25 things to do on a holiday in the East Neuk of Fife

25 things to do on a holiday in the East Neuk of Fife

We’re just back from an 11-night stay at Sandcastle Cottage, and have enjoyed lots of things around the East Neuk of Fife and St Andrews.  As seasoned holidaymakers in the area, there are of course some glaring omissions which we’ve visited before or didn’t do this time round, but we thought the selection might inspire you if you’re considering a break here.

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Crail Harbour – cake shoot!

This might seem ever so slightly eccentric, but you’ll just have to bear with me… There’s a story to be told.

In the course of the last few years I’ve met lots of wonderful people who love cake, and quite a few who also like to travel. One such friend has combined the two loves by creating a blog about cake in beautiful places.

As she received (and accepted) a proposal of marriage on the Isle of May, it seemed only fitting that whilst on holiday in Crail we should attempt to create a photograph for her blog involving some delicious cake from Crail, and a distant view of the island.

We tried some practice shots on the beach at Kingsbarns the other day, and discovered that this cake – view combination is more difficult than you’d think. With a requirement to squeeze a distant view in to make it recognisable, but to keep the foreground in focus too, there were some poor shots – even with my junior cake-holder holding the plate!

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There was some millionaire shortbread on the plate, but it was barely visible. We’d need to be sure to pack some real stand-up substantial cake to make it work.

And then of course there was the cake choice – what to pick? A coconut biscuit was tasty, but didn’t fit the definition of cake (would we have got away with a Jaffa Cake?)

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We knew who’d have the answer, the lovely Edna, baker of fine cakes at the Honeypot Guest House and Tearoom – and producer of a very fine lemon drizzle cake. Arriving at 3:30 pm, I was very fortunate to find just a sliver of delicious cake left. It was difficult to keep it nestled in its little carry-out box long enough to ensure that it made the journey down to the harbour.

Then there was the pretty, but bothersome issue of wanting to include both the harbour and the Isle of May in the shot, but the bunting from the Lifeboat Gala Day meaning that the chance of that elusive island view was even more difficult to capture.

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Moving around the harbour meant that we lost the chance to see the fishing boats, but did get a better glimpse of the Isle of May.

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You’ll have to visit the Cake with a View blog to find out which photographs of cakey deliciousness made the final cut, but I can assure you that the cake didn’t last much longer (did I mention the seagull-swooping hazard which has to be overcome when photographing foodstuffs at a harbour?).

We hope that you’ll be inspired to get out and about with some cake and a camera, and send some pictures to Sophia – she’s married her Scotsman and moved to Canada now, so photos of Scotland are much appreciated, but we think this idea is one which should be celebrated with some cake wherever your travels take you!

Visit to the Honeypot Cafe

Before we put wi-fi internet access into Sandcastle Cottage, our guests used to have to wander along to the Honeypot Café to use their wi-fi network.  Although you can now surf the net to your heart’s content in the cottage, you’d be missing out on Edna’s great cakes and Graham’s delicious soup.  On warm days you can sit outside either at the front or the back. Its great for light lunches. If you haven’t tried Crail Crab yet then this is one of the places that sell it.

Pop in and say hello next time you’re out for a wee wander round Crail.

Honeypot cafe Honeypot Guest House and Tearoom Crail

Honeypot for great soup, delicious cakes, coffees and more

This time, Chocolate!

If you followed our year end walk on 31 December 2010, you’ll see that we ended the walk in Anstruther having a portion of chips at the Famous Anstruther Fish Bar.

Today we decided to fortify ourselves at the Cocoa Tree in Pittenweem before starting a walk back to Crail from there, figuring that it was cold and we needed some incentive to get us going.

What a choice! We were greeted warmly by Chris Walker who was spending his New Year break helping out in the cafe. The Cocoa Tree was one of the few places to be open on 2nd January, but this was due to demand from regulars and at the time when we were there a steady stream of customers was arriving to savour the delights on offer.

This was our first visit, and certainly won’t be our last. The Caliente: a divine combination of quality hot chocolate and a hint of chilli is definitely addictive and a perfect pick-me-up for someone who doesn’t like sickly sweet chocolate drinks. Paradise in a cup. If you can’t wait to get here to sample some, then the Cocoa Tree offers on-line ordering and I’ve just noticed that they also stock Willie Harcourt-Cooze’s World Class Cacao products too. Oh, I’m lost!

We measured our distance using iMapMyWalk (a free app for iPhone) and from the western end of Pittenweem to Sandcastle Cottage at the eastern end of Crail we clocked up just over 8 miles, to bring our total for the three days over New Year to 20 miles. Great training for the Moonwalk!



Crail Food Festival – Social Networking in Action

Crail Food Festival Leaflet

Crail Food Festival Leaflet

As owners of Sandcastle Cottage, we have had a base in the village of Crail since 1982. It’s a lovely village, and over the years we’ve had a small circle of friends and acquaintances there through neighbours, old friends who’ve lived here for a while, and some of the other holiday home owners we’ve got to know via emails and occasional meet-ups in Crail.The great thing we’re finding about the growth in new technologies (grouped loosely together under the umbrella term ‘social media’) is that we’re getting to know lots more people in Crail by sharing our knowledge of how to be social on-line.Yesterday, at one such meeting, Peter Salkeld, Graham Anderson and I were discussing how to make the most of the tools available on the internet to publicise an event which Graham’s driving forward – next summer’s Crail Food Festival.Peter was remarking that in days gone by, we’d have put up posters round about Crail and the local villages, and maybe we’d have attracted some local people and a few tourists to come to such an event. More recently, we’d have advertised by building a website and using the website address on our poster campaign to allow people to find out more about the details of the festival. But over the last 5 years, new tools have been emerging which should allow us to publicise our event to many more people, which will hopefully lead to the event being a commercial success as well as great fun and a lovely day out in Fife – or the centrepiece of a weekend stay here.We were discussing Twitter and Facebook and how they can be used to help us to make the most of our event.We have a website for the Crail Food Festival, and it’s currently being developed as we contact more potential sponsors and participants who will want to come to Crail to showcase the best of Food and Drink in Fife and Scotland. We also have a Crail Food Festival Facebook page where friends can participate and hear the latest news, and a Crail Food Festival Twitter account where we’ll be building a following by adding friends and helpful Tweets about food in Fife and more details of the events as they become available.Our discussion yesterday centred around the power of these new tools to encourage our friends to visit the website for the event, put the date in their diaries, and most important of all – to come along and support the event.A little Facebook workshop developed as we discussed the difference between having a personal account on Facebook – all three of us: Graham, Peter and Susan have them, but there was a little clarification on how Facebook Pages – such as this one for Crail Food Festival were different from our personal accounts.When it came to the Twitter discussion in our meeting however, we needed to have a concrete example of how Twitter is at the basic level a really helpful tool. Graham plucked an example out of the air. He said: “here’s the thing – I’m going to Dundee this afternoon. What if I were to ask on Twitter where I should go for a coffee?” (As the owner of the Honeypot he’s keen on people asking that type of question :)). I said that the first thing you’d have to do is make sure that you have enough followers who know Dundee well to get a chance of getting an answer – but I’ve got quite a few followers on my @2crail account – I’ll have a go.Here’s what happened:I sent out a Tweet:[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/2crail/status/7041681375367168″]A little later in the afternoon came the reply from Kim Adamson:[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/DiscoveryDundee/status/7088387152416768″]Then Kim followed it up with a further reply:[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/DiscoveryDundee/status/7089029606547456″]And, another suggestion arrived from our friend Finlay – just a bit too late for our coffee-drinking decision (but one to store away for next time):[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/Caiplie/status/7096468598951936″]As our friends Kim and Finlay had been so helpful, I thanked them for their help:[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/2crail/status/7099710301020160″]But guess what? Our little chat about coffee had attracted the attention of another Twitterer – our friend Harriet @fictionwitch – who did another thing which good Twitter friends do: she ‘retweeted’ the thank you note – thus giving more exposure to all of the Twitter accounts mentioned.What a super result from our little coffee friends experiment. Do you have an example of how Twitter or Facebook friends have helped you out that you’d like to share? Add a comment below if you do.