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

27 Sep 2018
Hen Do Ideas - Fully Catered Activity Weekend | Near Gleneagles Perthshire

Hen-do heaven – enjoy a fully catered activity weekend

Your long-awaited Hen Weekend has arrived, your bag is packed and all that’s left to do is to get yourself to Alexander House – it couldn’t be simpler!

Host Sam will be there to organise everything, from all of the catering to every activity you’re planning to try. Isn’t that bliss compared to having had to spend months pulling together a weekend itinerary and then worrying the entire time that something will go wrong or you may have forgotten one vital thing?

Time to let your hair down

The fun starts from the moment you arrive at Alexander House. We will be ready to welcome you with a few glasses of perfectly chilled fizz. Check out the amazing views Alexander House has to offer, settle into your rooms and then head to the kitchen for a relaxed buffet supper based around your choice of Turkish mezze, Italian or Indian food. There’s no cooking, no clearing away, we take care of it all! Once dinner is over you can feel right at home, playing your favourite music or maybe a few games to get the party started before turning in for a good night’s sleep.

The adventure starts here

We’re not running a boot camp, so breakfast is served from the civilized time of 9.30am. Setting you up nicely for the day ahead you can enjoy a few hours chilling, maybe take a dip in the outdoor pool or soak in the hot tub, before the activities start.

On the activities front the world – well, Alexander House and the fabulous Scottish surrounds – is your oyster! The choices are endless, with plenty to do either onsite or nearby. Try white water rafting, kayaking, river duckies, take aim with clay pigeon shooting or archery, or learn bushcraft skills. You provide the transport and we’ll send you off with a delicious picnic to enjoy while you’re offsite.

Perthshire Hen Do Ideas - Spalsh White Water Rafting

 

Returning to Alexander House late afternoon, we’ll have a scrumptious homemade cake ready to enjoy with tea or coffee and you’ll have plenty of time to dress up for the evening, so don’t forget to pack your little black dress and sparkly shoes. Pre-dinner canapés are served in the Drawing Room, which is the perfect setting for selfies and group photos – especially if you’ve chosen the option to have a Murder Mystery Dinner and everyone is dressed in fabulous costumes!

Dinner is served

Hen Do Ideas - Fully Catered Activity Weekend | Near Gleneagles Perthshire

You then enjoy a three-course dinner served promptly at 8pm in the Dining Hall. Food menus are tailored for your stay and prepared freshly onsite.

Hen Do Ideas - Fully Catered Activity Weekend | Near Gleneagles Perthshire

Hen Do Ideas - Fully Catered Activity Weekend | Near Gleneagles Perthshire

Hen Do Ideas - Fully Catered Activity Weekend | Near Gleneagles Perthshire

After dinner, settle down in the Drawing Room for teas, coffees and a selection of petits fours – also the Murder Mysteries final cut will have played out and the question of whodunnit will be revealed!

Hen Do Ideas - Fully Catered Activity Weekend | Near Gleneagles Perthshire

Now it’s time to fall into bed…

Chillax!

And so to Sunday. Why not simply cosy up in your complimentary white fluffy dressing gowns and head down for a late morning brunch served in the kitchen. With no need to rush off just yet, turn on the tunes and chillax. With snacks and all food provided there’ll be plenty of leftovers to tuck into if you’re feeling peckish. Don’t forget to grab those last-minute selfies or group shots and enjoy a farewell glass of bubbly before leaving around 4pm.

As one of our recent Hen parties described their catered stay at Alexander House, it’s like having a special Hen fairy who is always there to make sure the entire weekend is a magical time!

Fancy being totally spoiled?

Book a fully catered weekend for your hen party and let us do all the hard work. For more details or to make a booking at Alexander House call us on 01764 680205 or check our website for more details.

13 Sep 2018

CHAS Aberdeen Ladies Lunch – 30th August 2018

Dear Jo & Alexander House Team

Our annual CHAS Aberdeen Ladies Lunch took place once again at The Marcliffe Hotel last Thursday, 30th August and there was a buzz in the room from the outset when the 275 guests arrived for an afternoon filled full of fun, laughter, tears and dancing.

We were delighted to have music from the very talented Paul Black at our drinks reception and all our guests enjoyed having their pictures taken with our huge CHAS letters on the lawn outside.

Michelle McManus was, as always, the perfect host for the day, bringing lots of fun and laughter, whilst The Soul Kings had all the ladies up on their feet dancing and singing along.

At the event, which was sponsored by Dron & Dickson, our guests had the opportunity to win stunning earring’s from ROX worth £4,800, a case of Laurent Perrier Rose champagne sponsored by Brewin Dolphin, a £500 voucher for Harvey Nichols courtesy of Whyte Crane Hire, a beautiful bag from Stellar and £1,000 cash prize courtesy of Chez Dean, as well as a great selection of wonderful raffle, live and silent auction prizes.

CHAS Mum, Lynne McKenzie reminded us all why we were there when she shared her inspirational story about her son Jack, who passed away at Rachel House in 2016. You can read Lynne’s story which featured in the Daily Record in June (see attached).

Whilst a lot of fun was had it was also a very emotional day. As well as Lynne’s speech, we held a direct ask where we asked our ladies to help us cover the cost of the CHAS at Home support in Aberdeen on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Hogmanay and New Year’s Day and the response was overwhelming. The lady who won the £1k cash prize donated it back to CHAS and Chez Dean donated a pamper day to CHAS Mum, Lynne and her daughter Holly. There were lots of tears, but it was so heart-warming to see all the generosity and support of the Aberdeen audience.

I hope that I’ve painted a picture of the afternoon for you, but if you would like to watch our wonderful picture presentation of the day, grab a cup of tea and enjoy this CHAS Aberdeen Ladies Lunch video below.

We couldn’t hold events like these without the tremendous support we receive from people like yourself. Thank you so much for once again donating a midweek stay at Alexander House as a prize for the live auction. With your help, alongside the incredible generosity of the guests on the day, we raised a phenomenal £61,500 which after costs means £43,500 will go directly to our work with families like The McKenzie’s. In fact, we managed to fully fund one of our CHAS Nurses in Aberdeen for a full year, which is just phenomenal.

Thank you so much for playing your part in our special day, we hope to continue working with you again in the future.

Kind regards
Louise Jordan
Events Assistant

Alexander House proudly supports Children’s Hospice Association Scotland (CHAS).

CHAS is the only charity in Scotland that provides vital hospice services for children and young people with life-shortening conditions.

To find out more about CHAS and their invaluable work please visit the website.

03 Aug 2018
Hen Do Ideas - DIY Spa Weekend

Hen Do Ideas: Pampered hens are happy hens – treat yourself to a DIY Spa!

Finally, your Hen weekend at Alexander House, the weekend you’ve been planning for so long, is about to happen! All that’s left to do is to pack a bag, get yourselves here and enjoy your stay. Relax, have fun, celebrate your friends and particularly the bride-to-be. At Alexander House you can forget the normal 9-to-5, unwind in the hot tub, take a dip in the pool, feast your eyes on the magnificent surrounding scenery, have another glass of bubbly, and probably never want to leave!

Hen Do Ideas - DIY Spa Weekend

Make Alexander House your personal spa

Hen weekends are all about indulgence. And what could be better than a little bit of pampering! The DIY Spa at Alexander House is perfect for hens who want to make their weekend even more special. Book a pamper hamper and we’ll have a fantastic hamper of goodies ready and waiting for you to discover and try. The hamper includes everything you need for an indulgent beauty experience – such as mini facials and hand, nail and foot treatments – and all products are salon quality. It takes about three hours to use all the treatments, so cosy up in your complimentary fluffy gowns, put on some chill-out music and indulge. Switching off phones is highly recommended – albeit there will be a few good selfie moments, just don’t spoil your nails!

Hen Do Ideas - DIY Spa Weekend

Hen Party Themes

If your hen weekend has a theme and you want to extend that to the DIY spa, just let us know. We’ve had all sorts of requests, from beach babes to Hawaiian goddess, and can tailor the contents of your pamper hamper accordingly. The pamper hamper is available for groups of 15 or more.

Fancy being pampered?

For more details or to make a booking at Alexander House, call us on 01764 680205 or check availability now.

21 Jun 2018
CHAS Rocking Horse Ball 2018 - Alexander House supports

CHAS Rocking Horse Ball – 8th June 2018

Dear Jo & Alexander House Team

Our annual CHAS Rocking Horse Ball took place at Prestonfield in Edinburgh last Friday evening, 8th June and our Wonderland theme seemed to be a real hit with our guests who enjoyed getting their pictures taken with Alice, the Queen of Hearts and The White Rabbit, alongside the CHAS letters on the lawn of Prestonfield on arrival before enjoying our welcome drink, a delicious Pickering’s Gin cocktail.

Sanjeev Kohli was our hilarious host for the evening and Navid from Still Game even made a special guest appearance much to the delight of our guests. Alex Fleming expertly raised a phenomenal amount during the auction, including £8,000 for our Rocking Horse, aptly named Alice.

Our guests were thoroughly entertained by our roaming magician, Dusty, Will Pickvance on the piano and BLEEKER who ensured the dancefloor was full right until the end of the night. Many of our guests had their faces adorned by the talented Lynn at Fantoosh Face Art and the sweetie table, courtesy of Luca’s and Colourful Candy, proved to once again be very popular with our guests, taking them back to their childhood days. Many said the full bags of sweeties were for their children, but we’re not so sure!

The highlight of the evening was when our CHAS parent, Bruce Edmond, shared his story about his son Jack who died at Rachel House last year. He told us that they brought Jack to the cool beds at Rachel House after he had died, to rest until his funeral. One evening they came back from dinner to find a nurse reading a bedtime story to Jack. Bruce said ‘THAT is the level of care you get at Rachel House’. He explained that it costs £400 per day for a charge nurse at Rachel House and he and his wife wanted to pay for the first day, he invited the guests to join him and balloons were passed to everyone who raised their hands. It was so powerful to see the room filling with balloons. That ‘ask’ raised £25,500 on the night! You can see Jack’s story here which was filmed before he passed away.

We hope that we’ve painted a picture of the evening for you, but to bring it all to life, we had two wonderful photographers there to beautifully capture every detail. You can view a video of the evening here with these great images:

We couldn’t hold events like these without the tremendous support we receive from people like yourself. Thank you so much for donating a midweek overnight for two in a Yurt as a prize for our silent auction. With your help, alongside the incredible generosity of the guests on the night, we raised a phenomenal £143,500 which after costs means £110,000 will go directly to our work with families like The Edmond’s.

Thank you so much for playing your part in our special night and we do hope to continue working with you in the future.

Kind regards,
Louise Jordan
Events Assistant, CHAS

 

Alexander House proudly supports Children’s Hospice Association Scotland (CHAS).

CHAS is the only charity in Scotland that provides vital hospice services for children and young people with life-shortening conditions.

To find out more about CHAS and their invaluable work please visit the website.

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