We had a tremendous day out with the kids on Saturday at The Scottish Deer Centre near Cupar. Contrary to the name, there are actually a lot more animals to see than just the deer; lynx, Scottish wildcat, otters, ferrets, red squirrels, foxes, sheep and lots of different birds of prey.
Starting the day with a welcome Costa coffee from the cafe, we headed in to hand feed lots of deer and much to the amusement of the kids, get very muddy hands due to the deer’s noses! Next came the treetop walk leading to the lynx, who were both sitting proudly in their enclosure. In fact all the animals (apart from the fox which wasn’t really a surprise) we’re out and about in their enclosures giving everyone a great opportunity to see them. Next were the ferrets who were a huge hit with the kids as they got to pet them! I’ll include myself in that statement though – I now want a ferret.
We stopped for a bit of lunch at the cafe, a hearty bowl of soup really hit the spot and then the kids wanted to go back and feed the deer again. We timed it just right though as after another set of muddy hands, the falconry display was just about to start where we were treated to a fantastic display by an owl, Harris hawk and a falcon.
Before heading home, there’s a nice selection of country clothing, food and drinks to browse and treat yourself.
A good day out is always judged by the snooze that the kids have in the car afterwards and suffice to say, the wife and I had a peaceful drive home only interrupted by the occasional snore.
To sum it up, we’d thoroughly recommend The Scottish Deer Centre for a day out.
A visit to Pitmedden. A National Trust property more famous for it’s gardens however we liked the house.
Spent a really nice afternoon at the Hopetoun House Christmas Fair today. Held in the grounds and parts of the stunning house there were several crafts and trades stands selling some very unique items which would make ideal Christmas gifts.
Picked up a nice bottle of Elderflour Edinburgh Gin – it’s not lasted long enough to become a Christmas present though!
Last week we decided to try something completely new and enjoyed a day of Fly Fishing at the Goldenloch near Newburgh in Fife. Although overcast and a bit chilly, it was a nice dry morning and we were greeted by John (the owner) bright and early at 09:00. For the first hour and a bit, John gave us a great introduction to the sport, covering a bit on the history, the flies, the rods and reels. We then quickly learned how to set up a line and tie a hook before heading out onto the grass for the basics on casting. Before long, we were each positioned on a jetty and we were fishing!
I’d be telling a lie if I said that we were not fussed about catching a fish. For a start there was the male/female competition silently bubbling below the surface with my wife! I think that we quickly realised however that apart from being complete novices, there was more to fly fishing than the catch. With the kids in the safe hands of the grandparents, it was the perfect opportunity to take a deep breath, listen to the sounds of nature all around us and completely relax.
In summary, would I recommend fly fishing to a friend (who has never done it before)? The answer is most definitely yes. Both male and female alike. Will we be doing it again – absolutely yes. Will we be getting our own equipment for the next time – possibly. That is after all what eBay is for.
Lastly, did we catch anything……..? Answers below please……
An annual visit to Northumberland (Castle Country) is a firm favourite of our family and this year was no exception. For those who haven’t been to Northumberland, it’s England’s most northerly county and home to more castles than any other English county.
Having a couple of small kids means that our usual stops include; Alnwick Castle and Alnwick Gardens, Cragside (where they have the most amazing fireplace that we have ever seen!), Heatherslaw Light Railway (a firm favourite of the kids, convinced that it’s Thomas) and a walk along Beadnell beach. This year however we added a new visit to our schedule and took a trip to Wallington.
Wallington is a grand country house and gardens near a small hamlet called Cambo (not far from Morpeth). It’s a National Trust property however it was once owned by the unconventional (not really sure why this family is always called that) Trevelyan’s. Those of you who keep up with the Perfect Venue blog know that we are country house mad and this one didn’t let us down. For the kids there is a great adventure playground complete with zip wire and also a fantastic mock railway station and train which given the chance they would have played on all day. For the family there are several woodland walks, lakes and a beautiful walled garden to walk around and lets not forget a very nice restaurant to grab a tasty snack and lunch. Lastly for the adults, a walk around the house was a pleasure. If however you have small kids in check then tours like the sort that we had around Wallington become whirlwind. With that in mind, I would thoroughly recommend an annual National Trust Membership as it means that you can visit attractions like this for nothing.
In summary, despite our holiday coinciding with some terrible flooding that occurred just a couple of miles from where we were staying, Northumberland didn’t disappoint so if you haven’t done so already, you should definitely visit Northumberland.
We’ve been a bit quiet lately on the blogging front however we’ve certainly not been sitting with our feet up. As well as (unsuccessfully) trying to organise a viewing of a potential venue (a story for another day) we’ve just come back from a great weekend in Dumfries & Galloway visiting the Galloway Country Fair.
Held in the grounds of the magnificent Drumlanrig Castle, the country fair encompasses a range of country lifestyles and pursuits from shooting and fishing to local food and craft producers. Arriving about 13:00 on Saturday, we spent a good 4 hrs enjoying gundog demos, a rescue greyhound parade, a stunt motorcycle display, an air display and also indulged in some ice cream (for the kids of course) and a coupe of pints of Galloway Gold by Sulwath Brewers. Due to our very wet summer, it was definitely a welly boot day however the sun shone, the sky was blue and it was warm. And to add something completely different to the weekend, we decided to camp overnight on Saturday for the first time with kids in tow. For anyone who is contemplating doing the same, my advice would be – if you have a kid who is still in nappies, they are probably too young for camping! That said, we did have fun staying at Penpont Floors and apologies to anyone who heard our kids up and about at 06:50 on Sunday morning!
In summary, the Galloway Fair is well worth a visit – a great family day out.
The wettest June since records began. Weather warnings across the country. Towns, streets and homes flooded. Outdoor events cancelled. Is it no wonder that travel websites have seen a 20% rise in searches for holidays in the sun?
Is this a new phenomenon – well, not when you consider that even with our record breaking June of 160.3mm of rainfall, the previous highest was only 3mm behind at 157.1mm and it was set way back in 1860. A little later in 1912, the rain-lashed Edwardian summer where 384.4mm of rain fell still makes it the soggiest summer on record. Then there was 1816, the “year without a summer” which featured summer frosts and 142 days of near continuous rain between May and September and led to hunger and rioting!
Maybe in our ultra connected and broadcast intensive world, we are more aware of the effects of the weather across our country but back in the late 19th century and early 20th we just thought that our town was the unlucky one and just got on with it. And don’t forget that these days we have a huge road network and gardens full of concrete and mono-block that provides a superhighway to channel flood water straight into the heart of our communities.
It would however be interesting to find out the financial impact the wet weather is having on the UK economy when you factor in lost revenue, damage, flood prevention, travel chaos etc. Maybe the saving grace for the 2012 UK economy will be the financial offset created by the Jubilee celebrations and the Olympics.
As prospective venue owners, it’s a concern that will become much more a reality in the future so it would be interesting to know how other venue owners have been affected by our extremely wet summer?
For those of you who asked about the tweet, here you go….a fine Red Legged Partridge.
Due to our great summer, the Scottish Game Fair has been cancelled.
The organisers must be totally gutted, along with all of us who were really looking forward to a great day out.
- Balcarres Horse Trials – Went ahead but BE90 and BE100 cancelled. Grounds like a typical Glastonbury Festival.
- The Highland Show – Went ahead but parking total chaos as the car park like a typical Glastonbury Festival.
- The Scottish Game Fair – Saturday and Sunday cancelled as the car park like a typical Glastonbury Festival.
As for Glastonbury Festival – it’s not on this year! Did they know something we didn’t?
Let’s get one thing straight – the Royal Highland Show is great. No arguments! We make a point every year to take a day off work and go to the show on the Friday.
This year however, workload got in the way so unfortunately it was a short solo trip for me while the wife had to work and the kids spent the day at nursery. I have to confess that the unpredictable weather played a part in the decision as well!
I arrived at about 10:00 on Friday morning when for the first time in about 48 hrs the clouds parted and the sun came out. Then I saw the state of the carpark (field) and slight panic descended at why I had brought a 2 wheel drive car and not a shire horse. Anyway, car abandoned and in the gate I went in the only slice of summer that the Highland Show has seen (so far) this summer.
The show always makes me wish 3 things;
- I was a farmer
- I had saved more money to spend on the amazing selection of food, clothes, cars and stuff on offer
- I had left the car at home so I could make full use of the various beer tents (the Paulaner one always takes my fancy after having visited Oktoberfest on a few occasions)
So my day started with a bacon roll and coffee and a walk round the “heavy machinery” and car stands. One thing caught my eye, BMW have made a 4WD (or Xdrive) 3 Series. At long last!
Out past the combine harvesters and through some of the agricultural shows arriving just in time to see the fine sheep on the right being awarded first in class.
A quick jaunt through the shopping arcade where it’s positively rude not to sample everything that you can get your hands on. From strawberries to steak, Walkers short bread to whisky and cheese to chutney. All very tasty. Through the clothes stands, the Hunter welly boot stall had a roaring trade going due to the ground conditions. And finally past some stalls selling the most tempting tweed on the planet.
The final stretch took me from the shopping arcade past the “Morrisons Festival” (where in true Scottish fashion, they were just getting on with it despite the conditions) and back towards the way I came in through a multitude of stands encapsulating just about every country lifestyle choice you would want.
There’s probably more than 2 days worth of things to see at the Highland Show so I wasn’t going to see the “best of the fest” in a fleeting 3 hr visit but it was enough to tide me over until next year where hopefully it’ll be back to business as usual with the family in check. Here’s hoping that Sunday brings a little bit of sunshine for those who are heading to the show’s final day but looking at the weather report, my brief Friday visit may have coincided with the only sunshine of the whole event.