Dull and Boring

This time last year there was an interesting piece in the Scottish news about the small village of Dull in Perthshire.

The story concerned the village of Dull forging a link with the equally uninspiringly named town of Boring in Oregon, USA.

Along with everyone else, I thought this a splendid idea. When I heard that signs had been erected outside Dull to highlight this pairing I was keen to see them.

It took me a while to get round to doing this, but a few days ago I bundled the delightful assistants into my car and we sped off towards Dull, which lies in a quiet and pretty part of rural Perthshire.

It was about an hour’s drive away, which would have been achieveable in a oner if it weren’t for the fact that it was late morning before we left. In need of sustenance, we stopped en route at one of my favourite tearooms, Legends of Grandtully:

I’ve written about this place before (here) and have already gone on about the exquisite hot chocolate available, but I can’t resist giving it another mention.

As you might have noticed from the sign, Legends is attached to a chocolate centre. If you are remotely interested in chocolate, this is a most appealing prospect.

When we visited the other day I ordered one of their chocolate beverages – the very potent espresso sized hot chocolate ganache, which came topped with a sprinkling of unsweetened cocoa that I found to be a highly satisfactory addition:

If you read my previous post about Mallorca you might recall that it featured another rather spectacular hot chocolate. This one at Legends was similar, and Legends is the only place I’ve found in Scotland that serves up this style of hot chocolate.

I know I mustn’t bang on about it too much because this post is supposed to be about Dull and Boring, but before I leave the subject here’s a close-up of the chocolate’s surface, wrinkled by a teaspoon to demonstrate how thick and glossy it was:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Delightful assistant no.1 had coffee, delightful assistant no.2 had peppermint tea (the first time he had ever ordered such a herbal beverage in a tearoom), and we all shared a large fruit scone. That might sound a bit feeble, sharing a fruit scone between three, but it was very substantial and to be honest I was rather preoccupied with my hot chocolate; I ate a bit just to be sociable.

From Legends, we drove on, feeling replete and excited about Dull.

When we reached the outer limits of the village, lo and behold, there was the promised sign:

The village of Dull is bypassed by the main road, but if you turn off at the next right after this sign, you can drive along the narrow crescent-shaped loop that takes you through the village itself.

Despite having driven along the main road plenty of times before, to our knowledge none of us had ever taken the little detour through the village, so it was a new experience.

It was very quiet and I thought it had a pleasant atmosphere.

There was an old stone church that I fancied having a closer look at, so we parked next to it and delightful assistant no.2 and myself took a wander through the graveyard. Delightful assistant no.1 has been having a bit of bother with her hip and so she stayed in the car, enjoying the warmth of the sun coming in through the windows.

As with most little churches I try to get into on weekdays, this one was locked, and I’ve since discovered that it hasn’t been used as a church since the 1970s.

It was built on the site of an early Christian monastery and slabs dating back to the 7th and 8th centuries were found in the graveyard during grave-digging in the 19th century. One particularly fine example displaying horsemen is now on display in the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.

I don’t know if this particular bit of stone (below) has any significance, but someone has gone to a bit of trouble to secure it to the bottom of an outside wall of the building:

There was also a large font sitting next to the front door, which I neglected to photograph, but it’s also thought to be a relic from Pictish times. If that’s the case, it could be 1200 (or more) years old and it’s just sitting there full of water in a disused churchyard, slowly being weathered away by the elements.

Not far from the churchyard, sitting unobtrusively next to a holly tree just outside someone’s garden, there was a big stone cross penned in by a metal fence.

Having read a bit about Dull since visiting it, I wonder if this is one of the Pictish relics that was found in the churchyard. Strangely, although it’s been deliberately protected by the fence, there’s no indication of what it is or why it’s sitting there. I can’t help thinking a sign should be put up to explain its presence.

Another curious sight in Dull was a brightly painted church building just up the hill a bit from the old stone church. I walked up to have a look at it and felt very much as if I were in Iceland or Norway.

Far from being used for public worship, it appeared to be a private residence with a locked gate at the end of its driveway:

The rain was coming on by the time I took the above photo, and our third-of-a-scone each had worn off, so we hot-footed it to nearby eatery, the House of Menzies, which is housed in a refurbished mid-19th century farm building:

I’m worried that this post is going to become ferociously long, because I still have some other places to add to our day out, so I’ll call a brief halt here and take up the tale in my next post.

Tune in next time for a tasty luncheon!

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Categories: Architecture, Chocolate, Churchyards, Cocoa, Dull, Hot chocolate, Perthshire, Photography, Scone, Scotland | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 48 Comments

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48 thoughts on “Dull and Boring

  1. I think Dull looks quite lovely! I love the brightly painted church and that they’ve formed an partnership with Boring. Shows both towns have a great sense of humor about themselves.

  2. you are never dull and boring — I am keeping track of the places you talk about for me visit across the pond someday

  3. Like the title ^_^ (and the pics, of course!)
    Babs B, North Wales

  4. Gardengirl

    Well, I sure hope I get to visit across the pond more than once. All the places I see via blogs will never fit into one trip! For now, I visit through your eyes and words so thank you. My brother lives in Oregon. I’ll have to ask him if he knows about this connection. Keep traveling and writing so I can see more of your beautiful country!

    • Thank you, I’m delighted to provide a little peek into bits of Scotland to whet you’re appetite. I was hoping someone reading this might know about, or have been to, Boring. If your brother’s heard of this link it’d be great to hear about it.

      • Gardengirl

        Ok, I’ll call him today and find out.

        • Wonderful, thank you!

          • Gardengirl

            This is what my brother had to say. He’s been to Boring a couple of times. It’s not far from where he lives. He said it’s on the way to the ski areas, just a small town with not a lot in it. I asked him if it was boring and he said it was a lot like the little town I live in, so I took that as a yes. He has never seen a sign mentioning the link to Dull, but thought it was pretty funny. That’s all I have right now, but I might do a little research on it myself.

  5. One third of a fruit scone is insufficient late-morning sustenance in my opinion. I hope the lunch was considerably more substantial!

    • Well, I would normally agree with you, but we did have it just before midday, so not long till lunch, and my hot chocolate was very thick. The lunch, I’m pleased to say, was nicely substantial. And there was afternoon tea with cake.

  6. the photos were wonderful and that hot chocolate looks phenomenal!

  7. Oh my goodness that chocolate looks lovely! :)

  8. I think that the town of Dull pairing with the town of Boring is delightfully quirky. The people of both towns must share a wonderful sense of humor. And a tea room actually attached to a chocolate centre? Pinch me, I must be dreaming.

  9. Hey Lorna, you made “Dull” very interesting with your write up and pictures. Very lovely indeed! Ah ! there is history and sinful chocolate, how could it ever be dull ?
    Funny, that some places and people are named uncommonly.

    • Thank you Aparna, I think your name is uncommon (at least in Scotland – I’ve never come across an Aparna here) but I’ve always thought it very beautiful. When I first saw it on your blog I wondered if you’d made it up, it seemed so romantic a name and eminently suitable for a poet.

      • Aparna is an old Sanskrit name, from Hindu mythology, means ” determined”- this was the name given to Shiva’s wife Parvati, for being steadfast and determined. It was pretty popular/ common in India in the 70s. We had at least 4 Aparnas in our graduating class.

        One uncommon name that comes to mind instantly is the World Alpine ski racer, Picabo Street, who was named after a street.

  10. How do you find these places, Lorna? I have seen signposts to Dull, but I didn’t know it was linked with Boring. It looks like a very interesting place! I wonder where the name came from – the Welsh for ‘meadow’ is ‘dol’, but I have no idea if there is a link there.

    While reading this, I was torn between the hot chocolate (that must be worth a day trip any time of the year!) and the curious broken cross and the carved stone. Regarding the stones, I have found these links that you might find interesting:

    http://www.brand-dd.com/stones/symbol/dull.html

    http://megalithix.wordpress.com/2011/08/14/dull-cross/

    Legends of Grandtully sounds like a paradise. I must go there soon! :)
    I’m looking forward to the follow-up post. Meanwhile I do hope that Delightful Assistant No.1 is feeling better.

  11. Jo, thank you, I’m indebted to you for those links, especially the first one which gives so much information about the stones and history. Culdees, Knights Templar and runaway horses indeed – fascinating! I did read somewhere that ‘Dull’ might come from the Gaelic for meadow or plain, so that sounds very similar to the Welsh.

    Legends of Grandtully is well worth a visit. To my mind, it’s a very beautiful little cafe with exquisite hot chocolate, and more chocolate deliciousness on sale in the adjoining chocolate shop. If that isn’t paradise, I don’t know what is.

    Thank you for your kind wishes re: delightful assistant no.1, she’s on the mend, I think.

  12. If ever someone’s asks me if I want to go to a Dull or Boring place, I’ll know that I’m actually on my way to an adventure, either here or there (in Perth or Oregon!) those town planners sure do have a marvelous sense of humour.

    …and yes, I did happen to notice you’d partaken in the most delightfully rich hot-choc in the world!

    • I really hope someone asks you that some time! I’m glad you spotted the hot chocolate. Pretty heavenly-looking, isn’t it? I know you’d appreciate it.

  13. You had me at the hot chocolate part. So yummy looking. Dull boes not seem dull at all!

  14. What a great story…the town is darling. My nephew lives in Portland Oregon…will ask him if he has heard of “Boring”… Portland is gets a lot of rain and is green and gorgeous looking in many areas… it’s fun that they are connecting as “sister cities” in a way.

    • I’d be interested to hear what your nephew thinks of Boring, if he knows the place. Apparently they’re in the process of erecting a sign like the one in Dull to declare the pairing between the two communities. Portland sounds lovely.

  15. I’ve been to Boring! If you drive from Portland to Mount Hood you pass through Boring. I believe there is a large colony of deaf people who live there. Gracie of the blog One Saylor’s Log lives in Boring or very close to Boring and posts lovely photos of the area. I thought the Dull/Boring twinning was a great thing. See – it’s already increased the tourist trade!

    • Aha, a first hand account of Boring – thank you, Christine! I remember a post you did about Dull and Boring, which reminded me that I wanted to see the road sign. I’ve had a look at Gracie’s blog which, as you say, has lots of beautiful pictures on it. I think Boring – like Dull – sounds as if it’s anything but!

  16. grayseasaylor

    Hi Lorna! I am so glad Christine introduced you to me! I have just spent the last hour visiting your blog and publishing sites and have been enjoying getting to know you and your beautiful part of the world. I have to confess that when I was given the choice between having a Boring mailing address or Gresham, that I chose Gresham simply to avoid being teased. However, our property is in Clackamas County and qualified to have a Boring mailing address :-) I will have to get busy and stop and take pictures of Boring, which is just a few short blocks of businesses, and post them. I am keen on the idea of Dull and Boring being paired as well! It is a friendship that is already benefiting both. I look forward to reading your blog on a regular basis, and I am cheering you on in your career as a writer! Blessings to you and yours,
    Gracie

    • Hello Gracie, how lovely to meet you, thank you for dropping in and commenting. I’m particularly pleased to have someone who actually lives in, or near, Boring reading this post, that’s made my day! :-) I’d love to see some pictures of Boring, and will keep an eye out on your blog for them. Thank you for your encouragement re: the writing, I am enjoying it although I’m very easily distracted. However, luckily when it comes to blogging, I can tell myself it’s all useful practice. :-)

  17. Hello Lorna, Dull appears anything but with its Pictish history and mountainous views, and the journey there seemed wonderful too. Your sumptuously glutinous hot chocolate ganache looks like the kind of think I would pay a very good price for. Could it be drunk in the normal way or was it only possible with a spoon?

    • Hi Finn, I certainly liked Dull and hope the name doesn’t put people off. Mind you, I suppose it encourages low expectations and then when you see it you’re pleasantly surprised. I forget now what that hot chocolate cost but it was worth every penny. Do you know, I can’t actually remember if I drank it from the cup or if I only spooned it out, I have a feeling it was the latter. I’m sure it would pour like a drink but a teaspoonful at a time was just right. I feel compelled to return and try drinking one from the cup now, just to check.

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