The Grand Tour: Fife and Beyond

Ramblings of an inveterate cyclist

I had booked in for a tour of Falkland Palace, scheduled for 1 o’clock, the morning skies were not looking their best, big black clouds bubbling up, and threatening rain at any minute. To save my wee legs I took the bus over to Cupar, and cycled from there over out on the 91 climbing out of Cupar then left at Melville Lodge for Ladybank, I was now on the A92 and boy was it busy, in hindsight maybe I should have turned off at Bow of Fife and meandered in the back door. Then “lid of metal, what’s inside the Kingskettle”. Under the railway bridge and out onto the Freuchie road.

There was once a gasworks just along here, big Ian was one of the men that worked there. Ian liked his bed, and it would have taken a bomb blast to get him out of it in the morning. When he was on an early shift, he was never at work on time and so well known for this, that when the pressure of the mains gas started to drop, to a point that it would not boil a kettle, one of the villagers would go around to Ian’s home and chap him up, and get him off to work. Big Ian just laughed it off, he would simply jumped on his old, sit up and beg bike, and pedalled off along to the road to the gas works and started loading up the oven and the fire below it. The world was full of such characters as Big Ian then.

The cloud had been lifting all morning so by the time I had reached Falkland, it was a beautiful day, although still a bit muggy.

The palace dominates as soon as you enter the village, and cannot help but impress the visitor on their arrival.

Anyone who has visited France and who have seen Renaissance architecture at its finest, will immediately recognise this style of building, in it a French château in miniature.

I was early by half an hour so it was suggested that I visit the gardens first, before a tour of the palace. As I walked the grounds I saw an elderly man edging the lawn, he told me there were only three permanent staff and eight volunteers to run the show, they are certainly doing a fine job for the grounds are extensive.

Entering the Palace the first thing that strikes you is how small and cosy it is compared with many grand houses and castles, then again it was only built as a hunting lodge, not a permanent home.

The little chapel was a bit special, the little organ, the beautiful painted ceiling, and oak everywhere. The stained glass windows depict the coats of arms of the kings, and Queens including Mary and her mother the queen.

The tapestry Gallery came next, faded now, they must have been so rich and vibrant in their day. Again oak everywhere, with magnificent carved doors and ornamentation of the chairs.

The King’s bedroom was closed (where James V died) but the Queen’s bedroom was open to the visitors, and again it was big, but not overly big – cosy. In it was (I think it was a replica) of the dress and knee-length breeches that Mary wore to play tennis in. it was stunning and the needlework was so fine it must have taken an age to make. It was said that the wearing of such attire by a woman was scandalous. (Anyone holding that view had not visited Anet, the home of Diane de Poitiers and attended one of her legionary pageants.)

I visited the Royal Tennis Court, a game that seemed to be a cross between lawn tennis and squash, where the ball can be plaid against the wall and along the roof of the court. The long viewing gallery is open to the world, and the home of many house martins, and why there are all the paper lined basins along the wall.

I spent my allotted two hours, in the house and gardens, you could easily spend that again, if you had a picnic basket full of goodies and a bottle or two of wine, Falkland Palace would make a grand day out.

My return Journey was via Kettlebridge the A914 not only did it prove to be much quicker it was also much quieter since there are many little villages along the way to slow the traffic down. Crossing the railway bridge into Cupar proper, the bus from St Andrews to Edinburgh was at the stance (going in the opposite direction) so I abandon cycling home and stopped at the bus stop and enjoyed the ride home in the bus. A very pleasant day out.

Reversed Robin Hood Syndrome.

I see that another car company, Vauxhall, is willing to help us towards our target of zero emissions, by ‘?’ These car manufacturers are now wishing to diversify from making diesel and petrol vehicles to making electric vehicles, and yes again, following on from Nissan, another a one billion-pound investment has been mentioned in as many days.

The Japanese carmaker (Nissan) will build its new-generation all-electric model at the site as part of a £1bn investment. And Nissan’s partner, Envision AESC, will build an electric battery plant. Of the £1bn investment, Nissan said it would invest up to £423m to produce a new-generation all-electric vehicle in the UK, building on the success of its existing electric car, the Leaf. (the keywords for me were – up to £423m.)

And again good old Boris (Santa Clause) Johnston, will be doing his bit by putting in taxpayers money to help them with the diversification. How much and on what terms, well that is all commercially sensitive material, we can’t tell you that. So the taxpayer will never really know how much of their money will be giving away to a private company, or on what terms, fair enough.

Stellaris declined to reveal the size of government subsidies it had secured.

Paul Willcox, Vauxhall’s managing director, said the investment was on a “knife-edge” before securing government support, and that it was “never a given”.

If we hadn’t got the government support I doubt we would be sitting here today with a positive announcement,” he said. “Having clarity on the trading conditions in Europe was very important as well.”

Now I have no problem with the government subsidising a company to keep people in employment, however, before, when we did that, it was either a nationalised company or we bought shares in the company (Royal Bank of Scotland – which they should have let go to the wall, throwing good money after bad.) now we just hand money to private companies, no questions asked.

Oh, while you have your purse open Boris, there are a few businesses in Scotland crying out to give a hand out McVitie’s in Glasgow, BiFab ……….

As for the media – well they will always dance to the Tory government’s tune, you would not wish for them to be excluded from any government press announcements or press releases, after all, we need to know what MPs are doing in our name, don’t we?

So it doe’s not look as if ‘ We the People’ will be getting a share of this brave new world of zero emissions, be that wind, wave, or e-cars, sorry but that can only be done through private investment (oh, and large subsidies from the taxpayer.) I think it is called Reversed Robin Hood Syndrome.      

Stay safe.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: