Karen Appleyard Photography Visits Kirklauchline Cottage…

This weekend we sadly had to say goodbye to Karen, Andy and Basil Appleyard as their two week holiday with us here in the Rhins of Galloway had drawn to a close.

I first got to know Karen and Basil via Twitter ( and ) and and the interactions were mainly focused around Scotland, Poodles and Photography! I was delighted when Karen asked about availability for a holiday at Kirklauchline cottage and was so excited that I was actually going to meet them in person.

As you probably already know, Karen, Andy and Basil have decided that Dumfries and Galloway will become their new home so I have met Karen briefly before when she came up for a flying visit to look around, alas though Basil stayed at home.  Anyway, now having spent two weeks here I think they have decided and settled on a decision to make the Rhins of Galloway their relocation from Yorkshire. I have never known guests at Kirklauchline cottage explore the area so much – they must be shattered now they are back in Yorkshire and ready for another holiday!

When they first arrived with us on 30th June Abiidoodle and I waited to greet them, we showed them around Kirklauchline cottage, the sun was shining and the views of the sparkling blue sky were beautiful (just the sort of day I like when new guests are arriving). Abii and McBasil (as he was called at this stage, after setting foot on Scottish soil) exchanged sniffs and there were two very waggy tails!

The next few days the weather was not too good, fine drizzle and mist! not the weather for enjoying the wonderful outdoors here and the views! Nevertheless,that did not stop them from getting out and about and exploring local areas such as Wigtown, Kirkcudbright, Port William, South Ayrshire and more!

Then just as I ordered the sun came out, the blue sky returned and the cliff top views were back!

During the two weeks we met Karen, Andy and McBasil a couple of times – firstly in Portpatrick, where we sat and chatted outside The Waterfront Hotel and Restaurant and as it was a Thursday the RNLI Portpatrick Lifeboat was heading out for their practice session.(A great sight to see Thursday evenings at 7pm and Sundays at 1pm) That evening at The Waterfont passed so quickly, we never stopped talking! McBasil was after a Burger but did not get one as he had already been out for lunch with Karen and Andy to Coreswall Lighthouse in the North of The Rhins.

Karen and I kept in touch via Facebook whilst they were staying with us and the day before they were due to go home we met at Knockinaam Lodge for lunch. Karen and I had a wander down to the private beach there, which was stunning and so peaceful.  The men (including McBasil) joined us for a drink in the beautiful gardens, where you could sit for hours and enjoy the silence. When our meals were ready we went inside the Hotel and into the small, cosy bar area. The food was beautifully prepared and delicious – can you believe I had Pizza! it was posh Pizza though made with goats cheese – delicious. All four of us finished off with an equally delicious Strawberry parfait! I would highly recommend Knockinaam Lodge for lunch or dinner especially if you want to treat yourselves and enjoy the peaceful surroundings. There’s a lot of history about the place too, Winston Churchill spent a lot of time at Knockinaam Lodge during the second world war and departed from Stranraer in a Boeing Flying Boat on the night of the 25 June 1942, when making his second visit of the war to the USA. The largest room in the Hotel is “The Churchill Room” and is where he actually stayed.

After lots more chatting about poodles, Scotland, photography, houses and more it was sadly time to say our goodbyes! Karen, Andy and McBasil returned back to Kirklauchline to prepare for their Saturday morning departure back to Yorkshire in order to continue with their plans to move north to the beautiful Rhins of Galloway.

After our sad goodbyes the postman arrived with…. a postcard from Karen, Andy and McBasil. Belted Galloways on the front (a subject of many of our chats!) and the first line reading “Having a couple of weeks stay at the most lovely cottage of Kirklauchline! You really must try it sometime!”

Karen left a great testimonial in our guest book, two new bird feeders full of bird seed and more feathered visitors in the garden than I have ever seen before!

I was really taken by surprise when I read the Karen Appleyard Blog about their two weeks at Kirklauchline and really honoured that Karen had taken time to write it. Read it for yourself and see some of the great pictures she has taken with her iphone. The Nikon pictures, I am told, will be available on the Karen Appleyard photography web site very soon for purchase. I will certainly be purchasing a few of her prints, some to put on the walls at Kirklauchline cottage and others to put on my wall at home too. She truly is a talented photographer.

To conclude this blog I would like to say that we started letting Kirklauchline Cottage as a holiday let late 2010 and have welcomed lots of guests from all over the country and europe since then. Some we never get the opportunity to meet, others we do. Something I can say is that some of our guests have become friends and, along our way, we have met some wonderful people who have come to stay with us. Karen, Andy and McBasil have become great friends and is really looking forward to seeing McBasil again soon and I am sure will be keeping in touch with him on Twitter until the next time! So watch out for their interactions!




Celebrating Dumfries and Galloways Food and drink – Flavour fortnight

Flavour Fortnight runs from 25th August to 9th September 2012

It is said to be one of Scotland’s most exciting food festivals

This is a 16 day food and drink festival and is the best possible way of discovering the food, drink and flavours of Dumfries and Galloway.

There’s a wide range of opportunities for you to find out more about the food and drink in this area and to sample it too…. more importantly! From Beltie Beef to Real ale to relishes and Chutneys, tartan chocolate, Sausages, Fudge, Cheese and lots more.

There are Markets, dining occasions and many many people passionate about Dumfries and Galloway produce. This event is organised by Savour the Flavours, which is Dumfries and Galloways organisation for local food and drink.

It just so happens that here at Kirklauchline cottage we have had a cancellation  and now have availability from 1st September to 15th September – an ideal time to catch Flavour fortnight here in Dumfries and Galloway.

We are ideally situated to go along and enjoy the Lochinch Castle Food and Drink Festival, Castle Kennedy, near Stranraer on 2nd September from 10am until 4pm where there will be a wide range of stalls  including home baking, cakes, pork, bacon, beef, cheeses, real ales, jams and chutneys, fruit and vegetables. I can personally say that the stalls there will be fantastic There will be taster sessions, samples and demonstrations. I think I may go there too myself, it sounds too good to miss!

Here are a full list of events all across the Dumfries and Galloway region celebrating Flavour Fortnight available to visit and enjoy.


It is also important that I tell you the remaining dates for the popular Portpatrick Farmers Market. They are:

Sunday 15th July, 19th August, 16th September and 16th December.

Each event is in Portpatrick Village Hall, near the harbour between 1pm and 4pm. There’s free ample parking in the village and its free entry in to the market too. Everything you find here is locally produced and delicious and you can even sit and relax with a cream tea.

So if I have tempted you along  to Portpatrick in Dumfries and Galloway for Flavour Fortnight then please get in touch for full details of Kirklauchline Cottage and how to book.






Portpatrick Lifeboat week 2012

Posted on June 24, 2012 at 10:21 pm in

Portpatrick Lifeboat week 2012 will start on sunday 29th July until 4th August. a great fun week for all the family and also for a great cause – the RNLI Lifeboats.











Events this year include:

Rib raid from Ireland

Open air church service

Loch Ryan Pipe Band

Catch the crab childrens competition

Sand castle competition

Zumba Dancing

Portpatricks got talent ( think I might enter my husband!!!)

Ladies and Mens Golf Competition

Childrens Treasure hunt

Fun run

Childrens fancy dress and disco

Greasy pole competition

Sponsored raft race

Wheel of fortune

Crew BBQ and Bonfire – not to be missed. Fantastic annual event.

Fireworks and raffle – last year the Fireworks were brilliant.

Sea safety display with Portpatrick Lifeboat, Stranraer Lifeboat, SAR helicopter, HM Coastguard



And, of course we now have the new Lifeboat too “The John Buchanan Barr” and the naming ceremony was watched by crowds on 26th May 2012. Click here to watch a video of the naming ceremony.

The Duke of Kent visited the Portpatrick Lifeboat station too on 25th May.













Gardens in the Rhins of Galloway

Today has been another lovely day here in the Rhins of Galloway. It was looking a bit doubtful first thing but we got our blue sky and sunshine eventually. The blue sky and potting a palm for the garden inspired me to tell you about our gardens in the Rhins of Galloway.

You probably won’t realise but the Rhins of Galloway at the far South West of Scotland is a hammerhead penninsula stretching 25 miles from north to south with over 50 miles of coastline. Due to the seas surrounding the land the Rhins sees a significant effect of the  North Atlantic drift which ensures that the land maintains a stable temperature. Severe frosts are few and this allows the Rhins Gardens to grow numerous tropical palms and flora which otherwise could not exist this far north.

Guess what? We have six beautiful Gardens within the Rhins and a seventh Wetland Garden too. What other area can boast that fact in such a small area.

So here goes! We have Logan Botanic Gardens at Port Logan, which is said to be the country’s most exotic garden. Warmed by the gulf stream palms and tropical plants and flourish here. Open daily from 15th March until 31st October you really need to set aside a good half day to explore this garden thoroughly. The last time I went I ran out of time so a trip back there is necessary! There are lots of events for all the family throughout the season and the Potting Shed Bistro supplies a lovely lunch or snack. Visit The discovery centre to learn more about the gardens and the history.

Logan House Gardens opened to the public in 2002. This is a tranquil Victorian garden with lawns and woodland areas. Rhododendrons take centre stage in March, April and May followed by Azalea. Logan House Garden features seven United Kingdom and fourteen Scottish champions trees and don’t miss the Monkey Puzzle Avenue.

Ardwell Gardens surrounds an 18th century country estate house and here you can see the most stunning views across Luce bay. The walled garden grows a wide range of summer bedding plants and produce including potatoes, tomatoes, strawberries, raspberries and other seasonal treats, all available for visitors to buy. Woodland walks and a walk around the Lake here are not to be missed (allow at least half an hour for the Lakeside walk – you need to keep stopping to take in the wonderful views and surroundings).

Dunskey Gardens, near Portpatrick is a spectacular garden with walled and woodland gardens, lochs and stunning Victorian glasshouses. There is a tour of the gardens each Wednesday at 11.30 with the gardener, a hedge maze great fun for the kids (my niece loved it!), a lovely tea room with some fantastic murals painted on the walls as well as delicious food. There are a small selection of plants to purchase and seeds as well as local books, cards and produce.

Glenwhan Gardens is on my “to do” list this summer. I have never visited this garden, although I am hoping to within the next two weeks. Here you can take a walk on the moorland wildflower walk and go wildlife spotting – you can see red squirrels and lots of different birds ( I am so looking forward to visiting). Open daily until 31st October with a tea room and plant sales. There are guided walks with Tessa (the owner and lady who restored the garden from bracken and gorse to the 12 acre garden it is today) every second Thursday at 11am.

Castle Kennedy Gardens, near Stranraer, surrounded by water and comprise 75 acres of terraces and avenues. Described as ‘one of the showpieces of Galloway’ this is one of Scotland’s most well-known historical gardens. Here you can explore the two acre circular lily pond, rare and exotic plants, 21 Champion trees, family trails, peaceful woodland and loch-side walks and wonderful displays of rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias. You can view wildlife on the shores of the Lochs and spot Red Squirrels and Otters and a new bird hide gives the opportunity to see lots of wonderful bird life. A new attraction here are Landrover safaris – half day safari trip exploring the local countryside and moorland. There is a lovely tea room with indoor and outdoor seating with a delicious varied menu. This year there are two open air theatre productions at the gardens – “The Railway Children” in July and “Emma” in August.

And if you can’t resist and you just must visit all of then during your stay in the Rhins of Galloway then you can. You can visit all six within two to three days – they are so close to each other. Join Scotlands Garden Route and Visit them all. Palm trees and lush plants at the Logan Botanic Gardens

The seventh garden that must be mentioned and is well worth a visit is the Aldouran Wetland Garden in Leswalt with a bird hide, community garden and woodland walk.











BBC Countryfile in Dumfries and Galloway

Posted on May 13, 2012 at 6:23 pm in

Put a note in your diary, set your recorder, make sure you don’t miss Countryfile on BBC1 on 20th May.

We have recently had the Countryfile team from the BBC filming in Dumfries and Galloway.

Matt Baker was in Wigtown filming the day before the booktowns spring weekend started. He enjoyed a few performances before the spring weekend festival and researched why Dumfries and Galloway is such a great location for films – “TheWickerman” , “The 39 Steps” and lots more were filmed here. The BBC also filmed the fantastic series “2000 acres of sky” here too with Michelle Collins and Paul Kaye – well worth buying on DVD.

The Mull of Galloway Lighthouse

John Craven visited the Mull of Galloway filming the Black Guillemots. The Mull of Galloway is Scotlands most southerly reserve and has excellent views of these fine birds (along with Fulmars, Kittiwake and Razorbills). Apparently, 95% of the uk population of black guillemots are found here in Scotland. You find a lot around the harbour area in Portpatrick too.

John Craven also filmed in Portpatrick, where he caught up with a local man and filmed a piece about lobster fishing. (I hear he had lunch at my favourite restaurant too, Campbells!).

Ellie Harrison visited RSPB Mersehead  filming the natterjack toads, which have a strong presence in the area. I have never visited Mersehead – must add it to my to do list!

I can’t tell you any more or it would spoil it! just make sure you are tuned in, I know I will be – the BBC showcase the beauty of Dumfries and Galloway to the rest of the UK.



My top Beaches in the Rhins of Galloway, South West Scotland

Posted on April 22, 2012 at 8:08 pm in

Well, here goes! So many beaches to choose from!

The last couple of weeks here have been glorious weather and it’s no better time than to get to the beach with Abiidoodle.

A few days ago we visited Larbrax Beach, which is a short drive from Portpatrick. It is highlighted on the map we leave in the cottage but is only really suitable for 4 x 4 or on foot. On the approach the initial part of the track down to the beach is quite smooth passing through open countryside. It then becomes quite bumpy. Anyway, after a bumpy trip down there with Abii wimpering and getting very excited on the back seat we are there. As always, the beach is deserted, only us, the sky, the sea and the birds – pure bliss!

Dumfries and Galloway

The tide was out too so they were miles of golden and and rocky outcrops to walk on. of course, Abii has a ball – she runs round and round in circles collecting up sea weed,sticks and the odd washed up tennis ball as she runs. It truly is such a peaceful place to visit and is so beautiful. Killantrigan lighthouse over looks the bay and you can see right across to the Irish coast with the ferries back and forth from Belfast and Larne.

After a refreshing walk on the beach what better way to finish off a perfect afternoon than to have a lovely ice cold drink in Portpatrick – sitting on the sea front watching the world go by. Cheers folks!

Dumfries and Galloway Wildlife Festival

Posted on March 4, 2012 at 10:05 pm in

Coming up on 31st March is a two week Wildlife Festival in Dumfries and Galloway.  There are over 80 Wildlife events and I am just spoilt for choice! 

Thinking about it though here in South West Scotland we see wildlife every day. It was only yesterday we were sat out on the decking when two swans flew silently overhead, so silent and majestic. This morning there were so many geese in the sky I lost count – we have Barnacle Geese, Pink Footed Geese, and white fronted geese here in Dumfries and Galloway. The other day I took the Dog for a walk to Wig Bay near Stranraer on the shores of Loch Ryan. It was a beautiful day and there were lots of Geese and Oyster catchers and lots of other waders. Then this morning, with a cuppa, I was watching three Roe Deer grazing in the field behind our house and we only have to go down the lane to see grey Seals basking on the rocks. It is truly amazing! Enough bragging for now!

Anyway back to the Wildlife festival. Looking at the events I think I might try get to the Red Deer tour in the Galloway Forest, the Mull of Galloway guided walk, Stars and stripes Badger watching, the Spring has arrived walk at Logan Botanic Gardens and the Moorland Dawn walk to spot the Hen Harriers, short eared owls, Merlin and Raven. Better get the camera at the ready!

Talking of Camera! My husband is treating me to a one to one photography course with leeming and paterson photographers, a birthday present. I am really looking forward to it as I really need to understand how to use my Nikon to it’s best effect. Anyway Morag at Leeming and Paterson has very kindly offered any holiday makers at Kirklauchline Cottage a 10% discount on 1 or 2 day workshops and a 15% discount on one to one sessions. Anyone coming for a holiday at our cottage who is interested should mention this to me and I will check availability with Morag for you. I will let you know how my day goes (It’s at the end of April).

We still have some availability at our cottage for 2012 so please get in touch if you fancy a holiday in South West Scotland and want to get up close to our fabulous wildlife.

Valentines day

Posted on February 13, 2012 at 9:00 pm in

Well here’s hoping!

As it’s Valentines day tomorrow  I wonder what the day will bring! Could it be a rare treat of a cup of tea in bed and maybe, just maybe, Mr S might head out to let the Hens out too so I can stay in bed a tiny bit longer.

Or maybe, he will surprise me with a Pandora charm or anything Radley – after all you can buy both in Stranraer.  I did direct him towards the Jewellers when we went to see the Stranraer Christmas Lights switch on.

I might even be treated to a romantic meal out at one of my favorite Restaurants, of which there are a few.

Campbells in Portpatrick has sea food to die for! I just love their Crab and Lobster crepe in thermidor sauce. I can truly recommend a trip to Campbells for anyone who comes to stay at Kirklauchline Cottage. The Restaurant is right on the Sea front in the beautiful village of Portpatrick in South West Scotland and is a family run business. They have an extensive A la Carte Menu with meat and fish which is locally sourced, there are delicious vegetarian options too. They are open for lunch and dinner 6 days a week (closed Mondays) – there is a lunch time “Light bite” with sandwiches, crepes and salads.  Make sure you telephone ahead to book, they are booked well in advance in peak season. The staff are really friendly and helpful too, make sure you ask for a table by the window when you book. There is car parking opposite near “Lighthouse Pottery“.

Another option for a Valentines romantic meal for two could be Coreswall Lighthouse Hotel.Sunset at Coreswall Lighthouse Hotel with views towards Arran and Ailsa Craig I bet you have never eaten in a working Light house before. I love arriving in the dark as the rays of light from the top of the lighthouse rotate and sparkle on the sea – it is fantastic. Again, make sure you book and look out for special offers. On arrival at the Lighthouse, which is in the North Rhins with views across to Arran and the Ailsa Craig, you are shown into a lovely cosy sitting room with a definite nautical theme where you can sip a gin and tonic and the waiter brings you a little taster to nibble whilst looking through the menu. The food is all locally sourced and includes Beef, Lamb, Game, Sea food, vegetarian dishes and lots more. The restaurant is  a very romantic kind of place with candles, dimmed lighting and a log fire in the winter months. The food is gorgeous and we can usually fit in a whole three courses and a bottle of wine. A must for dessert is the Ecclefecan Tart (try saying that after a few drinks!). Ecclefecan, by the way, is a small village steeped in history in Dumfries and Galloway that you pass on the A75 on the way to Kirklauchline Cottage.

Of course, these two Restaurants are lovely any time of the year, not just for Valentines Day. When you are on holiday it’s always nice to treat yourselves and eat out a few times.

I hope that all of you who read this blog have a lovely Valentines day tomorrow. I think a romantic walk on the Beach with my favorite Man and our gorgeous Dog might be on the cards. Ardwell bay in the South Rhins of Galloway

Don’t forget if you want to make a booking at Kirklauchline Cottage give me a call or e mail me.

I can book restaurants on your behalf if you like or, if you really want to treat your loved one whilst enjoying your holiday, I can organise that romantic gesture of flowers, champagne or chocolates too. Locally sourced of course!

Look out for more blogs about where to eat, next time places to eat and take the Dog along to too.

Bye for now, Alison




Portpatrick, Dumfries and Galloway – Audio Tours

Posted on January 27, 2012 at 5:29 pm in

In the Summer of 2011 the Portpatrick Community Council launched the audio tour of the village using “audiopass+” wands. Portpatrick in Dumfries and Galloway is the first place in the UK to use these wands.

The project was five years in the planning and , last year, funding from the North Rhins Windfarm benefit money and funding received from The Portpatrick (Shearings) Hotel brought the project to it’s launch.

The wands can be hired from Portpatrick Post office (just on the right as you go into the village) at a cost of £2 per wand (a £20 returnable deposit is also required). Once you have your wand and instructions in your hand away you go! Looking out for blue markers  and listening to the recording of the tour around the village as you go. 

You can start the tour anywhere you like and stop anywhere too or you can follow the suggested route – it’s up to you.

The route takes in the history of the harbour, the lifeboat shop, station and museum, McCooks Craig, The Princess Victoria Tragedy, war time in Portpatrick, the castle, Dashers den and the Lighthouse. There are add on’s too, which take in the Dunskey Portpatrick Golf course, plant and bird life and what to do in the village.

It provides a really good couple of hours of entertainment for young and old and most of the route is accessible to the disabled.

This is a great day out and  great chance to explore Portpatrick. The tours are available all year round so it is a “Must do” whilst staying at Kirklauchline cottage.  

We have all sorts of tourist information leaflets in a HUGE folder  in our holiday cottage and always e mail our guests before they arrive with any interesting events in Portpatrick or Dumfries and Galloway that will be taking place during their stay.

For a great “staycation” holiday in a beautiful part of the UK come along and explore the area around our cosy self catering holiday cottage -  Kirklauchline holiday cottage.

Oh and, by the way – Portpatrick took delivery of a shiny new RNLI Lifeboat last year too so you must come along and see that too! More about the Portpatrick Lifeboat in another blog!    











Scotland Snowdrop Festival

Posted on January 26, 2012 at 11:44 am in

Now the festive period is over it’s time to get out and about in the fresh air and there’s no better place than Dumfries and Galloway. From the start of February until around the 18th March you can visit over 50 gardens around Scotland to see the snowdrop festival.

Snowdrops are very versatile little flowers and can grow almost anywhere and there are around 300 different varieties too!

In Dumfries and Galloway there are lots of gardens opening their doors from early February in celebration of the snowdrop. In the rhins, where Kirklauchline Cottage is, there  is Dunskey, Castle Kennedy and Logan Botanic Gardens to visit.

Dunskey Gardens, near Portpatrick – is only a short drive from the cottage. It has a lovely tea room with home made cakes, quiches and soup together with a little shop selling plants (including different species of snowdrop), cards, books and local jams and pickles. There is the Dunskey maze for the younger ones, which my young neice really enjoyed when she came to stay. The snowdrop festival is open at Dunskey gardens two weekends during February – 18th & 19th, 25th & 26th. It costs £3.60 for adults and 50p for under 14′s and is open from 10am until 4pm.

Castle Kennedy Gardens, near Stranraer (you pass it on the A75 on the outskirts of Starnraer when travelling to the Rhins)  is open every Sunday from 1st February until 18th March, 10am – 5pm and admission is £5 per adult. These are beautiful gardens with 2 natural lochs, a castle and 75 acres of gardens to explore. Once you have explored and you are ready for refreshment there’s a lovely tea room selling hot and cold drinks and snacks. Dogs are allowed in these gardens but on a lead.

Logan Botanic Garden, Port Logan, is Scotlands most exotic Garden – I have to agree it is breath taking! I went for the first time last summer with my friend and it is stunning. Palm Trees galore, rhododendrons and lots more – I can highly recommend a visit. They open for the snowdrop festival Sundays 10am – 4pm, admission is £5.50 for adults, £5 concession and £1 for children. Dogs are not admitted at these gardens. The Potting Shed Bistro has lovely soup, sandwiches, cakes and hot and cold drinks. There are visitors toilets and baby changing facilities too.

Further afield, but within very easy reach is the Galloway Forest – here you can visit any day from sunrise to sunset and see the snowdrops in the woods. Whilst you are there The Otter pool, wild goat park and the red Deer range is a must. A real good day out for all. We take a picnic with us and sit near the otter pool to see if we can spot any – no luck so far!

I hope you enjoyed this blog about the snowdrops, the gardens are a great passion of mine and I love to visit them when I can.

At Kirklauchline cottage we  have availability for 7 nights or short breaks (minimum 3 nights) during February and March for any one who wants to catch the snowdrop festival.

Many thanks for reading my blog, Alison x