A day in Dundee


The day before we left for Dundee, Edinburgh and the autumn leaves were bathed in sunshine. While we were in Australia the UK seems to have had a fairly mild autumn.

However, this was not to last and by the time our train pulled into Dundee Station, the sky was overcast and the wind was getting up. We had been meaning to re-visit the city for some time, especially since the V&A opened a museum there in September 2018 and James is always keen to come back to the place he was at university in. The new V&A is right on the waterfront in a stunning building. It was designed by Kengo Kuma & Associates from Japan who are also designing the stadium in Tokyo for the 2020 Olympics.



The collection is devoted to Scottish design in many different areas. The main collection is free to visit and there are additional exhibitions for which a ticket has to be purchased. The current one is on ocean liners. There was so much to see and one thing I enjoyed was The Oak Room designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh for Miss Catherine Cranston who owned tea rooms in Glasgow.

Next to the V&A is Discovery Point; a museum devoted to Antarctic research and the ship Discovery. Dundee had for some time engaged in whaling and so had expertise in constructing ships that could withstand Arctic ice, making it an obvious place to build the first ship constructed for scientific research in the Antarctic. The Discovery had sails but also an auxiliary coal-fired steam engine. There are displays on the construction of the ship which used several different kinds of wood, those who sailed in her, the work they did and the restoration of the Discovery. After looking at the displays in the museum (and trying some of the interactive things if you are brave enough) the ship can be explored, above and below deck.

When we visited some workers were repairing the decking with what looked like traditional methods.

Back in town, penguins are popping up everywhere as part of the Christmas Decorations. Those outside Discovery Point and these in the city centre are present all year.

Another Scottish export was comics. DC Thomson have been publishing newspapers and comics since 1905. Desperate Dan and Minnie the Minx from the Beano are also in the city centre.

Had the weather been better there are riverside walks, boat trips, the Botanic Gardens or a climb up the Law for the view but they will have to wait for another trip. Down in the waiting room at the station there was a wall display:

While living in Dundee, Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein

The first ever wireless broadcast took place in Dundee

In 2016 Dundee hosted the UK’s biggest independent video games festival

Dundee is the sunniest city in Scotland. This raised a smile as it was pouring with rain and very windy outside with reports of snow on high ground. Despite Scotrail glitches: announcing a delayed train when it had just departed and telling us as we approached Haymarket that the next stop was Leuchars, we made it back to Edinburgh on time.

A day in Dundee

We woke before it was light and so decided we would walk down to the station. There had been some sleet overnight so it was a bit slippery underfoot. At the station, James spotted a coffee place that had Lavazza so I had to have a cup. Unfortunately I spilt it soon afterwards and having found someone to clean up so that no-one slipped, I headed back for a refill and the woman gave me another for free. A great start to the day. On the train we saw the beginnings of the new Forth crossing as we passed over the rail bridge.
Forth Rail Bridge (1 of 1)
The weather forecast said it was to be dry in Dundee but as the train passed through rain and sleet and snow was visible on the hills, it was hard to believe. The River Tay was still high but had obviously been much higher recently and had left mud and pools of water everywhere. On arrival it was dry but overcast. James was keen to visit some of his old haunts so after he had orientated himself (there have been quite a few changes in the last 30 years), we walked up to the street where his old student flat was (still a student flat enclave).
Springfield (1 of 1)

We continued on to where the halls of residence were and which are now a conference centre. A coffee stop was then necessary before walking back towards town to meet a friend for lunch at the restaurant in the Dundee Contemporary Arts Centre. This was somewhere I must explore further on another trip as it has exhibitions, workshops, a cinema and is a real focus for art of all kinds. We then wandered around town and then down to Captain Scott’s ship The Discovery, which has came home to Dundee in 1999. It is interesting to note that while the expedition had a scientific focus and taught us a lot about Antarctica, one of its drivers was the fact that the whaling industry in the Arctic had run out of whales and was seeking a new supply. There was an exhibition and then you can go onto the ship. I particularly liked the contrast between the ship (launched in 1901) and the construction behind it of the building to house an outpost of the V&A.
Construction of the new V&A (1 of 1)
Rigging 1 (1 of 1)
Rigging 4 (1 of 1)
Below deck I was pleased to see that marmalade was deemed an essential supply.
Supplies (1 of 1)
I also loved the penguins outside.
Penguins (1 of 1)
All too soon the sun, which had come out as forecast, was sinking beyond the railway bridge.
Tay Bridge 2 (1 of 1)
There was just enough time for a glass of wine and the newspaper before we had to head back to the station for the train back to Edinburgh.
Station (1 of 1)
We had walked 11.5 miles today so I am still on with my Lent walking pledge.