Just why are carved pumpkins associated with Hallowe’en (or “Spooky Night” as my daughter calls it) ? There are various theories about the original purpose of the “jack-o’-lantern” in Celtic culture in Ireland and Scotland. One use was carving faces into pumpkins or turnips and putting a candle inside to ward off evil spirits and putting them on a windowsill to keep harmful spirits out of the home. A town in New Hampshire, USA has the world record for having the most jack-o’-lanterns carved and lit in the same place – over 30,000! Also did you know that a pumpkin is actually a fruit not a vegetable?
There’s one place near Rose Cottage that goes all out for pumpkins and Hallowe’en. Where am I talking about? It’s Cairnie Fruit Farm, near Cupar.
Cairnie has long been a favourite for a family day out strawberry, raspberry and even sunflower picking, cafe, enormous outdoor kids play area and mega maze (a huge field of maize which this year is crafted into a Star Wars themed maze). All Summer long it brings a smile to many a face.
Come Autumn time and it’s all about Hallowe’en. You can take a big wheelbarrow into the fields and pick your own pumpkins from the pumpkin patch, which is loads more fun than simply buying one in a supermarket (and lots of kids enjoyed riding in the wheelbarrow on the way!).
The farm shop is packed with spooky decorations – we couldn’t resist buying some to take home, including cute ghost decorations and a miniature skeleton who we’re calling “Mr. Bones”.
In the Cairnie cafe you can scoff delicious Hallowe’en themed cakes and biscuits – yum!
This weekend there are also special daytime and evening Hallowe’en events happening at Cairnie (see the picture for details). Are you brave enough to enter the torch light maze??
So if you haven’t been to Cairnie before this is the weekend to go!
There are also lots more scary but fun Hallowe’en events happening around the East Neuk, St Andrews and North East Fife area including at Craigtoun Country Park, Kellie Castle and Hill of Tarvit. See our events page for full details.
By the East Neuk Blogger, October 2017
The East Neuk’s biggest annual arts festival is in full swing until Sunday 13th August 2017! The Pittenweem Arts Festival has been running every August since 1982. The 2017 event has around 100 artists exhibiting, many in unconventional venues such as garages, sheds and living rooms and just a few in conventional galleries. This includes 3 invited artists: Graham Rich, Anna S. King and Paul Ferneaux and 1 bursary award winner, Nicola Wiltshire.
I had a very jam-packed but highly enjoyable afternoon at the festival earlier in the week. As ever the star of the show is Pittenweem itself, looking picture-postcard fishing village perfect in the Summer sunshine, enhanced by the buzz of all the visitors enjoying the wonderful art or taking a break to enjoy a relaxed coffee or ice cream outdoors and children and doggies playing happily on the beach.
For me the festival is at its best when there are outdoor sculptures as well as the indoor venues and this year did not disappoint with Kev Paxton Blacksmiths’ adorable metal Highland coos (cows) and majestic stag dotted around the village. They are very much the results of a collaborative approach and you can even be part of building the next one down by the harbour!
Another artist I loved discovering was Ian Ledward and his innovative and highly successful approach of abstracting and painting on photos. Also Keny Drew (aka East Neuk Glass) is a true original – and I would highly recommend his evening classes too. We have one of his striking photo-on-glass pieces in the kitchen in Rose Cottage. I also took home a business card for Joe Murphy, who does commissions as I was struck by his beautiful portraits of children and pets.
If you find something you like, the Pittenweem Arts Festival is a very affordable place to buy art. What did I bring home? Cards from Michelle Hewitt, a local artist who does wonderful wildlife portraits and from Pauline Austin‘s series of colourful forest paintings were both too pretty to resist. My walls were needing some decoration and I could not resist buying a limited edition etching print from Pittenweem-based Kirstie Behrens and a beautifully vibrant oil painting by Ann Watson, who lives in nearby St Monans. Both are beautiful landscapes of familiar East Neuk scenes, something I am a sucker for! I even purchased a lovely colourful puffin print for a bargain £5 at an anonymous mini stall down at the shore! It was just at a small table with a few prints and an honesty box. I think this artist should not be so shy next year! The one that got away was an original mixed media piece of an elegant swan from award-winning Paul Barlett, a festival regular. I am a huge fan and have one of his prints from a previous festival but sadly I’d already blown my budget.
The event itself is free with a suggested donation of £2 for the car park (a large field). Event brochures cost £3 and include a full map of all the venues.
Sara Scott, 2017
Rose Cottage is proving to be a haven of creativity this season! Recent guest, children’s author and illustrator Kathryn Queen visited the East Neuk from another lovely part of the UK, the Lake District, with her husband and doggy. The three of them found the relaxing holiday they were looking for with lots of coastal walks, dolphin spotting, delicious food from local farm shops and chilling out in the Rose Cottage garden room. Kathryn described the cottage as “just perfect” and “the best cottage we have ever had the pleasure to holiday in and we have been in some top places”! Before she went home I took the opportunity to purchase a couple of her children’s stories to add to the growing Rose Cottage kids book collection and she very kindly gave me two more books as a present for our daughter, Rosie. Thank you Kathryn!
Talented Kathryn writes and illustrates her charming children’s books, inspired by the real-life adventures of Meg the Labrador in England and Australia. There are now four books in the popular series, including my favourite titles “Puppy Love at First Sight” and “Growing up in Cosy Corner” with a fifth one coming very soon.
Kathryn’s website explains who Meg was and how she inspired her to write: “Meg was our first Labrador. She was a happy-go-lucky, bouncy, tail-wagging, loyal friend. From the day she was born she was everyone’s sweetheart and through her eyes and actions we all knew what she was thinking and trying to say to us.
We all said ‘the only thing Meg can’t do is talk.’
After sharing Meg’s life for 14 years her memory has inspired me to write a series of books about her life from puppyhood until she was an ‘old lady.’ My books have given Meg a chance to speak and tell us her own special story from a dog’s eye view.
They are written as interesting true stories for children, rather than a formal training guide (with a little bit of imagination thrown in) to help children understand a dog’s behaviour as they both grow up together.”
All the Meg books can be purchased from her website Megland Books. Check them out, especially if your little one is a dog lover who needs a little training on how to look after his or her four-legged friend!
It’s now official: St Andrews is as popular a hang out for animals as it is for humans!
It used to be that St Andrews had a celebrity street cat, Hamish McHamish. He was king, strutting his furry stuff around the streets, with his own Facebook page, then book and even statue. Sadly Hamish is now in cat heaven and is missed by St Andrews visitors and locals alike. No feline could ever hope to replace his presence and elusive charm.
But wait a minute, is there a new celebrity animal couple in town: Mr and Mrs McDuck? Two mallard ducks have taken a shine to Market Street and here they are having a drink at The Keys pub on a Saturday night:
They also love to hang out outside The Subway and occasionally down the lane by Maisha Indian restaurant. Where are they from? Are they moving in or just passing through on their way to a nearby pond or loch? Did their romance blossom in St Andrews a la Wills and Kate? It is difficult to interpret from their lively quacking but they are a pretty cool couple so I hope they are here to stay!
Have you met Mr and Mrs McDuck yet?!
Happy New Year everyone! Wishing you all a happy, healthy, successful and fun-filled 2017.
I’m making a resolution to make the most of my holidays in 2017 by planning them in advance, leaving day to day stresses behind and enjoying them to the max. I’m thinking endless beaches, beautiful scenery, lots of fresh air and amazing food. I know I am always happier when I have great holidays booked and can look forward to them so that’s on my to do list. If, like me, you want to have great holidays this year but haven’t booked them yet then there is still time. We still have some 2017 availability in our lovely holiday cottage, though not much so do get in touch quickly if you want to secure a wonderfully relaxing short break or longer holiday in the sea air here in Scotland’s East Neuk of Fife and St Andrews this year.
Coming soon: watch this space for an updated local events list for 2017 and news about what exciting new things 2017 will bring for visitors and locals in the East Neuk and St Andrews.
Doing anything this weekend? Why not do the Dunhill!
I’m referring to the Dunhill Links Championship which brings even more golfing madness than normal to the home of golf (St Andrews) and the East Neuk of Fife for four whole days each Autumn (or Fall to our North American cousins). This year’s championship runs 6-9 October 2016 at 3 stunning and challenging links golf courses: the Old Course, St Andrews, Kingsbarns Golf Links and Carnoustie. It’s a “pro am” event which means that professional golfers are paired with amateurs, many of who are celebrities from the sporting world, Hollywood, TV and music industry. It somehow manages to be both fun and a serious competition with big prize money at the same time.
Here’s my lowdown for visitors to this year’s event.
Who’s playing: The professional list this year includes many of the Ryder Cup players. Big names include Graeme McDowell, Danny Willett, Lee Westwood, Edoardo Molinari, Victor Dubuisson, Martin Kaymer, Paul McGinley, Padraig Harrington and many more. The celeb list this year includes Jamie Dornan, Hugh Grant, Kyle MacLachlan, Andy Garcia, Greg Kinnear, Ronan Keating, Sir Steve Redgrave, Jamie Redknapp, Alan Hansen, Shane Warne and Sir Ian Botham. See the full draw.
Cost: Free entry for the opening rounds Thursday to Saturday. Ticketed on Sunday when the play is in St Andrews only – £20 (concession £15, free to students and under 16s).
My top tips: Beat the crowds and spend Thursday, viewing from around the 15th hole and maybe following a group of players you like right along to the dramatic finish at the 18th. Bag a seat, burger and a beverage afterwards at the golf-tastic bar at the Dunvegan Hotel, which is a good place to bump into players. Then enjoy the best viewing at Kingsbarns (not to mention the stunning scenery) on the Friday, gourmet grilled cheese from the Cheesy Toast Shack and a drink afterwards at local country pub The Inn at Kingsbarns. Bring layers of warm and waterproof clothing to cope with all weathers (it is Scotland after all!), comfy shoes for walking, your camera and phone (so you can brag to your friends about whose swing you’ve just seen!).
In pictures: Here is a small selection of the many photos I have taken at previous Dunhills:
Hugh Grant on the 18th, Old Course, Dunhill Links
Fife Coast and Countryside Trust, in partnership with Fife Council, has today unveiled its new interactive website dedicated to the Fife Coastal Path, making it easier for visitors to plan trips and discover more of one of Scotland’s most beautiful coastlines.
The new website has been designed to provide the ultimate user-friendly experience, with improved navigation and functionality throughout. Visitors to the site can now quickly access detailed information about different attraction points and map their routes.
Created with the online user firmly in mind, the mapping section has been cleverly designed so that people can easily take interactive steps along the stunning coastal stretch, zooming in and out at any point they wish.
The map also now shows visitors the vast points of interest and activities available along the 117 mile long Fife Coastal Path, which include: archaeology, geology, architecture, beautiful beaches, culture, history and fascinating wildlife. From a visit to the East Neuk’s quaint historic fishing villages to the wildly beautiful and ever changing landscape of Tentsmuir, there are endless points of interest for everyone to discover and explore. I particularly love the Pittenweem to Elie and Crail to Anstruther sections of the Path, with a pub or fish ‘n’ chips stop at the end and hopping on the no. 95 bus back.
Handy information about transport and the location of public toilets along the route is also included, making it easier to plan your walk.
Earlier this year the Fife Coastal Path twinned with Skaneleden Coastal Trail in Sweden.
To view the new interactive map and make the most out of visiting the East Neuk of Fife and St Andrews, please visit: www.fifecoastalpath.co.uk and in particular the Elie to Cambo Sands and Cambo Sands to Leuchars sections. Enjoy!
With just 3 weeks left of the Summer holidays many parents are on the lookout for exciting new activities to keep the kids occupied. If that is you then you’re in luck because the Fife Coast and Countryside Trust has scoured the region to compile a handy checklist of fun, free outdoors activities to keep everyone entertained all holiday and help you discover more of Fife’s stunning outdoor spaces from award-winning beaches to great cycle routes.
Activities on the list include hunting for fossils (e.g. at Crail), searching rock pools, geocaching, photography and wildlife spotting from red squirrels to dolphins. See who in your family can tick off the most sights on their list!
As Valerie Telfer, Business Support Manager for Fife Coast and Countryside Trust, said Fife is “One of the most visited outdoor regions in Scotland” and “we’re lucky to have fantastic facilities for people of all ages to enjoy”.
As a welcome message this seems very apt for Rose Cottage at the moment as we have had some wonderful guests enjoying their holidays here recently! To mention just a few:
First we had an Edinburgh mum guest, who runs excellent birthing and baby massage classes (check out the Daisy Foundation), sharing photos with us of her own adorable little ones enjoying the cottage on their holiday – so lovely to see.
Speaking of little ones, we had a couple of guests who stayed at Rose Cottage last year for a bit of relaxation when Mrs was expecting. Then earlier this year they sent us the happy news about the birth of their beautiful little girl. I was absolutely delighted for them and also congratulate them on an excellent choice of middle name – Rose!
There were even gifts! Repeat short break guests from Edinburgh bought us the most beautiful and unusual plant this Spring as a very kind and thoughtful thank you for our hospitality. Then there was our lady golfer guest who came all the way from Portland, Oregon, USA. She knitted a hat for our little girl, while she and her husband were staying at Rose Cottage! It’s such a cute hat that fits perfectly. So kind and sweet of our lovely guest to “yarnbomb” us as she called it.
In April we had a guest from the West coast of Scotland who is a popular and talented blogger (see www.lookingforthepostman.com) . He managed to find the time on his family holiday to pen the most wonderful blogpost about Rose Cottage which totally blew me away as well as excellent and very helpful blogposts about visiting some local sights (Crail for kids, St Andrews food, St Andrews sights for kids).
Meanwhile other guests were busy writing us some glowing reviews over on our Facebook page e.g. “now that we have found Rose Cottage that is where we will stay every time we get a chance – no point looking anywhere else”.
And then, as if by magic (!), a little fairy door appeared at the foot of one of the trees in the woodland area at the back of the Rose Cottage garden. So it seems that we now have a little fairy guest, perhaps it followed us back from the Fairy Glen at Craigtoun Country Park? The Rose Cottage fairy needs a name though so all suggestions are welcome!
So I’d just like to say a big, warm thank you from me to all of our wonderful guests for their friendship and kindness – you make everything worthwhile! I can’t wait to welcome more guests to Rose Cottage in the future and hope, as I always do, that they will fall in love with Rose Cottage and the East Neuk and St Andrews as much as I have.
Family holiday magic awaits in the East Neuk & St Andrews! With just a little forward planning family holidays in the East Neuk of Fife and St Andrews have always been truly magical. Now you don’t even need to do that planning yourself – just look at my brand new “best bits” list of the top 10 activities for kids in the area. Happy days!
With this easy list you can make the most of your precious family holiday time, maximise the fun and minimise complaints from the wee ones. It’s all in there from the best beaches, adventure playgrounds, tried and tested family-friendly restaurants, to favourite day trip destinations and much more – there’s something for even the fussiest little cherub.
I’ll be keeping it up to date as new things come along and all suggestions about things to add are most welcome.
Copyright Sara Scott 2016