The mister and I were chatting recently about how we might have missed a trick.
Having both moved to north-east Scotland in the 90s, we didn’t realise the brilliance of the location until many years later.
Our whole universe existed within the few miles spanning between university halls and the student’s union.
Did we notice the fabulousness beyond a five-mile radius? No, not unless it had shops or a bar and served cheap booze.
Even an occasional jaunt to St Andrews would feel like foreign travel and I’m ashamed to say we didn’t take advantage of our prime location at all.
Modern day students appear to have skipped right past needing a week to recover from exerts of boozy Sunday ‘disco dancing’ and headed straight to adventures of the wild. Stand-up paddleboarding exploits or renovating transit vans with skills akin to The A-Team so they can go off grid and travel in their downtime. All while documenting their journey on social media platforms and gaining sponsorship to do it!
I’m now at an age where I can either do a daytime activity OR a night-time activity, but I cannot, under any circumstance, do both never mind build a motor better equipped than the average family home.
City centre living and working shifts didn’t improve our situation and it still didn’t occur to us to travel more within Scotland.
Precious annual leave was spent undertaking obligatory, overdue visits to relatives or hankering after more exotic destinations. I just don’t understand why we didn’t realise what was right on our doorsteps until we were in our late 20s, early 30s. Favourite spots like Lunan Bay, Lossiemouth and Tentsmuir didn’t feature in our stories until years later.
Neither of us grew up near the coast. A beach trip for my family involved trooping off down to Troon, the car rammed full for just for a few hours.
My parents were not massive fans of the beach, genteel country park wanders or picnics on Granny’s green more their preference. They occasionally succumbed to some unwritten parenting requirement to allow their very fair-skinned children to frolic in the sea.
Sandy ice cream, sand castles, and inevitable sun burn – no matter how much factor 8million was slathered on. Devoid of the east coast’s natural factor ‘haar’. Not available in your local chemist but occurs regularly to remind ambitious Scots where they’re placed in the world ‘tanning’ ranks. Any year summer weather lasted longer than expected, we were left very confused.
New uniforms were purchased the moment school holidays started. What on earth were we supposed to do with a woollen blazer, knee high socks and starched, long sleeved blouses in blazing hot classrooms in mid-August?
House bought, the mister and I were finally within walking distance of the coast and all the subsequent benefits it brought with it. Our preliminary acquisition came complete with four legs, wet nose and constantly wagging tail. I’m as much of a proud Scot as the next person but shame crept over me as destinations unknown revealed themselves in pursuit of a good dog walk.
Until now I’d been flying the flag for the city centres and all the retail and hospitality delights they presented. Now we had beautiful destinations such as the Moray Coast, East Neuk, Silver Sands and St Abbs all within easy driving distance and all, as yet, unexplored. This oversight has since been rectified and many day trips, overnight jaunts, staycation have subsequently happened. All to locations on the Scottish coast.
I honestly believe humans are not meant to live like we do in current times. We are designed to live in small, loving communities. To be around nature every day. To feel the connection both to people and place. Maybe even grow our own food, create art and music together. Not to work day and night until we die. Not to compete in the ‘busy’ Olympics. Not to constantly long for another life.
This is a symptom of modern society and not human nature. And for me personally, being by the sea, within walking distance of hearing the waves is imperative to my mental health. There’s no way we were born to just pay bills and die. Get yourself to the seaside and have a paddle.
- For more more Mary-Jane Duncan see Fitness goals and ‘feral groans’