Dunblane was still buzzing from the visit of Andy Murray the day before we came to town. It was definitely a morning-after-the-day-before with everyone talking about how he signed hundreds of autographs during his home-coming victory parade to mark those US Open and Olympic wins.
Virtually every shop window in town had its own message for Murray. Some referred to him as a ‘lovely boy’ (!), some gave him superhero status, but I actually liked most of all the children’s drawing in the window of our featured café, with the caption: “Well Dun Andy” – just not sure if this is a budding tabloid headline writer of the future or a genuine spelling mistake…
The Beech Tree Café gets our vote for best coffee in town, and does a pretty good pot of tea too (though not loose-leaf).
The cakes are also delicious. Scones are baked on-site fresh every morning, and there’s a good selection of sponge cakes and ginger loaf, cup cakes etc to whet your appetite further.
We went for the key spot in any café, perched on stools in the window; best place to get a feel for customer interaction at the bar, and to watch the town go by.
There’s a good vibe here, with lots of regulars from round town (all talking about Andy Murray, and which prized possession he signed for which offspring…but I am assured that the US Open trophy lookalike in the café window was just that: a lookalike…)
The Beech Tree Café is also a great place to sit and imagine just how busy this road must have been before the A9 was built, as this was the main road for access north of here. And going back even further, to the 15th century, you can just see the spot where they used to have to ford the river before the first bridge was built.
Dunblane’s Cathedral stands high up above the river at the top of the High Street. It’s another of those Church of Scotland buildings that isn’t a cathedral strictly speaking any more, since they scrapped bishops many moons ago, but everyone still calls it the Cathedral, and it has history going back for centuries.
One of the most moving features in the Cathedral is the memorial to the children who died in the 1996 massacre here. “If there is anything that will endure the eye of God, because it is pure, it is the spirit of a little child”.
But the great thing about Andy Murray’s success for the image of Dunblane in the eyes of the rest of the world is that it gives the town a more positive association than an isolated tragedy that occurred some 16 years ago.
Just wait till the guy wins Wimbledon. It’ll be strawberries and cream on scones for everyone, surely?