Date: Fri, 13 Jun 2003 04:52:49 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: if it's not scottish, it's crap
sorry i have not emailed in a bit, it turns out that finding internet access (and phone access, for that matter) in Arbroath is considerably more tricky than in London. there's a tiny little internet cafe here, it has three computer, only two of which work. so there was quite a queue (as they say here) when i got here this morning.
so, i have been Arbroath, Scotland since Monday. We took a train from London on Monday morning (for some reason, i thought that the train was leaving on Sunday, so i was mistaken), and arrived at Hospitalfield House, where we're staying, in the afternoon. the train ride was six hours long but actually fairly painless, i ended up sitting with an Australian couple who was going to Edinburgh for their son's wedding. so i talked with them for most of the ride until we got off at the Arbroath station.
Arbroath itself is a rather small town, it's actually just about the size of Lebanon, and situated right on the coast. There are tiny shops and tiny little stone streets and small enough so you can walk nearly everywhere with little difficulty. this morning i went to Library, and even got a temporary little library card. i also got my wash done earlier in the week at a little laudromat place called the Soap Box.
we've already gone to several pubs, and the drinks here are much cheaper. i also had the best rum in the world, called OVD Rum, which is brewed (distilled? made? I dunno) in the nearby town of Dundee.
the place we are staying in is called Hospitalfield House, an enormous castle whose foundation dates back to the 12th century. it sits on a huge plot of land, and even has a proper English garden in the back, with two black labs named Poppy and Sarah. the outside is amazing and beautiful, but the inside is just as amazing. there are so many rooms with so many extraordinary things in them. there's one room that i keep going back to called the Picture Room, which paintings by the former owner, Patrick Allen-Fraser, all over the walls. it also has a four hundred year old piano, which i'm quite taken with. there is amazing wood and stone carving covering nearly every available surface. it's lush and opulent and everything invites a closer look.
the food is here is all provided by the cook, Rod, and all of it is homemade and delicious. i don't think i've EVER eaten this well. there isn't much of traditional Scottish food (whatever that is, i'm not really sure, but we haven't had haggis or anything like that), we've had everything from pea soup to sweet and sour chicken with rice. breakfast is usually cereal and toast.
the faculty from Glasgow School of Art arrived earlier in the week, and we spent some time seeing slide lectures and doing some drawing and critting a little bit. it's kind of hard to do much work, they did provide us with some materials, but they were quickly used up. so think most of us are going into Dundee tomorrow to find an art supply shop, which Arbroath doesn't have.
yesterday was a huge whirlwind tour of various important buildings and structures in Arbroath and the surrounding area. the tour was led by the caretaker of Hospitalfield, Willie, who though rather long-winded was still very knowledgable about everything. we walked around a lot of old graveyards and churches and saw the standing stones that were carved by the Picts, the ancient Celtic tribe that were among the first people in Scotland (think Braveheart, eh?).
and just as we standing there, admiring the stones, these two huge, black fighter jets come ripping across the sky out of nowhere, each leaving behind a sonic boom. it was quite strange and alarming, in this quiet, green, tranquil country to see something that violent and scary. it was a strange contrast.
anyway, i am off now. today's a free day, as is tomorrow and most of Sunday. so that is to be spent walking around the town and also writing a paper (rough draft due tomorrow) as well as drawing. Monday we leave for the Isle of Skye, where we stay for three days and then go to Glasgow for the next ten days. I'm really looking forward to Glasgow, it should be amazing.
until the next time i write -
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