It had been a busy day already, delivering parcels for the Student Voluntary Service, yet energising rather than exhausting. There was nothing like the crisp chill of a winter’s day to blow the cobwebs away. She grinned. A long soak in a warm, soapy bath would soon re-charge her batteries.
Wallowing in the heady aroma of lavender oil, she closed her eyes, letting herself drift as her mind joined her body in a union of restorative atonement. Suddenly she was cycling along the Scores again down Kirk Hill toward the pier, the wind blowing in her face, then walking the length of the old stone jetty with the sea pounding against its wall and the spray whipping her face. Behind her stood the great cathedral and St. Rule’s Tower with its thirty-one altars, their outline as clear in her head as if she was staring up at them now. Then she was making her way through the winding maze of streets, a historical combination of Medieval, Victorian and Edwardian styles, delivering her parcels to the old folk.
|by Stuart Reid, St Andrews |
College Street, St andrews at night. The Central Bar in the foreground and the tower of St Salvators visible behind the roof tops.
‘You young ‘uns do a grand job. Aye, and you’re such a bonnie lassie, too.’
A toothless, whiskery grin flashed before her mind and she smiled under her breath at the mental picture of the frail body curled in an armchair beneath a tartan rug, huddled around the bar of an electric heater as if it were a crackling log fire. People like that really tugged at her heart, made her feel that her efforts were truly worthwhile. Not that everybody was so welcoming, of course. Yet, she intuitively understood the reasons for terse or even hostile receptions. The blow to her father’s pride when robbed of his physical abilities, needing but not wanting charity, was never far from her mind.
Grabbing his backpack, Roger followed her toward the exit as the bus swung into its stop, then they meandered side by side through the quaint streets and wynds, the narrow lanes leading to the harbour.
“You can understand why it’s one of the most photographed harbours in Scotland.” He seemed to relax as he took in the view, although she was unsure he directed his comments at her or the air.
“Mmm.” She listened to the soothing sounds of waves lapping gently against the old stone harbour walls extending like protective arms around a cluster of small fishing boats, and she swallowed a deep lungful of air so fresh that you could taste its purity. Squinting against the sunshine, now brilliant in the clear, blue sky, her gaze spun over the red-roofed cottages which crowded down to the water’s edge, some whitewashed, others the warm, natural shades of sandstone, grey flints, green and blues, all huddled together in a kaleidoscope of colours.
“From smugglers to artists,” Roger commented absently, so that she still was not clear whether he was addressing her.
“Yes… Although it must be very difficult to translate such an atmosphere successfully on to canvas,” she, too, responded in a faraway manner.
|Crail Fife Scotland|
“I like what I like, but I’m no sophisticate. What about you?”
“A painting may be worth thousands of pounds or just a few. It doesn’t matter,” he replied obliquely. His gaze then drifted out to sea, as though miles away again. “Its real worth lies in the eye of the beholder.”
Fiona listened to his carefully chosen words, intrigued, and her gaze fell on the lean body beside her, watching him drink in the ambience, like a junkie getting a much-needed fix. What hidden depths lay beneath his banal exterior, she quietly wondered. He was certainly far more cultured than most other people she had ever encountered.
Come back tomorrow to read the final excerpt in Megan John's
The Path of Innocence