We’ve had some super people staying with us over the festive period and New Year this year was particularly good. We had our usual piper Mark with us again this year, it was at one stage doubtful if he would actually be able to come or whether he would have to send a substitute, he’s a policeman and was supposed to be working New Years Eve but thankfully he managed to wangle his way out of it so he could be here with us again. The good news is that we’ve already had a TripAdvisor review for New Year which of course is glowing!

Now the silly season is over it’s time to settle back down to the real work of the year. The weather so far has been kind and let’s hope it continues in this vein as we have a lot of work to do getting the house and garden ready for the coming months. We started decorating the bar/lounge area pre Christmas and desperately need to get on with that and get it finished as soon as possible as there is a long list of jobs waiting behind it to be done. I am hoping to get the greenhouse sorted out this year as it really is starting to show its age now and I want to get it to be a lot more productive than it has been in previous years. We normally grow a few types of tomatoes in it every year and try growing aubergines too as well as cresses and strawberries but this year I have far bigger plans for it. The greenhouse aside Julie also has her work cut out in the garden getting the veg beds ready for spring.

We’re also going to try to get the garage doors sorted out too as they are also showing their age and really let the front of the house and the garden down. Snipes bathroom is also on the list of things to do as too is the bathroom in Mallard – and so the list goes on!

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With all the doom and gloom there’s been all week weather wise everyone would be forgiven for staying indoors and not even thinking about venturing out. To all intents and purposes winter was said to be arriving this week with lots of snow and sub zero temperatures but as ever here in Sanquhar the weather once again seems to have passed us by. We moved here 7 years ago from Norfolk, not a county famed for bad weather, it is in fact one of the driest places in the UK but believe it or no we had more snow down there every year than we’ve had in the time we’ve been up here. This morning we awoke to a very thin covering on  the ground, more like a dusting of icing sugar rather than a fall of snow. We’ve had the winds but on the whole they have been relatively warm, We had some rain and the river rose very high indeed on Tuesday but went down relatively quickly and it has hardly risen since but the snow that was threatened never came, not here anyway. I know further north they have had a lot of snow and of course power cuts too but as I say once again we’ve gotten away with it, Even just 2 miles down the road in both directions they’ve had a lot more snow than we have.

Bad Weather Promise:

We do make an important promise to customers though, if you book with us and are unable to come because of the weather, be it at your end or ours (unlikely) then we will happily either refund your deposit or hold it over till your next visit so there is no danger of you loosing out if you make a booking with us over the winter. This bad weather promise is there to provide you with some peace of mind as we know how unpredictable this time of year can be.


Here are two of the dishes on tonight’s menu, Tarragon, Olive Oil and smoked Sea Salt Ice Cream with beetroot and Goats Cheese, a fantastic combination that 99.9% of those that try it think it is one of the best things they have ever eaten – honestly, I know it is not necessarily a combination one would normally think of but it all works so well together. The other dish is Seared diver Caught Scallops with Textures and Flavours of Cauliflower and is another customer favourite, so many flavours and cauliflower is such and under rated vegetables



How pleased am I today to find that we have just been listed on MSN as one of the Good Hotels Guides cosiest hotels for Christmas this year http://www.msn.com/en-gb/lifestyle/christmas/good-hotel-guides-cosiest-hotels-for-christmas/ss-BBehI5p#image=5 and very nice it is of them too.

We have just spent the last few days re-painting the restaurant as it was starting to show the signs of wear now it is fresh and ready for that cosy Christmas we hope to have. Julie our new gardener is a marvel, I said in my last post that she was doing a great job in the garden well she is so much more than a gardener as she is now doing a great job in doors too, it is her that is doing the painting. Not only has she just painted the restaurant but she recently did the upstairs hallway, doors and skirting refreshing the whole area, she’s apparently spent some time training as a painter & decorator . Multi-talented staff they’re great and such a rare commodity!

19th November

19th November

It’s a cracking day today, the sun is shining, it’s not too cold and the rain seems like a thing of the past. The river is at normal levels and there ought to be fishermen galore but there are none and I don’t know why not as the season goes on till the end of November. Back in September when we expect to start to see the fishermen coming they didn’t as then there as no water, indeed it was the lowest I’ve seen the river in the 7 years we’ve been here. I even called some of them that were booked to tell them not to bother as the river was virtually empty and fully expected them to re-book before the end of the season. So if you’re a fisherman and you’re reading this the river looks perfect right now for catching a late season big grey back.


The last few days have seen us selling lots of gourmet menus, it’s strange how they go there will be none for weeks then all of a sudden there’s a spate. Just like Chef for a Day participants we have one on Friday and another on Saturday this week. This is of course the time of year we sell lots of vouchers for Chef for a Day as they are bought as Christmas presents.

We’re making great headway in the garden at the minute too and this dry spell will certainly help things. Julie our new gardener is doing a great job. She is putting in a lot of work into the vegetable garden preparing new beds and getting the existing ones ready for next year so I’m looking forward to a lot more home grown produce on the menu. It is fantastic to just go outside and pick what we need for that days menus, provenance has always been high on my agenda and what better provenance is there than to grow your own.


We are really pleased and excited by our new web site, at least we have a show case for what we do. While the old web site served a purpose it was way past its sell by date and needed to be brought up to date and my thanks go to Fionnlagh for the work he has put into it and to Robin for the fantastic photographs, with them the site would not stand out as it does.

Please have a look through and if you find any mistakes (there’s bound to be some, especially spelling mistakes) please feel free to point them out to me.