As holiday home owners in both Crail and Edinburgh, we watched with interest the #Blogmanay campaign which evolved last Hogmanay in Edinburgh, and participated by joining in some of the events and adding our share of Tweets and photographs to the stream of ideas to enjoy the winter season around the capital.
We were in Crail for the weekend (the first one in January 2013) when the travel bloggers who had stayed on to experience more than just a Ne’er Day hangover made their way to St Andrews to enjoy some hospitality and discover the beauty of visiting our corner of Fife during the winter season. We shared the sunrise which became such a favourite photograph on the Visit St Andrews Facebook page – the one taken by blogger KirstenAlana as she enjoyed an early morning trip to the beach (and dip in the sea…).
So, when asked as one of the ScotlandHour team if I’d like to be involved in #Blogmanay this year, I thought it would be a good idea to head to St Andrews for the start of the winter festivities on St Andrews Day, the 30 November.
We headed up for a short break in Crail, arriving on Friday evening to find that the Crail Fish Bar was indeed open and ready to take our orders, and serving up tasty fish suppers and some scampi and chips for the younger members of the family. It is good to know that Michael and his staff are achieving local support and good reviews, and we’ll certainly be back!
Saturday dawned fair and mild, which was perhaps not quite the temperature the ice sculptors from Sand in Your Eyes had hoped for when they planned the ice sculpture at Holy Trinity Church in St Andrews, but they worked on to produce a beautiful piece “HMS Hamish” – with the famous St Andrews cat making a star appearance on the prow of the ship. It was even more magical when we returned in the evening to see it lit up – pity the temperature had kept up to the balmy heights of around 8 degrees at that point! This was one of the final events for the St Andrews Food and Drink Festival which has been running throughout November, and looks set to become a firm fixture for future years.
The boys in our family group had noted that the British Golf Museum and the Royal and Ancient were holding open days, so headed there to find out more. I was treated to great description of the development of gutta percha and wooden clubs (I think…).
The variety of shops in St Andrews is a delight, with some new additions since our last visit, and enough to keep a teenager and her mother busy (and spending) for most of the day. We particularly enjoyed visiting Bonkers and J&G Innes for all manner of Christmas goodies, and even spotted Jo MacSween signing copies of her Haggis Bible and preparing samples of haggis to entice the Christmas shoppers.
Out in the streets of St Andrews, the St Andrews Partnership had pulled together entertainments including a bungee bounce, and had both Santa Claus and St Andrew on call for the switching on of the Christmas lights. We enjoyed hearing “The Other Guys” perform, although the teenager refused the opportunity to have her photo taken with the One Direction cut-outs on stage! At this point the senior family member headed off for a quick visit to the new St Andrews Brewing Co pub in South Street, before we re-convened for our next adventure.
A surprise event, which we’d found out about through a local contact in Crail, was the Open Evening at the St Andrews Observatory. Sandy, a long-time resident of St Andrews, luckily knew a way through the back streets of the town as the traffic lights at the end of North Street were causing long tail backs. We joined the throngs of enthusiastic amateur astronomers and were lucky enough to be able to see the Seven Sisters through one of the roof-top telescopes, as well as hearing about the work the department is doing to map the stars and eclipses.
A quick whizz back into the centre of St Andrews and we were just in time for our evening meal at Mitchells – we’d booked earlier and they’d managed to re-arrange their bookings so our family of 4 could all enjoy a tasty supper. Hearty Cullen Skink, pies – chicken and steak on offer – and warm winter salads for the ladies meant that everyone had a meal to enjoy. As the children were tired, we left just as the evening entertainment was beginning, but we’ll be back some other time when we’ve not been on our feet all day!
A great day out in St Andrews, and a most enjoyable start to #Blogmanay. If you’d like a base near St Andrews for Christmas 2013 or New Year 2013/14, then we’re offering 5-night breaks from £600 – head here to read more.
See links to many of our St Andrews favourites mentioned in this blog by heading over to our Pinterest board “Blogmanay in Fife”