Nothing spells winter quite like ice skating. Gayle gets her skates on and enjoys a session at Fairmont St Andrews’ new outdoor rink
It’s a bitterly cold December morning and there’s a flurry of snow in the air.
It doesn’t matter that it’s fake snow, or that it’s raining, because I’m having a whale of a time at the Fairmont Hotel’s fantastic new skating rink.
I’m here with my colleague Nora McElhone and her cute-as-a-button two-year-old daughter Aoife.
Our cheeks are glowing with the cold, Aoife’s nose is red as Rudolph’s and we’re feeling very, very festive.
Regular Out and About readers may recall previous columns in which I confessed to being utterly useless on skates.
I’d trained with some of Dundee’s champion figure skaters in March, and been so rigid with fear that I could barely move.
Then in November I adventured onto the ice with professional ice hockey players from Dundee Stars…and once again proved to be pretty appalling.
However, I’ve been advised by staff at the Fairmont that what’s on offer here is more about having fun than technical prowess.
Aimed at people of all ages, with an emphasis on families (kids love it), the rink is open daily from 10am to 9pm until January 9.
“When we opened last weekend, we had 200 people!” says Stephanie Reith, the hotel’s digital and communications manager.
“It’s ace fun for all ages and when you get the hang of it, you can get a bit of speed up.
“The rink provides skaters the opportunity to experience a classic winter tradition surrounded by the natural beauty of the Fife landscape and – if you come at night – the starry sky above.”
The rink – which is made of synthetic ice and therefore very environmentally friendly – is impossible to miss as it’s at the front entrance to the five-star hotel and festooned with twinkling fairy lights.
First things first and Nora, Aoife and I check in with winter activity attendant and snow machine operator Katy McGrory who kits us out with skates.
Aoife gets some particularly snazzy pink ones, which boast two blades each for extra balance and safety.
I’m tempted to ask for a pair but I’m too embarrassed and I suspect they don’t make them in adult sizes.
First-time skaters (or folk who are rubbish at it, like me) can use penguin skate aids. Both Aoife and I highly recommend them.
I let go of my penguin a few times, cling to the sides of the rink, and attempt to skate unaided.
But very soon, I realise I’m better off sticking with Pingu.
Nora and Aoife do much better, and the joy factor increases when Katy triggers the snow machine and we’re covered in magical white flakes!
When our legs get tired, we head to a wooden hut for hot chocolate and marshmallows – bliss.
Our fun doesn’t stop there though, and we venture inside the hotel, which has been transformed into a magical winter wonderland with Christmas trees, baubles, glitter and tinsel everywhere you look.
We drink coffee and munch more marshmallows, and Aoife enjoys exploring the hotel’s nooks and crannies and pointing out her favourite baubles.
Then it’s time to head off into the grey, chilly wintry weather that has consumed Courier Country but we do so with huge grins on our faces and a spring in our step.
The skating rink at Fairmont St Andrews is open every day until January 6 from 10am until 9pm. The rink can accommodate up to 30 skaters.
The market stall offers hot chocolate, mulled wine, mince pies,hot dogs, crepes, burgers, and other mouthwatering festive treats.
A skating rink is a feature of Fairmont hotels throughout the world over the festive period, although this is the first time St Andrews has embraced the concept.
Booking in advance is essential so contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 01334 837000.
It’s £8 per adult and £5 per child which includes skate hire, skate aids if required and an hour’s use of the rink.