Because we are behind on this blog, in the sense that we’re still writing about things from several months back, I actually find myself here, just a few hours before the cab comes to take us to move home, even before we’ve had a chance to talk about family visits, friends’ weddings, the kids’ school, our church family, and so many more wonderful things from this year. But the intent is to complete this journal, even if we complete it after we move home. And perhaps today, as we’re leaving, is a good day to post about what everyday life has been like in St Andrews.
So this post will be just a sample of some of the ordinary day-to-day things that happen in this fun little town. It’s quite different from the city suburb we live in near Boston, since it’s so much smaller and in such a rural setting, so it’s been a very fun change to experience a different kind of life for awhile. Here are a few things about what life is like here.
In one of our first posts, we said that our first day in town began with the very short walk from our house to the beach, which was one of Meg’s favorite locations. Her attempts to make every single dog walk lead to the beach did not change at all throughout the year. And in fact, she made several friends on the beach, and we made friends with their owners. We met St Andrews residents, others who come in from nearby towns to walk their dogs on the beach, employees of the university’s Scottish Oceans Institute, university faculty, and retirees, all of whom walked their dogs around the same times that we did many days. Here’s what the crew looked like with many of our dogs on a lovely day in February.
Also near to our house is The New Inn, a quiet little inn with a quiet little bar and restaurant on the first floor. Because we live on the edge of town, not the center, the bar and restaurant are indeed quiet. They are typically frequented by just a small handful of older men, often with a dog. Once in the spring when Jesse and I wanted something to do out of the house on an evening, we went to the pub together. He’s thirteen, so we went for a pint of Irn Bru, of course, and some billiards.
Another favorite haunt in town is a little bookstore called Topping & Co., which is kind enough to offer free coffee, tea, and biscuits to anyone who comes in. You can just sit in there and browse the books, read a bit, and enjoy a free snack and drink any time. No pressure to buy anything. We bought many things there, some of which we are even able to fit in our suitcases for the trip home! Unfortunately, one of my favorite things that we purchased there, a large wall map of the UK and Ireland, was not small enough to fit in a suitcase. We’ll have to get a smaller one after we get home. But whether or not she was earning her tea and biscuits with actual purchases, Mary Ella loved to stop in that shop when she was in town on her own, sit, read, and sip tea.
The springtime in St Andrews is particularly lovely. My theory is that Scotland’s grass, flowers, and trees have it very good. The ground rarely gets frost on it in the winter, the plants are never scorched with too much heat in the summer, and the rain is light but often all year round. It’s ideal plant conditions almost all the time. Perhaps this is why the golf courses are so renowned. (Well, and that this is where golf came from, but the turf is beautiful, too.) Consequently, you get some lovely natural beauty in and near the town. Here are some samples.
Finally, we’ll mention some of our favorite suppliers of foodstuffs. The local butcher is Minick’s, which we’ve frequented for their pies. Meat pies, I call them, but Lydia tells me that doing so is very American; one should just say pies. You don’t get an apple pie at the butcher’s, of course. When we don’t know what to have for dinner, I get a phone call at work telling me to stop by Minick’s and get 10 pies, two per person. We have them with cut up carrots or peppers or something as the vegetable. Eight minutes in the oven and everybody’s happy. (We did not get the haggis ones.) Each pie less than £2!
And on the sweet side, there’s Fischer and Donaldson. Adeline was recently talking to someone who used to go to school in St Andrews, and they were fondly reminiscing about the fudge donuts from Fischer and Donaldson, wishing they could have that taste once again. My photo of this store is a bit blurry, sadly, but it is every bit as resplendent as Minick’s in real life, and the perfect place to go if you’re visiting a friend for dinner and you’ve been assigned to bring pudding (i.e., dessert).
Given that today is departure day, this post is a bit of nostalgia. Just as much of a list of the places we’ve enjoyed, it’s a list of the places we’ll miss. But at least one of our children is gunning to study hard and get into the University of St Andrews after high school, so who knows? We may get to visit before too long…