The Grand Tour: Fife and Beyond

Ramblings of an inveterate cyclist

The morning started a bit dreich and cold but I was keen to be on the road. First the B939 as far as the Strathkinness crossroads, where I turned left and light pedalled my way up to 159m what a treat. I caught up with a group of roadies just before the junction with the B940 at Peat Inn, whizzing past them on the hill, its all about momentum, if you can keep it high you are halfway up the next rise before the motor kicks in.

At the summit just above Largoward, you see the River Forth, for the first time, I never tire of this view. Then a long drop down into Kilconquhar with its beautiful old church,

here I stopped for a while, it is so peaceful down by the loch, the village that time forgot. Off to catch the A914 into Elie. This village will always be a bit special for me, I have an infinity with Elie, for it was here that I first came to live on returning to Scotland on my retirement. Tim (my little Yorkshire Terrier) and I spent some very pleasant days down on the beach, and long walks along the Coastal Path. Happy times they were too. My idyllic life came to an end when I lost balance of my motorcycle (whilst stationary) it fell over with my leg trapped under it, and somehow I managed to break my leg in three places. I could not believe my leg would break that easily. It was then that I realised that Elie was not a good place to stay when you get old and I was heading that way. If I were no longer able to get about for shopping, which would mean a bus trip into Leven, so decided to move to St Andrews. As luck would have it I found a flat at City Park (Sheltered accommodation).

Visiting the harbour at Elie,

and there I found my old sailing friend working on his boat,

I chastened him, (in fun) over the state of the hull and rigging. We blethered a while, over a cup of coffee, and I scoffed most of his custard creams. I promised to return in the spring when the boats went back in the water and crew for him, (if I still remember what bits of string to pull). He said he would like that. I asked why the boats had been out of the water all summer, surly out in the Forth would be one of the most coronavirus free zones you could ever find in Scotland? He said it was down to the Lifeboat, if anyone were in trouble and had to call on their services, the boat and all the equipment on board, including the lifeboat men’s clothing would have to be disinfected. Seemed a bit overkill to me, turn a hose on the boat and the men, I’m sure coronavirus does not thrive well if dosed with seawater. Anyway how likely is it that the lifeboat would be called out to experienced yachtsmen?

The halyard of the adjacent boat had started to chatter on the mast in an annoying fashion, the wind was rising, time to head for home.

I set off along the coast road for St Monans turning off for Abercrombie, hoping to find some shelter from the now strong, biting cold, headwinds, it is amazing just how good hawthorn hedges are at filtering the wind. I carried on into Newton of Balcormo, past Kellie Castle and out onto the B9131 for St Andrews. I was hoping for a bit of a respite, on turning onto this road but alas the headwind now buffeted me from the side, (I wonder if a sail is legal on a bike?) Again when you crest the hill at Balmungo road end, the views down over St Andrews and St Andrews Bay are spectacular. But still, I had to keep peddles turning, honking downhill so strong was the wind up here on the ridge.

We get requests

I sometimes mention my workshop in my tales. People are curious, to the size of my workshop and what tools I have. Well, my workshop is really my bedroom.

I do all the forward planning here, (and sometimes get it right). Once marked up, all the cutting with machinery is done on the grass, outside the window, then brought indoors for assembly. During the winter months, I normally make small pieces that can be cut on the band-saw or scroll saw, I use coloured Perspex a lot (scroll work is very therapeutic). And when the mode takes me I do a bit of drawing or painting, (this is a very loose term for what I produce).

My philosophy for life.

I was cycling through Auchtermuchty, many moons ago, it was a beautiful sunny afternoon as I remember, I had stopped off at a row of cottages, placing my bike against a garden wall, I was now enjoying a sandwich and a drink from my water bottle. Why had this garden so attracted me? Well, simply because it was different. All the cottages in the row had flowers beds, in their front gardens. This one, however, had vegetables, row upon row of them, all spaced out like soldiers on parade. All equally spaced one from the other and all rows likewise. As I stood there in admiration of the garden an old man, well he would have looked very old to me at that time, seemed to appear from nowhere. Surprised at his presence and not sure what to say, I simply told him,

“I was just admiring your garden, do you have someone in to help you keep is so immaculate?” I asked, well as I said he did look very old.

“Oh no, all my own work” he assured.

He then went on to tell me he was a retired GP (General Practitioner) and added,

“I’ll let you into a wee secret, if you stop working, you die”.

I have always remembered that, and from that time to this, I have pledged never to stop working, or cycling, or ………….. and hopefully I will keep dodging the undertaker. Keep well.       

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