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:


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… 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 | | |

11 Gowanhill Farm | Edinburgh | EH14 4AE |

0044 (0)7771 521 788


A Short History of Rufus the Bear

May 4, 2017

Our guests will be familiar with Rufus, the much loved Rufflets teddy bear. However, not many people know the story of how Rufus first arrived at Rufflets. Luckily our Head Housekeeper, Heather, will tell you the story along with some Rufus trivia!

“Rufus was introduced in 1995, as a part of our customer care initiatives which we were putting in place at the time. This all came about as we were working towards the Investor in People qualification, which we were then awarded in 1996 – the first hotel in Fife to achieve it!

Our owner, Ann had been to stay at Kinaird House in Perthshire where they had the some really interesting ideas on the special wee touches that go to enhance the guests’ experience, and it was then that they came up with the idea to introduce a Rufflets ‘Care Bear’, and so Rufus was ‘born’!

In the first year of having him, 400 of Rufus’ twins were adopted by our guests, and he is still popular today as a memento to take home. Nowadays we also have an adoption certificate that goes with him.

Over the years, we’ve had lots of photos and postcards sent to us with Rufus on his travels. He has been on the Orient Express, been surfing in Hawaii, on holiday in Dubai and ski boarding in Colorado. Some of the guests love having him around so much that they play with him, putting him into different poses or hiding him around the room for us to find.

Like Doctor Who, he has regenerated a few times but has remained with this face for the last few years.”

Did you know? If we have a group of 13 dining in the Restaurant or at functions, Rufus always joins them to ward off any bad luck!

If you’ve adopted a Rufus over the past 22 years, do send us your photos and keep us updated on his adventures! You can tag us in your photos on social media, or email to


What does your Mother want this Sunday?

March 24, 2017

Some mothers love nothing better than a bunch of flowers while others might appreciate something more unique this Mother’s Day. Rufflets St Andrews have come up with a few gift ideas for hard working mothers across the country.


Keep Love Alive with our 10 Top Tips to Happiness

February 13, 2017

We know that the course of true love does not always run smoothly, that’s why to mark Valentine’s Day, the team at Rufflets St Andrews have asked life coach Bernie Petrie to come up with some handy ways for couples to keep love alive with our 10 Top Tips to Happiness.

Weddings at Rufflets St Andrews: Book any of our remaining 2017 dates and choose one of our Rufflets Treats! Find out more.


St Andrews Day Conversation – Sponsored by Rufflets

November 16, 2016



The final line-up of participants for the first-ever ‘St Andrew’s Day Conversation’ in St Andrews has been announced. Four high-profile Scots will be taking part in the evening event on 30th November, with the occasion sure to be one of the highlights of the town’s annual St Andrew’s Day Celebrations.

Each of the participants is pre-eminent in their field: during the “Conversation”, they will talk about what ‘Scottishness’ means to them, how their own backgrounds have shaped their identities, and their hopes for the future of Scotland.

Janice Galloway – This garlanded author has won MIND Book of the Year, Allen Lane Award, E. M. Forster Award, Scottish Book of the Year and the Saltire Award to name just a few.

Muriel Gray – an author and broadcaster whose knowledgeable and sometimes outspoken commentaries have made her a leading figure in Scottish and British cultural life.

David Mach – the Methil-born artist who is renowned worldwide for his dynamic and imaginative sculptures and large-scale installations.

Henry McLeish – another Fifer, whose career has taken him from being a professional footballer to becoming First Minister of Scotland, and now a sought-after commentator on various aspects of public life.

The evening – which will feature audience questions – will be chaired by well-known TV journalist Louise Batchelor, and held in the impressively-refurbished Buchanan Theatre in St Andrews town centre.

Tickets for the event, which runs from 7.15-9.00pm, are now on sale, priced at just £5 (£3 concessions) and can be purchased from The Byre Theatre, either online or in person.

The St Andrew’s Day Conversation is organised by the St Andrews Partnership and sponsored by Rufflets St Andrews. Speaking yesterday (Thurs 8 November), Stephen Owen, General Manager of Rufflets, said,

“At Rufflets we are lucky to have guests visit us from all over the world and many are extremely proud to tell us of their links to Scotland, in one way or another! We are so pleased to see this discussion happening with influential Scots and on such a large scale, a great way to celebrate St Andrews Day. We are delighted to sponsor this event and to support the St Andrews Partnership.”

Exact timings and ticket details for all the events taking place during the five days of St Andrew’s Day Celebrations are now available on and a printed programme is now also being circulated throughout the area.

The St Andrew’s Day Celebrations are also supported by Scotland’s Winter Festivals, Fife Council and Stayinstandrews.


 Further information: Patrick Laughlin, St Andrews Partnership, Tel 07905 857250

 Notes to the Editor

  1.  The St Andrew’s Day Celebrations in St Andrews in 2014 and 2015 were attended by over 18,000 people and brought over £500,000 of economic benefit to the town.
  2.  St Andrews Partnership is a charity registered in Scotland, No SC041684. For further information about the Partnership, visit
  3. St Andrew’s Day is Scotland’s national day on 30th November, and all communities and people living here are encouraged to come together and celebrate.
  4. There are many ways to celebrate. A wide range of events are taking place from Saturday 26th November right through that week and a number of visitor attractions across Scotland will also be opening their doors to offer free or discounted entry. There are also many ways to celebrate St Andrew’s Day at home by bringing friends and family together to share food.


  1. St Andrew embodied all the characteristics Scots are globally renowned for: caring, resilient, generous, empathetic, strong and connected to others and this St Andrew’s Day presents an incredible opportunity to keep the spirit of St Andrew alive by sharing or giving to others.
  2. A digital handbook with all the details and opportunities to get involved will be available on from early November.
  3. Join people and community groups all over Scotland and beyond in coming together this St Andrew’s Day by sharing your celebration on social media and including #ourstandrewsday
  4. Wherever you are in the world, you can join us in celebrating St Andrew’s Day – from the United States and Canada to Australia, from Beijing to Bangladesh. Those who want to learn more about the traditional celebrations are encouraged to visit
  5. The Scotland’s Winter Festivals event fund is managed by EventScotland.

St Andrews Day Dinner

September 30, 2016

A number of chefs based in and around St Andrews have again joined forces to showcase the famous golf, tourist and university town’s ever growing reputation for high quality food and drink.

Plans are well underway for events around St Andrew’s Day 2016, with several local businesses taking part under the theme “Savour St Andrews”.

In pride of place will be the annual St Andrew’s Day dinner, which is returning to the five red star Old Course Hotel, Golf Resort and Spa on November 30th with a stellar line-up of cooking talent, and support from Quality Meat Scotland (QMS).

Pic Alan Richardson Dundee, St Andrews Day Dinner Chefs (LtoR) Michael Henderson, chef/lecturer Fife College; Frank Trepesch, executive chef Fairmont St Andrews; Geoffrey Smeddle, chef/proprietor Peat Inn; Ian MacDonald, executive chef, St Andrews Links; David Kinnes, head chef Rufflets Country House Hotel ; Martin Hollis, executive chef Old Course Hotel, Golf Resort and Spa; Stewart MacAulay, head chef The Adamson, St Andrews; Wullie Balfour, chef/lecturer SRUC Elmwood


The hotel’s executive chef Martin Hollis will be joined by Geoffrey Smeddle from the Michelin-starred Peat Inn, executive chef Frank Trepesch from five star Fairmont St Andrews, St Andrews Links executive chef Ian MacDonald (who is also president of the Federation of Chefs Scotland), head chef David Kinnes from Rufflets Country House Hotel (AA Scottish Hotel of the Year), and Stewart MacAulay from the multi-award winning Adamson Restaurant (2015 Scottish Restaurant of the Year).

All six will be joining forces in the kitchen, with backing from hospitality students and staff from both Fife College and the SRUC Elmwood campus.

Once again the students will gain unique top level experience both in the kitchen and front of house, and film from the kitchen will be beamed into the dining room by Fife College as the dinner progresses.

At the beginning of the event there will be a welcome reception with cocktails featuring local gin, local craft beers, and a range of canapes, and during the dinner speakers from suppliers and producers will highlight the main ingredient in each course.

Another feature of the events programme is the Chefs Taster Lunch in the Hall of Champions at the Old Course Hotel on Sunday 6th November (12noon-4pm).

Chefs and food businesses from across the town will be offering a buffet style lunch allowing visitors to create their own food journey around various stands.

There will also be a “Demo and Dine” weekend at the town’s Byre Theatre on November 19th and 20th (12 noon-4pm), with chef demonstrations, and tastings.

Savour St Andrews is being co-ordinated by Viv Collie – who is well known on the food scene on both sides of the Tay – as a follow-up to the St Andrews Food and Drink Festival which ran between 2012 and 2015.

Chefs – from left

Michael Henderson, chef/lecturer Fife College; Frank Trepesch, executive chef Fairmont St Andrews; Geoffrey Smeddle, chef/proprietor The Peat Inn; Ian MacDonald, executive chef, St Andrews Links; David Kinnes, head chef Rufflets Country House Hotel ; Martin Hollis, executive chef Old Course Hotel, Golf Resort and Spa; Stewart MacAulay, head chef The Adamson, St Andrews; Wullie Balfour, chef/lecturer SRUC Elmwood.


AA announces shortlist for Hospitality Awards

August 29, 2016

We’re so excited!! (and we just can’t hide it)

With just six weeks until the AA Hospitality Awards, the finalists for four of the categories have just been announced by the AA, and we at Rufflets are delighted to have our Head Housekeeper, Heather Rothery short listed for the AA Housekeeper of the Year Award. Following 26 years’ service Heather is ‘honored and excited’ to be nominated and everyone at Rufflets is backing her all the way!


(Heather Rothery)

This annual award, sponsored by Aslotel Limited recognises outstanding commitment and performance, identifying a housekeeper who goes above and beyond the call of duty. Heather has some very worthy competitors with the other two finalists coming from Kettering Park Hotel and Crewe Hall.


AA Awards

(The Rufflets Team at last years awards)

The AA Hospitality Awards take place on 26th September at the Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane, London and will see 23 winners receive their awards as well as the announcement of the new three, four and five AA Rosettes and AA Red Star establishments. Following Rufflets’ success last year at the event, being named AA Scottish Hotel of the Year, Rufflets are delighted that Heather has been shortlisted and are very much looking forward to returning to the event.



The 1924

July 12, 2016

Jo Macfarlane is one of Scotland’s hand poured luxury Soy candle makers based in the beautiful East Neuk of Fife, home to a wealth of Artisan makers and artists. She works from her home creating Soy candles. We were delighted to work in collaboration with Jo to create a bespoke signature scented ‘1924’ candle to evoke a memory and relaxing ambiance with our customers new and old.

It took a while to decide on the right scent, we wanted it to be reflective of our surroundings. We didn’t want the scent to be too sweet or floral, too feminine or too masculine! We trolled through various scents and combinations to create our desired final smell and boy was it good!

The final scents were fresh basil and sage taking inspirations from our gardens with a clean and zesty aroma. Although we adored the final choice the name ‘Basil and Sage’ was a little uninspiring. So back to the drawing board we went to create a name to encompass Rufflets and our new luxury product.

Rufflets house was built in 1924 as a private home for Mrs Anne Brydon Gilroy, the widow of a prominent Dundee jute baron, and was designed by a well-known Dundee architect, Donald Mills. Mrs Gilroy’s initials, ABG 1924, are engraved on the key-stone above the door leading to the formal south garden.

As this was where Rufflets all began we thought it perfectly fitting to use the name ‘The 1924’ to mark the beginning of our Journey with Jo. There are many prominent years in Rufflets history, 1954 when the Rufflets first opened as a hotel for example. So watch this space for more exciting scents!


Gluten Free Afternoon Tea

July 12, 2016

Rufflets Head Chef, David Kinnes, has been extremely busy creating an all new Gluten Free Afternoon Tea Menu to add the current culinary offering.

Rufflets already offer Cream Tea, Vegetarian Afternoon Tea, Sparkling/Champagne Afternoon Tea and even Children’s Afternoon Tea, so this new menu is a perfect addition.

Head Chef, Grant MacNicol, said ‘We are excited to have added this new Gluten Free Afternoon Tea menu to our offering. Celiac Disease and gluten intolerances are becoming increasingly more common and at Rufflets we believe it is extremely important that we can provide our high level of service and quality regardless of dietary requirements. Unlike in many circumstances, at Rufflets we also believe that those with dietary requirements should not be forced to pay more to enjoy our Afternoon Tea experience and have priced this menu in line with our original Afternoon Tea. We hope that this allows those suffering from Celiac or Gluten Intolerance to enjoy a wonderful experience with friends or family without having to compromise on quality’.

Rufflets has been family owned since 1952, and today has the reputation for one of the highest quality country house hotels in Scotland. Rufflets many accolades include AA Scottish Hotel of the Year 2015/2016, 4 AA Red Stars, 2 AA Rosettes, 4 VisitScotland Gold Stars and Taste our Best.

Original, Vegetarian and Gluten Free Afternoon Tea are priced at £20.00. Sparkling Afternoon Tea is £26.00, Champagne Afternoon Tea is £30.00 and Children’s Afternoon Tea is £10.00.