St Andrews – Watercolour with Ink highlights in a Watercolour Moleskine

Monday, 30th November is St. Andrews Day here in Scotland. St Andrew is our Patron Saint. He is also the Patron Saint of Romania. In many parts of Europe, such as areas in Germany, Austria, Poland and the Czech Republic there are rituals which young women follow, which are said to reveal who their future husbands will be. These are carried out on the eve of St Andrews Day. The day is not well celebrated here but there are moves afoot to make it an official holiday – something badly needed at this, dismal time of year.

The town of St Andrews is very dear to me. I was taken there, by my father, to see Tony Lema, the great American golfer withstand a fantastic charge by Jack Nicklaus of 66 & 68 in the last two rounds of the 1964 Open Championship to win his first major. Just visiting the place brings these memories flooding back. Sadly Tony Lema and his young wife died in a ‘plane crash in 1966.

Although the town is famous for his golf it also has the oldest University in the country founded in 1413 and is the third oldest in the English speaking world. I was so proud that my second eldest son graduated there with an honours degree in Computing Science.

My scene shows one of the many old streets which branch off the centre of the town. These buildings are fascinating and much can be gleaned by just looking at them. They are mainly built from stone but the two roofs, shown in the centre are definitely from different ages, One has “Corbie Steps” (Crow Steps) along the end gable verge while the one next to it has the stone work “dressed” to accommodate the roof tiles. Corbie stepped roofs were built in older houses as the larger stones would be harder and more time consuming to cut. Note the chimney pots. Some are “capped” i.e. sealed off. This was done when coal fires were done away with. It the chimneys was not capped then damp might be allowed to penetrate but some chimneys are not capped suggesting that the fires are still in use. At least one chimney has a revolving top, known as a “granny”, to draw smoke up the “lum” – a Scots chimney. I hope these coal fires are still in use as they were/still are great for keeping the buildings free of damp while allowing good ventilation. If they are not in use then these dwellings are in danger of going the way of many old properties in this country by becoming damp. You see some of the “pointing” (spaces between the stones on the outside walls, has been replaced by the use of Portland cement. The original material would have been a lime mortar which would allow the building to breath. Cement does not. Fortunately property owners are becoming wise to this and repairs are taking place, repairs which should see the character of these houses last for many years to come. I could go on forever but I hasten to avoid boring you all.