Rufflets

We Love Reviews

May 18, 2018

Who doesn’t? Good or bad…we love reviews!

You may wonder why reviews are so important to our hotel? We wanted to dispel any myths surrounding reviews and explain why they are so important to our team at Rufflets.

Reviews give us an opportunity to find out how we did

What we did well and what we could do better. Reading about some of the magical moments we were able to create during your stay at the hotel or your visit to Seasons Restaurant fills us with an immense sense of pride. We analyse guest comments and take pro-active measures to improve every aspect of our hotel operation and service to enhance your next visit.

Staff Acknowledgement

If one of our guests had such a good experience that they left a positive review, it warrants acknowledgement that stands out. We use reviews to recognise and acknowledge staff members that have gone the extra mile to create a positive experience for our guests.

Booking with confidence

Who trusts a hotel or a new restaurant with limited reviews? It’s easier for potential guests to understand what Rufflets or Seasons restaurant offers when there are a higher volume of testimonials. Reading positive reviews make guests feel comfortable booking with us. Sites like Trip Advisor can be really useful when planning a visit to a destination for the first time. It’s a great way to gather information on places to stay and places to dine and you will find us there too!

How and where can you leave reviews?

We want to make it as easy as possible for you to leave a review wherever it feels most comfortable or wherever you have an account already set up. Below are just a few of the places we would encourage you to leave a review:

  • Trip Advisor – either leave a review at Rufflets Hotel, St Andrews or Seasons at Rufflets St Andrews. We appreciate that reviews, especially the best ones are sometimes credited to the organisation, but our reviews can be trusted. Trip Advisor in particular have a number of clever systems in place that prevent this happening. If you see an outstanding review on our site, we have earned it!
  • Facebook – Rufflets St Andrews or Seasons at Rufflets
  • Twitter – Rufflets Hotel or Seasons at Rufflets
  • Google and Google + It’s easy to leave a review on Google once you are signed in. Open Google Maps, search for a place and write a review. You can even score us
  • Our team send an e-mail post-stay and you have an opportunity to respond with your thoughts or leave a review on Trip Advisor without the need to sign-up or register

Your reviews are important to us. Please consider leaving a review for us next time you visit Rufflets.

Rufflets

10 minutes – 10 questions with Rufflets Head Gardener

May 10, 2018

Name:
Phil Harper

Tell us a little about how you got into gardening – what inspired you and have you always loved plants / seeing things thrive and grow?

I started by helping my parents in their garden and it grew from there (excuse the pun). Simple jobs to begin with like grass-cutting but then I took an interest in being able to grow plants from seeds in a glass-house. When I was still at school I was given a work-placement with Fife Council helping sort plants before they were taken outside for planting in the various public spaces in Glenrothes. This all helped cement the idea in my head that this was something that I enjoyed and could make a career out of.

Education and career history in a nutshell please – was there a single moment when you knew that you wanted gardening to be your full time profession?

Collydean Primary, then Glenwood High. Left at 16 having sat the Standard Grade exams, and then enrolled at Elmwood College on a horticulture course. After this introductory course, I decided to make it my career and went on to do additional studying at Elmwood College undertaking a National Certificate in horticulture.

Did you work on hotel or estate gardens before this role at Rufflets?

My first real gardening job was on a private estate near Biggar (south of Edinburgh). It was opened once a year to the public for the National Gardens Scheme, and also for some private groups. After 12 years, I left to start my own gardening and landscaping business. It was hard work combining the gardening with the commercial side of the business. When I saw the role of Head Gardener at Rufflets Hotel in St Andrews advertised I applied and the rest is history.

When did you start working at Rufflets?

April 2010

How big is your team?

This year there are 3 of us in the team. It used to be 2, but with the expansion of the kitchen garden, plus an additional 10 acres, the boss said I needed extra help!

How is working on big spaces like the grounds at Rufflets different from home gardens or smaller garden spaces?

Working in larger gardens involves a lot more advance planning in addition to the day-to-day and routine tasks that the team have to stay on top of and the actual hard-graft in the gardens. It makes it much tougher than a domestic garden. I only get one day each week to maintain my own garden at home.

What is the most enjoyable part of your role at Rufflets?

Watching months of planning and hard work come to fruition. The really rewarding part is watching the chefs come out to the kitchen gardens to pick the things that I grow to then cook and serve to our guests. My parents come and stay at the hotel and love eating in Seasons Restaurant and it fills me with pride when I reflect on everything that they taught me in their own garden and how it inspired me to become a gardener. My parents now have an opportunity to eat the produce that I grow in one of the best restaurants in the area.

 What is the least enjoyable?

Climbing ladders – I don’t like heights.

Is there anything guests dining at Seasons should look out for on the menu in the coming few months?

Plenty of fresh vegetables, herbs, fruits.

 One favourite garden fact..

Most of today’s medicines have a route all the way back to common garden plants.

 

 

Rufflets

Forget About Your Scorecard

May 4, 2018

Golf is supposed to be fun. Whether you have played well, had an average game and lost more holes than you’ve won, generally the biggest motivator for getting onto the green is the search of enjoyment and spending time with friends or family.

As we move into the main golfing season in St Andrews, we decided to put together a selection of courses and golf activities in and around St Andrews that are guaranteed to put a smile on your face. They may lack the quality and pedigree of the historic Links courses and the legendary Old Course but a collection of quirky and pleasurable alternatives that will deliver fun from the moment you tee-up to the time you walk off the course.

 

Kingarrock Hickory Golf

Kingarrock is the only remaining Hickory Golf Course in the UK and just 25 minutes-drive from Rufflets. Over the years the course has welcomed British and US Open champions and invites visitors keen to test their skills on a challenging 9-hole course that is part of National Trust for Scotland’s breath-taking Hill of Tarvit Estate.

If you haven’t experienced the charm and feel of playing hickory golf, it’s a definite must-do. The hickory wood shafts are amazingly durable and able to bend and torque to produce energy. Hickory clubs are generally heavier than modern clubs and take a little bit of time to get used to. The ultimate test?  If you can get the club squarely on the ball. Nothing is more satisfying than hitting a good one and knowing you made a good swing.

Anstruther Golf Club

Anstruther Golf Club majestically stretches along the Fife coastline, just a twenty minute-drive from Rufflets. The club was founded in 1890, its initial layout just 7 holes with trenches through the middle of the course and poles scattered over the greens to stop gliders landing during the war. In more peaceful times the course was extended to 9 holes. A challenging mix of par-3s and 4’s and Anstruther’s version of Amen Corner, the 5th hole named ‘The Rockies’ awaits visitors eager to conquer the greens. At 245-yards it is possible to reach in one but with danger all around and the green sloping towards the sea, it is safer to play the hole as a par-4 and come away with a four, or a three if you’re lucky.

It’s difficult not to get too distracted by the breath-taking views and most visitors generally want to tee it up and do it all over again!

St Andrews Ladies Putting Club 

The St Andrews Ladies’ Putting Club is probably better known to visitors from around the world as The Himalayas. Open to the public daily between April and September aside from a few closed periods when it is reserved for competitions or member’s use, it’s not to be missed while in St Andrews. The Himalayas lie between the famous Old Course and the spectacular West Sands, just a 5 minute-drive from Rufflets.

A 9-hole and 18-hole course are available, although children are asked to play the 9. Both are equally challenging and lots of fun for golfers and non-golfers and an activity the whole family can enjoy.

Equipment hire is included in the green fee of £3 (Adult), £1 (Child under 12) and £1 (Senior).

St Andrews Links Golf Academy

The great Scottish-American golfer, Tommy Armour, defined the sport of golf as “an awkward set of bodily contortions designed to produce a graceful result.” Armour, also known as The Silver Scot, played professionally in the 1920s and 30’s.

Swinging a golf club efficiently takes time, energy, and will power. Adding an experienced golf instructor and utilising cutting edge technology should be a real consideration for any golfer interested in improving his or her golf swing and where better to improve your game than where it all started?

The St Andrews Links Golf Academy delivers world class instruction for golfers of all ages and abilities. Instruction is delivered by PGA Qualified St Andrews Links Golf Academy professionals and the Academy also houses a performance centre. The academy is just a short walk from the Eden Clubhouse and a short drive from Rufflets.

Our golf concierge team at Rufflets are on-hand to help with information and securing tee-times and can help de-mystify the booking procedure at any of the Links courses.

Rufflets

Taking Positive Action

April 27, 2018

We constantly consider improvements at Rufflets that will impact positive environmental change, we have been doing the same thing for 60 years.

Our team never lose focus in establishing best practices within the hotel that will reduce the impact that we have on the environment. We develop mechanisms to conserve energy, re-cycle waste, make our kitchen sustainable and encourage the wild life, flora and fauna throughout our grounds.

In a small community of just 70+ hotels and guest houses in St Andrews, collectively we are a large source of resource consumption and waste. While an individual hotel’s environmental policies and initiatives may not make a measurable difference, by exacting small but significant changes as a group, we can.

Read about some of the ways we have developed mechanisms to conserve energy, re-cycle waste, make our kitchen sustainable and encourage the wild life not only in our own grounds but much farther afield.

Energy Saving Technologies 

  • Radiator Thermostats installed in all our bedrooms, public areas and offices to individually control room temperatures.
  • Energy saving lamps have replaced traditional lamps in the vast majority of our building. Dimmer switches are also in operation in public areas, and as policy we are changing many public area lights from halogen to LED units.
  • All external lights have timers or movement sensors.
  • Smaller capacity kettles were introduced in guest bedrooms to reduce the amount of water being heated by guests.
  • Towels – The hotel promotes an option for guests to reduce the frequency of having their towels changed on a daily basis, by employing tent cards in guest bedrooms.
  • Equipment purchasing practice includes the identification of low energy appliances when replacing existing equipment.

Recycling

  • Old sheets, towels and soaps are given to local charities for use.
  • Older equipment such as televisions are given to local housing charities.
  • Recycling of glass, paper and cardboard is in operation.

Water

  • Flow regulators have been fitted to taps throughout the building.
  • Low flow replacement showers are being introduced in bedrooms.
  • Water from the burn is pumped and used to irrigate the vegetable garden. 
  • When bedrooms are refurbished, smaller dual flush cisterns are installed in all new bathrooms to reduce the flow of water in toilets.
  • Water Hippos are fitted to all older cisterns.
  • Rainwater Harvesting System is in operation in our Garden Suite.

Purchasing

  • Where possible, we purchase from local suppliers reducing our carbon footprint and benefitting the local community.
  • We choose suppliers who have good environmental practices in place.

Sustainability

  • We grow much of the fresh produce our restaurant Seasons in the hotel’s kitchen garden to help counteract our carbon footprint.
  • We compost food waste and use it as organic fertiliser in the kitchen garden.

Carbon Reduction
Rufflets officially announced carbon neutral status in June 2007, becoming one of the first carbon neutral hotels in the UK and the first in Scotland to do so. Whilst the full certification is no longer in place, we remain committed to reducing the impact that we, as a tourism business have on the environment.

Eliminating Plastics 
The number of issues surrounding marine microplastic pollution and its devastating impact on marine life and biodiversity is a serious one and we wanted to do our part in reducing some of the direct sources. At the beginning of April, we made some changes to reduce the volume of plastic that we use at the hotel.

  • Eliminated plastic straws
    Our hotel used 5000 straws, 8000 plastic stirrers, and almost 10,000 cotton-buds in 2017. Guests who request straws and stirrers are now offered a biodegradable one.
  • Replaced plastic cotton buds with biodegradable cotton buds
    Plastic cotton buds have long been recognised as being a continuing pollution issue and are consistently in the top ten items found on beaches. They are flushed down toilets, enter the sewage system and end up in the marine environment. Composed of polypropylene, they can persist indefinitely.
    We have removed plastic cotton buds from all of our hotel bedrooms to replace them with 100% biodegradable stems and are encouraging our guests to dispose of them responsibly.

If you would like to learn more about our environmental policies, take a look on our Green Tourism page.

Rufflets

Perthshire Lamb Recipe

April 19, 2018

We asked head chef David Kinnes for a couple of recipes that you could make easily at home. We drooled over them for a while and eventually settled on a Perthshire lamb recipe that we thought conjured up Spring perfectly. We hope you enjoy it too!

Roast Rump of Perthshire Lamb, Braised Lentils, Pancetta, Button Onions, Apple and Elderflower Chutney, Wilted Greens, Madeira Jus

Ingredients – Makes 4

  • 600 – 650gms Good Scottish Lamb Rump – ask your butcher to trim it for you
  • 125gms Braised lentils (Puy Lentils cooked in stock with finely chopped carrot, celery, onions)
  • 100ml Chicken Stock
  • 100gms Button Onions (Also known as Silverskin)
  • 75gms Pancetta Lardons
  • 90gms Wilted Greens (Can be any of the following Spinach, Kale, Fine Beans, and Asparagus)
  • 8 teaspoons of Apple and Elderflower Chutney
  • 50ml lamb gravy
  • 50 ml Madeira or white vermouth

 

Method

  1. Soak the Puy lentils in water, preferably overnight.
  2. Sweat finely diced carrot, celery and onions in a pan until soft, careful not to dis-colour, add Puy lentils and stir on low heat for approx 5/10mins, add chicken stock and cook for a further 15mins or until the lentils start splitting. Leave aside to cool.
  3. Season lamb rump, and seal in pan. Cook in oven at 180 degrees / gas mark 7 for approx. 15mins. Once cooked leave to rest for approx 5 mins, before carving into slices 2 cm thick.
  4. In a hot frying pan add button onions and pancetta and cook until golden brown. Add the greens to the pancetta and onions and once wilted set to one side. For the sauce, add the Madeira or vermouth to the lamb gravy, and in a pan, reduce gently until it has the consistency to coat the back of a spoon. Check seasoning.
  5. Place Puy lentils onto a plate, then add greens, pancetta and button onions, followed by the lamb on top. Add 1 teaspoon of chutney on the top of lamb, and serve with gravy.

 

Share pictures of your finished dish or friends and family enjoying it with us on facebook or twitter – we would really love to see them! And do come and visit us at Seasons soon where you can try head chef’s new Spring menu.

Rufflets

Afternoon Tea at Rufflets

April 6, 2018

Taking afternoon tea is a quintessential British pastime that is enjoying a recent renaissance, but where did the tradition begin?

The custom of tea-drinking originated in China in the third millennium BC but was made popular in Britain in the mid 1600’s by King Charles. The practice of afternoon tea only really appeared in England in the 1800’s, introduced by Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford.

It is claimed the Duchess would begin feeling peckish around four o’clock in the afternoon and since evening meals were served much later in the households of the upper-classes there was a long period of time between lunch and dinner. Her staff were asked to prepare a tray of bread and butter with tea in the late afternoon. Enjoyed alone initially, the Duchess then began inviting friends to join her. She was a close friend of Queen Victoria and a prominent figure in London society and it wasn’t too long before the custom was perpetuated throughout London and later England.

Afternoon tea had taken root as a fashionable social event during the 1880’s and the upper-class would gather in the drawing room of the grandest homes and properties between four and five o’clock in their finest gowns.

 

 

Afternoon tea at Rufflets is a must! Designed to spoil and pamper for special celebrations or simply as an indulgent excuse to gather friends and family together, the cosy surrounds of our drawing room and library offer an idyllic haven in which to while away the hours savouring afternoon tea.

A selection of delicate sandwiches, savoury bites, home-made scones served with clotted cream and sweet treats are all paired with your favourite choice of teas or coffee.

 

 

Our teas are selected exclusively for Rufflets by the Tea Lovers’ Company established in St Andrews. We are delighted to support a business that donates its profits to educational charities. Please read more about the work that the Tea Lovers Company does to help develop tea-growing communities in India.

If you really wanted to make afternoon tea a special occasion, you can add something sparking or champagne! We also offer vegetarian, gluten-free and children’s afternoon tea menus to ensure that everybody is catered for.

Rufflets

10 Reasons to Visit St Andrews in the Spring

March 30, 2018

First-time visitors to St Andrews have generally done their research and know there is a lot more to discover beyond some of the best golf in the world.

As our cold, wet and windy days begin to warm up and stretch out with the arrival of Spring, it is undoubtedly one of the best times of the year to plan a weekend or a mid-week break to St Andrews. Hopefully we can inspire you with 10 reasons to escape with friends, family or loved ones in Spring.

St Andrews is steeped in history, and if you plan your trip properly, you can visit around the days when monuments across Scotland are open to the public and free.

    1. A tour of the University of St Andrews, Scotland’s oldest academic institution is a must-see if you are visiting St Andrews and the Quad is as good a place to start as any. The United College of St Salvador and St Leonard, known as Sallies Quad is one of the oldest remaining parts of the University. Those interested in the history can stop by the Museum of the University of St Andrews.
    2. St Andrews Cathedral is just a short five minute-walk from the University campus and definitely worth including if you are touring the University. You can explore the remains of Scotland’s largest and most magnificent medieval church. Even in its ruinous state, the cathedral remains a prominent St Andrews landmark.
    3. St Andrews Castle sits high, suspended above the rocky Fife coastline. Not far from the cathedral, the views from the castle ruins alone are worth the visit. There’s a tunnel that used to link into the town (an escape route for the castle’s inhabitants) that you can still walk through.
    4. A visit to St Andrews must include a walk along West Sands Beach. Famous for the opening scenes of the film Chariots of Fire which were filmed here. West Sands extends for almost two miles and offers fantastic walking and scenery.
    5. You can explore most of St Andrews on foot, but there is no shortage of breath-taking views if you decide to explore a little further afield along the East Neuk Coastline. Neuk is the old Scots word for corner and the East Neuk is the name given to the stretch of coast that runs south from St Andrews to the headland at Fife Ness, then as far west as Earlsferry. The coastline is home to some of the most picturesque harbours of Crail, Pittenweem, Cellardyke and Anstruther and no visit to St Andrews is complete without exploring part or all of the East Neuk coastline. The Fife Coastal path that stretches for 117 miles is an excellent way to discover the incredible views, rugged cliffs and amazing beaches.
    6. Enjoy music, comedy, dance and film at The Byre Theatre. Founded in 1933, the theatre was recently purchased and renovated by the University of St Andrews and delivers a colourful programme of events year-round. There are music productions, a film-club, student productions and lots for children including the Puppet Animation Festival in early April.
    7. Jannettas Gelateria is acknowledged as the best ice cream shop in Scotland and definitely worthy of a visit or two when in St Andrews. The business was started in 1908 by the Jannetta family and continues to be managed by the same family four generations later. Located on South Street, be sure to stop in for an ice-cream or one of their legendary milkshakes.
    8. The Distilleries of Kingsbarns and Eden Mill manage to blend history with stunning settings and great tours. Kingsbarns Distillery and Visitor Centre is situated between St Andrews and Crail, close to the world famous Kingsbarns championship golf course. An historic and semi-derelict farm, it was converted into a distillery and opened in 2014 and offers several tours suited to various levels of whisky interest. Based on the site of a historic distillery on the banks of the River Eden, Eden Mill were the first to make spirits in the region for 150 years when they created the first single site brewery and distillery in St Andrews in 2012.
      Gin is leading a renaissance in craft spirits and a visit to Eden Mill with a tour of the distillery is a must for any gin fans. Guides knowledgably share a brief history and insight into how the products are made, and the inspiration that the Eden Mill distillers use to create new recipes and flavours. There are also whisky and beer tours to learn about the history of the site, production and brewing techniques and inevitable tasting sessions!
    9. Golf. Spring is without doubt one of the best times of the year to enjoy the many Links golf courses of St Andrews. The official tourist season is not yet underway, and demand is lower, so it can be a wee bit easier to get a tee-time on the Old Course – with the right handicap.
      Courses are just beginning to firm up and many take the opportunity to attract golfers with seasonal opening offers. Our Golf Concierge can advise you on the best Links courses to play and how to get the best offers. Keep a jumper, waterproofs and sunglasses at the ready as the weather can be changeable. A round of mini-golf at the Himalayas putting green only costs £2.00 and is a lot of fun for the entire family, golf professionals or not!
    10. Taking a photo at the famous Swilcan Bridge is a must if you are visiting the Old Course.
      It connects the 1st and 18th fairways and famous golfers ranging from Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson to Jack Nicklaus have all had their photos taken there.
      If possible, visit the Old Course on a Sunday – when it’s closed. That way you’ll be able to get a picture on the bridge without having to interrupt golfers.
Rufflets

Seasons: St Andrews Newest Must-Try Restaurant

March 20, 2018

We can put the cold and wintery month of March behind us as we embrace the first hint of Spring at Rufflets.

The snow drops are pushing up around the hotel grounds and the crocuses are just thinking about adding their splash of colour. It’s always an exciting time for us as we watch the labour of many months of hard-work in the garden come to life.

For many years we have been so proud of the fact that we grow much of the produce destined for our kitchen in the hotel gardens. This was the inspiration for our new restaurant – Seasons at Rufflets. Our philosophy is straightforward – we begin with the vegetables, herbs and fruits that we produce here at Rufflets and then find local suppliers for additional ingredients. Every one of our suppliers share the same passion and commitment to quality and we are convinced that few regions deliver the amazing array of produce that the Kingdom of Fife surrenders in abundance.

Head Chef David Kinnes creates dishes that are cooked simply to enhance their natural flavour

The East Neuk coastline continues to provide us with much of our fish and shellfish, a testament to the long history of fishing that lives on around the Eastern coast of Fife. The coastline is home to some of the most picturesque harbours of Crail, Pittenweem, Cellardyke and Anstruther, where you can discover the history of Sottish fishing at the Scottish Fisheries Museum.

Our shellfish and lobster are supplied by A J Duncan along with Scottish hand dived scallops. A qualified diver for over 20 years, Andrew Duncan first came across scallops while working on a salvage operation during a contract dive. He was unaware of the value of his find at the time, but when urged by his father to collect more it wasn’t long before they began supplying restaurants and hotels up and down the country and their business was born.

 One of the most picturesque harbours along the East Fife coastline

Our beef, lamb, poultry, game and pork are sourced by trusted Fife butchers John Henderson of Glenrothes. We have worked with the same family for many years, established in 1978 by John and Sheena Henderson and now passed down through generations. We are a family owned business and we work with like-minded family businesses that share the same ethos for animal welfare and natural means of production. The pastures, native breed of cattle and system of Scotch Beef farming is very much as nature intended.

 A hardy native Scottish breed dating back to the 18th century

Generations of food-producers in the Kingdom of Fife have paved the way for artisan companies to flourish and all are exceptional at their craft. We love working with these innovative suppliers that constantly delight us with new products that go well beyond flavour. Some remind us of our Scottish culinary heritage and some re-create forgotten food skills like Janetta Gelateria who have been making ice cream the traditional Italian way for four generations. Since arriving in St Andrews from Italy 100 years ago they continue to make and supply customers like Rufflets with ice cream, frozen yoghurt and the most intense fruit-flavoured sorbets.

 

To ensure a steady supply of our own fresh produce to the kitchen, we rely on head gardener Phil Harper. Most of the tidying and pruning is complete by the end of January and Phil and his team find this time of year undeniably rewarding as sowing begins in earnest.

Many of the fresh herbs used by the kitchen begin their journey either as seeds or as plugs (the young plants our gardening team propagate from cuttings). Fresh herbs once established provide a generous supply with little maintenance required and add a huge amount of colour throughout the kitchen garden when it’s time to harvest. This week Phil has been transplanting oregano plugs into larger containers.

Our poly-tunnels offer the much-needed protection for winter salad and lettuces planted this week and we haven’t been forgetting about our main gardens – the beautiful perennials that add so much colour to the grounds later on in the season have been sown in the last couple of weeks.

For fruit and vegetables that we cannot grow in our own gardens or to supplement our home-grown produce we work closely with specialist local suppliers Wild Tastes and Raith Fruit both of Kirkcaldy. Rath Fruit continues to be run as a family-owned business since 1952.

Other suppliers include Fisher & Donaldson, a fifth-generation family bakery, The Anstruther Cheese Company and Keith McGregor Dairy all located within the Kingdom of Fife.

Award-winning design agency 442 worked with the hotel team to create a contemporary dining space

Come along and try Seasons at Rufflets soon. There are so many occasions to dine with family and friends in April. Keep up to date with our latest seasonal offers and Easter events.

 

Rufflets

East Neuk of Fife Music Festival

June 26, 2017

Musicians both home and abroad are currently tuning up for the annual musical extravaganza in Fife, The East Neuk Festival.

This lively event features five days of music from around the world played in beautiful locations across the East Neuk of Fife and attracts thousands of music lovers from all corners of the globe.

We caught up with artistic director, Svend McEwan-Brown and asked him a few questions about this year’s programme, including the most unusual venue and his tips on new talent.

East Neuk Festival’s artistic director, Svend McEwan-Brown

Here’s what he said:

What makes this year’s festival different from other years?

Every year at ENF you will find something familiar and something completely new – that’s how we keep it fresh. Our venues are all important – the Neuk is full of beautiful old buildings, including halls, gardens, churches – we use different ones each year and pick the music to fit the space. For example, this year we are in the Dreel Halls in Anstruther – an ancient building that was restored just a few years back to make a new arts venue in the town. We’ve put a funky ancient and modern show in there. On the other hand we’re also sending the Tullis Russell Mills Band on a brass band marathon so you can join take a picnic and join them in such lovely locations as Kellie Castle and Elie Beach.

If you had to pick three performances what would they be and why?

For me Schubert is in the top three composers of all time and Elisabeth Leonskaja among the finest living interpreters of his music. The chance to hear her anywhere in the world is very special, but at East Neuk you have the added bonus that she will perform twice in an intimate and atmospheric church – so your encounter with her is very close up and intense. That’s what we like at ENF. We believe in investing in the future at ENF too, so every year we invite 8 – 10 stunning young players from around the world to come to Fife and work with some of the greatest teachers in the world for a full week. We call it ‘The ENF Retreat’ since it happens behind closed doors, but then at the end they give a concert which has become an annual sell out highlight. We also want to create a chance for amateur musicians from our community to perform alongside top professionals so each year we commission a new piece for them. This year is called De Profundis and it is inspired by Fife’s mining history, and music the miners made: the brass bands. It will be unlike anything else you have seen!

Ones to watch? New up and coming talent? Who are they?

AT ENF we like to build relationships with artists, especially the young brilliant stars of tomorrow. This year the young Scottish guitarist Sean Shibe returns for the third time with an exciting project that we are helping him put together – he will be playing acoustic and electric guitar and playing old Scottish music of heart-breaking beauty. After the premiere at ENF it will go on to the Edinburgh Fringe and beyond. He is definitely one to watch. Also, don’t miss the Castalian Quartet. Making their debut this year: they are very special.

What’s the biggest challenge in coordinating such an event?

Basically ENF happens in the countryside. The upside is that audiences get to hear great musicians in a beautiful, beautiful place. But it takes us a full year of planning – we have to check, double-check and check again every aspect of it, because once we are underway there is no time to be running off to Glasgow or Edinburgh to pick up stuff that’s been forgotten.

What’s the most unusual venue?

This year it is probably the Bowhouse, a newly converted cattle barn that we are trying out for the first time. But we have done stuff in caves, gardens, woodlands – and commissioned new work for park benches and scout halls.

What is the most rewarding aspect of this festival?

Hand on heart, the most rewarding aspect of it is that everyone – the audience, the artists, the team – we all love it. As director I am intensely proud to offer great musicians a wonderful place to perform, hear them tell me how superb the team is, and see a terrific audience enraptured and delighted. I love that about half the people who come are local while the other half come from as far afield as the Bahamas, Switzerland, Russia and the USA.

This year’s festival runs from 28 June to 2 July. For more information, go to: www.eastneukfestival.com

Rufflets

Do you dare to go bare?

June 1, 2017

That’s the question a growing number of runners are asking thanks to the growing popularity of what is know as ‘barefoot running.’

More than 45 years ago, sports companies began inventing running shoes for every occasion.

Since then most runners haven’t stepped outside their front doors without first slipping into gel-arched shoes of some description, in the hopes of running faster while staying injury free.

However, an increasing amount of runners are choosing to lose the heavily supported shoe and get back to nature – arguing that built-up shoes interfere with our natural running style which in turn can lead to serious injury.

And for runners taking part in this years St Andrews Chariots of Fire 5k beach race, those looking to try out the barefoot approach can take inspiration from the 1981 movie which was shot with actors running shoeless through the waves on the very same beach.

To take a further look at the debate surrounding the au natural approach, Rufflets Hotel has asked barefoot running expert Colin McPhail to explain why we are going back basics.

While running totally barefoot is possible along sand, for those tackling rougher terrain some sort of shoe is required – and that’s why a new range of ‘unsupported’ or ‘barefoot’ shoes have been developed.

Colin owns the Edinburgh Footworks running store, selling a range of shoes that don’t have built in support – including Luna Sandals, Vibram Fivefingers, Lems, Skora and Altra. He is also a keen natural runner.

So You Thought About Barefoot Running?

Let’s ask and see if we can understand why the human foot is such a masterpiece of engineering.

If you run or walk without any form of padding, your heels really do hurt after a short period, and so they should, your heel was never meant to be hitting the ground.

The foot should land with the front part, the forefoot, and the heel touching down virtually at the same time so the plantar surface can stretch and dissipate the shock across this wider area, and assisting with tensioning the Achilles tendon.

Layering the sole of the foot with padding is essentially the same as stuffing the mouth of someone screaming with paper, or any other material for that matter, in the hope they will stop screaming.

The way we use our anatomy when barefoot, is entirely compliant to the surface we walk or run on, which basically means our brains kick into a self preservation mode and change the way our feet get used, depending on the landing surface.

The brain is the organ which switches on all the stabilisation muscles to allow the body to function on whatever surface it is on.

The brain requires sensory information unmuffled by cushioned footwear to act in a rational manner switching on the correct muscles.

You wouldn’t listen to an orchestra wearing ear defenders…..so why put cushions under your feet?

All this sounds very complicated for something we take for granted, walking and running, but, when we intervene with cushioned layers under the foot we are changing the moment, which may work for some, but as it is away from the “natural” it is most likely that remaining as close to the barefoot as possible is one way to better overall health and active ageing.

At Footworks we specialise in the basics of good running form which also involves the skill involved in walking without creating shock to our joints.

After all the invention of the cushioned shoe has been with us now for 45 years and no-one, yet, has produced results which prove that this invention encouraged the human to hit their heel on the ground creating damaging forces to the main 3 joints, hip, knee and ankle.

But figures currently available show a substantial increase in joint replacement amongst the over 60’s in the last 45 years and this figure is still on the increase.

How long will it be before the footwear industry falls into the same trap the tobacco industry fell into during the 60’s 70’s and 80’s.

Continuing to sell cushions for feet may prevent the use of muscle which is essential for bipedal stabilisation.

Instability then creates unnecessary forces on the 3 main connecting joints.

I now hear the cynics cry out; “that’s why the modern shoe has stability devices built in”.

I have an answer for everything.

Stability devices in footwear are only necessary if the human fails to demonstrate the strength required to stabilise itself.

By using a stability device within footwear you allow certain muscle groups to become redundant.

This can and does have an overall weakening effect, although, with correct prescription the stability footwear may allow other strengths to flourish.

Therefore the answer is to use all that is available to maintain and achieve a high fitness level but the final objective and target, for every human, must always be to use the least amount of intervention, from footwear, that you can possibly get away with.

This should ultimately be every humans goal which will give them strengths to remain active right into old age.

We were not born with shoes on, but we were born with all the tools in the box, to run, walk, skip, hop and jump!!!

Let’s reinvent and use what we were born with…..THE FOOT!

 

Colin McPhail

Colin McPhail | Footworks (Edinburgh) LTD |

www.footworksrunning.co.uk | www.lunasandals.uk |

11 Gowanhill Farm | Edinburgh | EH14 4AE |

0044 (0)7771 521 788