07 Jan 2019
Large Holiday House Near Gleneagles | Winter Weekend Breaks | Sleeps 21

Winter Holidays in Scotland – embrace the elements!

The mornings are cold and crisp. The trees are bare and the landscape looks bleak when the rain falls. Night falls early. That nip in the air can turn into ferocious biting as light easterly winds give way to arctic gusts. When the sun shines it puts a smile on people’s faces, but it does little to raise the temperature. Winter is here.

The white stuff is inevitable!

It will snow, we can be sure of that. On average, we get around 38 days of snow here at AH. According to the Metoffice, over in the Cairngorms, this rises to 76 days of snow. Thermals, Parka jackets, wellie boots, hats, scarves, gloves and lots of layers become the mainstay of the Scottish winter wardrobe – colder temperatures demand lots of wrapping up even to go for a short walk to the village of Auchterarder.

A 4×4 vehicle is also an absolute must. Certainly, we wouldn’t be without ours at AH – getting up the long driveway would be impossible without it.

Large Holiday House Near Gleneagles | Winter Weekend Breaks | Sleeps 21

But the view as you approach the house on a snowy day is simply breathtaking – it’s definitely a camera moment!

From a light flurry to a thick and glistening blanket of white – the fluffy white stuff makes everything look truly magical. Even the bare trees sparkle when dusted with snow. It may not be the easiest of weather, but the desire to get outside will overcome the lowest temperatures.

Large Holiday House Near Gleneagles | Winter Weekend Breaks | Sleeps 21

Enjoy a bracing walk and feel invigorated by the fresh air. Take in the sight of the surrounding landscape dramatically and beautifully transformed. There is also plenty of fun to be had. Who can resist a snowball fight or an exhilarating afternoon of sledging – snow brings out the child in all of us!

Large Holiday House Near Gleneagles | Winter Weekend Breaks | Sleeps 21

Of course, a Scottish winter experience wouldn’t be complete without hot toddies, hot chocolate or something in front of a crackling fire. Sometimes, it’s the simplest things that make the most perfect days.

Large Holiday House Near Gleneagles | Winter Weekend Breaks | Sleeps 25Come and enjoy a wintery stay at Alexander House

It might be cold outside but we’ll give you a very warm welcome and you can enjoy a cosy stay. With enough rooms for 21 people, you could plan a fantastic weekend away with a whole bunch of your besties.

Just the two of you?

We’ve got it covered! Our glamping yurts are perfect, each with a king-size bed, wood burner, electric blankets (you’ll be just toasty) and ensuite bathroom – it’s glamping in very fine style indeed. Yurts Heather and Bramble are picture perfect in the snow. Anyone fancy a dip in the hot tub?!

Winter Glamping near Gleneagles | Hot Tub in the Snow

We hope to see you soon!

08 Dec 2018
Easy Campfire Stew Recipes | Campfire Cooking | Glamping in Scotland

Food & Fire: Fondue Chinoise – a good dish for this colder weather!

This has got to be one of the best open fire dishes ever.

Nothing goes to waste, and it is dead simple to set up, for both veggies, vegans, pescies and meaties alike. (Just don’t mix them all up, that would be bad for everyone except the meat eaters!)

If you have a tripod great – use it. And hang your Dutch Oven on it.

When you are making your fire for this recipe you need a neat tidy fire, not too spread wide, and with smaller wood, as everyone needs to be able to reach the middle of the fire without burning themselves (albeit with a good long stick!).

Good long sticks to cook your food on, with sharpened points.

If you don’t have a tripod and Dutch Oven don’t worry, you need a decent deep fire safe cooking pot.

Ingredients

Veggie and Vegan
500ml of good vegetable or bouillon per person
Selection of vegetable batons – carrots, courgette
Pak choy
Green beans
Asparagus
(Root vegetables don’t cook well on this – they need too long)
Slug of Mirin or rice wine (to add at the end)

Carnivores (amounts depend on how hungry you all are!)
500ml of good meat stock or bouillon per person
Strips of raw steak – ½ -1 sirloin or top rump steak per person
Strips of raw chicken (careful to cook this thoroughly) – ½ -1 chicken breast per person
Strips raw duck breast – ½ -1 chicken breast per person
Spinach (to add at the end) – 25g per person
Slug of sherry (to add at the end)

Pescatarians
500ml of good fish stock per person
Raw prawns – 5-7 per person
Raw squid – 5-7 pieces per person
Raw fish chunks – 5-7 per person
Spinach (to add at the end) – 25g per person
Slug of rice wine (to add at the end)

Method

  1. Put the stock into the pot and bring it to the boil on the open fire.
  2. With your long sticks, once the stock is boiling, cook your raw ingredients in the stock pot. All the amazing flavours from the cooking combine in your stock pot to make the most delicious soup.
  3. When you’ve cooked all your raw ingredients yourselves, then grab a slice of crusty bread, a bowl, and share out the soup from the saucepan or dutch oven, with a slug of rice wine or sherry added – it really is a taste revelation! 🙂
10 Nov 2018
Autumn at Alexander House | Holiday House near Gleneagles Perthshire

Reasons to visit AH – to enjoy our spectacular autumn colours in Perthshire

It’s that time of year again. We’ve waved goodbye to our summer visitors and the crisp sound of autumn leaves and the crackling of log fires now welcomes our winter visitors. Being located where we are means we really notice nature and all the changes happening. The chiffchaffs fill the air with song as they migrate, whilst swallows and house martins are only seen on the odd occasion as most have already left for warmer climes. Meanwhile, if you’re really lucky, you may spot one or two of our native bird species such as the Scottish crossbill, capercaillie and crested tit.

Meanwhile, lots of animals will be preparing to hibernate. But if the winter is mild, you may well still see hedgehogs well into November and December. The most obvious signs of autumn are trees and the wonderful palette of crimson, copper, orange, brown and gold that they display. The cooler weather and shorter days trigger trees to stop producing chlorophyll and other pigments, including carotenoid, bring about the beautiful change in colour. Perthshire at this time of year is a spectacular place to visit – dare we say it, it even rivals the Canadian Fall colours!

Here are a few of our favourite places to see autumn in its full glory..

Loch Faskally, which lies less than two miles from Pitlochry in Perth and Kinross, is a man-made reservoir. Built between 1947 and 1950, the dam incorporates a salmon fish ladder that allows over 5,000 salmon to ascend every year. The loch is a very popular tourist attraction and there are plenty of walks to enjoy. Visit during autumn to witness the most spectacular colours of the season.

Faskally SCOTLAND | Things to Do at Alexander House Perthshire
Photo credit: https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/perthshire

• No trip to Scotland is complete without visiting the Queen’s View in Perthshire. From this point you can enjoy panoramic and iconic views of Scotland’s best. Queen Victoria visited in 1866 and it immediately became a popular destination, but it’s thought that this vantage point is actually named after Queen Isabella, the wife of Robert the Bruce.

Queens View SCOTLAND | Things to Do at Alexander House Perthshire
Photo credit: https://www.visitscotland.com/wsimgs/queensview

• An easy day trip if you’re staying at Alexander House, Crieff is a traditional Scottish market town set within Perthshire’s stunning scenery. This attractive and bustling town supports a wide variety of local family-run businesses and is a great place to explore. There are lots of coffee shops and places to eat as well!

Still feeling energetic?

The above are just a few of our favourites, but there are so many more – The Hermitage, Dunkeld, Royal Deeside, Drummond Hill, Kenmore, The Trossachs, Glen Affric. And if you’re looking for something unusual to do, have a read of this great article for inspiration.

Need to entertain the kids?

Ditch the mobile devices and get them outside! They might moan for a few moments, but kids are kids and they all love adventures outdoors. Wrap them up, put on some boots and see what happens! The National Trust’s 50 things to do before you’re 12 and Lasso the Moon are both great sources of inspiration for autumn activities – from rolling down a hill to building a den, the best things in life are free and the simplest of pleasures can create the most wonderful memories. Don’t forget to have a camera to hand (even better if you let them use it) and enjoy looking at the photographs over a mug of hot chocolate. 🙂

Things to Do at Alexander House Perthshire

Be prepared

Autumn is a wonderful time to be out and about but make sure you’re prepared for all types of weather – getting cold and/or wet will turn any outing into a miserable experience.

  • Do your research so that you know where you’re going, how long it will take to get there, where toilets are located and where you can get something to eat.
  • Make sure you have outdoor clothing suitable for all the elements – the weather can turn very quickly.
  • Investing in a decent pair of walking boots is one of the best things you can do for your feet. At the very least, pack plasters in case of blisters.
  • Sunglasses can come in very handy.
  • And don’t forget the camera!

All that’s left to do is have an amazing time exploring Perthsire and marvel at what nature offers for free!

 

Autumn at Alexander House | Holiday House near Gleneagles Perthshire

14 Apr 2018
Easy Campfire Breakfast Recipes | Drop Scones / Pancakes

Food and Fire: Drop Scones or Pancakes

Another easy and firm campfire breakfast (or afternoon snack) favourite is Drop Scones – serve with maple syrup. Surprisingly easy and often not on your radar with busy mornings but while glamping, enjoy the slower pace and rustle up some pancakes for brekkie!

INGREDIENTS

25g unsalted butter
140g self-raising flour
pinch of fine salt
1 tbsp white caster sugar (leave out for savoury version, and replace with a pinch of pepper if you fancy it)
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract. (leave out of the savoury version, and add a pinch of dried herbs if you fancy a herby flavour)
150ml semi-skimmed milk.

METHOD

  1. Make the mix in a ziplock bag and pour out to make drop scones.
  2. Heat a skillet or pan (or Dutch Oven lid turned upside down) on the campfire to a moderate heat. Pour out a measures of mix onto the pan and wait for bubbles to evenly form, flip and wait until golden brown.
  3. Serve with maple syrup, golden syrup, jam, chocolate spread, honey, or even marmite (if you leave out the sugar and vanilla extract!)

Image credit: www.getoutwiththekids.co.uk

16 Mar 2018
Yurt Heather Views

A Beginners Guide to Glamping in Scotland

So what exactly is Glamping?

Well it is often referred to as “Posh Camping” and it certainly doesn’t involve pitching a tent in the pouring rain or dark! The main difference is glamping typically provides a permanent or semi-permanent structure like a yurt, cabin, treehouse, pod, or shepherds hut. The beauty of this is that you don’t need to worry about setting up ‘camp’ and having a few arguments (!) when you arrive.

Yurt Heather | Glamping Yurts Scotland Perthshire

Why not try Glamping in Scotland?

Given the sometimes unpredictable climate in Scotland having a solid structure with heating is a real bonus. Somewhere to escape from the rain and cold and even the midges, as they certainly don’t like fire and smoke!

Staying in a glamping structure gives you a cosy and comfortable base from which to explore the beauty of the local countryside.

When you go glamping you have all the benefits of camping – that is, being close to the great outdoors and wildlife – hearing the owls hooting at night, campfire cooking, star gazing, the wind rustling in the trees, rain drops on canvas in a yurt or bell tent, but you’ll be super cosy inside!

How is Glamping different?

Glamping facilities are typically a good notch above camping, some practical essentials and a few little luxuries, like ensuite bathroom facilities and perhaps a roll top bath, a wood burner, and sometimes even wood-fired hot tubs, heated towel rails, and electric blankets. Now that certainly isn’t roughing it! 🙂

Yurt Heather | Glamping Yurts Scotland Perthshire

You’ll still have to be able to light a fire (don’t worry it’s not tricky and we make it super easy for you) and boil your kettle on the gas stove, campfire or wood burner. The chef can demonstrate their wilderness cooking prowess on the fire pit and provide a meal rustled up in the great outdoors!

Wood-Fired Hot Tub | Luxury Yurt Glamping in Scotland

Glamping places can sometimes be a little quirky too – converted tanks and horseboxes come to mind – but we think glamping should not just be a little different but also comfortable and even luxurious – that’s our AH style!

New to Glamping? Here’s our ‘What to Bring’ Checklist…

Clothing & Footwear

Bring your waterproofs – the best ones to have are the ones that fold up into wee bags, as it could be rain, shine, and hail all in the one walk. We recommend Muck Boots for your wellies, as they have an extra inner that’s more comfy for walking, but gives you full leg coverage for those bogs that definitely come and find you mid walk…., or a good pair of walking boots (fully waterproofed) and a pair of gaiters does just as well if you are going to be romping across the Scottish hills again sometime soon, but they are quite a bit more expensive.

Plenty of Clothes

If you are a newbie to glamping, remember to bring plenty of layers of clothes, as the temperature extremes are greater when you are glamping than in a house. And PJ’s & slipper socks – they are so comfy and warm, and just perfect for curling up in in front of the wood burner.

We also highly recommend a warm hat for when you are sitting in the hot tub, as the rest of you is toasty, but your head gets quite cold in the breeze! A pair of flip flops can also be handy when padding across a wooden deck or path to a hot tub.

Glamping Yurt with Hot Tub | Gleneagles Perthshire Scotland

Absolute Essentials

Definitely remember to bring a torch (not just your phone app one!), as you are going to be outside at some point for sure, and probably in the dark!

If you are a light sleeper – bring ear plugs. Glamping structures are all wind and waterproof, but they are definitely not sound proof – so do remember that you will be able to hear the wind, rain and animals around and about at night. We love the sound of the owls hooting and the wind rustling the trees but perhaps not if you are a light sleeper!

And not forgetting, your sense of adventure!

Food & Drink

Remember those marshmallows or chestnuts to roast on the fire… there’s just something so lovely about the smell of roasting chestnuts on a real fire.

If you want some camp fire cooking inspiration before your next glamping trip – take a look at our easy and fun camp fire recipes.

Toasting Marshmallows on a Campfire | Glamping in Scotland | Near Glenagles

What NOT to bring!

Embrace not having your hair straighteners and makeup, let your hair go frizzy! Enjoy what nature has given you, and just being you, the deer and squirrels really won’t notice if you’ve painted your face and fingernails and if you’ve got long hair, perfect that french plait before you come away, its a perfect morning standby hairdo. 🙂

Leave the iPad and Bluetooth speaker at home and just disconnect from your busy life and reconnect with a loved one and time spent in the beautiful great outdoors.

ENJOY…

Beginners Glamping Guide | Glamping Yurts Gleneagles Perthshire

 

04 Mar 2018
Easy Campfire Breeakfast Recipes | French Toast

Food and Fire: a campfire breakfast favourite – French Toast

Now strictly speaking, you don’t need to be camping or glamping to do this recipe but somehow it always tastes better when cooked over a campfire in my opinion.

French Toast is truly AMAZING on the campfire and a standard Scout breakfast in my Scout group. 🙂

INGREDIENTS

Any supermarket basic white bread or try cinnamon bread for a fruity twist
Eggs – beaten up – (feel free to give them a good hammering), in a shallow wide bowl
Dips;
Savoury – herbs, salt, pepper, beaten up eggs in a shallow flat bowl
Sweet – cinnamon, brown sugar, tiny bit of five spice if you like its flavour, you can also add fruit like blueberries or strawberries
Traditionally served with Maple Syrup if you like it or also Nutella can be a naughty treat

METHOD

Dip on one of the following mixes and fry in a big skillet with a glug of oil or butter, until golden brown on both sides.

 

Image credit: www.417mag.com

10 Feb 2018
Banana Boats | Camp Fire Cooking - Pudding Recipes

Food and Fire: Banana Boats

These have got to be one of the simplest camp fire pudding recipe ideas but they never fail to deliver and make everyone smile.

They are versatile in terms of fillings and no plates are required! Perfect 🙂

INGREDIENTS:

Bananas (1 per person or more if still hungry!)
Fruit – strawberries, raspberries
Chocolate or Nutella
Marshmallows, sprinkles, nuts

METHOD:

1. Take one banana

2. Slice through, but not all the way through, leaving the skin on, so that the banana can be ‘opened’ length ways.

3. Fill with delicious things – fruit, chocolate, marshmallows and nuts

4. Wrap in one layer of baking parchment and then finally wrap in foil

5. Pop in the fire to melt and make yummy

Open up and eat when it has cooled down a bit….. enjoy! 🙂

04 Aug 2017
Image credit: www.freshoffthegrid.com

Food and Fire: Campfire Recipes – Pan Pizza

You can just about cook anything on a campfire and one of our AH favourites is the Pan Pizza! 🙂

There are a few essential items that you do need to be able to cook with fire well, and a few that are ‘nice to haves’. So I thought we would start with the absolute basic must have and work our way through some recipes to use the essential campfire kit…

The solid steel frying pan.  Is an absolute outdoor fire cooking essential. Double handled pots are handy too but a fry pan is an essential in my book. You can buy one at Greenman Bushcraft.

Pan Pizza

Yummy, crunchy bottom to this pizza if you get it right, burnt to a crisp if you get it wrong 🙂

Make sure that your fire is cooling when you cook this and the top cheese will be molten, not that golden brown, but its just as delicious!

Image credit: www.freshoffthegrid.com

PIZZA INGREDIENTS

Toppings of your choice… we recommend that you use fresh mozzarella balls, fresh basil and tomato sauce, with a sprinkling of Cheddar or Red Leicester cheese.  And for those blue cheese fiends then gorgonzola is amazing on this pizza, as it melts into the crust!

This is also a great pudding pizza – add some fresh berries mixed with mascarpone and heat through, until the berries are warm and the mascarpone has melted a bit into the dough crust. Or mix figs with syrup with mascarpone and, again this is a simply marvelous pudding pizza

PIZZA DOUGH INGREDIENTS

500g white bread flour (preferably 00 flour, but strong white break flour is OK too)
100g semolina flour (finely ground)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1x 7g yeast sachet
½ teaspoon golden caster sugar
3 tablespoons of olive oil (and a little extra for cooking the pizza in the skillet/frying pan with)

METHOD

  1. Sieve the flour/s and salt on to a clean work surface and make a well in the middle.
  2. In a jug, mix the yeast, sugar and oil into 650ml of lukewarm water and leave for a few minutes, then pour into the well.
  3. Using a fork, bring the flour in gradually from the sides and swirl it into the liquid. Keep mixing, drawing larger amounts of flour in, and when it all starts to come together, work the rest of the flour in with your clean, flour-dusted hands. Knead until you have a smooth, springy dough.
  4. Place the ball of dough in a large flour-dusted bowl and flour the top of it. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and place in a warm room for about an hour until the dough has doubled in size.
  5. Now remove the dough to a flour-dusted surface and knead it around a bit to push the air out with your hands – this is called knocking back the dough. You can either use it immediately, or keep it, wrapped in clingfilm, in the fridge (or freezer) until required.
  6. If using straight away, divide the dough up into as many little balls as you want to make pizzas – this amount of dough is enough to make about four medium pizzas, or if you have a big skillet/frying pan, about two.
  7. Timing-wise, it’s a good idea to roll the pizzas out about 15 to 20 minutes before you want to cook them. Don’t roll them out and leave them hanging around for a few hours, though – if you are working in advance like this it’s better to leave your dough, covered with clingfilm, in the fridge. However, if you want to get them rolled out so there’s one less thing to do when your guests arrive, simply roll the dough out into rough circles, about 0.5cm thick, and place them on slightly larger pieces of olive-oil-rubbed and flour-dusted tin foil. You can then stack the pizzas, cover them with clingfilm, and pop them into the fridge.
  8. Once you’ve got your pizza dough sorted, then heat up the skillet/frying pan with some olive oil in it, over a cooling fire.
  9. Cook one side of the pizza until it is golden brown, and crisp – keep checking!  You really need to keep an eye on this, as there are usually hot spots in the fire that overcook certain bits, so keep moving the pan around so that it cooks evening.
  10. Turnover and repeat.

Add your toppings and then cover with tin foil to cook through again (or a pan lid, to make a mini oven) until the cheese on top has melted and your veg or other toppings are as soft as you would like them and cooked through.

For a step by step picture guide to making campfire pizzas go here

We’ll be back with more tasty campfire cooking recipes soon! See our other easy campfire recipes here!

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