Ah dear reader, some kind of flu had me by the tail for a while but you just have to get back on that horse and keep on telling the stories that make up your life, don’t you?
A surprising mountain overlooks this postcard of a town named North Berwick. Road signs direct us to “North Berwick Law”, which I initially take to be some kind of law school in town. But no, there’s a reason why those signs point to the high points of town. The Law is the 613 foot tall hill—or maybe it’s a mountain—that you can see from town. A pair of enormous, curved white pieces of wood grace the summit.
The boys and I tackle this imposing volcanic plug of hard rock as dusk sets in.
We nearly run up to the base of the Law from the Seabird Centre on the beach to begin the climb. The trail meanders across the face of the backside and we follow whichever forks seem to be headed higher rather than across.
[yes, that is a wooden axe that Will is holding. You just never know…]
We gain the summit after only about thirty minutes and the views are extraordinary. Yes, that’s a horse up there next to the ruins of an old house.
Wikipedia says there’s an Iron Age hill fort up here and the remains of lookouts from the Napoleonic Wars and WWII. The offshore monolith rocks dot the coast
[Bass Rock above and below, Fidra]
…and the lit clock tower of the church in town are all clearly visible. Those curved white pieces of wood are actually fiberglass, put there to replace the whale jawbones that marked the Law since 1709.
The three of us linger a bit, taking in the view, as the dusk gives way to an evening sky. We practically run down the Law as the temperature begins to sag.
Back in town, Luke and Will snap up the hot cocoa to warm up and I’m thrilled to see the smiles on their faces.
Meanwhile back at the ranch, the tiny ladies have finagled their way into a Scottish ballet class up the hill. The local girls are really sweet and Lisa was surprised to see the girls getting dressed right in the foyer area. Camille and Ana are made to feel welcome and love the class. It’s a wonderful opportunity for us as we are missing having kids in different practices. (And it’s also part of what we are happy to trade for increased family time for a time). We’ll frequently find the girls busting out into ballet moves around our place.
We meet Mary at church as her husband Alistair is out on business. Even though he’d just returned from a trip, they are so kind to have us over for dinner. He is Australian, she Irish and their three beautiful daughters were born in China. They even give us hand-me-down sweatshirts which the girls take to like ducks to water! We always find it a joy to break bread with new friends on this travel.
We’d met Torquil a few days past as he is managing our apartment. He is a man of many talents as we learn he is training to become a certified children’s golf instructor. This accreditation is carefully managed in Scotland. He invites us out and is incredibly generous and patient in teaching our kids.
The West Links course has a children’s course where you can just walk out there and play on the five mini-holes or so. After his lesson, we enjoy more time golfing as a family. And I mean just a little more time because soon the golf clubs have become guns and the boys are taking shelter in the brush to defend themselves from the Star Wars separatists who are suddenly attacking.
He even invites me out—a true duffer—and offers his son’s clubs and shoes. Amazing. He picks me up and we have a blast of a day out golfing. The morning weather looks dicey so our fourth decides not to make the drive over from Edinburgh. This leaves me golfing with Torquil and his friend Neil who are both training in the same golf course. It takes months to complete and several tests must be passed to achieve the certification. I will get to golf as their guest for about 8 dollars at this third-oldest golf course in the world! Torquil runs into several people he knows as we prepare to go out for our round. A few of them are the parents of kids he grew up with in town. On the course, Neil tells me about the Horrible Histories. These books are history written for kids with all the gory parts left in. They’ve published books for many of the historical events of our world.
[this course really needs better security…look who got out there. That’s Fidra, the Treasure Island island in the background.]
They are both very patient with my golfing and the course is unlike any I’d played. There are many ‘hollows’ and places where you get down into the ‘course’ and lose sight of the flag completely. On the way out along the shore, and back, you have to hit the ball over a low, stone wall.
Torquil and Neil tell me how a man in town lost the sight in one eye when a ricocheting golf shot struck his eye. Coming back to the clubhouse
[clubhouse on the right…]
on the last few holes, you golf back along the “strip” of North Berwick
[coming back along the water…]
[the first green, on a sunnier day…]
and approach the building. People pause at the sidewalk that crosses the fairway and watch the golfers tee off before crossing the danger zone. I am thrilled that I don’t hit anyone nor break any of the windows of the cars parked along the side of this last hole.
At the club house, members can clean up in the renovated locker room. You climb the stairs past faded photos of the club members and past champions’ plaques into the bar. My phone dies before I can get a good photo of our leather seats and the window that overlooks the 18th green.
I order a Guinness and one of the two ladies behind the small bar brings out a can. She pours the can into a pint glass, places it on a small ‘disk’ and pushes a button. The Guinness ‘Surge’ shakes the can, the sheeting begins and a head forms on the beer. This might be old news to the rest of you, but it hit the spot after being out golfing.
Later, we find a Horrible Histories on the line of Stuart’s (The Slimy Stuarts) in a used bookstore and the kids devour it in turn!
Got a picture back of Florida Blue (the retired greyhound racer) on the sand in Scotland from his owner Gordon