Headline photo

Headline photo
Rockcliffe and Kippford from South Glen Brae: Ed Iglehart [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Introductory text

Kippford and Rockcliffe are on the East Stewartry Coast, an unspoilt National Scenic Area with two other NSAs in close proximity. It is in Dumfries & Galloway, South West Scotland, a region known for it's wonderful scenery, biodiversity, turbulent history, smugglers and black and white 'belted' cattle known as Galloway Belties. This stretch of coastline has many names. Known locally as the Colvend Coast or the 'Secret Coast' (due to the peace and tranquility) it is often referred to as the 'Scottish Riviera' due to it being the holiday resort of choice for Victorian millionaires and having a Gulf Stream influenced microclimate: evidenced by palm trees in some gardens. Castle Douglas, the food town is a short drive away and Kirkcudbright, the Artists Town is over the next headland.

This a scenic and unique part of the world and we started the blog to share the experience of living in this wonderful place. We hope that it will be of interest to others who live here and give those planning to visit the area a taste of all it has to offer.

The blog has a correspondent in both Kippford and Rockcliffe village, you can also follow their Twitter feeds on the right of the page. If you would like to get involved we look forward to hearing from you.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

" A host of Golden Daffodils...."

With the temperature up to 19 degrees  it was an ideal day to visit Threave  Gardens owned and managed by the Scottish National Trust and located just outside Castle Douglas. It's only a 15 minuite drive from Kippford and Rockcliffe so it's a nice wee jaunt! 

Being busy getting the B&B ready for the new season I normally miss the spectacular Daffodil Bank but this year timed things just right. One, by being rewarded by the spectacular sight of Southern Gems in full flower and two, the first chance this year to sit in the sunshine on the terrace sipping a Cappuchino at the aptly named "The Terrace Cafe"  .

Daffodil Bank: Thousands of daffodils planted by Colonel William Gordon original owner of Threave.

Threave House
Scottish Baronial in style the house was designed in 1871 by Edinburgh architects John Dick Peddie and Charles Kinear. You can tour the house but we love it as a place to meander through the gardens and grounds. There is a very picturesque hot house, a huge walled garden planted with fruit and veg and the rest of the gardens are split into 'outdoor rooms'. Surrounding the gardens are woodland walks and even a special 'dog walk'. 

We have been visiting since we were children (not going to say how long ago that was!) but still go back again and again, there is such a lovely tranquil atmosphere and it can be enjoyed by old and young alike as there is lots of space to run around (the kids love it too!).

The next treat to look out for is the huge banks of rhododendrons that fill the gardens with colour and make a spectacular sight.

If you would like to visit here is the information.

Estate & Garden: all year, daily.
Visitor & Countryside Centres, Restaurant, Gift Shop, Plant Centre and Glasshouses:
1 Feb to 31 Mar, Fri-Sun 10-5
1 Apr to 31 Oct, daily 10-5
1 Nov to 23 Dec, Fri-Sun 10-5
House: 1 Apr to 31 Oct, Wed-Fri and Sun 11-3.30
Visit to house by guided tour only and visitors are advised to book in advance.

Tel. 0844 493 2245               

Thursday, 22 March 2012

New discovery

I recently discovered the work of Morag and Ted, two photographers who are based nearby, and instantly fell in love with it's atmospheric, almost ethereal quality so had to tell you about it. They photograph Dumfries and Galloway extensively and really capture the stunning scenery and natural environment in all it's glory. You can see for yourself, here is a shot of theirs of Rockcliffe:
Rockcliffe courtesy of www.leemingpaterson.com

I contacted Morag and asked her what it was about Dumfries & Galloway that inspired them to work here and discovered a kindred spirit.

"Having lived in Dumfries and Galloway for nearly twenty years it feels more like home to me than anywhere else I’ve lived.  Its spectacular beauty and unspoilt terrain offer a rich vein of inspiration to the many folk who pursue creative and artistic endeavours here, whether they are native to the region or have settled more recently - unable to resist the bewitching landscape, cultural offerings and warm hospitality on offer.

Working collaboratively with my husband, Ted Leeming, much of our work has been created in the region, using both traditional and impressionist photographic techniques.  Whilst we are not always treated to clement weather conditions, the quality of light delivers ample opportunity for experimentation and exploration as well as classic image capture.  This, combined with the ability to wander the countryside in relative solitude - unusual in an area of such abundant beauty – feeds our creativity on a daily basis and we count ourselves lucky to live here."

You can see their work by visiting their studio in Dumfries and Galloway by appointment or attend one of their workshops. They offer a full range of landscape photography courses across Scotland including one-to-one tuition and group workshops.

Rockcliffe courtesy of www.leemingpaterson.com
Riverview Lodge (www.holidaycottagekippford.co.uk) or Millbrae House (www.millbraehouse.co.uk) would make an ideal base for your stay as, as can be seen from the shot above, Kippford and Rockcliffe offer great inspiration for the photographer.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Strange goings on?

On returning to the car park after my morning constitution at 9.30 on Saturday 17th (well it was such a lovely day I could hardly stay indoors, could I?) I spotted two very unusual, and hopefully rare, birds on the RSPB Mersehead Reserve. The strangest plumage you have ever seen and not of the usual size. Were they some migrants blown in by seasonal storms or just two weary birds on passage?

Before the Twitchers amongst grab your identification books and plan a trip to Mersehead, I think you better see them for yourselves. Luckily, although they were shy little creatures I did manage to get a photo of each of them.

Apparently this is a Barnacle Goose...
and this is a Puffin.

It turns out that these brave souls were helping out at a sponsored walk on the reserve so deserve a round of applause.

Over 60 walkers were raising money and set off on a blissfully sunny morning at about 10.30. The walk went to parts of the reserve not normally open to the public and was organised to help raise vital funds for the continuing conservation work at Mersehead.

Looks like they had a lot of fun!

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Living the dream...

As anyone who watches Kirsty and Phil as they relocate city folks to the country will know, it seems everyone dreams of a rural idyll where they can keep hens. We were no exception and started our little flock about three years ago. Keeping hens was something I had always fancied despite having an illogical and  weird fear of birds ( Could it have been seeing the  the movie 'The Birds' at an impressionable age that brought it on?) so it was perhaps, an strange decision. 

But not so, there has been a huge surge in demand for locally produced food; after all, what could be more natural than keeping your own chickens and collecting their eggs? So for us at Millbrae House running a B&B it seemed like the right decision. After all Bed & Breakfast is synonymous with fresh, home reared eggs.

"Henkeeping - Inspiration and practical advice for would be smallholders" from Country Living and the National Trust.
A friend bought me a copy of a brilliant little book "Henkeeping - Inspiration and practical advice for would be smallholders". This quirky little book with old fashioned illustrations  advises on all aspects of chicken keeping, from advice on the full range of breeds available, choosing and buying the right chickens for you, to feeding and naming them and finally housing and caring for them. I devoured it, and spent ages choosing my 'dream 'team. 

Friends urged me to rehome battery hens which from a humanitarian angle appealed to me and I was sorely tempted but, having avidly devoured  the pages of Country Living Magazine I wanted 'fluffy' hens.

Within a day our first three hens Madge, Muffin and T2 ? ( dont ask ) were eating out of our hands and following us around the field. Their curious nature gets the better of them, even when I'm cleaning the hen house they pop in and out just in case they are missing out on something and give your cleaning work a quick inspection to check standards are kept high.

Our first Black Orpington, Bramble (with her wide berth and ungainly gait) looks like a aircraft carrier struggling down the runway - attempting to take off but never quite making it. Her first eggs never made it to the kitchen as she would lay pale almost opaque small eggs and promptly stomp on them as she rose from the nesting box. I always felt she was saying "you are not having that one". She's obviously got the hang of it now as she now leaves them intact.

Our two latest hens (brought by Santa) have settled in well though naturally at the bottom of the pecking order being the latest to join our increasing flock. Their vast size is at odds with their soft docile nature being a Buff Orpington and a Speckled Sussex named Butterball and Myrtle. Each hen, has as the books say, have  a different personality and having seven different colours and breeds. it's lovely to watch them forage around the field. 

I never tire of the joy of collecting the different array of eggs all individually coloured and sized almost like there own signature. Its like finding little individual gifts.

A bowl of fresh Millbrae House home produced, free range eggs. 'Little gifts' courtesy of Myrtle, Butterball, Autumn, T2,  Bramble, Magorious and friends. (You can tell the kids named them!)
After a scarcity of eggs over the Winter months Spring has arrived here at Millbrae House and we are up to four eggs a day so our own fresh, free range, golden yolked beauties are back on the menu. Longer days and more sunshine mean more and more eggs for our guests – pass the frying pan.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Foodie alert! Dumfries & Galloway feature on TV tonight...


Photo courtesy of http://www.tvguide.co.uk/newtvseries.asp

Countrywise Kitchen comes to Dumfries and Galloway tonight at 7:30pm on ITV. Paul Heiney and chef Mike Robinson start their search for the best culinary fare in South West Scotland. The programme features wild salmon, red deer and the region's beefy cattle.

One to watch!

Sunday, 11 March 2012

31 March - 15 April: D&G Wildlife Festival - Great for a budget family holiday

It might be hard to believe it's come around again so quickly but between 31 March and 15 April is the ninth Dumfries and Galloway Wildlife Festival - two weeks jam packed with wildlife inspired events and activities. It's great for folks of all ages but especially families with young children as the events are fun as well as educational, not all events require booking and unless otherwise indicated,  all events are free to attend. It's a great way to keep the youngsters happy and entertained on a budget.

Photo courtesy of www.wildlifefestival.org.uk/
Peter Norman, Dumfries & Galloway Biodiversity Officer says, of this years event:

"This year there are more than 80 events over two weeks with some new exciting additions to the festival. Look out for the new exhibition about ferns at Logan Botanic Gardens, "Pteridomania" running for the whole festiva;l or the Wild Food Forage in Langholm with a cooking demonstration and free lunch! Another event with a difference this year is making a Tattie bogle (or scarecrow to you and me) at Cairnsmore of Fleet NNR. Popular activities held again this year include the Stars and Stripes badger watches at WWT Caerlaverock, the hatchery open days by both Galloway Fisheries Trust and the Nith Catchment Fishery Trust and a whole range of Family activities for Easter. Events across the whole of Dumfries and Galloway with something for everyone to enjoy!"

Our particular favourite activity is 'Dusk on the Dunes', an evening walk to the high dune at RSPB Mersehead where you will be able to watch geese heading to the sand flats to roost.

You can find out more information on the website: http://www.wildlifefestival.org.uk/

B&B Rockcliffe: Millbrae House (4 Star)
Self catering Colvend: Loch View Cottage (Sleeps 4, double and twin, dogs welcome)
Self catering Kippford: Riverview Lodge (Sleeps 4, double and twin, log stove, sea views, dogs welcome)
Self catering Rockcliffe: Craig Roan Garden Apartment (Sleeps 4, double and twin)
Drumburn Studio Apartment (Sleeps 2, dogs welcome)

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Just in on Twitter: Galloway Slow & Wild Food Day

Riverview Lodge and Millbrae House joined Twitter a few weeks ago and it's proving an excellent way to keep up with what's happenning amongst like minded people in the region. (You can follow us on Twitter @LodgeinKippford or @MillbraeHouse).

For example, I've just been Tweeted about what sounds like a fantastic event so I just had to share it. The details are:

Galloway Slow & Wild Food Day

When: Saturday  September 1st, All day, assembling at Carrick shore from 5pm
Where: Carrick Shore, Near Gatehouse of Fleet
Cost: Free and child friendly
Come and forage in Galloway, then join us and lots of friends for a party on our beautiful coast. Great wild food, like-minded people, live music and foraged tipples. Round up your friends and family and come and explore a beautiful place and meet some lovely people!

For more information go to their website: http://www.gallowaywildfoods.com

Photo courtesy of www.gallowaywildfoods.com

We have availability in the Lodge (www.holidaycottagekippford.co.uk) and at Millbrae House (www.millbraehouse.co.uk) for that weekend so you could get a group of 'foodie' friends together and join the fun. Carrick shore is just a pleasant 45min drive along the coast and Castle Douglas, the Food Town, is only 15 mins away.

See you there!

Monday, 5 March 2012

Good Morning Vietnam...

"It's hot, damn hot, R E A L  hot..." here on the Scottish Riviera. Now bear in mind its only March 5th, yet my dinky little weather station recorded an amazing 45.5C in full sun around 9.30 this morning. I put it in the shade (which I was told was the 'proper' way to do it) and it registered 28C.

A neaps tide this morning at 9.21am so not much water up Southwick Water but a fantastic view along the Colvend coast at Sandyhills across to Port Ling.

Colvend Coast to Port Ling at neaps high tide

And before you ask, no! I have not used a filter on that sky, it's the real thing. Won't be long now till all those branches burst with colour. 

Off to get the bikini out!

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Help with the New year's Resolution...

Saturday morning, and a good time to get out for a walk, I can't quite believe it's a week since the annual community walk designed to kick off Health Week.

I had made a New Years Resolution to get out and walk more and a quick glance at my Winter muffin tops confirmed I needed it so I joined around 56 folk at Colvend Village Hall for the off and I was glad I did.  We had a great walk, designed to suit all ages and well within my winter hibernation mode capabilities.

The walk, organised by our very proactive village Primary it was attended by pupils past and present, parents friends, community members, staff and an array of dogs of all shapes and sizes. It was a great opportunity to catch up with friends and have a natter. Walkers ages ranged from about 3 years to ..... well, dare I say without fear of being lynched at the next community event, let’s leave it as.... the more mature. There was much interest and curiosity as, for the first time on the walk each of us were issued with a pedometer. 

The weather was not quite as sunny as forecast, but did not disappoint as it stayed dry and crisp, as an army of us set forth at 10 am for an hour and a half walk. Not 'hat and gloves' weather but my thermals (although over hot at times) were appreciated on the top of the hill, where a cool breeze blew away the cobwebs.

From the Village Hall the walk took us around the NE shore of White Loch and at Barean Loch turned right past Smithland Bothy and up Barcloy Hill. The views of the stunning Solway coastline were our reward for the final push. Living here and usually seeing the views from just above ground level – not that I am that vertically challenged, it’s great to get up high and get a real feel of the whole area. Colvend Church (built on the site of a medieval building during the Rev. James Chalmers' ministry and opened in 1911) sits 
beautifully in the rolling Galloway countryside and further away Rockcliffe nestles around the crescent of beach. You can see our approximate route here:

Route courtesy of Google Earth™ mapping service

Participants arrived back  at the Village Hall, some muddier than others, at around 12- 12.30 to a wonderfully tasty, healthy, lunch. There was a selection of homemade soups with rolls (I went for the celery – delicious),  home made salads of cous cous, coleslaw and potato followed by (perhaps not quite as healthy but very yummy) flapjacks with tea or coffee. 

Pedometers read varying distances from 4.5km to 7km depending on how many times they had been shaken up and down by, might I suggest, the more mischievous amongst us, well you are not telling me all those little legs walked that distance in that time!

The event raised a sum of £125 for the school and a big thank you to all that organised it, prepared lunch and, the worst job of all, washed up!

Well the sun has just peeped out so it's time to don my walking boots and head on out!

Thursday, 1 March 2012

10% off: How good is that?

Castle Kennedy Spring Fling Friends Offer: 2 - 5 June 2012: Spring Fling

Spring Fling Friends Offer:
During Spring Fling Weekend: 10% off all purchases from the Castle Kennedy & Gardens Tearoom (on production of Spring Fling Friends membership card).
Also other great offers throughout the year:
  • 10% off all purchases at the Castle Kennedy & Gardens Shop stall at the Lochinch Garden and Country Show on 29th April 2012
  • 10% off all purchases at the Castle Kennedy & Gardens Shop stall at the Lochinch Castle Food and Drink Festival on 2nd September 2012
  • 10% off all purchases at the Castle Kennedy & Gardens Shop stall at the Lochinch Castle Victorian Christmas Fair on 9th and 10th November 2012.
  • (The above events all take place at the Stables Courtyard Buildings, Lochinch Castle DG9 8RT. For more information call 01776 702024)
  • 10% discount off a Friend’s Membership to Castle Kennedy & Gardens which is valid for a year. The cost of a Friend’s Membership is £26.00 per individual membership, £40.00 per year for a Family or Couple membership and £20.00/£30.00 respectively for a single or couple Concession membership. Benefits include free entrance to the Gardens throughout the Season from February to end October and two complimentary guest tickets to the Gardens.