Take a trip around Troon.
It’s a cold, crisp, windy day but, bizarrely, the golden sandy beach is bustling.
Dogs and their owners splash in the blue waters, families have pitched up for picnics on the dunes, the esplanade is heaving with kids on skateboards, scooters and bikes battle for space.
It seems not even the wintry weather is enough to put people off enjoying this scenic spot.
Troon’s unwritten rule appears to be grab your hat, scarf and gloves and brave the breeze if you don’t, you’ll be gutted you missed it. And I’m certainly glad we didn’t.
I must admit, the thought of a weekend away in Scotland in February, and one of the coldest Februaries I can remember for a while filled me with dread.
But I soon learned if you bring the right tools for the job (flat shoes and the cosiest jacket you own) an off-peak beach holiday north of the border can actually be really fun.
Despite its proximity to Glasgow, Troon, which sits on the Ayrshire coast, is a quiet seaside town.
It’s the perfect place to kick back, relax and enjoy a few days peace from the hustle and bustle of city life, whether in spring, summer or through the winter months.
Boasting seven spectacular golf courses including Royal Troon which has hosted the Open Championship on eight occasions and is the venue of choice for the 145th tournament next year it’s a golfer’s paradise.
The famous Turnberry and Prestwick are just a short drive away. However, even if you’re not a fan of the game, you’ll soon get into the swing of things, which go at a pretty relaxed pace here.
We arrived at The Marine Hotel, a four-star establishment situated practically on the 18th hole of Royal Troon.
And we certainly had a room with a view, not only over the links but the beach and the breathtaking sunsets too.
On a clear day, the sprawling sights extend from Ailsa Craig and the Isle of Arran to beyond the Ayrshire hills, which at this time of year were topped with a dusting of snow.
The 89-bedroom hotel, built at the turn of the 20th Century, boasts a whole host of luxuries, including a spa and leisure club, as well as the first restaurant in the famous Two Fat Ladies chain outside of Glasgow.
And boy is it a treat to behold if you can get a table, that is!
It seems it’s only the early birds at this eaterie that catch the worm as, on our stay, the restaurant was so busy they could only accommodate us at 5.30 or after 9pm.
But I suppose the peak-time popularity is testament to the restaurant’s success.
It’s a favourite not just with hotel guests, but locals too and it’s the place to be on a Saturday night.
By the time we get a table, we’re absolutely ravenous and I’m delighted to report that the Two Fat Ladies didn’t disappoint.
The food was top-notch and the service exceptional, a perfect combination for an ideal dining experience.
The seafood was fresh, the beef so succulent it needed nothing more than a butter knife to slice through and the puddings were out of this world.
All in all, exactly the level of cooking and attention to detail as you’ll experience at the original “Two Fats” which opened at No. 88 (hence the bingo call name) Dumbarton Road in Glasgow in 1989, only here the view is much better!
Our table is in a prime spot, right next to the window which looks across to the twinkling lights of Prestwick and Ayr round the coastline, a beautiful scene against the dark night sky.
The following day I took the opportunity to venture out for a stroll along the prom to walk off some of those calories, while the other half dusted off the clubs for his first round of the year.
It takes just 20 minutes at a light walking pace to reach the heartland of Troon, a quaint little town filled with boutiques selling all sorts of trinkets and treasures, from soaps to shoes and scarves.
But it’s actually the coffee shops that seem to be the main attraction.
Despite the fact that there’s one on just about every corner, I’m on the third before I find a free table.
The majority pride themselves on serving up fresh home-baking from scones and strawberry tarts to macaroons and meringues.
So, if you like to have your cake and eat it then you’ll love sampling the sweet treats on offer. And the coffee isn’t too bad either!
In the afternoon, we decide to try out a few of the tourist attractions.
Just 12 miles away, in Alloway, is Burns Cottage and National Heritage Park, a true tribute to Scotland’s national bard.
I have to admit, I’m partial to a wee bit of Rabbie’s rhyming.
But even if poetry isn’t your thing, it’s an inspiring place to learn about the life of the country’s favourite son.
Everything from his beginnings in the Ayrshire town to the birth of his youngest son on the day of his funeral after he died in his late 30s.
If you’re more of a sporty type, Ayr racecourse, home to the Scottish Grand National, is just 15 minutes away and hosts meetings throughout the year.
Before we know it, it’s time to head home. And I’m not sure whether it’s the sea air or the food overindulgence, but I’m the most relaxed I’ve been for months.
It seems a winter beach holiday is certainly a break worth taking.
You may be tan-free, but I guarantee you’ll feel just as refreshed as you would after a week in the sun.For more information about The Marine Hotel, visit their website.