The More People I Meet, The More I Like Cats

I was halfway through my bike ride this morning when I had to stop and rummage in my pannier bag for my thermal cloves, clear night skies were the cause of my discomfort. I returned to St Andrews via Aldi to pick up bread and milk and why not treat myself to a chicken, costing a penny shy of four pounds.

I could not sit in the house on such a fine day so off I went to the bus station, in time to catch the X60 – “Elie Please” I told the driver. Cresting the hill at Drumrack is always special for it is from here that you get a panoramic view of the River Forth for the first time.

Over the waters on the south shore, there was a cloud formation – a phenomenon peculiar to these parts – a long white cloud stretching for miles along the south shore, in an otherwise clear blue sky, it never touching the earth – each time I see it I think of NZ land of the long white cloud.   

First, stop the harbour, I thought the sailing yacht would have been craned out by now.

I saw this notice in the window of the sailing club and it intrigued me I will follow it up, you never know you’re luck, could be a nice trip, I may have to get my sea legs again – it has been a while.  

I then headed for the Coastal Path for St Monans.  

The car park was full to overflowing and there were a good number of people with the same idea as I, out walking the Coastal Path. I snapped a photo of the lighthouse

Lady Anstruther changing room and tower

Lady Janet Anstruther

A bell would ring out around the town,

To tell that Lady A was going doon,

For her daily dip in the sea,

And since the lady preferred to bath starker,

She would wish no Nosy Parkers,

Can’t you see?

Historians tell us she was quite a lady, what my father would have called a ‘brazen hussy’ in this more enlightened world we would call her a ‘modern woman’ a trendsetter.

Ardross castle, or what is left of it,

then the ruined Newark Castle

The location will have been chosen for the natural defences on three sides – however, I am sure like us today the family who stayed in this castle over the years will have enjoyed seeing the shits plying up and down the Forth, and the fishing smacks working the inshore waters.

before dropping down to St Monans village.

There was a lad out in the harbour tending to the sails on his boat, I called across

“Would you be looking for a crew – by any chance?”

but alas no, he was clearing away, removing the sails for the end of the season, ho-hum. I kept my boat in the water all year beaching her on a spring tide to clean and repaint her bottom, there are very few days you can not sail, and anyway, boats are designed to be in the water – the water taking the weight of the hull, much less stressful on old timber boats as my boat was.

I found an old lad sitting on a chair on the harbour wall, we blethered a while – putting the world to right.

“Do you have a cat?” he asked – strange question.

“No, but I know a girl that has a few cats” (Charles’s sister) I told him.

“Well, there is this woman, a cat woman, called Audrey, who stays just across the road there. She has all this cat food and asked if I knew anyone with a cat, to give it to”.

Stranger and stranger

“Just tap on her window,” he said “and she will give you some of her cat food”

I did, and Audrey was an elderly lady devoid of company and readily invited me in.

Audrey’s kitchen the notice says it all

I told her of my conversation with the elderly man on the harbour wall and I was soon getting the story of how she had bought all this cat food and her cats will not eat it. That’s the trouble with cats they are such pedantic and fussy creatures, they get it of course from their mother.     

Out came the classes and a bottle of wine – “You’ll have a glass?”

I recognise an Edinburgh accent easily enough so asked how long she had stayed in St Monans “74 bloody years” she told me then went on to tell me that her claim to fame was that she had written a book (published by Ladybird Books) when she was 23 years old – spelling and grammar that is still used in schools today (just what I need). Although was quick to point out that she was a journalist and not a novelist.

She worked for Ladybird books as an editor – then on into the newspapers industry.

The house was gifted to her by an author friend she told me, I had written about the queen, (I take it she was referring to Queen Elizabeth the first and second) and given it to him, he had used the material for a book and had it published, I got the impression that they were more than just friends – more friends with benefits.

After two glasses of wine, I make my excuses and left. At the bus stop, I check the timetable – drat and double drat – missed the bus by 10 minutes. May as well continue walking into Pittenweem than standing here so that is what I did, arriving there with 10 minutes to spare.

Another fine day – that’s the great thing about being an OAP you can talk to anyone – male or female – and you are looked upon as just a friendly old guy.

No matter where I go I always find people have lived a far more interesting life than I have and are always ready to tell you their story.

Home, and over to the supermarket to unload sachets of cat food, to Charles’s sister (she is a shelf packer in the local supermarket) and pick up a leek. The leek and legs and wings of the chicken are now simmering away in a casserole dish in the oven thought I would have them effter – I wish it was effter.

Stay safe      


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