Sunday, June 30, 2024

Excess stock.

Saturday evening. A man phones up and says ' I see from our records that you're retired. Would you like someone to pick you up and take you to the voting booth on Thursday morning ?'  He speaks slowly and clearly in case I have difficulty understanding what he's saying.  I inform him that we're perfectly capable of making our own way there. 

On our morning walk we pass a gift shop. There's a sale on . Someone has bought way too many Scottish soccer outfits. With Scotland the first to be knocked out of the tournament this has proved to be a mistake.

In the supermarket piles of ' Get match ready' soft drinks. The Irn Bru seems to have sold more quickly than the Pepsi.

The shoe repair shops mechanical cobbler remains staunchly patriotic.

The two ducks outside the Halal take away continue to thrive despite a constant stream of passing cars and inquisitive pedestrians.

Town, as you can perhaps tell, is quiet .

Saturday, June 29, 2024


Yesterdays wind has gone and the day starts sunny and warm. We're up early to buy strawberries picked this morning and check on the sheep. The farm shop continues to do a roaring trade.  The farmers decision to give his daughters 50% of the daily proceeds was a cannily commercial decision.

The rain forms small pools of water by the back door where the newly laid stone path is uneven. To deal with wet feet we finally find a tough wooden doormat from this company : Whoever knew finding a doormat that doesn't weigh a ton and look like a cattle grid  could be such a difficult task ?

This mornings pet peeve is van drivers leaving their vehicles in parking bays designed for cars. The long vans jut out into the road and reduce traffic to a single file. Things get even better when some bright spark does the same thing on the other side of the road. Getting from one end of town to the other can be like navigating an obstacle course. This sort of behaviour ranks right up there with drivers who park over the middle of the white line so that their car fills two bays. Angus has now reached the age where a dose of low level grumpiness keeps him cheerful - and satisfied - for the rest of the day. 

Before the Big Bang :

Back ache :

At last - a new hotel in Oxford. Inspector Morse fans may recognize it. Not sure the uninspiring restaurant design isn't a wasted opportunity  :

Friday, June 28, 2024

A day for flying.


It's windy. A shaggy dog is more than enjoying himself on the beach. He understands this is a day for flying.

The dog also tries lying on his back in the water , chasing seagulls and barking at the wind surfers. He does his best to remind his owner that she has a ball in her pocket that needs to be thrown. His sister trots along quietly behind and does her best to ignore him.

The lady with the Pomeranian and the professor with two black labradors ask what we thought about last nights American debate.  A shrug of the shoulders seems to be the most apt response.

On the village green the cows exude contentment. Long lush grass, blue skies and a breeze. What's not to like ?

One girl, with a very fine coat, wanders over to see us.

We try to take a shortcut past the music centre but a look from a groundsman tells us that we run the risk of being run over by some radio controlled tracked vehicle. We retreat.

Yesterday evening a talk by an author on drinking water. Seems that Big Spring, Texas is the first town in the US to rely totally on 'toilet to tap' water or ' shower to flowers' as those with a more delicate constitution  would have it : . Big Springs 'Big Spring' has dried up which means that recycling waste water has become a necessity. " Soon the water that reaches your lips will have been through literally hundreds of kidneys ". This is a development that even  rain drenched Scotland might have to face as successive governments have failed to invest in our Victorian era water pipes. These have now become very 'leaky '.  The great thing about living in a university town is you can learn a little about a lot of esoteric subjects.

This is getting rave reviews in large part due to Tilda Swinton :

As this piece shows Europeans are waking up to the fact that America is about to have an election :

How is this even humanly possible ? :

Thursday, June 27, 2024


We finally get election leaflets from the Greens and the Conservatives. Nothing, yet, from Labour. The Lib Dems and SNP got theirs out three weeks ago. Guess that tells you that this constituency is a two horse race.

Rain overnight. The air this morning on the chill side of fresh. A large deer leaps out of the long grass a couple of yards ahead of us and bounds off through the field. As it goes it startles the skylarks who burst into song. Nature isn't used to seeing humans out and about before seven - but what simple joys await the early riser.

The hedgerows are loving this hot one minute , wet the next , weather.

Clover ...

... and cornflowers. It's a surprise to see many of the wild plants we saw growing in France growing here.

The poppies have suffered in the overnight rain.

It is the time of the year when serious women in floral cotton numbers and frowny men in baggy linen suits arrive in town. The academic summer seminar season is upon us.  Folks from all over the world  gather  in bars and talk about incomprehensible specialities. This morning a crowd is standing on the pavement waiting for the doors to open  to this humdinger.

A lively start to the day on the car radio :

The bizarre language in this article told me I'm certainly not hip:

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

50% of the takings.


The election a week tomorrow. A man on the radio says that the opposition will win a huge number of seats but with many of them on wafer thin majorities. He goes on to say that if the new government starts slipping in the polls many of these newly elected MP's will soon be worried about keeping their jobs. This will make them fractious and the job of running the country difficult. The 2024 election hasn't even happened and already we're talking about 2029. Time to turn the radio off. 

A perfect start to the day. Half a dozen lobster boats out in the bay hauling in their creels. The fishermen are busy as demand for crustaceans approaches its summer peak. Visiting golfers seem to live on a diet of steak one night followed by lobster the next. At the moment town is solid with Californian ladies in pastel trouser suits.  In a couple of months it will be the AIG Womens Open. The American ladies trying out the course ahead of the championship exude ' intense focus'. From the website it would seem this is a very serious affair :

The sheep have been moved from the cauliflower field and are now happily back at home in the long grass by the farm house. The farmers two undergraduate daughters are home for the summer and have been put in charge of the retail berry and asparagus operations. They have been promised 50% of the takings which may explain why the shop is open twelve hours a day.  The elder girl chats to the customers and takes the money while the younger ensures the shelves are stocked. On the basis of the crowded car park we reckon they must be netting £800 a day which , after another couple of weeks,  will provide them with ample travel money for their summer holidays.

This weeks reading has been a mixed bag that promised much but delivered rather less.

Make of this what you will :  Can Hungarian humour really be focused on Scotland ?

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Wordle challenge.

'The Font' gets this mornings Wordle in three goes. I'll not ruin it for those who have yet to do their daily challenge but in English the word is spelt with a 'U' between the 'O' and the 'R'. This would make it a six letter word.

The new lock gates have arrived and been installed. We chat to our two local  lobster fishermen who are looking forward to getting their boats back into the inner harbour. This morning they've discovered that the recent tides have caused a build up of sand and sediment that's blocking the channel out to sea. They are off to hire a dredger.  Two large  - and slightly plump - old labradors accompany them.  Happy sea dogs. By the abbey walls a line of motorhomes signals the arrival of European tourists. We see a Lithuanian registered Winnebago. What a journey that must have been.

Why do seagulls stand on one leg ? A particularly noble fellow is standing sunning himself while looking out to sea. He ignores us.

A solitary swimmer in the sea water pool under the castle. Next week the international summer school  starts. Last year the organizers had all the teenagers down on the beach by seven am every morning. Keep them exhausted is a good strategy for dealing with a couple of hundred lively youngsters .... and their hormones.

The scent of the wild rose bushes in the old folks home garden hits us as we head back to the car. Scottish summers may be brief but they're magical. It is forecast to reach 24 degrees this afternoon. There may be thunder.

Something summery playing on the car radio this morning :

Esoteric insight of the day :

Monday, June 24, 2024


On the BBC breakfast broadcast  the election correspondent uses the word 'disjuncture' . We agree that's not a word you hear every day.

23 degrees forecast for today. Warm enough for  local radio to air a programme about heatstroke. The larks are out in force. The house awash with bird song as soon as the sun has popped above the horizon. This morning the air clear enough for us to make out the church spires far inland. There's a band of cloud over the Grampians but to the south of us the sky is solid azure blue. It's shirt sleeve weather.

Sunday saw the town packed solid with visitors. Scotland was playing Hungary in the soccer championship. Bar and restaurant owners had sensibly installed wide screen televisions  for the game. Sunshine and football, together, are a bar owners dream.

Everywhere you looked there were Saltires. Small boys were decked out in miniature version of the national teams strip. 

The pavement cafes busy with families enjoying the sunshine. White wine glasses much in evidence. The town slips into its ( brief ) al fresco life style. 

Out here a large screen television had been set up in the village hall.  By six o'clock the lawn outside was packed solid with young families. Chicken is barbecued and orange squash dispensed. Cans of lager appear.  'Puppy' arrives to see what's going on. She finds a paper plate of chicken and disappears with it into the barley field.  The man with the Skoda 4x4 informs me that Scotland would have a comfortable win . " Three nil at least ". Vast quantities of strawberries and ice cream are consumed. The match starts at eight. A group of mothers decide to take their toddlers for a swim. They head of, laughing, in a long line down the track to the water. By the time they return it's all over. A goal to Hungary in extra time. Within fifteen minutes the crowd has dispersed, the bunting around the door has gone and the village hall is empty bar a group of eight or so  farmers repetitively  discussing what the team did wrong. The phrase ' It's the end of Scotlands dreams ' spoken mournfully.

Question for the coming week. Should we go to see the 'Magical Cabaret ' or 'The Family Magic Show' ? .

A new documentary on 'The Beach Boys' :

Was this their greatest song ? :

Smile of the day :

Sunday, June 23, 2024

The end of the phone box.

The UK election is 12 days away. We've now seen a grand total of 3 Scottish National Party posters and 4 for the Liberal Democrats. It would be an understatement to say that the latest 'betting' scandal is not working to the outgoing governments advantage. As Robert Louis Stevenson once said - 'Sooner or later everyone sits down to a banquet of consequences'.

The Glasgow hotel was full of London media types. We recognize a well known news reader drinking a beer in the lounge. Election times are when broadcasters bravely venture out into the 'regions' to determine what the locals are thinking. Scotland has its own wild and wooly election dynamics which stretch the understanding of most incomers.

Back here in St Andrews life, after a trip to the big city, is quiet. We spot a Chinese couple and a group of assistants being given a personal tour of the university. They are standing on the spot where the first of the Protestant martyrs was burnt at the stake. The power couple snap the site of the martyrdom while the assistants snap the power couple.

The last of the phone boxes is being decommissioned.

Back at home there is a letter telling us that our land line out here in the countryside is also going. I shall write to BT and ask them when they're going to upgrade our cellular signal - which is dire.

The first non-news about the Paris Olympics :  I'm surprised that any of the teams plan to go without aircon in the summer heat.

Saturday, June 22, 2024

Divine intervention


We are early risers. Many places promise to open at seven to serve breakfast ... but don't. This tardiness may have something to do with football induced hangovers. Outside the Glasgow Subway station - and an open and functioning Starbucks - a Salvation Army gentleman tries to sell ( or possibly give away ) some uplifting tracts to busy commuters. I'm not sure the market for uplifting tracts is a large one. It certainly isn't first thing in the morning.  He might have better luck at the other end of the day when the pubs close and minds are focused on the Scottish team ... and the need for divine intervention.

Detouring through a side street we chance upon a small hidden garden .

Local mothers clearly make good use of it.

On the other side of the road a house that we both agree would make for wonderful city living. There was a time thirty years ago when the upkeep of these old things was prohibitive and they could be had for a song.  Today they've risen in price to where they're more 'upper end of the market' than 'a bargain' but the upkeep remains prohibitive. Replacing one of those curved glass window panes can't be cheap.

We head up the hill to the cathedral. This is going to be a 25,000 steps day.

Off to the side of the nave a group of German tourists in matching orange jackets  are clustered around  what we think is a picture but , as we get closer ,  turns out to be a carefully embroidered poem.  A tour guide is reading the poem to them in an enthusiastic style  that wouldn't be out of place in an Edwardian music hall. 'Some maithers brodt their bairnies oot to show them to the Lord '. The poem is a particularly awful example of nineteenth century Scots religious verse. Sentimentality doesn't so much seep as gush from every line. The Germans struggle to understand what's being said. The guides florid  theatrical style either means she does this to alleviate boredom or, more probably, she deals with tour groups by going through the day gently stoned. 

A stained glass window with the strange invocation 'Ruth gleaned in the fields until evening' . This is presumably some call to work long and diligently.  The angel also looks as if she's gently stoned. A solitary foot peeps out from a mass of tangled robes. 

Friday, June 21, 2024


The weather was kind and we had a great time. We stumble across this wall painting of the towns patron Saint on our way down to the station. We'd seen pictures of it but in real life it's rather impressive  : .  

On Wednesday night the town was in full on party mode. The Scottish football team tied in their match against Serbia. This might not have been the victory many of the towns citizens were hoping for but a draw was still a good reason to celebrate.

In the Botanic Gardens we see a bench with a knitted cover. A jolly looking thing but perhaps not best suited for the Scottish climate. The plants in the glasshouses are thriving.

A suitably maudlin Victorian memorial to some long forgotten Highland infantry regiment and a skirmish on the Afghan frontier. A wee boy looks on at the name of the dead - presumably his father among them. 

We quietly wonder what happened to the families of dead soldiers. Scant provision would have been made for wives and offspring. Perhaps the Poor House or an Oliver Twist like orphanage or a military school for the lucky ones ? Certainly the wee boy would have grown up quickly.

Wednesday night to Crabshakk : which was very lively and fun and then for birthday night we go here which was ( despite it being  a tasting menu ) exceptionally good.


Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Back on Friday

The weather is getting better and we're off to try a couple of restaurants to celebrate 'The Fonts' birthday. We'll be back on Friday.

The parcel


Elder sister arrives at the back door. She has taken to joining us for breakfast. A chance for her to have some peace and quiet before 'Puppy' appears.

It's rained heavily overnight but this morning the sky holds out some hope that the day will remain dry. The Royal Navy ship has left the bay with its complement of Marines and headed off into the North Sea. The pheasants squawk and scatter as we walk along the track to the shore. The German family are already down on the sand. They wave cheerfully. Perhaps there is some truth behind national stereotypes ? I'm not sure how many Scots families would be out and about at six thirty. 

With many of the university staff away town is quiet and parking is once again easy. We have the place to ourselves apart from a few locals who are out and about opening up shops or visiting the bakers.

It's 'The Fonts' birthday tomorrow. The courier shows up with a large box of Swedish delicacies. We're #1 on his schedule. The box is one of those extremely heavy refrigerated ones. The courier grumbles as he puts it down and Angus grumbles as he picks it up. It's made it from Uppsala to Stockholm to Edinburgh and then onto the Fife coast  in under 24 hours which is some sort of DHL miracle.

The box contains all sorts of brands that are hard to get in the UK.

Angus is unsure what is worse. Marinated herring,

Fish roe,

or Reindeer fillets .

There is not a single bar of chocolate so Angus has less than zero interest in the boxes contents. 'The Font' is delighted.

The things you learn :