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Issue 2 - Fiona Armstrong's Dumfries and Galloway

Scotland Magazine Issue 2
June 2002


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Fiona Armstrong's Dumfries and Galloway

The broadcaster and writer manages to combine a high-profile media career with a rural existence

Fiona has worked for ITN and the BBC, helps front Border TV’s evening news and has her own production company, Border Heritage. She has written two fishing books and a cookbook and writes for magazines and newspapers.

Q: How long have you lived in Dumfries & Galloway?
A: For the past 10 years. Before that I lived south of the border in Cumbria. I married a man from Dumfries & Galloway.

Q: Is it possible to balance a busy career with a rural existence?
A: The two work perfectly together.The coutryside helps unravel the stresses of a busy career. But you have to be prepared to travel: we are Scotland’s best kept secret but we are a bit cut off from the big cities.

Q: Describe the region to someone who has never visited.
A: It’s a gem of a place – unspoiled, fewer visitors than places like Edinburgh and the Highlands, yet such stunning scenery, such history and such lovely people.

Q: What are the main attractions of Dumfries & Galloway?
A: Its history – places like Caerlaverock Castle, seat of the Maxwells; Gretna Green, home of runaway marriages;its fabulous coastline: gardens like the Logan Botanic and those at Castle Kennedy near Stranraer; its wildlife reserves.

Q: What’s the best thing about Dumfries & Galloway?
A: Scotland’s best kept secret. We are so lovely and peaceful here, yet there’s so much to see and do.

Q: And the worst?
A: The weather on occasion. Apparently, Eskdalemuir is one of the wettest places in Britain.

Q: Has devolution changed Dumfries & Galloway and Scotland as a whole in your eyes?
A: Yes, I think it has made people feel more Scottish. It used to be said that borderers felt at home on both sides of the border. I think that is changing, I think people have more of a sense of being Scottish now they see their own parliament making their own laws. Foot and mouth showed how devolution could work at its best – local government close to people, working to sort out the problem.

Q: Who are your Scottish heroes – historical and contemporary?
A: Johnny Armstrong of Gilnockie, one of the most powerful reivers on the border in the16th century, hanged by a jealous Scottish King. The legendary Kinmont Willie Armstrong, rescued from the English by Scott of Buccleuch. Not forgetting, of course, Sir Walter Scott for immortalising the border characters.

Q: Is there anywhere you regularly go to eat in the region?
A: I like to go to coastal areas like Kipford and eat seafood in the local pubs. Balcary Bay is a great hotel to stay and eat.

Q: Do you have a favourite bar or pub?
A: Canonbie, the Cross Keys and the Riverside, both are excellent. Good food, good welcome.

Q: What do you do to relax?
A: I go fishing and I cook. I also love to look at castles and lovely gardens.

Q: Is there any way the region could be improved?
A: Yes, some of the roads need upgrading – eg the A75 to Stranraer...

Q: What is your fondest memory of the region, or an experience in the region?
A: I have two: fishing on the Border Esk with my daughter, Natasha and having 80 Armstrongs from all over the world gather at the Armstrong Museum in Langholm.

Q: What’s your favourite local dish?
A: Probably haggis. Robbie Burns wrote many of his best poems in Dumfries & Galloway and he immortalised the haggis in his work.

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