Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Exuding enthusiasm.


Three weeks and a day to the election. So far we've received one leaflet from the SNP candidate and another from The Liberal Democrat. Not a peep from anyone else. The other parties seem to have decided our constituency is a two horse race.

The fields covered in a strange golden light this morning. The sun, caught between two layers of cloud, has an intensity that you could almost cut with a knife. 

19 of the 24 young sparrows have survived into their second week. They scamper around on the ground under the bird feeder looking for grain. We also have 3 Jackdaw chicks. We know this because they let their mother, and the world, know they were hungry at 4:13 am. Sleep and the croakings of a hungry Jackdaw chick are incompatible.

In town the third day of graduation ceremonies. Six university porters ( five gentlemen and one lady ) are proudly carrying the 15th century maces along the street. The figure of the Principal in her flat bunnet follows on behind. She has a different speech for each of the ten events and somehow manages to maintain and exude enthusiasm all through the week. 

About 1 in 10 of the new graduates are wearing kilts. Assuming 25% of the students are Scots and adjusting for a 40-60 gender split that seems about right. 

Everything is well ordered apart from adoring mothers who run across the road to kiss their offspring. Male students at the receiving end of this adoration want to die of embarrassment. Other students cheer the mothers on. Two policemen stand at the side of their brand new Skoda EV patiently answering questions from Spanish tourists wondering what's happening. Angus quietly wonders how a Skoda EV would perform in a high speed car chase. There again high speed car chases are not common in these parts.

There are another six of these happy ceremonies to go before the students go and the town settles down into its summer torpor and prepares to welcome the inrush of golfers.

The carpet layers have finished as have the painters. The roofers have knocked a pantile off the roof but promise to be here today with a replacement. Three swallows are nesting in the vennel that runs between the Wee House in Town and our neighbour. On a day when nothing seems to be happening a lot is.

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

A meticulous packer.

A low of 7 and a high of 14 forecast for today. That's decidedly chilly. Our plans to have dinner in the garden , once again, put on hold. The election campaign rumbles on with each side miraculously promising more and better services without raising taxes.

On the beach the lady with the two black labradors stops to tell us that her daughter is graduating from Edinburgh in three weeks time. We barely know the woman but she's clearly very excited. We discuss places to park in peak tourist season. The daughter is off to Osaka on an EFL teaching assignment at the end of July. Mother will be joining her for two weeks in March. " I've told my husband that if I've got to sit in a plane for twelve hours I'm going business ".

This morning we pass a golfer who is a meticulous packer and who is oblivious to the fact his golf clubs and suitcases are blocking the pavement .  We silently marvel at the precision with which he's laying out his shoes in the back of the car. This is not the 'throw things in and hope for the best' approach to packing.

By the harbour a dog leaps balletically into the water in chase of a duck.  It's owner shouts out ' Come back ' in ever more strident tones. The dog, as all dogs do, suffers from selective hearing impairment. The duck remains unperturbed and the dog remains mischeviously in the water.

We walk back up the hill to open up the house for the carpet fitters. The sun has gone and the clouds are starting to build. The chapel choir , heading off for the daily graduation service, slow our progress. A Canadian man wanders up and asks where he can get a 'strong' cup of coffee. From inside the chapel the unmistakable sound of  Auld Lang Syne being sung. Happy parents are  taking photos and walking on the freshly cut grass . Some, like the Canadian man, are nursing hangovers.

Monday, June 10, 2024

Optimism in the air.

Graduation week. Our favourite week of the year. The town full of happy youngsters and proud parents. Optimism is in the air. In Starbucks the unusual sight of a mother already wearing a garden party hat although the first ceremony is three hours away.  Fathers in suits much in evidence. Suits are an item of clothing rarely seen in university towns. Half of the students are 'international' so there's an exotic side to some of the parents costumes. They probably think the  local boys in kilts are equally exotic. Teenage siblings brought along for the occasion trudge around looking as if they're torn between being soul crushingly bored and almightily irritated. Usually we're among the first to get to the supermarket but this morning there are lots of London folk buying croissants. The woman behind the bakery counter is very busy and isn't at all sure this is a ' Good morning '.

Rain is forecast around lunchtime but this morning the sky is mostly blue.

The upmarket ladies outfitters has some very chic golfing attire in the window.  Look closely and you can make out the Royal and Ancient clubhouse and the Swilken Bridge. 

The Principals cliff top garden with its view over the beach looking spick and span ahead of a series of garden parties. The lawns cut to perfection. In the sunshine you could almost think you were in the South of France.

Some last minute railing painting down by the graduation hall. It's clearly never too late to do some sprucing up.

This morning the carpet fitter is due at the wee house in town. He's driving from Perth so we've told him to arrive early if he wants to find a parking spot.

Sunday, June 9, 2024

Empire biscuits.


The 75th anniversary of the publication of George Orwells 1984. Through the day Radio 4 has actors reading whole chapters of the book. A very adult way of commemorating the event. How concisely Orwell wrote. It's something of a shock to discover that what was considered prescient in the 1950's and 60's is even more prescient now.

A beautiful morning on the beach. There's a 4x4 and a group of folks out at the spit. They're the rescue service dealing with a young dolphin that's misjudged the tides and got stranded on the dunes. A cheer goes up when it regains the strength to swim out to sea.

In town it's the start of wedding season. Graduates are allowed to marry in the university chapel so the days pre and post graduation are a busy time for the Chaplain. With pipers  playing and kilts much in evidence it's apparent that the 'distinctly Scottish' way of life here is very much alive. I try to take a photo of a kilted and extremely tall cleric ushering folks into the nave. Sadly I fail.

Old Rolls Royces are buffed up and readied for bridal duty. A line of them drawn up by the kerb. You could probably pick up one of these old things for £5,000 but somehow they have a mystique more modern cars can't match. 

Some say 10% of students marry other St Andrews students. Others say it's closer to 20%. Being marooned in a small town far from Big City lights for four years tends to have that effect on 20 somethings. On mornings like this it gives the place a decidedly happy feel.

Bemused tourists watch the goings on in a ' have we wandered into a theme park ?' sort of way.

Weddinged out we stop off at the wee bakers in the village to the South of us. They have products I've not seen in 50 years. When was the last time you saw Haystacks ?

Empire biscuits remind me of my grandfather. The name alone bears witness to an earlier time.  How much longer will places like this exist ? This bakers also makes the best Tattie Scones so our custom is assured.

Saturday, June 8, 2024


Another four weeks to go until the UK election on July 4th. It would be true to say that things are not going as planned for the governing party.  We saw our first ( and so far only ) election sign, for the Lib Dems, in a front garden yesterday.

The weather this morning 'mixed'. It's certainly not the tee shirt weather that the mannequins in the golf shop window would seem to be expecting. There must be 200 ravens sitting on the rocks by the shore. What they're finding to eat down there is a complete mystery. Perhaps there's a nutrient they need in the seaweed ?

Last night Taylor Swift opened up her latest tour with a concert at the rugby stadium  in Edinburgh. The bakers grand daughter went with some friends. ' She said it was braw ' he tells us as we pick up a whole meal loaf.

The theatre programme is perused. It's slanted towards musicals. Perhaps we'll get tickets for the the Great Baldini and his magical dog ? The book festival may offer more appealing options.

At the cocktail bar that's opened up in what used to be the Salvation Army hall they're doing small plates for graduation week. Angus wonders how popular Octopus Hotdog will be. The cocktail bar is a two minute walk from the front door of the graduation hall so it's ideally positioned for a bumper week of celebratory  imbibing.

One of the small Victorian houses down by the cinema is suddenly looking very 'floral'.

It's forecast to get to 13 degrees here today so this may or may not be relevant :

Friday, June 7, 2024


More people around this morning. We meet three cheerful youngsters walking down the track towards the shore. They're students here, early, for graduation . They've always wanted to come out this stretch of coast but never had the time, until now. Their parents are due to arrive on Sunday. In the interim they will drink and sunbathe. After graduating two of them will continue their medical studies while the third starts a corporate job in the City in September.

Angus sees that there's no queue at the Turkish barber. He makes the mistake of popping in and asking for  a short back and sides. All the barber hears - or understands - is the word ' Short'.  'The Font' meets me at the little Italian coffee shop. I'm greeted with an involuntary  ' Goodness'. There is a pause and then ' You certainly got your money's worth '.

Down by the golf course you wouldn't know you were in Scotland. The place has become the 51st state. It's as if the entire population of the US has decamped here. At the coffee shop adjoining tables are taken by a couple from Princeton travelling with their daughter, four doctors from Monterey who played Carnoustie and are now waiting to play the 'Eden' and two widowers from Phoenix who come here every year to play golf and avoid the heat. It seems the Phoenix climate is already very hot. The mother of the teenage girl asks us to take their photo. Americans, it has to be said, are much more outgoing . Everyone is surprised by how good the weather is and all want restaurant recommendations. Tiger Woods and Justin Timberlakes planned restaurant and bar in the old cinema will be a gold mine.

Twice in the last month we've seen French  tourists parking outside the Royal and Ancient clubhouse. This morning we see another French car in the 'Captains' spot. This always makes us chuckle.

Dogs communicating :

A 20 year old Americans view on life abroad. Life is good :

Thursday, June 6, 2024

A busy week ahead.


Better weather this morning but there's a bracing wind blowing in from the West. The bay a mass of white horses.

We pass a wildflower blooming by the side of the track that leads to the shore. 

The plant is swaying backwards and forwards in the breeze so getting a photo is difficult . Eventually the wind calms down enough to get a reasonable shot. What an exotic thing it is. 

Next week is going to be busy. The first of the soon to be graduates - and their proud parents - starting to arrive. Large, shiny, cars with Home Counties number plates filling the parking bays. Signs warning motorists of ' Graduation Processions' have appeared on the roads into , and out of, town. For the next ten days the hotels are sold out and restaurant reservations are worth their weight in gold. The decorators have finished the back of the wee house in town and are now hard at work on the front. We've agreed that the 'lads' can work extra hours so that everything is finished before the graduation rush. They are delighted.  The carpet fitter can only come on Monday morning. We warn him to be here early to avoid the ceremonies.

In the bookstore a very British book.

This mornings radio music from Glasgow :

A warning :

Something to think about :

Last nights D-Day drone display was well done :