karen's diary

We left our fragrant Arbroath landlord clutching 4 spare rashers this morning (confessed vegetarianism too late), though I did managed to force down my sixth fried egg in as many days.

Arbroath Abbey that indeed the 'ruins affford ample testimony of its ancient magnificance'.
As ever, a lone Scottish Heritage custodian shivered bravely in his ticket office, as we trouped off for the compulsory audio visual presentation - all booming accents and bloody (literally) tartan. I have always wallowed in the pathos of off-season tourist attractions (having lived for 17 years in one giant one, Largs)
Nontheless, the abbey was very beautiful, its' eroded sandstone resembling melting chocolate and embodying wholly the 18th century idea of the picturesque.

The un-ruined sacristy afforded us the delight (oops, a bit of Johnsoniana there) of echo - filled warbling for a few moments. I couldn't remember any Byrd or Dufay off hand, but did a wee bit of Benjamin Britten (There Is no Rose, for any fans), which I remembered from my schooldays.

We spun on to Montrose (good Tesco, little else), and then to Laurencekirk, where fate has played a cruel trick on the Gardenston Arms, a stopping place of Boswell & Johnson on their route, and noted for its' library. God alone knows why Scottish Heritage / National Trust/ Women's Institute / Tartan busybodies etc. bypassed this place on the road to big bucks tourism - Robert Burns visited it a century before B&J, for God's sake!
Instead of a genteel establishment staffed by retired librarians & doing a nice line in tea towels, we encountered the layby-pub from hell.
Juke box, lecherous locals, coach loads of soccer fans and an apologetic photograph of the now demolished library , were its 'selling points', though admittably the landlord tried to shout some historic facts over the Bryan Adams CD. ..Maybe we're too used to being hand fed the tartan fodder, but even on the scale of 'pubs you can stop at on the way to Aberdeen' this has got to figure in the 'avoid entering at all costs' section!

We're now sitting in the infinitely hospitable Netropolis cafe basement in Aberdeen, which we've converted into a multi media centre for the evening...surfing for the first time in ages (hence my many links!), and getting a little apprehensive about our local tv appearance tomorrow....

hear us trying to harmonise in the abbey