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Posts Tagged ‘South West Scotland’

Today, Balkissock Lodge B&B was awarded a Certification Mark from the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere “in recognition of high quality standards in delivering environmental and sustainable development benefits to the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere

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The award ceremony was held at Culzean Castle and speakers included Dr Beth Taylor (Chair, UK National Commission for UNESCO), John Thomson and Ed Forrest both of the GSA Biosphere and the awards were presented by Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop who fondly remembers childhood holidays in Ballantrae and splashing about in the river Stinchar.

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Two other micro businesses were also awarded a certification mark today: Adventure Centre for Education (ACE) based in Girvan and Salad Brew based in Borgue in Dumfries and Galloway.

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After speaking to Dr Taylor, I understand that this accolade makes Balkissock Lodge not only the only B&B with a biosphere certification mark in Scotland but possibly in the whole world!

Cordelia Galley 2018 (c)

If you wish to check availability and book securely online direct with the owners please click here.

If you wish to find out more about Balkissock Lodge B&B please click here.

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The National Sheep Association (NSA) held their biennial event, ScotSheep, on Wed 30th May 2018 at Kings Arms Farm, Ballantrae. The event was hosted by Robert Dalrymple and opened by John Scott MSP, owner of Balkissock Farm near Ballantrae.

The weather was fabulous and everyone I spoke to thoroughly enjoyed their visit. Whilst the majority of the attendance was no doubt farmers and their families there were a few, like me, not directly connected to farming. In addition to over 200 trades’ stands, sheep dog trials and sheep shearing there were hundreds of sheep from about 50 different breeds from Ireland and the North of England as well as from all over Scotland. It was great to see the Ayrshire Market stalls there too.

Whilst not exactly a ‘once in a lifetime’ event, as it’s held in a different location each year, it may be some time before it returns to Ayrshire & Arran.

More information about ScotSheep and the NSA can be found on their website.

We were also privileged to host two Presidents from different sheep clubs in England and Wales who attended the event and stayed with use here at Balkissock Lodge.

Cordelia Galley

Balkissock Lodge B&B

(C) 2018

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Have you ever though about combining a stay at a B&B with learning a new skill … or perhaps you and some friends are looking for a relaxing crafting weekend break?

Visit the Silver Daisy page for more crafting options or browse the Stay & Craft theme but here I’m going to highlight one option:

Lampshade making

Lampshade workshop

Chose from a variety of fabrics* and make your own 20cm or 30cm diameter lampshade. The 20cm size is ideal for a bedside or table lamp and the 30 cm would be ideal for a larger table lamp or for the ceiling fitting.

lampshade workshop

If you stay locally and wish to attend crafting sessions with friends, please email me to discuss your dates, numbers and requirements. I’m also happy to arrange crafting sessions with afternoon tea for groups of 4 – 8 people (depending upon the craft) when I don’t have any B&B guests booked in.

crafting workshop

You can opt to do lampshade making as a single session or you could choose lampshade making as one of your options on the Mix ‘n’ Match weekend course.

Details about prices and how to book can be found on the Silver Daisy page.

*If you’d prefer to bring your own fabric so that you make a shade that better matches your decor then you are welcome to do so. You will need to bring a piece of fabric larger than the following minimum size:

20cm diameter lampshade: 645 mm x 220 mm

30cm diameter lampshade: 970 mm x 255 mm

lampshade workshop

Most fabrics can be used but be warned that heavy fabrics and those that fray easily are extremely difficult to work with, I use cotton and polycotton quilting fabrics in the workshops.

You may also be interested in sessions run by other crafters in the area who also make lampshades:

If you’d like to return to the Silver Daisy page, please click here.

If you’d like to check availability for accommodation and book securely online at the best prices available, please click here.

Cordelia 2018

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Balkissock Lodge B&B is currently going through the verification process to become the very first B&B with accredited status in the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere.

The Galloway and Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere has been recognised internationally as a world class environment for people and nature.

The UNESCO Biosphere designation is recognition of the fantastic array of landscapes wildlife, cultural heritage and learning opportunities that SW Scotland offers for communities, businesses and visitors to experience and celebrate in a sustainable way.

From the wilderness of the open hills to the Dark Skies of the Galloway Forest or windswept coastline, the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere has many places to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The Biospheres [sic] geography of remote open moorland, serene lochs, quiet ancient oak woodlands, waterfalls and deep gorges and picturesque villages all contribute to its peaceful character, providing opportunities for contemplation and awe.

GSA Biosphere literature

There’s more detailed information on their website.

Balkissock Lodge B&B has been a proud supporter of the Biosphere charter for some time now and we are thrilled and delighted to be considered for certification.

Cordelia @BalkissockLodge

If you’d like to visit us why not find out more by clicking here or to book your 2018 holiday book online here.

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Christmas Present #2

THIS COMPETITION HAS NOW CLOSED AND HAS BEEN WON BY MRS GILMORE.

Another chance to win in the second of our festive giveaways ….

Would you like to stay for two nights B&B at Balkissock Lodge in 2018 completely free?

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Christmas present

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There are two easy ways to enter:

  1. Head over to Facebook, find and like the post “Christmas Present #2” then either tag the person you’d like to share the prize with or share the post with your friends so they can enter too.
  2. Email me and ask to be added to the new monthly e-newsletter (first edition will be Jan 2018) which will include news and information about promo codes exclusively for guests who book direct.

You could of course do both and double your chances of winning!!

T&Cs:

Entries will only be accepted via the two options outlined above.

The prize is two consecutive nights B&B for two people (sharing a double room) OR two consecutive nights for one person only.

No cash alternative is offered.

I’m happy for you to gift your prize however to avoid fraudulent claims the winner MUST book the accommodation.

Closing date for entries: 8pm on Friday 15th December 2017.

Name drawn from a ‘hat’: 9pm on Friday 15th December 2017.

Prize winner(s) must book before the 31st December 2017 and stay before 31st May 2018 (subject to availability).

Once booked, dates cannot be changed.

Additional nights can be added to the stay at the specified nightly rate (subject to availability).

Evening meals can be added at the specified rate.

This competition is not endorsed by WordPress, Facebook, Twitter nor anywhere else you may see this competition advertised.

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GOOD LUCK!!

Cordelia @ BalkissocklodgeB&B

 

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I’ve had the pleasure of attending Linda’s workshops and I can absolutely recommend them. Linda takes an absolute beginner and helps them to produce a simple item such as a felted flower. These are a few flowers that I made in one of her workshops. I embellished one and turned it into a brooch for a gift for a friend and used the others to make greetings cards.

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You can also take one of her felting landscape workshops in which she helps you to develop a beautiful landscape picture. This is the first one that I did which I later embellished on the sewing machine and added beads and hand embroidery too.

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Linda has a workshop on the Mull of Galloway (not far from the Lighthouse) and I recommend you stop by and view her work when you’re in the area.

You can find out more about Linda, her work and the workshops that she runs on her Facebook page. 

EIDT: Dec 2017. I arranged for Linda to do a felting session with myself and fellow members of Ballantrae Crafty Bees recently and I made this. I just love it and can’t wait to find the time to get onto the sewing machine to finish it off!

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Cordelia @ Balkissock Lodge (c) 2017

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The first in this summer’s “suggested day trips”

Belfast, Northern Ireland (part 1)

Ferry tickets vary in prices throughout the year and in general, it’s cheaper to book in advance. TIP: I booked on St Patrick’s Day and got my ticket for £5 pp. Look out for special deals in newspapers too. They will email you reservation details and a booking number. There is no need to print this off as long as you can quote the number when you check in but beware that phone signals at both ferry ports seemed intermittent and emails are generally stored in the cloud! You may also be asked for ID so take a passport or your photo driving licence.

Stena Line operate six sailings per day to Belfast on the Superfast VII and the Superfast VIII. The sailings that I use are either the 7.30am or the 10.30am sailing. As a foot passenger you need to be at the terminal a minimum of 30 minutes prior to sailing which means leaving Balkissock by either 6.30am or 9.30am respectively.

An 8am breakfast will give you plenty of time to make the later sailing but, not surprisingly, I’m not up to cook breakfast at 5am for the earlier sailing. If pre-arranged, I will provide a lighter breakfast of cereal, fruit, toast, tea or coffee at 6am or email me for a bespoke package.

The sailings are approx. 2hrs 15 mins and there’s lots to do on-board to keep you occupied including a small cinema which normally screens a children’s film, a shop, games machines, several eating outlets, outdoor area (for smokers) and loads of sofas and comfy chairs to sit and chill and relax.

Jump on a bus at Belfast port and for £2.00pp you’ll be in the city centre in approx. 15 mins. TIP: don’t forget to ask the driver where to catch the bus to return to the port later in the day! You can also get a return ticket at a slightly reduced price.

What can I do in Belfast?

Tip: if it’s your first visit I’d suggest visiting the Visit Northern Ireland Tourist Office opposite the City Hall just around the corner from the bus drop-off point. It’s a treasure trove of leaflets and souvenirs.

A guided tour of Belfast on the open top bus:

There are two different tour operators and my daughter, her partner and myself used the “City Sightseeing Hop On – Hop Off” bus. The cost was £12.50 (adult), £10.50 (concession), £6.00 (child) £31.00 (family: 2 adults & up to 3 children).

The lady doing the commentary was very witty and it was an enjoyable 90 minute bus ride. You can jump off at any of the stops to look around or visit the attractions and then catch a later bus to continue the tour.

Belfast

Stops on the tour included the Titanic Exhibition and the Parliament buildings (TIP: be careful of timings if getting off at the Parliament buildings as busses are not allowed into the grounds after 3.30pm). 

Titanic Exhibition Belfast

The tour included information about the troubled recent history of Northern Ireland, of division and renewal and the bus drove past the Peace Wall and through the areas of the city that saw the worst of the Troubles.

Belfast mural

 

Belfast City Hall:

Free entry.

View the beautiful stained glass windows depicting events in Belfast’s history and it’s links around the world.

Stained glass window

Guided tours are available although we couldn’t get booked on to one the day we visited.

Belfast City Hall

TIP: If you’re going to do a blog … get a much better photo of the outside of the building!!

Belfast City Hall

The return journey:

I generally get either the 3.30pm or the 7.30pm ferry to return to Cairnryan. The latter arrives at 9.45pm and taking into account disembarking and driving, I’m back home about 10.30pm.

Please note that there is a very long walk from check-in, along the gangways and onto the ferry. I would imagine that Stenaline have someone to assist you if you’re infirm or use a wheelchair but I didn’t think to check.

Cars can be left in the Stena Line car park at a cost of £5.00 per day. TIP: pay for your parking on-board on the return journey to save you waiting in queues at the terminal.

I’m planning on visiting Belfast again later in August with my grandson and we’ll take the other bus tour which will take us to Belfast Zoo and we’re planning on visiting the Titanic Exhibition too.

My husband is heading there with friends in September and I suspect that Game of Thrones will be on the agenda!

So … watch out for Belfast the sequel!!

All prices were correct April 2017.

Cordelia @ Balkissock Lodge B&B (c)

All rights reserved.

The Irish Sea ferry ports are only a 25 minute drive from Balkissock Lodge B&B

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I’ve been a committee member of the Ayrshire Bed & Breakfast Association for some time now and I was delighted to hear that our AGM this year was to be at the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway, Ayr.

Robert Burns Birthplace Museum

Our Chair Person has stepped down from the role and I was thrilled and delighted to be nominated and accepted as the new Chair Person for the group.

Ayrshire B&B Association

We are a group of 50 B&Bs located across Ayrshire and Arran that work collaboratively to promote the area. If you’re visiting, why not take a look at our website here and if you own a B&B in the area and would like to join please contact me for details. We enjoy our meetings at a variety of attractions throughout the region and we have always been highly appreciative of the hospitality shown to us. We recently had a wonderful afternoon tea at Glenapp Castle and are looking forward to what 2017 can bring!

 

Ayrshire B&B at Glenapp Castle

Guest speakers at our AGM included Craig Stewart owner of Freetobook, the online booking system that I, and many in the B&B industry use. His input regarding finance was generally agreed to be invaluable.

AB&BA also produce a Restaurant brochure that lists a variety of places to dine throughout the region. Addition to the brochure is limited and all eateries are personally recommended by AB&BA members and their guests.

Why not make your next holiday destination the beautiful rural South West of Scotland?

Cordelia

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My elderly mother is staying with us for a while and today I took her to visit Logan Botanic Gardens.

At 80 years of age, she’s a little unsteady on her feet and uses a walking stick so I was surprised at how well she was able to get around the gardens. This was accomplished by the hard work of the staff who have really made an effort at levelling paths and making gradients and steps as easy to navigate as possible.

Fern at Logan Garden

It’s rather too early in the year for the huge flower displays that garden attractions are famed for but there was still loads to see from succulents in the hot house to bud bursting huge azaleas and rhododenderons in the walled garden.

Succulents at Logan

The one hundred year old magnolia tree in full bloom was worth the £6.95 entrance fee alone!

Magnolia tree

 

Logan Botanic Garden

The weather was kind, the scones in the cafe were absolutely delicious and I spent way too much on seeds in the shop again too!!

Logan is part of the Edinburgh Royal Botanic Gardens and contains many southern hemisphere exotics that grow well in it’s microclimate in the South Rhinns of Galloway, near Ardwell, a 50 minute drive away from Balkissock Lodge B&B.

Cordelia @ Balkissock Lodge 2016 (c)

Take in a visit to these and other gardens when you stay in SWScotland

 

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The weather has been great this week for the end of September and it’s been ideal to get out and about.

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One place to visit is the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway, on the south side of Ayr which has been in the top 10 of places to visit for our guests.

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In addition to the museum that provides the story of Robert’s life, it houses a lovely café and a gift shop with all sorts of Scottish fayre to take home as souvenirs.

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Across the large car park is a beautiful walkway with sculptures taking you to the old house which takes about 10-15 minues to saunter to.  Don’t forget to have your photo taken next to the “wee” mouse!!

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There is also parking at the house if you prefer not to walk.

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A short walk in the opposite direction from the museum will take you to the park which houses the Burns monument and the another photo opportunity is to stand on the Brig o’ Doon itself.

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Whilst there, why not treat yourself to a beautiful meal at the Brig ‘O Doon hotel?

The Burns Museum is owned and operated by the National Trust for Scotland. If you’re not a member it costs £9 per person entry but I have some vouchers which will get you a discounted entry of £6 per person.

The Robert Burns Birthplace Museum is just under an hour away by car at Alloway on the south side of Ayr.

Cordelia @ Balkissock Lodge 2015 (c)

 

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