Looking beyond the obvious

I am not long back from Dundee. It was a nice day, with some unexpected twists and turns along the way for good measure.

The day began with a change of plan. I had planned to get the Citylink bus straight to Dundee though was a little early into the city centre because of my connecting train from Cardonald. The St Andrews bus was just about to leave and I like a journey across Fife. I knew the roads might be busier owing to the Forth Road Bridge being closed but didn’t mind. Sometimes sitting watching the world go by is the way to go. As it turns out, there wasn’t too much extra traffic and got to St Andrews pretty much on time.

I like St Andrews. It is not like anywhere else in Fife, being an university town and invariably with more tourists, even on a cold December Monday like today. I like it because of its history and of course it’s by the sea. Plus it has a cracking chippy called the Tailend, which sadly I didn’t get to visit today. I walked along towards the Castle and down along the pier and back, following The Scores to the Martyrs’ Monument and back up to the bus station. It was cloudy and grey though over towards Angus there was a little area below the clouds where there was some sunshine that made the hills look dreamy in a haze. It was a weird sort of light but captivating. I like gazing in the distance anyway and that was well worth the trip alone.

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To Dundee, then, and the McManus Galleries, after of course I paid my respects to Desperate Dan. The McManus is possibly the best local authority museum in Scotland outside of Edinburgh or Glasgow with an excellent art collection as well as a local museum that does great credit to Dundee and its fine history. My favourite objects are the Pictish stones, reminding me that this was once the heart of Pictland. The stones are impossible to decipher fully. I personally think they were a very elaborate way of saying that their tea was ready or something similarly as mundane.

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After that, I went to Tannadice, home of Dundee United FC, where I got a wee tour from my auntie, who works for them. What struck me was the homely feel that Tannadice had, hardly the Camp Nou or even Easter Road but with a pride in the club and its past. Its present isn’t so great though at least they can console themselves that their rivals 150 yards away aren’t doing wonderfully either.

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This is a motivational poster on the back of the home dressing room at Tannadice, which I liked.

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Dundee United were once Dundee Hibernian, whose first game was against Hibernian FC of the Capital, no less.

My journey home was according to plan, on the Citylink Gold bus non-stop straight back to Glasgow. It was very comfortable with complementary juice and biscuits though I didn’t have a scooby where I was for much of the journey, which is the problem of travelling by road at night.

I almost forgot to mention possibly the best thing I have seen for ages, which was in the Overgate Shopping Centre. It was a vending machine which dispenses vegetables, eggs and bread from a local farm shop. I think that is a great idea and one that could catch on in this age when a lot of us could be healthier and buy more local produce to boot.

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It was a nice day, good to be out of the Central Belt. Dundee always surprises me, in a good way. It is more rough and ready than many more rarefied places in Scotland, including St Andrews most certainly, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The waterfront is getting done up, which certainly helps, and Dundee has an incredible past and future which is plain to see if you spend any time in the place. Like most things, it just needs a little looking beyond the obvious.

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