Thursday, 20 August 2015

We're in Dundee now


Still not been posting much to the old blog recently. Things have been a bit busy. Been visiting my brother in Greece, and so much moving.

So, yeah, life's been a bit hectic eh.

So, I was staying in Galashiels and working at the uni as a technical assistant, repairing and maintaining the looms and running the power loom.

First off, at the end of last summer, I moved my tools into a farm outbuilding at a pal's place in Earlston, about a 20 minute drive away from my house. I got a little bit done there, but not that much in the grand scale of things. Then in April I decided to rent a garage unit in the same town and moved my tools there. I then found a cast-iron dobby head online and decided to buy it and get the floor loom back from up north.

The funny thing about this was that the dobby head was in the deep-south of England, which required two days of driving and added about £150 onto the (very reasonable) price of the thing. The thing came with a compressor. An absolutely ridiculous compressor, about the size of a decent-sized pig and about as heavy. At least it was on wheels. My poor wee car.

The loom itself was stored in an old church near my folks house in the northestness of Scotland, which geography buffs among you will recognise as being at the opposite end of this fragile union of ours from the South of England. So I went up there on the train a day after coming back from the south to load the loom into my father's trailer, he then drove me and it back down here to Galashiels (which is close enough to being right in the middle of the country, lengthwise).

Another thing, I hate driving in the south, it's horrible, especially around London. I mean, give a boy a break, I'm not used to the road man, I'm trying to get across this dual carriageway and who knows what lane I'm supposed to be in? If I make a mistake I end up 20 miles in the wrong direction at 10pm at night in heavy traffic. So take your hand off the hooter would you?


So, that's the loom in the borders. In the meantime, we've made the decision to move to Dundee. We'll be closer to family and we'll be in a city and I was starting to tire of the repetitive nature of my job, it was making me start to get tired of weaving in general, and we can't have that can we? So, away we go, planning our new life.

After about 2 months of flat-hunting we finally find a place and after a nerve-wracking week of waiting for forms to get processed we finally put the first month's rent down and secure the place, at which point my other half goes up to stay at her sister's place and take up her new job, she being a little more organised in the career department than I.

I'm sure I'm not supposed to end a sentence with the word "I". I don't care. Not I.

Such an individualist, me.

Anyhoo, I set to work over the following two weeks dismantling the flat, feeling something like I'm living in a particularly disorganised squat somewhere in London, albeit without the worry about getting raided by police, bailiffs or yardies.

That done, it's time for another joyful driving experience, my first time driving a van. And not just a wee transit or that, oh no, a merc sprinter. Biggest vehicle I'm allowed to drive.


I normally drive a Hyundai Getz, which pistonheads will categorize as "little".

So, I planned to get everything done in two days. What a ridiculous idea that was. I had 2 extra bodies at both ends and I still only managed to do the house over those two days. And we were all completely exhausted, none of us being accustomed to hard physical labour.

Did I mention we moved from a council flat to an unfurnished flat? Both on the 3rd floor. Of course, the new flat is a tenement so it's extra tall. Hurrah for Victorian architecture! The thing about council flats generally is that they're absolutely bare when you move in, no cooker, washing machine, nothing. So we had literally everything. I never want to lift a washing machine up 3 flights of narrow stairs again.

So, I had a day to lie about on my back panting and figure out what to do about the workshop (and the few bits and bobs left in the flat).

So I hired another van, and drove back down. This time on my own, without help at either end, cause my helpers were now working and probably sick of the sight of me and my huge pile of crap anyway.

Loaded the loom and other crap up, drove back up, slept, got up at 7 (had to get the van back for 11) and unloaded the loom at Dundee Makerspace which is to be it's new home. Got the van back to the depot with 30 minutes to spare and not a scratch and then went home and lay down for about two days.


What's to say about Dundee?

Excellent town this, that's what. I thoroughly like it. Especially when I'm not humping crap about on my shoulders. The flat is lovely, there's a nice park just up the road and a Lidl with a brilliant bakery section just round the corner. My loom is in a very nice place with a lot of techie-creative types about and they're all very curious and interested about it, which is very nice. Trying to explain it to them makes me realize how far from the basics my understanding of this technology has come, as I can't figure out how to explain the machine in basic terms to people that aren't already familiar with the craft. Especially as my teaching method so far has been "spend two years doing what you're told on this machine and then I'll explain complicated things to you", which works fine at university, but not so fine everywhere else in the world

Anyway, this town is pure jumping like, it's a hidden gem so it is. Scottish people traditionally have a pretty poor attitude to Dundee in general, but it's completely unsupported by my experience. It's full of creation and ideas and music and stuff. Also, it's really quite a little city so I reckon it's probably pretty easy to get to know everyone important in your field here in a reasonably short period of time.

I've already met a good number of really sound and solid people and expect to meet more in the months to come. I am pretty optimistic about things working out here.

So that's that. The work's been worth it already.

But there's no way I'm doing it again in any hurry at all. My shoulder is still killing me


MegWeaves said...

Dundee. Dundee cake. Voted YES. And was I reading about traveling to and from Thurso? Anyway, it looks like you're in great company at the new pace - mostly blokes? Enjoy the new life!!

Cally said...

Excellent! Do come to Meadow Mill and say hello. I wanted to get down to the Make/Share event last week but couldn't manage it - hope to be there next time.

Andrew Kieran said...

Yes Med, they certainly did, as did Glasgow. And myself and my entire family as it goes. Interesting times. I did travel to and from Thurso aye, and also to the south of England.

Oh, Cally, do let us know if you're going down to Make/Share and I'll pop down myself. I'm not usually there in the evenings see

Kerstin på Spinnhuset said...

Good luck (and congratulations)!
Nice to know I now have *two* friends, next time I happen to pass Dundee...

Laura Fry said...

Dundee seemed a very nice town. Wish I didn't live so far away... :(

cheers and good luck,

Andrew Kieran said...

Well, you're all welcome to visit. And you'll get half price pizza if you visit, I work at Domino's ;-)