Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Haggis for Breakfast

Thursday, 24th May 2012: I can now look at the Wikipedia page for the A14 road, or rather I can now see it when I go there. I was on Chrome Beta – 19 but it has been updated twice since then and am now on 20 something. Which is good since the A14 is one of the”major” roads in these parts and so noisy and busy and polluting.

It also turns out that “Google Chrome has knocked Internet Explorer off the top spot as the world’s favourite browser” – well in the Week of May 14-20 anyway.  I’ve also weaned my wife off Internet Explorer. As I am responsible for the IT Admin on her laptop I have installed Chrome, it still annoys me when IE9 appears after a program install though. The trouble is she has gotten used to the way IE9 operates. The rest of the family use either Chrome or Safari (both are on her machine) and so quite often she has just carried on using Chrome because it was left open. Well she allowed me to switch to Chrome as the default browser which will make my life easier and her browsing faster.

It was also good to see that there was some fine weather coming along – about time too. It is also amazing that the time has come to go and pick up my daughter and her stuff after her first year at Uni. How time flies – although it is really one year – the Summer holidays ago.

Since last year I have also updated the maps on my SatNav, although the roads are always changing and any long-distance journey will probably have changes. The good news is that the Squealing Pig (what I call my Discovery 3) doesn’t seem to have a suspension problem – what it does have though is a problem with the air conditioning (or Climate Control as it is rather grandiosely called in the manual).  We had a good journey up, the A1 is a pretty good road and I just set the cruise control to 70mph and we rolled on up. 

Perhaps I ought to warn you despite this being a Blog about my cycling and photography there won’t be much cycling featured over the next few posts – sorry. Although I was sorrier, I was going to take up my Brompton – but it didn’t look like there was going to be enough room in the car on the way back – and there wasn’t. (I seem to remember my son taking his kayak and a bicycle the first year he went to Uni.)

I have to say driving hundreds of miles is no longer my cup of tea. I might have once looked upon it as an adventure, but no more. The first time I drove to Scotland I had an old Austin 1100 and various gears started failing (1st, 2nd and reverse) and no I wasn’t a member of the AA or RAC. It turned out to be the way the gear stick saw screwed down and once I had twigged the problem it was easily remedied. I also remember that on the way up, just as I passed a lorry, one of its front tyres exploded.  That driver did an amazing job of controlling his lorry and bringing it to rest on the hard shoulder without incident. Motor vehicles travelled with more separation than they do now I think.

One thing I rather like is the bright yellow of the oilseed rape growing in the fields – apparently “Rapeseed’s on a relentless march across the country as farmers cash in after price of crop’s oil soars”. Although I didn’t do a survey my sense is that there is less this year than last.  I know people complain about it not being traditional – but let’s face it all farming is a necessary imposition on the countryside and has been for a long time. Well necessary if we want to be fed.

We passed over the Firth of the Forth Road bridge alongside the iconic Forth Railway Bridge – that could receive World Heritage status. If the journey had been shorter and with not so many miles before our destination I would have stopped to take some pictures. (Here is a more sombre item on another iconic bridge - the Golden Gate Bridge which celebrates its 75th anniversary and also commemorates those who had jumped from the bridge.)

Once again we stayed in the Dundee Hilton – it gets my vote as a good place to stay with lovely views over the Firth of Tay and very friendly and welcoming staff. We had gone up slightly earlier, partly to get a few days break and partly to ensure we could get my daughter’s stuff all sorted. It meant we were able to do a little bit more sightseeing.  Despite saying in last year’s post that we wanted to go see more of Dundee the lure of the countryside was strong and we headed over the Tay Road bridge.

The Tay Road Bridge

I had taken a couple of lenses with me since I wasn’t allowed to take my Brompton. Although even through Bromptons really do fold up into an amazingly compact space they can’t fit into cup holders which camera lenses can and did.

Another hazy view across the Tay Road Bridge

As we explored along the coast we came to St Andrews. Living in the flatlands is about as far away from the seaside as you can get in the UK so I probably took too many pictures of cliffs and sea.

St Andrews Coastline

And here is the harbour pier – although I am more used to piers that are on stilts and have amusement arcades along them.

St Andrews Coastline and pier

A bit more gratuitous sea – it was very calm the day we visited. Norway is somewhere out there.

The sea at St Andrews

It seemed to me that St Andrews had been a bit careless with its heritage – there was a cathedral in ruins and St Andrew’s Castle was also in ruins – albeit picturesque.

The Ruins of St Andrews Castle

And finally a bit of technology. That slightly odd shaped tree is in fact a mobile-phone base station – but designed not to be a blot on the landscape.

Mobile-Phone Base Station in disguise

It was a good job I had my cooked breakfast that morning – Haggis is a good way to start the day. After the drive of the day before and the fresh of today I slept well. I find that when I drive for a few hours I am mentally tired but not physically tired and my brain takes a little time to wind down from the necessary concentration levels.

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