Forth is with me now; BILLY HANNAH A winning weeekend in North Berwick with great food, spa treats and golf wiped away bad memories of childhood sporting disaster for Billy TEE TIME Hotel overlooks golf course.
Massive marquee in a farmer's field, open latrines and enough baked beans for us to blow a Bass Rock-sized hole in the ozone layer above the Firth of Forth.
Accommodation apart, it was all going picture perfectly until I was whitewashed in the table-tennis contest by a pal who played the entire game on his KNEES.
As sporting disasters go, this was Ally MacLeod at Argentina '78, Eddie the Eagle in Calgary '88 and Jean van de Velde at Carnoustie '99 all rolled into one horribly embarrassing confrontation as I ping-ponged the place out without scoring a point.
Now I'm back in North Berwick tempting the sporting gods to rain on my parade again as I introduce my short-game phobia to the testing West Links Course.
Thankfully the digs were more upmarket on this tour. Forget the BBs, it was brownie points all the way as my wife Morag was treated to the full Macdonald Marine Hotel and Spa pampering experience.
Lapping up this haven of peace and tranquility, Morag enjoyed a deep muscle back massage from Macdonald's specialist therapists.
While the missus was as chilled as the ice in her double vodka, I was divining for divots, buried in bunkers and sending my bleedin' blood pressure rocketing through that hole in the ozone layer I helped prepare earlier. The 13th oldest course in Scotland is not a place to exorcise your demons and chip-shot heebiejeebies. The sea is in play in six holes and it's a real challenge, especially when gales howl in from the Forth.
As you'd expect from a Scottish Open qualifying course, West Links is in immaculate condition and attracts golfers from all over the world. No surprise then that the resort is full of American and European tourists who packed their bags along with their suitcases.
North Berwick is fiercely proud of its golfing tradition, honouring more than 40 of its famous sons and daughters with a heritage trail featuring plaques outside the homes and workplaces of the town's champions of the fairways.
Sadly, no one's erecting a plaque outside my room anytime soon so after an unfortunate incident with a sand iron (see hotel bin) I headed off to join Her Indoors in the spa.
We were spoilt for choice between the infra-red sauna, rock sauna, cold and aroma steam rooms and all kinds of invigorating showers. Best of the lot, you can soak in a heated outside pool overlooking the hotel gardens.
North Berwick is picturesque with an olde world charm and the Macdonald Marine Hotel and Spa sits proudly overlooking the iconic Bass Rock on the edge of town. This little gem of a resort is a 30-minute train hop to Edinburgh and its many tourists attractions.
But you'll find more than enough to keep you amused without leaving the vicinity. Take a stroll down along the front to the centre where you'll find two sandy beaches, an array of quaint gift shops, bars and restaurants.
Visit the harbour-based Scottish Seabird Centre or the National Museum of Flight, where you can climb on board Scotland's only Concord and study aircraft from First World One onwards.
History buffs can take in the ancient seat of the Douglas family at Tantallon Castle or explore further along the coast the beautiful gardens of Dirleton Castle, a stronghold restored after being blown to bits in Cromwell's siege of 1650.
Then go in search of the ruins of the Auld Kirk, scene of a plot by a coven of witches to kill King James VI and his wife Anne of Denmark as their ship returned from their wedding in Oslo in 1590.
Pet lovers look away now but legend has it the witches passed a cat over a fire five times then threw the frazzled moggie into the sea to conjure up a storm. The newlyweds survived and the witches were burned at the stake. What goes around comes around, eh? If history teaches you one thing, it is that climbing around ancient monuments is hungry and thirsty work. So it was back to the hotel for a sumptuous steak dinner washed down by a nice bottle of red to set the seal on a wonderful weekend.
Maybe it was all that talk of witches, but I've finally managed to exorcise the ghost of that table tennis humiliation. North Berwick. Nil points to 10 out of 10.
Travel info | Billy and Morag enjoyed the 'We Time' Short Break, which includes a two-night stay for two, at Macdonald Marine Hotel & Spa, costing from PS245 per couple. For full details see www.
macdonaldhotels.co.uk/offers/we-time-new/n The Deep Tissue Muscle Massage costs PS60 from Mondau to Friday and PS65 on weekends.
"While the missus was as chilled as the ice in her vodka, I was buried in bunkers "
LUXURIOIUS Macdonald Marine Hotel room
WORTH A BEAK Scottish Seabird Centre
HARBOUR DELIGHTS North Berwick
BIG LANDMARKS Tantallon Castle and Bass Rock
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|Publication:||Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)|
|Date:||Sep 10, 2017|
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