Not much anyway. Just the swimming pool. It’s now a haven for little boats. No, no forget all that tinkling of metal on masts, these ones are all tied up, on trailers, on tarmac. They filled in the swimming pool, covered it with tarmac, parking for dinghies.
Around these boats out of water still stand a few of the multi-coloured cubicle doors that once ringed the outdoor salt water pool at North Berwick. Just walking across what used to be water I can see yet the floral caps of the synchronised swimming displays, lit from below, performing to music, in the chill night air.
Apart from that the town has changed little. But for one fantastic audition. For the pool area has been replaced by the Scottish Seabird Centre. Out in the firth the isles of Fidra and Craigleith bask in the sun. The Big Bass Rock draws every eye. Sula still sails every day, round the isles. And the Seabird Centre runs a big-engined beast round the waters now too.
We’d gone for a festival; but there was no beer, no books no jazz. For this was Puffin Fest. Whilst the Bass hosts the gannets, the rock white to the eye even from the shore, seven miles distant, as up to 150,000 yellow-necked and black-tipped marvels find a spot to sit on their egg, the other isles play host to kittiwakes, and eider, and puffins.
But before then we exchanged our f’s for our t’s and headed to the East Links, and the puttin’ green. These are big, long holes, all hummocks and bumps and dips. Not easy. But the boys were comfortably in the lead as the last tee beckoned. Hole-in-one buys the ice creams. Oh how we laughed, as six folk stagger round 17 holes, barely scraping a 2 between them. Then off she goes, a roll a bump, a trundle – that’s going in – and plunk, the ball disappears. The Genealogist always was dangerous wielding a club, much like Wilma Flintstone some may say. I couldn’t possibly comment.
And the ice cream. Luca’s of Musselburgh, still there after all these years; same corporate colours; same original van styles, unlike any others you’ll find, anywhere. Same ice cream too. Good stuff, but not Equi’s.
I’m minded too that RLS holidayed by the same beaches, climbed the same rocks. The prisons on the Bass, housing the covenanters from The Killing Times back home, holed up on the rock. And RLS weaved it all into Catriona and Kidnapped, Treasure Island too. There’s a lighthouse on the rock, Stevenson built of course.
And so to puffins. The telescope deck has you mesmerised by diving gannets, plunging from huge heights into the depths – and if you take one of the boat trips and have them plummeting all around you, well that’s one of the sights of the seas. There’s live web-cams, controllable to whatever you want to see; zoom in closer. The puffins on Craigleith are having a rare squabble, ready to head into the burrows. A shag sits on a chick, hatched a few hours earlier.
Then there was Tiffany’s, not quite breakfast, but soup and a toastie. And we wonder why we don’t go to North Berwick more often, now that the synchronised swimmers have left town. We’ve tended to head west for puffins, to Staffa, but a day in North Berwick, now that’s one to do again.