Do you know the famous opening scene from Chariots of Fire, with the dudes slo-mo running along a beach to the stirring strains of Vangelis?
That beach is in St Andrews, and we ended up there recently with fish and chips. What better place to eat freshly fried goods than a beach so associated with athleticism?
Each weekend my aim is to do at least ONE thing that involves leaving the house, as our collective tendency is to hermit it up with books or motorcycle repairs.
Plus, it’s good to get the Fitbit beyond three figures and have something to say when asked, “How was your weekend?”.
This was an extremely sunny August bank holiday Monday, so there was that extra obligation to do something and not waste those rare UV rays.
So we drove out along the East Neuk, the Fife Riviera if you will, and walked along Lower Largo Beach.
Our beach jaunts always go the same:
- We walk along and say Isn’t this relaxing!
- We talk about our longing to live in a cottage by the sea – in the middle of nowhere, with a big window so we can drink tea and watch the grey and moody waves.
- We each try to convince the other that they’re the best one to get a better job to make this a reality.
- I go on about how much I love the water and must go for a paddle.
- The water is fecking freezing and I step on a jaggy rock or a crab shell.
- I whinge that it’s too hot and say, “Do you fancy a fish supper?”
We ended up at Cromars in St Andrews, which I do declare has the best fish and chips in the area these days. We headed down to the Chariots of Fire beach, bellies rumbling.
The beach was packed with fellow pale folks, including a cute and feisty little girl beside us with her dad and grandfather. She was all geared up in her sun hat and swimming costume, making sand castles with her bucket and spade.
“DADDY,” she was saying, “Help me dig this hole!”
“Mmmyeah… in a minute,” he said, clearly rendered motionless by the heat.
Another thing about a sunny beach jaunt in Scotland is that we never have the right gear, because we never expect it to happen. Hat? No. Flip flops? No. Beach towel? Aye right.
I wrapped Gareth’s hoodie around my head like a bonnet and trudged across the dunes, my sneakers rapidly filling with sand. I found us a spot near a fence that offered a tiny bit of shade.
“Excellent choice,” said Gareth, “I bet dogs pee against this fence!”
We sat down and as we unwrapped our lunch a bright red dog bounded up to us and wagged its tail sweetly.
“EXCUSE ME, DADDY.”
I learned forward to pat the dog’s fluffy russet head, and that’s when it swooped in, snatched my fish between its chops and bounded away!
I’d forgotten how dogs joyfully hoover up food of all kinds. As opposed to Ziggy, who every couple of weeks will sit back from her food bowl with a haughty face like, “This food that I’ve been happily eating now displeases me for reasons too complex for a human to understand, so I will stare at you until the situation is rectified”.
“Daddy! That dog just ran away with our sandwiches!”
I could hear the Vangelis theme as it scarpered away down the beach, so many more lunches to steal.
“Would SOMEBODY please help me DIG. THIS. HOLE. NOW!
“You can dig your own hole!” said Gareth, “Fight the patriarchy!”
. . .
It’s now late October and six weeks have passed since I started this post and I can’t remember where I was going with this! In the end the little girl got digging assistance then they got an ice cream and all was well.
I was going to segue somehow into a big thank you for your comments on the last post of existential ponderment. Y’all so wise, compassionate and thoughtful and I was continually welling up. It’s so good to be able to talk about this stuff.
In the weeks since I’ve been thinking about the themes that cropped up about what makes a meaningful life – giving back, mindfulness, kindness, stretching (physical, mental, metaphorical), lifelong learning; appreciating the “everyday delights”. I’ve also been focusing more outwardly, as many of you mentioned. Hanging out with the humans always puts things in perspective. Thank you all so much.