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I have fallen in love...
St Andrews in General
Member Name: weebagpuss
St Andrews in General
Date: 23/05/01, updated on 23/05/01 (65 review reads)
Advantages: sense of history, fantastic views and beach, museums
Disadvantages: weather can be cold and wet
Yes, that's right, after spending four years here, I have totally and utterly fallen in love with St Andrews.
The first thing that comes to mind when you think of St Andrews is golf. After all, we had the Open 2000 here last year, and have several other minor golfing tournaments throughout the year which are played on the infamous golf course. This of course brings a lot of revenue into the town, particularly in the summer when the students are out of town. Although I am a student here, I live here all year round so have seen the town both in the depths of winter and at the height of summer (which admittedly never seems to be that warm - being on the coast we have very windy weather at times).
But it's not the golf that made me fall in love with the town. There is so much more here apart from the golf and the university, which I intend to cover in another, specific, opinion.
There is the history for a start (and yes, I'm a history buff!) There has been a settlement on the site of the city from at least 6th century A.D and for religious reasons (the cult of St Andrew) it was a particularly important centre in the middle ages. The buildings around the town give you excellent visual evidence of St Andrew's turbulent past, with a strong focus on reformation history. The cathedral for example was destroyed during the reformation, and the ruined castle, with the mine and counter-mine underneath it was where John Knox was once held prisoner.
These sites are open to tourists, there is a small admission charge (£4 for the castle), which goes to historic scotland and will help to keep such places open. Both the cathedral and the castle have exhibitions, which are particularly well designed and are suitable for the whole family.
At the cathedral, there is St Rule's Tower, which you can climb up and get an absolutely spectacular panoramic view of the whole city - remember your camera!
Round the town, y
ou will also see many plaques and initials both on the historic buildings and on the pavement, where martyrs were burnt, or where famous people lived. Even outside my bedroom window there is a blue plaque, as a famous doctor (who performed the first tracheotomy)once lived in my house. The initials of Patrick Hamilton are on the ground near the university quadrangle, and apparently, for students, if you walk on them, it means you'll fail your exams (I do hope that won't come true!!)
If you want somewhere free to visit, maybe when the weather turns bad, then St Andrews museum is ideal (and no, I'm not just plugging it because I work here!) There is a permament exhibition on the history of the town, and a changing exhibition which has covered such things as coal mining in the region, the Egyptian period, old photographs of the town and much more. At the moment, a local artist is showing some of his work - of landscapes and wildlife from the St Andrews area. Upstairs in the museum there is an activity room for children, and in the summer special events are put on for them. Last summer I remember helping out at an egyptian mummy day - the children turned themselves into mummies with the use of much toilet roll!! At other times of the year, lectures and concerts are held. The staff are always friendly and willing to chat (well, I am anyway!), and there is a coffee shop which serves excellent home made cakes at unbeatable prices.
Outside the museum is a putting green, great fun to play on with a group of friends!
The beach in St Andrews is also fantastic. As I write this, the weather is simply glorious, supposed to be getting up to 25 degrees later, and I may well find myself down there (with plenty of sunscreen of course!) We have got one of the cleanest beaches in the country, with a vast expanse of sand, ideal if the children need somewhere to play, although it can get exceedingly cold and windy at times. But the views along it are
magnificent. In the summer, special sandcastle competitions are held for children.
Near the beach is also the sealife centre, which has all the usual features you would expect at a sealife centre and also seals in a pool outside. Again, this is suitable for the whole family, and there are sometimes special talks and feeding demonstrations there.
So where can you eat and drink? Well, St Andrews has a good variety of pubs, restaurants and coffee shops. I won't go into details of them all here, but there is something to suit all tastes and all finances. There are upmarket restaurants such as the Vine Leaf, and more affordable family oriented places such as Bella Pasta, or Littlejohns. For cosy chats and coffee, then try Brambles. At night, whilst there is not much in the way of nightlife, only one small cinema, and no clubs, you will still find things to do. How about a ghost tour, or a walk round the floodlight cathedral? What about a stroll down to the harbour in those late summer evenings, or a moonlit walk across the golf courses and the beach? If that doesn't appeal, then you are sure to find a pub you enjoy. The Jigger, next to the Old Course Hotel may appeal to tourists, as students can't often be bothered to walk all the way out there! You might also get the chance to see some celebrities - Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas for example!
Soon, the Byre Theatre is to open, so that will provide some further entertainment, and looks most promising. It used to be a theatre literally in a byre, but now it has been completely rebuilt, and I have to say, looks fantastic. Opening night is June 20th with Stephen Sondheim's "Into the Woods" which I would like to attend...but it's graduation week then, so might not get chance.
So - any disadvantages of St Andrews? Well, not really! Admittedly the range of shops is not too great for permanent residents, but Dundee is not too far away and buses run
regularly. Many shops here are aimed at tourists and golfers, but at least that generates income for the town.
I suppose the weather is sometimes very cold and windy, (it's hard to imagine that at the moment!) but the sense of history and the magnificent views that you get make up for this.
The seagulls can also be noisy in the summer!! I live on one of the main streets and they drive me mad.
Overall though, a great place to come for the whole family, you are bound to find something that you will enjoy, and I can guarantee that you will want to return again and again and again....