Gin and lawn bowls

Heading north to Perthshire...
Heading north to Perthshire…

Since I can remember my family has been going Crieff Hydro for weekend breaks, family reunions, the odd bank holiday Monday. So when my fiancé and his family announced we were heading there for a surprise birthday weekend, I was 100% on board. 

There is something extremely comforting about going to a hotel or resort that you know like the back of your hand. It may not be the most luxurious place in world, but it is the familiarity of Crieff Hydro that makes me so fond of this family retreat. Not to mention the hundreds of indoor and outdoor activities on offer, both for children and grown ups, the swimming pool and spa facilities, various eateries to choose from, the list goes on. 

Crieff Hydro exterior

Crieff Hydro sign

 Crieff is a mere hour and half from Edinburgh city centre. We left promptly after work on Friday and arrived in time for dinner. First thing I want to mention is the fillet steak I had in the Brasserie on the Friday evening, because it was absolutely delicious. Now, with the surprise birthday celebrations and, if I am honest, the hunger we had worked up driving there, I don’t have a single photo to show you, do you will just need to take my word for it.

Over the course of the weekend we made the most of good weather and lots of the activities on offer. The grounds of the hotel are vast and inviting so it was easy to spend most the Saturday running around outside in the sunshine.

Crieff Hydro grounds

hotel frontAs we were staying in the hotel on the dinner, bed and breakfast rate, Mr F&P’s nephews were given packed lunches in the Winter Garden. The boys refuelled after morning of soft play, football and trampolining, and the adults enjoyed some gin and lawn bowls. The grand Victorian front of the hotel gives the perfect setting for such a civilised game, and we weren’t the only ones to think so – the lawn was mobbed all weekend. Caorunn gins in hand, a quick lesson from Mr F&P on the rules, we chose our end, rolled the jack and got to work. 

front of hotel instagramGin and Lawn BowlsMaybe it was beginners luck, or perhaps the gin, but I very quickly came to appreciate everything about a game of lawn bowls. If only I had discovered this earlier in the summer!

Later in the day, half of our group hit the pool and the birthday girl hit the spa after a morning of horse riding. Mr F&P and I decided to go for a walk up The Knock. Not really knowing where we were going, we set off into the woods behind the hotel and found ourselves at the top much sooner than we though. 

The Knockthe knockthe knock 2

top of the knock

 Our walk up and down The Knock was no longer than 40 minutes. For the proper hill walkers out there, the Perthshire is a stunning area to explore. Plus, the lodges on site at the hotel mean you can take the dog with you for the weekend and they also allow you to be completely self sufficient. 

On Saturday evening we dined in the Meikle Restaurant and I must be honest and say I much preferred our more casual, relaxed dinner in the Brasserie on the Friday night. On Sunday Mr F&P and I had a slower start to the day. We enjoyed some breakfast followed by coffees outside in the sunshine with the Sunday papers. 

Soon it was time to head home. We all made one last stop at Gloagburn Farmshop (more on that later) before saying our goodbyes and going our separate ways.

Crieff Hydro is perfect for a family weekend away. It is just really easy. Everything is in the one place, the staff are really friendly and there is something for everyone to do. For those wishing to venture into the town it’s a quick 15 minutes walk away, or you can go further afield and explore Perthshire. Don’t get me wrong, it won’t be everyone’s cup of team. For example, the hotel is not ideal for romantic weekend away – there are kids everywhere and you need to be OK with that. That said there are some gorgeous luxury lodges which would be a better bet for some peace and quiet. 

Until I have the opportunity to go back, I’m off to find my local bowls club…

The Honours, Edinburgh

GalleryOn Friday evening I was treated to dinner at The Honours, one of Martin Wishart’s restaurants in Edinburgh. Located on North Castle Street, there are plenty of nearby options for pre dinner drinks, and we decided to go to Tonic, a cocktail bar a few doors along from The Honours.

Some of the cocktails on the menu
Some of the cocktails on the menu

Take a peek online at their cocktail menu, I think you’ll like it as there are lots of fun combinations to try. On this occassion I opted for a Rasberry Kiss. Made up of tanquery gin, grapefruit, homemade rasberry syrup topped with prosecco, it was yummy! The Haribo lips sweetie on top, is a good reflection on the sweetness of the drink!

Raspberry Kiss – tanquery gin, grapefruit, homemade raspberry syrup and prosecco

After a couple drinks I only had to totter a few steps down the hill in my heels to arrive at The Honours. Unfortunately I don’t have any of my own pictures of the meal, so hopefully we descriptions will do the dishes justice! You can take a look at the menu online here, and I’ll try and talk you through the yumminess!

To start I opted for the crab cappuccino, and I’ll admit I was not quite sure what the expect. I was greeted with frothy and intense crab soup. It came in a large shallow bowl and had lovely pieces of soft crab and garlic through it. I’m a huge garlic fan, the more the better, so this was right up my street. The size of the dish was deceiving and due to the richness of the cream based soup I wasn’t able to finish it which is extremely unlike me!

For my main course I enjoyed the fillet steak, which the waitress informed me was cooked on the bone. A technique,  she told us, used to hold in the flavour and juices from the meat when cooking. I had never tried fillet on the bone before, so that was quite exciting. The steaks are are served with vine tomatoes and choice of sauces, I went for a bearnaise sauce and ordered a side of potato dauphinoise (see, garlic again!) and shared some green beans. The steak was cooked to perfection – I like it medium and it melted in my mouth. Absolutely delicious and totally worth the special occasion price tag (£32).

Dinner was washed down with a bottle of Fleurie. This wine, in my opinion, (and I have to say I’m no wine expert, at all) is a really light red wine – perfect for those who are eating red meat but aren’t wild about red wine!

The dessert menu was extensive, and after two very filling courses all I could manage was a scoop of passion fruit sorbet. All the ice creams and sorbets on the menu are offers as a whole dish or simply a single scoop. A really nice touch for those who aren’t quite finished but can’t manage a whole dessert.

After coffees and a desert wine we decided to call it a night. I mentioned that our trip to The Honours was a treat, and I’d love to say I’ll be back in a flash, but the prices simply don’t allow for that. However at the end of the day we were looking for a special evening we would remember, and that was exactly what The Honours gave us. So, thank you!