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