Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Fife coastal walk: 2

It's taken too long to get round to it, but here is the next part of what is becoming a winter project to walk the Fife coastal path.

Days are short at the moment, so 9.30 am saw me getting off the train at Kinghorn and seeing what was more or less a sunrise.

The caravans thankfully didn't last very far, and I soon got to the day's first castle, Seafield Tower, with its own tiny harbour.

I reached Kirkcaldy not long after, and stopped for coffee and a not-very-nice all-day breakfast. I always find that Fife has a good supply of baker's shops where traditional plain baking may be acquired, and Kirkcaldy is no exception. I bought a bag of scones for £1. The assistant wore a badge that said "SAY AYE TAE A PIE".

Onwards to Ravenscraig castle, which Historic Scotland uncharacteristically, don't tell you much about.
A lot of industrial past can be seen on this walk, and there's a bit of it at Dysart, whose neat harbour was originally used to export Fife coal. A bit further along is the preserved winding gear of the Frances colliery.
A slightly less obvious reminder of the coal industry is the vast spoil heap that the path takes you over. It has been landscaped and has enough vegetation on it now that you'd never know there was once a nice sandy beach underneath.

I'd never heard of the caves at Wemyss, but I should have. I also didn't know that the name Wemyss comes from the Gaelic Uamh (a cave). So there you go.

And the last castle of the day: Macduff castle.

Buckhaven and the outskirts of Methil tend to drag a little, though there is much more recent industry in the form of the Kvaerner fabrication yard with its massive shed. Methil power station also dominates the view for a while. It used to run on coal (do you see a theme developing here?), but was decommissioned in 2000. When I got to Leven, there was an hour or so of daylight remaining, but its cute new bus station seemed a natural point to stop. I had twenty minutes to wait for my bus home, which I occupied with buying chocolate and wandering up the main street. One shop was a huge empty barn-like space lit by strip lights. Somebody was pulling down shutters as I passed. The name above the entrance read "Woolworths".

I hope to have more psychogeography very soon.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

You want disgusting local filth on that?

The ever-fascinating Strange Maps has been mapping the boundaries of some fast food habits. I wonder how they'd get on with the distribution of salt-and-sauce on chips. A perverse Edinburgh habit that I've never taken to.

Monday, December 15, 2008

An obsession for the mentally deranged

I was very much hoping that NordWand would be good. The mountain film is a shy and rarely-met-with creature: you just don't get that many. So there is an extra intensity of hope. After waiting all that time since Touching the Void, would I be let down? Thankfully I was not.

The film tells the story of an attempt on the North Face of the Eiger in July 1936. The feeling of climbing is conveyed very well, with lots of detail of the (to today's eyes) crappy equipment of the time. Ropes are of hemp; clothing is woollen and dull in colour; ice axes are long and wooden. Natural materials ranged against ice and rock, I suppose.

The film starts in a fairly pedestrian manner, but the device of the ascent builds up interest, and the final third is stunning, tragic, fascinating, and oddly beautiful. One small criticism: I think the film misses the opportunity to show the danger from falling rocks as the face warms up.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


I'm currently enjoying the Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy in its best form: radio. The original series, broadcast from 1978 to 1980, were a formative experience for me. I can still remember lying on top of my bed one evening listening to that bit about the Shoe Event Horizon (a section that is both manifestly true--you try living in Swindon--and which curiously failed to make it to any of the series' other forms). I didn't know before that how effective radio could be. And I didn't know you were allowed to be that funny.

Hitch-Hiker also meant that I later had a few shreds of status (at least among other geeky 14 year-olds) through being able to recite some of the Good Bits.

For years I owned a tape version of the first two series, but my tape player doesn't work these days, and I own too few audio tapes to be bothered buying another one. So a purchase seemed in order, and the chance to get all the later series too seemed too good to miss.

Monday, December 08, 2008

You gotta rush. It'll pass.

Well, a rush of boredom. You, know, you've nothing in particular on, your boss turns out to be off sick, and you tit about pretending to finish some document that nobody really needs, and that you could have finished on Friday if you had a reason to. Things are so slow, you start writing a training document. Still, with age comes experience and the almost certain knowledge that tomorrow will be better. No, really, it will.