Thursday, 4 July 2013

Another day in Dundee

Today we woke up to a glorious sunny day, so we decided to go back to Dundee and explore the RRS Discovery in details. The RRS Discovery was built in Dundee and used for the first Antarctica expedition from 1901 until 1904, taking on its board - among others - the explorers Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton. It is amazing how these men set out without any proper knowledge, equipment or food supplies, heading into the great unknown, facing illnesses and temperatures as low at minus 70C for months on end. The ship was purpose-built for the expedition and ample supplies were packed. However The North Face equipment and freeze-dry rations not having been invented yet, both their gear and their food seemed relatively amateurish by today's standards. It is amazing that they made it for three years, collected an enormous quantity of scientific data, kept morale by organising theatrical plays, debates and concerts, and even printed a newspaper to which everyone could contribute.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Day in Dundee

They told us it would rain today and these Scots people, they tend to be right. So we planned for a day inside. We visited the Dundee Science Centre two years ago, but the kids were just a bit too small to really enjoy it. We checked online and this time around they have a Myths and Monsters special exhibition that just started yesterday.

So this morning, off we went, armed with rain
coats and an umbrella. Our first mission was to buy a cup of coffee at the station in Arbroath. We looked up and down the street, browsed the information panels, but there was no mention of any cafes or even vending machines. So in desperation we trooped down to the platform. Luckily for us, the platform has a direct access from the parking lot and right there was a small mobile coffee van. The gentleman prepared two cups of coffee and two cups of perfect hot chocolate for us while explaining all about his past as a school teacher and the difficulties he had encountered procuring a new engine for this van.

The train ride was fun, all the more as we ended up seated beside the disabled toilet, complete with a huge curved automatic door that provided endless entertainment to our children. To our general hilarity the loudspeaker then announced that the next stop would be "Grotty Ferry". It took us a while to realise that she actually said "Broughty Ferry". You'll note that we are rather easily amused...

The Dundee Science Centre did not disappoint. I cannot quite explain how, but we managed to spend four hours in there, never getting bored. We saw a demonstration about flaming bubble bath for dragons and tooth paste for the yeti, as well as some myth busting regarding all those weird creatures. Vince discovered that the narwhals really do exist and now we all know that the long thing sticking out of their head is actually a tooth. We met Nigel the Dragon, a yeti and several unicorns. The kids had a blast and so did we.

On our way out we decided to look for the Srathmartine Dragon of Dundee that was mentioned in one of the shows. We walked along Dundee's main street in the rain looking for about 20 minutes before we located the statue. That being done, we headed down to the station but just as we were ready to enter, Vince spotted a boat across the road, so we went to take a look. It turned out to be the RRS Discovery. Since it was getting quite late, we decided that we might need to come back to see the ship in details.

The day was finished with a fish and chips dinner from the mobile van, which was lovely but would have definitely been better if they hadn't make us wait 30 minutes in the rain...  Also, on a quick note, the fish is usually yummy here, but the way Scots like their chips is not mine. They are cut huge and barely done. I like them thin and crisp. Oh well, we can't agree on all.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Arbroath day

The weather being rather lovely, we went into town this morning. There is a great playground right at the sea, complete with some kiddie attractions such as electric cars, small train and a mini golf. I think this last one is called "crazy putting" for some reason. While the sun was shining, the breeze was rather chilly, so we were quite glad to meet up for lunch with Bruce and Juliet at The Bell Rock, a local fish and chips joint that serves a magnificent buffet lunch. The afternoon was spent doing some more playground things and trying to organise a birthday card and present for Juliet. The day was finished off with a wonderful soup, some quiet reading and playtime with the neighbours' grand children.