A few wee Scottish things…


A casual driver around town… (spotted today)

A few wee things…

Hello, oh world! Oh occasional readers! How’s life? What are you thinking about these days? What’s your favourite hot beverage? What do you think of almond croissants?

Quite to my astonishment, I find myself already on the brink of my second week in grad school. It has been grand, surprising, fascinating, deep, exhilarating, and even a little bit exhausting. I’m sure that soon, it will yield the lovely fruit of thoughtful blog posts. But at the moment, my brain is too fried to access or articulate any lofty ideas. Instead, I thought I’d share with you a few things that I have discovered and delighted in here in Saint Andrews, and hope to take back with me to the States. In no particular order, here they are…

  1. Wee bit… (phrase):

How do I begin to express my affection for this phrase? I guess I could start with saying that I don’t think I realised how much people actually use this phrase, and how much you can use it. It is usually just a much more charming way of saying “small.” Why say you want a little bit of cake when you could say, “I’ll just have a wee bit.” Or why say “look at that kid,” when you could say, “look at the wee lamb.”  It just makes all adorable diminutives that much more adorable. I love it a lot.

2. Dogs:

Let me confess; I’m missing Darcy. How could one not miss such a cuddly, neurotic floof? But one great comfort has been the many furry friends that tromp around St. Andrews. They’re everywhere! Sidewalks, sea side, book shops. The floofs rule the Fife!

It seems more acceptable to take your dog everywhere you go here. For instance, yesterday I was in my favourite book shop in town, when I spied a mother, father, small child, and small dog, huddled in a corner, looking through a shelf of books. One of the employees walked by, stepping over the dog like it was nothing more than a pile of books. I don’t think this would ever happen in the States.

Or, the day before that, I encountered this sombre creature…


He was sitting outside the door of a house with its door slightly cracked open. No leash, no collar, no intention of moving. I bent down to pet him. He deigned to endure my advances, but was aloof. I saw the owner peak from behind the door, unconcerned.

And so, dogs run free! A merry part of the warp and woof of life. They weave between legs, run whole heartedly into the sea, sit quietly by professors pouring deeply over tiny academic books.

I rather like it.

3. Kilts:

All I will say is this: Scottish men wear kilts a lot more than I was expecting, and I think it’s grand.

4. Fragile (phrase):

“I felt a bit… fragile!” she said, tittering over with a mournful grin. This was said by my lovely friend who cleans the dorms, upon recounting to me her slight sickness over the weekend, feeling unprepared to dive back into the rigours (and awkwardness) of undergraduate dorms.

I’ve heard this phrase several times, and it always tickles me. It can mean anything from having a head cold to suffering the consequences of consuming a “wee bit too much.” Either way, I feel it describes one’s condition when undisposed to be able to deal with the world and its numerous indignities. It is such a better phrase than “feeling sick” or “having a cold.” It’s so much more descriptive of how one actually feels when under the weather. Somehow its more dignifying… and it makes me laugh.

Definitely a phrase I’m taking home.


I have truly experienced such kindness at the hands of my Scottish friends. Informed by the often misleading representation of movies, I had always seen stories of Scots as the opinionated warriors; powerful, prideful, cultured, and strong enough to eat Haggis. Hurrah, stereotypes!

But I was not prepared for the downright friendliness of the Scottish people. There is a warmth and a helpfulness that I have experienced at the hands of numerous people in all sorts of situations. The frankness and kindness of many I have encountered has made this little seaside spot feel like a home away from home.

So those are my Midnight Monday thoughts (Tuesday, actually!). I hope you are all thriving. What is something from another culture you appreciate or enjoy?

Till next week!



My current favourite study corner…


8 thoughts on “A few wee Scottish things…

  1. Hi Joy. I’ve read your mom’s books for years and follow her blog, which is how I found yours! I’m delighted to hear that you moved to St Andrews. My husband and I moved to St Andrews in 2009 and lived there with our children (one was born there) for over 3 years. It was a very special time for us and I will always treasure our time there. I miss it terribly and love to see photos and hear snippets of life there. Stroll along the Lade Braes to town for me and post lots of pictures! Enjoy!!

  2. Joy, you are just the most adorable person. And I think almond croissants are delightful, particularly with a good sipping chocolate. I could not believe your first photo here was an actual, real-life pic you took yourself–how wonderful! I would also love to see floofy pups reading tiny academic books as they sit next to professors, which is the way I understood my first reading of your description–made me giggle!– so please add a photo of that next time, would you? 🙂 And “I’m feeling a bit … fragile” may just have to be added to my own vocabulary. Love getting a bit of a peek into your life–and also, I’m listening to The Princess and the Goblin after seeing you and Sarah chat about Macdonald yesterday–was searching for a new true writer to peruse. Thank you for the suggestion! ❤ Much love winging your way from across the pond.

  3. I have a dear friend who is from Scotland and she uses all these phrases and loves dogs and, of course, anything plaid! Sounds like you are already settling in. Good for you. Blessings galore to you!!! (And my son LOVES Biola! He’s in Hope Hall.)

  4. Well, my mother was from Scotland, so all my childhood and early adulthood, I heard words like wee, bugger, wean (pronounced wane), lass, stoat, breenge, kilt, sod, and many others in her Scots accent that she never lost.

  5. Hi Joy! I also discovered your blog through your mom’s books. It’s so much fun to hear about your experiences in Scotland. I know only a wee bit about it! Having to step over dogs while browsing in bookstores sounds delightful! Best wishes for a wonderful beginning to your school year!

  6. I loved the part where you wrote about the dog in the bookshop! We North Americans just need to let our hair down and let dogs let their big, floppy ears down. (???) I mean it haha! Scotland has been my dream destination for years, and now it still is all the more after reading this. I really didn’t know Scottish men wore kilts other than ceremonial occasions. I love kilts and anything plaid. (No haggis for me, I had an opportunity to eat haggis this year and had no trouble turning it down) Can’t wait to read more of your posts on Scotland!

  7. I am an American living in Cape Town, South Africa. One of the phrases used here that I want to take back to the US is: “pleasure”. It’s used in place of you’re welcome. If you say thank you to your waitress, she will say “my pleasure”. If you say thank you to a good friend, she will say “pleasure”. So proper and fun!

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