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St. Andrew’s Journey

St. Andrew’s Journey

Our port today is at South Queensferry.  This report is going to be somewhat one-sided as my Dear Wife is on her own excursion to the City of Edinburgh.  What information may come from there, and I say this kindly, is likely to be extremely limited if it exists at all.  She is definitely more photographic than typographic.

As we make our way out of the port area, 3 bridges crossing the channel become more visible.  The middle one, built in 1964, apparently is now in danger of falling down but buses are still allowed across.  Inasmuch as we are about to do just that, there is a slight nervousness rippling through the bus.  The fact that you are reading this now attests to our success.

The rail bridge on the right, built in 1890, is still going strong and there are a number of two-car trains making their way without issue.

On our left is the newest one, Queensferry Crossing.  It certainly is the most modern looking but not as complex, visually, as the old one.

On New Year’s Day people dress up and rush into the waters on the shores of South Queensferry.  This is called the Loony Dook (loony for lunatic and dook is the Scottish term to ‘put yourself under the water’).  Sounds like an appropriate term.

Most of the buildings we pass by have a stone facade as there is not enough clay in the area to make bricks.  Those that are seen tend to be imported.

There are many little bumps in the road to slow down traffic.  These are known as sleeping policeman.  More like Dead policeman after we pass by…

There was a Grecian monk whose duty it was to take care of the bones of St. Andrews, one of Jesus’ followers who had been crucified on a giant multiplication sign.  He had a dream that he had to take the bones to the farthest corner of the world which, at that time, was in Scotland.  His boat was shipwrecked off Kilrymont.  The rest of the boats in his entourage landed successfully and built a huge cathedral there which became a pilgrimage to other followers.  Thus the town was renamed St. Andrews.

We’re beside the river Forth and we’re crossing the Firth of Forth.  Scotland was under Norwegian rule for a time, so Firth is the equivalent to Fjord – where the river meets the sea.

Vikings were here from the 9th century to the 15th century and eventually were defeated at the battle of Larges.  From that time came the MacDonald clan, so be happy the Vikings came otherwise there would be no big Mac.  In and round the area there are a lot of men named Ronald MacDonald and one had even tried to sue the restaurant chain for misuse of his name, to no avail.

Some hillsides have hundreds of plastic tubes that appear to be sticking out of the ground.  In fact, they are used to cover newly planted young saplings.  Deer enjoy the saplings a little too much as a delicious snack.

Cattle and pigs are certainly common but even more so seem to be sheep.  In fact, there are about 2 sheep for every person in Scotland.

Since 1560 there has been free education in Scotland because you absolutely had to be able to read the bible.  This applied, from day one, to women as well as men.

Smooth roads in Scotland (and at least in part everywhere) are due to John Louden McAdam.  All Civil Engineers in the world have to learn about Macadamized Roads.  Civil Engineers first came about in the 18th century.  Prior to that, engineers were all military.  Part of his system required the use of stones that could not exceed a certain size, however most of his workers could not measure.  His solution was if it can’t fit in your mouth, it’s too big for a road surface.  This went well for a time but he noticed one day that one of his workers was putting in a stone about the size of his fist.  “What did I say?” he asked “Too big for your mouth, too big for the road.  Just let me see you get that stone into your mouth.”  Well the man did with no problem at all…he was completely toothless.  No system is infallible. 🙂

From the late 18th century St. Andrew’s has been the home of golf.  The rules, however, were drawn up by the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers in 1754.  They used to play for a silver club.  A man famous for laying out many of the greens was Old Tom Morris.  He had a son by the name of Young Tom Morris.  When Young Tom Morris won the club 3 years in a row, it was decided this tournament was too easy.  One year was set aside to come up with a new tournament, called The Open.  They also brought into being the Claret Jug.  Young Tom won again in the first year of the new tournament, The Open, making him a winner effectively 4 years in a row.  That record still stands today.

There are seven golf courses in total – Old, New, Jubilee, Eden, Strathtyrum, Balgove and the Castle.  The famous Swilken Bridge crosses the Swilken Burn between the first and eighteenth fairways on the Old Course.  It wouldn’t have been proper for me not to stop to pay my respects.  It always seemed somewhat bigger watching The British Open on TV.  The truth is that everywhere you look, without the crowds and stadiums and TV crews present, the view is still imposing.  And yet totally different.

The Old Course is actually a public course.  If there is no tournament ongoing, it’s perfectly normal to see people wandering about all over.  Marshalls do keep one from crossing a fairway if someone is about to tee off though.  Apparently bodies and blood on the fairways are difficult to clean up.  The course is open every week day except Sundays.  Sundays are kept free for the public to enjoy even more freely.  Again, tournaments would be an exception.

Should you want to play a round, that’s no problem.  You certainly don’t need to be a club member because, again, it’s a public course.  All you have to do is book one year in advance.  When you finally get to the club house, just pay the £180 fee.  Caddies are not required, but in order to get a cart you must prove a disability requiring one.  If you do choose to hire a caddy, that would be a £50 flat fee.  And, by the way, the suggested gratuity for the caddy is yet another £20 – £30.  So all in, if you don’t include the flight to get there, the price would be about £260 (about $440 CDN today).

There were some on our cruise that were able to play a full round.  It must have been quite the anticipatory wait.  Given the glazed look on their face and their response to the question “How was your day?”, it was obviously worth it.

“I played St. Andrew’s”


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