On Wednesday the 18th July (my birthday) we caught the train into Liverpool St Station in London before connecting through to Euston Station where we boarded a train to Edinburgh. It took us five odd hours to get up there but the train is a very relaxing way to travel.
We picked up a rental car and headed to Ross & Geraldine’s in Kirkcaldy. Ross & Geraldine hail from Kirkcaldy but spent 22 years living in NZ which is how we got to know them. I had last seen Geraldine at her leaving lunch in May 2017. It was so lovely to see them and catch up on all the news. We enjoyed a lovely meal cooked by Ross who is the chef extraordinaire in the house. Not only that he also grew most of the veges that we ate too : ). They also spoilt me with a little birthday cake 🎂.
On Thursday we headed to Carnoustie to see the first round of the British Open – we were very excited to see all the big guns in action. We got up at 4.30am so we could leave at 5am – the first tee time was at 6.30am so we wanted to get there nice and early to soak up the atmosphere. We spent about three hours on the practice range watching the players warm up.
We then ventured out onto the course but realised it was very hard to see a lot with so many people. We are also used to watching it on TV where you get a good overview as to what is happening everywhere on the course. Our next strategy was to take a seat in the grandstand on the first tee to watch them all tee off – we could also see the 18th green so were able to see some of the groups finishing too.
We were also entertained by one of the grandstand marshalls who took exception to people taking photos – to be fair there were signs up saying you couldn’t take photos but no one else seemed to be enforcing it. Her ‘silent’ sign had a double use – she held it up when the players were teeing off and then waved it furiously at people taking photos. She even managed to hit this young guy’s hat as she was waving it furiously at him. As you can see below I was the perfect, rule abiding citizen – NOT 😲
The British Open
The Open Championship, often referred to as The Open or the British Open, is the oldest of the four major championships in professional golf. It was first played in 1860 at Prestwick Golf Club in Scotland. The Open has always been held in the United Kingdom and is the only major played outside the United States. It is administered by The R&A (The Royal & Ancient). The Open is currently the third major of the year, between the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship, and is played in mid-July.
Carnoustie Golf Links
Golf is recorded as having been played at Carnoustie in the early 16th century. In 1890, the 14th Earl of Dalhousie, who owned the land, sold the links to the local authority. It had no funds to acquire the property, and public fundraising was undertaken and donated to the council. The original course was of ten holes, crossing and recrossing the Barry Burn; it was designed by Allan Robertson, assisted by Old Tom Morris, and opened in 1842. The opening of the coastal railway from Dundee to Arbroath in 1838 brought an influx of golfers from as far afield as Edinburgh, anxious to tackle the ancient links. This led to a complete restructuring of the course, extended in 1867 by Old Tom Morris to the 18 holes which had meanwhile become standardized. Young Tom Morris won a major open event there that same year. Two additional courses have since been added: the Burnside Course and the shorter though equally testing Buddon Links.
Carnoustie first played host to The Open Championship in 1931, after modifications to the course by James Braid in 1926. The winner then was Tommy Armour, from Edinburgh.
Jordan Speith warming up
Justin Rose warming up
Here comes Tiger 🐯
Phil Mickelson finishing on the 18th green
Our very own Ryan Fox 🦊 from New Zealand 🇳🇿 with his #foxtracker fans 👍🏻
Steve found his dream home on the way out – Corona in Carnoustie 😛
We had a great day – it really was a bucket list thing to do and the icing on the cake was the weather – hot and sunny ☀️😎 – very unlike Scotland 😂 .
On Thursday morning I went for a walk along the promenade in Kirkcaldy with Geraldine and her sister Gemma. The true Scotland then showed itself and there were grey skies and some rain. We took a drive to Gleneagles, another famous golfing mecca. We had a coffee in the hotel and a look in the clubhouse before venturing to Falkland. The rain had stopped by now so we could enjoy a walk around this ancient village.
Falkland is a village, parish and former royal burgh in Fife, Scotland at the foot of the Lomond Hills. A settlement is believed to have existed at Falkland prior to the 12th century.
Scotland’s first conservation village is best known as the location of Falkland Palace, begun in 1500 by James IV, and the best example of French-influenced Renaissance architecture in the United Kingdom. The palace was built to accommodate the royal court when they came to Falkland to hunt in the nearby forests; Mary, Queen of Scots, was a frequent visitor.
The castle is open to the public so we had a chat to the staff behind the desk. Apparently Prince Edward had been up at the palace the previous week to play tennis.
We had a pub lunch at the Lomond Tavern which was very tasty. After a relaxing afternoon we wandered along to the Strathearn Hotel which is conveniently located a short walk from Geraldine and Ross’s 😉. We enjoyed a nice meal and Steve discovered they had the golf on so a plan was formed for the following afternoon’s viewing – how convenient!
On Saturday morning, Steve, Ross and I went to Dunnikier Park Golf Club for a round. It is a parkland course surrounded by lots of trees. It was an enjoyable morning.
On Saturday afternoon, Geraldine and I did a walk through Ravenscraig Park, down to the Harbour which sits on the Firth of Forth and up to Ravenscraig Castle which is a ruined castle which dates from about 1460. The castle is considered one of the first – perhaps the very first – in Scotland to be built to withstand cannon fire and provide for artillery defence.
On our walk we also passed Dysart Carmel which is the home of a community of nuns of the Roman Catholic Church. Geraldine’s understanding of these nuns is that they live in silence – they do not speak. A discussion followed and we pondered how this could be? My perception built up over the years of nuns is that they not only serve God but they do a lot of good in the community – I couldn’t work out how this could be done if they didn’t speak. This piqued my interest so I did a bit of research.
A certain freedom of soul is felt upon walking through the courtyard gate of the Carmelite monastery. Peace reigns here. When you pass through the doors of the monastery, you enter a world apart. The noise and values of the world have no place here. The Carmelite nuns live their lives of poverty and silence, of prayer, penance and sacrifice for the world, hoping that the austerity of their lives would be acceptable reparation for the losses and sufferings of the Church and the ills of the world at large.
The scope of their concern is the whole world. The main work of a Carmelite nun is prayer. Their day begins at 4.30am and ends at 10.30pm – eight hours a day are spent in prayer, two hours in recreation and about five hours are given to manual work, reading and study. Except for the time they are in recreation they strive to keep strict silence and recollection so as to make their lives of prayer continuous.
There are 15 monasteries in Britain. The Dysart one which borders Ravenscraig Park is an Infirmary Carmel, ready to welcome sick and infirm Sisters from other communities when they are in need of special nursing care. There are 24 Sisters living in the Dysart monastery.
So there you have it – you learn something new every day 😊.
Whilst we were enjoying Kirkaldy and contemplating life the boys were making friends at the Strathearn Hotel. Well that was their version anyway – apparently they talked to everyone that came in and Ross even reconnected with a childhood neighbour.
On Sunday morning we went for a walk to see Ross’s allotment and the Greener Kirkaldy planting’s. Greener Kirkaldy is a community lead charity and development trust working on a local scale to benefit people and the environment. Their aim is to build a future where everyone is able to heat their home affordably, eat well and tread more lightly on our planet. Ross volunteers down at the community garden with his green fingers. It was impressive and we enjoyed picking and eating the fresh raspberries and goose berries.
The rest of Sunday was going to be all about the final round of the British Open and what better place to watch it than in the home of golf – St Andrews. We took a drive along the East Neuk passing old fishing villages enroute to St Andrews. We stopped for an icecream in Pittenweem.
We then walked the streets of St Andrews to reacquaint ourselves with this cool town and the Old Course before settling on a bar called The Rule. They had many TV’s and a big screen showing the golf so it was perfect. Geraldine and I did sneak off for a coffee at a quaint cafe called Gorgeous before returning to The Rule.
Steve had gone downstairs to get a drink and came back and stood at the top of the stairs demanding I go to him which of course I dutifully did 😂. He says you won’t believe who I have just bumped into. After playing the guessing game and winning we went downstairs to see Gus & Sheila.
We had met Gus & Sheila in Portugal in 2014 after Steve took a liking to their dogs – Lucy & Mac. They convinced us that we should visit Scotland that summer and we spent 5 days up at their place in Edzell, 3 of which we looked after Lucy & Mac.
They were in The Rule watching the golf too with Lucy and Mac in tow and Steve recognised the dogs. He said to Gus, “I know you” and Gus said “I don’t know you” to which Steve replied “well I know your dogs”. It then all came back to Gus and we had a great catch up with them both. Lucy is now 16 so is not the dog that we first met but Mac was in fine fettle.
It turns out they have shifted to St Andrews which they are loving and they spend six months there and six months in Portugal. The other canny thing was that the night before Sheila had been online trying to find out what we were up to but she couldn’t quite remember my blog address. We have now reconnected via email and look forward to catching up again in due course. What a lovely coincidence and the icing on our trip to Scotland.
They then recommended we go to an Indian restaurant called Jahangar for dinner which was delicious. They also served the biggest naan breads I have ever seen 😋.
On Monday morning Steve and Ross went to play Kinghorn which is another municipal golf course in Kirkaldy. Steve said it was the hilliest course he has ever played but the views along the coast were fantastic.
Meanwhile Geraldine and I joined her sister Pauline to climb West Lomond and East Lomond. West Lomond is the highest point in the county of Fife – it is 522 metres high. East Lomond is 485 metres high. It was a bit cloudy but you still got a good view over Fife and out to the sea. In total we did about 15km.
We had a relaxed afternoon before being treated to another of Ross’s gastronomic delights – green soup, meatloaf, beetroot and potato salad. Again all the produce was home grown – such a treat. We had such a good time catching up with Geraldine and Ross and seeing the life that they have built for themselves back in Scotland. I must say I came away very inspired – watch this space 😊.