Dundee is the fourth-largest city in Scotland. It is on the north bank of the River Tay's estuary and is near the east coast and the North Sea.
Its history began with the Picts in the Iron Age and during the medieval period was the site of many battles. During the Industrial Revolution the local jute (jute is one of the cheapest natural fibres and is second only to cotton in amount produced and variety of uses) industry caused the city to grow rapidly. In this period Dundee also gained a reputation for its marmalade industry and its journalism, giving Dundee its epithet as the city of "jute, jam and journalism".
It is known as the City of Discovery, in honour of Dundee's history of scientific activities and of the RRS Discovery, Robert Falcon Scott's Antarctic exploration vessel, which was built in Dundee and is now berthed there. The biomedical and technology industries have grown since the 1980s and the city now accounts for 10% of Britain’s digital entertainment industry.
15 Sep 2006 - Dundee, ScotlandWith only a day of the two week camp left we were all given the chance to go into Dundee in the daytime. Obviously we had been into Dundee for a night out which being in university freshers week made for a good venture. Today though, was the first chance to see Dundee in the daytime and to find out what it had to offer.
There are a few notable tourist attractions but with the very limited time I had I chose to see the RSS Discovery. As it was Captain Scott's famous ship I was very interested to see it and was never aware that it was based in Dundee. The whole Discovery visitor centre has some excellent displays on Antarctic exploration and Scott's expedition, and you can then go on board to see the ship and the cabins used by Scott and his crew.
Dundee - The RSS Discovery
Scotts famous ship, constructed in Dundee in 1900 and with a hull more than half a meter thick to survive the Antarctice pack ice.
Dundee - RSS Discovery's top deck
Visitors to the ship can explore above and below decks. Just try and imagine this place as home for two years while trapped in ice.
Dundee - Captain Scott's cabin on the RSS Discovery
While here, I was inspired to want to know more about Scott's expeditions and bought a book written by the modern polar adventurer, Sir Ranulph Fiennes. He writes with the authority of someone who has experienced the deprivations that Scott did and offers excellent critical analysis of Scott's actions and his detractors. Was Scott foolish or just unlucky? Did he make the best decisions when faced with the options available to him? Buy the book and you decide; you won't get a much better read than this.
14 Sep 2006 - Dundee, ScotlandOne more day of R&R and it was the day of the long trek. Memories of days of guard duty, 6 AM starts, military training and seemingly pointless tasks were rapidly fading away as the fun element of the two weeks came to the fore. Guard duty did throw up a few laughs though. I was tasked with guard duty with 5 others and we each had an separate guard point around the firing range. This can be very boring particularly if you are unlucky enough to have to guard a main entrance point. Up down, up down as you continually have to check the credentials of people entered and then to give them access.
However, some spots are very idyllic such as the locations that I managed to get for myself. Sitting in the hut on the beach looking out for boats was a fantastic spot for guard duty. All that had to be done was to watch the sea in the bright morning sunlight and listen to the waves lapping on the beach and immerse yourself in your own thoughts.
However, some chaps got a little too bored and the next day before being tasked with our guard duties the unit sergeant major addressed us all. Apparently there are a number of cameras placed at strategic locations around the training area. We were told that some of the activities from the day before were spotted. We were told to stay sharp and it was stressed that if you want to spank your monkey do it before going on guard. That brought a few giggles from the guilty.
After leaving our briefing a number of confessions were made and it seems that at least 3 out of the 6 soldiers had all been shall we say, spanking their monkey. Quality!
The Scottish highlands I
As part of our 'time off', we had a hike across the highlands which on the map was about 13 miles but in reality more because of the undulating terrain. It started off in the lowlands, then uphill through forest until we emerged on the windswept highland areas.
The Scottish highlands II
The walk was hard going over some steep terrain and conducted at a very fast pace. Still, such an activity is no bad thing in the Scottish countryside and it was great to walk such a distance and to see the contrasts in the scenery. Sheltered wooded areas, windswept and exposed hill sides, hill tops shrouded in low cloud and then stunning descents into valleys.
The Scottish highlands III
The final descent from the highlands into the valley which led to our pick up point which is still a lot further on and cannot be seen in this photo.
13 Sep 2006 - Dundee, ScotlandThe whole reason I was in Dundee was to join in a two week TA camp. To be more precise, I was at a barracks called Barry Buddon which is just outside of Dundee. Most of the two weeks was spent learning and refreshing military skills plus regiment specific skills such as guiding in a helicopter to deliver or take a load. There was also a lot of range work and fire and manoeuvre which can be exhausting. Imagine doing this for real!
This particular exercise involved patrolling about 800 meters and putting into effect the drills we had learned. The basic drill is to return some shots, dash, get down, move and return fire. Doing this with maximum effort on a hot day with your helmet slipping down and sweat dripping into your eye makes you realise what combat can be like. Obviously we weren't being fired at but this experience in itself brings home just how fit a soldier needs to be.
The last few days involved rest and recreation where we participated in hill walking, rock climbing and sailing.
Dundee - Rock climbing and abseiling
The first day of rest and recreation was rock climbing and abseiling.
Barry Buddon - Rifle cleaning time
One of the jobs I and others had to perform was guard duty on the firing range. This is safety precaution to stop civilians and anyone else wandering into the danger areas. The best spot which I got was on the beach to watch out for any craft straying into the danger area. What this allowed me to do was just relax on in beach guard hut with very little to do. How often do you get the chance to relax looking over the sea from a deserted beach? Better than manning one of the main gates where you have to let people in and out every 10 minutes.