The Herald Magazine - - CONTENTS - AN­DREW MACKAY

IT’S ex­tra­or­di­nary how a small coun­try such as Scot­land can have such an as­sort­ment of dis­tinct re­gions, each with its own pe­cu­liar­i­ties in farm­ing, build­ings and dialect. Bound­aries be­tween areas are rarely de­fined – the pas­sage from one to the other may sim­ply be to cross a river or range of hills.

To­day I am in the King­dom of Fife, wrapped in Suzuki’s lit­tle Ig­nis, a baby SUV. De­spite its foot­print be­ing mi­nus­cule, it has in­creased its mass like an an­gry cat. Flared wheel arches, a slightly raised plat­form, ap­peal­ing front end and an­gled roofline now give it some au­thor­ity. Alas, I think its rear end con­tains a much more tor­mented de­sign.

The pas­sen­ger cabin is bright and cheery with a two-tone fin­ish to the dash­board and door pan­els and body-colour door catches.

My car is the SZ5 top-end spec­i­fi­ca­tion and is en­hanced by satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion, LED lights and dual-zone cli­mate con­trol, which in such a small com­pact car may be dif­fi­cult to achieve.

Space is ad­e­quate for driver and frontseat pas­sen­ger and, with the ben­e­fit of four doors, get­ting in and out of the rear is easy. Seats in this area will re­cline and slide, of­fer­ing more legroom and gen­er­ally making jour­neys more com­fort­able. The Ig­nis may well have its place in the town and city but it is an ideal com­pan­ion on this trip as I weave my way through the nar­row streets and lanes of the small coastal towns, of­ten jammed with parked cars.

Ear­lier, I’d passed huge flat land­scapes where arable farm­ing pre­dom­i­nated. Potato boxes were stacked high and fields of poly­tun­nels were com­mon, as were row upon row of dark green veg­eta­bles.

Over the years an­cient set­tle­ments such as Crail have evolved and to­day its in­fu­sion in the past has pro­vided it with savouries from his­tory. An­cient bat­tle­ments that look out on to the is­land of May or far­ther to the Bass Rock and North Ber­wick where dif­fer­ent agri­cul­ture, houses and di­alects will be found.

In Crail, I am at­tracted to the many roofs that are cov­ered in or­ange tiles such as those preva­lent in the south of France.

Can it be at some time in its past this place had a cli­mate that sup­ported olives, or­ange groves and vine­yards? I had read this coast­line has more sun­shine and less rain than most parts of the UK but could it have been al­most Mediter­ranean?

Lob­ster creels, floats and fishing nets sug­gest some fur­ther al­liance.

There is, of course, a rea­son. Pe­cu­liar to this area are many roofs with dis­tinc­tive clay tiles. Places such as Crail also had thriv­ing fishing fleets and mean­ing­ful trad­ing links with Eu­ro­pean coun­tries. Coal and salt left the Fife coast and in re­turn as bal­last on trad­ing boats came the tiles that were used to re­place the thatched roofs.

My lit­tle Ig­nis has a 1.2-litre Dual­jet en­gine with an out­put of 90ps linked to a five-speed man­ual gear­box. This model has all-wheel drive and hill de­scent con­trol, which may ap­pear out of place on such a small car but it is likely to skip over muddy ground and be­cause of its light weight per­form bet­ter than large, heavy SUVs.

There was plenty of op­por­tu­nity to

The vil­lage of Crail, above, en­joyed strong trad­ing links and boasted a thriv­ing fishing fleet. The re­vamped and re­ju­ve­nated Suzuki Ig­nis, be­low

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