The Grand Tour: Fife and Beyond

Ramblings of an inveterate cyclist

With their golden wedding anniversary well past, the routine at home never changed much. Dad would go off in the morning and collect his papers, and on his return, and to mum’s despair would read every column inch and give a running commentary from cover to cover of each and every one of three newspapers he had purchased. Then there was the morning news programme, on the television. Following close on its heels by the afternoon news, the early evening news, evening news and the late evening news, every snippet would have to be commented on. Mum had become anaesthetised to this constant barrage and mostly was able to simply switch off. Dad’s annoyance however spilt over into mums favourite television programme, Coronation Street, this was the last straw, she needed to get dad out of the house and out from under her feet, dad become the proud owner of a dog and dogs needed to be walked.

Big Sandy was the most beautiful Shetland Collie you ever did see, he was an elderly gentleman, alas his owner could no longer look after him anymore and Sandy was put up for adoption by a local dog charity.

Sandy was no bother he came into the house, and without a by your leave, stretched out at dad’s feet and all the way across the front of the fireplace. Even when it was too hot and the hair on his coat was starting to singe, he would not move, only lie and whimper at the discomfort of the fire, until forcefully pulled away from the heat.

“You will never find a better watchdog than Sandy” Dad would say, “He will happily lie and watch the fire all day”.

As the clock neared the magic hour for Coronation Street to make an appearance on the television, mum would said,

“Is it not about the time you took that dog for a walk?”

“Oh, it must be Coronation Street time again son, let’s go,”

On went the jacket and bonnet and off they went, dog faithfully following at the master’s heel, never a lead between them. When they came to a road that had to be crossed sandy just plunked himself down until dad gave him the node and both would swiftly move across the road to the other side.

When I visited there would be dad, fast asleep in the big chair by the fireside, Sandy stretched full length at his feet and across the front of the fire, both snoring softly in unison. Not my appearance in the house or soft conversation with my warm-hearted mum disturbed either man or dog, they snored on in their own little dream worlds. However as soon as the opening bars of Coronation Street filled the room, Sandy was instantly alert and soon had dad roused unceremoniously from his catnap.

“What, what! O’ Coronation Street………………”

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