An unusual graveyard

While out and about on my tearoom travels, if I see an interesting looking graveyard, I find it very difficult to pass by without taking a look. I don’t know why I, and so many other people, find graveyards fascinating, but they do have a strange appeal.

During various conversations with my dear parents over the past year or so, on more than one occasion they had mentioned a graveyard just outside the Angus village of Edzell. Although I have visited Edzell quite a few times over the years (it has an excellent tearoom), up until recently I had never seen this graveyard. It’s on a little country road that I had never been along before, and I had been thinking for a while that I must make a deliberate effort to go and visit it.

Last week I got round to it.

It was a beautiful sunny day, and I had delightful assistant no.1 with me as my guide.

One of the first things I noticed on entering the gate was a rain butt with a kettle on top of it:

There being no way of heating the water, I suspect this kettle was placed there to be used as a watering can for flowers, rather than as a container for making tea (a pity – a small, discreet tearoom might have enchanced this already attractive graveyard).

I had no idea that this graveyard would hold so many firsts for me. As far as I can recall, I had never seen a rain butt with a kettle in a graveyard before.

I don’t think I had ever seen a headstone fashioned out of iron, either:

Nor had I seen a gravestone made of cobbled together lumps of rock:

As is often the case, the older gravestones were mostly grouped together in the main section of the graveyard, while newer ones inhabited a different area. This was one of the older ones, displaying some beautiful stone carvings:

It was interesting to compare the old method of decoration with its modern day equivalent:

There were quite a few headstones sporting photographs, which is certainly something I’ve seen elsewhere, but in keeping with the other oddities aforementioned, this new area also held some surprises.

I don’t know if it’s clear in this picture, but this one had a sort of bas-relief image carved into the top, which is something I don’t remember ever seeing before:

And this one had the same sort of thing coloured in:

I liked this one with the curly ‘W’ at the top and the little anvil at the bottom, a fitting headstone for a blacksmith:

Looking at all these different gravestones, I began to wonder if I should consider designing my own, and felt a slight sense of panic that I hadn’t given it any thought up till that point.

I asked my delightful assistant if she’d considered what she’d like on a gravestone and she said she hadn’t, but she knew where she’d like to be put (cremated and then scattered in the graveyards of two little churches in Scotland’s south-west where she’s enjoyed many lovely holidays) (the holidays weren’t mainly spent in the graveyards, just to be clear). A bench seat in one of her favourite gardens would seem very fitting, too.

My father, being the extremely well organised sort of chap that he is, has already given his own demise some considerable thought. He is very keen to be donated to medical science, and has even written to Dundee University to register his desire to be put to good use. He lodged a copy of the forms he had to fill in for this with his lawyer, who warned him that there was a possibility the University might not be able to take him if they happened to be (to quote him verbatim) ‘awash with bodies’ at the time of death. In that event, however, I believe it is possible to contact another university instead. I’m not entirely sure how the body gets to the university, but I hope they have some sort of collection arrangement.

It’s a bit morbid this, isn’t it? Sorry about that, I do hope I haven’t offended anyone.

Back to the gravestones, my assistant and I were particularly interested in this one:

It wasn’t so much the headstone that caught our attention, as the jam jars at the foot of the stone. One of them contained a very cheerful looking teddy bear:

Two other jars contained letters, written by young members of the family:

One of the letters was very clear to read, and I hope the people concerned won’t mind me quoting it, but it seems such an excellent way of helping children to deal with death:

“To Uncle Berty, Granny Edzell, Grandad Edzell, I’m 14 now, Sarah is 3. We have been travelling over Edzell today – exploring all the rivers and skimming stones where my dad played when he was little. Hope you are all getting on fine up in the clouds and staying healthy. Lots of love from all the family.”

Reading that letter and sitting quietly next to that gravestone gave me a great sense of peace and contentment, and I thought how lovely it was that this granddaughter had written a letter to her dearly departed relatives, remembering them and wanting to share her news with them.

The grandparents I knew best are buried in a graveyard in Edinburgh and it’s many years since I went to their grave. I’ve only been there a few times and found it a bit upsetting, but perhaps if I’d visited it more often I might feel more at peace with it. Somehow, when I saw their names on the stone, it seemed cold and very final.

I think if I was planning this for myself, I would prefer a little plaque attached to a park bench. Then, anyone wanting to come and visit me would have somewhere to sit and have a wee chat (and perhaps a nice cup of tea, that would be ideal), and hopefully there would be a lovely peaceful view for them to enjoy while they sat there.

I wouldn’t particularly want to be buried in Edzell, since I have no real connection with the place, but as graveyards go, if I was going to be interred in one, I could do a lot worse:

Categories: Angus, Architecture, Churchyards, Edzell, Gardens, Photography, Scotland, Tea, Tearooms | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 43 Comments

Raspberry jam, haddock and carrot

Re: my previous post, I’m delighted to report that Dundee was full of jam today!

I did go for the scone this morning, not because the tea breads didn’t look tempting enough (they did, it was a dreadfully difficult decision) but because, as predicted,  I simply couldn’t resist the glorious raspberry jam.


It looks as if I didn’t slobber on much jam in the above picture, but I piled on as much as I could without it slopping off the scone too much (I got it all over my hands, if truth be told, and enjoyed licking it off).

An excellent tearoom visit and, what’s more, the parents chose a different tea bread each (date and walnut, and fruit loaf) so I got to taste those as well. As tasty and delicious as the tea breads were, I’m very pleased I went for the scone.

Incidentally, the jam is for sale to take away.  I tried to buy some but although they had the jam, they had run out of jars. It was suggested that I might like to bring in a jar of my own and have it filled up, but since I was about 20 miles from home and on my way somewhere else, that wasn’t really feasible. I did briefly consider going to a shop, buying a jar of inferior jam, emptying out said jar and then going back to the tearoom for a refill, but I thought that might be slightly ridiculous. Far better to go back another day, have another wonderful scone and jam experience and take an empty jar with me, just in case. I’m looking forward to it already.

The next food stop was Arbroath, which was bathed in lovely sunshine this afternoon, but in order to work up a bit of an appetite we went via Monikie Country Park for a stroll. If you ever happen to be driving around in the Dundee/Angus area wanting a bit of exercise and wondering where to get it, I heartily recommend a stroll in this excellent park. In the summer it even has a cafe in the grounds, which makes it worth visiting even if all you want to do is haul yourself from the car, fill up with goodies and then slump back behind the wheel again.

The park is very flat, with tarmac paths through some woods and wide, flat, grassy banks running around three reservoirs. This makes it an excellent choice for anyone with a buggy, pram or wheelchair. There are also toilets, an adventure playground and other interesting features. (If you click on the first mention of the park above you’ll find out more about it). Parking is free at this time of year, although between Easter and September it costs £2 for the day. It got the thumbs up from my dad too:

Just before leaving the park I gave the Arbroath tearoom a ring and booked a table. I was glad I’d done that, because when we arrived they were very busy and a queue was forming. Our table was in the conservatory, which was a little unfortunate due to our position being out of the line of sight of the waitresses. They forgot to bring us menus, and then they forgot to take our order. However, they apologised, and after we’d ordered what we wanted, the food came quickly, and was exellent. I had one of their specials, beer battered fish with chips and petit pois, and a glass of Elderflower presse.

If you’ve been to Arbroath, you’ll perhaps have noticed how fish-dominated the town is. There are a number of fish shops, selling a variety of seafood, but Arbroath smokies are the big thing. There are several suppliers of smokies in Arbroath, and Spink’s is perhaps the best known (click on Arbroath smokies above for Iain Spink’s website and a definitive answer to the question ‘what is an Arbroath smokie?’). My mum had Arbroath smokie pate with oatcakes, which I tasted and thought was superb.

Any visitors to these shores searching for somewhere to taste some top quality Scottish fish would do well to call in at Arbroath. There are other fishing villages and towns up and down the country, but Arbroath can compete with any of them, in my opinion.

Thus filled with fresh fish, we had a gentle wander round the harbour, enjoying the sunshine and watching the waves crash onto the stony beach, dragging the stones back with a loud roar. The roaring stones were very good free entertainment, and I was slightly loathe to leave because I found it so absorbing, but hot beverages were calling, not to mention little sweet somethings, and so it was off to our third tearoom of the day. I hadn’t actually planned to go to three today, but it’s always nice to have a wee bonus.

Number three was an old favourite in Edzell (see previous post ‘A wee bit of Angus’), and I again opted for the cafetiere of decaffeinated coffee, this time with a chunk of deliciously moist carrot cake:


It was jolly tasty, and I enjoyed it greatly, despite having stuffed my face with fish and chips not long before.

All in all, I can say that Friday 27 January 2012 was a fine day for tearooms and, who knows, tomorrow might be another corker. Tomorrow my mum, my dad, my sister and I are all meeting in Dunkeld for lunch, at a tearoom that does wonderful scones. They also have my favourite tearoom teapots, and hopefully I’ll have some photos to show you after the visit.

This has been a long post, so if you’ve managed to read all the way down to here, well done! I wish I could bestow upon you a scone with that wonderful raspberry jam slopped all over it as a prize for your efforts. 

Categories: Angus, Arbroath, Dundee, Edzell, Jam | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A wee bit of Angus

If you’re ever trotting up Market Street in Montrose, spurred on by the idea of entering of a wonderful tearoom, I’m afraid you’ll find yourself – as my mum and I were yesterday – disappointed.

Market Street is a quiet little back street, unquestionably a handy route for walking from one of Montrose’s free car parks into the centre of town, but it is totally bereft of tearooms. According to various internet sites however, this unassuming little street contains a wonderful establishment called the B-Lo cafe, famed for its coffees and home baking. I suppose this information must be out of date because, as I say, B-Lo was nowhere to be found when we went a-hunting for it yesterday.

On the up side, having not found the B-Lo, we wandered on to the High Street and found an old stables converted into a most atmospheric little tearoom. Once inside, with a bit of imagination, you could almost imagine you were living in the 1800s. Two small egg and cress rolls later, it was off for a little country walk to work up an appetite for the next tearoom.

Feeling virtuous after a bit of exercise, we tootled over to Edzell, to an old favourite, for a cafetiere of coffee and a delicious lemon slice, which is currently featured in the header photograph for this blog. A few days ago I tasted a slightly superior lemon slice in a tearoom in Blairgowrie, but if it hadn’t been for that one, the Edzell effort would have impressed me even more.

So that was yesterday, a wee bit of Angus explored, and today I think it might be a bit of southern Perthshire because there’s a chocolatier cafe I’m very keen to visit in Auchterarder. It’s a wet, grey morning up here today, which seems to me the perfect weather for a little bit of chocolate luxury.

Categories: Angus, Edzell, Montrose, Tearooms | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

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