Dipped in May and Other Adventures

The long weekend starting on the 29th of April1 was pretty eventful. So, let's start at the beginning. On Friday, I locked myself in the lab for most of the day, because due to some wedding, the town was full of students in gowns and lots and lots of cheering and good spirits - the perfect excuse to do some science. Nothing too exciting there. To balance things a little, and to have a little more music in my life, I went to the a capella concert in the evening to find out if/why St Andrews is one of the strongholds of a capella groups in the UK. On to Saturday... work in the morning again, but I went to the pier in the afternoon to fly Douglas-Adams-style with a bunch of people from Mostly Hamless. We tried to miss the ground2 several times, but apart from Hugh swooping a little bit, we clearly need to work on our technique and distractions to keep our minds occupied so that we don't notice that we should fall down like a bag of stones. And things just snowballed from there. The rest of the day was basically about getting distracted long enough so that I would not fall asleep before dawn, which involved anything from a taking nighttime photos of St Andrews, a nice relaxing walk along the coast or sitting at the beach, watching fire burning and listening to the sounds of the North Sea. Yes, a student party was involved at one point as well, no pre-May-Dip night could be without it. So, the May Dip. It is one of St Andrews' stranger traditions, the popular story being that dipping into the North Sea at dawn on May 1st will negate the "curse" you "acquire" if you are an undergraduate and you step onto the P.H. cobbles in front of St Salvator's Chapel on North Street.3 More likely though, the tradition links with the celtic festival of Beltaine. Either way, running into the North Sea at 5 in the morning in nothing but your swimwear4 is a very memorable experience. After waiting around for a couple of hours so that I could buy myself something for breakfast5 and then falling asleep for a couple of hours... let's just fast-forward to Sunday evening when the annual Castle Ceilidh took place. Ceilidhs on their own are great, but when you can go to one in a location such as the St Andrews Castle, it is an opportunity you really shouldn't miss. However, let's talk about the day the Canoe Club got famous. Because the Canoe Club has been name the club of the year, and the University has commissioned a film for its 600th anniversary, someone decided that the club should feature in the film. So on Monday quite a few people got kitted up and spent the afternoon paddling from one side of East Sands to the other and back while the film maker and his assistant tried to film us6. I stayed on the ground to document the shenanigans and you can see the results below. Thankfully, the swell picked up, so there was lot of fun to be had after the not so exciting bits were over. And how to end a full long weekend like this one better than by having a barbecue on the beach? Yeah, a little socialising with the University of Stirling Canoe Club does help a bit as does playing lap tag. And baked bananas with chocolate. And bubbles. P.S.: May the fourth be with you all.7
  1. Yes, I know the 29th is a Friday, read on and you will understand.
  2. The how-to is simple: "There is an art to flying, or rather a knack. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss. Clearly, it is this second part, the missing, that provides the difficulties." - Douglas Adams
  3. More on this particular tradition here.
  4. ... and quite a few people did not have even that much on.
  5. Unsurprisingly, none of the supermarkets in St Andrews are open at 5am on Sunday.
  6. My opinion of him is not very positive, so I will stay quiet and say no more.
  7. For my not so geeky readers: May 4 is also known as the Star Wars Day. Google it if you want to know more.