The fishing villages of the East Neuk of Fife have always been a favourite of mine in terms of places to visit, for a chippy tea at the famous Anstruther Fish Bar, to walk a section of the coastal path or to attend a festival, such as the Pittenweem Arts Festival. I’ve even spent the night there once or twice, but this week I stayed for 4 glorious nights, half way between Elie and St Monans, at the newly opened Catchpenny Safari Lodges. After a busy few weeks it was exactly what I needed, the opportunity to relax and forget about my hectic life for a few days. We were lucky enough to experience 4 of the hottest days of the year so far too so it was pretty fantastic.
Catchpenny Safari Lodges are luxury tents right on the edge of the Fife coastal path with awe inspiring views over the Firth of Forth. From the decking outside our tent we had clear views of the Bass Rock, the Isle of May, Berwick Law and Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh. We fell asleep to the sounds of the waves lapping on the shore below and watched lobster and prawn boats collecting their catch in the morning. We lit the fire pit at night and toasted marshmallows and spent mornings on the beach with Crusoe. We ate giant meringues and fresh strawberries from Ardross Farm Shop, watched the beautiful pastel purples and pinks transform the sky at sunrise and read books by the light of our lanterns. It was a much needed and appreciated break.
When I say these tents are luxurious I’m not exaggerating. When the sun is out and there is no wind you could actually forget you are in a tent at all and when the wind picked up we huddled inside with the wood burner roaring and blankets wrapped around us and played cards and drank tea.
I love the close proximity to the surrounding villages too. St Monans is a mere 2 minute drive and Elie is the same, in the other direction. From the site you can see Lady Tower in Elie to the right and the romantic ruins of Newark Castle to your left but the site itself feels secluded and peaceful. The village of Pittenweem is just a little further along past St Monans.
Each tents sleeps 6 people. There is one double room, one twin room and a wooden cabin bed, which separates the living space and the twin room, which also has a double bed. The cabin bed is a beautiful feature and Taylor loved being able to close the doors over and get away from me for a while. The living space has a large three seater couch, some quirky chairs and a huge chunky wooden dining table which could easily sit 8 people. There are pretty lamps and plants and a huge rug to keep your feet cosy. The kitchen has a two burner gas hob, a fridge and all the cutlery and crockery you’ll need. The huge log burner has an oven on the side and a cooking slab on the top, giving you loads of option when it comes to cooking. The bedrooms have amazing quality linen, feather pillows and big fat duvets, along with a tonne of blankets which came in super handy when we were sitting outside in the evening. I loved the bathroom, which is an addition at the back of the tent. The big double rain shower was fantastic. The tents are spacious and well designed. There are six large windows in the living space and several other in the bedrooms, these roll up to let in the light and if you are lucky enough to have a beautiful day the entire front of the tent can be lifted to open up the space even more.
Catchpenny is entirely off grid, producing all the energy from solar panels and individual wind turbines. There aren’t any three pin sockets so you can’t use hair dryers etc but there are lots of USB sockets to charge your phones and tablets. All the cleaning products are environmentally friendly too so you can have relaxing holiday guilt free. Owners Alex has really taken care to ensure the accommodation is as green as possible and I applaud him for that. It’s good to see businesses stepping up their game. Owner Alex also divulged some exciting plans for the future and I can’t wait to see them materialise.
During our 4 days at Catchpenny we spent a lot of time relaxing but we also managed to squeeze in some fun too. We spotted a pod of dolphins one morning, frolicking and jumping in the waves. The people in the neighbouring tents were also out with their binoculars watching and it was quite a moment. We also drove to Pittenweem for a fish supper, spent an afternoon in St Andrews and walked from Pittenweem to Anstruther where we found the most beautiful little shell beach. The water was crystal clear and torquoise and we sat for hours while the dog played in the water. We also had a walk through the forest of Elie Estate where we found the lovely Kilconquhar Loch and a stunning array of bluebells.
When you first arrive at the site look out for the sign at the turn off, it's just past Ardross Farm shop on the right. There aren't any signs beforehand so drive slowly.
You can book for 3, 4, 7 or 14 nights and although they are almost fully booked for June, July and August, there is some availability for September and October. The site is closed from November to March.
A big basket of logs and a tray of kindling is provided for the log burner. More can be bought from Ardross Farm Shop for £9 per bag or preordered before you arrive
A maximum of two dogs are allowed per tent.
There is a gas boiler meaning you’ll always have hot water and it keeps the two radiators in the bedrooms warm in the evenings.
Tea, coffee, sugar, salt, pepper and olive oil are provided. The nearest shop is Ardross, a two minute drive from the site. Elie Deli sells an amazing range of locally produced food, bake fresh pastries every morning and even deliver your shopping to your accommodation. You can pre-order before you arrive too. There is a large Coop in Anstruther and a Tesco Metro in St Andrews.
We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Catchpenny Safari Lodges, we returned home feeling relaxed and revitalised. This type of alternative accommodation arriving in Fife is exciting and I'm extremely happy to hear that they are proving popular.
I was invited along to Catchpenny to review the lodges but all opinions, as always, are my own
Pittenweem is a charming village in Fife on the east coast of Scotland. The name comes from a combination of the Gaelic and Pictish words for 'place of the cave'. This pretty village is one of several along the Fife coast, collectively known as the East Neuk. There are many things to do in Pittenweem and the surrounding area so it really is an ideal place to stay for a short break, a relaxing weekend away or a wee romantic getaway. In this guide I'll show you what you can do here, how to get here, what the weather is like, where you can stay and where you can eat.
Edinburgh Zoo is a brilliant day out with the kids, it lets you get out of the city for a while, for a change of scenery and a break from shopping. The kids will thank you, they would mostly much prefer gazing at animals than clothes. If the kids love their animals as much as my daughter doe you can even splash out on a Keeper Experience at Edinburgh Zoo, you can read my review of our experience below. It's easy to get to, Lothian buses number 12, 26, and 31 can be boarded near both Waverley and Haymarket train stations as well as many stops in the city centre and there is a bus stop directly outside the zoo. Make sure if you visit to wear comfortable shoes, the zoo is on a hill side and can be steep in places. There is a small bus which takes you from the entrance to the top of the zoo, where you will find the zebras and then you can slowly make your way back down if you don't fancy walking up hill.
Edinburgh Zoo prices
It is slightly cheaper to buy your tickets online but they can be purchased on the door too (prices as of April 2019)
Adult £17.95 (online), £19.95 (on the door)
Child 3-15 £9.00 (online), £9.95 (on the door)
Child -3 Free
Concession £15.50 (online), £17.50 (on the door)
Car Park £4.00
Edinburgh Zoo tickets can be bought online here
When it comes to stunning places to visit, dominating mountains, mesmerising lochs and fascinating history, finding the best of Scotland is actually pretty easy, as there is so many places that are utterly gorgeous.
Scotland is a beautiful country, there is no denying that. I feel incredibly lucky that I have a Scotland d travel blog and I get to travel around Scotland, there are so many places where I have to stop the car, just to soak up the view. I never get anywhere fast, Taylor will confirm that, she appreciates how gorgeous Scotland is but gets slightly annoyed when I can't drive for more than 10 minutes without pulling over and taking photos. Living in Fife gives me pretty easy access to Edinburgh, Dundee and Perthshire and it's not too difficult to get over to the west coast or up into the Highlands.
Glencoe is one of my favourite places to go in Scotland, and I'm not the only one. What makes Glencoe so special is a combination of things. It's atmospheric, the mountains have an allure, a mystical pull that draws you in. It’s a magical place and you can’t help but feel it, surrounded by dominating mountains, with the fresh Highland air filling your lungs. I think the best time to capture Glencoe is when the weather is dull and drizzly, it makes them even more mystical and mysterious. If you are driving to Glencoe from the south don’t forget to stop off at Rannoch Moor (below) too.
Scotland has a wonderful range of accommodation available to choose from. There is everything from 5 star luxury hotels to cosy traditional cottages. I, though, can often be found looking for unusual places to stay in Scotland. I like to look for something quirky and unique, something with the wow factor, something you just can't find anywhere else. Sometimes it will seem relatively normal and it will be the outstanding location that makes the property stand out, being on the edge of a white sand beach or tucked away in a picturesque forest, sometimes it will have facilities and amenities that I've never experienced before, a handmade wood-fired hot tub or a rustic honesty shop with fresh food from the farm, sometimes it will be so pretty that I just can't bring myself to turn it down. I do enjoy being pampered but I'm just as happy to challenge myself without the basics if it means I get the opportunity to have a digital detox in a breathtaking location. Accommodation in Scotland varies greatly so wherever you fancy staying and however you fancy doing it you'll probably find what you're looking for here in Scotland. Just check out these bonnie wee places.
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Four Sister Boatel, Edinburgh
Moored in the Lochin Basin in Edinburgh Quay, this 4 star luxurious boat is certainly an unique place to stay. There is a full kitchen, 2 cabin bedrooms, a kids bunk room, a flat screen TV, free WiFi and a beautiful shower room. It’s a pretty special way to experience ‘city glamping’ and as you lay in bed, bobbing gently, you’ll feel a million miles away from the centre of Edinburgh. With a lovely little sun terrace to enjoy your breakfast as you watch the locals begin their day, or with a glass of wine in the evening after a delicious meals in one of the many nearby restaurants a stay here is a quirky alternative to a city hotel.
Planning your character dining at Disney doesn't need to be mind-boggling, but I completely understand why it can seem confusing. If you aren't sure which restaurant serves what, which characters are where, which parks the restaurants are in and how on earth you choose between them all then this blog will help make it clear. Disney World character dining is an amazing experience and the perfect opportunity to meet characters that you might struggle to find in the parks, or if you do it'll likely mean a long wait, time that you could be spending on rides or watching parades.
Find out -
Where the restaurants are (park/hotel)
Which characters you'll see
What food is served
How much money/dining credits it costs
It is recommended that you book your character dining in advance, 180 days in advance if you are staying on-site. This is especially important if you want to book Cinderella's Royal Table or if you have your heart set on meeting a particular character. Plus, booking in advance is great fun, booking day is something we look forward to it and we always make a big fuss, gathering everyone around the table with our list, it's another exciting stage of the vacation planning.
This complete guide to Disney World Character Dining will make the process a whole lot easier so you can make the best decision for you and your family.
In the parks
The Highland villages of Dunkeld and Birnam, which are neighbouring villages in the heart of Perthshire, are charming places to stop and explore, or you can stay here and use them as a base to discover the rest of beautiful Perthshire. There are so many lovely things to do in Dunkeld, Birnam and the surrounding area that it’s the perfect spot to spend a few days, eating in the fantastic cafes, doing some shopping in the wide range of independent shops, and taking strolls down by the river.
The two villages are situated on either side of the River Tay and are connected by a picturesque bridge which was built in 1809 by Thomas Telford. Thomas Telford not only designed a huge amount of bridges all over the U.K. but also constructed the Caledonian Canal. The villages are around 15 miles north of Perth, just off the main A9 road into the Highlands.
This village guide will tell you everything you need to know if you want to visit Dunkeld and Birnam so you can make the most of your trip. Find the best things to do in Dunkeld, Scotland, a little bit of history, what the village is like today, how to get there, Dunkeld weather, the best restaurants, cafes and shops and places to stay.
If you've been doing research about Scotland you'll have no doubt heard about the notorious wee beastie that goes by the name of "Midge". Conversation usually goes something like "those BLOODY midges were everywhere!" Or "I've been eaten ALIVE!!". You may not recognise the name Scottish Midge , they are also known as "no see ums" in the states (which I think is a pretty excellent and appropriate name for the little swines), sand flies in Australia, gnats and punkies. Whichever name you call them there is no denying they are a bit of a nightmare. Here you'll find out everything you need to know and how to how to get rid of midges.
For those unprepared they can indeed be a complete pain and can easily ruin your holiday but fear not, a few simple rules and some good midge repellent should make your trip to Scotland beastie free and let your enjoy your trip without the need to turn into a mad man/woman, swinging tennis bats/hand bags/frying pans around your head like you are doing the time warp.
What is a midge?
The Scottish midge is a teeny wee flying insect with a wing-span of 2-3 mm. There are actually over 35 species of biting midge in Scotland but it's the ferocious Highland midge that causes the most problems. With wings that flap 1000 times a second they have the highest wing speed of all animals worldwide and if you unfortunate enough to encounter a swarm of them they can deliver 3000 midge bites in an hour. That's the scary facts but you'll be pleased to know that only half of the midge population will bite, the males are quite content to munch on flowers. The females reach adulthood with enough eggs for one batch of eggs, after this, if she decides to have more, she needs blood so it's then that the little madams decide to feed on us.
Just a quick note as people are often confused. Midges are not mosquitoes, the are a much smaller version. You are unlikely to ever see a mosquito in Scotland.
While visiting Edinburgh it would be criminal to miss out on a traditional afternoon tea, especially as Edinburgh has some of the most amazing venues to enjoy it in. Afternoon teas in Edinburgh are a luxurious and indulgent way to relax after a few hours pounding the cobbled streets of this beautiful city. It's an experience, one to be savoured with friends, one to enjoy with loved ones, where you can sink into a comfy seat, sit back and chat while relishing the pretty, dainty treats on offer.
Splashing out on afternoon tea dates back to the 1880's when Anna, 7th Duchess of Bedford, fancied a light snack during the long afternoon gap between her lunch and evening meal. What began as some tea, bread and butter served in her room with a few friends quickly caught the attention of high society and the light snack became a glamorous affair enjoyed by ladies dolled up in dresses, long gloves and posh hats.
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St Andrews is a classy town. Best known as 'The Home of Golf' St Andrews, in the north of Fife, is where the game was invented and if it's golf you are coming for there are an amazing 10 courses to play on, including the famous Old Course. St Andrews also has the third oldest university in the English-speaking world. There is so many things to do in St Andrews that I highly recommend spending at least 2 days here although if you only have one you can still get a feeling for the town and get the chance to explore. It's a town which is culturally rich, with a diverse population and unique attractions. It's really a town like no other and it would be a shame to miss it off your Scotland Itinerary.
Find out about all the amazing things to do in St Andrews, how to get there, the best time to visit, and the best places to stay, eat and shop.