Beach at St. Andrews

Musing on the challenge of seeing places fresh and through my own eyes when so many are so familiar to me from TV, movies, and online images.


To see the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews on our 2012 trip to Scotland, we took what seemed to be a city bus cross-country from Edinburgh, successfully making a transfer (trickier than you’d think, honest!) and feeling quite the intrepid travellers. As we neared our destination, rolling farm country gave way to links landscape. Who needs trees?

They filmed the opening scene of Chariots of Fire here. As I stood above this beach, my mind’s eye offered me young men running joyously or doggedly through the surf, and I could almost hear the movie’s theme song over the wind and the shrieks of the gannets as they fed, just offshore.

View through wooden fence of beach at St. Andrews, Scotland, from cliff above.

Overlooking the beach at St. Andrews

Inundated by images — print, TV, movies, online — it’s less and less often that my first sight of a place is in person. Sometimes that reduces my pleasure in a place. Sometimes the other associations enhance my experience. Sometimes the fun is to find my own perspective, my own way to see it.


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2 Responses to Beach at St. Andrews

  1. Jim Robertson says:

    First time I saw St Andrews I said “this is a golf course ??”

    You’re right about going to places you’ve seen before in photos/film etc. Sometime you come away with a new positive prospective and sometimes not quite so positive.

    We really enjoyed the Galapagos, but having been exposed to so many really good photos and films from the Islands over the years, I didn’t come away quite as over-awed as I thought I might.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim R – Travel has changed in two big ways, I think. First is how much easier and (relatively) cheaper it is, so folks who would/could never have tackled such trips even a few decades ago can now go in (relative!) comfort. Second is the proliferation of images from everywhere, so that we naturally compare what we see with what a crew can see when they have time to wait around for just the right weather and light, and we compare the photos we get with the best of what the professionals have done. Neither is destined to make us more satisfied with our trips. I’m more and more inclined to go fewer places for longer – to actually get the feel of a place, which you can’t get from TV or someone else’s arty online photography.

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