No matter how many years pass, the compulsion when at the seaside to grab a plastic spade and dig the biggest hole imaginable is something that never fades.

This was something I discovered in the East Neuk of Fife five years ago, when my girlfriend (now my wife) Jenna, my mum and dad, my sister Jacqueline and her young family and I began what has become a family tradition of a week's seaside holiday in the Kingdom.

It's a place very familiar to Jacqueline and I from our own childhood and, going even further back, from my Mum's.

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From Kirkcaldy, her family holidays were often spent in the village of Crail, while ours were spent at our Gran and Grandad's home in Newport-on-Tay.

From there, we would drive to the West Sands of St Andrews where, just last summer, my young nieces, Ebba and Isla, and I had a Chariots of Fire-inspired slow-motion race on the beach.

It was also at St Andrews that I used to play pitch-and-putt with my Granddad, something I eventually managed to persuade Jenna to have a go at last year.

And no matter the era, no seaside holiday is complete without a healthy (or, in this case, unhealthy) smattering of ice-cream and fish & chips. While some things haven't changed, others have moved with the times.

In 1986, when I was knee-high to a grasshopper, my family and I went to see RRS Discovery - looking rather worse for wear - shortly after its arrival in Dundee.

Today, the renovated ship forms the centrepiece of a very modern visitor exhibition.

In many ways, Discovery is the perfect metaphor for a 'Mod-stalgia' holiday, which sees people take a trip down memory lane while enjoying modern-day comforts.

During recent breaks in Elie, we have rented a house by the beach, complete with dishwasher, coffee machine, satellite television - even, on one occasion, an outdoor hot tub. But it's the familiarity of the surroundings - and the company - that makes it a time to cherish.

There's something very special about a family holiday, and it becomes even more special when that holiday is steeped in memories from your own childhood.

Tom Maxwell is press officer for VisitScotland