Simply the Best (of the West)

Where else would you find bagpipes, bass guitar, drums and a brass section all sharing the same stage? It has to be a Red Hot Chilli Pipers gig of course!

For us this was the high spot of a fun weekend at the Best of the West festival, held in the grounds of Inveraray Castle. BOWfest is a great local event and this year there was a fabulously varied line up of talented performers, some from the area, others more widely recognised. But it was the Red Hot Chilli Pipers who stole the show. This is pipe and drums as I have never heard them before – such energy, and what an amazing sound – it totally rocked!! And when the boys and girls of the Inveraray and District Pipe Band joined them on stage, to a rapturous reception from the crowd, it even brought a tear to my eye!

The music was by no means the only attraction of the festival.  There was plenty of food and drink from Argyll to tempt (I have to give the Inveraray Castle Tearoom a plug here, for their beautiful cupcakes!), as well as arts and crafts, games for the children and irresistible antique furniture and bric-a-brac from my favourite pop-up shop, West Coast Living.  I was also really happy to see Andy Maclachlan of Chainsaw Craft, who made our beautiful farmhouse sign, attracting an admiring crowd as he worked his magic on pieces of wood.

The atmosphere was superb and, to top it all, the sun even made a brief appearance on Sunday!  All in all, an excellent celebration of the best that this region has to offer. Hope to see you there next year!

Ps You know by now that my blogs often finish with a musical link – well just in case you’ve never seen them, here’s a taster of the Red Hot Chilli Pipers in action at another festival earlier in the year.

Click on any of the pictures below to enlarge and scroll through more images from BOWfest 2012.

A bit of a wreck – a bit of an understatement

Back of the farmhouse, 1999

We said in our very first blog post that Balliemeanoch was a project, a labour of love. 

Well here we are, six months in, and well on the way there.  The farmhouse is open and receiving bed and breakfast guests, and we’re starting to think about the self-catering cottages in the steading.  It’s taken a lot of hard work, but looking at our beautiful home now, we know it was worth it.  We are just so happy to have played a part in bringing this fine old building back to life.

Farmhouse and steading, c2006
Farmhouse and steading today

Now we’re not sure we’ve had the hardest job, and we never saw the place at its worst.  Our neighbour, who has been here long enough to witness most of the ups and downs in Balliemeanoch’s history, shared some old photos with us recently that showed us more of her chequered past.  Poor old girl, she really has been in the wars!

We could look at these old pictures knowing that Balliemeanoch will never be so unloved again.  We are certainly looking forward to a happy, healthy and warm future here!

Farmhouse today
Farmhouse in 1995

Meet Marley. DOB 29 July 2012.

In the words of his great namesake, ‘Could you be loved?’  You bet!  In fact, it was love at first sight.

I mean, just look at his picture – I challenge you not to melt on the spot into a great big puddle of gooey soppiness.

We have always longed to have a dog, Charlie particularly so.  When we lived in a London terrace, working long hours outside the home, it was never a realistic option for us.  The closest we ever came to itContinue reading “Meet Marley. DOB 29 July 2012.”

Getting into the tourism scene

I really want to be part of the tourism scene, so I have taken a wee job! 

For the last few weeks I have been working part time at Inveraray Castle – ancestral home to the Dukes of Argyll and the seat of the clan Campbell. The castle is an iconic local landmark Continue reading “Getting into the tourism scene”

Egg-tastic! Small, but perfectly formed.

After weeks of nervous anticipation, our gorgeous girls have started to lay!

I have been trying to manage my own expectations, and not get too anxious.  We had been warned that, although our chickens could start laying as early as 22 weeks, Continue reading “Egg-tastic! Small, but perfectly formed.”

On the Bonnie Bonnie Banks

Will all my travel blogs have a song attached? I wonder.

We’re very close to Loch Lomond, and it’s always one of our first stops when we pick up friends from the airport. It’s usually their first glimpse of a majestic Scottish loch and we know that once we get them to Loch Fyne and Loch Eck they will be even more impressed.Continue reading “On the Bonnie Bonnie Banks”

Holy mackerel! – a feast from loch to table

Fantastic, fun and totally delicious.

We enjoy a spot of fishing, and there is no shortage of great places to fish around Balliemeanoch – both sea and fresh water.Continue reading “Holy mackerel! – a feast from loch to table”

Fun and (Highland) games

There is nothing that conjures up images of Scotland quite like the sound of pipes and drums, and that was main sound we could hear as we drove into Inveraray today.

The highland games season is well underway, and I have been waiting patiently for my first chance to experience this quintessentially Scottish pastime first hand.  I couldn’t have chosen better than the Inveraray Highland Games, with the brooding Inveraray Castle as their magnificent backdrop.

Continue reading “Fun and (Highland) games”

We’ve just come down from the Isle of Skye …

I’m sure you have a song playing in your head now?  Wait until you’ve read this blog, then click on the link at the bottom to hear the full version.

Back to Skye.  It’s all work, isn’t it?  Not a native to this area, I have taken it on myself to visit as many places as possible, so that I not only have interesting blog stories, but can also tell our guests about this beautiful country.  So a ‘busman’s holiday’ to Skye – not a real hardship at all.Continue reading “We’ve just come down from the Isle of Skye …”

Here come the girls!

A great big Balliemeanoch welcome to our six new Black Rock hens.

I know it’s not quite the same thing, but we felt a bit like new parents coming home from the hospital with a newborn as we brought our ‘girls’ back to Balliemeanoch last weekend.  Books, internet research and friendly advice is all well and good, but it suddenly dawned on us that we were now completely responsible for these small creatures clucking away in the back of the car. What would they make of their new home?  Could we keep them safe from marauding foxes and pine martens?Continue reading “Here come the girls!”