Monday, 12 August 2013

St. Andrews bliss

So it's the tail end of the school holidays - the kids are back to school on Wednesday. And although it's been a great summer, I think they're quite happy to be going back really. Normally I'd be quite relived  - being chief finder-of-interesting-and-fun-things-to-do for seven weeks takes its toll, and I am pretty tired I admit, but it's been so much fun this year. Partly because we had a lot of good weather, and partly because the kids are a bit older and better able to entertain themselves.

Last week we had our final fling and headed off to St.Andrews for a few days of pottering. We stayed in the same place as last year, a hall of residence, though finally finally it's got rid of the ridiculously short-sighted name of New Hall (it was built when I was a student) and is now Agnes Blackadder Hall, after Agnes Forbes Blackadder who, in 1895, was the first woman to graduate from St.Andrews University and went on to become a doctor of some note - more information here. It's a good name, though I suspect part of its popularity is due to the opportunity for many many Baldrick jokes!

 We did a lot of nothing much - some time spent on the East Sands rock-pooling...

 ..some paddling, quite a lot actually, even the Boy joined in - those are his feet there..

.. some eating of ice-creams. Or sorbet in my case. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

One evening the Boy and I went for a wander out towards the hall I lived in during my first-year. It's no longer there, thankfully, and has been replaced with self-catering 'apartments' which look much pleasanter to live in, but the path to it is just as lovely as it ever was.  That field was one of my favourite views when I was a student. I saw it in all weathers and conditions.

The next day there was more messing around on rocks, investigating rock pools or pretending to be on a pirate ship:

Also a trip to the aquarium and a visit to the castle. I'd got the kids a drawing book each and the Boy spent a lot of time drawing plans of the castle, while Miss M wrote lists of rooms and other points of interest.

She particularly likes the mine and countermine, which are a siege mine and the tunnel dug by the besieged to meet it.  She got her daddy to take her down the tunnels several times. From inside the castle you go down the countermine which is very low-ceilinged and truly unpleasant until you climb down a short ladder into the mine, which has a higher ceiling and is generally more spacious as those digging in from outside had better equipment and so on. From that point steps lead up until they eventually stop at a wall, which I imagine stops you ending up in somebody's cellar, and there's a small manhole in the ceiling letting a bit of light in. I don't think Miss M is all that interested in the history really, it's more the 'secret passages' thing. Unfortunately I'm claustrophobic (hence the mine/countermine being a job for daddy!) and have never actually got further than the short ladder bit, but I've just watched this Youtube video that shows what it's like (the second half, on the way back from the far end, has better lighting so you get more idea what it's like). Hurray for the Intertubes! I can't imagine I'll ever get to the end of the tunnel myself, but at least I know what it's like now! Dark mostly.

I think that's our last time at the hall as sharing a family room is so tiring, especially when the youngest gets overtired after eight o'clock and we all have to go to bed early, but maybe a holiday cottage or something next year, if we go back. Shame really as breakfast there was fantastic, but decent sleep is even more so!

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