Smokies for lunch and dinner? Ah yes, we are in Arbroath, their ancestral home, and very nice they are too. It seems quite strange that this small unassuming coastal town could produce such a world famous delicious product, hailed globally by chefs as one of life’s real treats. Apart from fish merchants on every corner around the harbour area, Arbroth doesn’t really have a lot going for it, but we happened upon a charming cosy little pub which serves excellent meals – and is dog friendly. Travelling with two pooches sometimes poses its problems, especially as Louis is prone to rolling in rancid dead animals on the beach, surrounding himself in an unbearable odour – well unbearable to everyone else but him, that is. This weekend is a special treat for me, after 7 weeks of heavy graft, which have included demolition, erecting walls, stairs, kitchens and bathrooms, and then days on my knees putting up tiles. All that while enduring a vicious bout of the Aussie flu, which has certainly taken the stuffing out of me. However, the project in Cellardyke is still on track and will be more or less finished by the time we head home for France in a few weeks, to coincide with the beginning of lambing. After 4 weeks of that, I will travel back over again, to start on project number 2, the beach-side end of the cottages. I must say I am relishing the idea of opening up the whole gable-end of the house, replacing it with curtain-glass and a sheltered balcony where we can sit and breathe in the stunning view out to the Isle of May from a first floor elevation, should the planners and local objecters allow. It will be a huge job, but one that hopefully will be fruitful in the long run, as we intend to spend much more time in this cosy friendly village, despite the close proximity of those who publicly label me as a money grabbing, unsympathetic amateur.
Anyway, enough of work, this is my weekend off. Soon we will be heading into the restaurant. Except we won’t for a while, as it has just been taken over by no less than 60 young farmers. Yes, the Angus chapter of the YFC have invaded the town to hold their annual Cabaret competition, and need a pre-match drink or two to warm the vocal chords. Just how they all intend to fit into a small public house is as yet unknown but this is an organisation not without skills when it comes to drinking in confined spaces. I should know, as I was once in the Cleobury Mortimer club and boy did we do some crazy things back then. Things, I hasten to add, not to be tried by kids at home, which included regularly getting nine of us (3 in the front, 4 in the back, 2 in the boot) in my Mums mini, and then donutting it around the Clee Hill car park. As well as stock judging and building carnival floats, we also used to make annual excursions to Blackpool and other exotic places, to mingle with other like-minded idiots in the name of junior agricultural solidarity. I recall one time, myself, Bernie Birch and a few Notts and Whitemans spending a barmy weekend on the Isle of Man, when the 3,000 strong cargo on the old ‘Steam Packet’ managed to drink the boat dry, before it even left the docks. I also think our same crew may still hold the record, of getting 22 lads into the back of a Blackpool taxi, much to the cabby’s distain. Of course, the straining machine was forced to stop at every pub on the ‘strip’, just to top-up the thirst en-route to the Winter Garden dance! Sadly now, when I do step into the bar to join these youngsters, I will probably know all their fathers – or even grandparents! Meanwhile, I will just let them think they invented ‘blind-man’s spoof’ or ‘sell-the-donkey-a-snotball’! Head-ache tablets, anyone?