My Garden and St Andrews, Fife

Spring has definitely sprung in Fife, not that you would kow it from this photo, I think a new camera is required, or maybe it would be better if I used my phone. Anyway there are various primulas, snowdrops, heathers in flower, but they look very ‘peely wally’ in the photo, that’s a Scottish phrase meaning pale.

my Garden

Since these photos were taken the garden has had a good ‘redd up’ that’s another Scottish phrase meaning tidied up. There was a whole winter’s worth of dead leaves and broken branches.

my Garden , crocuses

There are a lot of primroses around, I think I only had one plant to begin with, they’re great at self-seeding in this garden.

my Garden.primroses

The one thing that does really well in my garden is moss, it grows abundantly on the soil and the grass. Looking on the bright side – I won’t have to buy any sphagnum moss to line hanging baskets!

Garden , garden in Fife

The Belfast/butler’s sink in the background is a fairly new acquisition which is needing work done on its surroundings. I plan to entice birds into it, it should make a good big bird bath. In my previous garden I had a bigger one and I put some water plants in it, it was very popular with the blackbirds but I’ve only seen a couple of magpies in this one so far. Luckily they were together so it was two for joy!

my Garden

I’ve been hard at work in the garden digging up more turf and I’m waiting for a delivery of gravel to arrive. Jack is very happy to have less grass to cut.

What else have I been doing apart from gardening and reading a lot? Well, last Friday we drove to St Andrews, it was really quite exciting to travel more than five miles, just lovely to see some different scenery for a change. It started out so bright but it got duller as we reached the coast. Below is a photo I took of one of the beaches in St Andrews. It was very quiet by the time we walked back towards the town. The wee cottage on the left hand side of the photo is the lifeguard centre and the ruins of the cathedral are almost in the centre in the distance.

St Andrews beach, Fife

The town itself was very quiet too, the only shops open in Scotland are shops selling food so it was only the ice cream shops and a posh whisky shop which were open. I’m presuming that as the whisky shop also sells shortbread that was the reason it was allowed to open!

I could only stand and gaze at the secondhand bookshop, my nose wasn’t quite pressed against the window, but it wasn’t far off. I think it might be open again in about five weeks from now – one person in at a time – or two from the one household no doubt.

Bouquiniste Bookshop, St Andrews

Highland dancing, St Andrews, Fife

A couple of evenings ago I was watching a lovely programme Darcey Bussell’s Wild Coasts of Scotland, it’s on the UK’s Channel 4 but might be available on a channel near you too. Apparently her grandfather had been Scottish and she had always promised him she would visit some of his favourite places that he had obviously never forgotten about after he migrated to Australia, sadly she didn’t get around to doing it until after his death, but it was clearly a moving experience for her.

Anyway, in one of the episodes she had some Highland dancing lessons and I was surrised at how exhausting she found it to be. Admittedly it’s decades since I did the Highland Fling or sword dance, so Darcey is years older than I was, but she described it as part dance and part endurance sport as you’re constantly moving quickly. She seemed quite puffed out within a very short time.

Highland Dancers, St Andrews, Fife

It reminded me that way back in November 2019, before Covid 19 appeared we had visited a St Andrews Day Fair at St Andrews. It was absolutely freezing, there was a Baltic wind and it was really the scantily clad dancers that impressed me, just because they were so stoical about the weather, but now I admire them for their strength and stamina! You can see the the ground was white with frost. I must say that when I did Highland dancing I was not dressed like them, I wore a proper kilt and white blouse! There’s a very brief video of them below, dancing to what sounds more like Irish pipes to me, there were certainly no Scottish pipers there, just piped music.

Highland Dancers video

For some reason there was a vintage bus parked by the edge of the festivities. It has to be said that in Scotland we don’t make much of our Patron Saint’s day, not even in the town of St Andrews. It was really just an opportunity for some local food makers to sell their wares – we bought cakes of course!

an old bus, vintage bus, St Andrews, Fife

St Andrews, Fife, Scotland

St Andrews, Fife, Shore and Castle

St Andrews in Fife is one of my favourite places to visit, but because of the lockdown we hadn’t been there for months, actually possibly we hadn’t been there at all this year. So on Saturday we took the opportunity to pay the town a visit. It was a bit daft doing it on a Saturday as it was bound to be busy but we were visiting family further along the coast so we killed two birds with one stone.

It looks a bit grey and cool but it was really quite a hot day, by Scottish standards. The queue for the ice cream shop was too long for us to stand in. The beach was packed, but we just sat on a bench (wearing our masks) and didn’t bother going on to the sands, we just people and dog watched, the dogs were more entertaining, chasing the waves.

St Andrews, sea, Fife

It was strange to see the gates around the cathedral closeed and padlocked, I had to tale photos through the railings.

St Andrews Cathedra, Fife, Scotland

St Andrews Cathedral, Fife, Scotland

St Andrews Cathedral, Fife, Scotland

The archway below is over the road that leads down to the beach, down a steep road. If you want to read a bit more about the town then have a look here, there are some great photos.
St Andrews Archway, Fife, Scotland

If you are looking for tips on what to do around St Andrews have a look at My Voyage Scotland here.

Random photos

I must have walked past this window in St Andrews hundreds of times but I only noticed it recently. The buildings are generally very old but this is obviously an Art Nouveau/Arts and Crafts window, somebody did a bit of refurbishment over the years.

Art Nouveau Glass Window

Across the road I noticed the stone owls sitting on the edge of the portico. I think that like many buildings in St Andrews this one is owned by the university, so presumably the owls are symbolic of wisdom and learning.

Owls

It’s rare to see an empty street nowadays, they’re usually full of parked cars on both sides of the street, but on their Open Arts Festival in Cellardyke, a coastal village in Fife, the place was deserted of cars for once. The clutch of red balloons being the only evidence of modernity, denoting where an artist was exhibiting work.
Cellardyke

I took the photo below in the fair city of Perth, the hanging baskets and window boxes were looking so lovely. I think the rather grand looking building was a bank originally – remember them?!
hanging baskets

I have visited the small town of Dunkeld hundreds of times as it’s one of my favourite places, but I had only ever been into the cathedral ruins there. The photo below is of the newer cathedral which is obviously still in use as a place of worship.
Dunkeld Cathedral Stained Glass

The photo below is the view of Dunkeld that you get as you drive over the bridge.
Dunkeld From Bridge over the River Tay

After visiting the cathedral I walked over the bridge to get a photo of the River Tay. I’ve never seen it so low before, there were actually people walking out to the ‘islands’.
River Tay From Bridge at Dunkeld

I bet it was still cold though!

St Rule’s Tower and St Andrews Cathedral, Fife

The photo below is of St Andrews Cathedral ruins and St Rule’s tower, they look quite small in this photo for some reason, they are in fact large and quite imposing – for ruins.

St Andrews Cathedral ruins and St Rule's tower
Going up the spiral stairs is an interesting experience involving metal stairs first before you get to the old stone spiral ones. There are apparently 156 steps and I’m just really glad that we didn’t meet anyone coming down as we were going up, they’re very narrow and trying to get past strangers could be quite embarrassing!

St Rule's  spiral stairs

You can get more of an idea from the photo below of how the underside of the stairs looks.
St Rule's  spiral staircase underside

I think most of us spend time visiting far afield places before getting around to seeing nearby tourist attractions. That’s the reason it has taken us about 40 years to get up St Rule’s tower which is in St Andrews Cathedral’s grounds, and I have to say that half-way up the narrow spiral staircase I wished we had tackled it at least 20 years ago as I thought I was never going to get to the top! But it was worth it to get the view which is great even on a dull day.
From St Rule's  at St Andrews
The famous Old Course is over towards the right in the distance of the above photo and to the left in the photo below.

St Andrews From St Rule's

From the other side of the tower you get a view of the harbour.

From St Rule's

The cathedral was badly damaged during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms as the English Civil War is more correctly described nowadays, but if you have a good imagination you can see that it must have been quite some place in its day. Below is a view of what’s left of the Chapter House and some stone coffins, in those days they chiselled out the shape of a body as you can see, an awful lot of work for the stonemason, it seems they didn’t want the body moving out of position.

Chapter house coffin

The view of the town of St Andrews that you get from the top of the tower is probably clearer than you would have got in medieval times, certainly in winter when all of the chimneys would have been belching out smoke. There were only two chimneys doing that when I took the photo but they were making plenty of pollution.
From St Rule's, St Andrews view

You have to be fairly fit to make the climb up the tower!

Lest We Forget – Armistice Day

Every teeny village that you go through in the UK has its own War Memorial, and sometimes there are memorials in the middle of nowhere, commemorating the men who lived in far flung rural areas with no community focal point. There are lots of different designs to the memorials, and if it’s possible to stop we always do so that we can read the names, and Jack takes a photo of them. Here are just a few he has taken over the years.

Lincoln
War Memorial, Lincoln

St Andrews
St Andrews War memorial

Newmains
War Memorial, Newmains, Lanarkshire

Hamish McHamish – RIP

I must admit that I’m not really a cat person, although I do like the look of ginger cats ( I wonder why that is!) I’ve never owned a cat – actually I believe that cats aren’t owned by anyone it’s probably more like they own people. However I did like the idea of a town having a cat, like Hamish McHamish who lived his life out in St Andrews in Fife. He was a great favourite with everyone, especially the students, but sadly he succumbed to a nasty chest infection and had to be put to sleep recently.

Susan McMullen wrote a book about him called Hamish McHamish – Cool Cat About Town.

You can see images of Hamish McHamish here.

Below is a photo of Hamish beside his bronze statue.

Hamish McHamish

Summerhouse/shed – progress

The summerhouse/shed has been an ongoing project for a while now as you can see in the photo below I still had some painting to finish.

summer house b

The colour of the paint is not at all what it was supposed to be, I wanted something more greenish and less shiny but it’s blueish and I’m getting used to it. The garden fence which you can see has since been woodstained.

summer house c1

All of the fence which you can see in the above photo has been painted now too and as you can see although it’s now autumn there’s still quite a lot of colour in the garden.

summer house c2

I’ve just dumped some books and stuff in there, between the bookcases there is a sewing table/desk underneath the covers and I intend to put my old hand cranked sewing machine on that, you can just see its case, it was obviously originally owned by someone in the RAF.

summerhouse c3

After all the painting of the summerhouse and the fence I was in dire need of going anywhere away from the smell of paint. A trip to St Andrews fitted the bill nicely and as you can see it was a beautiful day. We walked down to the beach where there were actually a few hardy souls wild swimming and I took this photo from there looking over the harbour to the town on the far side. It was a gorgeous sparkling autumnal day and actually quite warm, about 60 F or more.

St Andrews harbour 3

As usual we went to the secondhand bookshop and amazingly I didn’t buy any books, but Jack bought two; Ringan Gilhaize by John Galt and Wish I Was Here by Jackie Kay.

St Andrews Botanic Garden, Fife, Scotland

St Andrews Botanic Garden bot 2

One gorgeous day last week we decided to take ourselves off to the lovely mediaeval university town of St Andrews, a favourite place of mine, you can see images of the town here, but first we stopped off at the St Andrews Botanic Garden. Jack had prepared a picnic lunch (he’s not a bad lad) and these two photos are of the view from our picnic bench. The pond was alive with life but luckily none of it was biting.

St Andrews Botanic Gardens bot 1

The bit of land below has been set aside as a wildflower meadow.

St Andrews Botanic Garden

There’s also a herb garden and they sell a lot of unusual herbs at the Botanics shop, as well as some very fresh (just dug up) produce from the vegetable garden.

St Andrews Botanic Gardens

Below is a lily pond.

St Andrews Botanic Garden

Below is part of a rockery, alpine garden.

St Andrews Botanic Garden,

More rockery/scree garden. I must admit that I’m tempted to create a mini rockery in my new garden. Remember they were all the rage in the 1960s? everything comes back around!

St Andrews Botanic Garden.

I would have to scale it down more than a wee bit, there’s no way I could cope with rocks the size of the ones above.

St Andrews Botanic Garden

Last year I and a lot of other people signed a petition to try to keep these gardens open to the public as they were under threat of closure, due to cutbacks I think. You can read about it here. They’ve got a reprieve for the next five years anyway, but given the huge price of land around the town (due mainly to golf) I have no doubt that at some time in the future someone will try to grab it again for building purposes. If so, I’ll be lying down in front of a bulldozer!

I hope you enjoyed your armchair trip to the St Andrews Botanic Garden.

Scottish Business Sense

We had intended going to Edinburgh on Saturday to visit the Royal Yacht Britannia but the weather has been terrible for about a week now with howling gales and I didn’t fancy going over the road bridge. It was closed to high sided vehicles which means that our wee car would be buffeted about on the bridge – scary!

So eventually we ended up in St Andrews, just to get out of the house really. I have a horrible feeling that we’ll be battening down the hatches soon when the ice and snow get here so we might as well go out while we still can.

This window sign amused me. Surely only in Scotland would a barber try to get your custom by offering you free whisky. Mind you, I think it’s a brilliant idea because not only will they probably get more customers – they’ll also be less likely to complain if they don’t like the haircut – because of course they’ll be ‘half-cut’ or semi drunk!

Whisky Enticement

The long things in the window are golf clubs – well it is St Andrews!