Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Summer Holiday Spotlight on Briar Cottages Lochearnhead

Fraser poses in guests classic Morgan at Briar Cottages, Lochearnhead
Fraser poses in guests Morgan outside Briar Cottages
What a summer at Briar Cottages on Loch Earn!

No.. Fraser has not bought a Classic Morgan he just fancies himself in one and a guest allowed him a few seconds of make believe.

School kids are back but summer is not over in Lochearnhead.  The Loch Earn 6.5 mile and 1 mile open water swimming championships take place on 24th and 25th August at The Lochearnhead Water Sports Centre. The Horticultural Show in the Lochearnhead Village Hall is on the 31st August and the Village Hall's 25th anniversary party is on the 7th September.

This summer the weather was hot and we had many weeks without rain. The stream running the length of Briar Cottages dried out. So, no doggy splash pool (other than Loch Earn of course).  Not a drop in the mini waterfall behind Briar Steading for a while either.  In fact Loch Earn has been so warm this year that Fraser and I have been swimming from the garden - sorry no pictures (at least I hope not).

The master boat for water skiiers has hardly stopped at The Lochearnhead Water Sports Centre.  Captain Martijn has had a steady stream from beginners to professionals, water skiing and wakeboarding, while Laura in the cafĂ© has been making extra Panini's and cake  to keep locals and visitors happy.  Personal favourites are the chocolate chip shortbread and the toffee sponge.    Inside secret. Go to the water sports centre and ask Martijn or Laura  for  "one of Fraser Proven's special coffees".  Make sure that you are over 18, not driving and that you like whisky!

The BLS Highland Games in Lochearnhead were absolutely fantastic this year. The games take place on a Saturday in July every year  (Date for your diary 26th July 2014). This year we enjoyed a record turn out, blue skies, Visit Scotland filmed a kilted heavy weight competitor for TV and a stunt pilot spun and looped the loop over head for the finale. See my video snippet of this years parade by McNabs, McLarens and MacGregors .

Another date for your diary next year is the Sunday the day after the Highland Games.  If you are a McLaren,  you will be rallied by your chief to "Creag an Tuirc" - meaning The Boars Rock- behind Balqhuidder Church.  In the afternoon, however, you will spot chief Donald McLaren playing football in Lochearnhead for the married versus single men's local charity challenge.  I made my debut performance for the married ladies this year (no pics... phew!).  The married ladies scored all 4 goals.  Not bad,  however the result was 3 - 1 to the married ladies.  The first own goal was a tactic to let the singles think we were soft!

Fraser Proven as The Jester
Fraser Proven as The Jester

Kim Proven as M'lady
Kim Proven as M'Lady

.   During Games week, Fraser and I attended a fancy dress in the village much to the hilarity of our guests who made us parade before them.  The theme was Medieval night.  I managed to turn a duvet cover and pillow case into a graceful M'lady outfit using a staple gun for hems.  Fraser was perfectly cast as the jester no less.

Last weeks fancy dress was a "School Dinners" theme at a neighbours garden on the loch. We were served up mince, dough balls and cabbage followed by jam sponge, toffee tart with chocolate bits on top and pink and chocolate custard. Much tastier than I remember.   I won best dressed as the school janitor in my dungarees and cap and Fraser picked up the prize for the naughtiest boy. If you remember Terry Scott in the Curly Wurly advert you can imagine Fraser in shorts, blazer, school tie, cap and also wearing a mischievous grin.

ThIs picture is of two of the ducklings that hatched in Briar Steading's garden this year. The photo is by 14 year old guest Corey Booker who kindly sent the image to me to share. I love this shot.

One footed duck "Peggy" (guests named her and her partner Peg and Greig) nested on the grass roof of our thatched cottage again but sadly no show from any ducklings rolling down the roof.

Next year promises to be eventful in Scotland.  We have a number of events lined up in Lochearnhead for 2014 and guests are already booking accommodation here in order to attend The Ryder Cup 2014 golf championships at Gleneagles, The Commonwealth Games 2014 in Glasgow,  Bannockburn and Homecoming Scotland 2014  and The Balquhidder, Strathyre and Lochearnhead Highland Games.  So, regular guests, please consider any special dates and term times that you would like to secure now and let us know. 

Thank you again to everyone who has sent photographs to me and to those of you who share them on TripAdvisor,   Facebook and Twitter.  

The summer is not over and we are looking forward to meeting many new visitors to the area.  We already have a booking for NewYear week in pet friendly Little Briar so have a think about Autumn, Winter, Christmas and New Year self catering breaks if you can stomach the thought. 

Have a great Autumn and keep in touch here as well as Briar Cottages Facebook page and via my Twitter address @Briarcottages.

NB: If you are into Twitter, look out for #Scotlandhour where Scotland's accommodation, hospitality attractions and events businesses share tourism information covering many subjects and sharing all that Scotland has to offer visitors.  Check it out on the last Wednesday of every month from 9pm-10pm

Monday, 8 July 2013

A List Scottish Hollywood Actor and and other native species captured by Briar Cottages Guests

Deer spotted in the garden by R White

Double rainbow over Briar Cottage from Briar Steading- A Mackenzie
Fraser and I are always humbled by the magnificent photographs and helpful comments that guests take time to send to us and for TripAdvisor and Holiday Lettings review pages.  New guests often comment that reviews and pictures help them to match what they desire from a holiday and location.  Thank you to everyone who has given me permission to use their pictures on my blog and social media sites. Some guests use professional cameras that can capture the ospreys in flight, for example, however we are delighted to see all photos even if they are taken on a mobile phone.

Briar Steading guests meet Gerard Butler at The Four Seasons Hotel, Loch Earn by Fareshta
Guests have captured deer, ospreys and other birds. Last weeks guests managed to photograph a native species that was very special indeed. Having journeyed from Bahrain for their first family holiday in Scotland, they asked where they should go locally to experience Scottish salmon that was "beautifully cooked with a nice recipe"  They had already been wowed by the tasty food at MHOR84 in Balquhidder so I suggested The Four Seasons Hotel at St Fillans overlooking Loch Earn.  They were pleased with the recommendation and enjoyed their meal, however there was a bonus surprise.  The sons in the family spotted a familiar face in the restaurant.  They told their parents that an A list Hollywood actor was in the restaurant.  The parents were sure that they must be mistaken, however the waitress confirmed that it was indeed Gerard Butler.  He was made aware of their presence and invited them to have a chat after dinner.  Even better, he kindly posed with them for the photograph shown. This was their first family holiday in Scotland. They feel very lucky to have met one of Scotland's most successful actors who was approachable and generous with his time in the true spirit of Scottish hospitality.

Some more wonderful guest pics!

Osprey fishing Loch Earn -Merediths
Panoramic View from Briar Steading by S Paton

View from west gable, Briar Steading- Meridiths
Meridith family enjoy Loch Earn from garden

TripAdvisor Comments:

25 May 2013  Utterly perfect 5 of 5 stars 
18 May 2013  Little Briar Cottage 5 of 5 stars 
19-Apr-13 The best cottage view in Scotland 5 of 5 stars 
05-Feb-13 Excellent, Cannot Fault It 5 of 5 stars 
11 Dec 2012  Great wee cottage in perfect location 5 of 5 stars 
10 Dec 2012  5-star accommodation and hosts 5 of 5 stars 
19 Nov 2012  Will take your breath away! 5 of 5 stars 
27-Oct-12 Cosy cottage, picturesque views and... 5 of 5 stars 
05-Sep-12 Beautiful setting, lovely accommodation... 5 of 5 stars 
29-Jul-12 Just what the doctor ordered 5 of 5 stars 
24-Jul-12 Wonderful holiday at Briar Cottages 5 of 5 stars 
20-Jul-12 Marvellous place! 5 of 5 stars 
20-Jul-12 What a place! 5 of 5 stars 
27 May 2012  Bliss! 5 of 5 stars 
21 Mar 2012  Simply the best! 5 of 5 stars 
17 Nov 2011  Superb Accommodation, location and Hosts  5 of 5 stars 
05-Nov-11 It's the real deal 5 of 5 stars 
26-Sep-11 Can't wait to go back 5 of 5 stars 
25-Sep-11 Excellent holiday 5 of 5 stars 
08-Sep-11 Lovely place high quality accommodation 5 of 5 stars 
06-Sep-11 Can't wait to be back! 5 of 5 stars 
27 Aug 2011  We wish we were still there. 5 of 5 stars 
07-Aug-11 Plan to return! 5 of 5 stars 
03-Aug-11 Yet again superb ready to book for the... 5 of 5 stars 
11-Jul-11 Absolutely stunning - could not be... 5 of 5 stars 
04-Jul-11 A truly wonderful wee break 5 of 5 stars 
06-Jun-11 The best 5 of 5 stars 
05-Jun-11 I don't want to go home 5 of 5 stars 
05-Jun-11 What an amazing place! Kim and Frazer...  5 of 5 stars 
04-Jun-11 I don't want to go home 5 of 5 stars 
17-Apr-11 Perfect holiday 5 of 5 stars 
29 Mar 2011  Perfect weekend away! 5 of 5 stars 
27-Feb-11 perfect 5 of 5 stars 
05-Jan-11 Fabulous cottage with beautiful... 5 of 5 stars 
05-Jan-11 I wish I was there now 5 of 5 stars 
13 Nov 2010  Ideal break 5 of 5 stars 
19-Oct-10 Everything just right and better 5 of 5 stars 
19-Sep-10 An unforgettable experience 5 of 5 stars 
30 Aug 2010  Too good to miss 5 of 5 stars 
01-Aug-10 So relaxing, can I come again 5 of 5 stars 
22-Jul-10 Lovely wee cottage in beautiful location 5 of 5 stars 
03-Jul-10 Simply the best cottage, hosts and... 5 of 5 stars 
19-Jun-10 Chance travellers 5 of 5 stars 
29-Apr-10 An exceptional holiday for the whole... 5 of 5 stars 
05-Apr-10 Great break [Again!!!] 5 of 5 stars 
03-Mar-10 a wee piece of heaven 5 of 5 stars 
25-Oct-09 Great location at any time 5 of 5 stars 
02-Sep-09 Best of the best. 5 of 5 stars 
05-May-09 THE PERFECT GETAWAY 5 of 5 stars 
16 Mar 2009  A wonderful view - the best of hosts too 5 of 5 stars 
27-Feb-09 What holidays are meant to be... 5 of 5 stars 
22-Feb-09 A perfect retreat in a postcard... 5 of 5 stars 
04-Jan-09 Better than advertised 5 of 5 stars 
28-Sep-08 A Taste Of Scotland 5 of 5 stars 
23-Sep-08 Fantastic accommodation in a stunning... 5 of 5 stars 
15-Sep-08 Loved our stay 4 of 5 stars 
22-Jun-08 Lovely Cottages On Loch Erin. 5 of 5 stars 

Location, Location, Location!!
5 out of 5
My wife and I and two friends have just returned from a long, bank holiday weekend at Briar Stedding (the larger of the two cottages) under the Briar Cottage banner.

Hosts Kim and Fraser... more

08 May 2013
Fantastically welcoming and with a view
5 out of 5
This is a brilliant place to stay, the view over the loch, and the comfort of the cottage plus the friendly welcome and help received. A stag was a regular visitor, along with many birds including an... more
Fraser and I are delighted that you enjoyed the comfort and scenery that Briar Steading offers and it was a pleasure to have you here. We are lucky to offer an all year round scenic destination... more

26 Jan 2013
If you look up tranquillity in the dictionary you will see a picture of Briar Cottages
5 out of 5
2 couples stayed for the weekend in mid January and loved everything about the place. A modern well equipped cottage that was immaculately clean. What can I say about the views, just loved sitting... more
Thank you very much. We are delighted that you enjoyed the experience and comforts of Briar Steading on your short break. We loved your dictionary reference. Look forward to welcoming you back to... more

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Lochearnhead Events, Wildlife On Our Doorstep and Frasers latest construction

What on earth is Fraser Proven up to now?

Any ideas?

Did you guess?

Frasers Couch! Can you spot the red squirrel?

Check the close up below

Anyone else would call this a garden bench but Frasers says its a "couch".  Four people can sit here.  Of course it's not a real red squirrel. We don't have to glue resin animals to our garden as there really are red squirrels in the area.  Be careful if you spot them on the road though as they are slow to cross. 

Our friend Tony runs the local wildlife watch centre in Strathyre.  If you don't want to leave wildlife spotting to chance,  book a  session with him for around £15 and he will take you to camera hides focused on red squirrels, pine martins and badgers. He knows where the otters are too! You can also book a "birding weekend" to get familiar with the sight and sound of seasonal birds. Natural Trossachs is an eco friendly wildlife watch business where they run special activity weekends like, birding and bushcraft skills (handy outdoor survival skills). See more here   

If you prefer to go off road in a Land Rover, then check out Hidden Glen Safaris.  Owner Alan will pick you up from Briar Cottages and take you to well known parts of Balquhidder Glen to look for eagles, deer, foxes and more. The picturesque terrain was the final stomping grounds of Rob Roy McGregor from £28 per person.
The deer have been spotted around Lochearnhead all winter and they leave evidence every night in our gardens.  Normally they go back up the hills however this lot are enjoying local pickings.  Briar Cottages offers a lovely grassy paddock to the rear. The deer and stags love our flowers and laurel bushes appeal to their taste too.  They are in our garden most nights and sometimes during the day much to the delight of guests that report sightings.

Deer visit Lochearnhead regularly

We are extremely lucky to have ospreys fishing all summer. They come back from Africa at the beginning of May and will be here throughout the summer.  Briar Cottages offers a 250 foot loch garden and both cottages face south over Loch Earn so our guests have front row seats.  Watch ospreys fishing all summer. It is useful to have a camera around here at all times.  The swallows are back too and the mallards have had their first ducklings.  One mother has been feeding here all winter. She only has 2 ducklings left however she brings them to the garden every day several times so that we can help to feed them.   We can't look out for them all the time. They are  under threat from other creatures and the trunk roads if drivers don't see them. Our mother duck has an extra challenge.  She only has one foot. We call her "hoppy".  I hope that is not duckist or mallardist as she is named with affection.
Fraser celebrating the 1st day of the fishing season

 The fishing season is well under way however we could do with temperatures rising a bit for more trout to surface.  This picture was taken on 15th March when Fraser decided to celebrate the start of the fishing season. He celebrates most days to be fair!

In a week or two the sea plane will be a familiar sight on Loch Earn, based at The Lochearnhead Water Sports Centre. Guests can enjoy the regular take off and landings by qualified pilots who are learning or improving sea plane and mountain flying skills.

Photo by Lochearnhead photographer
 Alistair Barclay of Alba virtual tours

Power Skiing Event: On the 24th May we see the return of the formula one power boat ski race. Witness all ages of people skiing  at up to 110 miles per hour. No mistake, they really go that fast.See and
Food and Drink?   Great news.  MHOR84 has opened up 3 miles down the A84 from Lochearnhead.  Chef Tom Lewis has woven his magic once again along with his wife Lisa and siblings Dick and Melanie.  They have taken over the old Kingshouse Hotel, whitewashed it and created a Motel with fresh, very tasty and great value food.  You can eat most of the day.  Drop in for breakfast, snacks, soups, Illy coffee and home made cakes and main meals too.  A great place for ramblers and walkers to gather for tea and well behaved dogs can sit on the wooden floors under your table. The Golden Larches restaurant on the A84 has been taken over by husband and wife team Alistair and Alida.  In addition to all day food, snacks and beverages in the restaurant or conservatory, you can now order takeaway fish or scampi and chips.
Next  years events: Briar Steading has already been booked for The Ryder Cup 2014 and The Highland Games 2014 however Little Briar is still available.  We are hoping that some Commonwealth Games enthusiasts will take a short break up this way while they are in Scotland.  After all, we are only an hour and 15 minutes from Glasgow.  Give us a call if your need luxury and pet friendly accommodation for a week or short break 01567 830 443 throughout the year in any season.
Catch up with more of my news on Twitter @Briarcottages 

For other Whats On events in the area:

May 16th
Event: Golf Senior Men's Open. Venue: St Fillans Golf Club St Fillans
Contact : TEL:01764 685312 Email :,,
Time : All Day
To enter please send your details along with a cheque to the club: St Fillans Golf Club, South Loch, Earn Road, St Fillans, Perthshire, PH6 2NJ. Visitors are welcome at St Fillans Golf Club which is situated in one of the most beautiful parts of Scotland surrounded by magnificent lochs and towering mountains. The terrain is quite level in spite of the imposing hills that surround the course. It is popular with beginners yet proves to be a difficult course to score well on for the more experienced player.
May 24th-26th
Event:   Birding Weekend
Venue: Strathyre Outdoor Centre
Event: Learn about the call of birds.  Watchbirds from a distance in the various habitats; woodland, marshes &  moorland,  Identify birds by sight with visual ID,  bat detection, Pre breakfast bird walks
Price £205 with food and accommodation £150 without. 
May 25th and 26th
Event: British Power Boat Water Skiing, Loch Earn
Venue: The Lochearnhead Water Sports Centre, Lochearnhead.
Price: Free to spectate
Witness up to 30 power boats pulling brave water skiers at speeds of 70 to 110 miles per hour.
June 1st/2nd
Event: Strathyre Music Festival
Venue: Various including The Inn at Strathyre, Creagan House, Strathyre Village Hall
Price (TBA)
Contact Ken Higgens
Time: All Day
Strathyre's 1st Music Festival, hosted by local group Balvaig who have invited another 100 entertainers to join them in creating a memorable music festival. Showcasing an eclectic mix of local and international musicians to suit a variety of musical tastes.
June 8th
Venue: St Fillans Golf Club
Price: See website
Time: All Day from 8.00
please send your details along with a cheque to the club: St Fillans Golf Club, South Loch, Earn Road, St Fillans, Perthshire, PH6 2NJ Visitors are welcome at St Fillans Golf Club which is situated in one of the most beautiful parts of Scotland surrounded by magnificent lochs and towering mountains. The terrain is quite level in spite of the imposing hills that surround the course. It is popular with beginners yet proves to be a difficult course to score well on for the more experienced player.
June 12th
Event: Ben Sheann Hill Race
Venue: Strathyre register at The Inn
Time 7.30 -9.30pm
The 4km course climbs steeply through forest looping around the summit of An Sidhean before descending back through the forest. The climb is 426m.
June 22nd
Event The Martin Currie Rob Roy Challenge (All Day)
Venue: Starts at Drymen
Price: Charity Event
Contact: WildFox Events on 01567 820409
The Rob Roy Challenge is one of the most successful fundraising events in Scotland. 55 miles of the Rob Roy Way are covered by teams and individuals. A 16 mile walk from Drymen through the Trossachs to Callander is follwoed by a 39 mile cycle to Kenmore via Strathyre, Balquhidder, Lochearnhead.
June 29th and 30th
Event: Lochearnhead Shears, Scotlands Premier Sheep Shearing Competition
Venue: Lochearnhead Games Field, Lochearnhead
Price: £6
Time: Saturday 4pm, Sunday- Heats 9am, hand shears 12 noon, Finals 5.00pm + Crook makingCeilidh Dance 30th June 9.00pm -1.00am
Contact: Colin McGregor Tel:01567 830236 Email Url: http://www.lochearnheadshears
This annual event is one of the larger sheep shearing competitions in the UK. Now in its 20th year. International sheep shearers will arrive in Lochearnhead with the aim of taking the revered "Scottish Blackface Shearing Champion" title. Blackface sheep are predominant in this region. The flighty nature and coarse wool of this mountain breed can be very challenging requiring extra skills. Expect a strong representation from Europe this year for a preliminary European Championship . A lively dance ends the weekend. Licensed Bar and Food all Day

July 3rd
Event: Golf, Ladies Open, St Fillans
Venue: St Fillans Golf Club, St Fillans
Contact: Managing Secretary: 01764 685312 email Url:
Time 8.30am (All Day)
To enter please send your details along with a cheque to the club: St Fillans Golf Club, South Loch, Earn Road, St Fillans, Perthshire, PH6 2NJ. Visitors are welcome at St Fillans Golf Club which is situated in one of the most beautiful parts of Scotland surrounded by magnificent lochs and towering mountains. The terrain is quite level in spite of the imposing hills that surround the course. It is popular with beginners yet proves to be a difficult course to score well on for the more experienced player.
July 14th -18th August (Sundays weekly )
Event: Balquhidder Summer Classical Music Programme, Balquhidder
Venue: Balquhidder Parish Church, Balquhidder.
Event: Summer Music concerts throughout the summer celebrating classical music through the talents of a number of young, up and coming musicians. Parking available around the church.
Time: 7pm
July 20th
Event: BLS Highland Games Lochearnhead ( Balquhidder, Lochearnhead, & Strathyre Highland Games)
Venue: Lochearnhead Games Field, Lochearnhead
Price: £5 entrance ticket on the day
Time: 12.30
Contact Alex Gargolinski. Tel: 01567 830 231 Email
A thrilling and traditional Highland Games in the magnificent setting of Lochearnhead beside Loch Earn in the lands of MacGregor, McLaren, MacNab, Stewart and Campbell. The traditional events often attract world champions though visitors and locals can take part in the open events. This is a terrific day out for all the family whether you want to watch the caber being tossed, listen to the bagpipes, enjoy the highland dancers or take part in the married ladies sprint!
August 31st
Event: BLS Horticultural Society Annual Show - Lochearnhead
Venue: The Village Hall, Lochearnhead
Price: Adults £1 (includes tea and cake/biscuits), children go FREE
Time: 2-4pm
Contact: Pauline Perkins 01877 384228
Come along and experience the (BLS) Balquhidder, Lochearnhead and Strathyre annual Horticultural Show where locals showcase their growing and craft skills. A number of classes are judged by an external panel including pot plants, flowers, fruit and veg, floral art,
kindred activities (also know locally as "industrial engineering" but good old fashioned baking to most of us!), handy craft and an art section. The presentation of trophies will be at 3.30.
September 14th
Event: Gents Open St Fillans Golf Club, St Fillans
Venue: St Fillans Golf Club
Time: All Day
Contact Managing Secretary, Tel:01764 685312 Email Url:
To enter please send your details along with a cheque to the club: St Fillans Golf Club, South Loch, Earn Road, St Fillans, Perthshire, PH6 2NJ Visitors are welcome at St Fillans Golf Club which is situated in one of the most beautiful parts of Scotland surrounded by magnificent lochs and towering mountains. The terrain is quite level in spite of the imposing hills that surround the course. It is popular with beginners yet proves to be a difficult course to score well on for the more experienced player.
October 12th/13th
Event: Scottish Aeromodellers "Splash In" (Radio Controlled Water Planes) - Lochearnhead
Venue: Loch Earn - (Lochearnhead Watersports and Activities Centre)
Price: Free to spectate
Time: 10.00-16.00
Contact: Colin McLean, Tel:01592 569981 Email Url:
Free to spectate. This is a very impressive event that is suitable for all ages. The setting is the shores of Loch Earn in Lochearnhead against a backdrop of Glenample, Edinample castle and an island that was once a Crannog (dwelling house in the water at the time of the Picts).Come along and be amazed by the enthusiastic flying skills of Aeromodellers Association members. This event is run under the auspices of the Scottish Aeromodellers Association as a "Fly in". SAA members attend and fly a wide variety of radio controlled model water planes, large and small, over two days. This is not just boys and there toys. It takes a great deal of skill and training to do what this team does. You will love the variety of planes. In the interests of safety, the public is asked to remain in the "roped off" viewing area.

October 19th/20th
Event: Tracking and Wildlife Weekend
Venue: Strathyre Outdoor Centre, Strathyre
Price: £150 per weekend or £75 per day (£10 discount if full weekend booked for)
Time: 2 full days: starts 19.00 on Friday night and ends 16:00 Sunday afternoon.
Main lessons will be from 09:00 - 17:00 on Saturday and 09:00-16:00 on Sunday
Instructor Leon is a qualified and experienced wildlife biologist with a BSc (hons) in Ecology and a PhD based on otter research in Scotland. He has over 13 years field experience, studying badgers, foxes, grouse & otters. In 2004, Leon formalised his bushcraft interests and achieved a nationally accredited qualification (with distinction)to teach the subject. This year long NCFE course covered all aspects of leading groups, including bushcraft skills, understanding of the natural environment, teaching ability, knowledge of legislation, health and safety.