Fiona’s journey to the East Neuk of Fife


It’s a long time since we played ‘I spy with my little eye’ in the car, or sang ‘ The wheels on the bus go round and round’.

These days our journeys have a certain predictability – ‘the driver’ gets to choose what radio station we listen to as we travel, ‘the passenger’, in this instance, me, can either look out of the window, or read the paper, or maybe try to engage in conversation with the driver about our children – that’s if himself is prepared to chat.

Last Sunday, I was the designated passenger from Aberdeenshire to Fife, which tacitly means that ‘he’s’ driving there and I’m driving home – not an unusual occurrence I have to say!

It’s an easy journey to Dundee and the driver has chosen to tune in to ‘Just a Minute’ on Radio 4.

We both love that programme, laughing at the clever, erudite and mischievous Paul Merton and marvel at the longevity of the legendary Nicholas Parsons.

It’s a stunning, bright autumn day as we drive over the vast expanse of water beneath The Tay Road Bridge and it feels good to live in Scotland.

The radio is turned down and my husband decides to check if my powers of observation are still okay.

‘What do you notice that’s different here from Aberdeenshire?’ he asks.

‘It’s the hedges’, I say ‘there are hardly any dry stane dykes separating the fields. It’s all hedges.’

‘Correct’ he says like a school teacher.

I’m pleased I pass the test.

We’re heading towards Elie for what promises to be a really good lunch, which was billed on the invitation as ‘25 and out!’

It’s a bittersweet get together, because our friends Richard and Jill Philip have sold their lovely pub, The Ship Inn, after running it for 25 years.

If you’ve been to Elie, you will know that it is a delightful place. Fishermen’s cottages sit comfortably alongside rather grand family houses overlooking a lovely beach, often used as a cricket pitch. Enthusiastic teams from all over the world beat a path to play there.

The Ship Inn is a great pub and Richard and Jill have consistently done the most marvellous job of creating an easy and friendly atmosphere. There’s a cosy fire, quaint bar, good grub and always a warm welcome. On cricket match days you can sit outside and sip Pimms.

At the risk of sounding like I’m employed by VisitScotland, Elie is also great for family holidays – many Glaswegians, affectionately known as “Weegies”, often decamp for a break, as do the so called “Edinburgh intelligentsia” – a posse of legal folk and industry leaders who have holiday homes there which have been in the family for years.

West happily meets East in Elie and the thing everyone has in common is enjoying village life, great banter, camaraderie, a smidgen of gossip and a dram or two.

There’s a terrific wee golf course with a dangerous 19th hole and a lovely sense of freedom for kids of all ages who can ride their bikes, play in the sand dunes, kayak or fish. Sometimes, even the weather is good.

Of course the whole of the East Neuk of Fife has great charm and many a good song has come from this area. So the song I have chosen this week, ‘The Boatie Rows’ refers to Lower Largo, another lovely village, as is of course Anstruther, Crail, Pittenweem and St Monan’s. I don’t want any of them to feel left out.

In my view, the best food at ‘The Ship Inn’ is the haddock and chips. I’m hoping the new owners Graham and Rachel Bucknall who presently own award winning pub ‘The Bridge Inn’ at Ratho near Edinburgh, will keep it on the menu and continue the great tradition of cricket on the beach.

We had a lovely lunch on Sunday and have to report that “himself” snored all the way home.

You can listen to this weeks song, The Boatie Rows, here. The Boatie Rows is on Fiona’s Coming Home album which is available on Amazon.