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St. Andrews castle © Susan Wallace

July 2 – Extracurricular Activities
St. Andrews
St. Andrews photo gallery

Traffic is very heavy on the flat narrow road heading east to the coast. This is the closest thing we've encountered to a traffic jam and I'm a little puzzled. Just as we enter town we pass a gorgeous floral display surrounding a plaque that says something about the British Open on it. Memory dawns. Oh yeah, St. Andrews is that golf place. I'm not really interested in a golf place, but I am interested in lunch.

It is nearing 4:00PM by the time we park and make our way to the pedestrian area. I can't remember the name of the pub Dana recommended but we walk and walk, window shopping a bit along the way, and can't find it. We eventually duck into a place called The Eatery and are seated quickly.

Creature of habit that I am, I order a cheese toastie with oregano, tomato and ham. This meal ends up being more than the pick-me-up we had planned on; there will be no need for dinner tonight.

We've parked near the castle and though we have quite a drive back to Laurieston and plans for an early departure in the morning for Edinburgh, we decide to take a look around – primarily for my benefit as both Robin and Dana have been here before. Showing passes at the visitors' center we are soon poking around the 13th and 14th century ruins.

As we did at Dryburgh Abbey, we all go our separate ways, exploring the scant remains which are perched on the brink of a sheer precipice overlooking the North Sea. I come across Robin in a cozy little nook, looking out over the water and she points me in the right direction, making sure I don't miss the bottle dungeon.

The sun is shining but the wind is chill. Still, I'm drawn to the sea more than the remains. I hadn't thought, a week ago, driving down the coast of Northumberland, that I would see the North Sea again, but here I am. There are benches near the edge of the cliff and I sit here, taking in the atmosphere.

From a distance I'm sure it would appear that the three of us were not getting along; Robin perched on the stones by the Sea Tower, which served as a prison many centuries ago, Dana sitting on a bench in the sun in the courtyard, and myself sitting here on a bench looking eastward to the horizon, out onto the North Sea. Attached at the hip as we have been for the past ten days, I think we were all in need of a few moments of solitude.

Seagulls soar overhead, squawking and screeching. Waves rumble and roar and crash on the rocks and high on the wind is the sound of a lone piper playing a forlorn and poignant tune. I get quite emotional, but I can blame the dampness of my eyes on the wind which stings my face. With only one day left in this trip of a lifetime, I am beginning the long and arduous task of saying good-bye to Scotland.

Dana appears and joins me on the bench, and then Robin, and the three of us sit breathing deeply of the salty sea air. Leaning out over the barricade we can see parts of the castle that have fallen into the sea over the centuries. Kelp dances under the surface of the water, the wind buffets us from all sides. We have to raise our voices to hear each other.

Making a quick stop at the gift shop, I add two more books to my growing collection, refusing to think about where I will possibly put them in my luggage. We wander back to the car, dragging our feet; not really wanting to leave St. Andrews just yet. Along the way we read the signs on the university buildings which are spread throughout the town. This would be a wonderful place to study, and Dana mentions that it's among one of the universities that her son is considering.

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