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New top 10 fun family holiday activities in the East Neuk & St Andrews

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.

Enjoy!

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Family holiday magic: the East Neuk & St Andrews

Copyright Sara Scott 2016

A big thank you…

…to Helen Pugh Photography. Helen is a fantastic photographer, mum and friend. She has given us many gorgeous, professional pictures of Rose Cottage for this website, such as this one of beautiful roses in the back garden:

Rose Cottage just outside of Crail, East Neuk of Fife, summer 2015.  © Helen Pugh Photography www.helenpughphotography.com Tel: 07837 533051

Rose Cottage just outside of Crail, East Neuk of Fife, summer 2015.
© Helen Pugh Photography
www.helenpughphotography.com
Tel: 07837 533051

 

And this one of a breakfast at Rose Cottage:

Rose Cottage, springtime 2015, in the East Neuk of Fife. © Helen Pugh Photography www.helenpughphotography.com Tel: 07837 533051

Rose Cottage, springtime 2015, in the East Neuk of Fife.
© Helen Pugh Photography
www.helenpughphotography.com
Tel: 07837 533051

What’s more, Helen has recently done maternity, newborn baby and older baby shoots for our family, giving us outstanding natural, beautiful images that we will treasure forever.

Both Mr ENB and I normally hate getting our picture taken but Helen somehow manages to make it seem easy and fun! She believes that if you are a nervous or reluctant subject then you just haven’t met the right photographer yet and I think she’s right.

She is also endlessly energetic, passionate and creative with a real eye for a beautiful shot. Please do check out her website, Facebook page and Instagram account if you are looking for PR or portraiture photos that you are guaranteed to love.

Thanks again Helen!

Helen Pugh in action

Helen Pugh in action

Spooky Neuky – 7 Halloween must dos in St Andrews & the East Neuk

Oooooohhhhh…everything’s getting a bit spooky here in the East Neuk and St Andrews in time for Halloween. Read my round-up of 7 of the best ghoulish and ghostly goings on this Halloween weekend if you dare…

1. Fright Night at Kellie Castle

Supernatural sights in the Kellie Castle Gardens

Supernatural sights in the Kellie Castle Gardens

At Kellie Castle & Garden (near Anstruther, East Neuk) on Friday 30th October it’s Fright Night. Join them for a dark castle tour with local ghostly stories and an evening of Halloween entertainment. Enter if you dare . . . The tour will be followed by a fancy dress competition and ghostly treats. (6.30-9pm, £8 adult, £5 child. For further information please call 01333 720271).

Or on Saturday 31st October at Kellie there’s a day of Halloween Fun! Gruesome Grizelda would like you to find all of the ingredients for her spell in the garden and woodland at Kellie. Take a tour of the Castle and take part in the Halloween themed trail followed by self-led crafts. A fancy dress competition and carved pumpkin/turnip competition will take place. (8am-4pm, £5 adult, £4 child. For further information please call 01333 720271)
Having experienced the Halloween trail in previous years at Kellie I’ve seen how much imagination and work goes into it plus the castle lends a very spooky backdrop so it’s definitely a great place to visit for Halloween, especially if you have little ones.

2. Pumpkin Festival

Don’t miss the SPOOKTACULAR Halloween fun at popular Cairnie Fruit Farm, Cupar. The farm sows several different varieties of pumpkins and in 2014 they produced nearly three thousand pumpkins including some “designer” white and duck egg blue varieties which proved very popular. They offer a fun selection of shapes and sizes (& colours too) to choose from! Picked pumpkins are available in the shop during the month of October. The Pumpkin Festival features: Torch Light Maze Nights (30th and 31st October, 7-9.30pm, tickets £8.75), PYO Pumpkins, Pumpkin Carving demonstrations, Face painting, Fancy Dress competitions, Kids Craft Table, Apple Bobbing Barrels, Lucky Dips, Halloween Novelties & Gifts, Autumn/Pumpkin inspired Menu and Spooky Kids Menu. (Tel 01334 655610, Email info@cairniefruitfarm.co.uk)

3. Creepy cocktails in St Andrews

For adults who love Halloween how about a creepy cocktail? Lots of bars and restaurants in St Andrews, such as the House restaurants (The Dolls House, The Grill House and The Glass House), West Port bar and The Adamson, are offering suitably spooky cocktail creations for Halloween e.g. “Vampire’s Kiss”, “Trick or Treat” and “Bloody Bellini”. You can get a “Flaming Zombie” or “Corpse Reviver” at The Adamson’s Witches & Wizards Halloween Party on Saturday 31st October from 9pm until late. They’ll have plenty potions & creepy creations from the Adamson cauldron. Sounds like my kind of spirits!

4. Monster nails

Get some Halloween glamour ready for all those parties with a visit to Hepburns Nail Lounge, St Andrews. Here are some of their amazing Halloween-inspired nail creations, from their social media feeds:

Hepburns Nail Lounge does Halloween

Hepburns Nail Lounge does Halloween

5. Wynds and witches tour

Shriek with fright and scream with laughter on the Original St Andrews Witches Tour, a 70 minute tour leading you through some of Scotland’s most horrible and gruesome history. A costumed guide will lead you through the supernatural streets and weird wynds while telling you carefully-researched tales of horror and history, phantoms and folklore – but be careful… the spirits of the town are only too eager to greet you.

This tour is actually on year round on Thursday and Friday nights but the Halloween tour is extra special as it’s fancy dress. (7.30pm, £9 adult, £7 concession, departs from Greyfriars Hotel on North Street, St Andrews)

Spooky St Andrews

Spooky St Andrews

 6. A very spooky true story

For the true story of witch hunts in days of old right here in the East Neuk read “The Weem Witch” by Leonard Low. I’ve just ordered a copy for the Rose Cottage local books collection.

In 1704, Patrick Morton, a 16-year-old smith in Fife, accused local women of tormenting him by witchcraft, setting off a witch-hunt and dragging innocent women and men into a snare of repression and death. This book tells the story of the Pittenweem witches, bringing a horrifying episode in Scotland’s past under the spotlight. (Available from Amazon, £9.95).

The Weem Witch

The Weem Witch

7. Have a Halloween Party Weekender with Fence

The Dreel Halls in Anstruther will be dead lively once again for the Fence Music Halloween Weekender. King Creosote and pals are in the Upper Dreel Hall from 8pm on Friday 30th October (£15 on door – reserved out though). On Saturday 31st there is day time fun at 12 noon and a fancy dress party at 8pm with Gummi Bako/King Creosote, onthefly and Lomond Campbell as the live frighteners, plus deejays. Fancy dress theme is Victor/Victoria – boys as girls, girls as boys (tickets £20 from the Trading Post). The weekender completes with a film afternoon showing of Young Frankenstein on Sunday November 1st, then along to the newly re-opened East Neuk Hotel in Crail for anyone who still has any energy left!

Dreel Halls, Anstruther

Dreel Halls, Anstruther

Do you know of any other spellbinding goings on in St Andrews and the East Neuk of Fife this weekend? If so I’d love to hear about them so please leave a comment. Enjoy!

Don’t miss the last Night Market St Andrews of the year!

The evening of Wednesday 16th September 2015 will be a special one. Why? Well this is when the very last St Andrews Night Market of the year is taking place. I guess that means it’s officially the end of the Summer – boo hoo!

The Night Market St Andrews - outside the Steak Barn, Balgove Larder

The Night Market St Andrews – outside the Steak Barn, Balgove Larder

The Night Market is a really fun food, drink and music Summer event at one of the best seasonal venues in this wonderful part of the Earth: the Steak Barn at Balgove Larder. A lot of work by organiser Jamie Craig-Gentles and co goes into making sure that no two Night Markets are the same by having different themes and different suppliers from all around bonnie Scotland so it is not just the usual suspects that you find at other local markets (though in Fife the usual suspects are also pretty amazing too!). Previous 2015 Night Market themes have been BBQ, golf and meeting talented local chefs. This is also a nice and family friendly event so if you have little ones it’s no problem to bring them along and they will probably enjoy it too. The Night Market started out as an idea that Jamie had after living in Melbourne and enjoying the Vic Market every Wednesday evening – he thought it just seemed like a great way to enjoy food and drink midweek as well as shop!

The theme of the September Night Market is Autumn and beer. There will be a selection of four amazing local Scottish breweries (Alechemy BrewingEden Mill, Campervan Brewery & St Andrews Brewing Co) seasonal wines from a horse box (?!)  The Bijou Wine Co and locally sourced foods from Scotland – including Fresh Food Express, Mighty Mexican, Fresh r-evol-ution, Arbroath Quality Fish Teviotdale, Whisky Sauce Co., Raw Food – Good Food Good FeelingsCochrane’s Kitchen, Sri Spice Ltd, The Occasional Cake Company, Salt Pig Sea Salts, Poporopo, Meadowsweet Organics and of course the Balgove Larder Farm Shop and Cafe.

Posh popcorn from Poporopo - so good! Night Market St Andrews

Posh popcorn from Poporopo – so good! Night Market St Andrews

Not to forget, live music from the excellent Wire & Wool to get you dancing – they will be bringing the full band along so expect it to be lively!

Wire & Wool providing lively bluesy tunes at the Night Market

Wire & Wool providing lively bluesy tunes at the Night Market

Roz Hart Art will be painting faces for young and old and there will be some beautiful wooden objects from Object Company.

It all kicks off at 5pm and is on until 9pm so get yourself down there with an empty belly ready to experience great tastes and don’t be late or you’ll miss all the best stuff! It’s a free event and parking is free too. As it’s the last Night Market of the year Jamie wants it to go out with a bang. He also wants to welcome back the St Andrews University students who have been away all Summer. Check out the Night Market St Andrews Facebook page for all the latest.

Here are some more of my pictures from the Night Market in July (which was the one with the golf theme in honour of The Open 2015) to give you a flavour of what to expect. So long Night Market and can’t wait to see you again in 2016!

Order your hot food here! Night Market St Andrews

Order your hot food here! Night Market St Andrews

It's getting busy! Night Market, St Andrews

It’s getting busy! Night Market, St Andrews

If you are the designated driver panic not because this Kitsch stuff is great! Night Market St Andrews

If you are the designated driver panic not because this Kitsch stuff is great! Night Market St Andrews

Yum! Sweet treats at the Night Market, St Andrews

Yum! Sweet treats at the Night Market, St Andrews

Wemyss whiskies, Kingsbarns Distillery stall, Night Market St Andrews

Wemyss whiskies, Kingsbarns Distillery stall, Night Market St Andrews

Fresh local fish, Night Market St Andrews

Fresh local fish, Night Market St Andrews

Local book signing, Night Market St Andrews

Local book signing, Night Market St Andrews

Seven ways to Sandy Summer Days

We recently spent a wonderful two week Summer holiday at Rose Cottage – our first family Summer holiday with mini ENB (or the East Neuk Nipper as one of our friends calls her!). Sun, sea, sand, swimming, silliness, stuffing our faces – good times were had. So I thought I’d share 7 highlights from our family holiday of splendid sandy Summer days in the East Neuk and St Andrews.

Chilled-out country walks through the idyllic East Neuk countryside, with abundant wildflowers, pretty fields, sparkling seas and big dreamy skies brought back happy memories of my own summer family holidays as a child.

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Evening light on a hedgerow on the road to Rose Cottage

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Wildflowers in Kingsbarns, including my favourites – poppies

So no.1 on my Summer highlights list is to have a leisurely East Neuk country walk and bring home a posy of wild flowers.

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Posy of wildflowers brought back to Rose Cottage

With wildflowers but also great views over the East Neuk villages of Earlsferry and Elie and beyond across the Firth of Forth, plus a delightful encounter with some local seals, another highlight of our holiday was no. 2: walk the Fife Coastal Path from Earlsferry to Shell Bay. On this walk you can also enjoy seeing Elie Golf Course where long socks are mandatory (due to the long grass in the rough), the starter looks through a submarine periscope before giving you the all clear and blind shots are common – in fact at the 9th you have to ring a bell to tell the players behind you that you’ve left the green (read a review of this quirky course here)! By the golf course you walk along a nice quiet beach, which is where we spotted the seals. Then a steep climb up the cliff rewards you with the fabulous views, plus some interesting World War 2 structures and then the view over the other side of the cliff down to Shell Bay. Either continue on down to Shell Bay or head back to Earlsferry, perhaps doing as we did and grabbing a drink and tasty bite to eat in the 19th Hole, Earlsferry as a post-walk reward.

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Elie golf course and Earlsferry with wild thistles, from the Fife Coastal Path

A little bit further along the East Neuk coast was highlight no.3 – lunch at the East Pier Smokehouse, St Monans. Sample fishy delights smoked on the premises such as my favourite hot smoked salmon in a lovely relaxed, light and airy place right on the pier in the quaint and quiet East Neuk village of St Monans. It’s so close to the sea that you feel like you’re on a boat. There’s a nice family atmosphere and children are welcome. Don’t miss the excellent cakes and coffee as well. At the weekends it is also open for more formal 3 course dinners, though you must book in advance.

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Inside the East Pier Smokehouse, St Monans with outside deck area beyond

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Beautiful St Monans harbour, viewed from East Pier

Of course it wouldn’t be a Summer holiday in the East Neuk if you didn’t go to the beach so no. 4 on my list is beaches, particularly Kingsbarns and Elie beaches.

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Elie beach – very popular for watersports

Another Summer highlight in Scotland is strawberries, which brings me to no.5 on my list – Strawberry hill, otherwise known as Allanhill Farm. Children are guaranteed to love all the outdoor Summer holiday fun on offer here, including giant straw bale to climb, fort, farm animals, tractors to sit in, swings and sandpit – all free. The strawberries themselves are incredibly delicious and there are lots of strawberry-themed foodie delights in the cute country farm shop and tearoom – don’t miss the strawberry tarts if you have a sweet tooth. The views down the hill to St Andrews are also very special.

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Is it a straw bale or a climbing frame? It’s both!

On the family holiday highlights for some of our recent guests and no.6 on my list is Sunday sundaes, slurped while strolling around sunny streets. Jannetta’s ice cream emporium in St Andrews is all pretty and shiny after its recent refurb and open until 10pm, making it ideal for a takeaway-and-walk dessert after dining in one of St Andrews’ many excellent restaurants. The hard part is deciding which flavour you want as there are so many to choose from – I personally couldn’t resist the charms of the Nutella which was a chocolately, nutty, continental scoop of awesomeness. Quite different to Jannetta’s is the Ice Cream Shop in Pittenweem – it’s a proper traditional sweet shop, a piece of nostalgia for times gone by – and I highly recommend buying a cone of their Peaches ‘n’ Cream ice cream and walking around pretty Pittenweem with it. Yum! (Also when combined with a walk ice cream is calorie neutral surely?!)

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Peaches ‘n’ cream ice cream, The Ice Cream Shop, Pittenweem

Finally no.7 on my list is all about Summer adventures for the little ones at Craigtoun Country Park, St Andrews. Just outside St Andrews you’ll find Craigtoun Country Park which has been much loved by families for over 50 years. Mini ENB loved having a picnic on the grass by the boating lake and taking a ride on the “Rio Grande Railway”. Lots of families were enjoying taking a pedalo or rowing boat out round the lake, past elegant swans and a fairytale castle-like structure. For older children the adventure play park looked pretty cool and other attractions are the tractor ride, bouncy castle, putting green, crazy golf, glasshouses and even geocaching. Well worth a visit with the wee ones.

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Boating lake, Craigtoun Country Park

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The Rio Grande, Craigtoun Country Park

So there are my 7 highlights from a magical Summer family holiday in the East Neuk and St Andrews – already looking forward to doing it all again in Summer 2016!

New boat day trips to North Berwick!

Visitors to the East Neuk of Fife have long benefited from a pretty fabulous day trip by boat to the Isle of May, in the middle of the Firth of Forth (read all about it in my blog). However it wasn’t possible, unless you chartered your own boat, to get all the way across to the other side of the Forth by boat. Well now you can! Summer boat trips are now running from Anstruther in the East Neuk of Fife to North Berwick in East Lothian, linking two great coastal towns on either side of the Forth. The maiden voyage sailed on Friday 7 August 2015 and seems to have been a great success.

As Seafari Adventures Forth, who run the service, say, the route follows the centuries old Pilgrims route for worshippers heading to and from St Andrews.  It also links together two of Scotland’s greatest golfing locations, the home of golf in St Andrews and the ‘Golf Coast’ in East Lothian.

Here are the details:

  • Website: www.seafari-edinburgh.co.uk
  • Journey time: approximately 45 minutes
  • Boat: the catamaran ‘Seafari Explorer’ which is licensed to carry 55 passengers. More about the boat
  • Luggage: Bike racks are being fitted on board so the boat can carry bicycles for those wishing to complete a great ’round forth’ day trip, or for those heading on longer routes North or South. Bikes and golf clubs are carried free of charge.
  • Sailing times: these differ slightly each day due to the tides but generally the outbound trip from North Berwick departs at 09:30 and then departs Anstruther at 10:30.  The return trips are at 18:00 (North Berwick) and 19:00 (Anstruther)  This means that passengers have the whole day to explore ‘the other side of the river’ before returning home again. Timetable
  • Cost:  £25 return for adults, £20 concession, £15 child (free for under 3s) Book online

On the voyage you may see all manner of wildlife from puffins, diving gannets, eider ducks and seals to more elusive whales and dolphins. Keep your eyes peeled, with the help of the crew! Landmarks to enjoy on the way include the Isle of May and its numerous lighthouses, Bass Rock, Berwick Law and lots to see further afield if visibility is good such as Edinburgh’s Arthur’s Seat.

When you get to North Berwick you can enjoy the lovely beach, golf courses, harbour, Scottish Seabird Centre (with cameras to view the wildlife on Bass Rock, the Isle of May etc.), Museum of Flight and excellent boutique shops, bars, cafes and restaurants. More tourist information

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Beach and view to Bass Rock, North Berwick

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Anstruther harbour

Visitors coming the other way to Anstruther will be able to enjoy the harbour, beach and quaint village, Scottish Fisheries Museum, award-winning fish and chips, gift shops, cafes and restaurants, golf courses and walking the Fife Coastal Path e.g. to Pittenweem or Crail.

All aboard me hearties!

Putting the East Neuk on the Whisky Map

As Crail Food Festival-goers know, the East Neuk of Fife punches well above its weight for production of wonderful food. In terms of drink, until recently you had to go further afield. Thankfully that has all changed with the opening in December last year of the Kingsbarns Distillery. The East Neuk is now well and truly on the food AND drink map with what will be its first whisky now in production!…

Read the rest of my article for the Crail Food Festival 2015 and find out what to expect on a visit to what is now Rose Cottage’s closest tourist attraction. Also don’t forget to check out the Festival on 12-14 June 2015 for lots of foodie fun!

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Whisky tasting with Douglas Clement, tour at Kingsbarns Distillery

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face

Rose-Cottage-Website_Blog

…so begins Robert Burns’ poem “Address to a Haggis”, which is traditionally spoken aloud with gusto at Burns Night events the length and breadth of Scotland. For those of you who don’t know, Burns Night is 25th January (the date which was the bard’s birthday) which falls on a Sunday this year,
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An East Neuk Easter

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My family has always loved Easter – all cute bunnies and chicks, the start of better weather and lighter days, family meals and days out and more chocolate than is really good for you. When we were little my sisters and I even had our own special Easter roles – I was an Easter Chick, J was an Easter Bunny and C was an Easter Lamb. Continue Reading…

Christmas shopping in the harbour

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Anstruther may not be a sprawling metropolis but in East Neuk terms it’s the big place you go to do your shopping, often before enjoying those fish ‘n’ chips that the village is famous for. There are lots of independent shops that I like in Anstruther which are well established but just in time for Christmas there’s a new kid in the harbour called “Harbour Interiors”.
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