Life can often take us down unexpected paths. Over 10 years ago, my family and I visited St Andrews during an Autumn break. We expected to be won over by the seaside town on The Kingdom of Fife's eastern coastline, but we didn’t expect it to eventually become our new home. As we drove away at the end of our day trip, with the idyllic landscape in the wing mirrors, one of the gang suggested that instead of moving to Edinburgh, we could relocate to the East Coast.
We had been living in Dumfries & Galloway, another beautiful part of Scotland while the children were young, but it felt like the time had come to take a different path and begin a new family adventure. Suddenly, somehow, St Andrews felt like the perfect destination.
Looking back it feels like many moons ago that we put this thought into motion, putting down roots on the other side of the country and beginning a new chapter, unsure of what to expect or how life would pan out. Happily once we moved, St Andrews welcomed us warmly, opening doors to new experiences and inspiring us to generate fresh ideas.
life’s a beach
Whenever St Andrews is mentioned it's often in connection with its claim to fame as the Home of Golf or the place where the Prince and Princess of Wales, William and Kate, met during their studies at the ancient University of St Andrews, the first university in Scotland established over six centuries ago in 1413. While golf and academia are integral to the town and its worldwide renown, the stretches of golden sand and blue sea that envelope the area are equally celebrated. Just a stone's throw away from the celebrated Old Course, where golf was first played over 600 years ago, a boundary is set by sand dunes that slope down to the 1.8km long West Sands beach.
Famously the beach was used to portray an English coastal town in Kent for a scene in the Oscar winning film, Chariots of Fire. Most recently St Andrews had a starring role in the detective series Karen Pirie, the TV adaptation of Fife author Val McDermid’s novel, A Distant Echo, but that’s another story. It’s not only film crews that have West Sands on their radar though. Dog walkers, wild swimmers, water sports enthusiasts, polo players and many other regularly descend on the local spot to get their dose of blue medicine.
Full disclosure and in the interests of impartiality, St Andrews boasts other equally beautiful beaches. Castle Sands, sitting below the dramatic ruins of St Andrews Castle on the East Scores in the heart of the town, is a small sandy beach with an old tidal pool carved into the rock that pupils of St Leonards School used to dip into for swimming lessons. Then it’s on to East Sands, a hop, skip and a jump from St Andrews Harbour, where students from the University of St Andrew traditionally take a bracing walk along the pier every Sunday, their red academic gowns flapping in the inevitable wind that blows off the North Sea. Home of the St Andrews Sailing Club, East Sands is also a popular starting point for people putting their best foot forward on the coastal path that trails up the cliffs and winds its way through neighbouring East Neuk villages - Neuk being the word in Scots language for nook or corner.
taking the plunge
Since our exciting fresh start all those years ago, we have developed strong ties to the local area. Walking many miles along the sandy coastline with family dogs - the current one being Archie, a mostly loveable rogue of a Cairn Terrier who is usually heard before he's seen. Cooking countless sausages on the beach, clambering the coastal paths, visiting the surrounding fishing villages, welcoming guests to our home and visiting the sea again and again. We could write lots about why we love living where we've been lucky enough to end up, but it’s not healthy to have a one-sided relationship with our natural surroundings. These days, what we take from our home town in experiences and ideas, we try to give back by promoting the very best of local and Scottish produce in our growing range of food hampers.
Basing and building our business is taking us along yet more avenues with the chance to explore even more new horizons. Along the way, we take the journey from product to hamper seriously, taking special care to source the finest goods from businesses and brands that use the very best ingredients, preferably eco or organic.
Sustainability is equally important to us and at the forefront of our commitment and ethos. While we are lucky enough to be able to enjoy the great outdoors on our doorstep, we believe we cannot be passive onlookers regarding the negative impact that certain materials have on our environment, particularly single-use plastic. From the wicker hampers and willow baskets containing rapidly renewable material natural to the environments where they are harvested, to the locally sourced tasty treats inside, we try our best to feature sustainable packaging and we never use plastic when wrapping our beautiful hampers and gift boxes.
From our name to our collections, in many ways The St Andrews Hamper Company pays homage to the town that holds such a special place in our hearts and connects our customers and the recipients of our unique hampers and gifts to our very special part of the world. We look forward to saying hello soon!