Archive for category Scotland

150mph winds hit Scotland

Winds have been battering Scotland and part of England today. The worst of the weather has definitely been in Scotland so far with 150mph winds due to a large Atlantic storm.

The Met Office has issued a red alert, and police in Scotland have told people not to travel. There are long delays at Glasgow and Edinburgh airports as the wind speeds have made it unsafe for many aircraft to travel.

Network Rail has imposed a 50mph speed restriction on trains operating north and west of Edinburgh. The Tay Rail Bridge has also been closed. Passengers are advised not to travel north of Edinburgh for the time being as the conditions worsen.

The River Clyde has burst its banks in Glasgow, parts of buildings have fallen down as well as the city’s large Christmas decorations strewn across pavements.

The Atlantic storm is expected to cause further disruption across Scotland, Northern Ireland and the North east of England tomorrow.

The strongest winds are expected to affect central, southern and north eastern Scotland, northern parts of Northern Ireland, and North East England. The risk of snow is also likely in Western Scotland, Northern Ireland and Northwest England on Friday and Saturday for which there are also weather warnings.

The Met Office have published a selection of some of the highest winds recorded around the UK today (Thursday 8th November):

Cairngorm Summit: 165 mph

Aonach Mor: 145 mph

Tiree: 90 mph

Dunstaffnage: 86 mph

Aberdaron: 81 mph

Church Fenton: 73 mph

Glasgow, Bishopton: 71 mph

Edinburgh, Gogarbank: 69 mph

St Bees Head: 74 mph

Mumbles Head: 62 mph


Scottish bargain for over-55s

Anyone over the age of 55 can travel anywhere in Scotland by rail for just £18 return in a special Club 55 promotion – but you’ll have to hurry as the offer closes on 30 June (return leg by 31 July).

Carlisle and Berwick-upon-Tweed stations in England are also included, so train fans in this age group – who should all be old enough to remember steam trains – could put together some spectacular trips. Top of these has to be Glasgow to Mallaig on the West Highland line. Reckoned one of the great rail journeys of the world, this 5-hour trip would normally cost at least £52 return. Or you could walk to John o’Groats by getting the train from Berwick to Thurso (normally £102 return) and walking the last few miles along the spectacular Pentland Firth coast.

Tickets can be bought at any staffed station as long as you have proof of age. And if you have a Senior Railcard, you can even get a further £2 discount. Seems there are some advantages to getting old, after all…

Tags: , , ,

New look, new treasures

One of the largest-ever museum redevelopments in the UK will be opened on 29 July when the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh reveals its spectacularly redeveloped Victorian galleries.

The aim is to take visitors on an inspiring journey through cultures across the world, the wonders of nature and the excitement of science and discovery. Displays include 8,000 newly selected objects from the museum’s extensive collections.

The Museum was founded in the mid-19th century and has its roots in the spirit of the Scottish Enlightenment. When it opened its first bespoke buildings in 1866, it reflected Victorian ideals of education and sought to show the world under one roof.

Visitors to the new museum begin their journey in the atmospheric new street level vaulted entrance hall, then progress to the stunning Grand Gallery atrium, which has a range of spectacular large objects at floor level, including a marble statue of engineer James Watt and a lighthouse optic designed by the Stevenson dynasty.

The museum’s single largest installation is the Window on the World, a soaring display of over 800 objects which rises up over four storeys. It gives a foretaste of the inspiring themes in the galleries beyond; from the jaws of a spermwhale inscribed with the largest ‘scrimshaw’ carving in the world to the Pembridge helm, one of only four surviving 13th century knight’s helmets.

The Discoveries gallery tells the story of pioneering Scots who have revolutionised the modern world, including Sir Alexander Fleming, James Watt, Charles Darwin and John Logie Baird.

In the galleries of the natural world hundreds of zoological and geological specimens are displayed, ranging from a 4.5 billion year old meteorite from Mars that has been extensively researched for signs of life, to a breathtaking wildlife panorama suspended in mid air, a Tyrannosaurus Rex and a great white shark.

Finally, the world cultures galleries give an insight into the lives and cultures of people across the world. They display internationally important artefacts and outline some of the stories behind the early collections.

The redesign is the work of award-winning practice Gareth Hoskins Architects and international exhibition designer Ralph Appelbaum.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Get your winter warmers on, it’s going to get cold!

Will these be scenes we'll be seeing outside our windows? Picture by Flickr User gruntzooki

Remember last year’s winter weather? It was bloomin’ freezing, and this year it’s set to get pretty chilly a month earlier!

Parts of the country had a taste of the first freeze last week with snow falling in Co Durham and parts of Scotland. This week the rest of the country is going to be hit with the eastern side of the country set to take the largest battering of the cold. London is expected to get its first snow on Thursday and Scotland will see around six inches of snow in some places.

The rest of the country has a risk of snow but nowhere is going to avoid the plummeting temperatures to around 6C during the daytime and -0C in the evening as winds from Russia push down.

“The coldest weather of autumn so far is coming down from northern parts of Russia and the Arctic. It brings the threat of snow on Thursday and Friday, mainly to the eastern side of the country.” said Met Office forecaster Tony Burgess in today’s Metro newspaper.

He added: “It will be cold – we’re talking about daytime maximums in many areas down to 2C by Friday. Scotland will be cold and could stay sub-zero during the day, particularly over higher ground.”

People should be careful driving on icy roads and walking on slippery pavements in this weather. Meanwhile, schoolchildren will be keeping their fingers crossed for the level of snow we got at the start of this year for some days off school to go sledging!

Build a better bookshelf

One of the great pleasures of getting away on a cottage holiday is the chance to relax with a good book. Another is getting out and about, seeing and doing things that make a real change from everyday life.

So having a well chosen selection of books (as well as DVDs and games) in a holiday property can contribute a lot to a holiday. Bookshelves tend to acquire a life of their own, with visitors donating books they’ve brought and read. That can lead to a wonderfully mixed selection of books reflecting all sorts of tastes and interests. Even so, it still helps a lot if at the heart of the collection is a core of books appropriate to the property. Books about the area, of course, whether guide books, local history or fiction. But also books that can help visitors appreciate aspects of country life they might otherwise miss.

For instance, a couple of new books from Britain’s Wildlife Trusts do this in quite different ways. The first is a guide designed to help you get closer to nature, called 152 Wild Things to Do. Divided into four seasonal sections, it lists places to visit (mostly wildlife reserves owned by the Trusts), activities for both adults and children, and skills you can acquire.

In spring, if you’re in Wales you could visit Silent Valley nature reserve. Or you could cook nettle soup. “Healthy, delicious and found absolutely everywhere, nettles are a wonderful leaf that can be cooked up into a wholesome soup. Food that’s free and full of goodness – perfect! You’ll need to pick the tender tops of young nettles in the spring.” It goes on to a full Nigella-style listing of ingredients (including optional wild garlic leaves), cooking instructions and a final flourish: “You could stir in some crème fraîche or serve with a swirl of cream and some crusty bread.”

In summer, you could go wild swimming or glow-worm spotting; in autumn, you could go blackberrying (and make jam), discover Tolkien’s inspiration or see Britain’s largest butterfly. And in winter… well, buy the book and give it as a present, or just for yourself to spur inspiration and booking another cottage holiday.

In all there are – as you would expect – 152 recommendations, so there’s plenty to keep you busy. The book is probably aimed mostly at parents hoping to occupy children and stir an interest in nature and the countryside, but there’s plenty for everyone. It serves as an introduction to a number of small, lesser-known nature reserves and the colour photography is beautiful. It’s a book that deserves a place on every holiday cottage bookshelf.

Rather more traditional is Nature Tales, from  the same source. It’s a compilation of nature writing spanning the last three hundred years, with a forward by Sir David Attenborough. “This wonderful collection of some of the greatest nature writers in Britain’s history is a pleasure to read from start to finish and a valuable addition to any naturalist’s library,” says Sir David. Quite so, but don’t let that reference to a naturalist’s library make you think this is some learned, stuffy book. Quite the reverse, because it’s the ideal accompaniment to a cup of tea and a digestive, with most of the items no more than two or three pages long.

The book is organised in themed sections – By river and sea, From my window, Nature trails, and so on – each with items from across the 300 years. So an entertaining piece by Bill Oddie – one of the longest items at nine pages – is preceded by the 19th century novelist Richard Jefferies and followed by Nan Shepherd, a wonderful descriptive writer who died in 1981 at the age of 88. There are brief notes on each contributor, which might well lead you to follow up on their other writings.

Even more than in a naturalist’s library, this book belongs in every holiday cottage. And it, too, would make an excellent birthday or Christmas present for any nature-minded reader.

152 Wild Things to Do, published by Elliott and Thompson Ltd, £12.99,
Nature Tales, published byElliott and Thompson Ltd, £18.99

Tags: , , , , , ,

Lonely Planet Awards

Jurassic Coast picture by Flickr user Kevinzim

A new poll by popular publishers Lonley Planet has revealed that UK holidaymakers’ travel wish lists while at home are better value accommodation and cheaper train travel. More than 3,500 people voted in the first Lonely Planet Awards, created in association with adventure operator Explore.

Walking on Scotland’s wild beaches was considered the most under-rated British day out, closely followed by exploring the UK’s cities and Dorset’s Jurassic Coast.

Lonely Planet’s travel editor Tom Hall said, “Days out in Britain don’t have to be traditional seaside jaunts or tours of stately homes.

“Brits are fast discovering some of the country’s lesser-known attractions and Scotland’s stunning beaches are, quite rightly, recognised as one of the best.”

Fringe Festivities

Until 30th August the prestigious Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2010 will be spreading art, comedy, performance and dining experiences across the city.

One thing that particularly caught my eye if any readers are lucky enough to try it out is a unique dining experience whereby guests eat at a height of 100ft above the city, hanging from a crane in special seats at a large table! at running the Festival in the Skyin the beautiful Princess Street Gardens.

Other events throughout the festival are:

The Demise of Christopher Marlowe theatre production at the C Central.

Creatures Comedy Show for some dark comedy sketch show at the Jury’s Inn.

UK beatbox champion, Beardymanfrom 16th-17th August at the Udderbelly Tent.

For a free children’s event, go to the music, story-telling and puppetry of the Hamwehads from the 11th – 19th August at The Three Sisters.

Flow-pattern– John Reiach photography exhibition from 13th August at the Faculty of the Advocates.

Flybe operate only scheduled service from Kent

P7288275 by Ingy The Wingy.

Flybe aircraft picture by Flickr User Ingy the Wingy

Flybe is to operate the only scheduled service from Kent to Edinburgh in May. The 80-minute daily service will be operated by Flybe’s 78-seat Bomberdier Q-400 turboprop aircraft.

Flybe’s chief commercial officer Mike Rutter said: “We’re delighted to be adding this new service to the South-East from Edinburgh and also to being the first carrier to offer Kent travellers a scheduled service out of Kent International. It also reflects our commitment to continued growth from our Edinburgh base and also to our development into new regions.”

Chief executive of Kent International Airport Matt Clarke added: “I’m sure this route will be hugely popular with people in Kent because Edinburgh is such a great place to visit. Flying to Kent International is a hassle-free way to arrive in south-east England. Our airport is easy to get to, easy to find your way around and allows passengers to enjoy flying the way it’s meant to be – boarding an aircraft merely metres from where you have parked your car.”

Kent International Airport is in East Kent close to the seaside towns of Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate with easy access to Canterbury and Dover.

Calling romantics

For the romantically inclined among you, we have found some cottages still available to rent in cosy hideaways in Scotland for Valentines weekend (next weekend!)


They include stone cottages with log fires and mountainous backdrops; remote loch-side lodges with panoramic views, and an apartment in the handsome town of Crieff, Perthshire.


The Crieff flat is, perhaps, the most romantic of all. St Ninians Church Tower apartment is, as you might expect, part of a converted church. Beautifully presented, it has retained some unique features while offering great views from its balcony: watch the sun set over the hills surrounding Crieff.


Croftweit Crieff, is another luxurious apartment. It’s part of a Grade II listed mansion, in Perthshire. The rooms have high ceilings and stained glass windows and there is a private garden area ideal for romantic alfresco dining (though it will be chilly in February).


A bottle of ‘Famous Grouse’ whisky from the nearby distillery awaits you as well as complimentary champagne and flowers for all Valentine bookings.


Another romantic cottage still available to rent is Pier Cottage in Applecross, Ross-shire. As the name suggests, this cottage is at the old pier in the hamlet of Camusterrach on the scenic Applecross peninsula. Stylish while at the same time retaining its traditional feel, the property features a smart claw-foot bath for two with sea views. There’s also a romantic open fire.


To find out more go to the Cottages and Castles advert on this website. Click  here