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.

Monday, 30 April 2012

When the cats are away, the mice play....

... and it's certainly true when you have a holiday lodge or holiday cottage. However, I would not call it playing, unless you count donning pinny and rubber gloves and wielding a mop playing? (Dressing up, maybe?) The quieter times of the year, when the cats are away,  have to be seized upon by we, little mice, (well perhaps not so little as I would like to be in some areas?) for those essential maintenance jobs or the big Spring clean. 

We usually do the big Spring Clean just after Xmas as when the weather is not to be relied on as much, the indoor jobs are ideal. So, in addition to the good clean that the lodge gets between each changeover: every rug, pillow, cushion, mattress topper and duvet gets Spring cleaned, the kitchen and bathroom are scrubbed and sanitized to within an inch of it's life and the stove gets a good black leading; Every nook and cranny is scrubbed, dusted or polished; All electrical equipment is checked, new batteries go in the smoke alarms and clocks; and any repairs or refurbishment is carried out. It's a time to update the DVD collection, refresh the book selection, replace things that have got damaged or worn as a result of ongoing use or just ring the changes with a new cushion, throw or picture. (I just can't resist!)

The outside jobs have to wait till the weather is more reliable so I usually grab the opportunity just after Easter. This is why this last week has seen me on my knees (Groan!) sanding the balcony and giving it a fresh new coat of Old English Green (Sorry, they did not do an Old Scottish Green) deck paint. I've also mown the lawns, cleaned and painted the gutters, trimmed back the more enthusiastic shrubs and declared war on the brambles (ouch!).  So yes, I guess I deserve a sit down, a slice of cake and a cup of coffee.

On the less onerous side, I've been out and bought new Geraniums, my favourite bloom, for the planters and stocked up on all the eco friendly cleaning materials and supplies. I love the bright fresh colours of the Geraniums and their earthy scent, they have such a distinctive leaf and really look great in planters. In keeping with the 'Little House on the Prairie' inspiration I use for the lodge we use galvanised pails for planters. I like to think of it as a contemporary take on Homstead charm. The theme is continued in jaunty, checked curtains, rag rugs, cream iron bedsteads, an antique pine linen press, willow baskets and stripped wood floorboards.

These wonderful Violas looked lovely on the deck at Riverview Lodge last year and the galvanised pail planters are in keeping with the 'Little House on the Prarie' homestead feel of the cedar cabin.

In keeping with the sustainability and eco friendliness of a timber lodge we now use all eco-friendly cleaning products and washing up liquid such as Ecover wherever possible. The only thing I can't find is an eco-friendly  washing powder in tablet form so we supply non-bio washing tabs for our guests. If anyone knows of an eco friendly version I would live to hear from them.

My next task is to give the wooden deck a scrub and an antifungal treatment to keep it it top top condition. There is a Cherry tree at the end of the deck which provides dappled shade in summer, cherries for the birds and wildlife in Autumn and has glorious blossom in spring, however it drops its pits and stalks on the deck so I have to go around and scrape out all the grooves before I start scrubbing. This is why this week I look like I am doing an impersonation of the Hunchback of Notre Dame and feel about 20 years older!

How I look forward to a hot bath at the end of the day!

Monday, 23 April 2012

Stay local, Shop Local, Eat local...

Glancing at the calendar I note that it's our local Farmers Market this Friday 27th April at Colvend Village Hall. (9.00 till 12.30) and make a mental note to drop in.

I always try sneak away from my busy schedule to pop in to the monthly farmers market at Colvend Village Hall (held every 4th Friday of the Month). Not to be recommended when you're hungry or have little or no will power (like me) as you will come out with nothing but a yummy selection of cakes, biscuits, chocolates and more cakes.

Despite my own tendency to gravitate towards the cakes there is lots more on offer and all produced locally - so we like to support the traders. My husband heads to the Barlochan Beef stall where we can buy the meat from the Highland Cattle that graze close to our house. They have also proved to be quite a tourist attraction as well, being so photogenic as you can see from the gorgeous photo below.  The beef is slow grown, so to speak, as the cattle are about four years old before they are taken. We know the cattle have had a good, healthy life, outdoors and enjoyed the views around the Colvend Coast, other than that the meat is delicious (so I am told by my husband as I am a Vegetarian ) You can see their range here: http://www.bhbeef.com/

“Eiteag & group” ... 
Eiteag is the beauty in the foreground ...
Note: it’s traditional to name Highland cattle in Gaelic ... Eiteag translates as  “white pebble”

 (Photo courtesy of Barlochan Beef)
Another favourite is the chocolate orange cake with its moist centre from Loch Arthur Creamery & Farmshop, a nearby community farm, and Mrs Royds utterly delightful cup cakes baked with love at her home in Southerness. They are so colourful and pretty you won't want to eat them. 
But, it's not all cakes though, you will find handcrafted silver made by Erwin of Red Crow Silver, (Red Crow website) a wonderfully talented silversmith in the village (his contemporary, and very wearable pieces,  are celtic inspired and have a lovely organic feel to them), hand made gifts and cards, organic vegetables, cheeses, delicious handmade chocolates, aromatic artisan breads from the Earth's Crust bakery, Lauriston, (Earth's Crust Bakery facebook page) and lot's more.

My sister always heads straight for the Loch Arthur stall, as she loves their tasty, toasted Granola and Honey/Seed loaf, before sidling along to the stall which sells homemade  chocolate truffles and then stocking up on Mr's Royds hazlenut macaroons. Superb!
 Nigel heads directly for the smoked salmon and meats - he adores the smoked salmon pate. That's the beauty of the farmers market, whatever your taste in food, there is a locally produced treat in store!
I'm always a bit late to sit down and enjoy a cup of tea and home baking served in the hall by a group of hard working, well organised members of the community which is always my first port of call at most village functions,  But armed with my goodies I enjoy that pleasure at home. All I need now is the bicycle with a basket !

The farmers market has really taken off and we have many guests that time their stay with a visit to the Market.

NEXT MARKET: Friday 27th April 2012

Colvend Public Hall, Colvend, Dalbeattie, DG5 4QD
9am - 12.30pm

The Market takes place every 4th Friday of the Month

Friday, 20 April 2012

All quiet on the Western front?

... but not on the Solway Coast today as our brave boys are put through their paces. 

There is a huge military exercise going on at the moment so, any of you out there will an interest in all things Army, Royal Navy and RAF, need to get on down to Dumfries & Galloway PDQ. 

I am told there are over 1600 troops (one report says around 2000) involved so it's pretty intense. Apparently  they are involved in a war simulation between the fictional countries of Pastonia and Dragonia and the British troops need to parachute in to regain peace.

"These troops will spend the next week simulating the kind of international emergency they may be required to help resolve. Operations in Afghanistan may be winding up, but our troops still have to be in a constant state of readiness. Dragonia may not be a real war, but this training could be vital in preparing our soldiers for the next world conflict wherever it occurs." (Source: ITV News)
For more info and video clips from ITV News click here
Helicopter off Sandyhills Beach earlier today  (Think it's a Merlin but don't quote me?)
Whilst preparing the lodge for guests, the other day, I looked up and saw a truck and a huge gun (OK, so I'm not an expert) dangling in the sky above. Makes a change from the usual Buzzard or Goose I suppose. Just hope those ropes are well knotted!

There looks to be some kind of command post set up at Port o' Warren, on the cliffs near Port Ling, and Chinook, Merlin and Apache helicopters have been seen swooping around the coast around Kippford, Rockcliffe and Sandyhills. Friends up Loch Ken have seen them as well, all very exciting and very Apocalypse Now. 

It's certainly added to the excitement and set the pulse racing (helicopters have that effect on me) but I will be glad when all returns to it's usual peaceful, tranquil state. (Any of you boys fancy a cup of tea and a chocolate Hob Nob just pop in and say hello!)

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

The Cape to Cape Rally passes Dumfries and Galloway

The Cape to Cape Rally, which helps to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Care, takes place between 21-28 April will feature over 40 vintage and classic cars

This seven day classic car tour over a challenging 1,700 mile route will see participants setting off from Cape Wrath and finishing at Great Britain's only other cape, Cape Cornwall on the south west coast of the county.  

The "Grand Tour - Cape to Cape" is the brainchild of experienced historic rally and classic trials exponent, Cornishman Dennis Greenslade who is a previous winner of the international Historic Rally of Great Britain - the Rally of the Tests and former four times national classic trials champion.  All entrants to the tour are committed to raise funds for Macmillan Cancer Relief mainly through asking friends, family and business colleagues for sponsorship.

Drivers come from all over continental Europe to participate in the Cape to Cape Tour and when they arrive in Truro, they will have completed 1500 miles over 7 days. The Truro Classic is the final test in this endurance event which tests driving skill, physical stamina, navigation and vehicle engineering.

A 1953, 1250cc MG Td of the type participating in the Rally
Courtesy of: Kenneth Allen [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The cars:

    • 5 Porsches various 356, 911 and 912
    • 8 MGs various TD, BGT
    • 2 Morgans
    • 2 Jaguar E-type Roadsters
    • 3 Austins
    • 3 Triumphs
    • 2 Mercedes Benz
    • 3 Mazda
    • Single: Morris, Bentley, Rolls Royce, Ogle, Lotus, Jensen-Healey, Mercedes-Benz, AC, Allard, Volvo, Singer, BMW, Daimler, Ford

On day three of the event:  24 APRIL (the INVERARAY TO LANCASTER leg of the route) they will be passing through the Eastern end of Dumfries & Galloway so watch out for them!

Saturday, 14 April 2012

It's blooming well Spring!

After a stressful day of thrashing around Tescos and crashing away at my poor computer I felt I deserved a treat so around 17.30 donned my walking boots, scooped up Murphy the Wonder Dog and parked up at Colvend Village Hall car park.

The air was balmy, the sky blue and the sun dipping towards the West. With a wag of an enthusiastic Collie tail we set off along the track to the Eastern end of Dalbeattie Forest that runs alongside White Loch and on to Clonyard Loch. 

Not a Crossbill in sight which was unusual but the Green Woodpeckers were making thier presence known with their distinctive Yaffle (call). There seem to be a good number about this year, I've heard them in Kippford, Sandyhills and Colvend this week. Far more around than usual - a very good sign!

As it was late we kept it short and looped around Smithland Hill and back to the car park.

The whole walk was a joy, due to the display of Spring flowers we spotted along the way... hope you enjoy them too.

Ended with Blossom back at Colvend Village Hall

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Yet more local media mentions this week

This weekends Telegraph featured a "Top 100 Music Festivals" and Dumfries & Galloways Wickerman was named as one of the Top 20!
Described as "Ebullient gem of the Scottish festival season that closes with a giant burning effigy." It is recommended as being family friendly so a great festival to look out for.
This years Wickerman is held on July 20-21 at East Kirkcarswell in Dumfries & Galloway so it's a great opportunity to book into somewhere local and make a break of it. At Riverview Lodge and Millbrae House we often get revelers who, after two days (and night's) partying want somewhere in the area to relax, chill out and have a hot bath!
The Wickerman Festival takes place along the A711 near Dundrennan,  so only 15 miles from Kippford and Rockcliffe and just over an hour’s hop from the M74. When the wind is from the West you can sometimes hear the distant beat as the party goes on as it's just over the next headland.
The ticket price this year is  £90; with 13-15s year olds £45; and under-13s free. You can get more information here:  www.thewickermanfestival.co.uk
Controversy rages amongst fans on FaceBook this year over the late announcement of the line up. Is it confusion due management changes or are they just trying to tease? Whatever it is, the Wickerman always delivers for a fun packed, high octane event.
Wickerman Festival Finale

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Castle Douglas - named in Top 10 culinary destinations in Britain by Lonely Planet

Many thanks to Angus of Cavens Restaurant for bringing this to our attention. It's hard to believe but Castle Douglas was named in  a Top 10 of culinary destinations in Britain by Lonely Planet back in July 2010 - and we didn't even know it!

Here is a link to the announcement: Castle Douglas in Lonely Planet Culinary Top 10 What an accolade? To be one of  ten top gastronomic destinations that will get your mouth watering.

Castle Douglas is a lovely wee town and has long been a trading centre with livestock markets  still held each week at Wallets Mart. The attraction for the Lonely Planet wasn't so much in big-name chefs or award-laden restaurants but in high-quality local produce, from meat sold in independent butchers to brewers, confectioners and bakers. Featuring up there with Melton Mowbray and Padstow (home of fish Guru Rick Stein) Castle Douglas is a 'foodie heaven' and one of Britain’s designated ‘Food Towns’. 

Castle Douglas High Street

The busy high street is a treat. Unlike many of today's homogonised towns Castle Douglas is bustling with small independent retailers: from Chocolatiers, Delicatessen, a traditional sweet shop and a micro brewery to Butchers, Bakeries and newsagents as well as boutiques, cafes, galleries, jewelers, furniture makers and some gorgeous interiors and gift shops. And this is in addition to banks, chemists, supermarkets, post office, public houses etc. There is even a fresh fish stall in the car park at the top of the town.

It's a lovely place to stroll for a while. You can just window-shop and get a delicious coffee or browse beautiful Scottish jewelry, indulge in delicious handmade chocolates, taste award winning beer, select olives and sun dried tomatoes for lunch, pick up a delightful handmade cushion or a craftsman piece of furniture, buy souvenirs for friends and family or stock up on local beef and award winning pies and haggis.

Only a 15 minuite drive from Kippford or Rockcliffe it makes a pleasant day out, not just for foodies!

Sunday, 1 April 2012

These are a few of our favourite things.........

As it's the Easter Holidays I thought it would be a lovely idea to hand over our seasonal blog post to a post done by children. So, for all  families and those young at heart visiting the area here is Dumfries & Galloway through younger eyes. Enjoy!