Mediterranean Scotland…….

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On a bright sunny summers day, with the multi coloured quayside houses all painted in bright colours, this could perhaps be the Mediterranean.

It is though the small Fishing Town of Arbroath, on the Angus Coast, North East Scotland.

I refer to Arbroath as a Fishing Town.  It was one of the East Coast most important Fishing communities.  Even in my lifetime I can recall this harbour packed with fishing  boats and a quayside full of the hustle and bustle, of  Fish being unloaded, waiting lorries and of course the banter of the wheeler dealers, buying and selling.

Then of course you have the unique culinary delicacy,  “The Arbroath Smokie”.  A Smokie is a whole small Haddock.  Cleaned but left on the bone.  Then smoked over hot oak wood chips.  The aroma of the smoke houses still drifts across the harbour from harbourside smoke houses.

Gone are the bulk of the fishing fleet, though a few  boats are still active.  They have been replaced by the Social Yachting and Boating interests….a busy working harbour now a leisure marina.

  • Smokies are not Kippers.  Kippers are smoked Herring, still nice but not as good in my view as an Arbroath Smokie

Arbroath may have changed, but still well worth exploring. But as always on your travels…

Please Remember ….

Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other

21st July

(C) David Oakes 2020

 

 

 

ARBROATH…..A Special Place in Scottish History

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The Harbour at Arbroath

Post Card pretty the harbour at Arbroath is now a leisure marina….but for many centuries it was both a busy trading port and had its own substantial Fishing Fleet, now all that has all but gone.  Visitors to Arbroath taking a look behind this colourful frontage will find a town that has seen better days, and it shows.

In fact those better days go back an awful long way in Scotland’s History and a good deal of that history was centred around the Abbey.  Arbroath Abbey founded in 1128 was sponsored by King William the Lion.  It was here in the Abbey in 1320 that the “Declaration of Independence” was signed by the then Scottish Parliament.

Scotland goes to the Polls on the 18th September to vote on a Referendum to either stay in the U.K. or become a fully independent Country.  There can be no bigger issue, in modern history, for the people of Scotland to cast their votes.

I make no plea for the voters.  They have already been subject to a noisy and at times ill tempered debate, none of which I feel, has helped those unsure in their decision making.

But what I do hope is that whatever the outcome of the Referendum, that once proud places such as Arbroath and there are many such places, can be helped to once again provide the base for sound economic local communities.

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Arbroath Abbey

14th September

(C) David Oakes 2014

SHIPS CAT ….or was it a Kangaroo

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It shows my naivety, I thought sailing boats were reputed to have  a ‘ships cat’.  But the above sign on a fishing shed at a Scottish Harbour seems to indicate that Otters, Leopards and even Kangaroo’s find their way on board…..a whole new meaning to the saying ‘Hop on Board mate’

16th February

Historic ARBROATH

 It is the majestic Nave of Arbroath Abbey that gives you the first clue to the size and importance that the Abbey was both to the community and to Scotland’s heritage. Even though much of the Abbey is now in ruin you cannot be in any doubt of just how big and how well spread the Abbey once was.

The SOUTH TRANCEPT from across  the Precinct and Cloisters.

Founded in 1174 by King William 1, known as  ‘William the Lion’ ,  he dedicated it to his friend and the Martyr Archbishop Thomas Becket ( assassinated at Canterbury). So perhaps it is fitting that when he died in 1214 William was buried in the centre of the Nave in front of the High Alter. For a King of Scotland it seems a rather understated place of rest.

Within the Abbot’s House, Historic Scotland have created a small but interesting museum well worth investigating.

But perhaps it is The DECLARATION OF ARBROATH of 1320 that binds the Abbey for ever to Scotland’s declaration of independence.

“ For as long as but a hundred of us remain alive,

never will we on any condition be brought under English rule.”

A Scottish desire still very much as important to-day as in 1320.

A LINK WITH THE SEA – THE BIG O.

At the top of the South Transept is a large circular window….know locally as the BIG O. For centuries Fishermen and sailors have used this landmark as a navigation aid for taking a bearing, even Stephenson used the window whilst building Inchcape Lighthouse.  He found it so important that he arrange for the window to be restored to secure its continued use for all.

ARBROATH – The TOWN

The colourful Harbour, once a busy fishing port now very much relies on the change to a Marina. Perhaps the Marina also encouraged the facelift of the harbour frontage for the rest of the town is dull red sandstone.  But there are still some traditional fishing, crab and lobster boats….but not many.

But should you wish to delve deeper into Arbroath’s history then a visit to the ‘WATCH TOWER’ now the home of a very local museum.

A SOCIAL STATEMENT (sorry)(Sorry!)

It is some years since I last visited Arbroath and I cannot say that I left impressed.  The decline of the fishing industry as well as other industries had left its toll on the community. Historical connections do not supply that many jobs. Returning to-day I cannot say it has changed much.  Yes, there has been some new developments…..but if that development amounts to two supermarkets (Tesco and Morrison adjacent to each other) and a rather sparce Visitors Centre, then it is not enough.

Outside the town there are some Country Houses and large Farms.  In parts of the town there are some smart homes but very few.  By way the biggest housing developments appear to be what we now refer to as Social Housing.

Walk around the town you have an unreal contrast between the Aston Martins, Range Rovers and BMW’s with rather tarnished older cars and some dismal surroundings……very stark contrasts.  But it is the high number of young people that appear to have nothing to do but ‘’hang around’, many with pushchairs and children in tow.  Local comment is that drug and drink abuse is high leading to some violence.  But what hope do they have of getting a job….very little, very sad.