Amazing Saturday in Fife (2005-04-03 - 12:03 p.m.)
Trying very hard not to count chickens here - but I got the job at the Forestry Commission! They've sent me a conditional offer, so it remains only to formally accept, and for them to paw through my documents (work visa, ID, national insurance card) to make sure everything's in order. Sadly I can't start till May 3, giving me a month more of joy at the hotel. (I suppose I could quit and temp for a month - at this rate I may be driven to it!)
Suffice it to say that we did NOT reopen on the reopening date, due to the fact that there were no stairs, no lift, no water, ceilings taken out and not replaced, and dust and rubble everywhere. (And of course no carpet, paint on the walls, or wallpaper). Furthermore, the general manager in all his wisdom decreed in the face of all the evidence that we would in fact be open on Friday. The poor receptionists and I got to sit down in the building site that passes for a front entrance in front of a desk with a phone and nothing else on it, and tell people who came to check in that they'd actually been booked out to elsewhere. ("Elsewhere", in most cases, being considerably farther from the city centre - hard to find that much room for bookouts on short notice). We were not allowed to start booking them out even when it became clear we wouldn't be reopening - nope, didn't get the go-ahead until the morning of.
The desk was covered with clouds of choking dust, as they were taking down the ceiling on the floor above and we were right under the stairs. One of the receptionists almost got hit on the head by a falling lightbulb from the floor above. It was ridiculous and I had a big fight with the owner's poncy brother because I didn't want to work in these conditions. This was high-handedly dismissed and I was told to get back down to the desk. Believe me, I drafted my resignation that very day... good thing the Forestry job came through (fingers crossed), or I would have been temping again. As it is, I will try to hold out for one more month...
Anyway, it's the weekend, so forget about work. And a lovely weekend it's been, too! Friday night went out for dinner at the Indian place at the end of the road (who enticed us in with pictures of Clint Eastwood and Cliff Richards eating there in the 80s!) Food was okay but not great - could have had more flavour. Really nice restaurant, though, decor-wise. I almost never go for dinner and it was nice to splurge for once. Besides, was celebrating my Forestry Commission letter!
Saturday Brad (planner extraordinaire) had three or four potential journeys to choose from. He let me pick, and I picked the Fife Coastal Walk. Not only do I have a soft spot for Fife because of the wee cooper (nickety nackety noo, noo, noo!) but there is a castle in Aberdour. And we all know how excited I get about castles.
We took the train over the Forth Rail Bridge to Inverkeithing, then walked to Aberdour along the coastal path. It was five or six miles in total and a lovely walk. Most of the path was true to its name and followed the coast quite closely. There were some lovely views over the Firth of Forth to Edinburgh, which has a very recognisable skyline - could see Arthur's Seat and the Castle, the spire of St Mary's Cathedral and Brad swore he could see Murrayfield Stadium (very close to the golf course I worked at). There was also a lovely view of the bridge, though my picture didn't turn out.
The weather was absolutely gorgeous. A brilliant, sunny day with not a cloud in the sky, but cool enough that I didn't get sick from the heat. It was so nice to be outside in that kind of weather. Halfway along, we came across the remains of St Bridget's Abbey. It was built in the 1600s and most of the gravestones in the churchyard are from around the 1700s. They have been there so long they have half sunk into the ground and are covered with moss. We sat and ate lunch on a table-like gravestone. I thought it was a bit disrespectful, but Brad said these people have been dust for 300 years and probably won't mind. He had a point.
The other inhabitants of the churchyard were two teenagers practicing for some kind of play. And they were certainly projecting! It was a little surreal sitting on a grave looking out over the firth with a very loud drama being enacted beside you.
The abbey itself was roofless but the stairs were still intact. It was a very beautiful building and I was impressed it was in such good repair, considering it's not kept up by the government.
We continued on our walk, passing lots of people walking dogs, a girl in stilettos mincing down the dirt track, and a man on a pennyfarthing bicycle! This last completely impressed me. It was really enormous, taller than me, with one huge wheel and one tiny one. I don't know how you would get up onto the seat, let alone get off again once you were moving! The man riding it was 50 or 60 and wearing shorts. Seeing that totally made my day.
We finally got to Aberdour, and the castle was as good as I expected. Instead of paying the entry fee, I bought a Friends of Historic Scotland membership. For about £30 this entitles me to get into all their properties free - good value, when you consider that Edinburgh Castle alone is £9! You can believe that I will now be exploring that place inside and out, since I can get in as many times as I want free.
The castle was in two bits: a ruined bit and a restored bit. I liked the ruined bit best, to be honest. You could see the giant fireplace with bread ovens and the place where a staircase used to be. The walls were hugely thick and there was a whole corner of masonry that had fallen and crushed another wall! There was also a doocot (dovecot), which was a huge beehive-shaped stone building with a hole in the top and little pigeon nesting-boxes lining the walls. Apparently the doves were a "welcome source of meat for the winter months". I'm sorry, but no matter how scarce meat was, I suspect I'd think twice about eating pigeon... then again, back in those days they probably desperately needed the iron. It was interesting, though, comparing the doocot to the pigeon rooms in the lab I used to work in. Functionally the same, but completely unlike in form!
We took the train back from Aberdour, which was great as by then I was pretty darn tired. It was an amazing day, though. The perfect weather coupled with a really nice walk and the castle at the end - I really couldn't have asked for much more.
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