In last month’s post I talked about my reading tour of
Dundee, and what a brilliant time I had with the American
tour group. As I said at the end of that post, my time with them was not over,
and I was to join them on a visit to Auchmithie the following day. Click on Reading my Way Round Dundee to read last months's post.
For those of you who do not know the area, Auchmithie is a historic fishing village on the east coast of
Scotland. It is only a few miles
from Arbroath where the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1320.
Arbroath is also famed for Arbroath smokies which are cured and smoked in the
town. However, Auchmithie was actually the place where the smokie originated,
maybe they should be called Auchmithie smokies.
Auchmithie regularly celebrates their historic roots with the HAAR festival, which they organise every second year, and unfortunately this was not the year. But there was a surprise in store for the American visitors, because the tour guide, myself, and Ann Craig, who helps to organise the festival had collaborated to provide an entertainment by the re-enactment group in the local church.
But back to the start of the day, our meal in the But ‘n’
famed for it’s seafood, particular its smokies and smokie pancakes. Unfortunately,
I don’t like smokies so I settled for fresh battered haddock and chips, and I
have never seen or tasted such a light golden batter as the one that coated my
fish. And I won’t even mention the desserts, they were to die for. Ben Restaurant
After the meal I read scenes from A Salt Splashed Cradle where the fisherwomen carry the men, on their backs, to the boats. They did this in Auchmithie before the harbour was built, and the reason they did this was so the men would not have to go to sea with wet feet. The readings went down a bomb, and I sold several books from my book bag. Surprisingly, I also sold some books to other diners in the restaurant who were not with our party.
We left the restaurant in good spirits and walked to the church where the re-enactment group were waiting. Ann Craig, in the role of Annie Gilruth, a historical character, enacted scenes from the early days of the village which described how progressive this woman was, and how she instigated improvements in village life, not all of which were readily accepted by the villagers, as one argumentative scene revealed. The group sang fisher songs, danced, and acted scenes. It was a brilliant performance, and if you are in the vicinity of Auchmithie next September it’s well worth a visit to Auchmithie to see this group acting out village life, as it was in the past, on the streets.
But there was a surprise in store for me as well, because at the end of the performance I was invited to join them to read scenes from A Salt Splashed Cradle. I must say I never thought I would do a reading from the pulpit, but it was a great experience.
The group scattered to investigate the village, and as I took my leave of them, I reflected it was the perfect end to a perfect day.