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The Travel Journal of Jacqui and Lars

 

Scotland - 29 May, 2004

 

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Location Latitude Longitude Elevation

Travel Distance

Start St. Andrews (The Albany Hotel) N5620.605' W00248.035' 17 meters .
The Strathtyrum Course - St. Andrews Links . . . .
Balbirnie House, Markinch Village . . . .
Finish St. Andrews (The Albany Hotel) N5620.605' W00248.035' 17 meters 70 km

Total (BMW 330CiC)

4,591 km

Total (other):

1,135 km

Total:

5,726 km

 

Weather: Cloudy and overcast, on and off again rain and cool.  In the evening, partly cloudy, occasional sun and cool.

 

 

We wake up this morning to an overcast, wet and dreary day.  But we have a round of golf to play, and to a certain extent this weather seems just perfect.  This is Scotland after all.  But we have planned it well - the tee off time is 10:32 AM, so we can have a relaxing start to the day.  After another artery clogging breakfast that would shock a heart surgeon (or please him, depending on which perspective he took), we get ready and gather up all our stuff for the golf game.  We need to bring our wet weather gear and some change of clothes.  Otherwise not much is needed - other than Kevin, we will rent all our gear.

 

It is a group of four of us playing, Carl, Kevin, Olaf and Lars.  Lars had booked online, very efficiently, the tee time at one of the St Andrews Links' courses - the Strathtyrum Course.  We would have liked to play either the Old or the New Course, but they are closed for the British Amateur Open.  In addition, the Strathtyrum course is better suited to the possible players that we may have had playing today.  The course is described as a shorter and less testing layout than the others and is suited to high handicap golfers (like Lars).  It was completed on 1 July, 1983, so is a very young course by St. Andrews standards.

 

We arrive at the clubhouse at the St. Andrews Links just before 10 AM and check-in.  We pick up our rental clubs and change and are ready to go.  So far it has been raining all morning and the rain jackets are very handy - so is the small travel umbrella that Lars has brought along.  We head over to the starter, he gives us our score cards, souvenir score card and course layout guide.  Then he tells us that we can go and tee off whenever we are ready.

 

We have a very enjoyable 18 holes of golf.  The rain last only through the first few holes and after that it just threatens to rain.  Despite being a relatively short course and is appropriate for beginners, it has some challenging features, including cunningly hidden bunkers and undulating greens that make putting in regulation pretty tough.  Both Kevin and Carl get stuck in the tricky bunkers.  Kevin gets out without too much trouble.  Carl takes a few more strokes to get his ball out.

 

Lars' game is mixed - the front nine are not the best, but on the back nine three pars are achieved.  Guess it is better to start off a bit rough and finish on a good note.  As a sign of the challenging nature of the course, we spend a fair bit of time searching for balls in the rough just off the fairway - the grass/shrub is pretty high and thick, making it difficult to find the miss-shot balls.  In the process of all this searching, we get very wet shoes and lower legs.  But as a sign of the decent play and great search and recovery skills, Lars plays the entire round with the same ball - not one lost ball!

 

We finish the game around 2:30 PM and head back to our hotel.  After a quick change, we head out for a quick bite to eat.  For the rest of the afternoon, we take it easy and get ready for the evenings festivities.

 

That evening we all meet in the lobby of the hotel and 6PM and hop into a mini-van taxi that takes us to the Balbirnie House, which is located by the village of Markinch, near Glenrothes in the heart of the Kingdom of Fife, about 30 minutes away from St. Andrews.  We have a very pleasant drive through the countryside, safely taken their by our friendly driver George, to the Georgian Mansion built in 1777.  We drive through part of the 416 acre country estate surrounding the building to get to the front door.

 

We will be having our dinner party here, but first we will have some pre-dinner drinks.  The original plan was to have drinks on the lawn, with a possible croquet game.  But due to the weather all day long, this did not seem likely.  But during our drive over, the sun began to peek through the clouds, and on our arrival Kevin and the children were already out on the lawn with the croquet set up and ready to go.

 

We immediately ordered a few bottles of wine and had a fun time out on the lawn.  The children took over the croquet set (with the help of a few adults), while there rest of the adults drank wine and get caught up on what has been happening and the goings on.

 

While we are enjoying our drinks on the lawn, Wolfgang comes and takes our dinner orders from a menu with a wide selection of dishes.  It is quite nice to do it this way.  Very relaxing and everyone can take their time.  In the meantime, some of the adults go in search of a croquet ball that has been whacked a bit too hard into the bushes.  Finally, Lars gets to open one set of birthday presents from the children, who are about to go to bed.

 

As the sun drops, so does the temperature and we slowly retreat into the drawing room, where it is a bit warmer and we can enjoy our drinks until dinner is ready and Kevin and Corinne have put their children to bed.  Then it is off to our private dining room - it is just the perfect size.  Not too big, but also not too small.  Lars, as host, takes the liberty of assigning each person to their place at the table and then it is time to eat.

 

We have a great time.  The food is excellent.  We have three courses, along with dessert and coffee and tea.  The timing between the different courses is well spaced out as they gauge the flow of the party.  There are a multitude of conversations going on around the table, blending and morphing and people join in or drop out of different circles of discussion.  And, of course, the wine continues to flow.

 

Through the course of the dinner there are several toasts and speeches.  Carl and Kevin do their best to embarrass Lars (and succeed!).  Several kind people also have brought presents and cards.

 

The evening is finished off with coffee and the now traditional Krense Kake from Norway.  Our cousin Live has been so thoughtful and kind over the years to hand carry this special traditional cake from Norway to all our family celebrations.  It is both beautiful and scrumptious - always a big hit with all the guests.  But soon we have to run - time has just flown by and George is here waiting for us with his mini-bus to take us back to St. Andrews.  So we wrap things up and pile into the mini-bus (and George makes no complaint about us delaying him).

 

The party does not end just because we have left the Balbirnie House - my kind Aunt Berit has given us a bottle of the famous Norwegian Linie Aquavit.  What better time could there be to open it.  We open the bottle and the party continues on our way back to the hotel.

 

But we have one more surprise in store for everyone - St. Andrews is putting on a big fireworks display in Lars' honor for his 40th birthday.  Well, not really.  It is for the 250th anniversary of the St. Andrews Golf Club and the Queen's presence.  But we can at least pretend that it is in our honor.  We make it back just in time - it even seems like they delay it for our late arrival.  George finds a nice side street to pull into and we get to watch the whole display from the comfort of our seats.  George is patient enough to wait through the whole show.

 

It is then back to the hotel, arriving shortly after midnight.  Here the party splits up - many go to their rooms and to bed.  A few join Lars and Jacqui in their room for a few more drinks and a lot more laughs.  But soon the evening, like all good ones before it, must come to an end and all retire to their respective bedrooms.

 

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