Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Stravaigin aboot Dundee

Thursday in Dundee

... Domesticity and a Night on the Town

For those of you who forget where Dundee is ...

a map ...

Here is a map of the city -- the downtown part. If you look closely, you can see the Overgate Centre and the Steeple Church, right in the middle... Yeah, it's a little blurry, but I have learned, through trial and error, that I cannot sharpen the image. Sorry.

Rowan lives outside of the city. She gets to where she needs to go by bus or by taxi or under her own steam.

Rowan writes:

Thursday dawns, and we are to spend a day in Dundee, after the glories of London and Edinburgh. Dundonians are known for being dismissive about their city. I have always been amongst the peeps that have risen to its defence. It is a post-industrial city, now high-flying in its bio-science sphere. There are more people with degrees per head of population in Dundee that anywheres else, seemingly, which is partly due to the bio-science institute and the numbers of staff it is pulling in, as well as the qualified staff employed by Ninewells, the local teaching hospital, and the other professionals and former students scattered in posts throughout the city. There are also those not contributing to the labour market, but still belettered – I am not sure if they are represented in the figures. Anyways – Dundee is a city on the turn.

I remember a favourite Science Fiction book I devoured as a teenager in the Seventies. The Earth had stopped turning, and one half remained in darkness, whilst the other half was bathed in light. The protagonist was a respected scientist on the light side, and when he ambled over to the dark side, he had a flipside life as a magician. Dundee has its light and dark sides. The issue is bringing them together.Dundee is an interesting clash of cultures – the remnants of the meltdown of local industries, resulting in the large numbers of long-term unemployed, often second generation. They have little in common with those who are at the sharp end of the new industries, such as bio-science innovation and medical research. The co-existence is, however, companionable – Dundonians are generally amenable types, shuffling along, conversing openly with strangers at bus stops and in spontaneous chats struck up in shops. Dundee is a curious mix of the old and the very shiny new. Jute dust still seems to blow down some of the old dark streets, where the abandoned jute mills have not yet been converted into tiny, be-broadbanded but claustrophobia-inducing flatlets.

Bob says:
I woke up early and had an on-line chat with my husband. I blearily went downstairs and found that Rowan had made tea to go with the toast and cereal. For some reason, she keeps putting out cheese for me, as if I am a cold-cut eater. I am not, but I politely take a slice of cheese to go with my carbohydrates. I wonder if she thinks that Americans have lunchmeat for breakfast. I take a peep into her refrigerator and look for things that I cannot find at home. Everything dairy has bio-something or others. Like active spoors -- you know, live bacteria to aid in digestion. I like the fact that the nutrition information is in kilocalories. I took my tea upstairs and said good-bye to my husband. I showed him the backyard with the laptop webcam. It is beautiful and green, but very little privacy. You can see into everyone's back yard. Everything is tidy, though. I miss my husband and I miss the kids. On my mobile plan, I can receive texts for free and can send them for about a dime. We have been keeping in touch by texting. I love technology. I told everyone to text me a lot. My sister, husband and kids have all been texting me multiple times a day. It is nice but makes me miss them. They feel a world away – in time and space. It is funny to be eight hours ahead of them – I am not used to being on this side of the time zone.

It is going to be a stay at home sort of day, as we are going back to Edinburgh tomorrow. It is my second to the last day in the UK. I will fly home on Saturday morning.

After breakfast, Rowan and I consider the game plan for the day. We are going to go to get some football scarves for my son and husband and I am interested to see what supermarkets look like in the UK. I love historical places, but I am always interested in how people live. I like to see what is different and the same. I am always a little uncomfortable to see American goods or innovations -- half pleased and half embarrassed. I don't want everything to look like home. It is like when you travel around and see that every strip mall has the same five shops. It is a little depressing -- I like regional differences. International differences are even better. After the store, we are going to go into town and wander around a little and then have lunch and get back to get ready for the evening's festivities. We are going to go see a pantomime, which seems to be a holiday tradition -- I am happy to see what will occur. We get ready to go and leave Rowan's house. I thought that you would like to know that Rowan has a garden gnome hidden in the greenery next to her front walk. I am not sure why he is wearing lipstick, though.

We set off, full of nice warm tea. Lena is in a good mood, holding my hand as we walk along. She is bright as a new penny. She asks questions in her grown-up, considering fashion. I still find her accent adorable. Rowan and I talk about kid’s TV, as Sam and Lena are about the same age -- shows we like and shows we abhor. She comments that you can tell that a show is from the US if the backyard fences are wooden. They would not generally be wooden in the UK, but would be stone or something that will not rot in the damp. I am much struck by this, and start to look around with new eyes. She is right – there are no wooden fences. I have a wooden fence – the desert air has desiccated it to such a degree that it might be petrified or nothing more than wood molecules. If you brush up against it, it might explode like a staked vampire on Buffy.

As we walk to the grocery store, I quiz Rowan about her life and habits. She walks to the store, except for those times that she takes a taxi because there is too much to carry back. It is about a ten-minute walk. When I was young and did not have money for a car, I remember having to take the bus to the store and haaaating it. Once, traveling back from the store, the bag tore and I vividly recall watching my apples roll around the aisles. However, this was when I was single and had only myself to worry about. I cannot imagine schlepping diapers and milk and cereal and youurt and bread to and fro. Yeesh. Rowan is striding along, clearly used to the trip. I again note that there is no grass in Lena’s school playground, which continues to surprise me – the countryside is sooo green, even in the winter. There is no playground at all, really. In the US, some parent would be suing because their first-grader skinned a knee on the blacktop. Again, it is a nice day – brisk and nippy, but not freezing and sleeting down rain. I thought that Scotland was supposed to be rainy. I am vaguely disappointed.

(This is a recent photo, as I did not have one of Rowan's street handy. Spring has engendered lovely flowering trees ...)

Rowan writes:

My house is in a street of post-war houses flung up to be flung down again at some ill-defined point in the future. They are concrete and steel, and faced with sheets of steel, and painted a rather groovy range of yellows. The odd one here and there is a toffee colour, a scattered few a sort of milk chocolate. It is like walking down the two halves of an enormous banana toffee lollipop, or sailing downstream on a river of caramel sauce between matching bergs of vanilla ice cream. It has not been rescinded – the funny steel houses seem to be here to stay.

Not far off, is my local supermarket. I am fairly well stocked up, but Bob wants to get football scarves, and they have very nice Scotland ones in the Asda supermarket. As I do not drive, we will be going by Shanks’s pony. Bob is a good schlepper, as has been established, and she is very city-curious. However, she permits herself a little eye-roll at the schlep through the streets towards superstore retaildom. It is not a schlep of very great interest, I agree, and I see Bob’s point of schlepping to see and experience being a worthwhile end, as opposed to a slog. Trekking to the grocery store without a car is indubitably a slog, much as I attempt to introduce a bit of spin to proceedings and call it a workout. I need to get a car. I need to shrug of the last vestiges of Luddism and hit the open road.

It is a sort of down at heel area. Nice enough, better than it used to be – the houses and gardens mostly very neat and looked after. There is one sporting an abandoned shopping trolley, and I talk loudly and point to something on the other side of the street to divert attention. A nice, sleepy down-at heel area of decent public housing.

Bob says:
(Rowan is secretly delighted by the limos. She finds the pink one all kinds of funny. I cannot imagine negotiating a roundabout in one of these.)

Here are a couple of shots that I took as we walked toward the store. And I should say that Rowan is incorrect when she says that I rolled my eyes at walking to the store. I categorically deny this. I might have been shaking my head at the idea of negotiating children and shopping through the streets of Dundee, but that was not eye rolling. I think that she is projecting ...

Rowan's idea of down at heel and mine are sorta worlds apart. But my mailbox just got tagged, and we used to have speed freaks in the abandoned motel behind our house, so I might be a little jaundiced. To me, down at heel means having only one broken-down vehicle in front of the house.

The houses seem charming and the streets are clean. Yards are well-kempt, with the occasional over-the-top ornamentation. I like it when people take their yards seriously as a part of self-expression, either crowded with toys or brimming with plants and garden statues. People have started to put out Christmas decorations. I miss home for a moment, and wonder if my husband and the kids have thought about putting up the lights.

We cross the streets and emerge next to the Asda store. Rowan can tell you about it, but it has recently been bought by Walmart. And Tesco carries Target brands. Americans are taking over the world, one cheap t-shirt and liter of soda at a time. A couple of months ago, Rowan sent me a football scarf for my daughter and we have managed to misplace it – it was a lovely blue with a St. Andrew’s cross …

We are getting Tartan Army scarves in honor of the National Scottish soccer team. According to the website,

“The Tartan Army are travelling supporters of the Scottish national football team. They were named the World's Friendliest Fans during the 1998 World Cup, and have won numerous awards over the years for their combination of rabid support and friendly nature. This friendly attitude is all the more surprising bearing in mind their team’s track record, which is often neatly summed up as glorious failure. * Some say that the amicability of the Tartan Army is due to the large volumes of alcohol imbibed before, during, and after a game, a fact that few members would dispute. Countries drawn against Scotland welcome the arrival of their fans. Scotland away matches are generally accompanied by a low level of policing due to their good behaviour over the years.”

(* -- does this make anyone else want to say, "This is Sparta!", or is it just me?)

Shoshana said that she got the scarf at Asda, so off to Asda we go.
We go in and the store is smaller than I expected – not even close to the average Walmart. More like a large grocery store than a supercenter, I would say. Maybe a leeetle bit bigger. I have to be really careful, because I am going to sound like a Terrible American Snob. And I don’t mean to, but I gots to calls them as I sees them. Asda looks like a discount store, but at twice the price. I am not being stunned by the prices anymore, but I cannot help calculating the difference between the UK and the US. The Scots are getting gypped, but royally. We wander through the aisles and the selection is only fair – not large at all.

However, I am very pleased at the selections of Christmas Crackers.
I have heard of them, but never actually pulled one open. I was tempted to take a box or two back for the kids, but limited suitcase space and common sense prevailed. As a funny side note, we went to visit friends in Bakersfield over the Winter Break and they had Christmas crackers! We snapped them open and read each other the lame jokes and ended up with lovely paper crowns. Mine was green. It was fetching.

So, as we wandered around the store, I looked to see what was the same and different – different foods and labels. There was practically a whole aisle devoted to sauces that I had never heard of – I was happy to see brown sauce. And curry sauces and frozen things that I don't recognize.

Rowan was still looking for a camera and we stopped to look at those displayed. They were overpriced.

We had a list of things to get, including a paper tube for carrying some posters that I had obtained. I had some maps for Sam, as he loves maps. Rowan very sweetly donated to the map collection and gave me a very cool poster of "Birds of Prey of Great Britian" for a friend of mine who is a falconer. I think he will like it. I forget what else we had to get, but prolly tape, too.

Scotch tape … : D

Rowan did not find that nearly as funny as I did, but she humored me.

Anyway, we were not finding the scarves, and Rowan was getting anxious, so I asked a sales clerk if they had any. Rowan is the type of person who would look forever and then stagger out in an exhausted daze. I ask people. She does not like to put people out, and I figure that is what they are getting paid for. Just another little cultural difference. After due effort, the nice sales lady found the scarves in the back. I got two. As we waited, we looked around, and I tried to soak in the atmosphere.

If you are paying very close attention, you will have noted that there seem to be two main vegetable staples of the Scottish diet. (Or at least Rowan's Scottish diet.)

They are

Now don't get me wrong. I like potatoes as much as the next person.

And, although beans leave me a little cold (a result, I think, too many servings of beenie-weenie-cheesie as a child), I will eat them. My sister calls me a bean hater, but this is not at all true. I just don't love them. I did not see all that many vegetables while traveling in the UK. Actually, I don't even think of potatoes as a vegetable, but I am sure that they must be.

Rowan told me about how, a while back, people were investigating the dietary habits and mortality rates. It was found that people who had lower incomes tended to not have a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables in their diet. Theories abounded as to why this would be. Finally some bright spark in the public health department realized that people don't eat these items because they were heavy. And people had to carry them all the way from the bus to their homes. It is funny how things like having a car or good roads impact something like the variety in a diet and therefore health. I was reminded of this when I looked around.

It seems that it is a more pervasive a problem – Rowan sent me an article about how far behind the Scots are in terms of their consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables. Asda rolled out a new initiative to try to get the numbers up to snuff.

I think that I can shed a little light on the problem.


The produce in Asda is a bit, well ... um ... Actually, the produce might kinda suck.

There. I said it.

… and costs an arm and a leg and a few other bits and pieces of important anatomy.

Glad that I could help.

Now, I should give a caveat, because the produce at home in Walmart sux. That is just my opinion, so please don't try to sue me. I am entitled, as an American, to have a completely uninformed and closely-held opinion. I will shop at Walmart, but will only buy produce there in dire circumstances. I am not going to mention that I bought bananas there this week and one of them literally exploded in a cloud of little, hostile, persistent fruit flies. Bleck. So, it might just be Asda/Walmart produce quality that I saw. The produce is supposed to be famous in Scotland, but it was not to be found in Asda.

I may have to duck after saying this, but the produce at Asda was very, very, very sad. It all looked unhappy – limp and sparse. And when Rowan mentioned how much better the produce was than it used to be, I just kept my Big Californian Mouth Shut. The produce aisle in Asda made me want to run to the nearest Albertsons produce section and roll around in the oranges and kiwi and strawberries and broccoli. I could feel the nutrition being leached right out of my system. No wonder Scots are a little pale. I think that I got a little pale because of the prices. Granted, I had to do a bit of fancy converting from kilos to pounds and pounds to dollars, but the prices were outrageous. Honestly. If I lived there, I would make my kids suck on the gnawed apple cores – I can see myself admonishing them that the stems are really good! And full of chewy fiber-goodness.

However, I digress.

Rowan writes:

The Asda store is now part of the Walmart chain, or so the large display board outside proclaims. The Asda chain buy in a lot of local stuff, but also tend, like most local supermarkets, to buy in what the customer wants. You can buy potato crisps in any flavour dreamed up by the inventively greedy. Thai green chilli, sweet Thai red chilli, balsamic vinegar and sweet braised onion, roast Peking duck, along with the tried and tested varieties like good old cheese and onion and salt and vinegar. We still have, rather unaccountably, a collection of flavoured hand cooked kettle chips. Hand cooked means under-flavoured, shiny and unacceptably greasy. Who buys them?

They sound up-market, so maybe folks who have never bought them and think they sound good, buy them to give to folks when they go visiting.

We wander amongst the staple wares on show in the supermarket. I often come here for whole roast chickens, with various flavours. I like the garlic and herb and the barbecue. I am keen to know what Bob has to say about the place.

Bob says:

We left the store, after successful forage. I am going to point out that Rowan did NOT tell me about the Peking Duck potato chips, or I would have had some. Even though they sound a little odd. I enjoyed browsing through the newspapers on the way out. We were getting a little hungry and went into town for lunch. We were on a bit of a schedule, as we had to beat Aidan (Rowan’s son) home. Rowan is funny about food – there was a place that looked good – it had been recommended by a taxi-driver and she recognized it. It was a fish and chips place, and once we got there, she peered in and declared that it looked dodgy. I, myself, saw nothing wrong with it.

Rowan writes:

We have to be home in time for my son coming home from school at three. We also want lunch. The time is short – we have two hours to zip into town, eat, and then zip home. At night, we are going to see a pantomime at the local repertory theatre.

We get a taxi into town and quiz the taxi driver about good places to get fish and chips. I have a little café in mind, but have heard through the grapevine that it has undergone a change of management and gone downhill. The chatty taxi driver suggests one of the nice pubs in the Westport area of the city, not far from the wee café. I remember them from teacher-training days – we used to go as a group sometimes for a pub lunch after class. There is a nice one called Mickey Coyles which has a nice roaring fire and good food.

We get out of the taxi and I survey the little cafe from a safe distance. Although famous for good fish and chips, I have never eaten in here before. It is sort of customer-visible – you can see peeps eating if you look through the windows (not to be unexpected, I know...) there is just something sort of grim and Spartan about it. It has an air of seriousness, somehow. And it is generally full of older folks, eating seriously and staring out of the windows…or so it seemed to me when I was a student, schlepping past on my way to uni. Some of that vibe has remained. And it looks small…I like space around me, if I can, in eatery places. Don’t know why...perhaps it is just a little munching anonymity. Just don’t want anyone but my companions seeing how much grub I am actually putting away.

I decide against the little café, feeling a little guilty, as time is short. I want lunch to be nice for Bob, and just wish we had more time to chill over our food, rather than having to rush. We wend out way up to the pubs, all on the same street. I know we will get a nice atmospheric lunch here, and am chuffed. It is a bit of a hike, and Lena is complaining a little, but she is pacified with the thought of a nice lunch. Sadly, when we get to the door, the polite barman informs us that it is not licensed for children. O_o We have to schlep off back toward town and plan C. Plan C? I am hastily searching about for someplace very quick to eat and settle on Debenham’s restaurant. Debenham’s is a department store I like. It has trendy fashionable stuff, very expensive tailored stuff for well-heeled wifies and also nice quality normal stuff for folks like me who like long denim skirts and tops. It caters for all age and budgets, then. I ought to have just said that at the beginning! Anyway, it is a good old-fashioned format of a store, bright and up to date, with an internet café, and stuff.

The restaurant is expensive, and the fish and chips I order are a bit dry and greasy. Bob has something that looks a little more interesting, involving stilton cheese. Lena has a kids’ box filled with bits and pieces. Bob seems to be finding her meal fairly palatable, and I eat mine, as is my wont, greasy or otherwise. We make a sharp exit and get a taxi home to be in time for Aidan getting home from school. The pantomime will start in a few hours – I am hoping it will be entertaining. I had a small part in a pantomime as a child, and enjoyed the experience, though I don’t think I’ve ever been to watch one, as other than a very small child myself. They are a sort of festive tradition in the UK. The pantomime we are going to see is a version of the fairytale Hansel and Gretel. I am sure Lena will like it. She is a bit of a diva, and has a penchant for quality musicals starring Julie Andrews and Dick van Dyke.

Bob says:

I find it hilarious that Rowan does not know where to get good fish and chips. I know that I would be able to discuss the merits of the best hamburger in town or the best chimichanga.

This is the intersection that we got out at -- near the Overgate Centre.

Once again, we ended up downtown, near the Steeple Church, which I still love. Hi, Steeple Peeple!

Debenhams is a nice department store – comparable to a Penney’s, I would think. It is funny to see tea towels with Scottish sayings on them and other souvenir-y stuff. It is a little incongruous. We end up in the café and have lunch. Lena is doing well, and selects her lunch with the seriousness such an event merits. She has definite preferences. I select something with chicken and potatoes and Stilton cheese. I have never had Stilton cheese. Rowan says that it is like bleu cheese, but milder. I like bleu cheese, so I try it. In our discussion of food, I discover that Scots like lasagna with chips (fries). Just sayin’. I have never had pasta and potatoes. It violates all kinds of food rules. I am seriously shaken by such an idea. My lunch was fine – sort of cafeteria-type food, which I love. The only thing that I do not like about cafeteria food is when different kinds of food bumps into each other. I avoided this by not getting any rolley food. Rowan’s peas roll into her fish and I feel sorry for her. We shared a Christmas cake with lots of powdered sugar for dessert, (a stollen) as I had never had one. It was pretty darned sweet. But good.

We got back to Rowan’s house and just sort of lazed around until it was time to go to the pantomime. Lena drew some pictures. She is a natural artist, as you can see. Her art is remarkably detailed and pretty advanced, developmentally speaking. What is interesting to me is how she just dashes off her drawings. Her hands have no problem translating what her eyes see – she is nonchalant and often draws while she is doing other things, such as watching TV. Soon it is time to get ready for dinner out and then the pantomime.

Rowan writes:

Pantomime has a loooong tradition in the UK. It has several conventions which are intended to introduce humour and incongruity before the jokes even start to fly. The story being told is related via much slapstick and cross-dressing, in a mildly vulgar and generally all-round silly way. There are levels of jokes for children and parents, sweet throwing, a lot of built up bust-lines and heaps and heaps of greasepaint and wacky wigs, boots and crinolines.

The most important person in a pantomime is the pantomime dame. She is never the named protagonist, but the supporting lead, the powerful female figure, and is played by a man, to comedy effect. The pantomime dame in Aladdin, for example, Widow Twankey, runs a laundry, and has ample opportunity to bemoan the condition of the male underwear and socks which come under her daily scrutiny. There are layers of laughs in pantomime, archaic, and formulaic, but recognisably so. It is sort of “I know” theatre. There is a nice relaxed anticipatory vibe.

The Pantomime Dame is a bloke – the Principal Boy is a woman. She is the male lead. In Aladdin, Aladdin would traditionally be played by a woman, as would the prince in Cinderella. This tradition is changing now, and the roles becoming more familiarly gender-oriented. Panto is losing its light-hearted cross-dressing tradition.

The pantomime we are going to see is at the local repertory theatre.

I have seen some very good performances there over the years, my favourite being the Scots version of Moliere’s play, “Le Malade Imaginaire”, translated as the Hypochondriac. The medical jokes and cynicism flew, the acting was superb. I went back to see it a second time.

Before the panto, we have our evening meal in the little restaurant in the theatre foyer. Bob has pizza with anchovies, and I have a Moroccan dish which has lumps of sweet potato in it. It is spicy and very nice. Lena is feeling very important, and gets to sit and crayon as she eats. As I have somehow booked us in for the meal too early for us to go straight into the theatre, Bob suggest a short walk through the pre-Christmas shopping centre close by, to stretch our legs. Sitting contemplating yet another coffee is not her style. There is a nice new Starbucks in the centre, and we will have our coffee on the hoof.

It is a nice crispy cold evening. The centre is busy with Christmas shoppers, although it is early in the month. We queue in Starbucks, and view the wares on show. Lena has flavoured milk, at “children’s temperature” which I think is a nice idea. Bob and I have coffee. I find it very nice indeed, and we schlep back along the bright corridor of the shopping mall towards the theatre. An unexpected but interesting interlude and yummy beverage-dom.

Bob says:

Rowan has explained about the cultural aspect of pantomimes, and I am happy to be going. Lena has not been to one before, and she is excited. We get to the theater and have a nice dinner. Rowan eats like a Brit, with her fork upside down, smushing little bits of everything onto the back, using her knife as food-pusher. It is pleasantly unfamiliar. It is like watching Iron Chef, when the judges use a fork, but you see that they way they use the fork is a little different. Rowan does not hold her fork like someone used to chopsticks, but it is just not the way an American would.

We finished and had time to get some coffee. I have not had a real cup of coffee in days, and the Starbucks is calling to me. It was delicious – I could feel the bite of the caffeine and a pleasant little buzz when it hit my bloodstream. Maybe I was just woozy from spending about seven dollars for it … but it was worth every penny.

We hustled back to the theater – it was just starting to fill up. The sidewalks were crowded – little groups and families with girls were dressed up in their theater best. One group was scampering along, coatless, trying to get into the warmth of the foyer. Theater-wear is not warm, and I shivered for the girls in their spaghetti-straps and high-heeled sandals. We passed a group of adolescents with hats decorated with Christmas lights and lit-up candy canes. Lena was excited. There were brightly colored houses on the walls inside of the foyer, colored, I would guess, by local school children. Lena looks them over with interest. I am guessing that she is already mentally designing hers.

Rowan writes:

Once inside, the pantomime unfolds. The audience are ready for a laugh. The stage-set is dark, very gothic, a sort of Black Forest, minus the gateau, although there are lots of those later, cakes and sweets galore. The gingerbread cottage is well-made, the acting good. It is all just a little dark for me. I don’t know why…perhaps it is just a little too far away from the traditional pantomime light-heartedness I remember from my youth. Light, colour, laughter ..frothy yellows and reds. Silly dance routines. Inexplicable water. Men in fake wigs and padded bras commenting on their lot in life. Somehow, it didn’t undermine – as someone who spent many years researching feminist issues in old dramas it would have jarred, if any jarrage was visible. it was just of itself, for itself, and extremely silly.

The Pantomime dame role in this panto was played by a woman – a dark role, as she was a malicious character, interesting in itself. I am having to rein myself in seriously here – doing an Odysseus tied to the mast sort of thing. The Sirens are singing, but don’t let me write a Marxiofeministpostmoderist critique of a jolly children’s show. I am just going to say that I was sort of ambivalent about it. Found it a wee bit overly vulgar in places, though it wouldn’t normally bother me – now, could that be that the toilet humour is usually the male reserve? Was there more of it than expected? Perhaps. One or two little things spooked me a little. Still, the sets were very good, the acting good, and the kids all enjoyed themselves.

We get a taxi home, and I wonder what Bob thought of the performance. We don’t really discuss it in detail. It is late, and we are still feeling a bit tired from all our jaunts of the previous days. The taxi driver is again jolly. Taxi drivers in Dundee generally are!

We made it home, and have a wee chat with mum who has been babysitting, then turn in. Friday will be another nice sightseeing away-day – we are going back to Edinburgh have a closer look at the Mile and St Giles. Yo!

Bob says:

Okay – about the pantomime. It was fun and a bit different. The crowd was clearly into it and was obvious that there are time-honored traditions that are observed – expected audience reactions. Lots of candy was thrown around. I enjoyed it, despite the fact that the humor was pretty broad. I found myself getting a little tired, though. The days of traveling were starting to catch up a little. We caught a taxi home and the driver and Rowan talked about the show. Lena managed to give a pretty good synopsis of the whole thing – she has a good memory for detail and explained the play with panache. I am glad that I got to see the pantomime and Lena had a good time. I crawled into bed with a sigh of relief. It was not too late, but I want to get up early tomorrow. It will be a busy day.

Tomorrow we go back to Edinburgh.

I am going to do a quick update, as it is spring already. Rowan sent me some lovely pictures, and I thought you might like to see them. First, she would like to emphasize the fact that one can get Mexican food in Scotland. She sent me this picture from Asda.

Yikes. And that is all I can say.

On a more aesthetic note, here are some lovely pictures of Dundee in the Spring. This is a picture of the Howff, which is a very old cemetery in town. I love this picture.

And a final picture of The Steeple Church in bloom. A very nice note to end on...