Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Boule Court, Baby Ducklings, Boating and Briar Steading WIFi -Lochearnhead

Spring is well under way at Briar Cottages on Loch Earn and Lochearnhead has already had a taste of 20 degree sunny weather.  There is nothing like sitting out in the loch garden with a cold beer or glass of wine. 
Fraser The Smug Boule Champion of Briar Cottage on Loch Earn

Boule Court: Those of you who have met my husband Fraser probably can not picture him sitting around for long spells at a time as he always has a project or five on the go. His latest challenge has been a "Boule" or "Petanque" court.  

10 Tons of Granite Dust to be Shoveled

Not to be disturbed unless with a drink

Boule in the grass is not ideal here as the bowls just sink and leave big holes. Plus we need the grass for the putting flags! So, a proper area has been created to the right of the slipway and we are gradually raking and rolling to improve it.  (When I say we......!
Testing the Boule Course

Mallard Ducklings 2014: Crispy, our mummy mallard for 2014,  had 8 ducklings on the grounds of Briar Cottages.  She brings them several times a day to the loch garden to feed.  As of today 30th April 2014, there are only 5 left. See 8 swimming beside our jetty in the video below.  We swim here too in the summer.  Sorry no photos.   

So far one duckling has been killed by a speeding car.  The others have been taken by a big fat seagull with a smirk on its face.  

Ducklings Swim With Mum, Briar Cottage, Loch Earn

5 Mallard Babies and Mum. They Let Me Get Closer Each Day
 70+ year old activity,  Lochearnhead!
Boating On Loch Earn
Fraser took the rib out for an airing on 29th April 2014.  It was a beautiful Monday morning and the loch was flat calm with fish jumping and the ospreys combing up and down the loch.  Fraser says "this is what 70 year olds do in Lochearnhead". Won't be long before he takes it 6.5 miles to St Fillans to investigate how the new Loch Earn Brewery Hotel and Visitor Centre is coming along. 

Fraser Testing the Rib for the Season

Improved WiFi at Briar Steading: Another item on the continuous improvement agenda has been WiFi.  The WiFi reception at Briar Steading was becoming critical as more and more guests have been using iPad which does not receive a WiFi signal as well as phones and laptops. We tried adding a large antenna to the booster which helped but eventually decided to hard wire.  Fraser and I physically dug a 70 metre channel through concrete, mud and stone and crawled up and down buildings to secure the Ethernet cable at both ends before back filling. Quite satisfying. We now have a 100% perfect WiFi signal anywhere inside Briar Steading.   Little Briar next, but can I wait for my back to recover?

New Year is booked in both cottages. Looking forward to a busy season. There are a few short breaks and weeks left in the summer plus autumn winter. Please check our calendar here or get in touch with me 07917 416 497 or Fraser 07876 212 505.  If we are booked on the dates that you want then check out our neighbouring villages accommodation  here -

Have a great Spring and keep in touch.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Loch Earn Beer, Fine Food and Film Lochearnhead

Happy New Year From Kim and Fraser 
In the Year of Homecoming Scotland 2014

Briar Cottages Loch Garden January Sunrise - Lochearnhead, Scotland
Both of our self catering cottages were full over Christmas and New Year. We had a busy week of parties, concerts, our village hall Hogmanay hop and Briar Cottages annual January 1st BBQ (with the help of our double garage for shelter and heat this year). Thankfully MHOR84 bar and restaurant kept open all winter. A welcoming lively stopping place offering tasty food all day. Under the guidance of famous chef Tom Lewis; fresh, reared, baked and grown ingredients are used in recipes. Thursday is folk night with an ever changing line up of musicians. 

The popular venue attracts walkers, country sports enthusiasts, holidaymakers, journalists plus a few famous faces. Last week Gordon Buchanan was spotted there, filming in the area. He is quite famous following his amazing TV serious "The Bear Family and Me".  I know many people who use his line "it's me bear" when trying to make peace with another human being! He also filmed polar bears as part of The BBC Frozen Planet series. I hope that he finds this section of The Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park and our amazing wildlife equally beautiful to film.  Another film maker and photographer Tom Walker has been in the area. I am more than impressed with his landscape photography and am curious to know when and where we can see the results of whatever he is working on. 

Mhor84 Motel, Restaurant and Bar, Balquhidder

MHOR84 displayed a magnificent 4ft long Christmas cake in a glass cabinet from mid December. Every time I popped in it was at least a foot shorter (not guilty, but what a lovely fantasy). We get our Christmas cake made every year by a local lady, Carol. Sorry mum but it is the best home made Christmas cake ever. Full of cherries and goodies and we are not sure if you are allowed to drive after eating a slice. Once opened it gets eaten very quickly in case the alcohol evaporates.

The Golden Larches Restaurant and Cafe A84

The Golden larches restaurant a couple of miles from Briar Cottages on the A84 at Balquhidder Station, stays open for long weekends in winter too. They also offer take away food and beverages which makes them our nearest chippie. So our guests had a lovely choice of places to eat, drink and hear live music near by. The Clachan Cottage Hotel is 150m from our door. Amanda and Robert in the Lochearnhead Hotel (200m) take a well earned break with the family in winter and will open up again in February. 

We are lucky having a taxi and tour service in the village.  The business Highland Glen Travel is run by Lochearnhead locals George and Helen (Cunningham). They can offer bespoke tours or a list of routes to choose. They also operate the local Demand Responsive Taxi service. This means that you can travel to local villages between 9am and 9pm in a private hire vehicle for the same price as the bus. You can also hire a coach or taxi via Kingshouse Travel who operate the local bus service too.

Shopping Deliveries: Tesco and Sainsbury's now deliver groceries to luxury Briar Steading and pet friendly Little Briar cottage in addition to ASDA. So if you are thinking of a break you can plan your shopping ahead of schedule and have your goods delivered on arrival. We can help out by putting fridge and freezer goods away in the event of any travel delays. 

The exciting buzz and news in the area is the opening of The Loch Earn Brewery.  Oh yes. We will have our own local micro brewery lovingly producing "Loch Earn Beer".  Arran Brewery has bought the Drummond Hotel looking over Loch Earn at the east end in St Fillans.  The owners are planning a micro brewery and visitor centre,  3 restaurants; including native chef made dishes that use Loch Earn Beer and 2 bars including a sushi bar.  Word has it that they will produce a Scottish Saki too.  The owners have the keys, the drinks licence and they have already employed a manager and some staff. They plan to open in April 2014. Fingers crossed that they meet their target. Can't wait to travel there by car, bus, taxi or our boat (They have a jetty in the loch garden too).

Creagan House Strathyre  owned by
Master Chef, Gordon Gunn and his wife Cherry
Master  Chef: Gordon Gunn owner of Creagan House restaurant (in Strathyre 3.5 miles from Lochearhead A84) became a Master Chef last year. Together with his wife Cherry, the couple secured a  "Taste our Best quality assurance accreditation too. The scheme recognises businesses that promote Scottish produce and offer first quality food and drink.  A minimum of 40% of the menu must be Scottish produce.  Guests dine in a Baronial style hall and the fixed price menu's are exceptional value. Creagan House also features in The Trenchermans Guide

Merida Doll at The Highland Games in Lochearnhead
Homecoming Scotland: 2014 is going to be a sensational year.  Nothing to do with politics whatsoever, purely the wonderful list of events that will take place. Homecoming Scotland 2014 lasts all year and consists of thousands of events all over Scotland.  The government has backed a TV commercial to promote Scotland's Homecoming and the opening scenes are of The Lochearnhead Highland Games. Seems like this is the region to film this year. Anyone else interested? Our thatched cottage on the banks of Loch Earn would look great on film. You can see footage of our games field and competitors in the Homecoming TV advert here but don't blink or you will miss Lochearnhead. This year the Balquhidder, Strathyre and Lochearnhead Highland games take place on July 26th 2014 from 12.00.

Bannockburn Live is one of the many Homecoming Scotland Events. It takes place 28-30th June.   A new visitor centre has been built in Bannockburn 2 miles south of Stirling. This promises 3D battle re-enactments, feasts and more. The result of the battle is the least interesting part.  The concept is to give visitors a real sense of what life was like, as though you have gone back to that era.  There will also be a parade with thousands of pipers and more. National Armed Forces Day takes place on the same weekend.  I am not sure if it is a wise decision to have two major events on the same weekend but it will certainly be busy and a challenge for tourism businesses. The Commonwealth Games will be under way in Glasgow July 23rd to August 3rd.  Fraser and I are delighted to have secured tickets for one of the athletics days and we have some guests taking a break up here in addition to visiting the games.  The Ryder Cup 2014 golf event is huge and the world will be watching. It take place 45 minutes from here in Gleneagles, Auchterarder. We are delighted to have had both self catering cottages booked for a while. A national crime writing festival and many other events information can be found here.

Rare pic of Fraser fishing in garden, Loch Earn!
Ducklings hatched at Briar Cottages 

bench near slipway, Briar Cottages

Much to look forward to. The fishing season starts March 15  Mallards will  pair and seek a place to hatch their ducklings on our grounds while we wait for the return of the Osprey pairs. 

Slipway Briar Cottages 

Wishing you all the best for the forthcoming seasons. Please get in touch 01567 030 443 if we can quote for holiday cottage availability or with any questions about the cottages and area. Dates are booking up earlier than usual due to the number of events in Scotland and demand for self catering holidays.

Front garden, jetty, summer house on Loch Earn, Briar Cottages
Kim and Fraser Proven

Briar Cottages
FK19 8PU
T: 01567 830 443
M: 07917 416 497
Twitter @Briarcottages

To celebrate Homecoming 2014 and Scotland's special events programme,  we are offering Briar Steading guests a bottle of Prosecco with chocolates for any 3 to 14 nights booked, before 31st January.  If you are thinking about a first or return visit, secure your preferred dates with a deposit before 1st February. This applies to any 3-14 nights throughout 2014 that are currently available.