Montrose . . .

By | September 15

 

A sea mist hung about over the fields this morning until gone 11.00 am, and it never really cleared all day.

We had an odd sort of day really. We set off in the mist (sea fret off the North Sea I think) to find our way to the House of Dun by Montrose. This was a useful exercise in that I explored for the first time what the sat nav “Points of Interest” menu contained, and found that the House of Dun (National Trust for Scotland) was listed. The sat nav appears to be behaving itself after some attempts to reboot it whilst we were at Glamis yesterday.

Arrived at the house it became apparent that it was only open on certain days of the week, and that Thursday wasn’t one of them.

So, we went into Montrose because I had seen as we passed through on Monday that there was a sign to a Montrose Air Station Museum. We found it OK, and could see that a present day industrial estate has been built on what had been the airfield. Various buildings we passed were obviously old hangars. The museum is obviously a labour of love for a bunch of dedicated volunteers who have done a good job of trying to make a place which is interesting to people like me, but also has fun things to do for the younger generation to whom it is all new. We wandered round as much as we could take in, and then asked their advice as to where we might eat (it now being well past the conventional lunch hour}. They sent us off up the road to a fruit farm with a shop and a café. There we had a baked potato apiece – J. had her favourite “Coronation Chicken” and I had Chilli Con Carne. We followed this up with desserts, a strawberry tart which was exactly the same article as that which I had at the Bon Bon café in Arbroath, and J. had pancakes, but they turned out to be Scotch pancakes, and not “crepes” as we perhaps expected. She only ate the one, so I finished up No. 2 with the excellent maple syrup they provided. The place certainly is a fruit farm and we saw one family going off laden with strawberries and wondered what on earth they were going to do with them. But all the effort and attention today was going into the decoration of the place, if that is the correct word, with Hallowe’en items. I thought they looked absolutely awful, cheap, tatty, and nasty. Meanwhile the girls who were waiting on were hanging about this operation and paying very little attention to their restaurant customers. It is a sad fact that when EU citizens come over here and take these jobs they do them so much better. Our native waiting staff seem to have no concept of looking after or caring for their customers, seeing that they have everything that they need, and keeping an eye on them without being obtrusive so that as soon as they finish one course,the dirty crockery and cutlery is quietly whisked away, and a consultation as to what might come next is begun. My overall impression was that the farm owners probably are waiting and hoping for nearby industrial developments to make them an offer, whereupon they will take the money and go.

From there we went into Montrose and found our way to the sea front area, but here the fog was sufficiently thick that you could only just make out the water off the shore, so we drove back to Arbroath finding that on the A92 road just a bit further inland the visibility was in the main pretty good. We went to the Tourist Information Office in Arbroath and collected various leaflets for future reference, but they are all really just collections of advertisements (which is what pays for them to get printed I suppose) but that they contain very little of educational interest for the tourist who wants to know more about the history of, and places of interest in the area. The old fashioned guide book seems to have died along with the old fashioned book shop.

Then we had large ice creams at Marco’s, and came home.

I was interested to see the site of Montrose airfield because it was here that No. 2 Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps was stationed before the First World War. From here, in August 1914, they moved south and eventually arriving in France some eight days after war was declared.  Today this seems uninteresting but undemanding exercise in navigation, but then one remembers that only four years before, the Daily Mail London to Manchester air race took place and the atmosphere was more “will they get there” than “who will be the winner”. A mere four years later whole RFC Squadrons with all their personnel and equipment were flying these sorts of distances almost as a matter of course, and then operating from improvised airfields in farm land as they spotted and reconnoitered for the army, of which, of course, they were an integral part.  For those interested, this part of the RFC’s activities is well described by Maurice Baring in his book, “Flying Corps Headquarters, 1914 – 1918” published in 1920.