For Ethan’s family

September 2013.

The Kingdom of Fife

Dear Ethan,

Fife is one of my favorite places on earth—in this pastoral part of the world there is truly something for everyone, with ample opportunities to experience history, nature, architecture and traditional fare and festivities. Familiarity can breed a certain kind of lethargy when it comes to exploration; one tends to retrace steps instead of striking out, much the way one is tempted to slip into that comfortable pair of shoes. At the same time, for a long weekend, comfort and restoration are not only desirable, but, for those taking time off from the bustling pace of city life, also necessary. Fortunately, Fife offers a balance of easy repose and the unknown in answer to this paradox. An idyllic base, Kemback House provides easy access to a variety of unfamiliar experiences, allowing your family to return to tranquil repose even as you stretch the limits of your imaginations.

Day 1: Arrival

Allan, who will be your guide and driver for your stay, will meet you at the airport, and take you to Kemback House. Six miles from St. Andrews, Kemback House sits nestled below a magnificent wood, surrounded by an incredible diversity of rare tree specimens. The walled garden is planted in the classical style of a Scottish garden, and also produces prolific quantities of fresh produce, as well as homemade apple juice and jam, and fresh honey. The 15th Century house has been modernized, seamlessly blending traditional and contemporary styles for comfort and aesthetic enjoyment. Inside, you will find instant satisfaction for a hunger for culture in Kemback House’s collection of art, sculpture and objects from all over the world.

From our discussions, I know this lodging will provide the perfect variety of diversions for your family. Your lodge, reachable by a short and scenic path, features an additional two bedrooms, which will appeal to your two older children. You will spend your first evening settling in, and then will enjoy dinner at The Seafood Restaurant in St. Andrews.

Day 2: An afternoon in St. Andrews

Per our discussions, I have planned a morning of golf to set the tone for your long weekend. Fife is known as the home of golf, and guests typically can fit in a few of these courses in a day. The smaller links courses like Elie and Crail perennially draw high praised, as does the inland course of Ladybank. If you choose to head north along the coastline, you will have the chance to enjoy breathtaking ocean views on a variety of famous courses. Allan will accompany you, facilitating smooth transport, and providing knowledge of the challenges and pleasures each course has to offer. In addition, he can also serve as your caddy.

Though I know your wife and eldest son enjoy golf, your younger two children won’t be left without options. I have arranged for Terrence, a local with extensive guide and childcare experience, to act as chaperone. Available to them will be activities including salmon fishing, mountain biking, water sports, and coastal walks. I’d particularly recommend that they try out clay pigeon shooting, archery or falconry, which Terrence will arrange on the estate. These more traditional local activities will allow your family to really get a sense of the history of the place, which I know is a priority for you.

After lunch at Kemback House, you will get a chance to delve deeper into the town of St. Andrews. You will start with a visit to Scotland’s oldest university, founded in 1410. The narrow alleys and cobbled streets in town are unfamiliar and ancient, sure to transport your family back through time and space. You will have ample time to explore the castle, climb the spiral staircase of the church of St Regulus, and view the town and crashing sea from on high. After descending, you will get an evening to yourself—Terrence will entertain your children for the evening at Kemback House, while you and your wife spend the early evening indulging your love of libations. The historic Eden Mill distillery in St. Andrews provides tastings and tours—truly worth a visit, since this unique brewery and distillery produces both beer and gin. Your night will conclude at The Peat Inn, a Michelin starred restaurant and Inn, which dates back to the 1700s. Once the food arrives your tastebuds will dominate your perceptual experience, but be sure to take in the earthy, authentic ambience before being enveloped by your meal.

Day 3: The Coastline

With so much beautiful coastline to take in, your day will start early. This jaunt up the coast, featuring both history and natural majesty, will surely stir in you and your family a sense of awe, and appreciation of what is at once immediate and unknown. As you strike out, you will first pass through series of charming fishing villages, including Crail, St Monans and Elie. These towns provide heart-stoppingly beautiful vistas, contrasting with the quaintness of their small harbors. Naturally, they offer the freshest of seafood—your palates will surely delight in any local spot that catches your fancy for lunch. Afterward, you will take a boat trip to the Isle of May to see the puffins and other seabirds. On your way back, Kellie Castle, dating back to the 14th century, provides a timely reminder of the great human history this place has to offer. There, magnificent plaster ceilings, painted paneling and fine furniture provide a feast for the eyes.

As we discussed, I have built some flexibility into your weekend. After a morning full of wonder, you might prefer to spend the afternoon relaxing around Kemback House, or may be eager to head out for another few rounds of golf. However, you will also have the option to take a jaunt northward and enjoy the cozy tours and tastings offered at Edradour, Scotland’s smallest distillery. Edradour is just a short drive from The House of Bruar, which offers original options for souvenirs and gifts, including a remarkable selection of cashmere. If you or your wife are especially enthused about “retail therapy,” you can round off your evening with visits to antique shops in Perthshire and Leith. Whenever you choose to return, you will have a chance to come together as a family and reflect on the adventures of the day over a traditional dinner at Kemback House.

Day 4: Edinburgh

The last day will provide an opportunity to more deeply engage with the familiar-yet-unknown—that is, with history. After a farewell breakfast at Kemback House, you and your family will head South towards Edinburgh. Along the way, you will stop at The Royal Burgh of Culross, a town unchanged by the passage of time. Thanks to painstaking preservation, the town is the most complete example in Scotland today of a town of the 17th and 18th centuries. Though the palace and garden have restricted opening hours, I have arranged a visit for you, scheduled for 9:30am.

After meandering through the gardens and pausing to experience the sensation of moving backwards in time, you will depart from Culross for Edinburgh. You will arrive in Edinburgh in the early afternoon, and recharge with scrumptious victuals at The Kitchin, a Michelin starred restaurant committed to creating exceptional fare from only the finest Scottish seasonal produce. Your reservations are for 1pm. Once you’re satiated, you will have all afternoon to take in the Georgian architecture, gardens, and vistas of the city. In addition to his knowledge of golf and the country side, Allan has extensive knowledge of art—he’ll be able to help you choose between the plethora of museums and galleries that Edinburgh offers, including eight National museums, five National Galleries of Art, and several small private galleries.

Ethan, I have enjoyed creating this itinerary for you and your family. Please do feel free to reach out to me, should the need arise.