Saturday, October 27, 2012

Fall Visitors!

After exactly a year of less than perfect Skype connections, quick phone calls, and emails, my sister and brother-in-law made the 19 hour journey to St Andrews! The anticipation on the day they arrived cannot be explained. Garrick even pretended to knock at the door at one point. What a heartless joke. ;)

Sunday, 14th October

They're here! After catching up for a few hours, they showered and walked along the East Sands to the home of the Brewers for dinner and games! Kenneth was the UNO champ, which is very impressive when going on 30 hours without sleep.


Monday, 15th October

First things first, St Andrews! I loved seeing their expressions and hearing their comments as we walked about the town. The Cathedral proved the highlight of the day.

Tuesday, 16th October

Garrick showed them around the St Andrews Castle built in 1200! The bottle dungeon and Mine and Countermine did not disappoint. This is where battles took place for control of the castle. They also tried the Full Scottish Breakfast at Mitchell, and to Garrick's surprise, did not love Haggis and Blood Pudding.

Wednesday, 17th October

Exploring Edinburgh, even in a massive downpour, is delightful. They both appreciated the architecture, cobble-stoned streets, and feel of this city. After the picturesque train ride, we darted into the nearest Costa Coffee to avoid the rain. We had a lovely view of the National Gallery and enjoyed our hot beverages.

Next? The National Gallery, St Giles Cathedral, and then lunch at Whiski on the Royal Mile. I ordered the Haggis Tower hoping to give our fellow Americans another chance to like Haggis. Nope.

Both Janelle and Kenneth said Edinburgh Castle was a highlight of the trip.

Thursday, 18th October

Garrick and I both worked, so K&J enjoyed a day to themselves sleeping in, having a lunch date, and shopping around St Andrews. They also treated us to a delicious dinner! That evening we watched "Gregory's Girl," a hilariously awkward Scottish film.

Friday, 19th October

K&J set off to Scotland's capital before Edinburgh, Dunfermline! They maneuvered the bus system and had a great time. You can see photos and more information here. That evening, we had a few friends over so they could meet our special guests!

Saturday, 20th October

The East Neuk Villages are unique and quaint. We love them! We rode at the top of a double-decker bus and arrived in Pittenweem. The Cocoa Tree and the Woolly Brew (yarn shop) are the two major draws of this adorable coastal town.

The hot chocolate needs its own recognition:

With cinnamon set atop the stove, the smell and atmosphere are unmatched! This cute couple loved it:

Then, we walked along the windy coast to Anstruther! We watched golfers contemplate their shots and waves crash into the rocks. Truly amazing. Equally amazing was Garrick and Kenneth playing like 5 year olds. :)

Sunday, 21st October

Attending Trinity was another special time! Sitting in church together is something that doesn't happen often, and the service was very meaningful. After church we came home and relaxed. This means Janelle and I knit and crocheted, and Kenneth and Garrick played Temple Run.

Then, it was time for a final photo shoot with the happy couple at the Old Course and West Sands.

Monday, 22nd October

Our last full day was prefect and fulfilling. Kenneth found some imperial pint glasses for 60p at the local charity shops, and Janelle and I bonded through redecorating my living room! Here is the finished product:

After some Bacon Mac & Cheese, we had an early night. The alarms were set for 6am the next morning!

Tuesday, 23rd October

Goodbye, K&J! They caught a taxi at 7am to meet their train in Leuchars. The fact that they left their two precious boys for 10 days to come and see us was humbling. We love these two more than words can say and the time we spent together will be remembered for life. And, the goodbyes were only for two months! We'll see them and the rest of our family and friends in Washington at Christmas!

The end.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Adventures in Dunfermline, Aberdour, and the East Neuk!

If you want an inexpensive way to see Scotland, join Historic Scotland. A yearly fee of 30 GBP allows you access to most historic sites.

So, we set out on 6th October, passes in hand, with these people:

Photo Credit:

The starting point? Dunfermline, the original capitol of Scotland. After a quick stop for caffeine at Costa Coffee,  we made our way to the Dunfermilne Abbey and Palace, just off of the High Street.

If you look closely at the top of the Abbey, "King Robert The Bruce" is subtly written in large block letters. The base of the abbey dates back to 1072. We arrived at the end of a funeral, which set a sombre mood for the interior of the abbey, and an organist continued to play as we explored.

An exterior door to the abbey was the perfect spot for a photo shoot:

The ruined palace is along the backside of the abbey, and it provided the perfect place for John and Sam, the Brewer's two boys, to run and play.


Then, we caught another bus to Aberdour, home of  Aberdour Castle and St Fillan's Church, for lunch and more adventures. Ever wondered what Haggis, Nips, and Tatties looks like?

After a brief break in the sun, we walked to Aberdour Castle, stopping for a donut along the way.

Aberdour Castle is said to be the oldest castle in Scotland. It dates back to 1200, and a fire almost destroyed it in 1620. If you look closely, you can see the darkened stone.

Through the window you can see the Dovecot, where Doves and Pigeons would nest during winter months, providing a source of meat.

St Fillan's Church is just behind the castle. St Fillan was the Patron Saint of the mentally ill. From the front cemetary, you can see stunning views of Edinburgh!

Back on the bus, we made 2 stops before arriving in Elie, a coastal town on the East Neuk. In my opinion, Elie has the most beautiful views and beaches of any East Neuk town.

And finally, we boarded yet another bus to Anstruther, for some famous Fish & Chips! All in all, we rode six buses, and made the most of our Fife Day Riders! The sun, friends, ancient ruins, and beaches made it a perfect day out, and we look forward to many more adventures!

*Photo Credit: Jesse Nickel

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Community Living

If you want to meet some of the best people around, move to St Andrews, Scotland. Needs are met, fun is had, and friends are made.

Moving: Yikes. I've done it five times in the past four years and hope to not do it again anytime soon. The day we moved, a few friends helped pack our boxes, my coworkers drove back and forth between our flats transporting our belongings, and when we realised at 7:30pm amidst the chaos that we were hungry, a family dropped off a delicious meal, ice cream cake and all.

Weekly gatherings: Last year, one of the ways I felt most connected was a Tuesday night Bible Study for wives of post grads. Coming from various parts of the world, it would be easy to focus on our differences. But, we share a common bond: we are supporting our husbands while they are in school. We even get the privilege of having two wives of the academic staff attend. This year, I'm opening up our flat to the group, and it's lovely. I look forward to Tuesdays at 7:30pm.

Fair Ladies of St Andrews: This is a Facebook group for women who live in St Andrews. It's a forum of  posts asking about where to get the best haircut in town to social gathering invites. Recently, this group helped us set up a shopping trip to Ikea and Costco. I'll admit I was misty eyed walking through the entrance of Costco and seeing the giant TVs. Is that embarrassing? Here's a peak at our strategically packed car:

Student collaboration: There is no competition among the students in St Mary's. Well, there is probably some, but mostly friendly rivalry. Every day, PhD students go to the Roundel to their prospective study spaces and work independently and together discussing ideas, practicing languages, and encouraging one another.

The community here acts as family, and it is beautiful to be a member. I know I have many more stories to share as do others. This is yet another aspect of our lives in Scotland that we hope to replicate when we leave.