St. Andrews has always been our favorite town in Scotland. It is unfortunate, or perhaps fortunate, that it is difficult to reach either by public transport -- there is no train station -- or by private transport -- the location is so far away from many of the other heavily populated towns and there is no motorway. Thus St. Andrews always seems so much farther than it probably is.
The town is famous for many things: St. Andrew's University (and the romance of William and Kate), the birthplace of Golf and the St. Andrew's Course, the beach (and Chariots of Fire), and also for key events in Scottish church history, most notably the seedbed of the Scottish Reformation.
All the historical bits aside, St. Andrews is a lovely town to walk through and admire (and it does have numerous and well-stocked charity shops!!).
Here we are at the Martyr Monument that commemorates four Scottish martyrs who were put to death by fire in the sixteenth century here in St. Andrews because of their adherence to the protestant faith.
Here is Laura making good use of her camera.
We decided against a walk on the beach because there was limited time to fit in everything we wanted to see. By the time we arrived at St. Andrews it was already lunchtime and everything in Great Britain closes at 5 p.m., so the race was on!
Must stop place for a photo: Hole #1 at the St. Andrew's Golf Course. We also had the opportunity to meet up with an old colleague of Michael's whom I had never met and Michael hadn't seen in about 15 years or so. This friend "just happened" to be visiting St. Andrews from Texas on the very same day!
On our way to the castle we stopped in front of St. Salvator's College to see the place where Patrick Hamilton was martyred.
And we peeked inside the courtyard of the college -- so lovely!
We stuck our heads in the chapel to show the kids John Knox's pulpit (supposedly).
And we had to get an updated picture of Michael standing in it since the last photo we have is from 15 years ago!
Then we marched down to St. Andrew's castle which is just a ruin.
Oh, but the history that happened here brings the whole place alive! It was from that top large window on the right that Cardinal Beaton watched with evil satisfaction as George Wishart, another martyr, burnt at the stake.
And it was from these waters that the French attacked the besieged castle and took John Knox to be a galley slave. Close your eyes and you can travel back in time 450 years.
Then you can look out across to the St. Andrews Cathedral which was built in 1158.
It was in this castle that the fledgling protestants petitioned John Knox to become their first pastor (before he was taken as a slave).
Here are the Scottish boys enjoying the view.
The ruins of the Cathedral are just enormous and so many, many graves.
Michael and some of the kids climbed to the top of the bell tower and got a really great view.
The rest of us walked around and imagined who all these people might have been.
One always feels very mortal while walking around a graveyard.
By the time we finished the touring there was only about 40 minutes left before all the shops would close! ahhhhh!!!!! So, we raced off to the town centre to try and hit as many charity shops as we could.
The little side streets are so sweet and the houses all adorable.
We got to just about every charity shop but that meant that all the cafes were closed -- no chance for a cup of tea! What to do? We traipsed around and around, in that low-blood-sugar stupor that means you can't make decisions. Where to stop? Desperate for something good and memorable.
Finally we had to settle on a regular restaurant but it turned out to be a great choice.
The kids had their introduction to ginger beer (basically a much more potent ginger ale) which became a favorite for the rest of the trip.
And look! Each of our teapots came with its own hand knitted tea cozy!!! How cute is that!? And what kind of cool restaurant does amazing things like that?!
And there were scones with cream and jam too. Absolutely perfect!
And then I crazily suggested we take the scenic Fife Coastal Route home, which meant the journey took nearly 2 1/2 hours instead of 1 1/2 and it was on tiny, twisting roads that we weren't used to yet. Oh well. Mommy saw some pretty scenery and the rest of the family learned more patience.