Today was our wedding anniversary, and as we had our granddaughter with us for the day we were looking for something "different" to do that would also keep her amused.  It was almost a random chance that we thought about visiting Aberdour Castle - there's a play park nearby that was the first thing in our minds, but then we realised that we hadn't been to the castle in years, not since our own children were quite little.  In fact our youngest son couldn't remember ever having been there.

The castle is managed by Historic Scotland and we used to be members when we lived in Aberdour.  As both residents and members we were allowed a key to the East gate into the walled garden, which then gave access through the courtyard and out the main (West) gate.  This was a shortcut to the village High Street and avoided the sometimes heavy through traffic on Main Street, and was my wife's favoured route for taking the kids to playgroup.  But I don't remember if we've ever been back to the castle since we moved out of the village - maybe once.  Certainly, the last couple of times we visited I recall that the stonemasons were doing restoration work and had a makeshift workshop covered by canvas canopies at the bottom of the terraced garden.

Today was a chance to see if anything much had changed.  Well, with an ancient building - the castle has features that date it to being possibly the oldest standing castle in Scotland going back to at least 1200 AD and maybe 1150 AD - you don't go expecting there to be anything "new".  But It did seem like there was more of the castle and grounds that were accessible.  The most noticeable thing was that it's now possible to get inside the beehive doocot at the far end of the garden.  The gate was always locked before.  Additionally, the orchard seems to be a recent introduction:  I don't recall it when the masons were there and the trees look quite young, although I expect the varieties aren't "modern" grocery store cultivars - there were a few russety Cox-like types and some unusual lemon shaped apples.  It's been a good summer for fruit this year and the trees were heavy.  Quite a few apples had fallen and were beginning to rot on the ground.

We popped into the ticket office/shop to pick up a few items and my wife happened to mention to the custodian that she hoped the apples were being put to a good use and not just going to waste. "Oh, but they are just going to waste.  You see, we're not allowed to sell them.  I pick a few and put them in a basket here and, well, if anyone wants one they can just take it".  "Would it be OK if we picked a few?"  "Yes, of course, just pick what you want, they'll be wasted otherwise".  So, one big bag of apples later, it looks like apple pie, apple crumble, Eve's pudding, etc., are all going to be on the menu over the next few weeks!



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