The Grand Tour: Fife and Beyond

Ramblings of an inveterate cyclist

Today the weather was not of its best, rather dreich and with a leaden sky hanging over St Andrews. My first journey today had to be Aldi, restock Mrs Hubbard’s cupboards, so it was Soda Farls, for breakfast (not unlike Scottish Soda Scone). I acquired a taste for them in Northern Ireland at that time they would have been fried in the pan along with eggs and bacon, now I simply sliced then down the middle and popped the two halves into the toaster. Tonight it will be mince and tatties for dinner, it’s gid tell yer ma’.

I spent a lot of time in Northern Ireland during 1960, always staying at the Stella Mara in Belfast city centre. The Friday night dance was a good place to pick up girls, but of course the girl could only leave the hall when old hawk-eye, the priests, had first given his blessing, however, he knew us well so never refused.

We were living at the Stella Mara, at a time when there was a bread strike on. Seated in the dining room, in came the old breakfast cook, I’m sure he was well past retirement, breakfast was always a big fried-up, no cereals were offered.

“Bread or toast?” asked the cook

I had toast Benny chose bread, we were both well into our breakfast when Benny, on turning over what remained of his bread, was less than amused to find big patches of mould. Well Benny went berserk, then again, Benny had always been a bit of a drama queen, he called the cook through from the kitchen and on showing him the bread spouted his disapproval, to which the old cook, in the broadest of Belfast accents told him,

“Sure it’s not so good for you if it is too fresh”

laughter broke out in the dining room and in the end, even Benny had to accept the situation and laugh along with us.

“Will there be anything else” asked the cook, then without waiting for an answer disappeared back into his kitchen.

Taking the road

I set off in search of Forgan Church, somewhere off the road from St Michael’s to Tayport. When I was doing research into churches, some now ruinous but had a bit of history behind them, I came across Forgan Church. There are two, the one that replaced the original, has now been turned into the home and offices of an architect, using much of the dressed stone from the original, yes, recycling has been going on since man put one stone on top of another.

Once off the main Dundee road life took on a new meaning, quiet roads once more, but there was an ice coldness in the wind. I had a rough idea where the church was and spend a lot of time going up farm tracks and minor roads, but alas no church, if this is the offices of an architect, potential customers better have satellite navigation in their car or his kids will be going hungry to bed.

Still, the day was not a total loss, for I cycled on into Tayport and as is my habit ended up down at the harbour.

There were a lot more boats in the water than last time I visited, some making ready to sail, or possibly just making do and mend.

There’s a gey wheen boats at the harbour mou’,
And eh! dae ya see the cruisers?
The cinnamon drop I was sookin’ the noo
Has tummelt an’ stuck tae ma troosers.

Boy in the Train by M C Smith.

Certainly, it was a better day for sailing than cycling with a rising wind.

As ever I got myself lost coming out from the harbour, I should really go back the way out the way I came in. Thankfully a car came out in front of me and since I suspected he would know his way out of the housing scheme I followed on behind and thankfully I was proven right.

Off home, back into the maelstrom of the A919 and A91, not so far to go, not a Thursday’s child then. Keep the peddles turning and stay safe.

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