Monday, August 27, 2012

Exploring Scotland: St. Andrews

At my last workplace, I somehow earned a reputation for being infatuated with the British royal family. I think this idea came about simply by me mentioning that I planned to watch the royal wedding between William and Kate.
Didn’t everyone? Does this really justify a label of Brit-o-phile? I admit, when I was younger, I had a small crush on Prince William and entertained Disney proportioned fairytales of him falling in love with a freckle faced girl from South Louisiana. And he did. Only she was named Britney Spears, and thankfully he grew out of that phase pretty quickly. Once he went to University, he set his sights on another lovely freckle faced beauty, and the rest is, quite literally, history.
And since I am a self-proclaimed history buff, it’s natural for me to take an interest in the ruling family of Great Britain and their subsequent courtships. I am in no way obsessed and I DID NOT have a nervous breakdown when my friend Jill’s TV broke in the middle of our Royal Wedding viewing party. In fact I think I handled the disaster with a level of grace that Kate Middleton herself would be proud of. And it’s not like I’m constantly pinning random photos of Prince Harry to my Pinterest boards. That almost never happens.

All of this is a long-winded way of saying: when Debbie and Luke invited us along for a day trip to St. Andrews, the birthplace of golf Will and Kate’s love story, we accepted. The picturesque town is just about 2 hours south of Aberdeen and is known for its brown granite architecture, it’s historic university (where Will and Kate met), impressive castle and cathedral ruins, and most famously, one of the oldest golf courses in the world and the site at which golf was invented.
Our day started out 10 miles south of St. Andrew’s in a harbor town called Anstruther, whose fish bar boasted the best fish and chips in the UK…from 2006-2009.
I don’t know what happened since 2009, perhaps the restaurant changed management or decided to coast on its world famous reputation, but I would definitely not call these the best fish and chips I’ve had in Scotland.

I’d say out of the 10,000+ fish and chips restaurants in the UK, I’ve sampled at least 5 of them. I’m not saying I’m an expert by any means, but I’m pretty certain that both Stonehaven and Aberdeen have Anstruther beat in the fish and chip department. Their ice cream on the other hand, was very enjoyable.
I always have a chuckle at random British Ice Cream flavors. Burnt Cream, anyone? Jonathan bypassed the tempting Burnt Cream and chose my favorite, mint chocolate chip, for us to share.
I just love the look on his face while about to sample his ice cream cone. He is quite smitten.

After lunch and dessert, we headed to St. Andrews to tour the town. Our first stop was the ruins of the town cathedral.
It was quite impressive and also housed the loveliest cemetery I have ever seen.
Among the headstones we spotted a ‘Bayley’...
a ‘Perry’...
and most excitingly a ‘Laine’!
David Laine Burn
(Jon says it's actually Lainc. But who names their kid Lainc? That’s stupid. I just think the middle line of the ‘e’ got worn down over time. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)
After spending an hour taking 137 pictures of a graveyard, we left to explore the rest of St. Andrew's, including  the token castle ruins on the beach.

For the next hour or so we just meandered through cobblestone side streets and snapped photos of the castle ruins and the University. I couldn’t miss this photo op in front of the Department of Moral Philosophy:
Though Jonathan thought Logic was more up my alley:
I'm still trying to work out whether or not that was a compliment. We never did find the Department of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Sorry, couldn't pass up the opportunity for a little Harry Potter humor. 

On the roof top terrace of the University Museum we had a great vantage point of the St. Andrews beach.

The boys were ready to talk some smack when they saw this Gator flag hanging in a University window.
I, on the other hand, was excited. After living in Texas for the past 4 years, I've learned to treat all SEC fans like family. Except for BAMA fans, of course. I could meet a BAMA fan in the jungles of the Congo and I’d still mutter some trash talk under my breath.
Once we made the quick tour of the town, we decided to let the boys fulfill their dreams of touring the St. Andrews golf courses. It’s sort of a mecca among golfers and tens of thousands make the pilgrimage to play the Old Course each year. Jonathan definitely wants to the chance to tee off here before our time in Scotland is through, and I can appreciate that.
People have been playing golf on these premises since the 1400s. The 1400s! America was hardly a glimmer in Ferdinand and Isabella’s eye in the 1400s and yet the Scots were playing golf on this exact spot 600 years ago.
While golfing here, average-Joe golfers must end up feeling like pros since there are bands of tourists constantly hovered around the course taking pictures, and running on and off the course between strokes in order to take personal photo ops. Of course, we’d never be caught dead being that pathetic.
(Tourists, *eye roll*).

While Debbie and Luke hung around St. Andrews a while longer, we decided to head back to Aberdeen before dinner. Afterall, we had responsibilities waiting at home for us.

 “Thanks for looking in on us, Aunt Jillian!”


  1. So the truth about your British "crush" finally comes out - confessions are good for the soul.

  2. It was a minor catastrophe when my TV went out just as things were getting good! Thank goodness you only lived 5min down the street. :)