The Grand Tour: Fife and Beyond

Ramblings of an inveterate cyclist

 I was clearing out the ‘Glory Hole’ this morning and came across some of my old diaries, one dated August 2011, and inside I found a picture of my little bilge keel Leisure Craft, with Captain Tim in charge. I wish I still had her, I’m sure I could still sail that simple little craft single-handed since she was just a dingy with a lid. The picture is poor quality since I had to scan it from off the paper.

“All boats have an Inviable Box”.

“Have you ever wondered why during a storm at sea, some sailors come home unscathed whilst others caught out in the same storm perish?” My father had once asked me.

On every boat ever built there is a box into which we put credits, but don’t look for that box, you will never find it, you see it is inviable, and the credits found in the box can only be acquired by good seamanship. Every time we check the boat over before we put to sea, the standing or running rigging. When we tighten a turnbuckle, check the freshwater levels. Dip the diesel tank, change the oil and fuel filter. Come up on deck some cold wet night and check the running lights, or one hundred and one other little jobs around the boat, you will put credits into that inviable box.

Then when things start to go wrong, caught out in a storm, or we find ourselves in unfamiliar waters, we can cash in those credits. However it the box is empty and devoid of credits we will perish, for the sea gives no credit.

I will always remembered and heed that advice from my father. Today readying those old diaries and thinking of that sage advice, maybe dad’s wise words were not just about a life at sea, but also a euphemism for life itself.

Question: How do you start a firefly race?

Answer: Ready – Steady – Glow.  

 An autumn day by the sea.

I love autumn with passion. Really I should hate it since I never was a big fan of school, well at least not until I was old enough to go to the secondary school. Despite such gloomy memories living once more in the country and by the sea, the changing seasons once more I see, and autumn for me is the most dramatic of the four. The long hot summer days have given way to clean crisp air, when corn and barley fall to the harvesters blade and the land once more is turned by the ceaseless plough and trees put on their stupendous display.

I have seen Elie Bay,

A resplendent, sobering sight,

Bathed in the light of the morning star,

Heaven’s golden delight.

And early walks today along the shore, showed the extent of the damaged reaped but the high spring tide drove on by gale-force winds. Seaweed and driftwood strewn along its length, smashed lobster pots adorned the sands. I collected a variety of fenders, Tim a cricket ball and several golf balls all adding to his growing beachcombing collection. There was also a surfboard along with a plastic dinghy, however, he would have great difficulty dragging them home with him, hopefuly.

Now, I think it’s fair to say, it really rained a lot today,

Another day of drizzly rain,

But here in Elie we never complain,

For it drives those pesky tourists hame,

Oh! the phone.

The wind blows galeforce along the bay, white caped waves festoon the waters and row upon row of white horses gallop forward to the shore. They break in an exhilarating way dashing the rocks and re-sculpting the sand and dunes. Young men clad in black wet suits cling feverishly to an air-born colourful sail, they skim the waves in their high octane ways, dancing unrehearsed in sea and air, across the boiling water of the bay they fly, how I envy them their youth.

When Mum lived in a cottage down by the shore at the Wemyss, she told me that in autumn and during the high spring tides, the sea would come over the garden wall and flood the cabbages.

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