DBB at The Old Course Hotel, St Andrews

Just before Christmas I received an email from The Old Course Hotel in St Andrews offering dinner, bed and breakfast for £199. Now, considering to stay overnight is usually around £185, this was a bargain I could not ignore so I quickly booked a room for in between Christmas and New Year.

So off we popped to St Andrews. Prior to check in we decided we would try out their golf academy and whacked 100 balls on to the practice range. The experience was made more interesting with the little screens next to the tees that showed exactly how far the ball was hit as well as it’s trajectory and speed. I’m no Jack Nicklaus but I was pleased I managed 142 yards straight down the fairway.

We then drove down to the hotel to check in. The hotel’s Christmas decorations were beautiful and I was glad I had booked within the festive season. Our room was on the second floor and was large, spacious and very comfortable with the deepest bath ever – ideal for testing out all the complimentary toiletries and large fluffy towels. Unfortunately, the view was of the car park but it being winter (and me being Scottish) I wasn’t paying an extra £30 to see a golf course in the dark.

Dressed for dinner we paid The Jigger Inn a visit for a couple of aperitifs before heading back in to the hotel and up to the Road House Restaurant on the fourth floor. We were given a window seat but as we already knew, it was dark outside so unsurprisingly all we could see was the Royal and Ancient Clubhouse, which was lit up at the end of the 18th. Unfortunately, it also meant our table was a little dark as there were no lights above us. Hence my rubbish pics – sorry.

As we were on the DBB deal we were given the set winter menu with 3 options for each course and I ordered a bottle of NZ Sauvignon Blanc from the sommelier. It was not long before he was back allowing us a taste and chatting away about wine. As he blethered he continued to hold our bottle of wine in his hands. I started worrying about his hot hands heating up my cold wine especially as there was no wine cooler in sight. What was even more bizarre was that when our starters arrived he continued to chat away. Thankfully our starters were both cold…unlike our quickly warming wine. Eventually we were allowed to start our meal when the sommelier wandered off still holding our bottle.

For starter OH ordered the Sweet potato croquet, truffled goats cheese, pecan and apple. OH enjoyed it and it was gone before I remembered to take a pic and now it appears it didn’t make much of a mark on his memory either.

I had Duck presse, foie gras, smoked duck and clementines, which was lighter than expected with the orange segments giving it a refreshing tang.

For my main I had Red mullet, shellfish, pancetta broth, cocotte potatoes samphire and saffron nage. This dish was beautiful. The shellfish was plump, juicy mussels and hidden under the mullet, which was a lovely shade of red (not shown at it’s best in the pic). The potatoes were good but nothing special and the samphire could have had more bite but overall it was a lovely dish.

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What I am now starting to discover, since actively reducing my salt intake, is restaurant meals are starting to taste too salty to me so I did find it heavy on the salt but that might just be fish dishes and me nowadays.

OH had Pork belly, red onion marmalade, blackcurrant jus, baby carrots and haggis bon bons. OH felt the pork belly was too dry and chewy. There was only 1 carrot and the blackcurrant jus was just a smear on the plate which by the time OH got the plate it was baked on so there was no taste. Yes, OH was more than a little disappointed in this course.

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Throughout the meal different waiters topped up our glasses so I can only imagine a host of different bottles being kept in fridges and someone co-ordinating how they get back to the right diners. No easy feat but it appeared to work as we were never left dry.

For dessert OH went for the Chocolate and orange deluce, orange segments, caramel crumble and frangelico ice cream. OH says this was the best part of his meal and was just the right taste and amounts to finish off with.

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I went for the selection of artisan cheeses, truffle honey and black grapes. The cheeseboard was lush and I loved it and ordered a port (and extra crackers) to go with it. 4 good sized pieces of cheese all of which were tasty, plenty grapes and I love a cheeseboard with honey, which goes amazing on blue cheese. The truffle honey smelt and tasted highly of garlic but the sommelier (who popped over as he had noticed I had ordered port but not from him) assured us it was truffle oil. I honestly would have argued against this as it was very garlicky but still lovely with the blue cheese.

Breakfast the following morning was busy and often there were people having to wait for a table. They were asked to sit in the bar with complimentary tea and coffee whilst they watched over the links. Our timing must have been spot on though as we were immediately shown to a table.

Breakfast was good with a vast selection of items on offer. Everything from cooked meats, salmon and cheese to cereals, fresh and dried fruit and pastries. The hot plates offered bacon, sausage, lorne sausage, haggis, black pudding, scrambled egg, tomatoes, beans, potato scones and hash browns and on top of this you could order freshly prepared dishes such as eggs benedict, kippers and omlettes etc.

When we checked out our bill for the wine and port came to £42.50 (I had already paid the DBB rate of £199).

Overall, it was a fabulous night away and a great way to set myself up for a good start to the New Year.

And hopefully you are all ready for the new year too so with that in mind I wish you all the best for 2019 and thanks for taking the time to read my blogs over the years x

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19th Hole, Earlsferry, Fife.

Yesterday OH and I went for a walk along the beach next to Elie Golf Course, it was a fabulous day and there were a number of golfers making the most of the links course. Of course, after a walk in the summer sun, the next sensible thing to do is go for a pint and it just so happened that next to the golf course is The 19th Hole.

We went in just for a drink but once in, we checked out the menu, the decor, the clientelle and decided to stay for something to eat.  The menu had the normal kind of bar food options such as burgers, steak pie, mac and cheese but with more local fish dishes than your average pub. However, what made it stand out were words like freshly delivered, made to order, artisan and East Neuk, which is the local area just in case you didn’t know.

OH decided on a Crab Salad and I asked for a starter size of mussels. As we waited, I looked around and noticed the coat rack was made out of golf clubs and the leg of the table was hidden in an old leather golf bag. There was tennis on the large tvs and also a fireplace to relax in front of. I nipped to the loo and the sign on the door was a lady putting, the door handle was a putter, there was another door with turf on it. Inside there was a display of golf balls under the sink. Yes they have taken the golfing theme to the nth degree but actually, it works.

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By the time I returned from the loo my mussels were already on the table and OH was tucking into his crab salad. Now, normally I’d be annoyed that someone had delivered my food when I wasn’t at the table but we were sitting in the bar rather than the restaurant as we had the dog with us. In the restaurant you are able to see the chef at work as it’s open plan and I’d like to think if he could see our table he would have held it back until I was there.

The crab was abundant on OH’s salad, which was good to see. He enjoyed it immensely describing it as light and fresh. Even the potatoes got a special mention.

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Along with my plate of mussels was a finger bowl and empty plate for the shells. My mussels were plump and very hot. The sauce wasn’t salty or gritty as can often happen. Instead it was creamy and the onions had a nice crunch. There was a couple that weren’t open and one had a beard but overall I enjoyed them. The accompaning bread was chargrilled and dunking it into the sauce was lush. I even asked for a spoon so I could sup the rest up.

Whilst we were eating it was the chef that popped out to ask if our food was okay, which meant so much more than one of the bar staff asking.

The 19th Hole is a place you need to seek out as it’s well off the beaten path but I would definitely recommend it.

2 pints, a starter size of mussels and a crab salad = £24.40

Gleddoch – Hotel, Spa & Golf

So last weekend, for the want of anything better to do, OH and I headed to the west coast. We booked a night in the Gleddoch Golf and Spa Hotel, a dog friendly hotel not far from Greenock.

On parking we could see from outside what had been an old, secluded, country house had now been extended up the hill with a new build. Not that you could see the modern extension in any of the hotel’s online pics, of course.

We wandered into reception, which was full of Chesterfield couches and club chairs. Obviously, I looked just like the kind of customer they would roll out the red carpet for carrying a bulging, well used, Asda bag full of dog food, chews, a water bowl and blanket. Classy. However, the receptionist was warm and friendly as she booked us in. She gave us our key and advised us that although we were more than welcome to go up to the room via the inside of the hotel it was recommended to take the car up to the car park as it was a bit of a trek and there were a lot of stairs.

So OH, the dog and me humphing my Asda bag, all went back out to the car and drove up to the first car park and looked around for an entrance. Nope. We drove up to the next car park. There were no signs but there was an open fire door so I checked it out and right enough found No.5. The room was fantastic. Concealed lighting, huge comfy bed, all the bits and bobs you could ask for (my favourites – free bottled water and biscuits) and a large walk in shower with multiple settings.  2016-07-02 18.28.21Not long after we took the dog out for a walk around the side of the golf course and explored the hotel grounds. The view from the hotel was stunning – right over the Clyde to Dumbarton.

Later we then tried to find the hotel bar, which OH had spotted next to reception. Remember we were now 2 carparks up from there? First off we walked along the first corridor. Nope. Dead end. Next we found the restaurant. Looked around there. Nope no sign of the way to reception. Back tracked. Started again. Another dead end. Back to the restaurant and through it to the pre-dinner sitting area where we were stared at. We persevered and walked through the on-lookers. We found another corridor and walked slowly along it looking for signs. There were none for reception but we did find the pool. We then met a waiter who pointed us in the right direction down stairs, then more stairs and another corridor. We eventually emerged into the reception area. It was only at this point I thought about leaving breadcrumbs…

…too much wine later and high heels in hand it was like a scene from the Crystal Maze as we tried to retrace our steps. Giggling and using stage whispers we found our way along corridors containing wheelbarrows, found numerous dead ends and eventually, and thankfully, found our room again.

It felt like no sooner had our heads hit the pillow than the fire alarm was going off. Oh yeah, suddenly I was wide awake. Good Morning Dumbarrrrrton! To be honest, it was after 9 but that’s not really the point.  I gingerly made my way out to  the car park wearing sunglasses even though it was dreich. The only one delighted with the rapid exit was the dog who darted off to the golf course to help with watering the fairway. It turned out the alarm was down to an electrical fault and the ongoing building work. I was just glad the alarm stopped when I nipped back to the room to take my phone off of charge. 2016-07-03 09.14.16.jpg

Not long later, showered and dressed in clean clothes this time, we left our room and went for breakfast. It was chaotic. I’m hoping it was due to the fire alarm and this was not the norm. Dirty plates were on the cold buffet table – probably dumped when the alarm went off and forgotten. Serving dishes were empty, juice jugs were lacking and there were tables needing re-set with people waiting.  One waiter – actually the one that showed us how to get to reception the night before – was sprinting between tables trying to meet everyone’s needs. White sugar here, more butter there, here a jam, there a  knife, everywhere some toast toast.

One chap who had been helping himself from the hot buffet returned and sat at the wrong table, which was completely cluttered. Surprised that he had no clean cutlery he asked for some without questioning it. His wife joined him and looked around confused as he wolfed down his bacon and sausage. She lifted a cup that was in her way and asked if it was his. With bean juice running down his chin he shook his head. She struggled to find a clear place to put the cup down again. She then asked if he had seen her phone. More head shaking. It was only when the wife spotted her phone on the other table that she realised they were at the wrong table. Oh the hilarity as they got up and moved. The man quipped, “I wondered why I could no longer see the Clyde”  as he returned to his own table not worrying about his faux pas. Other diners laughed along with him. I’d have been mortified and would have had to leave my breakfast as I allowed the ground to swallow me up.

To be fair we enjoyed our stay. I found the scene at breakfast hilarious – even when my toast turned up only toasted on one side. The trek from room to reception was a highlight and the surrounding scenery and room were brilliant. The staff were friendly and helpful and if it weren’t for the fire alarm turning breakfast into a comedy sketch it would have received high marks. Well, apart from the fact that there was no tv in the bar so we couldn’t watch the footy and had to speak to one another.
To recap – bits were so bad it was great 🙂 

Cluny Clays, Cluny, Kirkcaldy.

Sunday morning and the fridge was akin to Old Mother Hubbard’s cupboard so it wasn’t too hard a decision to head out for breakfast. Recently, as part of my job, I have been taking a teenager to the golf range at Cluny Clays to help build his self-esteem and confidence. Much to my surprise I’ve really started to enjoy it, although I do tend to completely miss the ball more often than I connect with it. In stark contrast the 15-year-old looks like a natural so my incompetence alone helps boost his self-esteem.

Anyhow, when trying to decide where we should head for brekkie we came up with the idea of going to Cluny Clays. The plan being breakfast followed by 100 balls in the golf range.

They serve breakfast until 11.30 and offer a full cooked,  a full veggie, eggs on toast, whatever you fancy on a roll and t2015-07-12 11.22.56heir own twist on a croque monsieur. OH went for full cooked no black pudding and I went for full cooked no mushrooms. When my plate arrived I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish it. 2 eggs, 2 slices of bacon, 2 sausages, haggis, black pudding, tomato, beans and toast. We also had a pot of tea for 2.  The breakfast was absolutely fantastic. The sausages weren’t too spicy, the black pudding was lovely, the egg yolks were runny, the bacon was thick and I had no complaints at all. OH managed to finish his and I gave mine a damn good go but had to leave some just so I would be able to get out of my chair.

When I paid the bill I also asked for the balls for the driving range. They give you a receipt with a 4 digit number, which you then take to the range, input the code into a machine and it spits out your balls into a basket.

2015-06-03 14.51.38Once you’ve picked your bay you pour your balls into the hopper and it automatically pops up your ball onto a tee. It’s all very fancy. At Cluny Clays there is a transit van parked in the middle of the range with a target on it as well as greens with holes and flags, and nets to chip into. Try as I might I couldn’t hit the van. Obviously OH managed to hit it 4 times in a row (show off) so with his advice I managed to start hitting the ball more often but got very frustrated when, after 40 balls, I started swiping through fresh air again so I went in a huff and gave up.

After OH had distributed the remaining balls over the range, we wandered into the shop and started chatting with (what turned out to be) one of the PGA professionals that give tuition. Long story short. I’ve now signed up for lessons!!! Yes, I know. Me neither. This can only end in one of 2 ways. I either become a golf bore and my blog start to show a reducing handicap or I wrap a club around OH’s neck.

You’re just going to have to watch this space to find out which it is.

2 breakfasts, a pot of tea for 2 and 100 balls for the golf range – £20.70

Knockhill and Aikman’s Bar

Well today was a bit different, to say the least!

It was my birthday last November and OH bought me a Rally Car Experience at Knockhill and today was the day we were heading to Scotland’s National Motorsport Centre so I could become the Stig!

Although the weather was awful and the track looked more like a scene from Wuthering Heights than some place you wanted to speed in a Subaru, we were all assured that it was the perfect weather for throwing a car around a hill side. With hindsight, I can confirm they were exactly right.

Helmet on and belted in, I was talked through a couple of laps by Sasha, my instructor. She told me my lines (where to head the car on each corner)  and when to slow and when to add more power. I was then left to my own devices and allowed to throw it about the track myself. Talk about a buzz! I couldn’t believe it – the steering wheel was rapidly being twisted left and right – my feet were accelerating and braking like I was doing the hokey cokey on speed and the smile on my face was as manic as Jack Nicholson’s in The Shinning.

Amazing does not cover it!.

After the first 5 laps Sacha’s feedback was mostly positive but I did think I must have been a bit slow when she said, “Well at least you didn’t get overtaken, which was good.” Hmmm.

I was then given a 15 minute break before doing it again but this time clockwise around the track. Sasha talked me through the lap a couple of times and then told me she wasn’t going to teach me anymore but would be my rally partner and navigator. Therefore, she was just going to use rallying terms and went on to explain them. I promise I did listen but when she was saying things like 90° right tight open to chicane, in my head I was still doing the hokey cokey. http://youtu.be/1e3-k3PPtqc

The last lap was being assessed so I thought I’d try to floor it. All was going well and I was braking and wellying it like a good un right up until I noticed the black car behind me. My only thought was – he is not going to overtake me! It was about approximately 10 seconds later I hit the cones and started to spin. Sasha grabbed my steering wheel and yanked it round. To be honest, I’m not sure what else she said but I did whatever she told me and soon we were back over the blind crest and it was power on again. She then happened to mention that she was glad she got to the steering wheel or we would have been on our side in a ditch. What?? Apparently its a bad bit of the course and notorious. I’m pretty sure she hadn’t mentioned this already.

Anyway, with another short break to allow your heart to stop racing and your blood pressure to drop it was then on to the demo lap. Thank goodness Sasha hadn’t shown me how it should have been done first or there’s no doubt we would have been in a ditch. She didn’t waste any time in getting around the track. The handbrake was never out of her hand as she flung the Subaru from corner to corner. At one point she casually mentioned I had gone quiet – really? She wanted me to chat as my entire life flashed in front of my eyes??

Honestly, she was amazing and I couldn’t believe the control she had as we hit corners side on and she then whipped the back end round to skid into the next one. It was an experience I will never forget!

Back in the clubhouse we had a couple of minutes to relax before there was a presentation to reward all the competitive drivers but I wasn’t really interested in that bit as really it’s the taking part that counts, isn’t it?

½ a fecking point off bronze and a point off of silver!!!! I was robbed, I tell you! I bet it was that sodding cone that lost me points.

I could have been a contender!

Anyway, did I mention it was cold and wet at Knockhill? Long story short, we needed to head to St Andrews after my adrenalin rush so once again we found ourselves in the home of golf but this time cold, damp and yearning for sustenance.

For the last wee while my mum has gone on and on about Aikman’s Bar in St Andrews and it’s amazing Cullen Skink. Now I do love a bit of Cullen Skink but I’ve looked at this cellar bar before and thought “this cannot be the bar my mum means”. It’s a typical student bar with hard seats and wooden floors. There is also a smell of bleach permeating the entrance from the toilets secreted down below.

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We ventured in and saw the blackboard.


OH has since reported the pint was good and reminded him of Prague.
Cullen Skink was indeed top of the menu so I reckoned this must be the place. We also noticed the bar had Kozel on draught (Czech beer you have to try!) so that was it settled. 2 Soups with rolls, 1 pint of Kozel and a diet coke. £11 odds. (OH can’t remember the exact price but joked it was about the same as the price of his starter yesterday).

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The soup really hit the spot and was thick, creamy and fishy. The roll was warm and satisfying.

For £6.70 I couldn’t fault the food. The decor is auld, faded and a bit stoorie. The toilets are basic and smell of bleach, the toilet paper comes off in inch sections and the hand dryer hardly puffs on you but there is some very intellectual graffiti on the back of the toilet door you might like.

If you go and expect the worse you will enjoy some lovely, cheap and hearty soup and feel young again for a wee while AND who knows, you might even be sitting on the same seat that Prince William once sat on 😉