Tuesday, 31 March 2009

The Phoenix

My favourite pub in Dundee if not the entire world. The Phoenix. A marvellous watering hole and a place I have been known to frequent for more years than I care to remember. I think this was the first pub in Dundee I got served in as a skinny 17 year old. Either here or The Scout, another legendary Dundee pub which is sadly no longer with us. R.I.P. 
The pub has been owned and managed by Alan Bannerman for many years. A fabulous mine host who is never slow to express his views on any subject you may care to mention.
It also serves the most fantastic Chilli which surprisingly has never changed down the years. I think I first tasted it around 1981 at which time it seriously blew your head off. Not sure whether they've tamed it down over the years or my palate has adjusted but it seems milder now. 
It has to be said though that there are few pleasures on the planet to match a pint of 80/- and a Chilliburger from the Phoenix. Long may its doors remain open.

Monday, 30 March 2009

RRS Discovery

The Royal Research Ship Discovery is moored at Discovery Point in Dundee. It was built in Dundee in 1900 and launched in March 1901. It was the last wooden three masted ship built in Britain. Specifically designed for Antarctic exploration, it was the ship used by Captain Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton on the British National Antarctic Expedition in August 1901.

Five months after setting sail, the ship reached McMurdo Sound in Antarctica where they anchored in preparation for winter. Despite their best efforts to move on, the ship remained totally icebound for two years. Undeterred, the crew were able to ascertain that Antarctica was indeed a continent and were able to relocate the Southern Magnetic Pole.

The ship was finally freed from the ice in February 1904 with the help of explosives to break the ice and it arrived back at Spithead in England in September 1904.

Discovery finally made the journey home to Dundee in 1986 aboard the cargo ship Happy Mariner and is now the centrepiece of Discovery Point.

Arthur C. Clarke, author of '2001 A Space Odyssey' often used to eat his lunch aboard Discovery when she was moored in London. As a result of this, the spaceship Discovery One in the book was named after the ship.

The top pic shows Discovery locked into the ice in Antarctica.

And whilst I'm in a nautical mood here's a bit of Tennyson :


Sunset and evening star,

And one clear call for me!

And may there be no moaning of the bar,

When I put out to sea.

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,

Too full for sound and foam,

When that which drew from out the boundless deep

Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,

And after that the dark!

And may there be no sadness of farewell,

When I embark;

For though from out our bourne of Time and Place

The flood may bear me far,

I hope to see my Pilot face to face

When I have crost the bar.

Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)

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So they're storming the banks on Wednesday...... that should sort all the problems eh?
A very English Revolution..... Storm the Banks and bring a packed lunch!
Can't help thinking the priorities are a bit cock eyed. We've had the worst child poverty in Western Europe for many years, not just since the banks crashed. One in four children in Scotland grows up in poverty. But threaten the middle classes pensions and savings and we get tens of thousands taking to the streets? .........hmmm.
Seems to me that the banks didn't cause this recession, their reckless actions were just another symptom of the root cause...... Greed.
But the Government love it... the anger isn't being directed at them. Scapegoats are essential in times of trouble. History tells us this.

Saint Columba Bidding Farewell to the White Horse.

As you can probably tell from the images in my sidebar, I'm fond of the paintings of John Duncan (1866-1945). This is one of my favourites, showing Saint Columba saying goodbye to his faithful and very mournful looking horse. Duncan was born and worked for many years in Dundee. Through his collaboration with Patrick Geddes, a man light years ahead of his time, Duncan went on to become one of the main driving forces behind the Scottish Renaissance in Scotland in the early 20th century.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

The Big Bopper

Chantilly lace,  a pretty face, a pony tail ahangin down
A wiggle in the walk, a giggle in the talk
Make the world go round........

Aint nothin in the world like a big eyed girl
Could make me act so funny 
Make me spend my money
Make me feel real loose
Like a long necked goose......... Oh baby thats a what I like.................

Oh please yourself......

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Where Sea and Sky Collide

Took these from the sea wall at Arbroath yesterday. A squall of rain was hovering over Carnoustie and yes, it was as cold as it looks. In fact the wind was so gusty I struggled to hold the camera steady. Good for the soul though!

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Earth Hour

Don't forget to switch off your lights at 8.30pm tonight for an hour...... my kinda direct action!

Friday, 27 March 2009

Glamis stonework

Outside the Angus Folk Museum I came across.......... yes!....... a sundial. Admittedly not quite in the same league as the enormous effort in the Castle gardens, but I think it has its own quaint charm. Rustic I think you'd call it.
The two stone sculptures can be found along the wall of the Manse. The bottom one is a bowl of fruit made slightly indistinguishable by the profusion of moss, which again I think just lends to its charm.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Glamis - St Fergus Well

Castle Turret

Steps down to the well

Through the trees

A View From A Bridge

Top pic shows grey skies surrounding a turret of the castle, my contribution to Skywatch Friday. Tenuous I know!

Round the back of Glamis Kirk and through the churchyard is the way down to St Fergus Well. The second pic shows the steps down towards the river. Perhaps not at its best at the moment, in summer it's a riot of wildflowers and greenery. The third pic shows the short walk through the trees on the way down to the Glamis Burn. Somewhere around here was the cave which St Fergus spent his time and entertained his mates.

Further down is a little wooden bridge over the burn and the fourth pic shows the view from it.

I never got as far as the well itself as my memory card was full........ doh!

The bottom pic is a strange one. The wall in which this skull is embedded is adjacent to the Kirk. You could quite easily miss the skull. I have no idea why it's there or what or whom it represents. Perhaps it's an attempt to replace the stolen skull of St Fergus nicked by the theiving Perthshire buggers! The skull and crossbones is usually associated with pirates, maybe it's a permanent eulogy to a passing seadog who copped his whack in Glamis ....... who knows?

Answers on a postcard.......

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Glamis Kirk and Folk Museum

Glamis Kirk was reputed to have been established by Saint Fergus in 750 AD. Fergus was an Irish Bishop who travelled Scotland in the early 8th century and finally settled in Glamis.
His intention was to convert the 'barbarous people' to Christianity and he began to baptize early converts in the well on the Glamis Burn. The well still exists today and water taken from it is used in baptisms at the Kirk. I know this because my little girl Fiona was baptized here in 1997.
St Fergus lived in a cave nearby the well and was buried at Glamis. In 1488 the Abbey of Scone in Perthshire was a bit miffed about their lack of religious relics, and in an effort to boost the reputation of Scone they desecrated the grave of Fergus and removed his skull and placed it in a silver casket. Theiving Perthshire buggers.
The top two pics show the Kirkwynd cottages which now house the Angus Folk Museum.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Glamis Castle 5

As you can see from my blog header, I'm partial to a nice sundial. This, however has to be the mother of all sundials. According to the website www.scottishsundials.co.uk ( a prime example that there's a website for everything under the sun....... pardon the pun!) this is one of the finest sundials in the world. A polyhedron design of 80 dials is supported by four rampant lions, each of which bears a shield with separate dials in their forepaws. It is thought to have been constructed around 1670 and its base is carved with the equation of time.
I'm not entirely sure what it is about sundials that fascinates me, perhaps it's the idea of an era when time wasn't transportable the way it is now. Our lives are dominated by time or the lack of it, and it's everywhere you look. On our wrists, on the walls, on TV, on our computers, we can't escape it. Whereas in those days if you wanted to know the time, you had to seek out a sundial! And if it was cloudy then time stood still........ perfect in Scotland.

Monday, 23 March 2009

Glamis Castle 4

King James VI and I

Rampant Lion

Coat of Arms

Glamis Castle probably has more myths and legends surrounding it than any other British castle. The chapel is apparently haunted by the Grey Lady. She was Lady Janet Douglas, wife of the 6th Earl of Glamis. Following the Earls death in 1528, King JamesV decided to exact revenge on the Douglas clan by accusing Lady Janet of witchcraft. She was imprisoned in a dungeon in Edinburgh Castle and although she was of impeccable character, the king extracted false testimony from her servants by stretching them on the rack. She was eventually burned at the stake in Edinburgh in 1537. The ghost of Lady Janet has haunted the chapel and the clock tower ever since.

Glamis is the home of Macbeth in Shakespeare's play, although this is historically inaccurate. King Macbeth of Scotland died in 1057 and was never connected to the castle.

Legend also has it that during the reign of James II, Earl Beardie was staying at the castle as a guest. One Sunday whilst partaking of large quantities of bevvy, he demanded to play cards. Now being the Sabbath, no one was happy to oblige, so he cursed them and claimed he would play with the Devil himself. Right on cue, a stranger appeared at the front door and said he'd come to play cards with Earl Beardie. These 14th century bods knew how to tell a good story eh?

So the legend goes that they retired to a room to play and the curses and screaming attracted servants to the room. One of them peered through the keyhole and was blinded by a flash of light. To this day the sound of rattling dice and screams can be heard as the Earl still plays cards with the Devil for eternity. That's what you get for playing cards on the Sabbath in Scotland.

The secret room is another legend which supposedly contains the bones of a horribly malformed child, born to the family in 1821. Guests have hung towels from every room in the castle in an effort to discover the whereabouts of this room. The secret is supposedly handed down to each generation of the family on their 21st birthday. Nice present!

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Sunday, 22 March 2009

Glamis Castle 3

The bottom picture shows the standard flapping merrily in the breeze, I tried for ages to catch the flag fully unfurled and eventually gave up, this was the best I could do. The first family of visitors were given the dubious honour of raising it. Actually it was their little girl who did it, so I'm sure it made her day. If you click and enlarge you'll see that the clock is dated 1811, and it was showing the correct time, which got me to thinking, how come 200 years ago they could make things which would keep going for that length of time when with all our technological brilliance we can't make washing machines which last for five years?.......but then of course if we all had washing machines which lasted, we'd only ever buy one.....and Hoover would be no more, Zanussi no more, Indesit no more........Lochaber no more! (apologies to Craig and Charlie).
The middle pic shows the East Wing which I think was added in the 17th century, with the Dutch garden in front. Looking a touch dead at this time of year.
The top pic shows what they used to use on visitors who never paid their £8.50!

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Glamis Castle 2

Glamis Castle was given to the Strathmore family in 1372 by Robert the Bruce. They have resided here since then. The estate covers 14,000 acres and includes the village of Glamis, where I once had the misfortune of living for a couple of years. It really is an odd place, still steeped in deference to the Landowner. I suppose it's understandable in a way, given that the Earl owns the village lock, stock and barrel, but it's strange nonetheless.

It has a long way to go before it kicks and screams its way into the 20th century, let alone the 21st.

It has to be said that's a pretty impressive front door though....... nice knocker too!

Friday, 20 March 2009

Glamis Castle

This is the first in a series of photos of Glamis Castle. It lies about five miles to the east of Forfar. I took a drive out there last Sunday on the off chance that it was open and it turned out to be the first day of the season, so I timed it perfectly. The castle is the home of the Earl of Strathmore but is probably most famous for being the birthplace of the Queen Mother. I should perhaps point out at this stage that I am by no means a Royalist or an admirer of our landed gentry, however I do like a good castle and whilst I may despise what goes on in and around them, I'm not about to let a little thing like that get in the way of a good photo opportunity.
Over the next wee while, I'll be posting more pics and try to give a flavour of the castle and its environs.
The bottom pic shows the 'drive', a tiny bit grander perhaps than the drives us mere mortals are used to. I reckon it must be over half a mile long. Put it this way, I don't fancy doing the round trip in my baffies to pick up the milk and papers every morning. If you click and enlarge you can see the castle in the distance.

The top picture shows what you arrive at after the stroll down the drive. God knows who put that stupid bloody marquee there, ruins a good pic.

They charge unsuspecting tourists £8.50 to get in, but being a local I claim aristocratic immunity and I just drove down and parked my clapped out Peugeot at the front door. I figure that the £8.50 is better of in my pocket than the Earls...... he'd just drink it anyway!

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Saltire in the Sky

The vapour trails of two planes create a gigantic Scottish flag in the sky.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Spidery trees

I was driving from Arbroath to Carmyllie in Angus today on my way to see a client and I stopped to snap these trees which fascinate me. I have no idea what type they are, so if anyone can enlighten me I'd be really grateful. I love the spidery effect and that kind of bonsai shape they have. This is the only row of them I've noticed by a roadside. 

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