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If It’s Good Enough For Boris…

Published on: 12 Sep, 2014
Updated on: 16 Sep, 2014
Boris' spot - a beautiful place to write at while enjoying the view of the castle ruin.

Boris’s spot – a beautiful place to write at while enjoying the view of the castle ruin. Photo courtesy Castlemount Bed & Breakfast.

Martin Giles reports on a recent visit to St Andrews, Fife, Scotland

The lady said, “This is where Boris Johnson liked to sit and write, when he stayed here.”

“Well”, I thought, “if it’s good enough for Boris I will give it a go.” And settled down to write this.

It is easy to see why he thought it a good spot. The view of St Andrews Castle, from the table in the second floor breakfast room, of our excellent bed and breakfast is captivating. If anything it is too good. Taken together with its background of the North Sea and the Scottish east coast, it is hard not to be distracted.

Castlemount Bed & Breakfast on The Scores one of St andrews most attractive residential streets.- Photo courtesy Castlemount Bed & Breakfast.

Castlemount Bed & Breakfast – Photo courtesy Castlemount Bed & Breakfast.

The endless stream of rubber necking tourists also provide entertainment. As many seem to take photos of the Castlemount Bed and Breakfast (highly recommended) as they do of the historic ruined castle.

Part of the ruined St Andrews Castle just across the road from the B&B, overlooking the North Sea.

Part of the ruined St Andrews Castle just across the road from the B&B, overlooking the North Sea.

We are here doing what thousands of parents do at this time of year, bringing a child back to their university, car stuffed with belongings needed, or thought to be needed, for the next academic year. (Probably the Toastie maker was essential). It was also the reason Boris had visited. His daughter studies here I was told.

We were a bit earlier than many because, in Scotland, the academic year starts at the beginning of September. Our son Tom needed an additional week to receive barista type training at a coffee shop “Taste” where he will work part time.

Northpoint cafe where William me Kate - for coffee.

Northpoint café where William met Kate – for coffee.

My wife and I hardly needed persuading to transport him back to his place of study. Of course, we have enjoyed having him at home again over the summer but he is a young man with his way to make and, most importantly, he is obviously happy in St Andrews, happy to return and looking forward to resuming his philosophy course.

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The University of St Andrew’s, founded in 1410 is Scotland’s oldest.

We are happy whenever we have stayed here too. In the few visits with have already made, we have quickly fallen in love with this small university town. And why not? It has a lot going for it…

The following text is taken from the Visit St Andrews website on which more details can be found:

History

It takes its name from the Apostle whose relics, legend tells us, were brought to this place in antiquity by St Rule. Scotland later adopted St Andrew as her patron saint and took his saltire cross for her flag. Before the Reformation, the town was the centre of religious life in medieval Scotland, with the bishops wielding great influence over both church and state. St Andrews is also famous as a place of learning. The university, founded in 1410-11, is the third oldest in Britain.

There is plenty to interest those partial to history. Here is part of the ruined cathedral.

There is plenty to interest those partial to history. Here is part of St Andrews cathedral built in 1160 and left to fall into ruin after the reformation.

The Home of Golf

For many visitors, though, it’s a game that draws them here, for St Andrews is the home of golf, the sport having been played here for some 600 years. The Old Course is arguably the most famous golf course in the world, and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club is still the ruling body for the rules of golf. Fittingly, the Old Course hosted the Open during the millennium year and did so again in 2005.

Exploring St Andrews

St Andrews is a town meant for exploring. The medieval layout of the town centre remains intact, with the main shopping areas concentrated in Market Street and South Street, with Bell Street and Church Street connecting the two principal streets. Take time to explore – on foot – and take pleasure at the surprises and delights you will find.

The Fife Coastal Path, not to be missed if you are in the area - linger in the attractive wee ports en route.

The Fife Coastal Path, not to be missed if you are in the area – linger in the attractive wee ports such as Crail, Anstruther and Pittenweem, en route.

The Fife Coastal Path

From ruined castles to an abandoned salt works, from rock pools to fascinating rock structures and much, much more … and this is definitely the best way to visit the fishing villages of the East Neuk. One of the best stretches lies between Pittenweem and Elie, with St Monance marking the half-way point. Another fine route runs between Crail and Anstruther. In time, the Fife Coastal Path will provide an unbroken route between the Forth and Tay Bridges, but at present there are still some gaps, most notably in the area around St Andrews, so you will have to drive towards the East Neuk to find a starting point.

The old streets of the town have plenty of architectural interest. These outside staircases seem to be a feature of some older cottages in the area.

The old streets of the town have plenty of architectural interest. These outside staircases seem to be a feature of some older cottages in the area.

Restaurants: We have enjoyed eating in Mitchell’s and especially Little Italy (where we were told J K Rowling, another student parent, likes to eat). We have eaten here several times and the authentic Italian food here has never disappointed. But be warned – we are not its only fans – it always seems to be full so booking appears to be essential. Additionally there is an extensive selection of eateries to suit all tastes and budgets.

Drinks: Tom took us to the St Andrews Brewing Company where, despite the name, we all settled for a pre-dinner gin and tonic, each selecting a different gin. I could not resist a gin called “Death’s Door” and we all agreed it tasted pretty special. Of course, as you would expect there was a great range of beers on offer too and interesting nibbles. Upstairs you sit at long refectory type tables. It is a predominantly young crowd and there is a pleasantly lively atmosphere.

I also like the Criterion pub. More traditional with plenty of locals. There is a pub quiz – every Sunday, I think.

St Andrews from the east.

St Andrews from the east.

 

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