The story of a dream car

Published 8:45 am Sunday, May 29, 2022

In my last column, I posted a photo of the “last” car I wanted to own – a 1992 Classic Mini “Scottish Open” with right-hand drive, five-speed, full folding electric top, four-cylinder engine.  This is the story of why I want that particular car….

It seemed an impossible dream, but on an overcast, chilly day in September 2009, I was taking my first extended drive (little over an hour) from then Scottish finance’s home near Sterling, Scotland on clean, narrow, twisty, scenic roads through charming villages, with she and her lovely mum, six speed manual gearshift falling surprisingly comfortable to my left hand, steering from the right side of the car, driving in the left lane all somehow familiar, while alertly remembering to think in reverse – fabulous and exciting!

We stopped in Fife at The Hayloft Tearoom for a quaint lunch, then continued East toward the North Sea and our destination. From a good distance we could see the medieval 1450 Gothic tower of St. Salvator’s Chapel located in the center of Scotland’s oldest University – St. Andrews 1413 (England – Oxford 1096, Cambridge 1209).  

She and mum applauded my driving (whew), we parked, and mum – a “Lord Lieutenant” to Queen Elizabeth II in Clackmannanshire, gave us a tour of the wonderful old Chapel – just all so very surreal…and so swell…. 

Exiting the Chapel, we walked to the ruins of the Catholic Cathedral of St. Andrews where twin towers rose majestically and overlooked this most historic town of approximately 16,000 (8,000 students), where with the towers, just bits of the South wall are all that remain.  Built in 1158, it became the center of the Medieval Catholic Church in Scotland and seat of the Archdiocese of St. Andrews.  After Mass was outlawed during the 16th century Scottish Reformation, it fell into disuse and is now an important part of St. Andrews and Scotland’s history. 

We then had tea and crumpets (well I had a Guinness) in the bay window of the historic Russell Hotel overlooking St. Andrews Bay and North Sea across the street.  Thirty minutes later we took a brief walk to the Old Course Shop, St. Andrews Links – YES, I was finally here!  

Directly across the street from the Old Course Shop was the 1754 Royal and Ancient Golf Club – the oldest and most prestigious golf club in the world. Although the club was for members only, to be certain I wasn’t dreaming, I touched its historic walls that I had seen so often on television and its history spewed forth from it and enveloped me!

The 18th Hole ends and the 1st begins in front of the Ancient Golf Club which faces due west.  Several meters down the Old Course fairway, the famous Swilcan Bridge (a small stone bridge that spans Swilcan Burn), divides the first and eighteenth fairways.  Just past this bridge, the course takes a ninety degree turn to the North where the North Sea and long beach border it.

There were no golfers afoot, so I crossed a fence and walked to the edge of the course and gazed across to this long stretch of beach.  It was on this beach that athletes in the 1924 Olympics were filmed running in the fact-based 1981 British historical drama film “Chariots of Fire” while the theme song by Vangelis that won the Academy Award for Best Original Score played – can you hear the music? 

Standing on this “Hallowed” ground, years of watching the Open Championship, or The Open, or the British Open (oldest on the PGA tour) danced in my head!  The 2010 Open was held July 15-18 and was the 28th time played at St. Andrews. Louis Oosthuizen won his only major championship that year with a 272 (-16).

The Open played at St. Andrews is my second favorite tournament; the first being the Masters which I attended in 2013 with my son, Stephen.

My only regret of my visit to St. Andrews on that most memorable day, was not strolling down to Swilcan Bridge and walking across it…perhaps that memory is calling me back.

Please remember Uvalde, and especially all veterans this Memorial Day. 

 

Steve is an Oxford resident, received his Ph.D. in Counseling from Ole Miss, worked on Campus for many years, and can be reached ississippi has more people and is most likely more diverse than the 2020 Census reported