Friday, 3 March 2017

Dundee. The Law. McManus Museum. The Harbour.

                                             ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN
A trip this time up to the east coast Scottish city of Dundee. It's been five or six years since my last all day visit and I was keen to see what had changed in the interval. The above photo was taken in the McManus Art Gallery and Museum. Not only a fine visitor attraction but also free admission :o)
A nice looking building on the outside and a fine collection of old paintings, very lifelike stuffed animals, interesting sculptures, beautiful stained glass windows and loads of nostalgia style memories charting the history of this great city.
Plenty of stuff in here to capture any child or adults imagination.
One of many stained glass windows in a range of  shapes and designs. Five out of five for interest and value. I put two quid into the donations box at the end as I really enjoyed my visit here.
And unlike a recent Edinburgh visit to the National Gallery of Modern Art this was full of paintings and landscapes you could admire, easily recognize and appreciate without having an on hand expert explaining what it was you were looking at and why it was so exceptional. You could actually see the craft, expertise, and long months, sometimes years of work involved in their creation here. And not an 'Unmade Bed' or a paint dribbler in sight. Bliss. Highly recommended if you are in this city. You can spend a good couple of hours in here and it has toilets, a gift shop, and a cafe.
As usual I got the Dundee bus at Glasgow's Buchanan Street bus station but as it goes up to Aberdeen as well it's not as handy as the Edinburgh one which is every 15 or 30 mins throughout the day. Unlike the hour long trip through to Edinburgh it takes around two and a half hours up to Dundee one way so I don't think I'll be jumping on this one as often. Aberdeen is a four hour trip one way counting the bus journey from my house to here so that's eight hours sitting on a bus for a day trip or an over night visit. Only seems to run 3 times a day there and back so if you miss the last one it's a guest house or hotel job. I once spent 35 hours non stop on a bus from Glasgow to the Italian Alps but I had loads of company then. I had to admit I missed Belinda on this one as the hours fly by chatting to her or her mum but I had to content myself with a good book instead as everyone else was smart phone or tablet occupied and conversation with strangers was not an option sadly. I'm starting to find it has to be a bus full of pensioners usually before you get a lively interaction with anyone as they are less likely to be technology obsessed on public transport. It's not that I'm a particular chatterbox but if it happens spontaneously it does help to brighten up any journey meeting new people and finding out new interests and ideas/opinions. Alex is very people orientated, far more than me, but he seems to hate cities and bus journeys or travelling in general.. or maybe it's just travelling with me he doesn't like:)
Caird Hall. Dundee. This is where concerts, big shows, etc take place in the city centre and it's also where I popped in to the Tourist Information office as I wanted my free map of the city centre district. The main shopping streets are close by and the McManus Art Gallery and Museum is just around the corner from here. Dundee is Scotland's 4th largest city after Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen at around 150,000 souls. It's big enough to be interesting yet small enough to be compact without the sprawling complexity of a major metropolis with all the different scattered city centre districts of a London or Paris. Incidentally, Dundee is also the home city of the massive computer game franchise Grand Theft Auto which is a world wide hit earning millions and sackfuls of awards but started right here along with many other game play developers over the last two decades. Modern comics in a way, but bang up to date using virtual open worlds.
A Dundee pigeon having a bath in the Caird Hall fountains. Lovely display of feathers.
Desperate Dan, his dog and Minnie the Minx. Dundee is the home of D.C. Thomson publishers who produce The Sunday Post, The Scots Magazine, The Dundee Courier, My Weekly, Evening Telegraph, Oor Wullie, The Broons, The Beano, The Dandy and many other comics. Not many Scots at home or abroad will be unaware of these popular publications which deal heavily in nostalgia at times but also exhibit a high standard of journalism. Like many other children of my era a real Christmas treat in the 1960s/70s and 80s was a Broons or Oor Wullie annual which the whole family enjoyed reading. Dudley D Watkins was the leading artist that produced many of the comic strips listed above and unfailingly produced outstanding stories over this lengthy time period without a dip in quality. Unsung but celebrated in practically every household in Scotland as a real under the wire national treasure not only was he English by birth, writing about an adopted foreign city, but he also managed to capture the spirit and character of Dundee perfectly yet also made the final product easily identifiable to any Scot living in hamlet, village, town or city. To me this is real art to be celebrated in high esteem, delivered to a demanding weekly schedule, and even now with a mature adult perspective you can really appreciate the level of detail and creativity in every square he drew cramming a large family of different personalities and new adventures into thousands of tiny 3 inch by 2 inch boxes. Dying over the drawing board at work is a final tribute to his dedication. A fascinating link to a truly great artist of the modern era. Best of all he never seemed to inflict his religious views into the comics I read except for decent family values of right and wrong. Until I read it here I'd no hint he was religious. Highest complement I can give :o)

D.C. Thomson H.Q. in Dundee getting a makeover.
Old Clock in City Centre. I nipped in for two Greggs sausage rolls and a yum yum at this point as I was starving. Not a scrap was offered to the waiting pigeons, who took the huff after sitting around my bench beside Caird Hall in expectation of fine dining.
Fortified and suitably rested after my speedy lunch I decided I really had to visit 'The Law' which is the highest hill directly above the city, seen here from the prestigious high school. As I knew how far this was to walk, all of it uphill, I jumped on a local bus to take me part of the way getting one right outside the McManus Gallery where several bus stops on a curved road invited my roving eye. Also good to hear all the local Dundonian accents around me on the bus in a favourite city of mine that I used to visit often. Like Glasgow, Dundee is mostly working class in origin whereas Edinburgh can feel very upmarket depending on the district you are in. In the past Dundee was famous for Jute factories, Jam, Journalism, (as already mentioned) and was also a major whaling port in the days when oil for energy came out of living animals instead of the ground.
Cox's Stack. All that's left of the massive jute factory that used to stand here near the Lochee district. One of the world's largest jute cities with well over 12,000 workers employed at its peak in the industry and the single remaining chimney from the Camperdown works complex. The tallest chimney left in Scotland at 282 feet. Soars majestically over the hi rise tower blocks and a good video of it here on You Tube showing the surrounding area

The Tay Bridge connecting the City of Dundee to neighbouring Fife.
Tayport and the Tentsmuir sands viewed from The Law. A wild and less inhabited spot popular for its lovely beach walks, basking seal colonies and miles of quiet pine forest trails.
The War Memorial on the summit of The Law. You can drive up here for the stunning views but not having a car with me I got off the local bus and walked up through Hilltown.
This is another area of working class tenements of a certain period that's not changed too much, like Lochee, whereas many parts of Dundee have been completely transformed and modernized since I used to visit here regularly every summer in the 1980s and 1990s.
I like these areas as they have a bit of character and still retain some of the old style Dundee missing from the modern upmarket apartments along the waterfront which could be anywhere, architecture wise. Perfectly nice though they are with good sea and harbour views.
Which is where I ended up next exploring along Dundee waterfront. In the distance is Dundee's seaside suburb of Broughty Ferry and the square bulk of Broughty Castle. Like Tentsmuir, this area also has nice coastal esplanade walks, beaches and open grassland paths and is popular day trip territory. Stayed here with my sister around 10 years ago.
Dundee's docklands and as its not that far up the coastline to Scotland's oil capital of Aberdeen, Dundee appears to get some of the oil production infrastructure over spill as in spare oil rigs as these were here last time.
A distant view from The Law.
The waterfront esplanade and new viewing tower over the Firth of Tay.
A poem beside the Oor Wullie Statue which is outside the McManus Gallery under the larger statue to Robert Burns.
I'll finish with the Frigate Unicorn. Two period ships that are well worth seeing along Dundee's waterfront are this old sailing barge which is surprisingly spacious inside despite being stripped of masts and access to the upper deck and the tour around the 'Discovery' which is Captain Scott's famous polar exploration ship and well worth the entrance money as it's a five star attraction in its own right. If you only have limited time The Discovery and the McManus Gallery are the real highlights as the new V and A museum built out over the water didn't appear to be open yet but looks spectacular once it's stopped being a building site. A long tiring but enjoyable day... an equally long tiring but enjoyable post.. and an empty bucket.
   I'm awa for ma tea now........ back later.....
The Broons 'Talk'   Looks fuzzy at first but becomes clear. Worth a watch for the memories... and still funny. If you like this there's many more clips of The Broons on You Tube,


Linda said...

I love all your photos and video, this is such a lovely tour! Thank you so much for sharing. I have always loved seniors ever since I can remember. I will be considered a senior myself in 5 years, when I will be 65. And thankfully I am not technologically obsessed, there is nothing more rewarding than a wonderful time spent face to face chatting.

Neil said...

My city of birth. Much changed in recent years but still retaining so much of its past, unlike many other places. I reckon that the waterside development when completed is going to be amazing. All they need to do is knock down that awful shopping centre next to St Mary's church!

Sue Hayton said...

Was a student here 1970-1971 so lots of memories. Couldn't believe how much it had changed when I last visited about 10 years ago so great to see your pictures!

Anabel Marsh said...

I've been to Dundee many times over the years for meetings etc but the last time I spent any length of time in it was over 30 years ago when my brother-in-law was a student there. Staying in his student flat was not an experience I cared to repeat! Definitely need to revisit to see all the things you mention.

Kay G. said...

Our son named his kitten "Minnie The Minx". (She lived for 14 years.)
Christopher enjoyed American sports but he loved the Beano from England! (His English grandparents sent them to him!
You are so lucky to be able to visit so many museums and churches. If I ever make it to Scotland, I bet it will be hard for me to leave!

Tom said...

I've been to dundee once or twice for the football but its one of the very few large towns/cities in scotland i havent ever had a proper look round, maybe a daytrip is in order!

The viewing tower on the tay looks a bit different, i'm not sure i would be too happy about it going up if i lived in one of those nice waterfront apartments though ( or at least it looks like thats what they are). Not only something going up in front of your view but loads of tourists peering in your windows too!

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Linda,
yes, you still can't beat one to one conversation with someone in person and paper books. I'll keep resisting the machine age as long as possible. An old phone, an older cheque book and a real local bank and Post Office instead of an online one. "from this dead hand will you take my treasured items and not before!" :o)

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Neil,
Yes, I'd imagine it was a nice city to grow up in back then with a character all its own. It does feel different from Glasgow or Edinburgh once you get to know the folk in it.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Sue,
I was there in the late 1970s and 1980s and it did have some rough schemes on the outskirts, much like Glasgow back then, with mass unemployment kicking in. It will look very different again once they have completed the new waterfront area around the V and A museum as that's all open plan pedestrian pavements, wide open plazas and semi parkland with small trees and benches dotted around. Due to be completed next year some time.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Anabel,
It's definitely worth a visit and the Discovery plus the McManus Art Gallery/Museum are both excellent. So is the view from The Law and the Verdant Works.(old Lino factory tour)

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Kay,
I only seemed to get the Beano or The Dandy comics at school holiday time as a special treat in a mini compilation style format put together for just that purpose as it was three times the length of the weekly strips. Usually it was the Sunday Post and the fun section as the Broons and Oor Wuille were always my favourite characters but I also liked Rupert the Bear yearly annuals for the vivid colours, woodland and seaside adventures and fantastic ideas... much like Bioshock today in fact which is a modern version.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Tom,
it's certainly worth a day trip and you get 5 or 6 hours in it without getting up ridiculously early. You just need to be sure you get the bus back in time as there is only 3 or 4 per day. I went straight to the Seagate Bus Station in Dundee City Centre where you get dropped off, just to be on the safe side as it was the last bus back heading for Glasgow and I didn't want to miss it by standing anywhere else but the main terminus.
I'd definitely go again.
Funny you should mention that viewing platform. Although it's not that high I wasn't overly keen on the open plan spiral staircase effect and it felt a bit insecure though it wasn't really, it just felt very flimsy somehow. I'm imagine it would unnerve certain people as I'm normally OK racing up stuff like that. It doesn't overlook anyone's apartment or block the view much, it just appears that way in the photo taken from that direction.

Carol said...

What are 'yum yums'?

Didn't know about the Dandy & Beano link to Scotland, never mind Dundee. I've never been to Dundee and had no idea it was the 4th largest city - I'd have thought that was Inverness or somewhere if you hadn't said.

Anonymous said...

I learn more from your blog than I ever did in formal education - those cartoons/comics were from Dundee = who'd have thought! Or perhps I'm just a Philistine :)

The Greenockian said...

Funny - I was just in Dundee last week - loved the McManus Museum.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol,
Yum Yums are a Greggs popular treat. Croissant style pastries but saturated in a sugar ice coating. Like a twisted rope cut into hand sized straight chunks. Plenty of photos online if you type in Yum Yums. My favourite Greggs treat along with cream apple turnovers but obviously I don't have them all the time. Unhealthy but very tasty.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Andy,
Just learned something else about Dundee myself on the news as it is a leading pioneer in electric car use with the biggest council run fleet of taxi cabs and power charge points spread across the city with innovative incentives for people who swap over to use electric. For one thing the city taxi cabs don't have to pay for fuel anymore as the charge points are free. They average around 100 to 130 miles between charges.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Liz,
yes, it's a nice museum and packs a lot in for its size.

Carol said...

Hmmm - don't like the sound of yum yums after all - sound way too sweet for me! Not keen on croissants either. I do like jam doughnuts though...

Mike@Bit About Britain said...

You need to send Carol a Yum-Yum - though they are not unique to Greggs... Interesting tour - Dundee is not a city I know at all - I've always passed it by. The museum sounds great (I suspect you and I share a common taste in artwork) and I'd love to see the Discovery. I knew about the Beano/Dandy connection - but not the others. Dundee was also (still is??) home to Keiller's marmalade - the money behind the restoration of Avebury. Great post, as usual Bob; I always enjoy your tours.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol,
They taste much better than they sound.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Mike,
Yes, Dundee is still famous for it's jams, marmalade, and fruit cake. Once the new V and A museum opens this year that will be another star attraction. The Discovery tour is special and well presented.