Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Four easy steps to beating the January blues

Happy New Year! Apologies that I've been a little quiet on the blog recently but I thought I'd change all that in 2014, starting off with a wee blog about four easy steps to beating those pesky January blues, all with a connection to the East Neuk and St Andrews of course!

Step 1 - Enjoy your lovely Christmas presents

I was lucky enough to get this painting for Christmas, which is now brightening up my house with its gorgeous colours:

Boats in Crail Harbour by Robin Forsyth; Close-up of the blue sea

The artist is Robin Forsyth, one of the Cellardyke-based artists who opened his home studio to visitors as part of East Neuk Open Studios (ENOS) in November. 

It's a painting of two cute little fishing boats in Crail harbour, so I loved the subject matter. I was also really struck by the intensity of the blue water, in striking contrast to the pure white of the frame. It's cheering me up in the dark, damp horribleness of January by reminding me of a sunny Summer's day by the sea!

Hopefully you have some equally lovely presents you can enjoy this January. 

Step 2 - Escapism

Speaking of presents, if Santa didn't bring you any reading material to get you through the dark Winter evenings, maybe it's time to get some new books for some blues-busting escapism.

Transport yourself to the life of a musician by reading the excellent "Songs in the Key of Fife". This is DJ Vic Galloway's collection of the intertwining stories of the artists who created a musical revolution from the East Neuk including KT Tunstall, King Creosote, the Beta Band, James Yorkston and more. Listening to some of these locally-raised gems is also a great blues-buster - I particularly love King Creosote's "Diamond Mine" album. Another local up-and-coming artist who is not in the book but is also worth listening to is Lidh, who has the voice of an angel. Check them out on iTunes or, better still, see them live.

(Picture: Vic Galloway at the launch event of the book at Cambo Estate last year; The book itself)

If you're more into to immersing yourself in a gritty crime novel then check out TF Muir's books about DCI Andy Gilchrist ("Eye for an Eye", "Tooth for a Tooth" etc.), who is the Inspector Rebus of St Andrews.

See my local books page for more ideas.

Step 3 - Celebrate our bard

What could be more cheering than a celebration of the bard, Rabbie Burns, and all things Scottish? And where better to enjoy the fun evening that is Burns' Night (25 January 2014) than in St Andrews! You could sample some haggis or other delicious Scottish dishes at The Dolls' House or The Vine Leaf on South Street. The Vine Leaf are offering their haggis neeps and tatties as "a potato basket filled with haggis, thyme poached turnip and drambuie cream" plus an equally tasty dish with veggie haggis too. Or for something a bit more spicy the award-winning Nahm-Jim's on Market Street, which I've blogged about before, offers Scottish-Thai fusions extraordinaire such as "Thai Haggis Bombs" (haggis in crunch pastry with a spicy dip) or the "Nahm-Jim Thai Haggis" (haggis combined with chilli, basil and Thai omelette).

An after dinner drink at the new St Andrews Brewing Company pub on South Street would be an obvious next step - sample craft beer and cider (check out the Thistly Cross Ginger Cider) in cosy, chalet-like surrounds. A special Burns' Night tasting event is being held at 7.30 with tutoring (by Douglas Clement from the Kingsbarns Distillery - more on that below), tunes and tapas (£10 a ticket, available in advance at the bar).

Then burn off some of those calories you just consumed with some lively traditional ceilidh dancing in Forgan's on Market Street (Forgan's are also doing a Burn's Supper event if you wanted to eat there too).

(Picture: Sample of craft beer at The St Andrews Brewing Company pub; Robert Burns biscuits from Fisher & Donaldson confectionary and bakery, St Andrews)

(Picture: Forgan's bar, including one of their inviting bothies in top right, ceilidh band in bottom right and unusual lighting in bottom left)

If you know about other things happening in St Andrews on Burns' Night then let me know. Enjoy!

Step 4 - New year, new social calendar

January is a month of planning ahead so plan your 2014 social calendar and give yourself masses of events to look forward to! To help you do this, check out my handy East Neuk and St Andrews Events Calendar.

The brand newly opened Dreel Halls venue in Anstruther may be the location for some new events this year - I'll keep you posted. 

Something to look forward to later this year is the opening of the Kingsbarns Distillery, which I'm really excited about. I sneaked a peak at the site last year and it is already looking very promising as they convert historical buildings on the edge of the Cambo Estate. They're hoping to open the doors on St Andrew's Day (November) and I can't wait!

I'm also looking forward to more blogging for this blog, the Visit St Andrews website and the Crail Food Festival. In the meantime I hope these blues-blasters lift your spirits!

More information:

Copyright Sara Scott 2014

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