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Sunday 30th December 2012

At St Michael’s & The South Church, Dumfries.

I woke after a night drinking in Dumfries at some of the warm taverns frequented by the national poet of Scotland, Robert Burns, which in all honesty is more of a case of finding a pub which he didn’t visit regularly! It was an escape from the cold wind, and judging by the way the locals were shoveling the hot food down I wasn’t the only one thinking along the same lines. I was visiting my pal Iain, and he’s moved house since I last visited and when I woke, I poked my head between the curtains and spotted an interesting cemetery.

Iain explained that it contains the Burns mausoleum, so I grabbed my camera and started snapping away. They build things to last in Scotland, perhaps its the bleak weather, but the little graveyard reminded me of the Necropolis in Glasgow, scene of many a Hammer Horror film ghost and ghoul chase.

At this church which styles itself as being “Of a 1000 Christmases,” the monuments are huge, some taller than the person buried beneath, and it was worth braving the cold wind to stop and read the stories inscribed on them, little personal histories that the stone has prevented falling into the mists of time. That feeling was heightened when I spotted the memorial to an outbreak of Cholera in 1832, the doom-laden inscription gives only a hint at the human misery.

Even with a chinese takeaway in the background there is still an eerie feel to the place, but even so it was a valuable 15 minutes I spent there. From there, with a heavy heart I made for home, nodding to a sign as I left Scotland at Gretna. It said “Haste Ye Back,” and I look forward to doing so.

Since this will be my last article of 2012, I’d like to wish my English reader a very happy new year, my Swedish reader gott nytt år, and my Japanese reader 明けましておめでとうございます.