07 November 2010

Aberdeen to Arbroath

Our stopover was at Woodside, to the north of Aberdeen and an intersting ride though its imposing wide streets and famous gramite buildings starts the journey. Interesting too that I am going to be accompanied for part of today's ride by Mary Marr, volunteer extraordinare from Stonehaven and family friend Martin who is sporting an SNP "It's time" hi-vis jacket just to spark conversation! Brian, Mary's husband forms the advance welcome committee into Stonehaven and tells me where to go. Mary is located a mile or so closer to town and waves me down to tell me that the adjacent toilets are free, whereas those in town will cost 20p! She's certainly canny but not a Scot!
We meet at the Far and Wide Churches Together Charity shop where Mary works and are greeted by manager Barbara McLean along with the photographer/reporter from the local paper. It is indeed a special occasion. I did know that Far and Wide were planning to make a donation but didn't ever expect that this would amount to a staggering £500! These are such wonderful moments and it's not possible to convey the gratitude that such generosity engenders! To all the kind people of Stonehaven, thanks so much.
Mary and Martin are riding seriously heavy weight bikes and we meander round the town to see their lovely little church before heading just a mile or so south to see one of Scotland's most famous and important castles at Dunnotarr. Martin is a mine of history and that tells us that at one stage, the occupying English were sent to their reward in heaven after withstanding a Scots seige. When it was Cromwell's turn to lay seige, the Scotish Crown Jewels that were kept at Dunnotarr were lowered to a boat before the roundheads finally prevailed.
This is definitely a place to revisit.
Mary and Martin ride with me as far as Inverbervie where we stop for refreshments. We enjoy a final chat and like a magician with the rabbit, Mary produces a chocolate cake to see us on our way! Although there's no need for any icing on Mary's contribution to the ride! Here it is, and it is of the full fat 70% cocoa variety!
The ride from Inverbervie was increasingly cold and wet, and with all the stops, by the time I was approaching Arbroath it was gettting dark. We were sceduled to meet a press photographer at St Thomas of Canterbury Church but had been warned that there might not be parishioners around to welcome us. With no-one in tthe street and the church in darkness, we thought little about it and the photos therefore were just of Terry and me, with the bikes and the car. The photographer rushed off but I thought to knock at the presbytery door just in case Fr Kevin Golden might just be at home. The surprise that not only was he home but that a dozen or more parishioners were sitting inside was a shock and we were disappointed that the photo to appear in their weekly newspaper will not show familiar faces. I feel really sorry about that.
We returned through Arbroath to the caravan site at the north side of town and passed several shops selling Arbroath smokies. Like the famous Cullen Skink several day ago, here is another Scots town that is famous for food. I'm not too fussed about smokies but the thought that we will be passing through Dundee tomorrow is another matter!

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