Good Crieff! A Surprisingly Nice Easter Break
The Easter holidays were looming and I could hear the moans and groans already. But, Mum, everyone else is going abroad! Why are we not going to Spain? Why are we not going to the Bahamas? You know the drill.
Sometimes, it is just not possible to jet off for a week or two’s sun, sea and sand at every opportunity and given the amount of holidays the schools have these days, you would need to have rather a lot of cash and a massive holiday entitlement from work.
We simply couldn’t go anywhere overseas this Easter. A combination of work commitments and the fact that we had just paid the (chunky) deposit for the big summer getaway, it was just not going to happen.
I told the kids that as much as I wanted (and needed) some sunshine on glitzier shores than here, it just wasn’t possible but I had managed to wangle a couple of days off and decided to hit the road. I simply wanted to be away from the housework for a couple of days so I wasn’t really bothered about venturing too far from our Glasgow base. As some of you know, there are some beautiful spots within a short drive of the city so this wasn’t going to be too difficult. However, the kids were still rather down in the dumps about the prospect of donning heavy jumpers and waterproofs (yes, we’re a realistic bunch us Scots!) when they would rather be in flip flops and Factor 30.
Our first port of call was the market town of Crieff in the heart of the Perthshire countryside. Crieff takes its name from the Gaelic word craobh meaning trees and aptly named given the views of the stunning woodland all around us.
We were a little early for our check in time and decided to stop off at some of the attractions and retail outlets on the road into the town. Much to my surprise, we were all quite taken by the Crieff Visitor Centre, where you can see the world-famous Caithness Glass gifts and paperweights being made. There’s also a factory tour where visitors can learn all about the Caithness Glass history. Children can even make and decorate their own paperweights. We also enjoyed a browse around the shop which is packed with lovely local textiles, art, candles, ceramics and tasty Scottish foods and sweetmeats.
Our next stop was The Nutcracker Christmas Village across the road. It might be April but in our hearts it was December and we were all excited about seeing some dazzling festive decorations in the middle of spring at Scotland’s own dedicated, year-round outlet. The owners were sensitive enough to play Scottish ceilidh music instead of Christmas songs which might have been a step too far, although I was still dazzled by the massive Christmas tree in the middle of the shop, even if I did have Easter eggs in my handbag! Confusion in the liturgical calendar but it’s just a bit of fun. We piled back into the car laden with trinkets for our tree and feeling slightly Christmassy, no matter how inappropriate for the time of year!
During our short stay in Crieff, we chose the Knock Castle Hotel & Spa which we felt would tick a few boxes for all of us. The hotel is the former baronial home of shipping magnate Lady MacBrayne. In fact, there’s a suite named after her. This place felt like we had stepped back in time to lodge with Scottish royalty…even the kids were impressed that we were staying in a castle and I’m pretty sure I overheard one of them mutter that they were enjoying themselves not that they would tell me though. Our kids are teens now and past the stage of needing kids’ clubs and full on entertainment. They were able to enjoy the hotel’s leisure facilities and simply chill out for a while even if they did remain glued to their iPads and iPhones!
So, where to next? After a relaxing couple of days in Crieff, we thought we’d head across to St Andrews on the rugged east coast. The Kingdom of Fife has been a holiday go to for stressed out townies and city bods like me for decades. In particular, the beauty spot of St Andrews has been a popular playground for foodies, golfers and beach lovers alike and attracts visitors from all over the world.
The historic town is home to some of the country’s most iconic beaches and boasts some of the best golf courses in the country if you fancy getting the clubs out for a round or two. In fact, St Andrews is known as the home of golf and for good reason there are seven courses to choose from! There’s certainly been a few additions to the place since I used to come here as a child but it’s for the better.
There are plenty of gorgeous eateries and you can enjoy some fine food and drink in the great choice of bars and cafes. St Andrews isn’t a mecca for the retail faithful by any stretch of the imagination but you can still browse lots of quaint little shops that can be found around this lovely University town.
Our base for our last overnight was the gorgeous Fairmont St Andrews hotel.
There really is something for every age group here and everyone is warmly welcomed. The views from the hotel over the bay are breath-taking and if you ever need a place to blow off the cobwebs, this is it.
So, we didn’t get a sun tan, we didn’t eat exotic food, although we did scoff some of the freshest and tastiest local Scottish produce. The kids won’t be able to write about exotic cultures or swaying palm trees in their what I did on my holidays essays but here’s the thing…we all actually took time to relax, to breath and more importantly, we appreciated and took advantage of some of natural beauty that is right on our doorsteps, as well as some of the fabulous hotels within a short drive of our home. Too often, we simply jet off to foreign shores as an automatic response to our needs for a holiday. To be fair, weather is usually the deciding factor for this but sometimes it’s good to spend time (and money) in our own countries, boosting our economies and seeing the places and sights that have made Scotland such an attractive option for the hordes of overseas visitors who come to admire it year after year.
I am a travel crazy mother trying to suit the needs of a family of thrill seekers and culture vultures, there’s no where I won’t go. I dream of travel and I live to travel, all whilst holding a day job and organising my family.