Compared with the cosiness and general 'gezelligheid' of all our nightly stops so far, Kilmarnock was always going to be a controversial choice. It was the first big city we'd encountered, and free wheeling around the centre yesterday afternoon was a depressing detour. It almost scored 'English' on the scale of drabness, with betting shops, fast food outlets, and charity stores as the only hives of human activity. The hotel wedding guests we saw matched the setting.
Playing the role of helpless and coincidental out of town guests is never easy, but our 3am confrontation with the after-party and/or boxing match being staged in the room next door was less than welcoming, and made for little in the way of rest. Following a sleepless night, it's a small miracle we made it all the way to Gretna Green today. At 143km, our longest day so far. With the days first ten kilometres uphill, and the rest a relative downhill breeze. Strong winds rallied around till they blew at our backs, and we reached a new tour top speed of 61.9km/h. That sped us along the A57 and towards a pot of tea and a coconut and lemon slice at Shaquhar before 11am, and a pannini lunch in Dumfries before 3pm. From Dumfries we followed National Cycle Route 7 along the River Nith all the way to Gretna Green. With dinner done, a small feast of pasta and chicken, a quick stroll around the village green saw 3 wedding receptions in full flow. Thankfully, none are taking place at the B&B we're calling home for the night.
If the usual tradition is eloping to Gretna, our day was more like quietly and purposefully eloping away from Kilmarnock. By way of taking some mild retribution in our own hands, and giving karma a helping hand. We left the marimba tones morning alarm ringing and vibrating through the paper thin walls at 7am, and we neglected to settle our dinner bill with what was a lax and arrogant hotel staff. Oh, and we also stole five greedy handfuls of biscuits from the bar. That's karma.