Yesterday I told you all about the fabulous day out that Rosemary and I enjoyed at the Nick Nairn Cook School, well today I shall ramble on abut the rest of the weekend. But first a wee explanation. This girly weekend was a actually a prize that Rosemary won for baking a rather spectacular choccie cake at her work place. The prize was a one-day cooking course plus a weekend stay at Dunblane Hydro. I was lucky enough to be taken along and for that I am extremely grateful.
Not a bad little residence is it? On the drive up one could be forgiven for thinking one was about to enter another world of decadence, opulence and possibly just a smidgen of Downton Abbey style. One might well think that until stepping from the minuscule lift on the fourth floor one encounters what could only have been the servants quarters cunning re-purposed as bedrooms for the lesser guests. Even though this was a freebie it still jars a bit to find yourself in a 10′ x 10′ badly decorated room with an en suite that is actually bigger than the bedroom. At least the view was wonderful.
The other redeeming features for me were the wonderful breakfasts and the sports facilities and a pool. I won’t for a minute pretend I used the gym but I did dust off my cozzie and hit the water for the first time in three years. It felt great to be swimming again and I fairly exhausted myself doing lengths.
Saturday found us out and about enjoying a bit of pampering with full manicures and pale pink nails. No photos of my paws here as even with the help of a manicure they are not the most photogenic of body parts. Then it was shopping time and a wander round the village of Bridge Of Allan.
We came across this marvelous deli called Brown & Co run by Mike Billinghurst which only opened about six weeks ago. What a gem of a place! The freshest veggies beautifully displayed with care and attention to every detail. Newly baked breads, cheeses, pates, olives and home baking. There were even pretty piles of macaron on the counter top – oh be still my beating heart!
We were lucky enough to have popped in when Denise Walton of Peelham Farm was there to promote her wonderful organic charcuterie. The mutton ham and caper pie made with their own dry cured mutton was excellent with a rich combination of flavours. She showed us salamis and chorizo made from their home-bred Tamworth pigs and had the bubbling enthusiasm of the truly passionate.
Shops like this are such a treat in this world of 24-hour-mega-stores. Where else can you find speciality biscuits made by one-person company on a farm in the highlands alongside the finest quality oils and vinegars and cheeses from local farmers who really care for their stock and put their heart and soul into their products. I really hope this delightful shop goes from strength to strength and just wish I had one like this where I live.
We went on to the village of Doune where the antique centre lured us in. A huge barn of a place with hundreds of little ‘shops’ tucked into every nook and cranny. It was like a magical rabbit warren filled with everything from sparkling 1920s dresses to ancient kitchenalia (yipeee!), gleaming copper oddities to painting, photographs and prints, and beautiful jewelery, old glassware, pottery and fine china.
I was lost in my own little world of past times, but also completely lost when it came to finding Rosemary again!
Back to the hotel after a lovely day out I find myself heading for the pool and determined to notch up more lengths. Is this the start of my getting back into excersice again, oh I do hope so!
Dinner in the hotel’s restaurant was divine. Monkfish tails in the most delicate of sauces with fondant potatoes and then a simple polenta cake with pistachio ice-cream served in a tiny gingersnap basket. Sorry girls, no photos as my dining companion looked like she would draw the line at my camera making yet another appearance, so words must suffice. The only downside was the outrageous price for basic house wine. Sorry but I won’t drink tap water when eating good food in a restaurant, it just doesn’t seem right. But I do think that many places ramp up the prices on wine at an extortionate rate, a view shared by two others who left the restaurant at the same time we did.
Sunday morning and I was heading home at 8am, ready to re-enter my own real world where my teenager had to be picked up from her friend’s house, the cats made much of, the washing done, mails answered and the kitchen cleaned up. Aaaah normality!
Thanks to Rosemary for taking me along on this wonderful weekend, I thoroughly enjoyed it and so much appreciate your kindness.
PS – I hope readers don’t think me too harsh in my criticism of the rooms and wine etc, but this is an honest blog that just deals in my own thoughts and opinions, I’m not paid to promote anything so speak my mind. If I think something is good I will sing it’s praises to the stars, but if I’m not impressed, well girls I will say so.