There is a distinct chill to the air. Surely the weakly warm sun is on its last legs – like a new born mother coaxed out of her bed too early, smiling weakly for the photo opportunity, keen to impress yet tired to her bone – and the prospect of yet another harsh winter is enough incentive for me to take advantage of the sunshine and get up and about.
The plan is to finally visit the Maritime Museum in town. Since I moved houses a month ago, my new route to walk takes me right past its granite-grey, blue-glassed facade, but it has never sufficiently tweaked my curiosity enough to lure me in. Having too much free time on my hands on Friday night, I find out [from Google] that it is actually a treasure trove of historical artefacts celebrating the city’s unique position as a small fishing outpost turned into Europe’s oil capital; that certainly piques my interest.
I grab my jacket early on Saturday – it is too early to wear a winter coat, but too cold to brave the weather un-protected nonetheless – and head out into town. At reception, I sign in and grab a tag that allows me take pictures and proceed to explore the building. What I find blows me away.
The centre piece of the building is a model of the Murchison Platform. Besides this centre piece there are odds and ends about: a recovered deck house, the lamp assembly from an old light house, records from the old shipping society, historical memorabilia related to fishing and an entire section dedicated to North Sea oil and gas. One of the more intriguing pieces (at least to me) was an explanation of the MET office shipping forecast. Many a night whilst hounded by insomnia, I have lain in bed listening to the radio whilst it has been broadcast and wondered what the cryptic words meant. Thanks to this, I imagine I will listen to the broadcast with a lot more understanding.
The final floor has a large window that looks outwards on to the harbour. That view alone, is worth all the trouble I may have gone through to get there. My one small surprise is the absence of any reference to the slave trade. Surely for a city that played a not insubstantial role in maritime trade, there must be some connection to the slave trade?