The Grand Tour: Fife and Beyond

Ramblings of an inveterate cyclist

(Saturday)

I had cycled over to Tayport on Friday and spend the day with my brother, bar lunch and a good blether always works for me. A recent stay in hospital and six weeks of convalescence had reminded him (as it does us all when we get on in years) that he is mortal, he had decided to downsize, and wanted me to take photographs of stuff he wished to sell so I could post it on e-Bay.

My brother’s line of work was the conservation of old buildings, I must go over to Stirling Castle and see the new hammer-beam roof, the second biggest after Westminster, that he had a hand in, and is very proud of that fact, and rightly so. For some of his books, I do not know where he will be able to sell them they are so specialised – some more than 100 years old giving detailed drawings and instruction on how some of the work has to be carried out on building going back to old King Henry 8th time. He was telling me that some of these books cost him well over £100.00 when he bought them – and that wasn’t yesterday. There is a second-hand book shop in St Andrews, I will seek advice there, but they may end up in some university library.

Campbell was a keen fisherman so has a fair collection of rods and reels, all top of the range, conservation of old buildings must pay well, then again when it is Lottery money… I better not tell you the story of the costly pantomime, when they wanted to drill a 13 mm hole through a single brick wall at the Palace of Westminster, English Heritage are the people to turn to if you want to spend big money fast, their only equal the House of Lords.

Anyway to cut a long story short (too late), I ended up with a lot of stuff myself, so had to return on Saturday by bus to bring it home. This included books, DVD and a whole load of fishing gear for me to try my hand a fly fishing.

I have rods, reel, flies, fishing jacket, (you know the ones with all the pockets), landing net and to top it all off, a fisherman’s cap with S.W.A.T. embroidered across the front, so with the Halo effect in place, at least I will look like the real thing. All I need now is a frying pan big enough to take my catch. Actually, I have fished with my brother in the past but not for a long time, maybe now would be as good a time as any to return to the rivers.

(Sunday)

I liked to be out early in the morning before the sun rises too high, I did not go far today I was already whacked before I even left home since I had never been off the stot all week. Still, once the wheels started turning some of the old enthusiasm returns. On reaching Anstruther there was a natural breeze off the water so I spent a pleasant hour or so wandering the harbour and just sitting watching the world go by, which is fast becoming my favourite pastime. The wind was a big help to push me up the hill and back out of Anstruther for home.

(Monday)

View from my window.

Laundry day, now there is always someone moving in or out of sheltered housing such as City Park, you only find out when you go down to the bin area and the bins are full to overflowing and not only the bins, the area around the bins, which of course the bin men have no responsibility for so it will not be moved. Today it was two sides of a flat pack gents robe. Instantly I was alert. Out with the tarpaulin, the bench, saws and my piece of paper with sizes on it. A lot of head scratching later and I had the materials to manufacture another half dozen nest boxes, they always sell well at our charity coffee mornings. In the afternoon I will spend some time dressing the wood and gluing and nailing the pieces together should make a nice change.

The book I am reading now is another by Lesley Riddoch, ‘Huts’. Not surprisingly it is about huts and cabins, they mostly grow up after the First World War, I certainly remember school friends who’s patient’s had holiday huts, where the family would spend weekends and holidays. Huts thrived across Canada, North America the Scandinavian countries and Russia but in Scotland, the hutters were evicted, from their traditional sites – the way land is owned and managed in Scotland is still feudal, and the demise of the hut can be traced back to this, strange as it may seem, I had just finished reading Andy Wightman’s Scotland: land and power, and as I read Lesley’s book echoes of Andy’s book came flooding back.

Lesley started her interest in Norwegian hut culture as part of her PhD so this book has been 10 years in the making. I had given it a wide berth when if first come out thinking, wrongly as it turns out, that it would be very academic, you know facts, figures and graphs. And yes there is a bit of that but of course, unlike Andy Wightman, Lesley is a story teller, (which I’m sure short hand for working your arse off to make your writing appears as if it is natural conversational). I am really enjoying her journey of discovery, it is funny, hilariously in place, mostly because I can associate with it, the language, the joy she feels just being out in the wilds of Scotland. I have known that isolation and joy when I was a keen hill walker, and yes sleeping under the shelter stones and in barns or an old bothy, washing in a trough in a field, that you had to share it with the cattle, we both had those unforgeable moments. Thinking back on those times, I feel sorry for the youngsters today that have their computers, their smartphones, who spend so much of their time texting each other with such dexterity, playing computer games, but alas, missing out on real life. From biblical times we have gone out into the wilderness to find ourselves, maybe it is not too late, for the children of Scotland to rediscover huts.

Another change in the weather with the wind picking up once more a good day to spend indoors, and unwind after a full filled week.

Stay safe.         

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