Favourite things

Used book table on Market Street:

I think all of the School of English postgraduates are friends with Bill, the owner of Bouquiniste. Not only because he owns the used bookstore in town, or because the actual shop is right next door to our offices, or because he sets up used book tables on Market Street on sunny days, but also because he is such a nice person and lover of books himself. When I was looking for a particular book a few weeks ago, I asked him if he had it — he did, at home, and brought it in for me the next day, and yet understood completely that I was looking for an older edition. It’s not just about selling books, with him, it’s the shared love of books that matters. I always enjoy stopping and chatting with him when I can.

Favourite things

East Sands:

Taken from the coastal path south of the town, looking back. The skies had cleared enough to go for a walk if one didn’t mind getting a bit muddy. It isn’t the sunny Mediterranean, but it is Home.

Favourite things

Lingering sunlight:

This photo was taken well past 10PM and yet there was still light. The summer days are long in Scotland.

For those of you recently tuning in: The ‘Favourite things’ Friday posts are in response to a question I was asked some time ago about what is my favourite thing in this town. I couldn’t think of just one thing, and often it is little things I love the most and that make this town Home to me. These ‘Favourite things’ Friday posts are glimpses into why I love this town by the sea.

Favourite things

St Salvators:

St Salvators tower tolls the hour and dominates the skyline of our little town. It is the oldest building still in use in the University, dating from the 15th century. The University doesn’t really have a campus, but St Salvators Quad is oft described as the ‘beating heart of the university’. I walk past it, through its quad, around it, at least once a day to get to the library, to the museum, to work. It’s become instinctive to look for the tower to check the time, to count the bells as they toll.

Prometheus’s fire

Early in the morning, the sun rose, and shortly after, so did the town. Walking in at 6AM, three hours earlier than normal, the town was waking when it would otherwise be asleep. Queen’s Gardens was still quiet; South Street, a little less so. By the time I made it to North Street all was hustle and bustle as I and a few hundred others were ushered into St Salvators Quad. The Olympic Torch was coming.

Preceded by a relay race run by school children from the different primary schools in town, by a speech from the University Vice-Chancellor and town Provost, the torch that has been touring Great Britain came into view. All watched as it was lit with fire from a Fife miner’s lamp and cheered when it was held aloft.

The torchbearer then ran around the Quad and left through the chapel archway to the peal of St Salvators’ bells — ringing a peal specially composed for the occasion. The torch then ran up North Street and down South Street and on to the rest of Fife.

I had a ticket to get into the Quad for the lighting ceremony thanks to my job at the museum. I’m glad I went — it was a chance to participate ever so slightly in a bit of history.

Favourite things

Some of my favourite things about my Town can’t be captured in a picture.

Like making friends with an elderly woman in the check out line at Tesco, who used to be a mountain climber and now uses one of her hiking sticks as a cane. Or taking a moment to introduce myself to a visually impaired lady from my church, whose guide dog I’ve always liked but was too shy to talk to — but I saw her on my way into work, and stopped to chat with her. Or going to lunch at a church cafĂ© for the first time and sharing a table with an older man who had travelled the world in the military — Kenya, Borneo, Norway, and was in Suez during the Suez crisis — and is an elder at the church.

Being a University town, the locals are sometimes forgotten and hidden, but finding and talking to them is always one of my favourite things about living here.