Last weekend, with sunshine forecast for the Fife coast, delightful assistant no.1 felt ready for her first whole day out since getting out of hospital in early February. She and her spouse hopped into the car and were whisked off to the Fife village of St Monans (also sometimes spelt St Monance) in nice time for lunch.
After parking near the harbour, they walked with a stick and a handhold each, past cheerful houses painted in seaside colours, some of which had crow-stepped gables and pantiled roofs.
Although the assistants have often enjoyed a jaunt to Fife, they didn’t think they’d visited St Monans together before. Delightful assistant no.2 remembered being taken there as a small child on holiday.
The eatery they’d chosen to lunch in, The Diving Gannet, was located up a side street. After a good bit of faffing about, deciding where to sit and shifting the furniture to suit them, they settled in and had a look at the menu.
Delightful assistant no.1 decided she fancied one of the cafe’s salads of the day, and opted for a chicken and bacon mayonnaise affair. Delightful assistant no.2 also went for one of the daily specials: a smoked haddock and cheddar tart with side salad. Their chauffeur, meanwhile, plumped for a bowl of curried parsnip soup with a cheese scone.
They all enjoyed their meals, although delightful assistant no.1 was beaten by the size of her salad, and their chauffeur could easily have scoffed a bowl of soup twice the size of the one she was given. Since not all of them had room for a hot drink or pudding, they decided to leave The Diving Gannet and take a walk along the seafront before finding somewhere else for sweet treats.
Although delightful assistant no.1 had done some short walks outdoors since her operation, she hadn’t been out for long at a time, and in St Monans she felt decidedly wobbly on her pins. Thankfully, her devoted spouse kept her steady and she took great care with any changes in altitude.
As they walked along the shore road, they passed an ancient-looking forestair (an outside staircase, leading up from ground level to the first floor of a building). Many of the older buildings in St Monans date back to the 17th and 18th Centuries, so the forestair had no doubt been supporting pattering feet for hundreds of years.
St Monans has three piers, which combine to make a very sheltered harbour. The oldest of the three piers was built in 1596, and the most recent in 1900.
In days gone by St Monans was one of Scotland’s busiest fishing ports, but these days the fishing fleet is small and many of the boats using the harbour were pleasure craft.
At the western end of the seafront, the assistants came across a curious collection of footwear nicely arranged on a slipway.
A nearby sign explained the sight, and requested monetary donations towards the upkeep of the installation. Donations of Wellington boots were, it seemed, also welcome.
After enjoying the welly garden, the assistants veered off the shore road and headed towards some benches on a grassy patch looking out to sea.
While the octogenarians enjoyed a little sit down, their chauffeur popped down to the beach to have a look at the rocks.
Although the sun was shining, the air was cold and it wasn’t long before the assistants were ready to get up and stretch their chilling limbs again.
They trotted back along the shore road, past the welly garden and along to where they’d left the car at the east end of the village. On the way they passed a sign for the cafe they’d had lunch in. The wording amused them and reminded delightful assistant no.1 of a fish and chip shop in Edinburgh that had once borne the message: ‘Fish teas to sit in.’
Back at the car, they decided to move on to pastures new for their sweet treats. Their chauffeur had a couple of nice places in mind further along the coast. Unfortunately, due to her not paying full attention, they missed the first place, and when they reached the second it was full. They drove on, eventually reaching St Andrews, and found that another possibility was not yet open for the season. Feeling desperate, they dashed off to Balgove Larder cafe and farm shop on the outskirts of St Andrews, and were relieved to find empty seats awaiting them.
As soon as he went up to the cake counter, delightful assistant no.2 knew exactly what he wanted. Likewise, a quick glance at the menu convinced his spouse what she fancied. Their chauffeur umm-ed and aah-ed until she ended up plumping for her defaut option.
With tummies filled, they trotted out into the sunshine for the last leg of the journey home.
As first days out after operations go, delightful assistant no.1 (who is becoming something of a connoisseur of such events) declared it a great success, despite her occasional unsteadiness. The combination of a sunny spring day, pleasantly bracing sea air and a good amount of vegetables at lunchtime helped them all feel they’d had a healthful time of it.
Memories of interesting sights enjoyed during the day put smiles on their faces as they drove home in the evening sunshine.