Sunday, March 31, 2024

The clocks change.

Happy Easter. The clocks change. There's an hours less sleep. We head out of the courtyard and onto the track that runs down to the sea. Within seconds we're spotted by the ' why walk alone when you can walk with us ?' pack.

There is an enthusiastic reunion . It is all of twelve hours since the farmers wife shooed the Jack Russells out of our garden and along the track back home.  

The i-Phone camera has difficulty picking them out but there are eight deer walking in a line towards the sea. I'm hoping we might see them wandering onto the beach to nibble at the seaweed but they're too skittish. They hop over the stone walls and rush to the safety of the cauliflower field. In the morning sun their rumps glow.

Easter Sunday and the Old Course is closed. This doesn't stop a group of American golfers from honing their putting skills in the warm up area. The golfers are of the opinion that back home they'd be able to play on a Sunday. " Just think how much more money they'd make ". I'm guessing they're waiting for seven o'clock and the  breakfast service to start in their hotels. 

Some real warmth in the sun this morning.  This will be good news for the local evangelicals who are having a break of day Easter baptism in the  sea water pool. A group of a dozen or so folks waiting to be dipped stand, wrapped in dressing gowns, by the deep end.  Further down the beach a large group of bikini clad girls are playing their guitars and enjoying a picnic. Neither gathering seems bothered by the other or, if they are, they don't show it. Up by the cathedral a small gathering of conservative Catholics are holding a Latin mass. On the cliff top on the other side of the road forty or fifty Presbyterians are singing ' There is a green hill far away'. They're accompanied by a lady with a concertina. When was the last time you saw a concertina ? The lady with the concertina is wearing a tweed two piece with a skirt that stops conservatively between knee and ankle.

So starts Easter Sunday in a small, sunny - almost warm , town on the North Sea coast. This morning the place is full of song.

Saturday, March 30, 2024



The County archaeologist is here at first light. 'Going to be warm today ' he says optimistically. He's brought his eight, six and four year old sons with him in the much dented family minibus. " Chance for the missus to get a lie in " he adds by way of explanation. The bobble hated boys cluster on the sand, laugh and skim stones across the water. The youngest is unhappy to find he can't do it as well as his elder brothers and returns to be with his father. 

The archaeologist thinks that he's now found all the bronze age and early Christian tombs in the field by the sea. Despite being built  3,000 years apart the way of making the tombs is remarkably similar. Thin lengths of rock are taken from the beach, shaped into oblongs and then used to line holes in the soil. In the bronze age tombs the body is laid on its side in a fetal position. In the early Christian tombs , all East  facing , the bodies are laid out on their backs as if asleep. On a morning like this we all agree that it would be difficult to find a more beautiful spot to spend eternity. His two eldest sons, and the youngest who has rejoined them,  are too busy skimming stones to have a view on this.

On the town beach the old dune line can clearly be seen. A line of deep marram grass roots still managing to cling onto the sand despite the tides that have washed so much away. The kestrel that's nesting  near the tidal spit swoops low over us before pouncing on something in the dunes.

The popular bar near the golf club has a new sign in its window. Angus isn't sure whether the admonition ' You can eat with the ghosts of former champions' would entice him in.

Later today we shall head down to the Royal and Ancient to inspect the renovations to the club house. Workmen were labouring away, by floodlight, until late last night. For the last 18 months the road outside has been reduced to one lane and traffic lights and a contraflow system installed. This has been, to put it mildly, annoying.

On the town noticeboard a local has made his poetically unhappy views of the Links Trust quite clear. 

Tandoori pizza. The local restaurants continue to appeal to an international ( and youthful ) audience. I am impressed,

Friday, March 29, 2024

Good Friday


First light. We have visitors. With a short, sharp yap 'Puppy' announces her arrival at the garden gate .

Elder sister soon joins her soon after. The third and eldest dog remains dozing in front of the farmers AGA. She's at that stage of life where comfort takes precedence over excitement. This morning our two companions chase pheasants, bark at the Fieldfares and are last seen pursuing a hare across the cauliflower field. After last nights rain the ground is very muddy. This doesn't bother the hare but it slows down the two Jack Russells .

In town signs of Easter.

The lady who owns  the haute couture shop is placing a mannequin outside her front door. This is the look St Andrean ladies will be aspiring to this season.

The two ducks who consider town to be their home continue to parade up and down outside the old Post Office.

The mallard views a motability scooter with ill disguised suspicion.

There are a surprising number of people up and about even though it's still early. The towns Baptists have been holding a 'Sunrise' service in the ruins of the 4th century church above the harbour. Not much sign of the sun this morning. With thick cloud, driving rain and penetrating winds this must have been a very 'Scottish' Good Friday affair.

A chocolate museum :

More on that happy couny thing :

Natural politeness:

Thursday, March 28, 2024

La Scala on steroids.


Visitors from down south arriving for Easter. The hotels filling up. Home Counties  accents everywhere. For us an early dinner at the seafood restaurant and then onto the theatre . 

The small theatre bar busy with locals enjoying a wee dram before the curtain goes up. The locals know they should get out while they can - the chances of getting reservations anywhere this weekend are close to zero. Tonight it's the student theatre group performing a 'modern take on an old classic'.

Ten minutes before the show starts and the first five rows of the auditorium are already completely filled by a large group of extremely cheerful young women. Students en masse. It soon becomes apparent that they are keen fans of the productions equally youthful leading man. After each of his dialogues they clap enthusiastically and - at the final curtain - they  whoop and holler. Bouquets of flowers are thrown onto the stage. Curtain calls are demanded. It's La Scala on steroids. Forgotten lines and missed cues are ignored.  Difficult to say whether the cast or the fans were more spirited. We agree that 'the fans' probably won by a neck.

The Cadburys Chocolate Creme Easter Egg Cheesecake failed to live up to its potential. 'The Font' takes one taste and announces it's 'dreadful'. I'd have to agree. More emulsifier than Creme Egg. It's also been coated with those small lumps of hard caramel that get stuck to your teeth.

The large Lindt chocolate rabbit in the window of the ice cream shop still hasn't been sold.

Yet more tours of the town for wannabe students and their parents. This morning it's mostly Americans with teenage sons. Two English men with a white dog tack onto the end of the tour. Today the wind is particularly biting and the rain 'relentless'. I catch a look of disbelief in the eyes of one couple. It's a look that says 'Never has Princeton seemed so appealing'.

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Pricey chocolate

We've been watching Netflix's new Chinese SciFi series the 3 Body Problem .  The first episode was good - as was the fourth. The second and third were a bit  lacklustre. Things seem to be picking up speed a little - which is just as well. The eight episodes have cost Netflix $200 million . That's right up there alongside the cost of 'The Crown'.

Very Scottish weather this morning. Sunny one minute, torrential rain the next. Probably forty, maybe fifty, extremely eager German golfers down at the first tee on the Old Course. The club house which has been a building site for the last 18 months is now a hive of activity with workmen everywhere. Seems the Royal and Ancient want it to be finished for Easter. Better a year late than not at all. The pre-Easter overtime bill will be sizeable.

In the bakers window a large chocolate rabbit. It's priced at £45. One of the suave Manhattanites tells me that cocoa futures have been one of his best investments over the last 12 months. In the space of a year cocoa prices have gone from $2750 a tonne to $10000. Poor weather in Ghana and the Ivory Coast together with disease  has driven the price of cocoa through the roof. Angus wonders how many locals can afford to spend £45 on a chocolate rabbit .

A cushion design that makes me chuckle.

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Dancing in the rain


The young man behind the counter in the fancy Italian delicatessen tells me they've sold out of the Cadbury's Creme Egg cheesecake. Seeing my disappointment he promises to have a fresh one baked by Wednesday. ' I'll speak to my mother and save you two slices '.

By seven am it's warmed up. 4 degrees and wet. The farmer only has one more container of cauliflowers to fill. Just as well. Working on the North Sea coast in these conditions is not easy.

In town the scudding clouds bring sunshine one minute, torrential rain the next. A group of sixty or seventy kids are out and about on the lawn by the chapel dancing to Indian hip hop and throwing green powder over each other. Despite the eviscerating wind and rain they seem happy in that way only late teens can. Scottish weather isn't going to spoil things.  'The Font' asks one of the college porters what's going on. We think it might be Holi but his Scottish pronunciation of whatever Hindu festival this might be leaves us none the wiser.

The plants bought at the garden nursery seem to be standing up to what the the elements are throwing at them.

Town has two Indian restaurants. The smaller of the two has replaced its frost damaged Yucca with an olive tree. I wish it luck. A most exotic looking palm has also arrived. It's been wrapped in fairy lights and seems to have its roots encased in a concrete block. This, methinks, does not auger well.

The sun filters through and brightens up a bank of bluebells on the golf course. Easter is on the way and the town is now full of large rental cars picked up at Edinburgh airport. We see no less than 9 newly registered Volvo XC90's . These seem to be the vehicle of choice for American golfers and their golf clubs. From the sheer number of them I'm assuming that this is a model that is a) going out of production and is b) sold to rental car companies at a ' super attractive ' price.

Monday, March 25, 2024

Snow on the way ?

Monday starts off cloudy. Snow is forecast for Tuesday. We head along the farm track and then turn down through the cauliflower field to the shore. The farmer has a new machine that cuts the cauliflowers, weighs ( and prices ) them and then wraps them in cellophane ready for collection by the supermarket. Where once there was a gang of pickers now there's a tractor driver and a man to make sure the computerised machines  moving parts remain 'unblocked'. 

The Fieldfares are doing their thing.

As we pass they soar up and then circle above us enjoying the thermals and the weak morning warmth. Yesterday I thought there were 200 of them. Seeing them this morning it seems that I  underestimated how many of them there are. 500 ? 1,000 ? A group of half a dozen dog walking villagers stop and join us peering at this remarkable sight.

Yesterday we went  to Binnys the garden nursery near Stirling. You can do this journey in an hour on a Sunday morning when the bridge across the Forth is free of Edinburgh commuters. During the week it would take two, possibly two and a half hours to get there. Crossing over the estuary we see the hulking shape of an aircraft carrier at the dockyard. Is it The Price of Wales or The Queen Elizabeth ? Which ever it's huge ... although beset with propellor problems.

We buy a dozen Salvia ( the bright red ones thrived in the wind , the blue ones we bought last year perished in the gales).

We are introduced to intersectional peonies - a type we'd never heard of before. A gentleman in a bobble hat - presumably the owner - says they are even sturdier than tree peonies. We are warned that peonies do not like to have their roots disturbed. Plant them in the ground in their pots until November and then, and only then, put them where you want them to be. The nursery is old school in as much as it doesn't have a cafe or indeed anything other than an encyclopedic knowledge of the plants they grow. It also has a very affable German Shepherd that expects visitors to spend a portion of their visit throwing him a stick. We are now left to think about what we do with all the new plants now there's a snow storm on the way.

The wallpaper in the first house is alarming :

Proof that dogs understand the word ' Cookies' :

Sunday, March 24, 2024


Five deer happily grazing in the cauliflower field. Do deer eat cauliflower ? Maybe they're eating the grass between the plants ? The winds blowing towards us so we pass unnoticed behind them. A group of 20 herring gulls are bathing in what remains of the lake in the potato field.  The farmer finally got round to digging a drainage channel to deal with the pond that grew to the size of a football pitch. Now the ponds  shrunk so that the gulls and three large crows can barely all fit in it.  The Fieldfares are still sitting in  a circle in the ploughed field where they've been for the last four days. A resting spot before heading off on the long journey across the sea to Denmark ?  There must be 200 of them in an absolutely perfect circle. What can they be doing ? Fieldfares song, en masse, has a beautifully twittering quality. As we head back up the  track they rise vertically into the air where the sun catches them. For five minutes we watch them circling overhead - salmon pink in the dawns light one minute, black against the blue sky  the next. 'Puppy' and her sister come and join us although they have no interest in the Fieldfares.

Tourists returning. In town we see cars with Italian, Bulgarian and German plates. There's also a beat up Mini convertible from Liechtenstein  but it has a pile of dirty clothes on the passenger seat that  hints at a 'student' owner rather than a tourist . 

A tray of Hot Cross buns emerges from the ovens and is placed - still warm -  in the bakers window.  Angus is much more interested in a Cadbury's Cream Egg Cheesecake in the Italian delicatessen. In my book any recipe containing Cadbury's Cream  eggs is the epitome of  haute cuisine.

The garden outside the kirk looking very jolly. There's a concert on here every day during Holy Week. Between the daily lunchtime concerts in the University music centre and what's going on the the auld kirk we're spoilt for things to do. 

On the shopping street a woman from Scottish Television has set up a camera and tripod and is stopping passers by to ask them their views on the illness of the Princess of Wales. The Princess was a student here so the thinking is presumably that the townsfolk will have some special insight into the matter. 

Down by the chapel there's a competing TV station doing the same thing. The STV woman does the interviewing and the filming herself. The other channel has an interviewer and a cameraman. Both stations seem to be having difficulty finding anyone to talk to them. The townsfolk have a vow of omerta when it comes to the 'young' Prince and his then girlfriend. What students do when they're here is never discussed in public. There is something rather reassuring in this widely shared and unfashionable  reticence.

Saturday, March 23, 2024

A cheerful start.


This six am news bulletin starts with the story that the Princess of Wales has cancer, moves onto  another  terrorist attack in Moscow before segueing onto Marjorie Taylor Greenes true believer crusade against her fellow Republicans. 'That's a cheerful start to the day' says 'The Font' as we head down the track to the sea. This morning the skies are blue and the view across the waters of the bay towards town is almost Caribbean. Looks can of course be deceptive.

The two young American archaeologists have gone. The site of their excavations once again covered. A few pieces of the stones that lined the burial chambers left sticking above the soil.

Seems that the bronze age cemetery was once much larger. It would have been centred on a small hill rising on the shoreline. Erosion and the construction of a gun battery during the last war have leveled the hill and destroyed three quarters of the burial site. A few old graves can be seen right on the waters edge.

In town the golf course already busy with eager players waiting to tee off. Angus notes that Under Armor all weather golf  attire is much in evidence. In fact it seems to be the uniform of choice for a large group of identically dressed 30 something  Alabamans.  Many are wearing NASA caps so I guess it's some sort of works outing.  They inform us that ' We flew into Edinbro last night and were up at four. We couldn't wait to get out here to play'.  No such thing as jet lag for them. They share this information with everyone that passes.

The new movies at the cinema don't appeal. The horror film of the week has moved on from a demonic teddy bear to a demonic nun.

A few students sun bathing on the lawn outside chapel. It's early, the grass is damp and there's what one might call a 'brisk' wind. None of this seems to deter the youngsters who seem oblivious to the elements. We catch snippets of conversation that indicate that end of term exams are now entering the collective consciousness.