The Grand Tour: Fife and Beyond

Ramblings of an inveterate cyclist

It was around 07.00 when I pulled the bike from the back of the van, ‘Someone burning wood’ I could smell it in the air, more clean burn than garden rubbish. “You’ve been lighting fires again” – “No me mum” – wallop – “O’ sha boy” – “Don’t lie to me, I can smell it on your clothes – what have I tellt yi about lighting fires?”

The weather was shaping up into a fine day, a brisk wind from the west scattering the cloud that had brought us rain during the night, St Andrews is a bit like the musical Camelot, it is only allowed to rain during the night. Out towards Strathkinness dropped down to the bridge over the Eden and up onto the Cupar road. The first to pass me as I dandered towards Strathkinness, was a woman, early sixties I would have though, she called something over to me as she passed, but being deaf as a post I did not catch it, so replied “Yes a find day indeed” always gets one out of trouble.

Next to pass was a couple on a tandem, their machine looked brand new, in contrast to the couple, retired possibly, but with legs, although winter white, looked as if they had a lot of mileage in them, they were certainly looking good on the bike.

Turning for Pitscottie at Cupar was a breath of fresh air, bowling along now chased on by the stiff breeze, as the Irishman said “May the wind ever be on your back”.

Coming back along the B939 I passed a field that only last week was high with ripe wheat, it has now been harvested. A tractor, trailing an implement I did not recognise, was breaking up the surface, and in turn, trailing a large flock of gulls behind it, their chicks will not go to bed hungry tonight. Living in the country you do see the changing year, but in this world of the ceaseless plough, the change is all a bit too quick for me.

As I entered the town boundaries, I read the temporary notice by the side of the road, St Andrews – Farmers – Market Saturday 1st August. And as I entered the car-park again that distinctive smell of burning wood. Elementary Dear Watson, the man from Arbroath, was down with his barrels, cooking and selling his Smokies. It has been years since I had a Smokie, and at these prices, it may be a long time before I have another. At present, Smokies can only be called Smokies if they are from Arbroath, I wonder what will happen when the UK leaves the EU will that distinctive branding end? ‘Buy your Trump approved, Massachusetts Smokies here at Asda (sorry, Wall-Mart, it is always difficult to get used to a change in name).     

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