Alice Hobbs shares her favourite activities and locations for a cosy winter in St Andrews
Winter has truly arrived in St Andrews, with treacherously icy paths and a cutting wind that leaves your face red and raw. With ludicrously short days and busy schedules this can by all means become a gloomy time of year. However, St Andrews is full of cosy activities to fill these winter months with some joy, warmth, and an escape from the library for much-needed down time.
Having spent four years in this 3-street town I am well acquainted with every nook and cranny it has to offer, and therefore have compiled this list of cosy art and culture escapes to reinstate this run up to Christmas as a precious time of year for students.
Number One: The pinnacle of both cosy and warming in St Andrews is Topping & Company Bookseller. This literary haven is a refuge for many a St Andrews student. Packed with floor to ceiling shelves and filled with the crackling of a wood-burning stove this shop can lull you into a false sense of ease, a true escape from the busy world outside. However, the most magical aspect of this hideout is the free tea and coffee. In Topping you can nestle into a comfy chair; flick through as many interesting reads you can find whilst sipping on an adorable tray of tea or coffee. This is a perfect way to relax and escape in an overwhelming week, and one of my all-time favourite St Andrews activities. If you haven’t already, treat yourself to a warming afternoon (or 5 minutes) in Topping to help thaw out your both your icy fingers, and your concerns.
Number Two: Enjoy a Gorgeous scone. This is a well-known St Andrews legend, however, for freshers and for those who need a reminder of the truly good things in life, head on over to Gorgeous for a scone. These scones may be the largest scones you’ve ever seen, but they are also the best I would argue (and I’m sure many would agree). A perfect way to feel all warm and fuzzy inside is to just enjoy one of these delicious creations. My recommendation would be to grab your scone and take a walk down to the beach, even in the blistering cold, stare at the sea for a while and just enjoy. This may seem simple, however, it is easy to get wrapped up in the day-to-day and just taking some time to be outside with a simple pleasure is something worth reminding of.
Number Three: Take a trip to Balgrove Larder. Walking into this farm shop is like walking into a rom-com about country living. It is truly glorious, especially if you’re middle-aged at heart like me. Balgrove is filled with festive treats, presents, and decorations if your craving some Christmas shopping already. Additionally, Balgrove is crammed with delicious food, preserves, bread, sweet-treats, and pretty much everything your heart could desire. And if you managed the 10-minute walk out of town I’m sure you deserve a snack. One of the reasons I enjoy escaping on a wholesome trip to Balgrove is that it isn’t full of students, even though you are just out of town it feels like an escape, and I think we all need that sometimes.
Number Four: If Balgrove wasn’t escape enough, take a trip to Cambo Gardens. Just out of Kingsbarns this is an easy place to get to from town, you can take the hourly 95 bus to Leven which stops just opposite the entrance. On the grounds of Cambo Estate, Cambo Gardens is a small idyll. The Visitor Centre comprises of an amazing café, shop, and plant nursery, but the main attraction is the gardens. Even though the walled gardens are not at their best in winter the greenhouses still host a variety of plants and the woodland walk down to the sea is still stunning. Cambo is the kind of jolly activity your family would force you to do age 7 much to your distaste, however, an escape to Cambo truly is blissful if you fancy a walk, or even a delicious meal in a beautiful setting.
Finally, Number Five: Take a trip to the cinema. The New Picture House is not like your standard cinema. It is quaint and cute and looks like it’s from another era altogether. This is truly a perfect escape in winter, cuddle up in one of the modest screens and get transported. The New Picture House screens the debut films of the day as well as National Theatre Live screenings of plays. Check out the articles written by my fellow Arts and Culture Deputy, Milo, for the best reviews of what’s showing at the moment.
With these recommendations the final month or so in St Andrews before Christmas can hopefully become an enjoyable and festive experience filled with hidden, or not-so-hidden, treasures.