The Road to Dundee

Weekend Recap #3

September 27, 2021

After last weekend's trip to Edinburgh, I wanted to do something a little more relaxed, so I took the bus into Dundee for the day to see a few museums. Although the trip was much less strenuous, I managed to stay busy this weekend, while also getting some rest.

Saturday, September 26

On Saturday morning, I set off for Dundee after breakfast. Dundee is the nearest larger city to St. Andrews and is accessible by train or a half-hour bus ride. After arriving, my first stop was the McManus Gallery, which exhibits some Scottish art, historical artifacts, and biological specimens. I arrived early enough that I had the museum to myself for a little while, so I took my time viewing the art and history exhibits.

After perusing the McManus Gallery, I grabbed a panini and some peach iced tea for lunch. The panini was delicious, and the iced tea was just as sweet as any I've had in the South. On my way to lunch, I had seen a bookstore and tea shop, so I decided to stop there. It was really more of a restaurant where one could also buy tea and used books, but I had already been seated when I realized this, so I ordered some tea and a serving of rhubarb crumble. Even though I was no longer hungry, the rhubarb crumble was so good that I finished it off before going to the next museum.

Queen Victoria and the McManus Gallery

"A Scotch Fair" by Alexander Fraser (1786-1865)

Can you see St. Andrews Cathedral in the background?

My lunch in Dundee.

The V&A Museum

My next stop was the Victoria and Albert Museum in Dundee. This is the first V&A Museum location established outside of London and serves as a museum of Scottish design. The exterior of the museum is just as interesting as anything inside, with its layers of concrete overlooking the River Tay. Inside, there are exhibits about Scottish contributions to modern design, including textiles such as Fair Isle sweaters and lace, as well as architecture and interior design.

My last stop before leaving Dundee was the RRS Discovery, the ship that sailed on three British expeditions to Antarctica. Discovery was built in Dundee in the early 1900s, then was almost destroyed after WWII before being refurbished and converted into a museum in the 90s.

I was not expecting to spend much time on the Discovery, but I was captivated by the exhibits and spent a good while exploring the ship. As you can see in the photo, Discovery is a sailing ship, but it had an auxiliary coal-powered steam engine for use when there was no wind or when the ship had to navigate pack ice. Visitors can tour the ship's decks, boiler and engine rooms, mess deck, galley, and wardroom to learn about the Antarctic expeditions and the lives of the sailors. I enjoyed learning about the experiments conducted onboard, including magnetic field experiments that required the setup of a "non-interference zone" where the crew could not bring any iron instruments. It was also interesting to learn how the crew kept themselves occupied on the long Antarctic expeditions; for instance, the officers would host regular debate nights on current political issues such as women's suffrage.

RRS Discovery

After I finished touring the Discovery, it was time to catch the bus back to St. Andrews, where my friends and I picked up some fish and chips for dinner and ate outside, overlooking the North Sea.

Sunday, September 28

On Sunday morning, I tried out another church in the area. I thoroughly enjoyed the liturgy there, so I will probably keep going back on Sunday mornings. After church, my roommate and I met for lunch in our hall, then decided to visit the annual Autumn Fair at the St. Andrews Preservation Trust. There were baked goods, used books, and cards for sale in a lovely back garden, as well as a local author telling traditional folk tales from Fife for the visitors. We stayed and listened to one while I ate a piece of chocolate cake, and I decided to purchase the author's book of folk tales before we left.

Next, we headed for the Old Course, which is closed on Sundays. Without all the golf balls flying about, visitors can walk the course and take pictures. Next week, the course is hosting the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, so we saw the stands, tents, and jumbotron screens being set up. After walking the course, we picked up a quick dinner at Tesco, then I attended an Evensong service at another local church. Although this church is much closer to my residence hall, I preferred the first church service of the day, so I might compromise and attend that church's morning service and the other church's Evensong services. The weekend ended with another Scottish Country Dance lesson, where we learned a few more traditional dances and one dance inspired by the Harry Potter series. Some steps to that dance included "flying" through the Hogwarts castle turrets and advancing and retiring in lines with some "happy flaps" like Hedwig the owl.

PS: This Weekend Recap shares its title with a lovely Scottish folk song, to which you can listen here.