Friday, 3 September 2010

Village Life 1: Loads of Granite

As I write this, I'm looking out one of the windows at our place in southwest Scotland. Our granite building is a good couple of hundred years old and situated at the top of a T junction called The Cross, in the center of a little village called Dalbeattie. That's Dail Bheithe in Gaelic, meaning something close to 'valley of the birch trees.' The window glass is old and uneven and makes the village outside look a bit wobbly. I can see the stately granite building, marked 1883, at one corner, and next to it the bright blue building that houses one of the local butchers. Beyond that the steeple of a church points skyward.

On the other corner across the street is the Kings Arms Hotel, another granite building. It is a small hotel, restaurant, lounge and public bar. The public bar has its own entrance and that is where the men drink. You could go in there if you are a woman, but all of the patrons will stop drinking, stop talking, and turn to stare at you. Not unfriendly exactly, but you can hear a pin drop. Ask me how I know this [smiles sweetly]. I do enjoy the locally brewed ale they have on tap. The staff is friendly, the lounge and garden lovely and the food gets an A.

But back to the granite. Dalbeattie is famous for its granite, which is extremely hard and light grey in colour. As I'm sure you've gathered, many buildings in the town center are made of it. The local quarries supplied granite to places worldwide, including London, Liverpool, Manchester, the United States, and Sri Lanka (go figure). It has been used for buildings, lighthouses and roadworks (as crushed granite). Dalbeattie is the first place in the world where granite was polished on a commercial scale. This started in the 1830s and created a boom in granite polishing as Dalbeattie granite workers took their craft to various places around the world.

Did you know that granite is a natural source of radiation? I prefer my radiation from natural sources.

we live above three shops: a wonderful little restaurant (with delicious food of the sort that makes cardiologists rich) and two undertakers. 'nuff said.

small fern. big granite wall.

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