Thursday, 25 November 2010

Luxury cottage launched in time for Christmas and New Year in Scotland

Luxury Briar Steading reflecting Loch Earn 
At last we can announce Briar Steading our luxury holiday cottage with the best views south over Loch Earn in the village of Lochearnhead.  You have to experience it to believe it. The interior furnishings are based around  mixed shades of blonde to dark wood with soft furnishings in a range of cream, taupe, tan, brown and black. These complement the warm tan hues of the seam of rock that we uncovered behind the house. They also work well with the local stone that has been used in the hearth around the wood burning stove. The same stone was used for the garden walls and front of the house as it was to renovate Briar and Little Briar Cottages within the three acre gardens.  The rock face behind the house is made more impressive by water cascading down it from the hills.  In fact a geologist will probably be able to read time lines into the layers of slate and stone with intermittent calcite and quartz. A visiting Cree Indian once told us that volcanic rock and quartz is usually in evidence around gold.  We know that gold has been found around this region for centuries but alas not in our garden so far!

Stunning views of Loch Earn from the lounge
We have organised the last of the stone walls in the garden to be finished within  2 weeks. This means that we can take bookings for Christmas and New Year. I would not mind staying over the festive period myself come to think. The views are second to none thanks to the full glass patio doors in the lounge and the bedrooms and Loch Earn is just 70 metres away. Guests will be able to wake up to an ever changing picture looking out to the loch from the bedrooms.  Both bedrooms have their own en-suite facilities so couples, friends and families will be able to have their own space. The King bedroom is at the East gable and the twin room at the West with the open living space separating them. The master room has an ensuite with a Mira shower over the steel bath and the twin room has a large walk in wet room area both with gloss marble effect wall and floor tiles.

Fully Fitted Linear Cream Kitchen
The kitchen is fully fitted with a 70/30 fridge freezer, a washer dryer and  a dishwasher. The open plan living area is spacious and warm as it faces south and is well insulated. The wood burning stove is a bonus feature for winter. The living area measures 26ft from the patio doors to the kitchen at the back. In fact the whole cottage is c110sq.m.  Prices will range from £500 in the low season to £950 for a week in the high season.  Briar Steading is available for 4 people during Christmas ( you could be the first to book!) with a Christmas tree and a food hamper at £800 for 7 nights and around New Year including free tickets to the village Hogmanay party with a live band also at £800 for 7 nights.  Please call Kim or Fraser Tel 01567  830 443 OR 07876 122 505 and see more  information and photos on our website .

Wood-burning Stove in  Briar Steading Holiday Lounge

Monday, 1 November 2010

The Briar Witch Project, Lochearnhead at Halloween

Cross eyed pumpkin trying to be taken seriously
Shy Pumpkin Girl
Perhaps Halloween at Briar Cottages self catering in Lochearnhead, Scotland should have been eerie and creepy.  After all, the setting is perfect. There are no street lights and it is very dark at night unless the moon is out. There are real bats in the area. The stags rutting over the last few weeks in Achraw Hill behind the cottages sounded a bit like ghosts and goblins in a haunted mountain. 
Pumpkin loving the sunlight instead of moonlight

More Tommy Cooper than Frankensteins monster

Fraser was put in charge of the Briar Witch project. All he had to do was set up some frightening masks and evil pumpkin heads. Somehow he managed to make them all look very cute or comical, a bit like Casper the friendly ghost. I love the cross eyed pumpkin.  We lit a few fireworks on the night of the 30th October 2010. This also happened to be Fraser's birthday. They were set up on the slipway in our garden on Loch Earn. 

New luxury Briar Steading, Autumn
We viewed them from the patio of our luxury new build cottage Briar Steading, in front of the full length patio doors and windows.  The views from there are exceptional.  The fireworks were a great success against the black loch and sky. The only things that were glowing were the pumpkin heads placed on top of the 2ft high garden lights. They looked as though they were floating in mid air over  Loch Earn. What fun. Another memorable weekend at Briar Cottages in Scotland. Pumpkins are effective and easy to carve but for me, you can't beat the childhood smell of a Halloween carved turnip, neep or tumshie with a burning candle inside.

Squashy pumpkin more frightened than frightening

Garden gnome plays Briar witch

Friday, 8 October 2010

Luxury Self Catering cottage Scotland built in 40 days

Our new build luxury holiday cottage in Lochearnhead (Briar Steading) has taken 40 days to build and furnish from the time that the timber kit arrived until now. Fraser and I are delighted with the quality and it has been a pleasure to watch the joiners, plumbers, electricians, diggers, brick layers, stone mason, tilers, painters, roofers, stove installers, finishers et al perform their individual crafts. Of course anyone who has met my husband Fraser will not be surprised to hear that he put in a full shift alongside them all whether making decisions, helping to clear up or cutting the grass round about...and he built a fence between the new cottage and our neighbours ground which the neighbour and I are more than impressed with. He enjoyed the team work and the banter and I think that they were impressed at his energy and stamina.   All in all it has been a delightful experience and a lot of fun. The holiday cottage is furnished with some finishing touches still to do (putting up blinds and connecting the TV's to a satellite dish). The ground has been levelled and prepared. We just need to add a path to the door and steps from the full length patio lounge and bedroom doors and we will be ready to submit for building control approval. We have been advised to let the main patio area settle before adding the paving stones so that could be a job for Spring.

The back of the cottage is set into the hill with a wall of natural rock. There is a little water fall from one area which we have kept as a feature. Fraser says that he is going to start a Lochearnhead Spring water business from it and I say that I am going into competition with Lourdes, with instant healing for those that touch it.

One of our guests in Little Briar cottage, a builder,  was most impressed with the quality of the new build and the incredible vantage point from the lounge looking through full length windows and doors over Loch Earn. In fact we are very grateful to Little Briar guests who have put up with diggers and trucks on the grounds and for everyone’s vote of confidence and well wishes for the new building.

We have already given first refusal to existing customers who have requested some of the summer weeks next year however I hope to advertise the full details very soon and am working on a test website now. 

                                                Thank you to everyone who has shown an interest.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Luxury Self catering holiday cottage on Loch Earn Scotland

I promised to show photos of our new luxury holiday cottage in progress. Here  is a taste of things to come.  We are 32 days into building thanks to a superb team of builders. The stone work is already complete along the front.

The open plan lounge, dining  and kitchen is spacious at  about 27ft long with four 4 full length patio doors and windows facing south over Loch Earn.  The views are stunning. The stone mason created our feature fireplace in the lounge where we will place a Morso wood burning stove.

The kitchen is linear cream by Magnet with soft closing cupboard doors and it will be finished tomorrow. There is a  dishwasher, washer/dryer and 70/30 fridge freezer. We are putting a King Size bed in the master bedroom with no footboard, not just to satisfy tall people but you would not want to block the view from the full length patio door. Both bedrooms have ensuites that are in the process of being tiled.  The carpets are due in a couple of weeks.  All going well we should have it ready for winter breaks. Fingers crossed that building control and the National Park authorities agree! Thank you to Little Briar cottage customers for your continued interest and well wishes.


One of the views from the patio

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Lochearnhead holiday experience -fishing, wildlife, sheep shearing, highland games, geneology, water sports and baking!

Rare photo of Fraser and a trout.

Never a dull moment at Briar Cottages in Lochearnhead. Danny, a guest fishing off our jetty, was delighted when he turned around to witness another guest with a fish in his mouth waddling up the stairs to our loch garden.  No not a nutter.. it was an otter! 

July saw the annual sheep shearing contest and highland games in the Lochearnhead games field. Local and international shearers perform on stage picking up points for accuracy and efficiency against a ticking clock with a panel of global judges watching their every move.

We had great fun at the Highland Games witnessing open sports and invitation heavyweight events, highland dancers, a pipe band, novelty stalls and listening to the hugely talented folk band Pure Malt in the beer tent. We were lucky to have a McLaren staying in the cottage. Turned out his ancestors were linked to the inhabitants of Briar Cottages from around the 1790's.  McLarens take note...your clan will welcome you with open arms to their hospitality tent at the games, ask you to join in the clan march and invite your assistance in the clan tug of war. The chief rallies his clan with bagpipes the next day (Sunday) at the top of Creag an Tuirc' or (Rock of the Boar) in Balquhidder. It takes about 20 minutes to walk to the summit. The McGregor clan also march and have a hospitality tent. McGregor’s were the first to hold title to Briar Cottages (known then as Easter Achraw) before it was forfeited to the titled Breadalbane Campbells after the Jacobite rebellion.

                                                                                                         The scouts have been out in full force entering the highland games events and adding colour to Loch Earn with their sailing and kayaking adventures. The scouts have a base in the old Lochearnhead railway station.

Our visiting baby mallards are no longer fluffy ducklings. 6 of them still come to feed on wild bird seed with their mum in our loch garden, however, they are more like teenagers now with their wings not quite fully formed.
                                                                                                        This weekend, 14th August,  brings Wake Scot to Lochearnhead where willing wake boarders of all ages and abilities will enter the competition based in front of the Clachan Cottage Hotel. On the 28th August the Annual BLS Horticultural show comes to Lochearnhead village. The local talent from three neighbouring villages will be out in full force showing off their gladioli, rhubarb, wholemeal loaves, scones, jam tarts, handicrafts, photos, paintings and more. There are 88 different categories to enter. The event takes place from 2-4pm with prizes awarded around 3.30pm. No shame if you only come to look and have a cup of tea (as I will be doing). After all its only £1 entry including the tea!  I did grow my own potatoes and herbs at Briar Cottages this year but I would say that the results are more luck than talent. Anyone staying at Little Briar cottage can pick the blackcurrents, gooseberry's and cherries that grow behind it. They just seem to appear so I can't take any credit for them either.
Our recent visitors have been out every day on the loch with water-skis, their motor boat, ringo, banana and more. Launching and mooring a small boat is all inclusive here. If you fancy a go but don’t have the equipment or experience you can go 150 metres along the road and speak to the professionals at Active Scotland. There is a second water sports facility 700 meters away beside the Lochearnhead cafe where they make yummy home made pizzas to order.

 I will show you pictures of the building of our new luxury holiday cottage in my next blog. It is well under way. In fact the stone cladding is scheduled for this Friday....

Friday, 25 June 2010

BYOB Boating Holidays, Loch Earn, Lochearnhead, Scotland

BYOB seems obvious on a self catering cottage holiday in Scotland. At Little Briar cottage on Loch Earn it also means "Bring Your Own Boat"!   Recent guests arrived with an impressive inflatable kayak in a bag including a battery charged outboard motor. Even the dog was a well trained sailor sporting its life jacket with pride. Previous guests have brought motorboats and fishing boats on trailers which have been launched from our slipway into Loch Earn and there are a few more booked in for the summer. The advantage of 3 acre ornamental grounds is that there is always plenty of room for parking cars and boat trailers. There are 3 mooring buoys at the front of the 250ft loch garden for those who want to launch and leave the boat for a week and a lockable alarmed garage for those with precious portable products. There is a code of conduct on Loch Earn which is common sense stuff like respecting other loch front properties, having your boat insured to be on the loch, taking your litter home and so on. Loch Earn attracts fishing boats, sailing boats and regatta's, canoe's, kayaks, motor boats and the odd Jet Ski at weekends. The hydrofoil air chairs are impressive to watch too. The person who gets my top vote though is a man who brings a wakeboard with an outboard motor attached. It reminds me of the "Back to the Future" hover board if you have seen the film. The Active Scotland water sports and activities centre is only 150 metres from our gates, within the Clachan Cottage Hotel building - for those who prefer to do waterskiing and wakeboarding with professionals. Drummond Fishing Boat Hire is 2 miles along Loch Earn towards St Fillans where you can hire a fishing boat with an outboard along with fishing equipment, permits and bait. There are additional moorings at the Lochearnhead Cafe for anyone who is tempted to keep their boat here for the summer season. There is nothing quite like messing about on the water here whether fishing, skiing or exploring around the little islands (Crannogs), the north side of the loch or the Eastern end 6.5 miles away at St Fillans.  It is equally pleasurable to "splice the mainbrace" in Briar Cottages loch side garden while watching the boating activities along with sea plane take off and landings and of course the impressive pairs of Ospreys that dive for trout all summer long.  NB: Week of 3rd July still available.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Phenomonal Loch Earn offers seiching tides, boat races and other unique events

Loch Earn has a seiching tide.  Not a tide that moves with the sun and moon and it does not cause the loch to rise and fall either. The seiching phenomenon has something to do with the prevailing wind. Seiching happens in other lakes like Garda, Baikal, Eirie and has also been reported in Scotlands, Loch Treig.  As a guest, you can fish for trout free from our loch garden at Briar Cottages in Perthshire. You may experience the seiching as your float moves subtly right and then left over a 16 hour period. The water often looks calm like the photo above taken last week at the end of April; especially early in the morning and later in the evening. At other times the pseudo waves can be quite choppy. The beauty of the location is that the loch state, colours, weather and seasons are ever changing and no two days seem alike.  The setting sun had Glen Ample glowing behind Edinample Castle the other night yet there is still a bit of snow high on the hill tops.  Before long, the glen and surrounding hills will start to turn green as the grassy hues become richer. Whatever the weather, the loch and its backdop make a unique and magical venue for scheduled events like the Great Loch Earn Boat race, The Loch Earn 6.5 mile and 1 mile open water swim competitions,  the SAA water plane splash in and Wake Scot water ski and wakeboarding contests.

 The Great Loch Earn boat race was held on Loch Earn on 25th April, organised by the Crieff round table. 13 boats with teams of 4 set out from the Lochearnhead Cafe, rowing six and a half miles to St Fillans in aid of charity.  The loch was kind to them however the weather was misty and cool. Contestants gathered at the recently refurbished Achray House Hotel in St Fillans afterwords for some well earned sustenance and the prize giving ceremony.  How wonderful it is to be able to view these unique loch events from our front garden.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Aeroplanes take off and land in Lochearnhead, Scotland, in spite of volcanic ash

Are you aware of the landing strip in Lochearnhead? We were possibly the only village in the UK with air traffic on the 17th and 18th April 2010 when all other aircraft were grounded due to volcanic ash disruption.  Air craft were flying in abundance here....albeit the pilots were grounded!  I am  referring to the magnificent Scottish Aeromodeller Association members who fly radio controlled water planes.  SAA  members usually descend on Lochearnhead twice a year equipped with  caravans, family, deck chairs, tool kits and a fascinating array of model planes in all shapes, sizes, colours, ages and abilities.  Onlookers were amazed at the skills involved.  In turn the members made their pride and joy,  twist and turn and land with  effortless precision on the water. I met member Colin McLean who had organised the event. His magnificent flying machine is pictured above. He informed me that the group will make a return visit to Lochearnhead on October 9th and 10th, 2010. An event not to be missed. Our holiday cottage guests can either go to the Lochearnhead cafe to see them or watch from our loch garden.
Loch Earn is also the regular runway for Locheanhead's resident sea plane pilot Neil, who owns the Lochearnhead Cafe.  Unfortunately, Neil does not offer leisure trips; he  teaches qualified pilots to land on water. Little Briar Cottage guests love it when Neil's red plane is in the air,  adding to the magic of the surroundings facing south from the deck, with Loch Earn, Glen Ample and Edinample castle as the backdrop . 

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Last Minute Holiday cottage on water sleeps up to 4

Looking for a last minute cottage? Available from this Saturday 10-17th April for 3, 4 or 7 nights due to a swaped week. Check out Little Briar overlooking Loch Earn with stunning views, free fishing, a loch garden, slipway, jetty, moorings, 200 metres from 2 hotels and a watersports centre in the village of Lochearnhead.  Central base for touring Scotland.  The cottage is stone built, south facing, detached and on the 2 grounds of a 300 year old B listed thatched cottage. £450 for the week, 4 nights £315 or 3 nights £250.  1 pet welcome.  (use of the owners hot tub on request).  Call Fraser and Kim now 01567 830 443 or 07876 122 505. Check our website for holiday accommodation in Lochearnhead, and  Briar Cottages Trip Advisor reviews.

Sunday, 28 February 2010

Weather or not to book holiday accommodation in Lochearnhead

Thank you to everyone who contacted us to enquire whether or not our holiday cottage in Scotland is knee deep in snow and out of electricity. Don't worry! This is Lochearnhead. The village seems to have its own wee magical micro climate and I am beginning to wonder if the fairy knoll in the Lochearnhead games field plays a part in our protection. We feel a little guilty that friends in Aberfeldy and Auchterarder have been reporting 2ft of snow or more. We had a light snow fall of an inch and a half making the village really pretty from Tuesday last week. There has not been a flicker of a difference to our electric supply. There really is something magical about the weather when you are staying in Lochearnhead. Maybe it is the towering hills back and front that shelter us. Maybe it's our south facing position at Briar Cottage and our holiday cottage Little Briar. I am in no doubt that a big factor is the A84 and A85 road gritting team. They are so thorough and attentive that we have never even seen snow landing on the main roads all winter. Also, they are extremely courteous and pull in to let the traffic past at every opportunity. So, we have been enjoying the picturesque scenery of snow (and deer) covered Glen Ample opposite; yet we have been traveling on the roads to neighbouring towns and villages without inconvenience. Our guests prior to last week took a picture of Fraser on his tractor in the paddock. Last weeks guests went walking in the snow and today the garden lawn on Loch Earn is green again with the daffodil stems well on their way.   By all means spare a thought for those who have been out of electricity, deep in snow or sleeping in their cars but please don't feel sorry for us here in Lochearnhead. Oh.....and please don't tell anyone about our smart and efficient road gritters in case someone poaches them!

PS: Easter week 10th-17th April is currently available (Little Briar self  catering cottage Perthshire sleeps up to 4 in 1 double and 1 twin bedroom@ £500 -Call me (Kim) or Fraser 01567 830 443 to enquire or book )

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Barbecue and sun loungers at Briar Cottages on 1st January in Lochearnhead

Who says that sun loungers, garden umbrellas and barbecues should be reserved for summer in the UK or winter in Australia? We put ours to constant good use as per the above picture taken on January 1st 2010 in our garden on Loch Earn in Lochearnhead.
We had a very merry Hogmanay at Briar Cottages. Guests who book Little Briar holiday cottage are given complimentary tickets to the village dance and are invited for drinks in the house before hand. 17 of us including friends and neighbours walked to the hall to be entertained by The Session. The talented trio played music from every decade as well as Scottish tunes and a bit of bluegrass/country. We danced non stop to the bells. Tables were decorated with party poppers and Christmas decorations and the village hall committee worked hard to ensure that everyone had a great time. Everyone was made to feel welcome and New Year kisses were exchanged around the room from young to old and local to visitor. The band played until 1am and the bar continued until 2am. The party in our neighbouring hotel "The Clachan Cottage Hotel" was still in full swing when we left the hall - timetabled to finish at 4am. The moon was full and bright against the snow making the short stroll back home magical.
On the 1st of January we lit a fire in the BBQ chiminee by the loch and roasted chestnuts. The hot gluewein went down well with the last of the Christmas cake. We played boule in the snow and had an entertaining game of charades by the summer house. Our godess statue that marks the stairway to our jetty was transformed into an old goblin courtesy of our artistic guests and a bearded mask. At 5pm it was time to get the steak pie in the oven and settle down in front of the fire.