Friday, 15 July 2016

Last week in Arbroath

Oscar explores our car

Our three week housesit in Arbroath has nearly come to an end, tomorrow morning we say goodbye to Angus the dog and Oscar and Toby the cats, pack the car and head back to the Midlands, back to Hall Green to look after Sooty the cat for a couple of days and then down to Redmarley d’Abitot to look after four dogs and five cats – hectic life!

For our last week here we were joined by Pauline, Jackie’s mum, who came up on the train last Saturday. Angus the dog is back in ‘doggie day care’ this week so we only have evening ‘dog comfort’ walks round the golf course, so our days are free. 

Creeps over the parcel shelf and has a look inside
'I'll come with you'
We’ve packed the week for Pauline, on Sunday we did a 5km dog walk along the old railway track nature walk into St Vigeans from Letham Grange, followed by ice creams on the harbour front in the rain (!) and a walk round the town after it stopped raining.

Jackie and Pauline with Angus on the nature walk to St Vigeans
In the Arbroath Smokie house
Arbroath is famous for its ‘Arbroath Smokies’ which is haddock smoked in its skin to produce a wonderfully tasting fish that is a ‘Protected Geographical Indication’ by the European Commission and the town has quite a number of small smokie shops producing them. In walking up a back street we came across a small one, the unusually named ‘Arbroath Smokie’ a couple of workers (maybe they were the owners, who knows) were outside cleaning their new van next to the smokie house issuing forth plenty of smoke, so we asked if we could take a look. 
The smoke house
They were really friendly folk and took us to the door to see inside, removing the large wet cloth covering the fire so we could see it. It’s like a large barbeque, the fish laid on a grid over the burning wood and then covered with a heavy wet cloth and left to smoke for an hour or so. I did walk in to take a photo but couldn’t stay for more than 30 seconds as the smoke stings the eyes and you just can’t breathe. How do they do it?

An Arbroath Smokie
Toby decides to have a look inside our car too.
Anyway, we called into the shop a couple of days later and bought one to have for our dinner. It was to be a starter for the three of us, followed by haggis, neeps and tatties, a good traditional Scottish dinner, except we washed it all down with a bottle of red wine rather than whisky.

Jackie had another visit to her ‘foot doctor’ on Monday in Dundee to have a ‘full service’ on her Achilles tendons and calf muscles which involved sticking pins into her muscles. Think it may have done a bit of good, but there’s more work to do apparently. 
And on top of the car
It did cost a fortune though as she came out with specially moulded inserts for her shoes - and she has to remember to stretch every day and also before and after any exercise which, by all accounts we all need to do. As we were going back to Dundee we made a bit more of a day of it by going back to Broughty Castle, this time in a slightly more relaxed way rather than ‘we close in 15 minutes’ on our last visit and Pauline and I took a trip up Dundee Law hill to look at the view while Jackie had pins stuck in her.

In the old cart tracks on the Arbroath coastal walk
More walking on Tuesday, this time a 5.5km walk along the coastal path from Arbroath’s Victoria Park, this time armed with the geology leaflet so we could look at the interesting rock formations of this SSSI site, at least I thought it was interesting, not so sure about Jackie and Pauline! We did walk in the grooves in the rocks said to be the wear tracks of the carts used to quarry the sandstone for building Arbroath Abbey in the 12th century though, so plenty of history.

Geology lesson? By Jackies head are the tilted 410 million year old sandstone layers of the Lower Devonian era, above are the later horizontal layers of the Upper Devonian era, a mere 370 million years old
This is what we get grandmothers to do! Jackie and Pauline on top of the arch
We drove back up to Glen Clova on Wednesday, splitting into two groups. Jackie and Pauline went to do some walking along the rivers and lochans in the Glen, hoping to spot a Golden Eagle but at least seeing a deer munching grass about 10m away from them, followed by ‘Ladies do lunch’ in the Glen Clova Inn. Brian meanwhile went off to tick off a couple of ‘Munros’ (Scottish mountains of over 3000ft in height, originally compiled by Sir Hugh Munro and now totalling 282), Mayar and Dreish, completing the 14.5km and 880m of ascent in four and a quarter hours. They are fairly straightforward routes with fairly rounded grassy tops, but the views from the top were good and it was good exercise on a relatively clear, partly sunny day with only 15 minutes of light rain on the way down.

And on the edge of a 100ft drop to watch nesting seabirds
And look at the little chicks we saw!
The beach beckoned on Thursday so we went back to Montrose, briefly to look at the bird nature reserve and then for a walk along the beach at St Cyrus, stopping to look at caves and little inlets before walking back again and home in time for afternoon tea.

It’s Friday, Jackie has been back to the ‘foot doctor’ again, Jackie and I took a tour of Arbroath Abbey this morning to learn all about the Arbroath Declaration (a letter sent from Arbroath Abbey to Pope John XXII in 1320 asking for recognition of Scottish Independence from England on behalf of Robert The Bruce after his victory over Edward II of England at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314), we’ve packed, cleaned round and now are trying to finish the 3000 piece jigsaw started over two weeks ago – it’s addictive! 
Glen Clova on the walk up to the Munro Mayar
Pussy cats have made the occasional visit and Toby has been on the table, has sat on the jigsaw, in the box on the pieces and has even played and chewed pieces, sending them scattering on the floor. Angus has no idea what we are doing but has flopped out on the floor by us whilst we wander round the table with pieces in hand.

On passing two other walkers on the path he said 'don't forget to look back as you go up, it's a geology lesson' He was right, the valley was sculptured by a glacier in the last ice age and those humps on the valley floor are glacial moraine, deposited there by the retreating glacier
The Munro Dreish from the summit cairn on Mayar
It’s been a real treat being here, the house is lovely, the animals great fun ad we’ve had pretty good weather. We’ll be sad to leave, particularly as we won’t see Colin and Louise before they get home, we have to leave by about 11:00am to get back to the Midlands by evening and they don’t get back from the USA until late tomorrow. At least the doggie day care walkers will be here to exercise Angus in the meantime! We’ve been in touch with them by email during the stay and they’ve read our blog reports, but we’re going to have a Skype conversation with them on Tuesday just to catch up.

The summit and trig point on Dreish
So it’s ‘bye-bye’ to Angus, Oscar and Toby in Scotland and ‘hello again’ to Sooty in Birmingham. Only 320 miles and a 6 hour drive between them!
I saw this friendly little dog on the summit of Dreish. He had followed three others walkers with their dog up from Glen Prosen and was keen to follow me down into Glen Clova. Fortunately they took charge of him to make sure he found his way back down into the correct Glen

Pauline and Jackie walking along the beach in St Cyrus

View from a cave on the beach

Jackie relaxing with a very chilled Toby cat and Angus in the afternoon sunshine

A very interested Oscar cat and Angus dog tucking into the cooked chicken pieces they have at their bedtime each night. Colin and Louise told us that Oscar isn't that keen on the chicke, well it certainly doesn't look that way!

Arbroath Abbey
The jigsaw isn't finished and Toby wants to make sure we don't!

And finally.....the completed jigsaw, minus 2 missing pieces, finished at 21:30 on Friday night!

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