For a while, I seemed to end up in St. Andrews at least once a month. Day trips would start in one place and invariably take me to St. Andrews to get a bus home from there. The X24 Stagecoach bus from St Andrews to Glasgow takes well over two hours to cover the 73 miles but it is probably one of the nicest bus journeys in Scotland, well, if you close your eyes when passing through some of the more urban bits. The rolling fields and hills to be seen on the ride across Fife are worth taking the time to look and savour plus if you care about that sort of thing the bus also has Wi-Fi, leather seats, plug sockets and a cludgie. I don’t do the journey as often, maybe three times a year, but when I do, it’s always worth it.
St. Andrews is strange. It manages to combine the pan tiles and mercantile architecture that characterises the East Neuk with all the trappings of much larger cities and of course the diverse cross-section of humanity who call the place home, even just for nine months of the year. It’s also very historical with a castle, cathedral and tales of martyrs, Archbishops getting murdered, mines and countermines. I tend to have about an hour there, just enough time to have a wander, spend a few minutes catching up with the waves and stock up on supplies for the bus back. This time it was a bright, baltic Sunday afternoon and though I was wrapped up, keeping moving seemed the best thing for it. I walked along the street then by the Younger Hall, one building I still maintain looks more like the headquarters of Toytown City Council than a music venue and concert hall. Instead of turning left as I often do towards the Castle, I instead proceeded up towards the Cathedral, stepping into its grounds. For some reason there was a whole bunch of girls there in sports kit. They must have been absolutely frozen. I was frozen and I was dressed in layers. I took a turn around the kirkyard then wandered down to the pier, savouring the view across to Tentsmuir Forest and Angus as well as being in the proximity of waves, especially the kind being blown in and about by the wind.
From the pier, I proceeded back through the Cathedral grounds, lingering to further enjoy the low, bright November light and its effect on the Cathedral ruins. This time I did turn towards the Castle, admiring not for the first time its fine, proper castle frontage. I have been to the Castle enough times but I might be due a return visit. It was too late this time as it was preparing to shut.
All too soon, I had to head for the bus home. The last of the light receded as the bus crossed Fife, by Cupar almost completely gone, the sky a burnt orange, rendering the rest of the scene into a silhouette. This time of year, you have to take what light you can, getting out and wrapping up warm before you do. It’s always worth it, even if the cold might make you think otherwise.