Wednesday, August 31, 2022


The issue with the new bed is resolved. There has been a little confusion over delivery 'by the 1st September' and delivery 'by the end of the 1st week of September'. The bed will now arrive next Wednesday. A specialist firm of bed installers has been retained by the company . ' Our beds cannot be put together by just anyone' says the head of shipping in a tone of voice that makes it quite clear that Angus is a philistine.

Sophie continues to glide through this change in her lifestyle and routine. This morning she has a lengthy drink from a bowl placed strategically outside a hotel. A group of golfers from Montana come out to greet her. They don't have a single Ginger Snap between them so they are soon ignored.

6:45 am. As Angus and Sophie finish our morning walk a cavalcade of vans sweep down the road - there must be 60 of them. This happens every morning. It seems that all the electricians and builders in Scotland are working round the clock to get the university ready for the new semester. The fact that this 'rush hour' also happens on a Saturday and Sunday hints ( triple overtime ?)  that something is not happening on schedule.

After all this excitement the best thing a girl can do is snuggle up with an old friend and have a well deserved napette.


Tuesday, August 30, 2022

The bed

The saga with the fancy new bed continues. It is supposed to be here tomorrow. Angus phones up the workshop to make sure everything is going as planned.  ' It's August, Good luck with that' says 'The Font' unhelpfully.

The latest communication with the Parisian shipping guy ( who I think might be on the beach in Corsica sipping a Martini )  has a certain 'let's not be too specific' charm to it. He sends me an e-mail in English. The e-mail quietly demolishes any hope that we'll see the bed anytime soon.

' Bonjour Angus

I have been on it since we spoke last time.

I am pushing for you to be delivered next week.

They are closed today but I should have the final date tomorrow '.

A new complication enters the picture. The bed we ordered can be seen in the first photo. The bed that shipping guy wants to deliver has surprisingly morphed into the rather non-Presbyterian second one with a headboard out of a Hammer House of Horrors movie. There has been what is known in bed shipping circles as a mix-up.

No prizes for guessing that today will be spent on the phone trying to 'rectify'  things.


Monday, August 29, 2022

Relaxed and happy.

Sunrise. The next semester starts at the university in a couple of weeks . The first of the new intake of students starting to drift into town. Lights now glowing in buildings that have been empty and dark since the start of the summer. Down by the castle there's a beachside bonfire burning away. Around it a group of a dozen or so youngsters all talking with that earnestness that's the preserve of just turned eighteen year olds. Angus assumes that they have been chatting 'earnestly' all through the night.

On our morning tour of the town Sophie stops off to drink from dog bowls that have been positioned to help visiting pooches cope with the searing (20 degree ) heat. This one is at a house facing the castle. Sometimes a dog biscuit can be found alongside the bowl. Sophie is of the view that urban living has its advantages. She also has a drink from a bowl outside a hotel overlooking the R&A. So far on our walks we've found nine alfresco dog bowls.

Our unpacking unearths some unusual items that should have been discarded. A Dukakis for President hand out from 1988. When wound up the eagle plays 'Yankee Doodle Dandy'. How many of these still exist ? Come to that who remembers Mike Dukakis ?

More importantly one of Sophies old acquaintances is also uncovered. This is happily savaged for a full ten minutes. Contentment is being reunited with a savageable friend. 

Last night, on our post dinner walk, we passed  an American Law Society gathering.  Angus observed 1) most men were wearing sunglasses with their kilts - an accessory not usually needed in the sun free highlands 2) a number of kilts were 2" too short ( never a good look ) and 3) a large number of gentlemen were wearing sashes and tartan 'bunnets' with pheasant feathers poking out of them at jaunty angles. The gathering provided a full twenty minutes of entertainment for both dog and companion. All the participants seemed very relaxed and happy.


Sunday, August 28, 2022

A good move.

The sheep have got into the turnip field and are munching their way through it. Such is Sunday morning excitement in this small corner of paradise.

Somewhere, far to the North, the clouds are building. Here at the steading the sun is already warm and it's shirt sleeve weather. Out on the water the small fishing boats are laying their lobster creels. Lobsters command London prices at the harbour but 'The Font' has found that langoustine seem a tad too exotic for local tastes and are excellent value. We may live on langoustine .

On our morning walk we meet two locals. One a world expert in 12th and 13th century Islamic lyrical poetry, the other an epidemiologist. Both are collecting brambles and dressed accordingly. Each of them had shown up, separately,  on the doorstep with a tin of Marks and Spencers biscuits as a welcome gift.  We now have a small mountain of M&S biscuits to work our way through. 'The Font' has one a day whereas Angus is altogether less abstemious.

Later today we have been invited to meet the villagers at a barbecue in the village hall. There will be tea, cake and burgers - all we're told ' sourced from the village ' . A very prim lady who is secretary of the village residents association came by last night to give us an invitation. This was delivered more in the tone of a demand rather than a request. I tell her about the deer on the beach . ' Oh, that's nothing. We'll take you down to the shore to see the young stag that drinks at the burn. He's coming on three now '.  It's clear we're already in Celtic territory where the limits between nature and humans are blurred.

Of all the places in the garden Sophie could call her own she chooses a patch of gravel under an acer by the front door. A kind of zen garden for a PONette. Life in this place is already developing its own rituals and routines. Over a glass of champagne in the garden of the Wee House last night we both agree that this has been a good move. Sophie, who is still coming to terms with Oyster Catchers, dozes at our feet .

Saturday, August 27, 2022

Olfactory delight.

Some of you have asked are we missing France ?  No. We've been so busy we haven't had a second to miss anything. In a very real sense this part of Scotland is similar to the depths of France profonde. Endless skies, few people and slow moving tractors holding up the traffic. So far the weather has been clement with the exception of the day when the removal men arrived when it poured .

On our last walk yesterday we saw three young deer playing down on the seashore. That's the first time I've ever seen deer by the water. This morning Angus and Sophie are up and about at that time of the day when the sun rises and turns everything gold, then red, then orange. I'd forgotten how magical northern light is. Sophie finds a dead fish . 

We're still sleeping in the wee house even though it's a thirty five minute drive from St.Andrews.  The bed from Paris is supposedly en route. When it shows up we'll move. Calls to the bed showroom aren't answered presumably because they are all away on vacation.The Parisian company makes mattresses that are rock solid on one side ( for Angus who would happily sleep on the floor ) and 'pamperingly soft ' for 'The Font' who wouldn't. I am preparing for the worst. My last conversation with the young man in charge of shipping was brought to a halt when he informed me that Paris to London was easy but  it was difficult getting to Scotland because the ferries from England were all full. I have an awful feeling he may have sent the bed to Iceland.

Builders, electricians, plumbers, insurance assessors all in the diary for next week. Let's hope the bed delivery company appears in our schedule as well.

This is how far we've got after 3 days of unpacking. 20 three pin plugs put on appliances yesterday - the same today .

All dogs have their day. This morning Sophie had hers. Passing the queue of golfers waiting to tee off on the Old Course she spied a group of Oyster Catchers. All I can imagine is that Oyster Catchers have a particular odour that reaches parts of the PONette's olfactory system that other odours don't. She goes wild and hurtles off in hot pursuit. Golfers and sacred turf are ignored .

Friday, August 26, 2022

Done and dusted

2 weeks to the day since we left The Rickety Old Farmhouse. Sophie has sailed through the whole move as if it's the sort of thing that happens every day . She is one tough lady . Her human companions are recovering from a state of near exhaustion. Moving is not a stress free experience - particularly when everything from decision to sell to buying and moving into a new home is done in seven weeks. 

Now, for Sophie, it's time to discover the boundaries of this new world. Sunflowers have gone (although surprisingly for these northern latitudes there's a field of them still blooming half a mile away ) to be replaced by wild poppies and lupins. Sophie can run free - and she does. 

Back at home, as the unpacking continues,  the family diva is reunited with an old friend. After ten minutes of happy savaging she's asleep and dreaming of seals and seagulls.


Thursday, August 25, 2022

Off to see the seals.

It starts to rain the very minute the removal van trucks show up at the front door .

It stops raining the very minute they leave. What are the chances of that ?

Nothing quite as relaxing as shifting furniture in the rain .

Sophie has been confined to the garden hut while the team are hard at work. As soon as they go she's raring to head off to the beach to see the seals.

A few breakages but nothing too important . An old butter dish in the shape of a cow doesn't survive. Nor does a nice little Edinburgh made Georgian side table . Today will be spent preparing the paperwork for the insurance company. There is also the issue of changing over the plugs on all the electrical equipment to British three pins from French two pins.

 Sophie seems to find the whole process to be great fun. Her folks less so.

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

The removal men arrive today.

No less than 17 cheery 'Good Mornings' said on our pre-six am tour of the town. Surely, some sort of record ? Dog owners and early rising ancillary staff maintain old fashioned courtesies. This morning the breakfast shift at the new Pret a Manger on Market Street come to the front door, en masse, to chat to the PONette. They don't offer biscuits so Sophie is soon off. A girl has to be quite hard nosed about how much time she can spend saying 'hello' when there are sausages waiting.

There is a noticeable increase in the number of runners that we pass on our morning tour.  Princeton and Heidelberg sweat shirts observed. I'm guessing that in two weeks time the number of PhD students out for a pre-breakfast jog will quintuple.  Unlike the university cleaning ladies the runners are too busy and self absorbed to stop and recognize this shaggy canine presence. Sophie isn't quite sure what to make of runners. She stops and stares at them in disbelief. What is it they're chasing ?

The furniture should be delivered today. We're at the new house early to wait for the removal van to show up. The early morning drizzle has cleared and scudding clouds and bright sunshine have replaced it .

Sophie has a fenced off area of garden that will be a safe 'home' until the removal men have finished unloading . You can be sure she will complain loudly and frequently about being kept away from the action. There is also a ramshackle garden hut with a wooden terrace. This has already become her favoured spot - sheltered from the wind and with a commanding view of all who come to the front gate .

Sophie's morning choice. Straight ahead to the sea, right to the sea or left to the sea ? This morning she sees deer. Life is full of excitement.

Tuesday, August 23, 2022


This morning on our start of day walk Sophie is greeted by the University cleaning ladies as they're getting off the bus from Dundee. She is also acknowledged by a group of golfers waiting for one of their number outside the door of their hotel ( their golf trolleys are sniffed in the vain hope they'll contain Ginger Snaps ) and by an Australian gentleman sitting on a bench enjoying an illicit cigarette while his wife is still asleep.  The Australian gentleman introduces himself to Sophie with the words 'You're a cute guy'. He is soon corrected .

Sophie maintains a brisk pace along the cliff tops. In fact her pace is so brisk she has to turn around to make sure I'm keeping up. Apart from a 'shrieking'  incident on the day of our arrival due to an overly amorous Labradoodle she has been a paragon of calm, good behaviour. The uninitiated, looking at her, might think she's been trained and is used to urban living. To our delight the family diva is coping well with the transition and is thriving in the cooler weather and soaking up new experiences.

Municipal flower beds are a source of wonder. So far Sophie has not felt the need to exercise her 'digging' skills.

A new hotel has gone up by the golf course clubhouse. It's done in that bland international style that could be Baltimore or Beijing. This being Scotland it's height regulated.

Outside the hotel a stone dangling on a chain from a wooden post is attracting attention. A group of Californian golfers are clustered around it having their photos taken. Closer examination shows it to be a fine example of Scottish humour.

The bakers near the church doesn't do croissants; " Och no. You most certainly won't find that sort of thing here " says the woman behind the counter in a tone of voice that implies these glitzy foreign products are somehow indecent.

Angus wonders what the residents of the small French village would make of the assorted cakes in the window. Squint and you could believe they were the 'religieuse' much loved by the permanently pregnant bakers wife although the pink variety would be unimaginable in France.

After a bright start some rain showers bustle in from the North Sea. Sophie stops to watch as a group of visitors brave the elements on a guided tour of the town. The new semester starts in a couple of weeks time and the place is slowly changing from its brash summertime golfing persona into its quiet autumn academic role. The first German and American parents are drifting in to see where their offspring will be spending their next year.

And here's a quick update. These weird and wonderful croissants from the trendy pop up bakery score 1/10. They are inedible.Sophie disagrees. She thinks they are the perfect post chipolata start to the day.

Monday, August 22, 2022

Sophie's first full week by the sea.

Four American gentlemen in bright golf attire are waiting outside their hotel as we wander by on our start of day walk. They are in quite remarkable outfits that could prosaically be described as purple, scarlet, lilac and orange . The colours are of an intensity that could easily be caught by sensors on low earth orbiting satellites. Usually it takes Sophie and Angus twenty minutes to walk from the cathedral to the Old Course. Our return journey takes forty minutes as every doorway and lamp post along the route must be carefully studied. Conversations with friendly passers by , such as these, add to the length of our excursions. The American gentlemen inform me they're three minutes early for their driver. ' We're playing Kingsbarns today. Should be great ' says the most vocal. Angus has no opinion as to whether this will, or will not be the case, so he emits a non-committal  guttural noise. This is enough for the vocal gentleman to volunteer the view that ' You Scotch guys are so friendly'. A guttural grunt seems to be an abnormally low bar as a signifier of friendliness but who am I to point this out ? Sophie is disappointed to discover that the golfers don't have a single Ginger Snap between them. She soon decides that she's had enough small talk and heads off to explore a flower bed by the band stand. Friendliness has its limits. All the golfers chuckle and say goodbye to her. I'm ignored. When I look back they're piling happily into the back of their mini-bus and chatting away to their driver who has an accent out of Brigadoon.

The local croissants are dire. The fancy bakers produces something akin to under cooked choux pastry, the cheese mongers ( at an exorbitant £2.90 each ) are made with what I think is honey but could just as easily be treacle. Whatever it's made with is a sin against croissants.Tomorrow we shall try the offerings from the bakers near the town church. If that doesn't work there is a Marks and Spencers food outlet in town and an upmarket farm shop out near where Prince William lived when he was a student here. Surely something recognizable as a croissant must be available ? In the interim Sophie has a morning rendezvous with her French breakfast chef and a tasty chipolata.

The blog still being posted on 'The Fonts' French keyboard laptop. This makes formatting difficult. Normal service will,hopefully, be resumed later this week when the removal company show up on Wednesday with the desk tops. The removal firm are allowing for three days to unpack everything. The cleaning ladies are coming into the new house today to give it top to bottom work over. The family diva displays enormous courage when she finds that the field at the entrance to our new village is full of young and extremely inquisitive cows.

Back at the Wee House we dine outside on the small deck at the top of the stairs that lead from the kitchen into the garden. Sophie discovers that she adores a little langoustine bisque with her kibble and ( in a unexpected turn of events ) is transported to heaven when taken out at ten thirty for an ice cream from the cafe by the roundabout. 

Sunday, August 21, 2022

Sophie's new and forever home.

We get the keys to the new house. The first time Angus has a chance to see inside it . It's a quarter of the size of The Rickety Old Farmhouse and an eighth the size of what went before that . The sort of place that can be locked up and left alone. .... and kept snug and warm in a Scottish winter. It has breath taking views of the sea across the wheat fields. Come out of the drive and you have three options. You can go straight on to the sea, turn right to the sea or turn left to the bridge that runs over the burn and heads along half a mile of unpaved road to the village ..... and the sea.

We'll do the bathrooms as a priority and then decide what else needs to be done to the kitchen and room layout. Rather than have bedrooms that are never occupied we shall keep one guestroom and open up the other rooms to make them bigger and brighter. In a perfect world all the building work would have been done before we moved in but planning permission takes six months and we have yet to chose an architect. Family and friends can stay at the neighbouring hotel which is a twenty minute walk away along the cliffs. This is a much more practical and cost effective alternative to maintaining a large house that is only ever partly used. The kitchen, the drawing room, the library and the bedroom seem to be where these empty nesters spend their time.

Sophie will have company in the village. A Jack Russell in one house and a one year old 'mutt' in another . Outside the front door hare, deer and rabbits aplenty to chase ineptly but with gusto.

The furniture is due to arrive next week but we discover, to our horror, that major road works are about to start. They effectively cut off the village and require a twenty minute detour along back lanes for anyone wanting to get here. A call to the removal company will be the first item on Monday mornings to do list . Number two on the list will be a call to the Parisian bed company that had arranged for a new bed to be made in time for our moving in at the end of the month. Shipping to Scotland has proven to be quite a challenge for them. At times I think they must have Scotland and Alaska mixed up. This latest news will drive them to despair.

Sophie, as you can see from the photos, has taken enthusiastically to this first introduction to her new home. While we wait for furniture to arrive she will, go back to the 'wee house' and the morning half sausage from the French breakfast chef. Last night she discovered the delight of Lanarkshire Blue with pear as a starter. In the cheese stakes Scotland can hold its own.