I had a touch of restlessness on Saturday so decided to head off to the seaside! Not deterred by the Open Golf at Muirfield I decided to head to North Berwick. Seaside and chips were in my mind as I boarded the train. The new route from Airdrie to Edinburgh has changed things around here. Within an hour and a half I would leave behind the central belt and breathe in the fresh sea air.
On the train two women behind me chatted. Now I’ve really started to appreciate the Scottish banter since I came back and it was the second time in a week that the same phrase had come up. A few days ago, I can’t remember why, I’d explained to my mum the phrases “out” and “out out”. Now used in the context of a night “out”, “out” usually means just going to the pub, while “out out” means clubbing. These two women were also discussing this phrase in the context of a night “out”.
I changed train at Edinburgh Waverley and boarded the train down to North Berwick. A few open golf fans were on the train. I could tell by their accents and their nice appearances. I met my friend at North Berwick station. I’ve always liked this station with its pretty flowers and end of the line feeling. We headed straight to the beach which was full of holiday makers. The Bass Rock had its usual unearthly appearance…a huge volcanic mound stuck in the sea and covered by white bird shit. It maintains a certain beauty, perhaps its scale. It is the largest rock gannetry in the world, providing a home to some 150,000 gannets! Now I was discussing a few weeks ago why a greedy person is called a “gannet” and not a sea gull or swallow. The explanation from wikipedia is that the gannet’s ability to eat large quantities of fish (which they dive down for in the sea) is the explanation for the use of gannet in our everyday vocabulary. The Rock seems almost a counterweight to Berwick Law, the other volcanic mound placed in an otherworldly way at the back of North Berwick. I’ve climbed this one before but in the new tropical weather it was simply too hot to climb!
After sunbathing for some time on my sarong (it has rarely, if ever, seen the light of day in Scotland) we headed down the coast to get a glimpse of Tantallon Castle as the sun dropped a little in the sky. The Castle appeared an orangery colour in the light perched at the edge of the sea as if one day it may fall in.
We headed to Gullane where I was to spend the night. The Open Golf was taking place at nearby Muirfield meaning the town was filled with smart looking golfer types, some a little red in the face after a day of wandering round the course. Gullane has always enticed me. I’ve often passed through here either on my bike or the bus and thought of the incredible design of the golf course straddling the road. On the bike I was happy to have my helmet in case a stray ball caused me to come a cropper. It is one of those places that has never lost its charm for me. Perhaps it is the space and undulating landscape, characteristic of this part of East Lothian, or the surrounding fields with their yellowly colours, neat lines of crops and barley blowing in the wind and reminding me of waves in the sea.
The town felt alive with people and I hoped it would bring some nice business to the local shops. Certainly the chip shop where we bought some chips for tea with salt and vinegar was doing a roaring trade with 6 members of staff dishing out fritters, fried sausages and mountains of fresh chips!
Now this weekend’s restlessness brought with it an irresistible desire to swim in the sea. So tankini on we braved the sea. It was cold. My friend said that the day before it had been as hot as the sea in Cyprus but alas the weather had chilled down a little and it was a bit cold. Still we managed 10 minutes of refreshing splashing around while those on the beach watched with apologetic looks in their eyes. A plane circled overhead, perhaps taking photographs of the open.
I admired once more the pretty and huge houses in Gullane wondering “who lives in these places?” Some may be rented out for the Open, others are still family homes, though I guess I couldn’t face cleaning a house of that size anyways!
I went to an allotment and saw artichokes, onions, beetroots as big as turnips, strawberries, all manner of other berries and courgettes as big as marrows growing. I saw butterflies and bees, everything seemed to be alive and thriving!
On the train home I chatted to a couple from Texas. They had been at the Open, being big golf fans. I asked them if they’d had a nice time (not knowing anything about golf I didn’t know what else to ask) and they said it had been really special as they had a special picture signed. The lady then produced from her bag a photo mounted on a piece of wood which showed her husband (in the 1990s) with Graeme McDowell (number 7 in the golf rankings they told me). They had brought the picture with them from the States having met McDowell many years ago at a local golf club. The husband then managed to trace McDowell leaving his hotel, shouted to him about the picture and “McDowell bounded over the barrier and signed it”. Of course, “McDowell didn’t remember me one bit but it was still nice” the husband added smiling! The wife placed the picture back in her bag and said they were off to Leith to catch their cruise ship on to Hamburg and would watch the rest of the Open in the ship before they set sail. I wished them well and headed off to Princes Street Gardens to catch the last of the summer sun. I saw a piper playing. I took a photo. Some Chinese tourist prepared their large cameras to photograph him too. At that exact moment the piper stopped playing and packed up his things. I laughed at the coincidence. I admired the layers of buildings in Edinburgh’s Old Town, each one balancing on the other like some lifesize game of Jenga. As the wind picked up and the heat left the air I headed back to Waverley Station and caught the train home.