YUMMY FAMILY FRIENDLY RATING: 5/5

It was an invitation you couldn’t turn down. Ten strangers invited to a secluded mansion in the middle of nowhere. Cocktails on arrival, a four course chef-cooked dinner and a room for the weekend in a luxury boutique-style house… It felt like something out of an Agatha Christie novel.

So off we went on a crisp and clear Friday night like Thelma and Louise – minus the guns and sunglasses – following directions to our weekend in rural Fife. Just a 45-minute journey for me, we were looking forward to the cocktails on arrival and later on, the bubbly packed in our bags.

Before long, caught up in stories of work and the men in our lives, my friend Joanna started telling tales of days when she had dabbled in the Ouija board and of course we missed the turn-off. So there we were, up a dark isolated farm road still feeling the chills of Joanna’s mysterious tales. We were like two girl guides spooked from telling ghost stories round the campfire – and now stuck with no phone signal.

Our weekend with strangers and in the secluded house in jeopardy… we found a main road and came across the nearest village and headed to the police station (yes really) – and got directions. Low and behold we turned this way and that; up one deserted track road after another before heading up the glorious lit-driveway to the mansion house on the hill – Carphin Mansion House.

And just like that we were transported to a warm world of welcome. The canapés hot and cocktails cold, and then introductions were made to all the other guests, who were sitting around the biggest roaring open fire I’ve seen for a while. Relieved there was no Miss Marple type sitting in the corner, we settled in and looked around.

Carphin House is a grand old mansion, set in a private estate nestling around the Cupar area of Fife. If you want a truly great escape for a weekend of seclusion for your family and friends, this will be right up your street. It’s expertly refurbished to keep the old traditional feel and vibe of the very great lady, plus it has its own staff, who discreetly come and go, leaving you in the comfort of this home from home.

It sleeps 20 and for a three-day weekend, you can rent this delicious house for £3000; Joanna and I were mentally placing all the children in the different rooms, making a list of other parents who would love a weekend away like this and working out how much it would cost each family. We worked out £300 per couple and thought: Why not? We can afford this. We’re planning a weekend for summer.

And that’s what will happen when you walk through the majestic oak doors of Carphin Mansion House – you will fall in love with this magnificent matriarch. It’s so close to St Andrews, the house management staff and PR can organise activities for its guests. For our weekend, there was golf for the men in our group and use of the spa facilities at the Old Course Hotel for the girls. Great fun.

Carphin House also has a marquee in the grounds, so this location would be perfect for a wedding as well or for that special birthday or Christening – or murder mystery weekend. It’s truly a magical find in deepest Fife – a well kept secret; shh, don’t tell anyone I told you about it or they’ll all want to go.

Managed by The Fusion Group; contact www.carphinbystandrews.co.uk; 08452 694 386

Five place to go in Fife

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1. DeepSea World

Forthside Terrace, North Queensferry, Fife, KY11 1JR

Telephone: 01383 411 880

2. The Scottish Deer Centre,

Bow-of-Fife, Cupar, Fife, KY15 4NQ

Telephone: 01337 810391

3. St Andrew Aquarium

The Scores, St Andrews, Fife, KY16 9AS

Telephone: 01334 474786

4. FifeAnimalPark

Birniefield, By Birnie Loch, Collessie, Fife, KY15 7UT

Telephone: 01337 831830

5. Scotland’s Secret Bunker

Crown Buildings, Troywood, St Andrews, Fife, KY16 8QH

Telephone: 01333 310301