According to the map we covered another two hundred miles that day. More, if you take into account that we did it all on the back roads , being very gentle with the ailing car and sticking to the coast where we could. Which is patently ridiculous considering all the things we saw… and taking into account a comfortable lunch and a leisurely dinner too.
We were heading for St Andrews; the saint has cropped up a fair bit in our research for the books so it only seemed polite while we were in the area. And anyway, quite apart from the university and the golf course for which it is probably best known these days, it has some very special places I had only ever driven past and never really seen.
I might as well warn you now… St Andrews won’t all fit into one post. There was way too much… and yet, we were only there a couple of hours or so. How does it do that? Time, I mean. Honestly, we must have spent the best part of an hour just exploring the little museum and the cemetery and watching the birds…and we didn’t rush anywhere… and we climbed a tower! It is odd, while you are doing these things time just seems to be behaving in a perfectly normal fashion…but when I look back at what we actually did that day I just can’t see how it is possible without diving around like mad things. Which we didn’t, not at all.
I have to wonder if the hawks have something to do with the whole affair. Their eyesight is keen and their attention absolute… maybe it is the attention that does it, extending time… because you are not lost in the fog of habit but really awake and aware of what is going on around you and, critically, of which you are a part. You are not looking out from the inside, simply observing at such times… you really are living in the moment… and as time itself has no divisions that moment is eternity.
I had only ever approached St Andrews from the north before, so coming over the crest of the hill to see it spread below was novel. I stopped to get a picture from there, seeing the towers of the abbey rise high above the houses. Ancient ruins and modern rooftops all bordered by the waves that have caressed these shores in endless motion since before Man counted time. You can’t see eternity, nor can the conscious mind encompass it, yet here where earth, sea and sky hold the fragile structures of man against the centuries, you get an intimation of eternity… a smaller view that illustrates something too vast to comprehend.