A fine september

Old Nov 13th, 2023, 01:33 PM
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A fine september

Each one could be our last, couldn’t it? This one seemed even more so.

Starting with fodorite gratitude:

My KC brother started his London week with the idea that he could find a “Chiefs pub” for the following week’s NFL game. I asked the Forum, got helpful replies, and my brothers ended up stumbling upon a nearly-empty Fitzrovia pub showing the game. If only it had been a week later, Chiefs would have been on many screens in town; that week the world’s papers reported that Taylor Swift was dating the Chiefs’ Travis Kelce.

It started as a birthday present for my brother Joe, who haven’t gotten to travel much, and his wife. She decided not to go, but our brother David was happy to, if I went along to “translate.” (Joe had been to Italy long ago, and David had never been overseas.) We hadn't spent time together in way too long. My husband would stay home, spend a week in Yellowstone instead, and our daughter Hannah would come along to London after my brothers had left.


Essential Prep:

-convincing Joe he should not buy GBP at his Kansas City bank.

-Single rooms for all of us at Celtic Hotel, Guilford St., London, my favorite family hotel.

-Airbnb two-bedroom apartments in Cellardyke, Scotland, and in Edinburgh.

-Ideas for small towns within easy train distance of London, thanks to Fodorites, for after brothers left and before Hannah arrived.

-MPC, Trainline, Stagecoach and Pret apps.

-A crossbody cord for my mobile phone. Perfect for contactless purchases, the bus, my Pret subscription QR code; secure, no purse usually needed.


Joe only had a week, David two. I knew that David would love Scotland, so I planned our week without Joe there first, early September so likelier good weather. Heathrow arrivals again a relative piece of cake with e-gates. One night in London, then north.


Usual Piccadilly line to Russell Square, emerge to cappuccino at Pret across the street, a block to the friendly greeting and freshen up at the Celtic, then out into the town; my usual routine. It was warm and humid early September, south-facing windows, and the hotel is not air conditioned.


Next morning after cheerful hotel breakfast, bus 91 to King's Cross for our 0940 train to Kirkcaldy, Fife, Scotland. Two Together Railcard made it an especially good deal. From there we were to take a bus to Cellardyke. It’s a lovely train ride, comfortable, with glimpses of York Minster, Newcastle and the Tyne, finally the North Sea, and then over the Firth of Forth.



I’ve been amusing myself with genealogy, going straight back sometimes to the primordial ooze, while my sister likes to find living relatives who can interact. I admire this in her, but not for me. She told me she had found a fifth cousin by DNA match in Scotland, narrowed down to Fife. The week before we left I learned this cousin and his wife lived in Kirkcaldy. We emailed, they met us at the station, insisted on driving us to Cellardyke. How fun to hang out with these fun distant relatives, a retired cop and a head teacher, whose McCarthy connection to our mother remains uncertain.



The drive to Cellardyke was a highlight for me. They showed us Wemyss land (most recent ancestors on our father’s side were Sir John Wemyss VII, father of Euphame, who married a Carnegie, d.1593.) Pointed out the rough town up the road, other points of interest along the coast. Stories about how he was on the force during the famous miner’s strike of 1984, and Thatcher’s infamous response. He is not a Thatcher fan, though he got a lot of overtime.


They drove us to the door of our Airbnb, just up from Cellardyke Harbour. We had a fine supper in the garden of The Haven Pub just around the corner: the ox cheeks special, mussels, an excellent soup. Our server was a jolly young woman finishing her summer job. We sat in the warm sunshine, with a view of the harbour and the sea, and laughed a lot. David and our cousin have a similar sense of humor, and a roughly similar cousinly appearance. It turns out I like meeting living cousins, after all.


I enthusiastically recommend Cellardyke, a fishing village where you might encounter a few people on the streets, nod and say Hi Yah! It’s an easy walk to the larger town Anstruther, and around two hours up the Coastal Path from even-more-scenic Crail. Our place on Dove St. was just off the Coastal Path. Up the hill a half mile, there’s an excellent bakery, Barnett and Son, across from a Corner Shop that has everything you’d need besides what you can get at the wonderful J.Doig & Sons fishmongers. My dream come true of kippered haddock, sold by a man who stands fileting fish with the calm self-confidence of someone whose family has stood there doing that for 500 years. An ideal of a fishmonger, Mr. Doig. On weekends he golfs. Go see him, buy strawberries and kippers that you can brown in Fife butter, and be happy.

Last edited by stokebailey; Nov 13th, 2023 at 01:44 PM.
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Old Nov 13th, 2023, 02:38 PM
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From our kitchen window, over the harbor

Cellardyke Harbour


David in charge of kippers


Up the road toward the corner store
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Old Nov 13th, 2023, 02:52 PM
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And a fine TR! Thanks, stokebailey. More soon, please!
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Old Nov 13th, 2023, 03:11 PM
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Really looking forward to your report (I think the third photo is taken in Shoregate - the road down to the harbor in Crail)
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Old Nov 13th, 2023, 05:45 PM
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Thank you, TDudette!

Good eye, Janis. That's the café, isn't it, now that I look closely.
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Old Nov 13th, 2023, 07:16 PM
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Originally Posted by stokebailey
Thank you, TDudette!

Good eye, Janis. That's the café, isn't it, now that I look closely.

yes - a cafe and small gallery. Has a few tables in a sun trap terrace out back with fine views.
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Old Nov 14th, 2023, 08:08 AM
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on for the ride
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Old Nov 14th, 2023, 12:34 PM
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I have a similar photo of the cafe and gallery. Taken at a different angle but it's the same place.
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Old Nov 14th, 2023, 01:27 PM
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A glass of wine and a great rip report……carry on!
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Old Nov 15th, 2023, 04:37 AM
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Thank you, following along.
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Old Nov 15th, 2023, 01:01 PM
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Bilbo, TPayt, Anuj, you are very kind.


Cellardyke and Fife day trips.

This is not a trip report that will talk about food a lot, but:

Kippers aren't something you'd be offered if you live in midwestern USA. Not among my people, anyway. Kippers are something you read about in a book, like furze or grog, do not expect to experience. The first time I had a chance to try them was in a long-gone Hampstead B&B where my mother and I stayed. I thought then, my, how tasty.

The haddock kippers I had last year at a now-demised Crail B&B were on another level of deliciousness, and since then they called to me across six time zones

Out past Cellardyke Harbour, you can see lobster fisherman tending their traps. David’s feeling toward lobsters is like to mine toward kippers: we can hardly get enough of them. Thanks to good Mr. Doig, we were well taken care of.

I could have spent our entire Scotland week in Cellardyke, lounging in the sun by the harbor, trying various treats at the bakery. (Bannocks! Why didn’t we buy more when we had the chance?)

Ripe plums hung from trees in small front gardens as you climb up the hill, and most had closely clipped green lawns. Flowers, rosebushes grew everywhere. We never saw anyone gardening, and certainly no one mowing grass. Do they own lawnmowers for those tiny lawns?

The woman behind the counter at the corner store offered me plums from a neighbor's tree, two or three pounds of sweet juiciness to carry home. When I scrambled in my purse for grocery payment, she and the people in queue behind me reassured me there was no rush at all. I told her this was my favorite corner store in the world.

The Stagecoach app was helpful for planning trips around Fife, and the day pass was a good deal. One day, we caught the bus/coach for the short ride to Crail, where the coffeehouse and the harbour were far more crowded than I remember last year at the same time. David was energetic, glad to walk the Coastal Path back. I pointed him up the hill to the path, headed back to our place. The schedule promised a coach at the Post Office stop (no longer the site of an actual post office) soon, if a school Friday. Huh? Masses of uniformed boys were on the bus headed south, having put in a half day before the weekend.

He loved the Coastal Path. Easy for him 2 hr walk back from Crail, with the sea on one side, sometimes Highland Cattle on the other, occasional fellow hikers. I will make him chime in with particulars and photos.

I’ve given St. Andrews four chances now, and I must accept that I’ll never love it. Certainly it’s beautiful, and we didn’t try to visit any of the main attractions, and every time I’ve been there it’s been a hot September day. I’m not a golfer, and David wasn’t interested in seeing the Old Course. So we have not given it a chance. But I can’t help but feel I’m making it worse, i.e. more American, by being there. I asked the young woman at the smoothie shop if there were too many Americans in St. Andrews, and she said, “Yes! It’s weird!” then looked apologetically at her U.S. coworker. David badly needed a cellphone charger, though, and a man at a little Apple store set him right up. Not a wasted trip after all, and we got to take two different routes that day through beautiful Fife at harvest time.

Last edited by stokebailey; Nov 15th, 2023 at 01:06 PM.
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Old Nov 15th, 2023, 01:14 PM
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Old Nov 15th, 2023, 01:20 PM
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I'm still not sure why St. Andrews annoyed me so much.


Has most everything you'd need.
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Old Nov 15th, 2023, 01:36 PM
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Beautiful photos!

I envy your brother for walking the Fife Coastal Path from Crail for 2 hours. We were there in June and traveling with another couple which we don't normally do. Our friend doesn't like to walk so she sat on a bench overlooking the water. We walked, along with her husband, for about 20 minutes one-way on the path and then back again. It's a beautiful walk, and as you describe, the sea on one side, and for us, flower gardens, lots of lupines, on the other side.

How many nights were you in Cellardyke?
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Old Nov 16th, 2023, 08:44 PM
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What a charming trip account so far!
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Old Nov 17th, 2023, 10:19 AM
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Thank you, Peg and Karen!
We were in Cellardyke only three nights, would have loved to putter around there much longer.


Off to Edinburgh

Saturday the 9th was my birthday, another clear and very warm one. We walked down to the Tidal Pool and Play Park, a large bathing area set off from the Firth by a ring of rocks, with a playground, a concession area, rental kayaks. In the distance, the Isle of May nature reserve. (We never got around to taking one of the boats that circles the island and its sea birds.) It was fun to sit and watch the children kayaking, dads teaching paddleboarding. I lazed on the grass while David walked back down the Coastal Path awhile. A local woman paused walking her dog, told us she could not remember seeing the Pool so busy. Maybe last-chance-y summer fun for the families.



We locked up and said goodbye to Dove St., grabbed our luggage and walked the 15 minutes or so to Anstruther Harbour, happy for the sea air and the waves’ song on the shore. We had considered getting a day pass and taking a coach up the coast to one of “our” ruined castles, picturesque Dunnottar, then down to Edinburgh, but realized we probably weren’t interested enough to risk hours in a coach with poor suspension.


We got ice cream cones and puttered around, got to the bus stop in plenty of time. Then we waited in the relentless sun, peering down the road for a sight of the coach. It arrived 45 min late. How could I not have packed a hat? I did have an interesting conversation with a man from Glasgow who’d come to walk the Coastal Path. He accounted for his lack of Glaswegian accent by saying he’d lived in South Africa for decades. Now retired and safely back in Scotland, he often takes public transport to hikes.



The driver didn’t seem any happier about the delay that we were. The route to Edinburgh has frequent stops, is only moderately interesting. Eventually we changed to another driver, and later had to get off nearly at the Firth of Forth Bridge and wait for yet another bus, in yet more hot sun, to take us into the city. This final driver, a woman, lacked the patient cheerfulness of the previous two, and didn’t welcome questions from ignorant outlanders. Like, where can we get off near Waverly Station? To be fair, doing her job would make me grouchy, too.



I had bought an Airelo eSIM (thank you, fodorite suggestion) but hadn’t yet needed it for maps or directions, kept putting off dealing with it. I relied on wifi. Then, suddenly, after that weary traveling, we were wifi-less on an Edinburgh sidewalk. Of course I should have spent the last part of the journey planning a route to our apartment, but somehow I didn’t.



I knew our AirBnB was not too far from Waverly Station, so we alighted on Princes Street near the Scott Monument. I regretted leaving peaceful Cellardyke. It was around 17:00 hrs on a Saturday, and the pavement was packed with people going in both directions, a jostling stream on both sides of the street, including tourists, suitcases, baby carriages, dog-walkers, phone-talkers, some people rushing, others like shifting immobile barricades. I’ve been in similarly crowded sidewalks before, of course, like after sports events or evening in Times Square, but this crowd seemed inexplicable. We ducked out of the stream into Primark: no wifi, more bustling. Across the street to the park side, but there it bustled just as badly. I could see the sun setting in the west but was so addle-pated that I couldn’t remember which way was west on a map.



David and I normally get along beautifully, enjoy each other’s company, have only ever come close to shouting at each other twice. This was one of those times. I wasn’t even thinking that everything should have been fine and easy because it was my birthday; I just wanted to get to our apartment, or to a welcoming coffeehouse, but above all to get off diabolical Princes Street. We agreed on a truce, pulled over and figured it out. Wheeled ourselves up to North Bridge St, over the tracks, then left on Cannondale and down the Royal Mile.



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Old Nov 17th, 2023, 11:11 AM
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Waiting at scenic bus non-shelter, Anstruther. We peer around the corner, hoping to see it come.

Cellardyke Harbour with lobster pots. They used to use this area to dry their nets, and now it's a perfect spot for communal clotheslines.
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Old Nov 17th, 2023, 04:31 PM
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Is Cellardyke part of Crail? Your photo of the Cellardyke Harbour looks like Crail.

We spent 2 nights in Anstruther and really enjoyed our stay there.
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Old Nov 17th, 2023, 04:53 PM
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Cellardyke and Anstruther are right next to each other, so you can't really tell where one starts. I thought we'd be eating in one of the more numerous Anstruther restaurants, but we end up having two dinners at The Haven and otherwise at our own place. David is a very good cook.

Crail is just a bit up the road, maybe 15 min drive.
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Old Nov 17th, 2023, 06:21 PM
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Originally Posted by KarenWoo
Is Cellardyke part of Crail? Your photo of the Cellardyke Harbour looks like Crail.

We spent 2 nights in Anstruther and really enjoyed our stay there.

Several of the East Neuk fishing villages have very similar harbors - some look almost identical . . . Crail, Anstruther, Pittenweem, Cellardyke, St Monans, Ellie, etc. Anstruther's is larger than the others.
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