your minds-eye any thought of the likes of Laura Ashley; Vivienne Westward and co. I’m talking ‘real’ boutiques…you might know them better by their more generic name…..charity shops!
There are only 3 to choose from (well, it is only a small place) – one to support the local swimming baths; another to support the Kircudbright festival (mentioned above); and finally one supporting a local horse rescue charity. What they lack in number, these babies make up for big time with the bargains they hide within.
Top label garments in ‘as-new and new’ condition; menswear; ladies wear; stuff for kids, cats and dogs. There’s footwear, boots, bags and too many bargains to describe for home, car and any sport you care to mention. It’s not dated or out of fashion clobber either. Most things are priced around £2.00. Can you believe that? Top to toe in big brand tailoring for about a tenner….
This is a ‘must visit’ coastal town, where it’s possible to walk in the shoes of others – literally – and feel you’ve just had a meeting with the Gysy King. Told you I’d come back to him.
In just 5 days whilst staying in Kirkcudbright – between ’boutique’ visits – I wrote ’10 Days to Fury : the quest to find The Gypsy King’. For those of you who may not know, Tyson Fury is World Heavyweight Boxing Champion – his professional title is the Gypsy King. Not only is he a ‘big cheese’ in the boxing world, he’s also a very big bloke (6’9″) with an incredibly big heart to match.
’10 Days to Fury’ is a true life story involving the big boxer; an unsung war hero with more than severe combat PTSD; and me. As much as it’s about Mr Fury, the book is about those who spontaneously stepped forward to offer their help with my quest. Ex-professional boxers; former world champion boxing belt holders; fans and some distinctly odd characters. Even people from the Traveller community!
Publication spring 2021 all proceeds of sales to benefit the orphaned and abandoned children known as ‘streetkids’ (Divine Care Missions, Jinja, Uganda).