17 Feb 2010

Escape to Gullane (part one)

The more time I spend in East Lothian, the more I love it. There is a gentle grandeur to that part of the east coast that keeps drawing me back, and no matter where I start, I like nothing more than to end up in Gullane.

For many people, Gullane conjures up images of rolling green golf courses flung inward from the edges of the sea and dotted heavily at the borders with expansive villas. Like St. Andrews, this is a place golfers take seriously, as the old Muirfield Course is home to the rather posh sounding Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers.

I have never golfed and I don’t know if I ever will. Yet I take incredible enjoyment in this quaint old village, for it holds a number of well placed pleasures. The things I love are tucked in close around the long and simple main street, starting with the dilapidated ruins of the old church of St. Andrew.

The church lies across the street from a rather nice deli (ask about the treacle oat biscuits). A mop of dead vines hunches over the broken walls and a wooden door is propped open, an ongoing invitation to the parishioners who abandoned this building hundreds of years ago when the newer Dirleton Kirk was opened. The rusted lock is draped with cobwebs, the cover to the keyhole barely parted as if in the hope its companion key might still exist somewhere.

The road that runs past the church away from the high street is the one that leads to the shore of a long, beautiful beach. Oh, how easy it would be to walk to the beach, if only the magnetic tug of exquisite cake wasn’t hauling us back down the pavement and into Falko, a bustling German bakery and coffeehouse. If we just could tear ourselves away from the promise of three-layered torte or meringues that hover like clouds behind the glass display case, then we could go to the beach.

There is nothing to be done. We should eat.
And? Which did you choose?

Now we can go to the beach, following the trail that is lined with sea berries, which are rust red on one side and bleached white on the other. We can dodge the tide and look up at the dunes, where the wind pushes at the stalks of grass and makes them bend like an army of old men that refuse to fall.
The waves chop placidly at the shore, but this doesn’t stop one suspicious dog from chasing them up and down, biting down on the white furls just as they break and disappear, thwarting him yet again. We count seashells and see the fanned remains of seabird wings, lost to some unknown tragedy. A little further down the beach a stick rises up from the shoreline like a frozen cobra.
There is something else on this beach that I want to show you, but I loved the place so much I was unable to scale down the photos enough to include them here. Instead I will post them tomorrow, so they can stand alone in all their glory.

All that remains is to offer a big friendly greeting to any newcomers to this blog. I’ve rarely been so delightfully shocked in all my life.

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