Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Back to the Ship Inn and the Angus landscapes (with a brief excursion to Perthshire)

Well, I’m back in Broughty Ferry, sitting in an excellent b&b* typing an entry which was scribbled this evening in the restaurant above my favourite pub in the Ferry. So here it is transcribed. Would that I had an electronic notepad that could take my scribbles directly and transfer them to the blog. Oh, I know that there are ways to supposedly do this but my scribble is fast and full of personal abbreviations, and also I rather enjoy the process of writing onto paper, so what I’d need is a pad that looks and feels like paper. Besides, transcribing is a time when editorial corrections are made, and other ideas added. Here we go then:

I’m upstairs tonight in the restaurant of the Ship Inn – as I was too late for the downstairs pub food. Haddock, breaded not battered, is on its way. I’m sitting at the back of the restaurant looking out across its length through the picture window to the water of the Tay and beyond to the hills of Fife: clear sky, mist on the furthest hills, Tayport’s houses gleaming in the evening sun.

Earlier today I drove by back roads to Tealing, then to Bridgefoot and from there across west, parallel with the Sidlaws. The landscapes continue to tug at my heart. I was mentioning some areas of Dundee and environs to my brother in Edinburgh, and he spoke of early bike rides with his brothers out to Craigowl and Auchterhouse.

Craigowl, for those who don’t know, is near the eastern end of the Sidlaw hill range, the ‘furthest east’ as seen from Dundee, directly north of areas of the city. If you walk, or drive, up Strathmartine Road it is directly before you – distinguishable by the radio masts.

A little west are Balluderan and Auchterhouse hills, and the range curves to the south-west ending near Perth. One of the hills towards the Perth end is Dunsinane, crowned by its complex fort, with several trenches dug through the ramparts and parts of the interior of the earthwork by long-dead antiquarians, drawn particularly by the reputed association with Macbeth, who didn’t repair the destruction they had effected. Now, of course, they would be required to backfill anything, even that which people would prefer left uncovered. (A description of Dunsinane and some comments on the early excavations are online at http://canmore.rcahms.gov.uk/en/site/30660/details/dunsinane+hill/.) It is eighteen years since I was last on that hill. Time for hill-walking soon?

But now, back to the Ship In and the haddock which has just arrived…

  … and which was truly excellent.  This place is going like a fair, even on a Tuesday night. The restaurant is packed and lively with talk and good humour; it's lovely to find myself surrounded by this conviviality. But now it’s time to walk on, as dusk begins to fall on this warm August evening.

[* The b&b is Ashley House Guest House, and I'm very glad to give it a recommendation.]