Opening the Door: Day 2
Red sky in the morning … but that is okay because I don’t have any sheep so I needn’t heed a shepherds warning?
I had decided it was a Fife day today and I had settled on catching a fast X24 service and getting to Dunfermline as a first stop. Dunfermline does not offer a beach but it does offer Scottish history since it was the seat of Malcolm Canmore (Malcolm III) and his Queen Margaret. So how did my journey to that destination go?
The highlight on the first bus was a wee red squirrel on the verge at Charleston … he was busy foraging around in the grass and we were pleased that he decided to jump up the bank rather than onto the road – very sensible wee red! As an aside Charleston has a nasty outbreak of Japanese Knotweed adjacent to the bus stop – I swear the plant has got bigger every morning we pass it and before long the bus will be breaking bits off and spreading it! I shall return to non-native invaders later on!
The second bus of the day was a few minutes late pulling into Seagate and normally it is a quick load because many passengers are regulars commuting across the Tay for work or study … but not this morning. One passenger inparticular caused some irritation to the driver who was keen to set off; the man had two large suitcases and around 5 smaller bags. Each case was laboriously loaded onto the bus and into a luggage space one at a time – the driver got off to collect the remaining assortment of items … is it too much to ask that if you really must travel with such a huge amount of luggage you would put all the luggage on the bus first and then be rearranging it? and is it too much to ask that you might adopt some sense of timeliness – this is public transport after all not your chauffer driven service and some folk have connecting services to catch or appointments to keep. Just saying!
And while I am on the topic later on we had an incident where the bus pulled up at the bus stop. 5 people stood around debating the merits of which luggage locker to open and put luggage in then had a debate about who should get on the bus first. The passenger who had the crutch got on first … might it have been possible for people to start boarding whilst the luggage was arranged?
As we crossed the Tay Bridge I caught the briefest glimpse of a mammal in the water – I don’t think dolphin because there was only one breach and that would be unusual so I suspect it was possibly the resident bearded seal, who frequents the harbours at Newport and Woodhaven, out looking for breakfast.
It was a bit of a day for noticing animal behaviours … at Guardbridge there was a group of ducks doing perfect formation swimming (a diagonal line) up the river – sadly no time to get a camera out and snap them and a little later there were dark stormy clouds in front lit by sunlit form behind the bus and the gulls were the purest white flying in between the two – very striking.
Yesterday whilst travelling on the 21B I was expecting to pass a familiar place (although we didn’t) and it had made me think about the benefits of coming to familiar places from a different direction – it also made me think about that now not PC joke where a visitor asks “can you tell me the way to Tipperary?” and receives the answer: “Well, I wouldn’t start from here.”. Sometimes we are so set in how we approach something, be it a familiar place or a task, or a person that we simply repeat the same approach – we do not learn form mistakes that way.
Today I did actually arrive at a familiar place but from a different direction – I got to Cupar rail station but did not catch the train. I learned that I can get there by bus as well as train, I learned a little more about the geography of the area and I learned (from the person behind me) that posh supermarkets and the likes of Lidl and Aldi are bucking the trend whilst our common or garden everyday supermarkets are struggling! I need to apply this to my planning – even the economics of supermarkets could come in useful – so thank you man sat behind me.
Like yesterday here is a little piece of knowledge about how the town got its name. Yesterday we had “Ness” a headland or promontory today we have “Dun” usually taken to mean a fortified hill.
Dunfermline is a compact town centre with mainly old stone buildings. A nice ramped path from the bus station leads down to the pedestrianised High Street and after a quick visit to the Visit Scotland shop to buy a map (see I am a sensible walker – I take a map to do the Fife Coastal Path instead of just following the leaflet!) and Cafe Fresh to get a coffee and brunch I wandered down to the Abbey.
I paused to read the signage in the Pittencrief Park and went on to take photos of the Abbey ruins and the Abbey Church. I decided not to pay to visit the ruins … maybe another day. I need to edit some of these – the sky had lovely contrasts but the light was wrong (too low and too bright making harsh shadows) but I will include them for now unedited.
I decided that I was going to catch a bus from Dunfermline at 12 noon but I had time to see some of the Pittencrieff Park. As a warning should you choose to stroll in the park here; it has some steep gradients on he paths and some rough hewn rock steps with NO HANDRAIL!! gulp. The lighting under the canopy was really poor but I didn’t want to resort to flash so not too many pictures from here, however I did promise the turning leaves would be appearing soon … and please note I am at a height and looking down …
The information about the park did highlight the peacocks (which I didn’t see) and the popularity of the squirrels. I have a problem with this … they are grey squirrels; like the Japanese Knotweed they are a non native invader brought here by man and now causing destruction. My issue is not with the squirrels in person – they are not deliberately decimating our native red squirrels.
Our smaller, native red squirrels are under serious threat and just yesterday I had a leaflet from the Scottish Wildlife Trust through my door begging me to help them protect red squirrels. You will know, if you are a regular reader here that I see red squirrels several times a week local to home. I love to see them and their antics make weather guru comment too. I would hate to have a world without these little characters so I do find myself pondering as follows:
Dunfermline – what on earth are you thinking using grey squirrels as a tourist attraction?
Scottish Wildlife Trust – perhaps before you ask me for help you might tackle populations such as this?
There is research to suggest by increasing pine marten populations where there are established grey squirrels, natural predation could help to reverse the grey squirrel population growth; we stopped that by persecuting the pine martens. We could help both threatened species stay here in Scotland with a little joined up thinking. Anyway I am going to include some photographs because they are extremely cute in their behaviour and quite clearly this one is a professional squirrel model! (although you will note that no fee was paid on this occasion)
… but it is not natural for a wild animal to come so close to humans – he is about 2 metres away – and clearly one of the reasons they are silly tame and in such numbers is they are getting handouts – in fact I saw one photographer with a posh camera on a tripod baiting a wall to get squirrel close ups – come on I took these (and about 30 more) hand held in dim lighting and with no bribes in the course of less than 15 minutes … so don’t make it worse – let them remember where they hid their nuts!
I caught the number 7 to head back to Leven via Kirkcaldy – a slow almost 2 hour meander through various small towns and villages. The journey was okay – some not so nice scenery and some very picturesque – Aberdour I will be coming back and stopping to visit and Kinghorn you may get a return visit too. However my journey was completely spoiled by one thing. I know that not everyone can help health conditions they have and I know it is considered impolite to comment BUT urinary incontinence in a confined space is a health hazard to many.
A grossly obese person boarded the bus and almost immediately my eyes were streaming. They sat several seats behind me but within minutes I was starting to wheeze. Judging from other aspects of this person this was a result of self neglect and it was extremely anti-social. Later on another bus, just as I had started to recover and be able to breath freely I was assailed by another source. This person was not overweight in any shape or form and I would imagine the cause this time was simply poor personal hygiene and infrequent clothes washing. It was strong but came in wafts rather than being constant. I should like to apologise to the woman sat next to me – you possibly thought I was avoiding you but that was not the case I simply had to turn away from the smell.
I just hope that if I ever get to that state someone will tell me …
There was one lighthearted moment before all that happened – I spotted a dustbin wagon with a mechanic underneath – we were delayed earlier in the day by a bin wagon coming the other way and blocking the road – so as they say “what goes around comes around”
In Kirkcaldy I changed to an X60 and travelled to Anstruther, picnicing as we went – a Cox apple, a Worcester apple, some creamy lancashire cheese and some dark chocolate oatcakes. The weather had brightened as we approached so I decided to have a break in Anstruther and see her with the tide right in. After a visit to the Ladies and with a take away latte in hand from Coast, I set off to see how the harbour was looking and to test out my harbour legs! I was able to walk right the way along close to an unfenced wharf edge and glance down into the water – no wobbles and no vertigo.
I decided I had enough time to pop along to Cellardyke Harbour and add that to my list of East Neuk Harbours I had visited. I set off at a brisk pace in sunshine. Halfway the clouds were threatening to overtake me and then the heavens opened! I got my hooded shell out of the pack and pulled the pack’s waterproof cover over it then hurried on. When I got there … no one was home! not one boat in the harbour!
I got completely soaked from the knees down, my camera got splashed but nothing serious and my shell came home in a carrier bag and went straight in the wash and to dry. By the time I returned to Anstruther harbour to wait for the 95 the rain had stopped and the sun was back in a blue sky – if I didn’t know better I would imagine that Anstruther had wreaked vengeance for me straying to a neighbouring harbour!
I did take this picture of the Isle of May at 10x Optical zoom just before the squall overtook me.
So Today I:
- Did a lot of sitting and less walking;
- Explored new locations;
- Succumbed to the charms of Dunfermline’s grey skwirels;
- Got drenched;
- Kept to my dietary restrictions – I got hunger pangs today but they will stop by the end of the week once the sugars are starved out of my system;
- Didn’t do my tai chi until I got home (again); and
- Bought a map to plan some coastal path walks.
Today’s statistics: Cost: £0; Miles travelled: 192.6; Steps taken: 9,240; Pictures taken : 101
And for today’s closing picture … yet another rainbow (the second today) … this one over St Andrews whilst I waited for the 99B