St. Andrews Day & “At the Ceilidh”


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Happy (delayed) St. Andrews Day!

For those of you who don’t know, let me tell you the 30th of November it is commemorated the Day of Scotland through its main Saint, the Saint from where I have the privilege to live and work in.

This weekend has been full of new experiences and I am still so overwhelmed by all of them that I don’t know where to start! As a History professional (they say), let’s stick with the chronological order to keep the story as true as possible. So, November 30th fell on a Thursday, and honestly, I don’t remember doing anything else apart from staying in Skyping with two of my best friends back home. But the weekend announced itself promising and exciting.

On Friday the St Salvator’s Chapel Choir (where one of my dear fencing friends is) organised a ceilidh, and I was looking forward to it. I skipped so many of those in these past two months and I wasn’t going to let that happen again. So there I went but without a skirt, because I left them all at home. It is something to add to the suitcase when coming back after Christmas.

A ceilidh is probably one of the best and funniest experiences one could have in Scotland. It is pronounced /keili/, and basically consist of a dance gathering that does not require dance skills at all, but a wonderful attitude, energy and predisposition to laugh, stumble and step on other people’s feet.

This is not a picture I took, but one I found on the internet. I think it is beautiful!

The experience was so worth a try. I joined some more friends there and we danced the night. Thank you for the lovely ladies organising every song and giving instructions in advance, because it could have been a real disaster leaving us on our own. This is something I really enjoy about the ceilidhs: you are not expected to know anything. There is always someone with more experience that teaches you, both before and on the go. And it is quite funny hearing people counting the steps and the jumps as they dance. I cannot remember all the names, but they were a few that caught my ear: “the flying Scotsman” and “the Highland barn” were the funniest.

Although sometimes you felt like the music will never end. Oh, the music. What to say about the music. It was live all the time! If there is enough wonder in a dancing night, add a live band to reach perfection. I loved the performances and the songs.

But that was not the only surprises the weekend held.

On Saturday, St. Andrews Day was celebrated with a massive street ceilidh in South Street, and it was packed. So many people showed up that you cannot have an idea of what it meant dancing (trying not to fall, to be precise) inside that human tide. But the laughter was worth the tumbles. Did we not laugh, my goodness. And the lady with the microphone, she was a show-woman. Hilarious and full of energy. The night added its magical touch at the beginning of the dance because it was drizzling. That couldn’t stop us from jumping into the street, grabbing our partners by the waist and turn, and flip, and jump, and dance the night away.


This is not something I filmed, but we were there, somewhere!

After the massive cilidh, we parade the street towards East Sands, the beach, to see the fireworks. Again, the one below is not my video, but we were there!

The fireworks were amazingly beautiful, and they managed to recreate the flag of Scotland in the air! I couldn’t find a picture or a video of that but it was breathtaking!


The night ended up with the four of us at Aikman’s, possibly everyone’s favourite pub in St. Andrews. And we laughed, and drank, and gossiped and laugh again.

These past two days have been precious gemstones in my memory. I will never forget them, for sure. Specially this Saturday, November 2nd, when the day was ridiculously perfect and everyone ended up being a hoarse werewolf.

And to finish the post completely, this is one of my favourite ceilidh songs. Enjoy and haahoi!


Just opened one of the books I am currently working with for my research, Poet and Hero in the Persian Book of Kings by Olga M. Davison, and found this dedicatory.


It says: “For Shula, with a great deal of affection and admiration”. This belonged to someone who was dear to other someone, thus signed the book for her. It has nothing to do with my academic purpose, but it holds a magical feeling knowing that what I have in my hands was part of the life story of some people before me.

Research can be indeed magical sometimes.

The Raisin Weekend

There is a long-established tradition here in St. Andrews about what they call Academic Families. Basically, during the Fresher’s Week you are adopted by an Academic Mother and Academic Father (not necessarily matching sexes, we live in 2017), along with what could be a quite high number of siblings, and you prepare for what’s to come in Raisin Weekend. You can read about the Raisin tradition clicking here, should you be interested. But if you ever went to St. Andrews, I am pretty sure you know what I am talking about.

I am not going to lie, I was quite happy I skipped all the adoption system until I was suddenly adopted by one of my fencing mates last Thursday. And I refused many times before facing the truth: I was now included in an Academic Family.

And thank goodness I was.

The experiences of these past two days have left a mark both in my body and in my memory. In my heart and in my clothes. And I want to be the kind of person who is able to admit when she was wrong. I completely was. I need to send a warm hug and an honest thank you to my Academic Parents, Charlotte and Connor, and to my Academic Siblings: Cameron, Andrew (mates in mixing drinks, friends for life), Dani, Grace, Wenting, Hannah and Parker.  Cheers to our Academic Uncle and Aunt, John and Megan, and to our Academic Cousins, Hayden and Aimee. We had the greatest time.

And to prove so, here you have some pictures.

Chilling with family, before heading to the Scavenger Hunt


Our Scavenger Hunt task list. We killed it (the telephone box one we did it a posteriori, evidence is shown below)


Proudly showing our Charlotte’s tattoos
Paint fight!
Post-paint fight
One of the tasks in our Scavenger Hunt
Before heading to the Foam Fight
Foam Fight. We are supposed to be there. Somewhere. I think I can spot Andrew at the back.
Post-Foam Fight
My favourite picture

Rainy morning

It doesn’t rain in Scotland. Humidity fills completely the air, and then the wind moves it. Therefore, umbrellas and raincoats find themselves completely useless.

This has nothing to do with PhD process, meetings, proposals or readings. But since I reached the office completely soaking I had the weird feeling of sharing my humid walking morning with whoever finds it interesting.

The cheetah’s face, my face.

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