03 02 2020
Some friends are downsizing their home from a converted school near Montrose, to a canal boat, (geographically less fixed) so we went along for a laugh and a bit of plundering. Picking up Andy on the way in Dundee we popped into the relatively new V&A on the Dundee waterfront. They were doing a Robotics display, although we didn't include that and just used it as a meeting place
It was fairly cold and blowy in Montrose and in Dundee, although not freezing, and we didn’t stay outside for long. So that we could rapid-charge the car we did have to walk from Dundee Princes Street where there's a decent rank of rapid chargers, to the V&A and back, that was about 10 minutes each way. Nearer chargers were either too difficult to find, too slow or already occupied. It rained quite hard on the return which left us rather cold and wet. I should have brought an umbrella, they still work best in downpours. On the other hand we only paid £10 in total for the ‘fuel’ and had free parking so we put up with it. In practice we'd have had to pay something for parking, and would have had to walk in the same rain for at least 5 minutes if we were running on petrol.
So, while the car was charging, about 35 minutes, we went into the V&A, to meet up with Andy. He only had the return, wetter, journey. Dundee is well ahead of the majority in charging facilities but If the nearest car-park had a 'rapid' we'd have stopped for coffee. A worthwhile option for the council's consideration as we spend more on coffee than we do on electricity and would probably paid to see the exhibition as well. I think they'll have some kind of charger in most car parks soon.
The V&A certainly has a dramatic open space inside which has apparently caused some comment, and certainly, if it was constructed along the traditional museum lines of a small rooms, then they could have had more exhibits, but that would have removed the entertainment of the building itself, and severely restricted its capabilities for other functions. If you’ve been to a car or boat show you’ll notice it is almost entirely on the ground floor and the huge spaces above are quite unused barring the occasional banner. The V&A has a lot comparatively on upper floors around the large central space, and I’d say the architecture is a feature in itself. It works well with almost no echo and you don’t get lost in the traditional labyrinth or lost in the wilderness of the alternative cluttered football field version of exhibition centres. The exhibition of robotics was £12 I think (mostly on the upper levels), although now I'm officially ancient I usually get a discount. I would have been interested but the others weren’t and I’d have seen it all before anyway on the small screen. At the current rate I'll soon be able to get in for free on account of being near museum grade myself.
From the number of visitors there I’d say they had the proportions about right, and I haven't seen any signs of the structural problems that can follow novel designs. There were far more people than you’d expect to see, for instance in a cathedral, which I would say it equates to in some ways as a city centre attraction. In a moment of diminished modesty I thought it compared with the central stair space in our house seen right. Wasteful but worth it. The picture below it is a selfie of the new if second hand camera which for reasons best known to some Chinese tekkie insists on including the time in the bottom right hand corner. The image is of course mirrored. Cameras have been giving me a bit of grief recently and I now have several and most are defective in one way or another
I digress... back to the V&A.
For those wanting to experience the local weather there’s a large wind tunnel through the middle which, given the right conditions would probably give the impression of the roaring forties. If it blows hard enough it'll have you into the decorative pond. Fortunately the architects had adjusted the angle relative to the prevailing wind so that the effect was moderated. It was essentially inside and out a place of interest like a cave full of features and the unexpected, but as with caves and cathedrals it is always the largest (and mostly empty) spaces that get the real attention.
Larger displays would be possible in the V&A but more expensive to achieve which would mean more expensive tickets and that might be self defeating, especially if it proved to be essentially padding, and the displays would have to be longer running which would reduce the interest to the locals who I think use the facility more than they would a major museum. A slightly different niche for a more relaxed audience, possibly intended to attract visitors from 1 to 500 miles rather than 1,000 to 5,000. I don’t doubt there would be more complaints and fewer visitors if it was an office block shape. Sydney Opera and the Guggenheim would be fair comparisons, where the architecture is part of the entertainment.
The snow in Tarbrax continues in its unusual absence. It’s rarely below zero celsius and we may hit spring before winter. The occasional flurry and the odd burst of hail are noted if one inadvisably steps outside in the wrong clothing… Clouds scud, as per the contract, and we are up to 5 or 6 seasons per day which is, as expected, seasonal. Sadly most of them seem to veer toward the wintery, but such is life. I’m glad I’m not a sheep although they seem unconcerned. They aren’t expressive creatures, beyond lurking in the lee of this or that, and one rarely sees any signs of stress or boredom. The occasional suicide attempt notwithstanding, as that’s normal for sheep. We did have a wee sprinkle of snow a minute ago, and a few weeks ago there was enough to decorate part of the Bing. To our delight on a recent walk there we found a pair of Ravens thinking about nesting
in some bleak corner of the bing, but I was unable to
get a picture in time, hence the insert. Not the most
tuneful of birds, but distinctive.
We had an uneventful trip in terms of EV travel, Home to Dundee, to Montrose and back via Dundee, perhaps 240 miles. The only problem being too few charge points, though that is gradually improving and to be fair we are still a small minority. In practice most of our charging is done at home and is quicker than the average wait at a garage and dramatically cheaper, about 5p per mile. The weather was rather less than pleasant, but when under cover or driving, bearable, but I'm liking the wet reflective roads less, especially at night and where the white lines are worn out.
The cats have settled, largely, and have taken to sleeping in odd corners, Custard here is just leaving the small shower room she favours as she heads for the outdoors via the special cat-flap through the west wing floor seen below (the small fridge on top is for tying the string which holds the flap open while they learn).
As a bit of a diversion I'm proof reading (although I think it's called beta reading now) for a new (to me) SF author called Tony Harmsworth. He has written several books:- Moonscape, Federation, The Door and The Visitor with first contact subjects and Mindslip which is quite different to any SF I have read before. Written in the old style I prefer his work to the majority of the currently fashionable. They are also available in Kindle format, which is necessary for me until I build another book-case.