On our first wedding anniversary, we had a long weekend away. Noticing that the destination began with A, we began a tradition of working our way through the alphabet at each anniversary. This year we have reached D – for the second time. We’ve been doing a lot of travelling in recent weeks, so we didn’t fancy another long journey. Arranging to meet in Dundee when Clare was on her return from Aberdeen seemed ideal.
The expected disruption to rail services this week was a factor too. I was able to use my bus pass to get a free ride on the electric bus to Dundee (other bus services are available). Clare’s bus was cancelled and its replacement delayed, so I had time to locate our hotel before meeting her off the bus. We were pleased with our hotel, a comfortable room with features reflecting the history of Dundee. It was only a short walk from the centre of the City too.
We were exploring in search of dinner when we were accosted by a passer-by. He had recognised us, and after only a few moments we recognised him. Young adults who you have mostly known as children have the advantage in such situations. We had a short chat during which we discovered that George was at University here. He gave us a local’s tip for somewhere to get dinner, and we all went on our way.
We went past the bins in the side-alley as he’d suggested and pulled open the fire door with the light above it. Amazingly we discovered a carpeted stair down with 1930s music playing. At the bottom was a speak-easy style bar serving cocktails. There was no food available though, so we didn’t stay, but we did have cocktails with our meal at the restaurant we’d spotted earlier.
In the morning we set off to explore again. The sun was shining brightly and there was no wind, but we had to wrap up warmly as the air temperature never got above zero. One of the statues we found seemed to be more of an exaggeration of how cold it was than even I would use.
We wandered down to the shore in the cold sunshine. From there we could see the sun shining on Dundee Law above us. We decided that today was a good day to climb up as we were not encumbered with any luggage. I reprised the joke normally reserved for use in North Berwick – “It’s not just a good idea – it’s The Law!”
We found a pleasant route up, though we had to be careful a few times with icy patches of road, and even some of the grassy slopes. We were rewarded at the top with a great view of the Silvery Tay.
By the time we’d got back down, it was time for lunch. We ate at The McManus with a thought to explore the collection afterwards. By the time we’d eaten, I was keen to enjoy more of the sunshine, so we set off again, re-discovering some famous characters along the way.
We got to the RRS Discovery in the late afternoon. We were pleased to discover that in return for the entrance fee we got a year’s pass to the exhibition and ship. The light was already fading, so we decided to enjoy some of the inside exhibits and return to the ship itself the next day. Also included was a one-off visit to the dome above the exhibition centre. This was showing a depiction of Dundee in 1901 – when Discovery was launched. At the end, the screens lifted to reveal the sunset over modern day Dundee – recognisable, but a lot less smoky.
We headed for the speak-easy, but the door was locked, so we went back to our hotel for a hot drink and a warm up and then we ventured out again. This time the light was on, so we went in and had cocktails.
Suitably refreshed we went looking for food. We have got used to country life on the boat where you have to be careful about when things close. We hadn’t expected to discover that almost all the restaurants in Dundee stop serving by 8pm. Luckily we got a delicious meal in about the only place that served until 9pm. Even there, we were the last to be served.
We started the final day of our trip by spending time in the Discovery exhibition, and then exploring the ship itself. It’s a lot bigger than Bartimaeus, but the crew had a lot less space and fewer comforts than we do. I was amused to discover that the propellor shaft also has a grease gland. The principle is the same – pack grease in to keep the water out – but we don’t need to use a steam feed from the engine to warm the grease.
We had lunch at the McManus again and this time we did explore the collections. The electric bus took us home with only a slight delay.
I know from remote monitoring that Bartimaeus is also in freezing temperatures. The hull won’t have to endure two years in pack ice as Discovery did, but is probably trapped in thin ice just now. We have a low-powered electric heater on board to keep the internal temperature above freezing. I spotted on Thursday that the power from shore had dropped to zero, and temperature on-board had dropped below zero – we had used up all our credit. I phoned the Canal Centre and paid for some more and things soon resolved.