Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Geilston Gardens

The National Trust for Scotland's Geilston Gardens is about 8 miles away from us and there are many things I really like about this place. Essentially its a very small NTS property compared to many but there is such a wonderful variety of garden landscapes in a relatively small space that there is always a delight around the next corner.

We last visited a few weeks ago as the apple blossom was starting to show its beauty, I love the orchard and am always inspired to come home and when we planted our own (does 13 apple trees equal an orchard? - I'm hoping so) I came to Geilston for inspiration. Actually whenever I visit a National Trust or similar type property the kitchen garden and orchard are my favourite places. Aside from inspiration you can often buy great quality and good value plants; in summer months you can also buy surplus veg from Geilston, all the better for knowing the proceeds go to the charity.

 I also love these gardens because they have something to appeal to all members of the family. The children loved the Giant Wellingtonia tree, we speculated whether the folk of Enid Blyton's Magic Faraway Tree might live in something like this? Was there a slippery slip through the middle of the trunk?! There's a great variety of planting, when we visited much was just waiting to burst into life.

Hello again!

Time flies by with all that sunshine keeping me outside rather than here by the laptop. Lots and lots of sunny days and the garden seems to be growing well after a slow start. Aside from the garden the sunshine has huge benefits; we've generated heaps of electricity via the solar panels and the hot water is abundant too and, to be honest, I've only just turned my mind to the veggie garden so a slow start to the season has been an inevitable consequence. One of the great things about living in Scotland is that while Spring comes more slowly than further south we do have fantastically long days through the Summer and there's plenty of time to catch up. We've planted out the rest of our potatoes (we're cultivating 3 varieties this year) as well as cauliflowers. We'll also sew some more salad leaves and quick crops, these will take a short while to come through but we've got pots of rocket and lambs lettuce to pick at which we established indoors. Away from our own patch we've been putting pots of herbs on the patios of the holiday cottages so guests can help themselves. Whilst we've popped a selection of dried herbs and spices in the kitchen of each of the cottages we know keen cooks will enjoy being able to pick their own. Plum trees have been planted at the edge of the patios so in time to come guests will be able to pick their own fruit, maybe for making a nice plum crumble for tea.
Here's an updated picture of the sitting and dining room of 4 bedroomed Curlew Cottage, there's heaps of room for families and groups to relax together and plenty of space so you don't have to be on top of each other. We've had a few guests in the cottages but there's an inevitable gap between the website being completed and the world realising we are available for bookings. So we've decided to run a great offer to encourage those who are thinking of booking a holiday to pick up the phone and make it real. More details very soon.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What a difference a year makes

So here we are, two renovated holiday cottages. Sitting finely in the landscape of the southern part of Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park.
Its so very easy to forget how the buildings used to look before we started building work last May. After many months of design and feasibility work we took the plunge to renovate two very tired and long disused farm buildings and bring them back to life. When you're undertaking a renovation project its very easy, and very necessary, to be involved in the detail of how design and construction are going to work. Often there are unexpected problems, measurements on site which don't tally with drawings, work which needs doing that was never anticipated (so costing more money and more time) and so on. Sometimes you think back to what was there before but mainly, we find, that you just don't; as a function of renovations, working and family life you don't always take that step back to appreciate what is being created. Looking back at photos really reminds us of how it used to look, 12 months ago it all looked very differently. And we are happy with the outcome. Very happy and very proud.
One of the things which constantly changes in its detail but never changes in its power to soothe and calm, uplift and invigorate is the view to the north of Ben Lomond, the hills and the Loch.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Old Dairy - Interiors

The buff stone featured above was crafted to snugly fit a void in the red sandstone wall on the west gable of the two bedroomed cottage. It fits well with the building and the natural tone of the original stone.
We've also got some interiors shots to show you...

This view is taken from the first floor landing, the open plan living space in this cottage has the full height of the building and lots of natural light, it really feels good in here.
Beds have crisp fresh white linen topped with stylish throws, some cotton, some silk. In this cottage oak is the predominant material and features in every room, further adding to the warmth and beauty of the place.
In the kitchen we have all the usual bits you would expect, yes there's a dishwasher, hob, oven, fridge and kit like a toaster, kettle and plenty of crockery, glassware, pots and pans. There will be some welcome goodies to greet guests. Happily the hens have started laying again now the daylight hours are longer so we'll be including a complimentary half dozen for holiday guests, zero food miles and they taste absolutely gorgeous (in our humble opinion).

The first floor landing leads to a double bedroom with ensuite. The landing overlooks the living space in a rather grand fashion and you can look straight out a high level window which looks across the fields with views of the Campsie Hills.
We hope you like it!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Really really nearly there

The Old Dairy (sleeps 4 in two bedrooms) and Curlew Cottage (sleeps 8 in four bedrooms).
I keep saying 'yes, we're nearly there' to friends and family who enquire after the holiday cottages progress and it is true we are. We've tested the showers, the kitchens and the sofas. We know the heating and hot water system works, as its been operational for months now and it really feels very pleasant in our two holiday cottages. We know the solar panels are producing electricity and hot water and in the past few weeks of fine early Spring we're very pleased with their contribution of renewable energy to the cottages; on some days we have been exporting power to the national grid, and that is terrific.
By the end of the week we'll have a website to launch and I'm very excited about that too, as well as being desperate to share it with the world.
In the meantime I'm chasing my tail getting the pile of rubble near the gate cleared away, the driveway finished and checking we've got everything to make our holiday guests happy. That's why I keep saying 'nearly there'. The cottages are ready to welcome guests and even have beds ready to sleep in, the external areas are less kempt but give me a week, plus a tractor and trailer it'll all look much better. We are hoping to take bookings for Easter and the April school holidays and the website will give all the relevant information. For anyone considering an early booking please feel free to give me a call on 0790 509 3997 and I shall be happy to chat through your requirements.
We have had some guests staying on an informal let in Curlew Cottage, which very comfortably sleeps 8, and today I received a testimonial comment which was so so nice to receive (unsolicited!) and which I would like to share with you......

"Stayed in the lovely Curlew cottage recently with friends and had a lovely time. The views were incredible from all the living areas and with the wood burning stove, comfy sofas and flow through the great kitchen and dining area, I was hard pushed to want to leave. Helpful hosts, a well thought out kitchen, access to fresh laid eggs and enough bathrooms to lounge around having a soak for hours – what more could one need!

Great walks from the house too and the view from the top of the dumpling is not to be missed if you do manage to drag yourself away from the cottage."

Here's the kitchen for Curlew Cottage, plenty of space for the whole family to help the cook!