Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Field Trips part whatever

We had a field trip for class today.  We went to the towns of Kirkcaldy and then to Dunfermline.  Both are in the Kingdom of Fife. So we stayed pretty close to home.  Dunfermline is the ancient royal capital of Scotland and Kirkcaldy is the home of linoleum.  Yes, really.

I suppose I should start with the linoleum.  It was invented way back when by a guy from somewhere in England.  It doesn't really matter where or who, cause he let his patent lapse.  An enterprising Scot by the name of Nairn bought it up and started his factory in Kirkcaldy in Fife.  Linoleum quickly became a major industry in the town and eventually it was exported everywhere.

In the post industrial age(the 1960's and 1970's) it was no longer feasible to make and export real Kirkcaldy linoleum around the world and the factories went out of business and eventually were demolished.  Except for one.  There's still one linoleum factory in Kirkcaldy going strong.  When the wind is right you can smell the linseed oil from the factory. 

The museum has machines and patterns from the old factories.  I mean it's not the ONLY thing that the museum has.  Adam Smith lived there too.  One of the more famous sons of the area.  One panel had the headline "Local man writes international best-seller."  I thought that fun.  Hey, if you write a book that basically changes the world's idea of economics, someone will remember you from your hometown.
This is one of the more famous items in the museum.  It was made by a linoleum factory worker.  It's a carving of a Portuguese cork plantation.  They used good Portuguese cork in the manufacture of the tiles.

So after tea and cake in the Cafe Weymss(they used to make the pottery there too) we headed to the old capital.
It's not only the old capital, but also the home of the first Carnegie Library.  Which we got to see.  Andrew Carnegie was a son of Dunfermline.  So when he gave his money away, his hometown was the first to benefit.
Quite a pretty place.  Very impressive.  But it kinda had to be.  The cathedral, not the library.

 I don't get this gravestone at all.  Did he/she take it with them?  Is it a crest or fancy monogram?  No matter what it is, it's strange.  Maybe this guy is trying to reconcile God and Money?  Anyway I thought it the most interesting memorial there.  Sadly, the Victorians just didn't do creepy gravestones. 

I don't quite understand the advertisement for Robert.  Assuming it's like the statues and obelisks of Egypt with the names on them, so you'd KNOW this was the guy to praise.  Just seems like an odd placement. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


There are signs around St. Andrews that PROMISE there are seals around.  And you can see them.  I hadn't yet.  Mysterious creatures, these seals.
I figured that I'd probably miss out on seeing real, live, wild seals in my sojourn here.  I'd seen seals before.  In zoos and aquariums.  So, it's not like it was the only chance I'd ever have.
But coming back from the field trip(Kirkcaldy and Dunfermline) I stopped at the fish and chips shop and then walked home via the harbor and East Sands.
It's my favorite walk.
I love to watch the waves break and the colors of the sea shift with the light. (Okay full disclosure, the first photo is near the golf course and on West Sands.  But it still counts as beach since that's where I took it a few days ago and it's a great sunset shot)
 This one is actually East Sands and today. 

I walked past the little bridge of the harbor and noticed that there seemed to be an addition to the short hill into the harbor.
I did a double take and yes, it was a seal.  A real, live, wild seal.  A baby one, at that!  There were signs to not touch him/her, cause he/she was waiting for Mom to come back with dinner.  And, they bite.
So I have seen a real seal in the wild.  And it is adorable!