January 7, 2009

Kirkcaldy: a Hellmouth?

Churches, Caves, Castle Ruins, Witches, Zombies, Werewolves, Vampires, the Devil and his shopping cart.

Kirkcaldy, Scotland

So in the ten days between my birthday and the start of classes, we needed to keep ourselves entertained. Mark and Derek suggested one night at 11pm to take a spontaneous trip the following morning at 8am. Just jump on a train, no destination. BTW I got this messaage via a text. I was all for a spur-of-the-moment trip, but they decided on Roslyn and Peebles (a place I've already been, and a place south of Edinburgh). I was in the mood to head north, into the Highlands. So Laura and I took an extra day and did a little planned-spontaneity of our own. We took the train 40 minutes north to Kirkcaldy and spent the afternoon exploring the small coastal town.

A gray day in Kirkcaldy

The first thing we saw when we stepped off of the train was a giant tree being cut down. Nothing says "Welcome" like the sound of chainsaws and timber cracking. Despite our quick overview on wikipedia, we pretty much had no idea what to expect of Kirkcaldy. So our first mission was locating Tourist Information. That was a feat, considering they hid it on the other side of town from the train station. We happened upon the Adam Smith College Orientation Day activities and the church where the college kids take their exams. I guess it's like killing two birds with one stone: being able to pray for good grades while taking the exam.  Although they probably frown on killing birds at church, especially killing two birds.

The broken sign

Beware what creatures lie ahead...

Once we had a map in our hands, we headed for the Castle ruins. Laura and I had fun exploring the ruins of Ravenscraig Castle. We walked along the shores of the Firth of Forth and discovered a cave. Laura was all about the cave, but I was a little anxious about walking into complete blackness. I was afraid to find homeless people sleeping there, or wild animals, or corpses... or remnants of a seance... or zombies... (my fears got more and more irrational the deeper we went into the cave). But all we discovered was a lot of rubbish. Apparently this cave is quite the party spot for underage kids. After I realized this, I was ever so grateful that we didn't walk in on two people doing it in a cave.

Inside the cave, looking out at the shore

Our findings on the beach were much more interesting. There was an abandoned shopping cart covered in seaweed... obviously. There was also a creepy old sign on the craigs that looked as if it had been stripped to pieces by the claws of a werewolf (once again, my imagination got the better of me). It probably just said "Warning: keep off the rocks", but it looked like it could have said "Warning: vampires ahead". So we went ahead to find out...

The Devil's shopping cart
"Some say the Deil is deid and burried in Kirkcaldy," so said our brochure. It was a fabulously grey overcast day, perfect for exploring caves and ruins and searching for the devil.  "The sands of Kirkcaldy's harbour are said to hide a demon who was challenged to twist the sands into rope by Michael Scott (c. 1160-1235), a local man, known as a wizard for his knowledge of mathematics, medicine, and astrology. When the demon failed, it disappeared below the sands." Laura and I came across a black beast with pointed wings on the shores of Kirkcaldy. Was it the devil? Nope, it was just a Cormorant (which sounds like it should be a demon, but is just a seabird found in Great Britain). It is also known as a Shag. Hah. Yes, sometimes I act like I'm 12.

A Cormorant, or perhaps a winged demon

PS "Hellmouth" is a Buffy reference and an homage to Joss Whedon - go look it up and learn to appreciate all things Joss.

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