Holidaying at Home: The East Neuk of Fife

boat geraniumsThank you for returning, for understanding my absence. If you’re new here, I appreciate you taking the time to have a wander around the site.

I’ve had a lovely ‘staycation’ fortnight with my husband and kids, resting, gardening, going to the cinema, reading and cooking. For three or four days I even managed to resist the urge to log on. I stilled my panicky inner voice by reminding myself that we’re normally computerless if we spend our holidays in Greece, so logging off completely would be the final piece in the holidaying at home jigsaw.

We spent a day on the Fife coast a few days ago, and crammed so much in, it was like a holiday in itself. (Fife is actually called a kingdom, not a county; the Scottish royal family used to live there, before the union with England.) Its coastal villages are picturesque and popular, unlike the inland mining villages I grew up in.

Our first stop was the ancient  town of St Andrews, the home of golf and of Scotland’s oldest university. We parked and wandered through the narrow cobbled streets, with their stone houses and corbie gables, browsing in gift shops and looking for somewhere quaint to eat. One small Italian lunch later (we are on holiday!) we set off  for the beach, our wee gift bags full of gem stones safely stowed in the car boot.

Shell mirror 2We spent a few hours on a vast stretch of sand called West Sands, where the opening scenes of Chariots of Fire were filmed, decades ago. We had the whole beach to ourselves. The sea was warm enough for paddling and the salty breezes bracing enough to fly the ‘Bug’s Life’ kite we’ve had since my kids were toddlers. When the wind dropped, we read, played rackets and collected shells and driftwood to make a mirror frame like the ones we’d admired in a rental property in St Monans a few years ago.

I got carried away, taking photos of my windswept children, wave patterns in the wet sand, crabs in the water and piles of sandy white shells.

When rain threatened, we packed up and headed for Anstruther, a popular fishing village, whose harbour is circled by ice cream parlours, gift shops and fish and chip shops. One of those recently won the title of the UK’s Best Fish and Chip Shop. My kids laughed when I photographed the shop, my fish and chips and the box they came in, but I had this bizarre urge to share the experience with you in case you, too, are holidaying at home and enjoying cyber visits to other parts of the world! The geraniums above are planted in a white painted rowing boat on Anstruther’s harbour front, but they reminded me of Greece.

We drove home via the beautiful coastal villages of Crail and St Monans. In Elie, I stopped to capture a beautiful old mill and a typical Scottish sea-sky to show you.

Spending a day as a tourist in the holiday haunts I enjoyed as a child, determined to capture their essence to share with my kids and with friends all over the world, made me enjoy my home ‘kingdom’ with an appreciation I’ve never had before. I spent the day with a deep, warm glow of contentment and promise, peace and pleasure. I’m not the kind of person who’s permanently brimming over with positivity and happiness, but I am aware… present. Most of my days are good days.

I’m not a photographer, but I hope you enjoy these and that you share some photos of your own home state or town with us some day.

West Sands

beach day 1

beach day 2

wet sand

underwater crab

sandy shells

Anstruther 1

Anstruther 2

fish and chip shop

fish and chips box

fish and chips

St Monans rooftops

St Monans

mill

Elie

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If you’ve enjoyed this wee glimpse of my holiday at home, you might enjoy these posts:

Holiday Presence

Holidaying at Home

Patchwork Post: Jasmine, Fireworks and YES!

Rapt Attention, Gifts and Rain

46 thoughts on “Holidaying at Home: The East Neuk of Fife

    • Hi CG,
      Thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed sharing our wee trip round the East Neuk. (‘Neuk’ is Scottish for ‘corner’.) Taking the photos was fun, but resizing and uploading them into the blog made me scream with frustration. I’m sure I’m missing something. It seems to take me hours!

      My break from blogging has been scary – I didn’t know what I’d come back to – but it’s definitely been good for me.

  1. Thanks for the virtual tour. Taking a break is good for you and your family. When you take time to regenerate you give more and your thoughts are refreshed. However, most importantly you practice what you preach. Sharing the journey means stepping away and taking one so that you can come back and say something new. Your family benefits the most when you show them you CAN step away from the computer and the blogosphere isn’t going anywhere. It’s like an old friend you haven’t seen in a while and you pick up the chit chat where you left off and continue forward with new steam, ideas and inspiration.
    Loved the photos.

    Cindy´s last blog post..Top 10 Thank Yous for our Best Dad

    • Hi Cindy,
      I hope to show you some of these places for yourself some day, but I fear the kids might think our beaches were like yours minus the colours, blue skies, blue sea, warmth and dry sand! Scotland’s only for those who like a bit of dampness and greeny greys with their picturesqueness – definitely an acquired taste!

      I definitely feel refreshed, invigorated even. I also feel like I’ve tamed a tiger, that horrible gnawing fear of coming back to a Feedburner tally of 5 subscribers because I haven’t posted. Which is daft, really; my comments boxes are full of kind and wise people, people who’ve lived and who love life, who wouldn’t begrudge anyone a holiday away from daily routine. Not the kind of people to suddenly disappear.

      How’s your staycation going? Have you rated lots of local parks? Captured lots of local colour and vitality in words and pictures? We’d all love to hear about it from your point of view as well as the kids’.

      • Hi Janice,
        The staycation is amazing and has officially started. Our days are filled with lots of small moments that I treasure. We just finished a Writer’s Workshop for K-2 and 3rd-5th graders. 4 hours of powerful writing for the elementary school children for the last 4 weeks. Sean and I have also relaunched our Potty Training Power e- book/product package and it has done quite well. We are rigorously working on other products for young children while managing all the blogs. My blog has been neglected but I am okay with that as we work on marketing ghostwriting services, our potty training e-book package, and teaching the children all the summer learning projects we have planned. Life is full and beautiful.
        .-= Cindy´s last blog ..Top 10 Thank Yous for our Best Dad =-.

  2. Hi Janice,

    Glad to hear that you had a wonderful stayaction! The pictures were absolutely beautiful. I especially loved the ones of the sea.

    Sometimes we need to a break so that we can recharge. Sounds like you all had a wonderful time! Yay! 🙂

    Nadia – Happy Lotus´s last blog post..I Am What I Am

    • Thanks Nadia!
      Like I said to Cindy, bring a camera and come enjoy our wee fishing villages for yourself some day. I know the fish and chips isn’t your thing, but I can cook vegan.

      I had a wonderful time taking photos, especially of my daughter. She was wearing blue jeans and aqua and her hair’s sandy blonde so she blended in with the sea and sand and looked like a gorgeous mermaid in a cardigan.

      I definitely feel recharged, but more than simply resting my body, I feel like my authenticity-ometer’s been recharged. I’ll try to get a blogging rhythm going, but I’ve been reminded of how important it is to be twitching to connect, to share, to just be myself and have something to say – or show – that’s not an insult to silence.

  3. This reminds me of the summer course I took to the UK many years ago just after I graduated college. One of the only photos I’ve ever taken that I thought deserved framing was of some rocks in a harbor that looked very like this one!
    Thanks for sharing and bringing back these memories!

    Liz´s last blog post..I need an audience! (and so do YOU!)

    • You’re very welcome! I love the British coast, rooting around in rock pools and seaweed and walking along windswept beaches – but the water’s an awful lot colder than the Aegean!

    • When are we going to see your Welsh ones, boyo?! I have a post planned soon about a photographer whose photos will take your breath away!

      Did you like the fish and chips? 😉

  4. Drat it. I wanted to see a picture of you. Can you send me one? By the way, I didn’t leave a comment on your last post, but that breathing life piece was awesome! Glad you got some ocean air. I got some ocean too. 🙂

    • I’m planning on posting a photo soon – and including a recording – so it’ll be the supersized anti-climax! I look forward to reading some Pacific breezes in your posts!

    • Thanks Tess!
      Good to be back, reinvigorated and …fatter. Well, hardly surprising seeing as I’ve had days of pizza and fish and chips. 😉

      Oh if only I could lie…that’s a picture of the frame that inspired us. Our bits of driftwood and shells are drying out ready to be turned into our version. When we make it, I’ll post a photo. I enjoy taking photos and learning how to work my scary new digital camera. (I had a Japanese SLR for decades and only switched recently. I’ve only learned a smidgeon of what the digital can do.) I’d love to post more photos just to give folk glimpses of my real life and a wee break from my eye-rollingly long posts, but I’m also determined to learn how to use Flikr better. I enjoyed seeing your family shots of gorge diving today!

  5. Hi Janice .. I wondered if you were up north and you are .. yesterday’s post was on Turnberry and Aisla Craig .. but I didn’t take the photos! Wonderful family shots .. great British traditions .. I could go down the road now and get some fish and chips here in Eastbourne!

    I’m so pleased you were able to get a fortnight off .. to relax with the family, play in the sea, wander the beach & I did put a bit in about the R & A .. I visited twice I think years ago … it’s a beautiful part of the world .. one day I’ll spend a time visiting Scotland properly ..

    I’ll have a good look round your site .. glad to have met you ..

    Have a good week and happy memories ..
    Hilary Melton-Butcher
    Positive Letters
    .-= Hilary´s last blog ..The first noun in the dictionary …? =-.

    • Hi Hilary,
      I wondered if you were in the UK because of the times I’ve seen some of your comments arriving on other blogs on our common blog routes! Glad to have you over here.

      Now, Eastbourne…there’s a typical English seaside town – the sea’s warmer than it is up here, from what I can remember! I used to work in Hastings and loved the wide open beaches all along the south coast. The sky above the sea always seemed so vast, if that doesn’t sound daft. I went through a phase of taking photos of sea-skies and wind there, too, back in 1981. Seems some of my obsessions have lasted for decades!

      • Yup .. I’m in the same time frame .. I’d have thought the north sea with its whippy cold wind and frothy waves had much bigger skies?? Having been brought up in Cornwall – well for holidays etc .. that’s what I miss .. we do have good walks along the coast though .. Eastbourne at least is sunny mostly – thank goodness ..

        talk anon .. have a good time getting back into things .. it’ll be good to be in touch with someone from home! Go well –
        Hilary Melton-Butcher
        Positive Letters
        .-= Hilary´s last blog ..The first noun in the dictionary …? =-.

  6. I swear there is a closet travel writer hiding inside you. Every time you describe someplace you have been, I instantly daydream that I am there, and then feel disappointed when I have to snap out of it. I want to stay! I am positive that with your vivid descriptions you could make even Antarctica sound refreshing, pristine, and totally “cool.”

    There was so much I loved about this post. First of all, loving words and their sounds like I do, I enjoyed knowing that you went to the East Neuk of Fife. It sounds very Tolkien-esque and I can almost hear Pippin (The Billy Boyd version) rolling it off his tongue. That’s cute that Neuk means corner, because then I see it more as “nook”—a cozy little corner of the world.

    And what is this about not being a photographer? Your photos are amazing and really enhance your post. Loved the ones of your kids and especially seeing the boats reflected in the water. The shell photo is beautifully composed and looks like something out of a magazine. I love the way you crop some of your shots. You “see” as well as you “speak.”

    I appreciate your view of your homeland. Natives can always capture a perspective that tourists will never have. Each person feels special toward their hometown or country or state. You captured that essence in this post, and helped us to feel like we were seeing through the eyes of a native and not a tourist.

    Bravo!
    .-= Randi´s last blog ..Sunday Serenity 7-19-09 =-.

    • Thank you! I’m trying to lure you over; I’ve been watching the TV series called The Mentalist and am doing it oh so subtly…

      You had me saying “The East Neuk of Fife” to myself to see if I sound like a hobbit! But did you look up “corbie gables”? Have a look at the photo of the rooftops. See the step-like gables? They’re called crow-stepped gables and corbies are crows in Scots. Only, it’s usually seagulls you see on them.

      I love rooftops and the architecture of windows and lintels etc – I’m always looking up when I’m out and about. I’ve really been encouraged by these comments to try and get better at uploading photos and taking better ones. I haven’t painted for a few years, since we downsized when we moved here and ‘lost’ both the huge sun room and the spare room/study we used to have. Photography is the closest I can get to painting at the moment. None of these photos are cropped; I just zoom in on the bits that intrigue me. One of the things I’m loving about this new camera is that it has macro. Remind me to post some of my bee photos some day- I had so much fun with them!

      If you want to see really beautiful photos of Scotland, there’s a link in my side bar to Amy’s Less Ordinary site. She makes me proud to be Scottish.

      I deliberately don’t post current photos of the kids, but if they let me, I may post some of them when they were very young in Greece. They’re my absolute favourites, like all the love in my soul just pours out.

    • Your “Welcome home” twanged my heart strings when I logged on today, moved me inexplicably and opened my heart up for the whole day. Unfortunately for you, it also meant I gushed all over your post!

      I worried about the fish and chips as I know there are vegans, vegetarians, raw food folk and menopausal careful women who visit regularly – but they really were the best fish and chips I’d ever tasted; it wasn’t just an Emperor’s New Clothes thing because of the expectations. We don’t eat fish and chips very often at all, but these were noteworthy.

      The wet sand photo was my husband’s favourite, too. I took 99 photos that day! That’s the fun for me of finally having gone digital! In the old days, I used to develop films and print black and white photos in the kitchen or pay to have colour films sent away and developed. Oh how I hated paying for all my duds; only occasionally would a whole film be completely full of yummy ones.

    • Maybe it’s because you’re almost 4o! 😉 I’m going to head over to yours right now, because, no kidding, you do not look like that post can be about age…You look about 19 in your gravatar!

      Trust me, if someone had offered me a free 2 weeks in Fiji, we’d have found a way to get over the exhaustion and make it out there! I’m now feeling so rested (and the kids are so…lively…I’m thinking “Why did we all say we were too tired to go on holiday?”

  7. Love these pics. Now I am yearning for the ocean again. Hopefully my Girlz Road Trip with my daughters to Halifax, Nova Scotia, becomes a reality. If not, I’ll come back here for another look at your pics 🙂
    .-= Eliza´s last blog ..Making decluttering painless =-.

    • I love the idea of a road trip with daughters; Susan Sarandon could play you in the film version! Is Halifax warm enough to head for anytime other than midsummer? I’m geographically challenged…

      If you like these photos, you’ll love the Greek sea ones. I used to live where Mamma Mia was filmed. By the way, I tried to route around your archives yesterday but couldn’t find them. Am I being daft? Nice gravatar, by the way.

  8. Hi Janice, I’m glad you and your family enjoyed yourselves so very much. We all need together times since each person in the family enters so many different and separate worlds , including the internet. May the wind be in your sails.
    .-= Robyn McMaster´s last blog ..Twitter Transforms Teaching =-.

    • You’re spot on Robyn; because we weren’t in a small holiday flat, we were able to be together but not in each other’s faces. We were available for each other, but no-one was needy. I’ve also realised that I don’t want to blog more than a couple of times a week max until they’re back at school. My husband’s already back at work and I like being at home every day with my kids and all the other kids who spend time here, too. (My kids have nice friends.)

    • You realise I’m a woman with a mission now; I’m going to share as much of Scotland as I can with everyone. This staycation has been good for me; it’s made me stop my yearning for Greece long enough to wake up a bit and appreciate where I am now, even more than I already do. I wish we lived closer; I’d do what I could to let you get a few days away.

  9. This has nothing to do with anything other than the fact that every time I get a comment update on this post I think about Ms. Fife, my 8th grade English teacher. With so many comments, I’ve been thinking about her a lot lately and wanting to share her with you.

    In America, back then, grammar was taught in 8th grade. Ms. Fife taught me everything I know about grammar, but she did so much more than that. She had what were called SLR reading kits in the window sills, and when we finished an assignment we were to pick a card from the box, read it, and answer questions relating to the passage. This practice taught me reading comprehension. She also made us write essays and read them before the class. This taught me composition and public speaking of a sort, the courage and clarity part of it. She set up a banking system in the class and encouraged us to deposit our babysitting and lawn mowing monies into the bank. This taught me how to have money, by simply having it. She made us keep detailed notebooks of all our work. This taught me organization skills. She loved theatre and movies, and sponsored the school play each year. In 11th grade I won the best actress award for an Ayn Rand play she directed. This taught me that I am worthy.

    Ms. Fife was my favorite teacher ever. She inspired me to love language as much as she did and to become an English teacher myself. Thanks for everything, Ms. Fife, and thank you, Janice, for allowing me to honor her here. Your Kingdom of Fife sounds like a place I would love. ?
    .-= Brenda´s last blog ..Sounds Like Rain =-.

    • SLR boxes!?? You have to be kidding! WE had those when I was wee, at primary school!! I used to sit and flick through the boxes, dreaming of being an English teacher or a librarian. I can still remember the day I reached silver because the silver was more grey than metallic. One teacher accused me of cheating because I worked my way up the colours so quickly. You just brought back one of my deeply buried but most vivid childhood memories. Thank you!

      This was lovely, Brenda. She sounds like your Special Teacher; I always think there’s one teacher in school or college who makes a real lasting impression. I have no memory of anyone teaching me grammar or spelling; I know they must have, but I do remember my first ever dark skinned teacher at primary school, Mr Hari. He taught us about snake venom and vaccinations, and how to fill wine glasses to different levels and make tunes by rubbing our fingers round the edges. At university, Angela Smith was my favourite. Whenever I handed her a draft chapter of my dissertation to read, she used to say “Oh, good. I’d been planning to do ironing; now I can just sit down and enjoy this with a glass of wine instead.”

      I’m always happy for folk to have a wander through their own thoughts and memories here. I’m enjoying getting to know folk, here and in other blogs and boxes.

    • I look forward to reading yours! One of the many reasons we decided to have a positive holiday at home was that we’d had such a tiring 6 months and were all exhausted. I couldn’t face the shopping or packing for a holiday far less the actual travelling.

  10. Oh Janice,
    You might not be a photographer, but your have the eye i must say. The pictures are beautiful…and i think i had a mini holiday just seeing the pics. Thanks so much for sharing.
    Oh and i know what the urge is to log on even on holidays. It takes a lot to resist…but Yay to you for resisting and taking time off. Cause had you not taken the time to click such lovely pics..how would we have seen them??:)
    .-= Zeenat{Positive Provocations}´s last blog ..Finding Your Happy Endings =-.

    • Thank you, Zeenat. There are days when I feel like I have a good eye but frustratingly little technical skill. If you had a wee mini-holiday seeing these, following the links in my post today will make you feel like I’ve handed you a present with a bow on it!

  11. Honestly, I’m smiling, Janice.

    Could smell the sea breeze and imagine being with you on West Sands – a single solitary group drifting along…

    Thank you for the virtual mini-vacation treat!

  12. Hope we will be that we group some day, Connie. If you make it over to visit us, we’ll put in an extra few hours and I’ll show you my favourite Greek beaches. One has smooth jade-black coloured pebbles, no word of a lie.

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