Monday 30 March 2015

An East Neuk Easter

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. Easter is a festival of rebirth, new life, whether you're religious or not. It's also a great time to visit the East Neuk. Borrowing J's role for a moment and using my official Easter Bunny name of "Snuggly Socks" (what's yours? I thought I'd bring you a sweet selection of what to do this Easter in the East Neuk to keep everyone in your family entertained:

Anstruther duck race
1. Race a duck - For great fun with the competitive thrill of a chance of winning a prize check out the annual Anstruther Duck Race on Easter Saturday. The Dreel Burn in Anstruther is the venue and no they are not real ducks but cute rubber ones! Entry is £1 - sponsor your duck in a local shop or on the day, if there are any left. It's organised by the Anstruther Improvements Association (AIA) and the money goes towards improving the village. 

2. Picnic with the King - As well as the Duck Race itself there is a whole music festival in Anstruther over the Easter weekend called "Yellae Deuks". Concerts are on at the Dreel Halls in Anstruther on the Friday and Saturday nights and during the day on Sunday when there will be an indoor picnic. Don't miss King Creosote himself playing at the Sunday event. Family friendly until 9pm. 

Kellie Castle and Gardens
3. Hunt eggs at a castle - National Trust properties around the country are playing host to Cadbury's Egg Trails this Easter. Where better for the little ones to run about in search of eggs than Kellie Castle, near Anstruther, with its gorgeous gardens and estate. Easter egg trails open 12-4pm on Easter Friday, Saturday and Sunday. 

Bunny, Isle of May
4. Spot the bunnies - April marks the beginning of the season for boat trips on the May Princess or RIB Osprey to the Isle of May. You're sure to see lots of cute bunnies on the island (though they're a little shy) and lots of seabirds and seals too - I hear that the puffins are there already so it's a great time to visit! Book ahead if you want a seat on the daily boat trips as it's bound to be popular.

5. See some art & crafts - Pittenweem Artists & Galleries weekend 2015 is taking place on 3-6 April in various venues around the village. It's organised by the same people as the village's famous annual arts festival, though the weekend is on a more compact scale with six exhibiting artists. 

There's also a local art and crafts event called "Spring in the Loft" upstairs at the Ardross Farm Shop, near Elie on Easter Saturday (9am-5.30pm) and Sunday (9am-4pm).

6. Find the Gruffalo - I reckon a lot of little ones are going to be very excited about the new Gruffalo Trail which opens on Easter Sunday at St Andrews' Botanic Gardens. 11am-4pm. £5 adults, free for kids. 

7. Chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate - Get your Easter chocolate fix at The Cocoa Tree cafe and Pittenweem Chocolate Company shop, Pittenweem, Iain Burnett The Highland Chocolatier, South Street, St Andrews or Fisher and Donaldson, Church Street, St Andrews. Yum!

Leave a comment if you know about something fun that I've missed.

Happy Easter all!

Copyright Snuggly Socks (normally known as Sara Scott) 2015

Friday 23 January 2015

Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face 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, sparking a whole weekend of distinctly Scottish celebrations. In fact most Scots are more likely to celebrate Burns Night than Scotland's more official annual event, St Andrew's Day. Haggis (traditionally eaten with "neeps and tatties" i.e. mashed turnip and mashed potato) and Scots whisky are the two key essentials to a Burns Supper. Formal events will add other traditional elements to that, such as having a bagpiper pipe in the entrance of the haggis, the "toast to the lassies" (by the men to the ladies) and their response to the laddies (both usually very humorous and cheeky, with the lassies getting the last laugh) plus lots of energetic ceilidh dancing. Read more about the Burns Night traditions. Less formal Burns Supper events will keep it simple. It's up to you how formal you want to be but it's really all about having a good time, usually fuelled by plenty of drinks!

Happily there are lots of great things going on for Burns Night 2015 in and around St Andrews. BID St Andrews has compiled a very helpful list of local Burns Night events and offers which I thought I'd share with you. I'm forever trying out new weird and wonderful ice cream flavours - some good, some not so much - so I'm particularly intrigued by the Haggis ice cream which is being served up at The Adamson restaurant in St Andrews this Burns weekend. Will this uniquely Scottish beast work in ice-cream form? There's really only one way to find out! 

Have a great Burns Night wherever you choose to spend it! 

Clockwise from top: Whisky at Kingsbarns Distillery, the bard on a biscuit from Fisher & Donaldson (St Andrews bakers) and a suitably Scottish decanter and fabrics in Harbour Interiors, Anstruther

Copyright Sara Scott 2015

Saturday 20 December 2014

Christmas shopping in the harbour

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".

Harbour Interiors opened on Saturday 29 November 2014 in a flurry of mince pies and spiced hot drinks. It was Sandy and Lynn Davidson's dream and it has taken them a little over a year, living outside Crail, looking for just the right premises and just the right products to make that dream a reality. A huge amount of hard work has gone into creating the shop so opening day was understandably a real celebration for them:

Sandy and Lynn Davidson
Harbour Interiors prides itself on offering the pick of coastal, country and contemporary soft furnishings, home accessories and gifts, right in heart of the East Neuk. Lynn has been in the soft furnishings (curtains, blinds, cushions etc.) business for over 30 years and both she and Sandy are interiors nuts, as anyone who has seen their showhome-like house will testify.

Harbour Interiors, Anstruther
Harbour Interiors, Anstruther
As a relative of Sandy and Lynn I may be a little biased but I think Harbour Interiors is the perfect place to do your Christmas shopping, East Neuk style. So here are 8 Harbour Interiors goodies that I'm adding to my Christmas wish list (Santa I hope you are reading this!):

1. Reindeer cushion

Isn't this reindeer cushion (£10.99) just the cutest, most Christmassy thing ever? (Santa you don't even need to bring me this one as I couldn't wait so I've already got myself one!)

Reindeer cushions, Harbour Interiors, Anstruther

2. Noel Christmas decoration

This is a classy, quality Christmas decoration (£4.95). The kind you keep for years and which goes with everything. It has a cute bell too. (Plus Noel is my middle name so it's a must buy for me!)

Christmas decoration, Harbour Interiors, Anstruther

3. Willow & Plum soap

These natural soaps look and smell great and are made right here in Fife by the Willow & Plum Soap Co. There are even dog soaps available. Seeing as I don't have a dog (and my cat really does not like baths!) I will stick to the human versions (£3.95) such as "Dark Pomegranate", "Juicy Apple" and "Eucalyptus and Sea Cucumber". 

Willow & Plum Soaps, Harbour Interiors, Anstruther

4. Kitchenware from Garden Trading

Hard to pick from the range of Garden Trading kitchenware which Harbour Interiors offers but I reckon the cookie cutters would fit perfectly in my Christmas stocking. 

Garden Trading cookie cutters, Harbour Interiors, Anstruther

5. Stylish scarves

Scarves are pretty essential at this time of year in Scotland and Harbour Interiors offers some lovely ones, at very reasonable prices too. Any of these beauties (£6.99) would suit me just fine! 

Scarves, Harbour Interiors, Anstruther

6. Tealight holder

Something you can never have too many of, especially at this dark and dismal time of year, is a tealight holder. Lots to choose from:

Tealights, Harbour Interiors, Anstruther
But this reusable brass one (£6.95) stuck out for me with its antique, unusual look: 

Brass tealights, Harbour Interiors, Anstruther

7. Thomas Kent clock

Harbour Interiors has a beautiful range of Thomas Kent mantle and wall clocks in different colours.

Thomas Kent clocks, Harbour Interiors, Anstruther
I may already have lots of clocks but I find there is always space for one more! My favourite is the mantle clock in cream with gold numbers. Classy and petite but with a cheeky wee touch of bling (£21.95).

8. New curtains

Curtains are not only essential but a great way of updating and prettifying a room. A good pair will last you for many years. When it comes to curtains and blinds Lynn really knows her stuff and has made lovely curtains and sourced great blinds for our house in the past. I hadn't appreciated quite how much of a difference a good, well-fitted pair of curtains could make to a room before Lynn showed me the error of my ill-fitting, cheap, ready-made curtain ways. Lynn can bring the fabrics to your home so you can see how they look in the actual room. If you are anything like me and have difficulty visualising what the end result will look like then this helps a lot!

Again there is lots of choice with fabrics from big names Harlequin, Moon and Prestigious Textiles (and more coming soon in the new year) but I thought this painterly fabric from the Prestigious Textiles "Printworks" book was particularly striking and unusual. Perfect for an arty studio! (Santa, did I mention what a good girl I've been?)

A Printworks fabric, Prestigious Textiles, Harbour Interiors, Anstruther

So there you go - 8 things I would love to find at the bottom of my tree this Christmas morning! Merry Christmas everyone!

Harbour Interiors, 3 Shore Street, Anstruther, East Neuk of Fife
Twitter: @InteriorsAnster
Currently open 7 days

Copyright Sara Scott 2014

Tuesday 18 November 2014

Autumnal delights

As the leaves change colour and the nights grow darker there are still lots of great things to do in the East Neuk, St Andrews and the surrounding area. Here are four of the best things I've been up to this autumn:

1. Rory mania

Following world no. 1 golfer, Rory McIlroy around the Old Course, as he teamed up with his dad to compete at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship 2014 (, was a must this October. Rory and some of his fellow professional golfers, such as Victor Dubuisson, were fresh from the European team's Ryder Cup win at Gleneagles. 

For more on what the Dunhill Links is all about and why it's such a great event see my Dunhill blog:

2. Day trip to fabulous Falkland

Just half an hour or so from St Andrews is the picture perfect village of Falkland. Most visitors go for the National Trust of Scotland's Falkland Palace (

The palace is well worth a visit for a glimpse into Scotland in days of old, when the Stuart monarchs travelled around with all of their furniture and tapestries so that their quarters in the next castle or palace could be made to look exactly like the last one! It was also a favourite place of Mary Queen of Scots.

The palace gardens are also lovely, though inevitably not as splendid in Autumn as they must be in Spring and Summer. 

A unique feature at the bottom of the garden is the stone royal tennis court - which is not the same as tennis as we know it. 

Falkland is not just about the palace though - its a very scenic and quaint place for a wander around, popping into enticing little gift shops, galleries and cafés as you go. Even the more industrial old mill is attractively vintage, though apparently soon to be knocked down. With more time you could also explore the very pretty surrounding countryside, which looked great for walking, cycling etc.

3. Proof that Anstruther dining is finer than just fish 'n' chips: The Cellar

We'd been huge fans of The Cellar restaurant in Anstruther ( were disappointed when it closed in tragic circumstances. It's now open again and the new management, including Anstruther-born head chef Billy Boyter, have managed to put their own spin on it whilst keeping the charm. It's a highly atmospheric historic building, which you reach through a pretty courtyard area. You can then quaff an aperitif in one of the elegant seating areas before being shown to your table in the cosy, romantic restaurant. 

Once seated you can expect to be treated to a series of courses lovingly created with care, precision and creativity from the best seasonal local produce. 

For its combination of accomplished fine dining, friendly staff and a very atmospheric and romantic setting I would highly recommend The Cellar for a special occasion meal out or if you are simply treating yourselves (we went to celebrate Mr ENB's birthday). Book ahead though, particularly at weekends as the restaurant is quite small. 


Twice a year Cambolicious (, the East Neuk's popular craft beer festival, comes to the Cambo Estate near Kingsbarns (in May and November) and I am a festival regular. It's small in scale but big in charm and appeals to children and adults alike. This time around there was lots of fun to be had with the outdoor games, including table tennis in a posh tent with a chandelier and various retro games which involved throwing skills (I was hopelessly bad at all of these!). Foodie delights included juicy steak burgers with a mountain of trimmings, freshly pressed apple juice and deliciously naughty sweet and savoury crepes. 

But really people love Cambolicious for all the craft beers, ciders and gins, with their weird and wonderful names, from around Scotland. 22 types were on tap this time around. The Fresh Root Ginger cider from Borders-based Thistly Cross was a sell-out again and for good reason. It's still my favourite cider ever. Of the beers Biology Girl loved the Spiced Pumpkin Rye from the St Andrews Brewing Company and Legally Brunette enjoyed the Staple Pale from the Top Out Brewery.

Never shy of a bit of dressing up, I got into the festival spirit and enjoyed making my own natural headgear at the stand for this. Here's my less than perfect attempt (well it was made in the dark!):

Sadly I missed out on the face painting, which was not just for kids - various adults were sporting Halloween-type designs, whimsical leaves or wood nymph-esque designs. Throughout there was the highly enjoyable and sometimes impromptu music from some of Fife's most talented musicians that I've come to expect from Cambolicious. Unfortunately no King Creosote or Lidh sets this time round but Emporium ended the event on a high. As ever at Cambolicious I didn't want to leave.

World famous sports stars, fantastic sight-seeing, fine dining and craft beer festivals - what's not to love about the East Neuk and St Andrews in Autumn?

Text and photos copyright Sara Scott 2014

Saturday 26 July 2014

Happy Days in the East Neuk and St Andrews

Here's some news about an artist that I admire for her colourful and fun paintings which do indeed invoke heart-warming memories of happy days spent in the East Neuk of Fife and St Andrews and bring a smile to your face:

Scottish artist, Jennifer Thomson is launching a new book of her paintings called "Happy Days in the East Neuk and St Andrews" at her forthcoming exhibition  in the East Neuk village of Elie, Fife. Jennifer is well known for the unmistakable style of her paintings, packed full of colourful people having fun and enjoying life, often in popular Scottish locations. The book brings together the best of her paintings from the last fifteen years of painting in the East Neuk of Fife. Included are paintings of Lower Largo, Earlsferry, Elie, St Monans, Kilconqhuar, Pittenweem, Anstruther, Crail and the neighbouring St Andrews.

Jennifer attended Edinburgh College of Art from 1987-1992 where she gained her honours then post-graduate degree along with several awards and prizes. She taught art for a few years at Madras College in St Andrews before giving up teaching to paint full time in 1998. Since then her paintings can be found in many art collections such as the Royal Bank of Scotland, Edinburgh's City Arts Centre, The BBC and Paintings in Hospitals. Her work is spreading all over the world and she has been commissioned by organisations and individuals in the USA, Canada, Australia and Japan.

Alongside each painting in the book are Jennifer's notes about each scene. You discover what inspired the artist to paint each composition and begin to see what Jennifer was thinking when she painted each scene and share in her often humorous insights. In some of the paintings you might spot the artist's faithful painting companion Brodie, a mischievous wire haired fox terrier. For admirers of Jennifer's work and East Neuk fans alike, this book will warm your hearts and make you smile. 

Jennifer will be signing copies of "Happy Days in the East Neuk and St Andrews" at her exhibition of paintings of the East Neuk and travels round Europe at The Old Post Office Gallery, Links Place, Elie, Fife, KY8 1AX from 27 July to 10 August 2014 10am-5pm. The book can also be ordered from her website 

Thursday 1 May 2014

Life is sweet at the Biggest ever Crail Food Festival

NEWS from the Crail Food Festival about their 2014 event - spread the word!:

Life is sweet at this year's Crail Food Festival with an expanded programme including a House of Sugar, children's workshops and lots of opportunities to taste more local produce than ever before. This year's event is spread across an even wider range of venues, thanks to support from Event Scotland and Homecoming Scotland 2014.

Taking place on 14 and 15 June, highlights include special Children's Workshops with the opportunity to get hands-on with food: from jam making to moulding your own chocolates. A Food Trail will allow families to explore Crail's food delights while The House of Sugar will play host to a Crail inspired 3D cookie art installation created by local company Sucre Coeur. Visitors will be able to get involved and ice their own cookie to create an edible mosaic across the weekend. 

Over 50 local foodie participants will take part in the two-day festival with a special Tasting Theatre and Food Market with free food sampling all day. Meet the Producer workshops will allow visitors to learn new skills and experience new tastes with activities ranging from whisky and chocolate matching, cheese and wine pairing, to a pie and a pint. Local food and drink on offer will include cheese, venison, smoked fish, gin, craft ales, and of course, the shellfish for which the East Neuk of Fife is famous.

A Cookery Theatre will feature demonstrations by a range of local cooks and chef patrons, from Michelin star fine dining themes to award-winning cookery writers such as Nicola Fletcher. This bespoke country kitchen is kindly sponsored by Ardross Farm Shop, recent winner of the Farm Shop of the Year award and supported by the professional catering team from Elmwood College.

The Crail Museum will use the festival as an opportunity to tell visitors about the historic local delicacy, the Crail Capon. With details taken from an 1812 poem, the Crail Capon (haddock smoked traditionally in a chimney) will relive its glory days over the course of the weekend.

Sunday 15 will include an extra dimension with Sunday Lunch at the Harbour. Using the iconic Crail Harbour as the backdrop, street food vendors and local producers will come together to host a massive picnic for visitors. Shellfish, smokies, ice cream, game and pizza cooked in a converted horsebox while you wait are just some of the goods on offer at the harbour. Local businesses will provide potted shrimp, home baking and more. 

A local seafront guest house will share its stunning seashore location with evening visitors by becoming a Pop-Up Tasting Bistro with local food, music and drinks.

Graeme Anderson, the Event Manager said:

"I'm thrilled at this year's enriched festival programme. The 4th annual Crail Food Festival will certainly put our village on the map for anyone who's a fan of food. We've worked hard to ensure visitors of all ages get a real flavour of Fife. It's going to be great fun and a wonderful way to share Crail with a wider audience."

The full programme can be found at and here's the event flyer:

Wednesday 9 April 2014

Just what the doctor ordered - dining at The Adamson, St Andrews

"Just what the doctor ordered" is the wording on the front of The Adamson's promotional booklet so I recently went along to this St Andrews bar and restaurant to find out whether this wording was indeed good advice.

The doctor in question is Dr John Adamson (1809 - 1870), the famed St Andrean who lived in the building at No. 127 South Street now occupied by the restaurant. The restaurant's cocktail menu also contains "The Physician" in his honour, an amazing elixir of vodka, elderflower, mint, raspberries and lime. As well as being a medical doctor, Adamson was also a pioneer photographer, famously creating the first calotype portrait in Scotland 1841. The calotype was the first type of photograph to use a negative, allowing multiple "positives", i.e. print copies to be made. It seems to me that this was a very important step along the way to the easy photography that we all take for granted today. Dr Adamson also taught the calotype process to his brother Robert, who went on to create many famous photographs of that time with David Octavius Hill. As a nod to this there's a case with an old camera beside the bar area. As a physician, Dr Adamson worked hard to try and clean up the typhoid-ridden Fishergate area of St Andrews - hard to imagine in today's clean, upmarket St Andrews, where one of the main issues is choosing which restaurant to go for an evening! However, it's easy to admire Dr Adamson's pioneering work even today. 

After Adamson's time the building became a post office and still retains a relic of this era. 

Those little touches aside, I doubt the doctor would recognise the interior now, following the restaurant's opening in 2012. There's nothing olde worldy about it. It has a very well thought through modern look, all oversized lampshades, glittery stag's head, photo-collages, striking wallpaper, exposed brick walls, fairy lights, tree branches, high-sheen black surfaces and atmospheric candles. As modern as it is, however, the photo-collages in particular reflect that pioneering, experimental approach of Dr Adamson back in the nineteenth century. And using the Adamson name creates a nice link to the history of the building and town. Perhaps inspired by the spirit of the good doctor I got very snap happy during my visit to The Adamson.

Adamson is not the only famous person to make this restaurant what it is today. Its head chef, Scott Davies has firmly put this place on the map as a result of his appearance in 2013 on much-loved UK TV programme MasterChef the Professionals. It can be no coincidence that tables at The Adamson are much harder to come by since Scott's stint on the show. Much like "The Kitchin" in Edinburgh, The Adamson's open kitchen helps to continue the hype by allowing diners to try and spot the chef at work. "Is he working tonight?", whispers many an excited diner as they crane towards the kitchen. 

Famous names and trendy decor aside, does The Adamson deserve its popularity? It was a Saturday night when Mr ENB and I visited, a night which tends to either make or break a restaurant, a night where you find out if a restaurant has substance as well as style. Key to substance is service and the service we received was not just good, it was faultless. The Adamson staff somehow make you feel genuinely special, which is surely what every customer wants.

After a warm welcome from the staff, we enjoyed a cheeky wee glass of Prosecco while waiting a few moments at the bar area for our table to be ready. Tummies were rumbling but we didn't have long to wait to get that remedied. Almost immediately after being ushered to our table an adorably perfect mini baked loaf of bread (£3.95), warm and steaming from the oven, appeared, much to our delight. It was accompanied by butter, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and an olive tapenade.

Our friendly and highly professional waitress explained the new menu with genuine passion about the food. I was sorely tempted by the tenderstem broccoli risotto and the wild garlic, potato and isle of mull cheddar gnocchi (both available in starter or main courses sizes). In the end I opted for the fresh Scottish mussels with white wine, cream, shallots and foccacia (£6.95) to start and I was not disappointed. It's a classic dish but often goes wrong when the sauce is too watery - not so here: after I'd teased all of the mussels out of their shells I happily polished off the remainder of the smooth, creamy sauce using my bread. 

Mr ENB started with the hot smoked salmon with wasabi, burnt lemon puree, brown bread crumble and cucumber (£8.50). He enthused about the fresh tastes of the dish and quality of the salmon. From my side of the table it was clearly a fantastic-looking plate:

I decided to dive into the taste of Spring for my main with the confit lamb shoulder with cauliflower cheese puree and lemon thyme sage (£15.50) plus a side of skinny fries with parmesan and truffle oil (£3.50). I'm guessing that the "skinny" refers to the size of the fries and not the eater as I'm not sure the doctor would have approved of these. Their naughtiness just made them all the more enjoyable though! Combined with the superb softness of the lamb, it was a lovely Spring dish.

Mr ENB is a bit of steak-fiend so he went for the ribeye 220g (£25.95) with a bearnaise sauce which was quickly and appreciatively polished off, with the sole exception of the rocket (aka "rabbit food").

We washed our mains down with a pretty damn special 2004 bottle of Chateauneuf du Pape from Chateau Mont-Redan (Rhone, France) - for medicinal purposes naturally!

With time flying by it was already time for desserts, which are created with a Dr Adamson-worthy mixture of surgical precision and experimentation for lucky diners at The Adamson. I'm pretty sure The Adamson sundae: coffee ice cream, mascarpone and amarettto biscuit (£6.95) would make any under the weather patient feel a whole lot better - Mr ENB would agree albeit I was firmly told I had "no chance" of getting a bit.

This was not a problem, however, as I was quickly engrossed with savouring my own dessert of almond cream - salt baked pinneaple and thyme biscuit (£7.50), marvelling in its separate but cleverly complimentary elements and beautiful whole. Our waitress had recommended it, saying that it was her favourite, even though she normally hated pineapple!

Throughout the meal the atmosphere had been great - that busy, happy buzz of Saturday night dining in a place that knows exactly how to treat its customers. 

Is it just what the doctor ordered? We left full, content and with smiling faces, with an overriding feeling of having had a very special time dining at The Adamson. It thoroughly deserves its status as THE go-to place for a classsy meal out in St Andrews - no mean feat in a town where diners are spoilt for choice. It's a modern place with a strong history and I very much hope it continues that with a great, pioneering future. We'll definitely be back for more culinary treatment from the master physician soon!

The Adamson, 127 South Street, St Andrews, KY16 9UH 

Text and photos copyright of Sara Scott, 2014.