A COUPLE who have run a Rosyth pub for 25 years have called time and said they need a break.

Neil and Mairi Murdoch left Cottars Bar, on Primrose Avenue, on Tuesday with plans to head for the sunshine.

They took over the Camdean boozer in May 1997 and it will remain open, with the lease changing hands and new staff coming in.

"We're just taking a year out, having a gap year to go and find ourselves," Neil laughed.

"No, the lease was coming to an end and we decided, the way the world was, it's a hard game to be in right now.

"I've been 35 years in the industry, we've got two daughters and a grandchild so we'll be able to spend a bit more time with them.

"We're going to Lanzarote for five weeks, we'll have Christmas and New Year and then arrange to go and see pals in Australia, just outside Perth.

"It's not somewhere you can just go for a fortnight and running a pub, it's hard to get four weeks off.

"It's a good time for us to do a bit of travelling, we're not quite 60 yet so we've still got a fair bit of life left, and then get back for the golf season!"

The couple thanked customers and friends for their parting good wishes, cards and gifts and Neil said: "We were 10 years in London before this, managing pubs down there, and, to be truthful, we only came back here for two years.

"It's 25 years later and we're still here.

"We've no regrets. The pub's been good to us. It's a community pub, the punters are good and it's staying open, someone is taking it over.

"That was our worry, that we leave and the pub shuts.

"We had eight staff – one's been here for 20-odd years – and then you've all the customers, you've got loyalty towards these people.

"It's a hassle-free pub, there's never any bother, it's trading well and it's busy. We just need a break."

One of the factors in their decision was the long list of issues making it harder to turn a buck in the pub game.

Neil, 59, explained: "It's the things you can't control: energy bills, wages, they gave figures on the news saying the price of food had gone up by 10 per cent, it's more like 50 per cent.

"At the same time, people's earnings are going down the way and we're trying to push them to come here, in a cost-of-living crisis, and having to put our prices up?

"It's just the perfect storm, everything is hitting at the same time and prices are just going crazy."

He added: "COVID knocked the heart out of it but over the last year it's picked up again, trade has been really good.

"But one of the big things you're dealing with now is all the man caves that sprung up during lockdown.

"The amount of customers and friends who got sheds in their garden and garages turned into bars – some of them with pool tables and flatscreen TVs! – and it's hard for pubs to compete with Tesco's prices for alcohol.

"I think some people just got used to drinking at home."

Asked if they will ever come back to run Cottars, Neil said: "It depends what happens. Never say never. Other than some travelling, we genuinely don't have any plans.

"We'll still be around. It's not like I'll just sit at home and watch Emmerdale on TV. I'll just be on the other side of the bar!"