I know I know I sound like a stuck record but really. This time of year in our glorious country matches and beats hands down anywhere else on the planet you could meander. In my humble opinion. On the road…the long suffering husband.. Charlie Chorizo Sausage Dog and myself.
Originally from the North East I have been there a lot recently as I have been settling my Mum into a Care Home. She has Alzheimers and it has been a rollercoaster of a year but she has gravitated home to Aberdeen where she was born and bred. She has lived in the Central belt for 15 years and yet the moment she stepped over the threshold of this particular home she just put her hand on my arm and said “This is where I want to live”. So..a very very long story short..I am splitting my time to be with her and to be in Edinburgh. It’s an easy 2 hour drive and now Mum is settled the long suffering husband, sausage dog and I decided to go away for a few days to just walk, inhale the delicious fresh air and relax.
It’s hard to find accommodation last minute in the Aberdeen area especially at this time of year and so with a google, a wing, a prayer and a bit of pot luck we rocked up to Meldrum House, about 30 minutes outside the City on the outskirts of Old Meldrum . And well…. be still my beating heart. Its like Disney Castle – but the real McCoy – and what a location!
Privately owned it really is a very special spot indeed.
There was a wedding on which they warned us about so we were in the main house. The weddings are in an annex and we honestly didn’t know the huge rollocking party was there.
We had a great wander about, a delicious meal and retired early to our huge bedroom where we slept like logs (or dogs in Charlies case) partly because of the giant bed but also because the vast windows were draped in the best black out curtains the world has ever seen. Fabulous.
Being an obsessive foodie it was great to find this chef knows his onions and every other item of food. Delicious food. And their smoked haddock and poached egg in the morning was a thing of beauty. Och it all was. Including the hungover wedding guests clutching their heads and gulping coffee with shaky hands – ah yes those were the days.
The staff were all lovely, chatty and informal. Despite it being mid summer or near enough a huge fire roared in the entrance hall which always makes for a warm welcome and nothing was too much trouble.
If you golf – prepare yourself – it is a beautiful course. Its not cheap to play but the hotel can arrange it all for you. I hit a bucket of balls but didn’t play – well I can’t yet! Having just had my first lesson in 20 years I am currently smitten but if the mere thought of golf repels you don’t be discouraged the gardens are like Life on Earth ….Swans and their signets, Geese and their Goslings, 2 Highland Cows and a few tourists……the full enchilada. Bliss.
Sausage still looking for that biscuit ……Seriously refreshed and podged up with lovely food we will be back…….and soon.For now the sausage, husband and I are heading elsewhere on the hunt for more dog friendly places to stay….will keep you posted.
Oh and whatever rate you get on booking.com phone the hotel direct – you aye get the best deal that way…..Here’s their details….Meldrum House Country Hotel & Golf Course
T: +44 (0)1651 872294
F: +44 (0)1651 872464
Meeting with a publisher about a variety of ideas. It looks as though one of my life long ambitions is about to be realised – I am going to have a book published at Christmas. Even Santa can’t beat that! Very excited and rush off to tell my friend Dynamite who is limping and sweating as I pick her up from the gym. I remind her exercise is bad for you as we head off for a coffee an a stare at a donut – we resist the temptation to eat them surprisingly. Dynamite is going off on this fabulous free trip to Tobago which I had had to turn down as I am working. It is too depressing for words but she is swanning off for 4 days next week – hence the mad gym attendance. Anyway we are walking along Abercromby Place in Central Edinburgh when there are at least 3 peeps from 3 separate people. Not fooling ourselves for a moment it’s because we are young and gorgeous I explain The first van was the guy from the Nobel Grape who recognised us – yes an off license. The second was the guy who runs The World – a bar and the third the guy who owns the fishmongers where I bought my salmon! Salmon for tea.
Dropping Dynamite off at work when she runs straight into a throng of young girls. She’s been mobbed again I think and then I see a very red aced and harassed David Sneddon pushing his way through the crowds signing autographs as he goes. Dynamite is being turned round and round by the guddle of fans and inadvertently he grabs a bit of paper from her hand and signs it! Much amusement as she pointed out later she’ old enough to be his mother and was mortified!
In the shops. Realise I have a gym membership which is now officially redundant. I can’t seem to get there at all so I peruse the exercise videos. I eventually plump – no pun intended- for the
Kylie Minogue Hotpants video. I know I know but it’s worth a try. As I am stuffing it in my trolley and heading to the checkout I spot Fish doing his shopping too. Celeb spotting in supermarkets what an exciting life I lead! Get the Video home and decide not to do it till tomorrow as doing it on a full stomach can’t be good for you I’, sure.
More salmon. God you can’t eat a lot of that stuff can you. It’s so rich and cloying I can’t face it again.
My Mum comes round and we weigh ourselves. This sounds like an easy non stressful event / It is not. It is horrible I can’t believe I weigh that much. She can’t believe I weigh that much. We have decided against the weight watchers thing as all you do is pay them £3 to weigh you so we’re going to do it ourselves. Mmn. After Mum leaves a heave my huge body from the scene of the weighing to the bedroom and change into my tracksuit for the Video. I start it. Happily Kylie is not in the video I couldn’t face looking at her elfin form as I lumber about threatening to go through the floorboards. It takes a lot of concentration but by the end I am red faced and sweating so it must have done something. Have a shower, feel better, resist food and pin a picture of myself on the fridge. This may deter me from ever eating again. Force down more salmon makes me feel sick now..
David on a golf outing at 9am. I’ll be back by 6 . Mmn. He trundles in with a wide smile and a red eye about 8 the finished golf at 1.
David tries to convince me his drink must have been spiked. I point out Luffness Golf Club a male dominated emporium of buff is not the sort of place anyone slips you a Mickey Finn. Nice try though. I attempt to teach him the word ‘No’ but it just can’t be done I swear.
I HATE SALMON.
A golf lesson with Jane Connachan. She’s a great teacher and makes me laugh heartily as I duff a few more over the golf range.by the end of it though I seem to be hitting the ball and it is going somewhere Hallelujah. Very elated about that so head round to see Cousin with B&B as she is waiting for her guests to arrive. Due to be at Davy Grubbs 40th birthday party but I sit chatting with cousin and sipping wine Her first batch of guest arrive and are given a very formal greeting as she shows them to their room. The second batch arrive and they are also given the formal landlady by the sea approach . By the time the third lot arrive we are having a whale of a time and she shouts down the stairs ‘ come on up my little darlings I’ll point you in the direction of your room. Now would you like a wee drink!’.
I left as her husband was giving her the evil eye.
Missed the 40th. Missed my tea last night and as a result I suspect I am missing a liver. Travelling up to see friends in Perthshire in the country . 10 minutes out of town Louis pipes up ‘ I need the loo’ so we stop at the side of the road. Another 30 minutes later we stop in Cowdenbeath -it’s my turn and it’s an emergency. I find the public loos which are spotless. 10 minutes after that we stop again. This time for David who walks about 500 yards into the depths of the forest ! quite who is going to get their binoculars out and focus on his nether regions is a mystery to Louis and I who peep the horn and flash the lights at him.
Arrive with pal John King who has Activity travel but due to an overwhelming passion for wine has now begun Wine Routes. Oh happy day. Straight in to the wine cellar. Oh now I know what I want for my birthday. We sip a lovely wine and eat sausiccon which was a giftt from one of his suppliers. After a few glasses and lovely lunch we head off to a loch to do some fishing. As David , John and The Kids mess around in the boat. Nicky and I wander round and suddenly there is a huge bird above us ‘ it was an osprey!.I’d never seen one before they are magnificent beasts so as the boys wheeched trout of the loch and we lay on the grass watching the osprey.
Back to the house for more food and drink. What food, what wine what a carry on. It was then announced a friend of Johns was celebrating his 50th birthday in Blairgowrie so it was off to that. The guy, Linsay who wrote You were Always On My Mind, You Drove All night, etc.. Was singing at it. So there was a wild night of drinking and dancing.
Quiet start. Fiona was having her leg pulled for not dancing last night by her boyfriend Iain. When he was reminded that it was because he had thrust a long orange balloon between his knees and was wiggling round the dance floor on his own singing ‘come one baby light my fire’ he recalled why she chose not to be Olivia Newton John to his John Revolting!The Lowe brothes, two of last nights casualties, turned up with a hungry look in their eye.
Magnificent breakfast homemade pancakes , maple syrip , bacon. Then the trout from yesterday , porridge,, kidneys and eggs. Can’t walk. Can’t speak. Can’t believe my 2 day diet and 2 days Kylie video must now be irrelevant I have gorged and am happy and round.
DINNER at Howie’s with Pete Irvine, author of Scotland The Best and eventmeister of Scotland Hogmanay, Capital Christmas, Lomond Shores and general tourist guru. Talked about everything… food, TV, holidays, music and only at about midnight does it slip out that Pete was made an MBE MBE (in Britain) Member of the Order of the British Empire. Huh! Modest or what? I would have been wearing my “I’ve got an MBE” T-shirt at all times – which probably is exactly why I’ll never get anything like that. Good chat, too much wine, but it almost all came to a premature end when we realised we hadn’t taped Six Feet Under. After an emergency call to the babysitter we resumed our evening.
DRY. Felt like I was 6ft under after I got up. Did two voiceovers in the morning. I was required to sound husky in one, which was my speciality today… sounded husky and coincidentally looked like a husky. Got a call from Dave who suggested lunch. A cursory look at my old black jeans, off-white t-shirt and rumpled sweatshirt made me say, “OK, but just a wee sandwich in the back of the car.” So he took me to The Bonham, a super-smart hotel in Edinburgh. I sat in a corner trying to hide. Fabulous lunch and I was just starting to relax when I heard an “Alison, is that you?” Luckily, it was Marie, a good friend who also had a hangover. She sat at a neighbouring table, shaking and drinking water . Had a lovely lunch. Normally the pressure to wear shorts keeps me on the straight and narrow but I’m still swathed in woolly jumpers cos it’s cold, so what the hell.
TOOK about two hours to drive to my cousin’s house cos the Open golf was on and I forgot. Spotted lots of people in Slazenger V-necks. Saw Robbie Corbett again… he’ll think I’m stalking him. Got tickets for Saturday, drove home and collapsed in the bath when David answered the doorbell. It was John Whittle, from Optical Solutions, with my new glasses. He knew I had to drive to Glasgow tomorrow so delivered them personally. As I lay in the bath David plopped them on my nose. Now that’s what I call service.
GUESTING on Fred MacAulay Show with Steve Irwin, the mad Aussie who wrestles crocodiles and snakes for fun, and Pete McCarthy. His new book, The Road to McCarthy, is the follow-up to his incredibly successful McCarthy’s Bar. He’s very entertaining and I know from personal experience he has a great sense of humour On Room At The Top a couple of years back a researcher asked him if he had fully recovered after being held hostage. Yes, he mixed him up with John McCarthy. Last Playing For Time this week, then off to Aberdeen to do Radio Scotland’s afternoon show for a few weeks. Cousin phoned very excited, Tiger Woods has been going to her health club to train… though she was not quite as excited as her husband Mark as Tiger was there with his gorgeous Swedish girlfriend. God, it’s enough to make you turn to drink… or at least food. Dinner out with pals when I got a call from the babysitter… the wee man Louis was ill for the first time ever so had to whizz home. He wasn’t well, poor scone. He clambered into my bed where he stayed, sweating, tossing and turning.
LOUIS slept brilliantly but I was like a half-shut knife after 12 hours brow mopping. Decided not to be Snow White in panto Am I mad? Probably, but everyone says it is ten weeks, two shows a day, only Christmas day off. Thought long and hard, but it would mean no Christmas, no life, no Louis, no chance. It’s bound to be the last time he believes in Santa. I won’t miss it for anything.
OPEN golf. It was like monsoon, 3ft deep in water. No way I was going to watch men hitting balls with sticks… so I just hit the hospitality. Call from friend Fiona who was to have her 40th birthday party in Queen Street Gardens in Edinburgh… rained off. Panic – where can we have it? Happily, friend Derek volunteered his pad which was duly decked out with stuff, including copious quantities of food and drink. Danced the night away. Still enjoying someone’s hospitality at 1am.
GULP. Woke up fully clothed on couch. Asked long-suffering husband why he didn’t put me to bed. He said he tried but couldn’t – and besides my snoring would have kept him awake. Does Kylie have such problems? Tired. Old. Face strange shape. Yuk . Off to Aberdeen tomorrow to do Tom Morton Show on Radio Scotland for three weeks. Going on Slimfast diet as I’m becoming like a house – a two up, two down with large outside patio.