Fabric, Dunfermline

So yesterday OH and I dined with Mr and Mrs Hairy at Sol y Sombra in Broughty Ferry. It was a good time with great company and great food. However, I wrote about it in 2014 and when I reread my blog from back then I thought it was still as relevant today so I didn’t feel the need to write another. If you want to see it you can read it—> here

Instead, I am writing about Mini-me and I dining in Fabric in Dunfermline today. We had just walked around the fabulous Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries and when we came out we noticed Fabric diagonally opposite the library. The menu looked good so we went in.

Fabric is the epitome of a place for women who lunch. The white stylish chairs, the single red roses at each table, the mirrored tiles, the chandeliers and the huge vase of flowers on the bar said it all. We were seated among other women who were enjoying afternoon tea. The cake stands of scones, fancies and sandwiches looked fantastic. At another table a woman sat surrounded by glasses and Prosecco in an ice bucket obviously waiting for friends so they could celebrate a birthday.

We were given menus and brought glasses of water with ice, which was great. We oohed and aahed over the offer of a starter and a main for £11.95. However, as it was a Sunday and they were serving brunch all day, Mini-me fancied the full breakfast with sourdough toast so I thought I’d get a starter we could share as it was only a couple of pound extra and therefore decided on – Arancini – red pepper, watercress and tomato salsa – followed by Tiger prawn squid ink linguine in a creamy tomato sauce. When the waitress appeared we ordered. She said, “Are you ordering the starter and main combo?” Yes I am. “Sorry, the pasta isn’t a main meal, it’s just these ones here. The menu is a bit confusing.” I couldn’t agree more. “Just the pasta then thanks.”

Tiger Prawn pasta

We waited quite a while and discussed afternoon teas and coming back for one, we read the drinks menu and chatted about what cocktail we would order if we were going to have one and we listened to other people’s conversations about being at Ladies Day. Eventually, our meals arrived and they looked great although Mini-Me’s toast looked like the Guinness Book of Records could give it an award for the whitest toast in the world. We both thought it was bread.

toast (yes really)

My pasta was lovely, roasting hot and very messy. I had to tuck my napkin into my top to save it from the tomato sauce (thankfully Mini-me let me) but I loved it. As well as temp hot it also had a bit of a kick to it and the sauce was beautifully creamy. I would have liked more prawns but I’m not sure how much is too much when it comes to good prawns.

breakfast

Mini-me was enjoying her breakfast – the bacon, sausages and eggs were great but the buttered toast was fast becoming a problem. She said the butter tasted cheap and was leaving a bad taste. The haggis was tasty until she got to the bottom of it and she started to wonder if it had been fried in the same butter. When I had finished my pasta I asked Mini-me if she was going to finish her toast as I fancied a bit to wipe up the last of my sauce. I even went as far to pick up a bit but it was rock solid. Her reply was, “If you’ve got a nice taste in your mouth I wouldn’t.” I didn’t.

We asked for the dessert menu but nothing jumped out so we just got the bill.

As we didn’t have any drinks (we just stuck with the water) it was a bargain £16.90 for a breakfast and a main meal (which wasn’t really a main meal it was pasta).

With hindsight we totally should have had an afternoon tea.

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DBB at The Old Course Hotel, St Andrews

Just before Christmas I received an email from The Old Course Hotel in St Andrews offering dinner, bed and breakfast for £199. Now, considering to stay overnight is usually around £185, this was a bargain I could not ignore so I quickly booked a room for in between Christmas and New Year.

So off we popped to St Andrews. Prior to check in we decided we would try out their golf academy and whacked 100 balls on to the practice range. The experience was made more interesting with the little screens next to the tees that showed exactly how far the ball was hit as well as it’s trajectory and speed. I’m no Jack Nicklaus but I was pleased I managed 142 yards straight down the fairway.

We then drove down to the hotel to check in. The hotel’s Christmas decorations were beautiful and I was glad I had booked within the festive season. Our room was on the second floor and was large, spacious and very comfortable with the deepest bath ever – ideal for testing out all the complimentary toiletries and large fluffy towels. Unfortunately, the view was of the car park but it being winter (and me being Scottish) I wasn’t paying an extra £30 to see a golf course in the dark.

Dressed for dinner we paid The Jigger Inn a visit for a couple of aperitifs before heading back in to the hotel and up to the Road House Restaurant on the fourth floor. We were given a window seat but as we already knew, it was dark outside so unsurprisingly all we could see was the Royal and Ancient Clubhouse, which was lit up at the end of the 18th. Unfortunately, it also meant our table was a little dark as there were no lights above us. Hence my rubbish pics – sorry.

As we were on the DBB deal we were given the set winter menu with 3 options for each course and I ordered a bottle of NZ Sauvignon Blanc from the sommelier. It was not long before he was back allowing us a taste and chatting away about wine. As he blethered he continued to hold our bottle of wine in his hands. I started worrying about his hot hands heating up my cold wine especially as there was no wine cooler in sight. What was even more bizarre was that when our starters arrived he continued to chat away. Thankfully our starters were both cold…unlike our quickly warming wine. Eventually we were allowed to start our meal when the sommelier wandered off still holding our bottle.

For starter OH ordered the Sweet potato croquet, truffled goats cheese, pecan and apple. OH enjoyed it and it was gone before I remembered to take a pic and now it appears it didn’t make much of a mark on his memory either.

I had Duck presse, foie gras, smoked duck and clementines, which was lighter than expected with the orange segments giving it a refreshing tang.

For my main I had Red mullet, shellfish, pancetta broth, cocotte potatoes samphire and saffron nage. This dish was beautiful. The shellfish was plump, juicy mussels and hidden under the mullet, which was a lovely shade of red (not shown at it’s best in the pic). The potatoes were good but nothing special and the samphire could have had more bite but overall it was a lovely dish.

mde

What I am now starting to discover, since actively reducing my salt intake, is restaurant meals are starting to taste too salty to me so I did find it heavy on the salt but that might just be fish dishes and me nowadays.

OH had Pork belly, red onion marmalade, blackcurrant jus, baby carrots and haggis bon bons. OH felt the pork belly was too dry and chewy. There was only 1 carrot and the blackcurrant jus was just a smear on the plate which by the time OH got the plate it was baked on so there was no taste. Yes, OH was more than a little disappointed in this course.

mde

Throughout the meal different waiters topped up our glasses so I can only imagine a host of different bottles being kept in fridges and someone co-ordinating how they get back to the right diners. No easy feat but it appeared to work as we were never left dry.

For dessert OH went for the Chocolate and orange deluce, orange segments, caramel crumble and frangelico ice cream. OH says this was the best part of his meal and was just the right taste and amounts to finish off with.

mde

I went for the selection of artisan cheeses, truffle honey and black grapes. The cheeseboard was lush and I loved it and ordered a port (and extra crackers) to go with it. 4 good sized pieces of cheese all of which were tasty, plenty grapes and I love a cheeseboard with honey, which goes amazing on blue cheese. The truffle honey smelt and tasted highly of garlic but the sommelier (who popped over as he had noticed I had ordered port but not from him) assured us it was truffle oil. I honestly would have argued against this as it was very garlicky but still lovely with the blue cheese.

Breakfast the following morning was busy and often there were people having to wait for a table. They were asked to sit in the bar with complimentary tea and coffee whilst they watched over the links. Our timing must have been spot on though as we were immediately shown to a table.

Breakfast was good with a vast selection of items on offer. Everything from cooked meats, salmon and cheese to cereals, fresh and dried fruit and pastries. The hot plates offered bacon, sausage, lorne sausage, haggis, black pudding, scrambled egg, tomatoes, beans, potato scones and hash browns and on top of this you could order freshly prepared dishes such as eggs benedict, kippers and omlettes etc.

When we checked out our bill for the wine and port came to £42.50 (I had already paid the DBB rate of £199).

Overall, it was a fabulous night away and a great way to set myself up for a good start to the New Year.

And hopefully you are all ready for the new year too so with that in mind I wish you all the best for 2019 and thanks for taking the time to read my blogs over the years x

Gleddoch – Hotel, Spa & Golf

So last weekend, for the want of anything better to do, OH and I headed to the west coast. We booked a night in the Gleddoch Golf and Spa Hotel, a dog friendly hotel not far from Greenock.

On parking we could see from outside what had been an old, secluded, country house had now been extended up the hill with a new build. Not that you could see the modern extension in any of the hotel’s online pics, of course.

We wandered into reception, which was full of Chesterfield couches and club chairs. Obviously, I looked just like the kind of customer they would roll out the red carpet for carrying a bulging, well used, Asda bag full of dog food, chews, a water bowl and blanket. Classy. However, the receptionist was warm and friendly as she booked us in. She gave us our key and advised us that although we were more than welcome to go up to the room via the inside of the hotel it was recommended to take the car up to the car park as it was a bit of a trek and there were a lot of stairs.

So OH, the dog and me humphing my Asda bag, all went back out to the car and drove up to the first car park and looked around for an entrance. Nope. We drove up to the next car park. There were no signs but there was an open fire door so I checked it out and right enough found No.5. The room was fantastic. Concealed lighting, huge comfy bed, all the bits and bobs you could ask for (my favourites – free bottled water and biscuits) and a large walk in shower with multiple settings.  2016-07-02 18.28.21Not long after we took the dog out for a walk around the side of the golf course and explored the hotel grounds. The view from the hotel was stunning – right over the Clyde to Dumbarton.

Later we then tried to find the hotel bar, which OH had spotted next to reception. Remember we were now 2 carparks up from there? First off we walked along the first corridor. Nope. Dead end. Next we found the restaurant. Looked around there. Nope no sign of the way to reception. Back tracked. Started again. Another dead end. Back to the restaurant and through it to the pre-dinner sitting area where we were stared at. We persevered and walked through the on-lookers. We found another corridor and walked slowly along it looking for signs. There were none for reception but we did find the pool. We then met a waiter who pointed us in the right direction down stairs, then more stairs and another corridor. We eventually emerged into the reception area. It was only at this point I thought about leaving breadcrumbs…

…too much wine later and high heels in hand it was like a scene from the Crystal Maze as we tried to retrace our steps. Giggling and using stage whispers we found our way along corridors containing wheelbarrows, found numerous dead ends and eventually, and thankfully, found our room again.

It felt like no sooner had our heads hit the pillow than the fire alarm was going off. Oh yeah, suddenly I was wide awake. Good Morning Dumbarrrrrton! To be honest, it was after 9 but that’s not really the point.  I gingerly made my way out to  the car park wearing sunglasses even though it was dreich. The only one delighted with the rapid exit was the dog who darted off to the golf course to help with watering the fairway. It turned out the alarm was down to an electrical fault and the ongoing building work. I was just glad the alarm stopped when I nipped back to the room to take my phone off of charge. 2016-07-03 09.14.16.jpg

Not long later, showered and dressed in clean clothes this time, we left our room and went for breakfast. It was chaotic. I’m hoping it was due to the fire alarm and this was not the norm. Dirty plates were on the cold buffet table – probably dumped when the alarm went off and forgotten. Serving dishes were empty, juice jugs were lacking and there were tables needing re-set with people waiting.  One waiter – actually the one that showed us how to get to reception the night before – was sprinting between tables trying to meet everyone’s needs. White sugar here, more butter there, here a jam, there a  knife, everywhere some toast toast.

One chap who had been helping himself from the hot buffet returned and sat at the wrong table, which was completely cluttered. Surprised that he had no clean cutlery he asked for some without questioning it. His wife joined him and looked around confused as he wolfed down his bacon and sausage. She lifted a cup that was in her way and asked if it was his. With bean juice running down his chin he shook his head. She struggled to find a clear place to put the cup down again. She then asked if he had seen her phone. More head shaking. It was only when the wife spotted her phone on the other table that she realised they were at the wrong table. Oh the hilarity as they got up and moved. The man quipped, “I wondered why I could no longer see the Clyde”  as he returned to his own table not worrying about his faux pas. Other diners laughed along with him. I’d have been mortified and would have had to leave my breakfast as I allowed the ground to swallow me up.

To be fair we enjoyed our stay. I found the scene at breakfast hilarious – even when my toast turned up only toasted on one side. The trek from room to reception was a highlight and the surrounding scenery and room were brilliant. The staff were friendly and helpful and if it weren’t for the fire alarm turning breakfast into a comedy sketch it would have received high marks. Well, apart from the fact that there was no tv in the bar so we couldn’t watch the footy and had to speak to one another.
To recap – bits were so bad it was great 🙂 

Kelso, Dryburgh and Ancrum

As I’m a bit of a twat and didn’t realise it was a Bank Holiday weekend I only booked one night away this weekend as I honestly didn’t know I had Monday off.  Anyway, OH and I had already decided to get away for the night and instead of heading north or west as we often do, this time we headed south towards the Borders.

We wanted a dog friendly hotel so my search led me to the Dryburgh Abbey Hotel, a country house hotel just north of Kelso. As we arrived in the area too early to check in we took the dog for a walk to see the nearby Wallace Statue. 2016-04-30 12.47.22.jpg
Having never heard of the statue before I had no expectations, therefore when I saw the massive stone structure (ha you thought I was going to say erection – stop being so childish.) I was gobsmacked. It was humongous. You could even see up his kilt! 2016-04-30 12.45.04.jpg(btw I will know if you click on that pic to enlarge it ;))

After the dog had stretched her legs we drove on to Kelso and had a wander around the historic town situated on the Tweed. We also had a  lovely lunch in the The Cobbles, where the service and the menu were great.

With full bellies we headed back to check in to our hotel. The hotel was fabulous. A proper country feel to it with comfy old couches and arm chairs. Our room was large and had everything we needed. OH had brought his rod with him and, as we knew the hotel had fishing rights on the stretch of the Tweed in front of it, we went out to investigate. It wasn’t long before OH had donned his wellies and was out casting and I was in the warm hotel with a glass of wine in hand. Yeah, I’m not daft. As if I’m going to be outside on a Saturday evening trying to work out what kind of flies are dancing on the water. 2016-05-01 10.57.41-1.jpgOH didn’t catch anything but him and Amber seemed to have a great time. We finished the evening in the hotel bar where dogs were made very welcome and thankfully Amber (who is trained as a gundog) didn’t retrieve any of the stuffed birds scattered around the hotel.

The hotel breakfast was great. As you do, I ate far more than normal as there was so much on offer. After my apple juice, fruit, muesli and toast, I had to chose from the hot menu so every dish was cooked to order. I had a 3 egg bacon omelette, which was lush. OH had smoked haddock and poached egg. He was just a little disappointed that his egg wasn’t runny. (I say a little he was devastated).

I have to say  The Dryburgh Abbey Hotel has been one of the best hotels I have stayed in for along time. The receptionist couldn’t have been more helpful. The waiting staff were friendly and the hotel facilities spot on.

Before driving home we headed to Ancrum as, thanks to lots of little photocopied flyers scattered around Kelso, I knew there was an art thing happening. Turns out it was Art At Ancrum where the village had opened itself up to over 30 artists who were exhibiting their wares. We were welcomed into peoples homes, offered coffee by a stone mason  and spoke to a number of interesting artists more than happy to discuss their techniques. I came away with a cute little green pottery jug and almost bought an expensive green suede handbag that had my name all over it but the wrong price tag.

Of course, the best bit is I’ve been away for what has felt like a long weekend and I still have Monday to go 🙂

Home Farm View, Kirkcaldy, Fife.

Remember I was taking golf lessons? Well, today I was going out for my first ever game and OH was taking me. To make sure we weren’t hungry as we traipsed around the 9 hole course at Cluny Clays we decided to go for breakfast first at Home Farm View in Kirkcaldy, Fife, which is just up the road. It’s part of the Eating Inn chain and someplace we hadn’t visited for a long time, probably because we associate it with kids – it has a soft play area and caters mainly for families. Regardless of the fact we were child free, we went in for breakfast.

The breakfast menu is pretty basic. Either a Scottish breakfast (bacon, egg, sausage, haggis, black pudding, beans, potato scone, tomato and toast), a Big Breakfast, which is the same but with 2 of everything or the vegetarian option. You could also have a filled roll with one or two fillings. The only other options were porridge or beans on toast. Saying that, I was more than happy with the Scottish breakfast as was OH. When the waitress came to take our order OH said he didn’t want any black pudding and was offered an extra item instead so he went for another egg. I thought this was great as they didn’t need to offer an extra anything.

2015-08-23 11.12.05The breakfasts were just what you want on a Sunday morning and the exact amount not to be too filling (particularly if you’re playing golf afterwards). I had no complaints but I know some people who read this will be annoyed as the beans weren’t in a separate dish. To them I say get over yourself – it’s just a bit of bean juice leaking over your plate not poison ;p

The biggest bonus of the breakfast was the price.

2 Scottish breakfasts, a coffee and a tea = £9.99!!

Yes, you read that right. The breakfasts were only £3.99 each but when you order 2 and have 2 hot drinks alongside them the price is £9.99.

A total bargain so whether you have kids or not the next morning you can’t be bothered to cook or just want to treat yourself, get yourselves along to Home View Farm in Kirkcaldy. golf

In case you were wondering – I was cack at golf and lost count of my score once it got into triple figures. And yes, I did say it was a 9-hole course :s

Cluny Clays, Cluny, Kirkcaldy.

Sunday morning and the fridge was akin to Old Mother Hubbard’s cupboard so it wasn’t too hard a decision to head out for breakfast. Recently, as part of my job, I have been taking a teenager to the golf range at Cluny Clays to help build his self-esteem and confidence. Much to my surprise I’ve really started to enjoy it, although I do tend to completely miss the ball more often than I connect with it. In stark contrast the 15-year-old looks like a natural so my incompetence alone helps boost his self-esteem.

Anyhow, when trying to decide where we should head for brekkie we came up with the idea of going to Cluny Clays. The plan being breakfast followed by 100 balls in the golf range.

They serve breakfast until 11.30 and offer a full cooked,  a full veggie, eggs on toast, whatever you fancy on a roll and t2015-07-12 11.22.56heir own twist on a croque monsieur. OH went for full cooked no black pudding and I went for full cooked no mushrooms. When my plate arrived I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish it. 2 eggs, 2 slices of bacon, 2 sausages, haggis, black pudding, tomato, beans and toast. We also had a pot of tea for 2.  The breakfast was absolutely fantastic. The sausages weren’t too spicy, the black pudding was lovely, the egg yolks were runny, the bacon was thick and I had no complaints at all. OH managed to finish his and I gave mine a damn good go but had to leave some just so I would be able to get out of my chair.

When I paid the bill I also asked for the balls for the driving range. They give you a receipt with a 4 digit number, which you then take to the range, input the code into a machine and it spits out your balls into a basket.

2015-06-03 14.51.38Once you’ve picked your bay you pour your balls into the hopper and it automatically pops up your ball onto a tee. It’s all very fancy. At Cluny Clays there is a transit van parked in the middle of the range with a target on it as well as greens with holes and flags, and nets to chip into. Try as I might I couldn’t hit the van. Obviously OH managed to hit it 4 times in a row (show off) so with his advice I managed to start hitting the ball more often but got very frustrated when, after 40 balls, I started swiping through fresh air again so I went in a huff and gave up.

After OH had distributed the remaining balls over the range, we wandered into the shop and started chatting with (what turned out to be) one of the PGA professionals that give tuition. Long story short. I’ve now signed up for lessons!!! Yes, I know. Me neither. This can only end in one of 2 ways. I either become a golf bore and my blog start to show a reducing handicap or I wrap a club around OH’s neck.

You’re just going to have to watch this space to find out which it is.

2 breakfasts, a pot of tea for 2 and 100 balls for the golf range – £20.70

Cobbies Bar and Kitch Inn, Tayport

2015-06-07 14.50.51

Tayport Harbour

It’s been a while since OH and I ate out at the weekend and as I was on call, it was time to have a look on Tripadvisor to see what was hip and happening in the Kingdom of Fife. A new place I hadn’t noticed before, which had received a number of positive reviews, caught my interest. It was The Cobbies Bar and Kitch Inn in Tayport. I looked up the website and thought it looked worth a visit as it had an intriguing menu with very reasonable prices.

Cobbies was simple to find as it was just meters from the picturesque harbour and we found a parking place with ease. When we first went into the building it was obvious we were in the bar area and we received a few odd but friendly looks from the regulars who knew we were visitors to Tayport. We were quickly shown where the door to the lounge was and were able to wander through and find a seat.

The lounge was an odd mismatch of themes. To me it looked like someone had a vision of how they wanted it to look – with shelves made from pallets, decoupage on the bar and tables, suitcases scattered around and the appearance of book lined walls – but had been told they needed to keep the pool table, darts board and framed British Legion Flag. This was a shame as I was really liking the vision. 2015-06-07 13.31.41

We were given photocopied menus, which would have greatly benefited from a bit of laminating as they looked like they had been in the hands of many a diner before us. The food on offer differed from the usual pub grub as it described things in stacks. Yes I can see your puzzled look and this is what had made me initially intrigued. Imagine your carbs layered between your proteins instead of laid out flat on a  plate and you’ll get the picture. If this puts you off don’t let it as there were unstacked dishes as well. Unusually, there was also a number of vegetarian options too (bonus points!) and a children’s menu.

2015-06-07 14.02.46As I hadn’t eaten yet I decided to go for the Big Breakfast Stack – Sausage, Bacon, Black pudding, & Haggis layered between potato scones, topped with a fried egg & served with a jug of baked beans. It came in a deep brown dish (I’d have prefered a more flat plate)  and a jar of beans rather than a jug but in among the stack I discovered 3 sausages!  The accompanying chips were complete overkill and it was pure greed that I tried to eat them. As much as I tried I couldn’t finish the meal. It was a big hearty breakfast and hit the spot completely.

OH decided on the Steak Stack – Thinly sliced succulent steak, stacked up between warm crusty bread with fried onions & 2015-06-07 14.02.06melted cheese. It arrived on an impressively large platter with salad in a little china bowl. OH really enjoyed it and his only comments were that it would have been better with homemade bread and blue cheese would have given it a little more flavour. Later he also said that the Kitch Inn would be perfect if you had been out sailing or walking the Fife Coastal Path and were looking for a delicious and substantial meal to refuel with.

All the dishes that I saw the other diners in the lounge enjoy looked great and I was even more impressed when I chatted with the chef later and discovered that it was a joint venture with him and his wife, who had been waiting on the tables. They have taken on the restaurant side of the pub and have nothing to do with the bar, which now makes total sense with regards to the decor. They have only been open for around a year and with a toddler and another on the way it is fantastic that this young family are trying something new in Fife. My hat is well and truly off to them.

A diet coke, 2 pints of Guinness and 2 main meals came to £23.30.

As we were ‘stappit fu’ we retired to the sheltered beer garden to finish our drinks as for once the sun was out (more bonus points!)

It’s quirky, its very reasonably priced and I’d really like to see this friendly, young husband and wife team make a success of this so please go and give them a visit.

Cobbies Bar and Kitch Inn, 

32 Tay Street, Tayport, Fife. Scotland.

Telephone: 01382 552011

Campbell’s Coffee House, Falkland

2015-03-24 12.01.58OH and I were supposed to be heading off to Edinburgh this morning to celebrate our 25th Wedding Anniversary (yes I know – he does deserve a medal but he got a bloody lovely bottle of 25 year old whisky instead).2015-03-23 15.30.39-1 Unfortunately, (long story short) our plans had to change and we ended up going out for breakfast instead. We needed somewhere close by and decided a Wetherspoons just wasn’t going to cut it so after a quick Google search we headed to nearby Falkland and Campbell’s Coffee House and Eatery. We were surprised to find it so busy on a Tuesday morning but we still managed to get a seat by the window looking over towards the fountain and the Palace.

The breakfast menu was lovely, as well as a full cooked Scottish, it had French cinnamon toast, scrambled egg and salmon, toast, grilled Portobello mushroom, poached eggs and muffins and an array of filled rolls.

OH and I both plumped for the full Scottish which listed bacon, pork sausage, haggis, choice of egg (I had scrambled and OH had fried), roasted tomato, potato scone with either white or granary toast.

The waitress asked, as the breakfast would take about 10  minutes to cook from fresh, if we wanted to wait and have our tea and coffee with our breakfast. However, we both decided to have them whilst we waited. With hindsight I should have waited as I had drank most of my tea before my breakfast arrived and could have done with a 2nd pot but I will know the next time.   2015-03-24 11.12.13

When the breakfast came it was presented beautifully and is one of the best cooked breakfasts I have had in a long time. The sausages weren’t too spicy and the haggis was a nice firm consistency. The eggs had obviously just been freshly scrambled in a pan and hadn’t even glimpsed the sight of a microwave and there was no sign of any grease anywhere.

When I went up to the counter to pay the bill there was a display of cakes and scones on show that looked wonderful and would be an ideal treat after a walk around Falkland estate or the Palace.  I did think the bill was a little bit expensive as the 2 breakfasts, a pot of tea and a latte came to £22.35. However, comparing it to other breakfasts, it did hit the spot and Campbell’s Coffee House is in a wonderful setting. With the sun shining brightly on the former Royal burgh we could have easily been in Edinburgh or even France for that  matter2015-03-24 11.05.17  .

Ben Lawers Hotel, Loch Tay

Valentine

As it was Valentine’s weekend and I wasn’t oncall I decided to have a browse online to see what offers were available. I happened upon a hotel on Loch Tay which was only opening for the Friday and Saturday and was offering an excellent rate for bed and breakfast AND it was dog friendly. Obviously I couldn’t resist and booked it for Valentine’s Day.

The drive there was stunning. Scotland never ceases to amaze me with it’s beauty, if you haven’t been already what’s stopping you? You won’t be disappointed. Anyway, when we arrived at the Ben Lawers Hotel we were shown to our room, which was ideal for our overnight stay and beautifully decorated.

2015-02-14 15.20.57OH asked where we could walk the dog and the warm and friendly owner directed us down a track to the banks of Loch Tay. We strolled as we were shown and the scenery was fantastic. I was glad I had brought my wellies as we spent ages wandering around the old ruined village and nearby graveyard.

2015-02-14 15.09.26When we got back to the hotel we enjoyed a couple of pints in the bar, which was full of hill walkers who had tried to climb the nearby Munro, Ben Lawers, the highest mountain in the Southern Highlands (1214 meters) and the peak the hotel is named after.

We booked a table for 7pm and enjoyed a game of pool pre dinner (I won just incase you’re interested ;p)

The owners of the hotel have a large family and all the kids helped out in the restaurant, supervised by mum. Given the ages of the children, they did a fantastic job taking orders and bringing out the food their dad had lovingly prepared. I was really impressed by their willingness to help and how polite and well mannered they all were.

We took our seats just before 7 and checked out the menu and specials board. We decided to share a starter so we wouldn’t be too full for our mains and went for the Ham Hock Terrine with Melba toasts. The terrine was chunky, very tasty and beautifully made. For his main meal OH went for the 9oz2015-02-14 19.26.46 Mature Scottish Ribeye steak 2015-02-14 19.45.43with homemade onion rings, chips, tomatoes and a Stilton and walnut sauce. OH raved about his steak saying it was seared wonderfully and cooked exactly as he likes it (just chase a cow through a hot kitchen and he’s happy). He didn’t pour the sauce over as he said he wanted to taste all of the steak but instead dipped his chips in it and gave it the thumbs up.  I had fresh fillet of Scottish salmon topped with a mild delicate mustard butter and oven baked, accompanied by fresh vegetables and new potatoes. 2015-02-14 19.45.51It hit the spot and I cleared the plate without any difficulty. We gave dessert a miss although the menu tried very hard to persuade us.

After dinner we sat in the bar and chatted with other guests and the owners. It was a lovely evening and lots of real ale, whisky and wine was drunk.

The following morning we actually managed to make breakfast, which wasn’t an easy thing for us to do, having to drag our hungover asses out of bed. There was the usual offerings of juice, cereal, yoghurt, fresh fruit and toast as well as a cooked breakfast menu. OH went for the full cooked whereas I wasn’t quite as capable and just had scrambled eggs on toast. Again everything was cooked well and presented beautifully. There were definitely no complaints.

When we checked out I was pleasantly surprised by the bill. Dinner, bed and breakfast, a bottle of wine, numerous pints and whiskies came to £148.70.

The scenery is amazing, the owners and their family were fantastic, friendly and caring and the hotel was comfortable and cosy. If you’re looking for someplace to crash after a hill climb or just somewhere in the middle of nowhere for a romantic getaway I can recommend the Ben Lawers Hotel.

Drogheda to Callander

For the second time during our Ireland road trip I had booked us in for the hotel breakfast. This pretty much proved my reasons for not usually doing it. I stared at the breakfast menu and wished I was back in bed with some cold water, some paracetamol and a cool flannel on my forehead. However, I’m Scottish and it had been paid for so a full Irish was ordered.

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I did manage most of it and probably the majority of a jug of apple juice too.

With our visit to the D Hotel and Drogheda over it was time to head to the airport. Again my amazing navigation skills were put to the test when we realised that it wasn’t that easy to leave the town as they had avoided putting up a big sign pointing to the M1 at a junction that was otherwise completely insignificant looking…or maybe the mystical sisters from Tí Chairbre (Carberry’s Pub) were using their powers to get us to return for another night in their brilliant wee pub.

Finally, we got to the airport and dropped off the hire car.

get through security without being frisked – check
drench myself in duty free Roberto Cavelli – check
all remaining euros spent on Butlers chocolate – check
fly back to Scotland leaving Ireland behind – sad check

You’d think at this point we’d be heading home to empty the cases, do a wash and put our feet up but oh no, that’s for people that don’t know how to holiday. For us it was straight to Callander in the Trossachs for a wedding!

The wedding was taking place in the Roman Camp, a big, old, posh hotel on the way into Callander. It just so happened that my grandfather had been a gardener there so my mum and her sisters had grown up in Callander, which is a complete coincidence because it was OH’s niece that was being wed. We had tried to book a room in the Roman Camp but all the rooms were booked up so we were staying the night in The Old Rectory Inn on Leny Road. On arrival we were shown to our room and what a great room it was. It had a fantastic view of the River Teith, opening windows, a walk in shower, multiple plug points, an iron and iron board, and 2 little packets of biscuits!!!!

Showered, dressed up, a couple of glasses of wine from the very handy Tesco Express and we were ready for the wedding. Downstairs in the bar we were informed that there was live music on that night. Typical – any other night and we’d have stayed put but tonight a taxi had to be called.

The Roman Camp was a fantastic setting for a wedding. Outside sat two Land Rovers with white ribbons over their bonnets – perfect wedding carriages.  The newlyweds looked beautiful and very happy together.Land rovers

The good and the bad side of the Roman Camp is that there are loads of different public rooms with large comfy couches in front of open fires and guests are free to roam and camp wherever they want. I’m not much of a dancer and find I’m much better at mingling and chatting so I deserted OH and, wine in hand, went to catch up on all the family gossip.

The prices in the Roman Camp ain’t the cheapest and I was shocked to see one of the barmaids pour the worst gin and tonic ever! No ice, no lemon and the dregs from 2 bottles of tonic – all it lacked was some lipstick stains on the glass.  Later on in the evening I witnessed the same barmaid empty one bottle of wine into a glass and then top it up with a completely different bottle – and when I say different bottle I mean not even the same grape. It’s amazing how just one employee can bring down the standards so much, which is a shame because it was a really good wedding.

When ordered, and probably boasting a red wine Joker smile, I returned to the main wedding room and had a wee jig.  Soon it was time to bid farewell to the happy couple and call a cab. It was only a 2 minute drive but we ended up sitting in the taxi for a good 10 minutes talking about my grandfather and his time in Callander – it turned out the driver was a bit of a historian. We were instructed to have a walk around the gardens the following day and to contact the Callander Heritage Society to see if we could trace my granddaddy.

Back into The Old Rectory Inn and we were greeted warmly by the owner. It didn’t take much to talk us into staying up for a nightcap so we ordered a couple of Baileys and chatted with the owner and his barman into the wee small hours.

It turned out that although I didn’t think I had booked breakfast it was included in the price so there we were, the following morning, holding menus once more. At the next table there were 3 young men – one wearing sunglasses, one pushing food about his plate and one downing orange juice like it was going out of fashion. I was pleased to see they looked rougher than we did. They were planning on going up Stuc a’Chroin – a nearby Munro (Munro = a mountain higher than 3000 ft). The one with sunglasses was hoping the weather would close in and they would have to stay on sea level.

After they left the dining room the waitress informed us that they had received a call the night before from the local pub asking if they had 3 male climbers staying with them because they were in the pub and very, very drunk. It was fun to hear what goes on behind the scenes in little villages but it did make me wonder how many people would be talking about me, OH and my gardening granddad that day. After the warning call they had battened down the hatches but apparently they hadn’t been any trouble and just went to bed – we were probably more bother sipping our Baileys and telling them about  adventures in Ireland.