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December 2019

Castles of Perthshire Capturing the Landscape

Cold Weather Comforts

Discovering Blairgowrie

Win Afternoon Tea for Two!


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CONTENTS P48

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T HE FATCOO! Capturing the Landscape

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Winter Bucket List

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The Perfect Place for a Winter Break

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Discovering Blairgowrie

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Castles of Perthshire

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GrowBiz Welcomes 1000th Client

A Perthshire Literary Review — December

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Win Afternoon Tea for Two!

P70

Digital Dentistry in the 21st Century at InfintyBlu

P28

Easy Shortbread Recipe

P71

Are We the Right Marketing Platform for You?

P32

Bowland Trails — a Unique Insight into the World of Husky Racing

P72

Cold Weather Comforts

P34

GrowBiz — Strength in Numbers

P75

BOOKMARK — Goodbye 2019, Hello 2020

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GinFall Festival is a Sparkling Success

P76

The Perthshire Whisky Club — 1770

P42

Sustainable Scotland at Work

Creative Perthshire — Charlottle Brayley and Alan

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P48

Making the Most of a Rainy Day

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“At The Perthshire Magazine, we believe that winter weather shouldn’t stop us having fun, so in this issue we’ve highlighted some fantastic things to enjoy in the area at the moment—out and about or at home—as well as looking back at what we’ve appreciated in the past year and ahead to what we are excited for in 2020.” Abigail Shepherd, Editor of The Perthshire Magazine


Capturing the Landscape Members of the Society of Scottish Landscape Photographers are exhibiting in Perthshire until the end of January.

Image: Davie Hudson


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our members of the Society of Scottish Landscape Photographers are exhibiting a selection of black and white and colour landscape photographs at the Battleby Conference Centre, in Redgorton, Perthshire.

drive north of Perth, off the A9 near Luncarty, and is open Monday to Thursday  8.30am-5pm, and  Friday 8.30am-4.30pm. As the venue is primarily a conference centre it is advisable to phone before visiting. They can be contacted on 01738 444177. There is ample free on-site parking.

The exhibition, which features a mix of both traditional and fine art landscape images, opened on Mon- Dates: day the 18th of November and runs until the end of Monday 18th of November 2019 — January 2020 January (exact date TBC). There are around 35 images (date TBC) on display and all works are for sale. Venue:  The four members (Nicky Goodfellow, Davie Hudson, Battleby Conference Centre Annette Forsyth and Donald MacKenzie) say, “We are Redgorton excited to be showing some new work at the Battle- Perth by Conference Centre. It is a wonderful venue full of PH1 3EW natural light and located in the heart of the Perthshire countryside, which is the perfect venue in which to Website: display our landscape images”. www.nature.scot/about-snh/battleby-conference-centre The Battleby Conference Centre is a few minutes Entry: Free

Image: Donald MacKenzie


Images: Nicky Goodfellow


About the photographers: Nicky Goodfellow is a landscape/nature photographer based in Perthshire, Scotland. Brought up in the Perthshire countryside, Nicky has a natural affinity towards nature. In addition to capturing the wild and rugged landscapes of Scotland, Nicky specialises in fine art tree photography depicting the natural beauty of trees and woodlands throughout the seasons. Nicky won the ‘Your View’ category in the 2018 Landscape Photographer of the Year awards. Www.flickr.com/photos/nickygphotography Davie Hudson is from Dundee, Scotland and likes to describe himself as an organic photographer. He doesn’t always go for the perfect shot, but rather the shot that evokes the most emotion from both himself and his clients. He finds that the more of himself and his feelings that go into an image, the better it is received. In January 2019 Davie switched his output completely to film, both 35mm and Medium Format, finding it suited his work much more than the clean output of digital.  Davie is currently head of The Society of Scottish Landscape Photographers. http://www.redstagphotography.com/home Annette Forsyth is a passionate landscape photographer based in Crieff, producing images from all over Scotland. She has always spent a lot of time in the outdoors and her love of landscape photography developed naturally. Annette is drawn to water, mountains & mood and very much enjoys texture and intricate detail. Annette runs weeklong photography holidays in various parts of Scotland.  https://annetteforsyth.co.uk/ Donald MacKenzie describes himself, not so much as a landscape photographer, as some who photographs the land and is influenced in that through his background and culture of being a Highlander. How land is used and the pattern of land ownership are subjects he wants to explore in his photographs. He says that his photography doesn’t aim to be a realistic rendition of a scene, rather it hopefully conveys the emotion he felt when capturing the photograph. Donald now lives in Glenfarg. https://www.dmackimages.org/ About the Society: The Society of Scottish Landscape Photographers is a collective based around the principles of quality, environmental awareness and the promotion of Scotland’s landscape.  The membership represents some of the best photographers of the Scottish landscape currently active and the Society was formed as a haven of sorts for professionals and top quality amateurs. Our membership contains many award winners, both nationally and internationally, as well as major company ambassadors and nationally published photographers. Society website: http://www.soslp.com


Images, from top left: Annette Forsyth, Davie Hudson, Donald MacKenzie


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though, as the original elements of the building include large windows and high panelled or decorated ceilings. The bedrooms also have everything you’d expect in a quality hotel room, as well as a few extras, such as an Nespresso machine in addition to the kettle. There’s lots of quirky details too, particularly the recurrence of a paw print motif, reminding you that this hotel has won awards for how pet friendly it is.


The huge front bedroom in particular makes an ideal bridal suite for anyone who might be getting married at the Dunkeld Cathedral this winter, with stunning views of the river from huge windows with sills big enough to sit on, gloriously decorated ceilings, regal blue and soft gold colours, a marble fireplace, large sofas and a small dining area. No less than four lights hang from the ceiling, each with three pendants. It’s easy to imagine it as the main reception room of the former townhouse. Dunkeld itself looks lovely from every angle, with other bedrooms facing old buildings set into the hills or overlooking the quaint high street—from the second floor there’s even a glimpse of the cathedral beyond it. Even in winter there’s plenty to do in this small town, whatever the weather.


“No matter how cold or damp it is outside, this room always feels cosy�


The abundance of independent shops in Dunkeld is particularly special, and the high street has become something of a food lover’s delight, with The Scottish Deli offering a great selection of wines and cheeses, among other things; the new Whisky Box selling unusual and sought after whiskies along with old favourites, as well as offering whisky tastings and gift vouchers; not to mention Dunkeld Smoked Salmon, which is made in the town by Ronnie, who has been head smoker there for 30 years and is a master in his field. He uses only salt, curing the fish for 24 hours before smoking for another 20 hours. The company has recently expanded to the high street and offers lots of local luxury produce in addition to their delicious salmon, including coffee from Unorthodox Roasters, chocolate from The Highland Chocolatier, and many more.

ways feels cosy, with the warm yet subdued lighting and relaxing background music creating a comfortable atmosphere, while the citrus-scented air prevents you from feeling too somnolent. It’s the perfect place to relax with a cappuccino (decorated with a paw print), warm up and show everyone what you’ve bought. In the event that the weather is too bad for you to want to venture out even for shopping, then you can always do it from the comfort of the hotel lounge! The Atholl Arms have a selection of items from local producers, including Persie Gin, the Highland Soap Company, and even their own jams and chutneys. They also offer gift vouchers, which can be used for any of the businesses belonging to the Z’s AmaZing Kitchens brand—the hotel and restaurant itself, the new brasserie in Dunkeld, or even (from March 2020) the Armadale Bar and Bistro on the Isle of Skye.

Once you’ve enjoyed all Dunkeld has to offer, The Atholl Arms Hotel boasts an excellent, newly re- The Atholl Arms Hotel currently has several furbished restaurant and a truly beautiful lounge. No special winter offers available, with prices from just matter how cold or damp it is outside, this room al- £69 for two people! Find out more here:

www.athollarmshotel.com/offers/winter-offer


Castles of Perthshire

Perthshire is home to some amazing buildings, steeped in history. This month our photographer, Nathan Shepherd, has been out capturing his favourite local castles for you to enjoy. Some are well known, others are less so, some are intact and some are ruined, but all are fascinating!


Blair Castle Blair Castle is the ancestral home of Clan Murray and the seat of the Dukes of Atholl. It has a long history, highlights of which include being taken by Oliver Cromwell in in the 17th century (the Murrays were Royalist supporters), and playing an imporant role in both Jacobite risings. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert visited in 1844. Castle Menzies This 16th century castle was the seat of the Clan Menzies chiefs for over 500 years. It hosted both Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Duke of Cumberland during the second Jacobite rising. The castle began to be restored from a ruin in 1957 by the Menzies Clan Society and is now owned by the Menzies Charitable Trust.

Images—overleaf, Blair Castle; this page, Castle Menzies


Images: Castle Menzies


Image: Dunalastair House


Dunalastair House While not strictly a castle, Dunalastair House is an intruiging, turreted ruin that certainly deserves a place in this article. The estate itself was originally owned by Robertson’s, but was sold to General Sir John Macdonald in 1853. He demolished the existing house and had this one built by Perth-based architect Andrew Heiton, who also designed the Atholl Palace Hotel. It was completed in 1859, but changed hands repeatedly, and in any case, was only really used as intended up until the First World War. After this somewhat turbulent history the house has sadly fallen into disrepair. It and the Dunalastair Estate are now owned by the La Terrière family.

Images: Dunalastair House


Image: Dunalastair House


Comrie Castle This ruined castle probably dates to the mid-12th century and was originally the seat of Clan Menzies; however the family moved to Castle Weem and then Castle Menzies after Comrie Castle was devastated by fire in 1487. It was rebuilt in the 16th century as a residence for junior branches of the clan, but ceased to be occupied from 1748. The rebuilt castle was one of the earliest examples of an L shaped tower house.

Images: Comrie Castle


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A Perthshire Literary Review

December By Dr Paul Philippou

T

his is the first in a new series of monthly considerations of writing and literature (in the broadest sense) from Perthshire— in the past and today. It will comprise new and old writing, poetry, prose, and more. Perthshire has an expansive literary history and can claim many well-known and loved authors—those born within the county and those who have chosen to work within it; and indeed, those who continue to ply their writing trade here. Book festivals, signings, author events, and more will find a home within Literary Perthshire’s monthly contemplations, as will anything bookish that takes

this writer’s fancy or is brought to his attention. Book Festivals For those lovers of book festivals, and I include myself here, having spent a great deal of August in one grassy square in Edinburgh, December is a lean month. February 2020 provides better pickings with the Paisley Book Festival (21 February-1 March) and the much closer to home Winter Words Festival at Pitlochry Festival Theatre (14-17 February) which marks the end of winter and the approach of spring with a popular line up of writers and thinkers— more information about the Winter Words Festival will appear next month.

Hen ry A da mso n (bap . 15 8 1, d. 1 6 3 7 ) Henry Adamson, who was born in Perth the son of James Adamson, Provost of Perth, and Dean of Guild, was a church-trained historian, poet, and teacher. His Muses Threnodie, or ‘mirthful mournings on the death of Master Gall Containing variete of pleasant poeticall description, morall instructions, hitoriall narrations, and divine observations, with the most remarkable antiquities of Scotland, especially at Perth’ (c. 1638) is both a wonderful piece of writing and an important historical document, containing information and references to life in seventeenth-century Perth, as well as a plethora of classical allusions. Adamson’s other claim to fame is that he is recorded, in 1620, as being the first writer to employ the word ‘curling’ in his work: something that is rather fitting given that Perth is home to the headquarters of the World Curling Federation.


The following extracts from the Muses Threnodie have been sourced from Perth: As Others Saw Us by Donald Paton. The Muses Threnodie And there, hard by a river side, they found The fairest and most pleasant plat of ground That since by bank of Tiber they had beene, The like for beauty seldome had they seene ... which when they did espy, Incontinent they Campus Martius cry, And as a happie presage they had seene, They fixt their tents amidst that spacious greene, Right where now Perth doth stand. How can I choose, but mourne? When I think on Our games, Olympick-like, in times agone. Chiefly wherein our cunning we did try, And matchless skill in noble archerie. In these, our days, when archers did abound In Perth, then famous for such pastimes found: Among the first, for archers we were known, And for that art our skill was loudly blown: What time Perth’s credit did stand with the best And bravest archers this land hath possesst. We spar’d nor gaines nor paines for to report To Perth the worship, by such noble sport; Witness the links of Leith, where Cowper, Grahame, And Stewart won the prize, and brought it home; And in these games did offer ten to three There to contend: Quorum pars magni fui. Book Buying With the approach of the winter holiday season, the book trade receives a much-needed spike, and while the online trade takes a sizeable chunk of the market, there is so much to be gained from a visit to a bookshop, not least a chance discovery, the feel and smell of new books, and in many cases, the chance of a coffee or cup of tea accompanied by something sweet— lemon drizzle cake anyone? Perthshire has its bookshops, though far from the number I’d like—the new trend for opening independent bookshops, such as the one in Portobello, near Edinburgh, has not quite hit Perth & Kinross as yet, but it will! So, where should you go for your book purchases? In Perth, Waterstones and WHSmith provide the book buyer with a good and varied selection of titles and each branch has its own specialism: WHSmith (Perth) has a sizeable travel section and titles from the Richard and Judy Book Club, and there is another store in Pitlochry; Waterstones (Perth) is a book seller


par excellence with friendly and knowledgeable staff and a pleasing range of fiction and local interest titles, as well as hosting regular events with authors. Big Dog Books (Perth) is an independent comic book, games and pop culture shop that will delight even the most resistant to new literary forms. The New Manna House and the Mustard Seed (both Perth) offer new books to Christian readers and both have cafés. For those looking for a discounted bargain, The Works inside Perth’s St John’s Shopping Centre does the trick. Out of town (city I should say), the Birnam Reader Bookshop & Café (Birnam), which offers amazing home-baked cakes (I am a fan of their Tunisian Orange Cake) has recently branched out from selling excellent condition second-hand books to new titles. Further north, Aberfeldy’s Watermill Bookshop, Gallery & Café is a former ‘Independent Bookshop of the Year’ winner (2009 and 2016) and is listed in the New Yorker book of ‘75 Greatest Bookstores in the World’. In addition, there are many second-hand book shops

in Perthshire and several gift shops that include books as part of their range—more than enough to provide every bedside table in the area with a biblio-tower of books awaiting to be read. The Wee Review – The Garden of Lost and Found by Harriet Evans Sir Edward (Ned) Horner is an acclaimed painter. He and his wife, Liddy, live in Nightingale House. His painting ‘The Garden of Lost and Found’ is internationally acclaimed. And, yet one summer’s day in 1919, shortly before his death, Ned destroys the painting. Years later, his great-granddaughter Juliet, an art historian, begins to unravel the mystery of that day. The family saga of the past runs against that of the present as Juliet deals with divorce, three children— one of whom is a victim of social media bullying— and losing her job. An absorbing, heart-lifting, and emotional journey, The Garden of Lost and Found is a page-turning novel by a writer who has honed her craft across eleven books.


New Writing Here is a delightful poem by a local writer, Avril Duncan, entitled Naggyfauld. (Naggyfauld is a settlement in the Parish of Dunblane and Lecropt.) Any local writers wishing to submit work for inclusion in future articles can email them (I’ll do my best to include as much work submitted as possible, but inclusion cannot be guaranteed.) “Ye’r askin’ Grampa tae gie ye a haun Tae find yer way to whaur yer gaun You an’ mither an’ Uncle Shaun Want to go to Naggyfauld Noo that’s a place that’s ilka bonny A place tae go to meet yer crony Nae noisy traffic, it hisnae’ ony There’s peace at Naggyfauld The road it winds frae’ wee Kinbuck An’ if ye dinnae push yer luck You might catch sicht o’ the pintail duck That lives near Naggyfauld The trees’ll be green at this time o’ year And the blossom pink, never fear And once you’ve dooked across the weir Ye’ll be in Naggyfauld A place tae go in summer weather A place tae sit and ha’e a blether A place tae just be a’ the gether Wi’ freends at Naggyfauld The Jacobites camped at Naggyfauld And fought a war in days of auld In winter when the days were cauld Doon at Naggyfauld

With white snaw covering a’ the groond The tall hills rising up aroond And the noise o’ death was the only soond Heard at Naggyfauld Ye’ll see the fields where many fell Jacobites, Royalists as well It must ha’e been a livin’ hell O’er at Naggyfauld But as ye pass stop a while The sicht o’ flooers will make ye smile The smell o’ perfume for a mile Aboonds at Naggyfauld Don’t set off till you’ve had yer fill Holding hands, run doon the hill Keep goin’ till you reach the mill The one at Naggyfauld Then chap the door and ask for Nell A bonny lass I once knew well O’er your Grampa she cast a spell The beauty o’ Naggyfauld We once went coortin’ in summer weather Roamin’ the moor wi’ its purple heather Stopped at the stile for a kiss an’ a blether Romance in Naggyfauld Aye, Grampa looks back on these days When life was slow wi’ simple ways And every memory firmly stays Implanted in Naggyfauld So when ye reach yer destination Ha’e a whisky at the Cafe Station And raise yer glass to the bonny creation Here’s tae Naggyfauld Copyright Avril Duncan

If you would like to submit a piece of writing for consideration in this article please email: mail@tippermuirbooks.co.uk

Dr Paul S. Philippou is an Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of History, University of Dundee. His book, Scott’s Fair City, is available now. Paul is Joint Director of ‘Words of War’, the Perth Military History Book Festival (21-22 September 2019). Information about the military history of Perthshire can be found in Battleground Perthshire: Two Thousand Years of Battles, Encounters and Skirmishes—available to purchase online or from bookshops. For further information see http:// tippermuirbooks.co.uk. Paul is also the driving force behind http://madeinperth.org, Perthshire’s local history website. Photos for this article were taken by Nathan Shepherd.


e P r t @ h Book W E N NEW VIEW OF PERTH & KINROSS

Tippermuir Books Ltd. publishes books, plays, novels, short-story collections, non-fiction work, and children’s books in English and Scots. Our aim is to add to the cultural life of Perthshire and Scotland. Our strength is our localness, smallness, and belief in the written word. We are committed to helping local authors of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry to get into print. To that end, we welcome submissions which will receive swift, honest, and supportive responses. Contact: mail@tippermuirbooks.co.uk

Buy online: www.tippermuirbooks.co.uk

PERTH’S INDEPENDENT PUBLISHER | EST. 2009


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ver the last few decades, our world has changed drastically thanks to the ever-growing evolution of technology. It has changed the world across all industries and the way we live our lives.

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Are We the Right Marketing Platform for

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Editor Abigail Shepherd explains what we can do for your business and why marketing with us is a great, cost-effective option.

What kind of marketing can we offer?

What is our audience like?

We offer a wide variety of promotional opportunities. Adverts, advertorials, video advertising, sponsored social media posts, competitions and reviews are all effective options for marketing your business with us and keep your message fresh and engaging.

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he Perthshire Magazine reaches over 30,000 people a month through our beautiful digital publication alone. When you add in our highly engaged social media audience, that figure rises to something closer to 250,000. Yes, that’s correct! Our lovely readers themselves are all ages and nationalities. Some are retired, some have young families, others are single professionals or students. Most are local, but we also have a healthy following of international’s who have visited or are planning to visit Scotland. But they all have one thing in common—they love Perthshire.

How much does it cost? Well, surprisingly little actually. Because we are digital we don’t have printing costs to worry about. That means we can afford to charge a lot less for our advertising options. In fact, you can have a monthly advert with us from just £25 a month! See our full price list here.


What are the advantages of advertising with us? A digital magazine offers the best of both traditional and modern marketing. We can offer clickable web links, embedded videos, exact viewing figures (as opposed to just a print run), and sharing on multiple platforms, while at the same time presenting your brand in a beautiful, well designed layout that really fits your business identity. We are available all over the world and we are eco friendly too!

Where do we fit in between traditional printed advertising and social media marketing? This is a good question. As more and more people turn to the internet to find the information they need, and prefer scrolling through Facebook or Instagram in their leisure time rather than reading, this is increasingly the place you need to be in order to attract new customers. For this reason, most printed magazines now also have online versions and social media platforms, and many have even gone over to these entirely. Because we started off with that understanding, we went straight into a digital magazine, so we are already set up for the future of publishing. But if digital is the way to go, you may be wondering what we can provide that social media can’t, especially if you already have thriving social media accounts. Why not just put the money towards a Facebook advert? One reason is that you’re spending your money on finding an audience within that platform the The Perthshire Magazine has already found. By spending some of your budget with us, you will reach far more people for the same amount of money—just take a look at our viewing figures again. We include social media support in all our advertising packages too, so we are essentially doing the hard work for you, for less. This can be particularly helpful for businesses who are struggling to make social media work for them, or who don’t know where to start in marketing their business digitally. Another benefit we have over social media is that by using The Perthshire Magazine you are advertising through a trusted and influential brand. Anyone can promote their business on social media, but it means something to be in The Perthshire Magazine. If you have any more questions, or want to discuss our advertising options and prices, then please get in touch:

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Cold Weather Comforts

Abigail Shepherd offers suggestions on how to survive the winter in comfort

A

t this time of year the weather can leave us feeling a little bit battered and rough. The cold chaps our hands and lips, the dark makes waking up a real chore and the rain makes us, well... wet. In view of all this, I think it’s especially important that we infuse a bit of extra comfort into our daily routine, because a little bit of self care can go a long way to reversing these slightly negative effects. Just introducing the following items into your home can make a big difference:

1. Hand Lotion

Just a small thing, but a little bottle of hand lotion by your bed, or on your bathroom sink next to the soap, keeps your hands nicely cared for despite the cold and is a super easy way to counteract one slightly unpleasant aspect of winter. It’s so simple, and yet sometimes we really just don’t take the time to do this for ourselves. There’s plenty of ‘manly’ versions out there now too, so there’s no need for anyone to suffer this unnecessary discomfort. Try the Highland Soap Co. for a really luxurious feeling.

2. Blankets

It’s important to be warm. Spending the whole winter feeling just slightly chilly is particularly depressing. But of course, with energy prices still high, and sometimes homes less well insulated than they could be, we can’t always afford to turn the heating up. Better to invest in a really good quality blanket, such as the ones sold at the Highland Safaris gift shop.


“I think it’s especially important that we infuse a bit of extra comfort into our daily routine”


Photo from Highland Safaris


3. A Tea Cosy

Sometimes considered as old-fashioned, I think a tea cosy is actually an essential winter luxury. Really, it just means you can have a big pot of tea on the kitchen side and keep topping up your (favourite, comforting and special) mug from it. Even the bleakest day feels better with unlimited tea! I love my tea cosy from Hayley Mills Art, and our Facebook followers also recommend ones from Stag and Grouse, or Lesley Mac Makes for lovers of Harris tweed. Favourite, comforting and special mugs can be bought from Kettles of Dunkeld.

4. Candles

The dark mornings and especially evenings really benefit from being candlelit. We often light candles for guests, but I’ve noticed a worrying trend of otherwise just keeping them for display. If you’re inclined to do this, then why not invest in some lovely tea-light holders instead? The tea-lights can be easily and cheaply replaced, so you’ll have no excuse not to light them for your own pleasure. How about some quirky ones from the Highland Safaris gift shop?

5. A Hot Water Bottle

A regularly cold bed can really sap the joy from your life. If you don’t have an electric blanket and would like a cheap and easy alternative, there is really nothing wrong with a good old-fashioned hot water bottle. Place it in the bed about half an hour before you plan to get in, then enjoy the instant cosiness, with no cold patches of bed-sheet to try and avoid touching. Doig’s of Aberfeldy currently have merino wool hot water bottle covers for sale. So this winter, treat yourself or a loved one, or both, to these five essential little items and see how much better a small amount of daily self care can make the entire cold season.


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Abi.aberfeldy@gmail.com

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BOOKMARK

Book Festival Goodbye 2019, Hello 2020

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ith our final author event of the year, Graeme Macrae Burnett, being another sell-out, BOOKMARK would like to thank all our audiences for making 2019 the most successful year yet. BOOKMARK is a Festival with a future—and that future is now assured.

But we also have to look ahead for new ideas, new writers and new ways of engaging with readers. In 2020 we’re having a Literary Lunch on one Sunday in June and we’ve invited well-known as well as debut writers—after all, no writer is immediately famous. Our topics over the year will range from Scottish legend to our relationship with animals. Nature and the outdoors feature, as does photography and crime fiction set in an exotic past. And we’re only at BOOKMARK Book Festival in Oc- the start of our programming ideas! tober welcomed larger numbers than ever and received extremely positive None of this would be possible withmessages from writers, interviewers out the support of everyone who atand members of the public. What all tends our events. Word of mouth is of the committee and our volunteers the most effective way of telling the endeavour to do is to encourage con- world about BOOKMARK—if you’re versation within a small, welcoming already a fan please spread the word. space which is large enough to house If you’ve never been to any of our argument, discourse, agreement and events, why not give us a try? discussion. In October there were Our first event in 2020 is the perfect people in our audience who entered introduction to BOOKMARK. On into conversations about topics enFebruary 1st, after our AGM (which tirely new to them; from sewing and will be short but to the point!) Sandra knitting to Indian space missions. Ireland will read from and talk about Devoted history readers listened to her acclaimed novel The Unmaking of novelists; non-readers enjoyed the Ellie Rook, which caused quite a stir conversations; those allergic to poetry this year. You’ll hear about our plans confessed themselves won over. for the year in more detail, meet all Well-known writers such as Ali Smith and Louis de Bernières loved their time in Blairgowrie because of the engaged audiences and the strong sense of community they felt. Melanie Reid said that she left BOOKMARK with ‘a warm glow’. Many of those involved have asked to come back—and they will!

those involved and enjoy a delicious afternoon tea as well. All tickets are available in advance, details on our website www.bookmarkblair.com

I look forward personally to welcoming you in 2020! Gail Wylie Chair, BOOKMARK Book Festival


the thomson family whisky collection p e rth sc o tl an d

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1770

Nathan Shepherd reviews a 3 year old whisky that nearly changes his mind about non-age-statement whiskies, and gets very excited about Perthshire’s newest whisky shop.

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t has often been said that we are creatures of habit. I know I am. I always leave the toilet seat up, I always forget to take the bin out on a Tuesday and I always forget my big sister’s wedding anniversary. These actions are now my default due to becoming a habit. The same can happen with whisky. We can become comfortable with what is familiar in terms of smell and taste. We can end up with a small selection of favourite distilleries and find it hard to pluck up the courage to try something different. The increasing cost of a decent single malt only makes this worse. The thought of spending nearly 70 quid on a bottle that we actually end up not liking much is enough to make us shudder. This is where a bricks and mortar whisky shop comes in. In an actual whisky shop, you will find an actual person. If you go to the right type of actual whisky shop, you will find that that actual person will be able to make all sorts of recommendations for whiskies to try. Some of them might well be something that you haven’t even heard of, or wouldn’t normally consider buying. This happened to me the other week.


“Those redcurrant notes are very unusual and are a welcome addition to the complex and smooth whisky�


There is a new whisky shop in Perthshire—the Dunkeld Whisky Box. It’s in Dunkeld (or Funkeld, as it is known in the vernacular). The ‘box’ bit is also very apt. The shop is tiny: with 6 people in it it’s starting to feel quite full, with 8 it is best described as snug. In fact, with 8 people in it you all have to move in unison; we all ended up moving in an anticlockwise direction, although no one said that this was the way we should all go. It just sort of happened. Our collective rotation was dominated by our excitement to see what was in stock, the very British fear of bodily contact with a stranger, and the smell of fresh paint. The shop is owned and run by a lovely chap called Will Stockholm, a Perthshire Whisky Club member no less, who has done a great job of setting it up. It has a section for tastings down one end and funky madeto-measure shelves that cover the rest of the walls. These shelves are filled with a thoughtful selection of whiskies, many of which are beyond the obvious, and range in price from very reasonable to having to hide the receipt from the wife.

you… Pesky Council licensing department… It’s nice to put a face to the Instagram account, etc.), Will asked if we would like a dram. Abi (Head of Accounts) said a very quick “yes”. I was driving (the story of the last 12 years of marriage), so said that I couldn’t, but would sniff Abi’s. Dram poured, we were told all about it. It was the 1770. It was very smooth (apparently). From the first distillery to open in Glasgow for over 100 hundred years, we were told. Will then casually dropped into the conversation that, although this whisky has no age statement, it is generally considered to be mainly 3 year old, with just a dash of the 4 year old in for good measure. Now, at this point I was feeling a little awkward, as I have written quite a few articles with the very firm view (possibly a slightly snooty one) that non-agestatement whiskies are not that great. But here we all were, talking excitedly about a whisky that was just 3 years old and, unsurprisingly, this wasn’t declared on the bottle! Intrigued, I prised the glass from the Head of Accounts’ vice-like grip and had a sniff. It was unexpectedly good. Better than good, it was bril We were in Dunked the other day, so thought liant. So good that the Head of Accounts released the we would pop in for a look. After exchanging the funds and I was allowed to buy a bottle. I can only usual pleasantries (Well isn’t this nice…Well done assume the free dram had weakened her resolve.

“Our collective rotation was dominated by our excitement to see what was in stock, the very British fear of bodily contact with a stranger, and the smell of fresh paint”


Back home, I’ve been sampling this whisky and have continued to be impressed with its complexity and strength of flavour. The nose starts with ripe red fruits, redcurrants being the most obvious. Following this is quite a lot of vanilla, tarragon, biscuits and some maltiness. The overall effect is quite sweet and very fruity—one could almost say juicy. Along with all this juiciness there is also some toffee and apples, along with some resinous notes. There is just a hint of hotness on the nose that does suggest its very young age, but this is not the defining quality of the whisky. Along with this hotness there is perhaps a slight medicinal quality. The palate starts with some warm malty biscuit notes. Behind these are those red fruits again, they are both sweet and tart. These smoothly change into toasted almonds, vanilla, tarragon and some very resinous wood. It reminds me of being in a pine forest on a very hot day. By tasting this whisky you would never guess it was just three years old, it is smooth and amazingly complex for its years. The spirit and cask influence are harmonious and integrated. The finish is fairly long, smooth and leaves you with warm malty biscuit and a bit of redcurrant. It is not at all oily. I have tried it with a drop of water, but personally didn’t think it was an improvement.

“Back home, I’ve been sampling this whisky and have continued to be impressed with its complexity and strength of flavour”


I’ve been wrestling with the “is this whisky worth the price?” question all week.... All in all, I’ve really enjoyed this whisky. It’s completely different to types I normally buy. Those redcurrant notes are very unusual and are a welcome addition to the complex and smooth whisky. If ever you need convincing that young whisky isn’t necessarily bad, then this is one to try. There are a couple of things I’m not sure about, however. One is the name: 1770. They have picked this because there was a distillery founded in Glasgow in that year, but there isn’t really any viable link between that company and this bottle of whisky. I feel that they have just jumped onto this heritage and called it their own. This is such a modern whisky (I would go as far as to call it millennial) that it’s a shame to fall back on this (frankly overdone) “oh look at how old we are” cheesiness. If they had the nerve to call themselves 2014 (the actual date of their founding) then, not only would it have fitted their product better, but it would have been a much more spunky move. The other hesitation I have with it is the price. It costs £47—as far as I could work out, it’s this same price everywhere. Now, that is fair enough until

you find out the bottle is only 50cl, rather than the more normal 70cl. This launches it into dangerous territory, as it is more expensive (by volume) than many truly brilliant whiskies—Springbank 15 Year Old, for example. I’ve been wrestling with the “is this whisky worth the price?” question all week and the answer I’ve come up with is “no”. But at the same time, I feel quite bad about saying that. After all, it is just the price that it has to be—starting up a brand new distillery is ruinously expensive and they have to get that money back somehow. The £47 for 50cl seems to be something of a compromise, as I’m pretty sure they would find it hard to sell a full size bottle of this for just under £70. But even with these two small niggles, I’ve still thoroughly enjoyed this bottle. It’s a fabulous experience and a great buy if you are fed up with drinking the same style of whisky all the time. On balance, it comes recommended. 1770 costs £47 at The Dunkeld Whisky Box, 2 High Street, Dunkeld.


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Charlotte Brayley &

lan

Creative Perthshire Interview Charlotte Brayley was born in 1982 in Yorkshire. She moved to Scotland at the age of 11 where she attended the all-girls school, Fernhill and St. Alosius’ College in Glasgow. She graduated from the Glasgow School of Art in 2006, gaining a (Hons) Degree in Fine Art: Environmental Art and Sculpture. Since then she has exhibited in galleries across Scotland and found fame, mainly through her sheep. She had a project that took the mainstream media by storm in 2003, spray painting her sheep (with vet approved sheep spray) to protect them from the big cats of Scotland. A more recent and continuing brush with fame came courtesy of her pet sheep, Alan. He helped pay for her wedding. She lives on a small-holding in Perthshire, near the village of Comrie, with her husband and son and their four dogs, one cat and, of course, Alan.


Hi Charlotte! We really enjoyed your (and Alan’s) previous contribution to The Perthshire Magazine and are delighted to have you back. For those who missed it, what do you create? I create illustrations and paintings (many call them nostalgic) of animals, in the style of illustrations found in children’s books. They can be anything from a wee otter to a painting of my daft sheep, Alan. The main medium I use is watercolour. I love that I am still learning new techniques even now. I really like the whimsical nature of your pieces. How did you first get into to drawing and painting? Well, I got into all this at an early age, inspired by books from my own childhood along with my mum’s vast collection of childhood books. I wasn’t the most academic at my school, so I spent many a lesson doodling in my jotters and folders. Even at art school I doodled away during lectures. I never can keep still and have to take pencils, pens and paper with me whenever I can! Tell us a little more about your creative process? I sketch. I follow Alan around quite often. I take my camera with me in the hopes of spotting some of the magnificent wildlife we have here in Perthshire. (Otters, partridges, red squirrels and deer are my favourite.) We have kingfishers at the bottom of our garden, but I haven’t seen them yet! I draw every day—I try and do my housework first so I can concentrate on the task in hand. I need to have a steady mind to be creative, which isn’t easy when you suffer from an anxiety disorder. I try and not push myself too hard and allow myself some down time if the creative flow isn’t there.

“I sketch. I follow Alan around quite often. I take my camera with me in the hopes of spotting some magnificent wildlife”


That’s great and thanks for being so open. What’s the best bit about what you do? The best bit is that I have a job that I love doing. I also have met some incredible people through my social media business page and have made some solid and lovely friends. I love doing Christmas craft shows too. It teaches me that the world is still a lovely place.  Ok, sounds wonderful. But there must be challenges too?

The biggest challenges for me are time and having an anxiety disorder. I try to talk about this as much as possible in order to try and keep that door open and break down the silence about mental health. I am very honest on my Facebook page about having a wobble or a struggle. I have such a great support network and am inspired every day by the kindness I am shown. Time is a challenge for many reasons, but mainly because of the great demand for my work. That’s very exciting!


“The biggest challenges for me are time and having an anxiety disorder. I try to talk about this as much as possible in order to try and keep that door open and break down the silence about mental health” That’s fantastic, good for you. Do you have any advice for someone who would like to learn to draw or paint? My advice for anyone wanting to be an artist is to make sure you look after yourself as much as possible. Don’t go berserk trying to break into the art and creative world by storm, it takes time and patience. It can be done. Enjoy the journey and the people you meet. Having a great team behind you is a must too. My family, friends and followers have all been a fantastic boost to me and my business. It also helps to have a sheep. A famous one, called Alan! There’s only one Alan! Are you inspired by the Perthshire surroundings at all? I have only lived in Perthshire for about four years. I can’t explain to you in words how much I love this place. Especially Comrie—I am the village’s biggest fan. The surroundings and people are fantastic, but it’s the wildlife that is my inspiration. I won’t be leaving here, this is my life. I am very blessed to have found such a county. We all are. So, where can we view or buy your work? You can buy my work in many ways—from the galleries I exhibit in (across Scotland) to my own Facebook and Instagram accounts—@charlottebrayleyartist (Facebook) and @asheepcalledalan (Instagram)—where you can buy from me directly.


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Winter Bucket List

Abigail Shepherd shares some ideas on how to make this season one to remember.

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new season is an opportunity to enjoy some things, that we can’t do at other times of the year, especially in Scotland where there’s such a big difference in temperatures and hours of daylight. But if we aren’t careful, winter can be a rather gloomy affair in which we go to work in the dark, moaning about how cold and damp it is, and huddle round the television every evening waiting for spring. To prevent that from happening, we’ve put together a bucket list of ten things to do this winter that you can tick off as you go: Make a snowman After a certain age we never seem to do this. We only remember that the snow is cold and wet, not how much fun it is! This winter, join the kids out in the garden and build a snowman. Snowball fights, sledging and snow angels are also accepted. Bake a cake Baking is somehow so much more delicious in winter. There’s something deeply comforting about cosying up with a cup of tea and a slice of something homemade, especially if it includes warming spices. Think cinnamon and apple, orange and cardamom or carrot and nutmeg combinations.


“The idea behind it is not to just carry on as you normally would, except you haven’t got dressed, but to have a day where you let yourself off from doing jobs and spend some time just looking after yourself a bit”


Read a book Long evenings are perfect for snuggling up with a good book. If you don’t have one that you’re excited about, then why not treat yourself to something new? Tippermuir Books are an independent local book shop with a great selection. Play board or card games This is a great way to connect as a family and it doesn’t have to just involve the ubiquitous Monopoly. There’s lots of fun, modern games to suit all sorts of players on the market now, especially at this time of year. Toast marshmallows outside I don’t know why we tend to only do this in summer, when winter is actually a much nicer time to gather around a bonfire and toast sweet treats. Sandwhich them between digestive biscuits to make the delicacy known as s’mores. Have a hot water bottle Even if your home is well heated, there is something lovely about a hot water bottle. You can, of course, snuggle up in bed with one, but I find it even more luxurious to curl up on the sofa with it during the day. Have cinnamon buns and coffee for breakfast This is one for a day off. It needs no real explanation, I think we can all see the appeal of a leisurely morning filled with these comforting scents and warming

flavours. I recommend the coffee from Unorthodox Roasters for something truly special. Make something The dark evenings are a perfect time to do something creative that will give you a real sense of accomplishment. Painting, knitting, woodworking, embroidering, writing/journaling and sewing are just some of many options—and most of them can even be done while you watch TV if you find it hard to give that up in the evenings.


Have a pyjama day Again, this is something for a day off. The idea behind it is not to just carry on as you normally would, except you haven’t got dressed, but to have a day where you let yourself off from doing jobs and instead spend some time just looking after yourself a bit and prioritising what you want to do. For most, this can only happen rarely, and perhaps it wouldn’t be good for us if it was otherwise, but try to tick this suggestion off at least once this winter. Roast chestnuts This is one of those things that we all picture ourselves doing in winter, but I wonder how many of us actually do? This year, let’s make sure those chestnuts we buy actually get used, rather than sitting in the fruit bowl for weeks before shrivelling up and being thrown away. I hope you like my winter bucket list, but of course we all enjoy different things, so why not add to it or make your own? Just make sure they are all things that you stand a good chance of being able to tick off over the next few months!

“I recommend the coffee from Unorthodox Roasters for something truly special”


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Testimonials “Abigail and Nathan stayed at Ecocamp and did our llama experience... Abigail’s article was fantastic, backed up by great photos. She really tuned in to what we are doing here and understood our ethos. Her understanding shone through in her writing. She also got on really well with the llamas—they are always a good judge of character! As a result of her piece we have had a lot of enquiries and bookings.”   Simon and Fiona Calvin, owners at Ecocamp Glenshee “I remember when The Perthshire Magazine first started to fill my various social media channels. What was immediately obvious was their desire to share quality images and a genuine insight into the events, businesses, landscapes and characters that make up our fantastic region. Something that makes the team really stand out from the crowd is that they were, and are, very engaged, interested and supportive.” Sarah Turner Wee Adventures Ltd “I tell everyone about your magazine—not just because we advertise in it, but because it's a good read, and a real source of information and insight into the local area. The photos are excellent too.” Louise Nowell, Marketing Manager at Land Rover Experience Scotland.

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Discovering Blairgowrie By Lynn England and Louise Newstead

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he Blairgowrie & Rattray Business Association and Discover Blairgowrie pulled out all of the stops for The Perthshire Magazine team members when they invited us to discover Blairgowrie and all that it has to offer to residents and visitors alike. The packed complimentary weekend itinerary they had laid on covered all of the pillars of a vibrant community proud of its history, heritage, businesses, producers, artists, festivals and numerous initiatives designed to make one of Perth and Kinross’ largest towns a great place to live, or visit as a destination in its own right, not just a place to pass through en route to Braemar and the Glens.

Project. With its bright flame logo emblazoned on the window it provides a welcome physical presence in town for the community to access information and advice on energy saving and reducing their carbon footprint, along with initiatives such as the NeighbourFood scheme—connecting local producers with their customers via an online click and collect marketplace—and a loyalty card scheme that covers independent retailers on the high street and beyond.

On show and ready to sample were some delicious examples of local produce, which we shared with the group of enthusiastic community and business organisation representatives. They led us through a presentation of their past achievements and future aims in organising successful events such as the BOOKMARK, BRAW and Hamish Matters festivals, all bringing in large numbers of visitors, who can take advantage of the award-winning restaurants and multiple accommodation options on offer, as well as a high street brimming with independent and specialist retailers alongside high street brands. We also learned of upcoming projects for the award-winning Blair in Bloom group which, as We were welcomed to the town the first of its kind in Perth and with an introductory meeting Kinross, is celebrating its 41st held in the office space occupied year with plans for a community by the Blairgowrie and Glens Heat garden and wildlife nature park.


“It’s a very positive and hopeful message that compels you to want to root for Team Blairgowrie!”


The overriding message was one of collaboration between all sectors of Blairgowrie. There were ideas for improving the presentation of frontages—for example the recent Leslie Street Art Trail, which saw blank office and business windows filled with the work of local artists. The aim is to take a holistic approach: galvanising businesses, arts and outdoor activities to work together to the benefit and wellbeing of the entire community. The main premise is that a “vibrant community needs a vibrant economy.” It’s a very positive and hopeful message that compels you to want to root for Team Blairgowrie! We were then taken on a tour to meet some of the town’s independent retailers, many of whom with businesses that have been part of Blairgowrie for decades, and specialists that attract consumers from far and wide, seeking out fishing or shooting equipment expertise or traditional tartans, dress kilts and competition dance wear. The welcome was informative, always cheery, and the feeling was one of belonging to something that is greater than the sum of its parts. A thriving high street is no easy thing to hang on to in today’s world of online shopping and large chain retail parks, but Blairgowrie has managed just that, with everything residents or visitors could need, from delicatessens, cafés, restaurants, clothing

“The welcome was informative, always cheery, and the feeling was one of belonging to something that is greater than the sum of its parts” and gift stores for fair trade items, handcrafted jewellery, arts and crafts, plus the essential pharmacies, pet store, supermarkets, electrical and DIY supplies. Coming up on the 3rd of December is a festive evening of late opening shopping to coincide with Christmas festivities, where retailers will offer shoppers seasonal food and cheer to make gift buying a fun, community event!


Our hosts then introduced us to our accommodation providers, Kelly and Ian of The Old Cross Inn, just up the hill from the town centre, where we were to stay and enjoy a complimentary dinner before heading to the Peoples Ceilidh, part of the Hamish Matters Festival. This traditional coaching inn in Old Rattray dates back to 1865 and, having changed hands over the years, is now family run, offering an eclectic menu in its restaurant that, on our evening stay, featured specials such as 5 spice duck breast with butternut pureé, tender-stem broccoli, hasselback potatoes and red wine jus; or sweet chilli chicken and vegetable noodles with toasted sesame seeds. The inn also offers vegan and gluten-free menus. Kelly and her husband have created a simple mix of modern comforts and design, with the traditional inn features in the four en-suite rooms, lounge bar and restaurant. They also host regular entertainment nights, making it a popular place for tourists and locals alike. It was then on to The People’s Ceilidh in Blairgowrie Town Hall, which was the main event celebrating the life and work of Hamish Henderson, famed son of Blairgowrie: poet, linguist, resistance member during the war and latterly, folk collector and found-

er of the University of Edinburgh School of Scottish Studies. The evening was packed with performances by young and old. Blairgowrie High School children brought an original composition, The Coupar Angus pipe band enveloped the audience in glorious sound as they circled the room, and renowned Scottish musicians, singers and poets, both young and long established, put on an emotional and spirited celebration of the efforts Hamish had made to collect, preserve and promote the folk heritage of Scotland. The event was sold out, with the circular tables in the main hall and the balcony full with an audience well versed in many of the lyrics, and happy to join in when encouraged to do so, as performers regaled them with foot tapping rhythms, lilting melodies and stories and reminiscences of the man himself. The event definitely achieved its aim of proving to those in the room that “Hamish matters!” The following morning, after breakfast at the Old Crown Inn and wrapped up against the cold, we rejoined members of the Blairgowrie Business Association and Riverside Venture group to take a stroll on the banks of the River Ericht. There we heard, in situ, of the ambitious plans to create a Cargill’s Trail riverside walk,


with sculpted metal forms leading to the site where Donald Cargill famously leapt across the river to escape his military pursuers. The stainless-steel figures will be created by David F. Wilson, the public spaces artist who hails from Blairgowrie and who previously designed the salmon sculpture that greets you as you leave the bridge to join the riverside. Etched onto them will be the story, history and context of Cargill’s flight from his military pursuers, avoiding the need for additional information panels and making for an attractive and environmentally friendly installation that contributes to enjoyment of the walk, whilst celebrating the heritage of another of Blair’s historical figures. The trail will be easily accessible from the town centre and connects with other walks in the area, such as the Ardblair Trail. The autumn colours and forms of trees on the steep banks frame the view back along the river towards town, reminding you that easy access to the nature of the riverside from the town centre is a true asset to Blairgowrie, as the number of people out enjoying a walk on a chilly Sunday morning clearly demonstrated. Returning to town, we were met by John Carter of Bowland Trails, who was to take us to experience this family-run attraction and give us the chance to meet the World and European Champion Siberian husky racers and their team of huskies on their home farm and training run. That in itself is a whole other article; find it on page 72. Overall, our weekend experience reinforced the message that when proactive community organisations can forge links, collaborate, communicate and share their pride, expertise and love of their home town, everyone benefits. A thriving town will pass that feeling on to all who visit or choose to live or stay, and Blairgowrie definitely aims to do just that. We were warmly welcomed and treated to wonderful tastes, sounds, stories and experiences in this busy, complimentary weekend itinerary, designed to simply be an introduction to Discover Blairgowrie. We would like to thank all who volunteered to be our generous hosts and share their time and enthusiasm for a town with big ideas and so much to offer! Photography in this article by Lynn England


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Wishing all of our clients, partners and supporters a Merry Christmas and an Entrepreneurial New Year! GrowBiz provides a community-based enterprise support service across rural Perth and Kinross - helping anyone considering self-employment, or starting, running or growing a small business or social enterprise. All of our services are free and confidential. GrowBiz is part financed by Perth & Kinross Council, the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise & Supported by Rural Perth & Kinross LEADER Programme 2014-2020: The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in rural areas. For more on LEADER go to www.pkleader.org


Growbiz Welcomes

1000TH CLIENT Rural Perthshire-based enterprise support organisation GrowBiz has welcomed its 1000th client since October 2016—homeware product designer, Anna Maylon

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n the last three years, the team of experienced and skilled facilitators at GrowBiz has advised and supported 1000 people of all ages, from all walks of life and at all stages of their entrepreneurial journey. From those who have had just the inklings of an idea, to start-up businesses, to well-established enterprises looking to further develop or change direction, GrowBiz has welcomed them all.

from care and wellbeing services to adventure tourism, from designer wallpaper to body positive rainbow bright underwear, demonstrating the level of ingenuity and resilience that exists in rural communities. And the 1000th client herself is a perfect example of how creativity and tenacity can contribute to significant growth the rural economy. Crieffbased Anna Malyon runs Coppertop Croft, producing a range of homeware products such as cushions and stationery with contemporary designs for the wholesale gift and tourism markets.  

Anna set up her business last year and heard about the community-based enterprise support organisation GrowBiz through social media. She signed up to GrowBiz’s monthly newsletter and then attended a Women’s Enterprise Network event in Highland Perthshire. Now her designs and products— everything from tea towels, aprons and coasters to cards and bags—are stocked by Historic Environment Scotland, the National Trust for Scotland and many independent retailers GrowBiz clients offer everything throughout Scotland. Anna also sells from fish and chips to artisan ve- her products through her own website, gan and gluten-free luxury products, www.coppertopcroft.com.


Getting started

It was Anna’s love of design that got her started in business. She lived in Sweden for a number of years, where she fell in love with many of the Scandinavian mid-century ceramics and textiles. On her return to Scotland, she studied printmaking and loved the bold graphic style of block printing in particular.

The enterprise journey

Although still very much at the beginning of her enterprise journey, Anna says it has been a productive first year. “There has been a fair mix of highs and lows and some steep learning curves!” she says, adding, “My experience in retail has helped in terms of sales and customer service and Scott’s IT and Anna takes up the story: “My creative business knowledge has helped with the practice had almost exclusively been book-keeping and website. painting, but I started to think about running my own design-based business. “We now have more product collections I saw an opportunity to use my print- and growing number of lovely stockists making to pursue my love of design and as well as our own online shop.” Anna have a more commercial side to my ar- also has a positive attitude to challenges, tistic endeavours. commenting: “I am learning that failures are the stepping stones to success! “I wanted to design products that would promote Scotland positive“We have invested money and time in ly and provide retailers with someprojects that haven’t worked out the thing different and design-led to offer their customers, be they from home way we expected, but have learnt from or abroad, and in 2018 my husband, the experience. There is an element Scott, and I worked together on lay- of trial and error required as we test ing the foundations, our first project, out markets and designs and grow our being the North Coast 500 collection.” customer base.”


Support

‘Everyone was so friendly and I was able to get one-to-one support in place really quickly’

businesses together. This encourages shared experience, peer support and collaborations that wouldn’t happen otherwise. It enables businesses to thrive, which creates further opportunities for employment and builds resilience and capacity in rural communities.

Anna has had one-to-one support with experienced enterprise facilitators from GrowBiz and has also attended networking events, where she has met with other rural business owners. She says: “These have been so beneficial in many ways. Just knowing you can reach out, ask questions and be guided gives you strength to work “I would encourage anyone through the challenges. thinking about setting up their own business to seek “GrowBiz has been so re- advice from the GrowBiz sponsive to my need to get team, attend local networksupport. I have to wear a ing events and not be afraid lot of different hats, so I am to look for support.” learning how important it is to stay on task for each job Looking to the future and prioritise. I can have a Anna wants to continue load of ideas, tasks and plans to build the wholesale and spinning around in my head retail elements to the busiwhich can slow me down. ness, as well as grow the I was feeling overwhelmed design side. She is currentwith everything and felt the ly working on creating a benefit of reaching out al- portfolio of designs that can most immediately. Everyone be part of her website and was so friendly and I was available to view by art diable to get one-to-one sup- rectors for commission and port in place really quickly. licence opportunities, and says it would be great to get “Everyone at GrowBiz has a to the point where there is a genuine desire to help. They Coppertop team. have been able to identify the most pressing areas “There are many tasks that of support and have given I have to take care of that guidance and support over take me away from spending and above what was ever ex- time on the design process. pected. There are an amaz- It’s my hope that someday ing number of innovative designing will be the main small businesses in rural role for me. At the moment, locations that could benefit my biggest achievement has from getting that initial sup- to be the days that I manport when starting out. age my time effectively, tick things off the to-do list and “GrowBiz also recognises still have time for helping the need for the continu- with homework, getting dination of support and the ner on and spending time importance of facilitation with the family. When you through arranging network- hit the flow and balance— ing events to bring rural those days are sweet!”


“The rural economy offers huge potential for economic growth, but it’s a bit different from the ‘urban’ economy. There are more small and micro-businesses and fewer medium and large enterprises. More social enterprises and, increasingly, more businesses are using digital applications in innovative ways which weren’t possible even five years ago. In the last three years GrowBiz has attracted, on average, more than one new client a day.

“With support from Perth and Kinross Council, their award-winning business mentoring programme is the first enterprise-focused programme in Scotland to be officially accredited by the Scottish Mentoring Network.” The vice-chair of the Rural Perth and Kinross LEADER Local Action Group, Iain Mathieson, added: “What GrowBiz has achieved in the last three years is incredible. National economic policy and business support tend to focus on high-growth sectors and businesses, often in urban rather than rural areas.

“The ingenuity and resilience that our clients demonstrate day-in, dayout is testament to their creativity and tenacity and are a powerful indication of the importance of the rural “But in the last decade, it’s been the economy to the national story.” growth of small and micro enterprises which has fuelled innovaPerthshire North MSP John Swinney tion, employment and new kinds of is a long-term supporter of GrowBiz. collaborative working, and in rural He said: “It is no surprise to me that Perthshire, GrowBiz has been at the GrowBiz has welcomed its 1000th forefront of that.” client since October 2016. The team at GrowBiz is demonstrably passionTo find out how GrowBiz can help ate about supporting small and micro your business visit www.growbiz.co.uk businesses, and connecting them to work with each other in an effort to GrowBiz is funded by Perth and Kinross both boost business and reduce so- Council, Scottish Enterprise, the Scottish cial isolation at the same time. Government, and the Making Rural Business “Their client-centred, professional and inclusive service to anyone who wants to start or grow a business in a

Digital project is supported by the Rural Perth and Kinross LEADER Programme 2014-2020: The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in rural areas. For more on LEADER go to www.pkleader.org

ww.growbiz.co.u

rural area is innovative and inspiraJackie Brierton, CEO of GrowBiz, tional, and the friendly approach that said of the milestone achievement: they take is clearly paying dividends “We were delighted to welcome and is to be heartily commended.” our 1000th client in three years and Anna is a shining example of the in- Perth and Kinross Council chief novative nature of so many people executive, Karen Reid, also congratulated GrowBiz on their milewho live in rural areas. stone achievement and comment“Rural enterprise is worth an esti- ed: “The GrowBiz model is simple mated £36 billion to the Scottish but effective, offering advice and economy each year—nearly 25% of practical support through oneScotland’s overall economy—and to-one sessions, learning events, with the right kind of investment both online and face-to-face, and business support, this figure with regular networking events across rural Perthshire. can only increase.

Additional praise for GrowBiz


Win

Afternoon Tea for Two! This month The Perthshire Magazine has teamed up with Heaven Scent in Milnathort to offer the truly delicious prize of afternoon tea for two at this delightfully quirky venue. They pride themselves on catering well for everyone, including customers with particular food requirements and/or allergies. To learn more about what’s on offer, why not read our review of the experience here? To enter, all you have to do is email us at perthshiremagazine@gmail.com with the answer to this question: Heaven Scent is located in which small town? A) Alyth B) Comrie C) Milnathort

Terms and conditions: The winner and their guest will be entitled to an afternoon tea for two, to be taken at the same time. Your table can be booked at any time between the 1st January 2020 and the 1st of May 2020, subject to availability. It must be pre-booked by calling 01577 865577. The cafe’s normal cancelation policy applies. The competition will close at midnight on the 18th of December 2019, after which a winner will be randomly drawn and notified shortly thereafter. No cash alternative is available.


Abigail’s Homemade Shortbread Shortbread is one of those magical foods that combines deliciousness with ease of making. It uses only four ingredients and is really difficult to get wrong! Yet, even so, you still get to feel that little bit smug and impressive when you have guests, especially unexpected ones, and can pass around a tin of homemade biscuits. Cut and packaged prettily, they also make a great gift. Ingredients: 6oz plain flour 3oz cornflour 3oz sugar 4oz softened butter Method: 1. Heat the oven to 180 degrees. 2. Mix the flour, cornflour and sugar in a large bowl. 3. Add the softened butter and mix until it forms a ball. If it’s a little bit dry you can add a drizzle of oil, too wet, sprinkle in a little more flour. 4. Roll lightly to an even thickness of about 5cm, then press the mixture into a greased baking tray (pretty much any size will do as there’s no need to fill

the whole thing—the mixture shouldn’t spread while cooking). 5. Bake for 25-30 minutes until very slightly coloured. 6. Leave until no longer hot, but still warm. Cut into your desired shape (you can also do this before baking if you prefer to use cookie cutters). Variations: At stage two you can add orange or lemon zest, chocolate chips, raisins, spices or finely chopped glacé cherries for a flavoursome twist. Shortbread are not normally iced, but I can’t see why you shouldn’t ice them if you want to! Mix icing sugar with a little warm water for a simple icing, and add a drop food colouring if desired.


Photos in this article by Lynn England

Bowland Trails a unique insight into the world of husky racing! By Louise Newstead

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s part of our complimentary weekend with Discover Blairgowrie we were offered an “exhilarating” husky ride experience at the Bowland Trails. Sadly, the ground was too frosted for Bowland Trail owners, John and Mary Carter, to be comfortable taking us out for a ride, potentially harming the huskies who were in training for an upcoming World Championship competition in Lewes. But all the same, we went to meet them both and to learn more about what they do and what they offer.

You hear the huskies long before you see them. They have a wolf-like howl that carries across the 200-acre farm. For those unfamiliar with the sound it can be a bit disconcerting and, I must admit, it made me tense up a bit. I am first and foremost a cat person and occasionally a little nervous around larger, more boisterous animals. So my excitement to meet a pack of Siberian racing huskies turned into apprehension, especially as Mary started taking them out of their travel trailer and attaching them one by one to a string of leads spiked into the ground. The huskies thrashed about, howling, in a way I had never seen domesticated dogs behave before and hadn’t really been expecting!


We were assured that they wouldn’t bite and waved over to meet them, so I walked over hesitantly, hands still in my pockets. As I did, I noticed that one of the dogs had rolled over, anticipating a belly rub. So, tentatively, I obliged and to my surprise, wasn’t pounced on or bitten! Quickly, I began to realise that these dogs were excited, not unhappy or annoyed, and though they are definitely different from the type of huskies people keep as pets—the difference between a pony and a race horse, as Mary jokingly described it—they are well-trained and perfectly friendly, just desperate to set off running! Though the howling didn’t dissipate all that much in the hour or so we spent with them, and neither did their seemingly boundless energy levels, by the time we were set to leave I was well and truly won over by the dogs. Several of them were real softies, jumping up for a cuddle or getting jealous if you were nearby but not giving them any attention! They were also so clearly intelligent and good-natured group animals; I soon came to see their innate desire to run as more endearing than intimidating.


John and Mary Carter refer to their 40 Siberian huskies as the “kids.” John and Mary have been breeding and racing purebred Siberian huskies on the Bowland Trails, just outside of Blairgowrie, for over 18 years. During those years they have sacrificed home comforts, living in caravans without electricity or running water, to indulge their passion for racing. Between them they have won a multitude of British and Scottish Championships, as well as European and World Championships—mostly in dryland races. There is not a great deal of prize money in these events as dryland husky racing is not yet a professional sport. A fact that makes it even more apparent than it already is in speaking to them, that the Carters do this purely for the love of it, not for financial gain.

cial to the training process. The older, more experienced huskies are used to train the younger ones. Male pups are trained by female dogs, female pups by male dogs, to reduce the rivalry between them. And often the lead dog isn’t, as you might expect, the most dominant one in the group, but the dog with the greatest drive to prove itself, this possibly being their one and only chance to shine!

John has designed his trail to provide everything the team might encounter at competitions, from fluttering tape, to cars, vans, other farmland animals, dips, hills and trees. We also found ourselves chuckling as he told us that he has recently been roping people in to stand along the trail whooping Humorously, they refer to their 40 Siberian huskies and cheering, to help the pups that are new to racas the “kids;” their actual kids, George and Bob, as ing get used to the sound of crowds. Because his the “boys.” Their own line of huskies are all named trail is so well-set up, John is also in the business of after elements on the periodic table, while those training lead dogs for other teams. brought in to prevent inbreeding are named after types of energy. The Carters also take in “refugees,” We left the Bowland Trails feeling privileged to have dogs that need a home. To all intents and purposes, they are one great big happy family; each member enjoyed such a unique experience, and full of admiwith a distinct personality that is recognised and un- ration for the Carters’ dedication to their canine famderstood. As Mary and John explained, this is central ily and to their sport! Their passion for both is truly to how and why they have become—and continue to contagious. It is clear that Mary and John love sharing their story and welcoming others into their husky be—such a successful team. racing world. We will definitely be back soon to brave Understanding the dogs’ distinct personalities is cru- that “exhilarating” trail ride!


GrowBiz Strength in Numbers

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t has been another productive year for GrowBiz, during which we have engaged with lots of clients across rural Perth and Kinross. In October, we welcomed our 1000th client since October 2016—a fantastic achievement that equates to, on average, one new client a day and which highlights the importance of the rural economy in Scotland.

jects or to book a space at an event, please see our website at www.growbiz.co.uk. All of our services are free and confidential.

Follow us on social media for news and updates— Facebook (@GrowBizPerthshire) and Twitter (@ Grow_Biz)—and you can also sign up to our newsletters at www.growbiz.co.uk In the meantime, we would GrowBiz provides support and advice to anyone start- like to wish everyone all the very best for the festive ing or growing a small or micro enterprise. The Grow- season and the coming year! Biz team works with businesses of all sizes and in all sectors, offering a professional and friendly service. We deliver one-to-one meetings for any rural business “Our clients offer everything from care and looking to start, grow or diversify. Our clients offer everything from fish and chips to artisan vegan and gluten-free luxury products, from care and wellbeing services to adventure tourism, from designer wallpaper to body positive rainbow bright underwear. At GrowBiz we’re passionate about supporting small and micro-businesses, and helping them to grow their own business which can, at the same time, reduce social isolation.We provide a client-centred and inclusive service to anyone who wants to start or grow a business in a rural area. And we aim to increase people’s capacity to be innovative and enterprising and to develop strong business networks where collaborations are possible. Our new Making Rural Business Digital project provides support and advice on how to take advantage of digital solutions. We provide training and support to anyone in business who wants to improve their digital skills with the aim of making Perth and Kinross the most entrepreneurial rural economy in Scotland. We hold regular, free events throughout Perthshire on a variety of topics that help our clients feel more confident using technology in their business or enterprise. For further information on any of our pro-

wellbeing services to adventure tourism”


GinFall Festival is a Sparkling Success Abigail Shepherd reviews the 2019 event for gin lovers like herself When we enter the Station Hotel it’s easy to tell where the 2019 GinFall Festival is being held—the long queue to go in serves as both a signpost and a testament to its popularity. The queue is moving quite quickly despite its size, so there is only just time to get really excited before we are presenting our tickets at the door and being given a token for our fruity, tropical welcome drink.

Another favourite gin from the evening is from the Biggar Gin Co. This family business is run by two brothers, who make their small batch gin with local botanicals. It’s a strong gin, but very smooth and I definitely recommend it. It’s for sale in Perthshire at Provender Brown in Perth and JL Gill in Crieff.

My absolute favourite gin of the festival (although I must admit at this point that I didn’t get around to trying all of them) was from The Garden Shed Drinks Co, mainly because it was so unusual. I particularly enjoyed the flavour of blackberries in this gin, and there was also a hint of lavender; the We are all here to try some gin, and there’s recommended garnish is a blackberry and a an excellent selection of stalls from various sprig of rosemary. This Glasgow-based disdistilleries around the room, all of which tillery also has an ethos that’s worth getting are generously handing out samples. I spot behind, planting one tree for every six botstalls for: Perth Gin, Ben Lomond Gin, The tles they sell and supporting various enviGarden Shed, The Biggar Gin Co, LinGin, ronmental charities. Crossbill, Ninefoot and Valentia. I haven’t tried any of these before and can’t wait to GinFall 2019 was great fun and really helped sample them! me to discover some unusual and fabulous Scottish gin distilleries that I might not For obvious reasons, I would love to try the Perth Gin, but unfortunately the stall is so otherwise have found or taken much notice crowded by other gin fans that I can’t get of, which surely has to be the main purpose near it! However, I infer from this that it of a gin festival. So, quite apart from anymust be good. Instead, I try the Valentia and thing else, it must be said to have been a am impressed by its lovely Mediterranean great success and we hope it will continue to return and grow year on year. flavours of orange and coriander. The event is being held in the ballroom at the Station Hotel and has been set up with large tables in the middle to sit round and enjoy some excellent live music that soon has everyone singing along. But of course, this isn’t the main event...


Sustainable Scotland at Work Spent coffee grounds and whisky grains are the magic ingredients for mushrooms grown in the Scottish Highlands. By Fiona Murray


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ur hero enterprise for this month’s feature of Sustainable Scotland At Work began life as a glorified presentation aid to help a business consultancy firm illustrate its ideologies. Green Grow Foods was born from Aurora Sustainability, a circular economy and sustainability consulting firm based in Forres, Moray.

tigious Unlocking Ambition programme, which aims to increase the number of sustainable purpose-driven scale-ups in Scotland. So, what is all the fuss about?

Practicing the principles of a circular economy, Green Grow produces mushrooms using only local waste materials and then sells the mushrooms back into the local market. In what must be the smallest farm on the planet, oyster mushrooms Director of Aurora Sustainability, are grown in 10-litre plastic tubs, Iain Findlay, developed Green Grow which are collected from a local as a response to 2 key challenges they bakery and stacked onto shelves inrepeatedly faced as business consult- side 3 shipping containers. ants in the Scottish Highlands — getting markets to sell more food that is Instead of traditional soil, the grown locally to them, and the need mushrooms sit on a bed of disto educate people on the advantages carded coffee grounds and spent of a circular economy. grains from a local brewery and whisky distillery. Warm air is piped Just 3 years on from project inception through the shipping containers to and Green Grow has flourished into control the temperature throughout a successful, stand-alone business an intensive 6-week growing cycle. in its own right, generating profits Once fully sprouted and ready to and jobs for the Scottish economy. eat, the mushrooms are picked and Green Grow has won an impressive sold to local restaurants and the array of awards for its ingenuity, spent mushroom compost is used not least Climate Launchpad—the in local forestation and other envibiggest eco-start-up competition ronmental projects. After a quick in the world—and has received the clean, the micro-farm is ready to top prize at Scotland’s competition repeat the cycle. for entrepreneurship, Scottish Edge. That’s not a bad way to promote your The popularity of the mushrooms value as a business consultant! Even in the local area and the success of during the time of writing this arti- a spin-off brand, where the mushcle, Green Grow popped out another rooms are used in gourmet meal 2 trophies, winning the Innovation boxes delivered to your door, means Award and the Sustainability Award these Highland-grown fungi are in at the Highlands and Islands Food serious demand. The process was and Drinks Awards. tightly designed to ensure zero waste—even the pouches that conGreen Grow has also earned a place tain the gourmet meals are certified in the Scottish Government’s pres- as home compostable.


But Iain and the team at Green Grow didn’t start this venture to make their millions in mushrooms, they wanted to inspire local businesses to weave the concept of the circular economy into their own business models. Iain passionately describes the need for us all to shift our perception of what we see as waste and look at what is plentiful in our local areas with a new lens. The spent coffee grounds and barley husks that are abundant in his area are destined for landfill or farmers’ fields. The mushroom farm disrupts the current cycle and allows them to extract new value from the waste, proving that these materials are not at the end of their useful life. Iain Findlay says “We set out to illustrate the principles of sustainability and the circular economy through practical example to help others draw inspiration and understanding from what we do. Society is balancing on the sharp end of a pin... We can fall in any number of directions, dragged down by an economic system that is desperately in need of an upgrade. The opportunities for the sustainable redesign of products and services are enormous and Scotland is at the forefront of that effort. It’s a great space to be in. Profit through purpose is at the heart of who we are as a company.”

“Green Grow is offering their support to interested parties by way of expertise, equipment, and raw materials wherever possible”

We have explored the school of thought around the circular economy in previous editions of Sustainable Scotland At Work, but the concept is so vastly encompassing and critical to changing our current usage patterns that it’s worth recapping on the fundamentals. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation has one of the best definitions of the circular economy —as experts in the field, dedicating their work to transitioning not just the UK but the globe towards a circular economy, they are incredibly articulate on the topic. They define the circular economy as “an economy that is restorative and regenerative by design”. We currently operate in a take-make-waste economic model, where we use the earth’s raw materials to create products which we then consume. Over and out. End of story. This model uses up the planet’s finite resources and creates waste which we cannot re-process. A circular economy, however, Images in this article by Green Grow


aims to keep resources in constant use, elements con- container and relying on cheap waste materials, this tinually flow through a supply chain that doesn’t cre- format of micro-farming opens the opportunity up ate waste. to a range of individuals, businesses and community groups to experiment and build new income streams. A circular economy is based upon 3 core principles: • Think creatively to design waste and pollu- Dr. Isabella Guerrini de Claire (Business Develop tion out of the process. No such thing as ment Manager and co-founder) says, “We want to waste! help others mimic what we are doing with this pro• Do whatever you can to keep products and ject and welcome interest from others who are keen materials in use forever. Use things, but don’t to make a positive contribution to the future of food use them up! production, local employment and rebuilding of soils • Rather than taking from the planet’s finite re sources, we should actively be looking after and nature. By spreading knowledge and understanding, we can all benefit. We must become the change them, replenishing and improving our we need to see.” environments. Green Grow is eager to see their micro-farming model replicated elsewhere in Scotland and are in talks with interested parties in Inverness, Aberdeen and Glasgow. By operating within the footprint of a shipping

Green Grow is offering their support to interested parties by way of expertise, equipment, and raw materials wherever possible. Reach out to hello@greengrowfoods.shop if you’re interested in learning more.

About Fiona Murray Fiona is the owner of Content Marketing firm, Straight Talk - A strategic content marketing firm with none of the usual advertising waffle. Her feature, Sustainable Scotland At Work, is intended to be an uplifting and educational piece that gets us all talking about environmental issues. Investigating and showcasing what’s taking place in Scottish enterprise to improve our environment is a topic close to Fiona’s heart.


Making the Most of a

Rainy Day

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o far this winter there has been a good number of cold, crisp days of sunshine sparkling on frost and dustings of snow capping the distant hills. But this is Perthshire, Scotland, so inevitably we can also expect some grey, rainy days, or perhaps even— my personal favourite—some sleety ones. In these circumstances, it can be challenging to make the most of our holidays or time off. We may not want to just sit inside and watch the TV, but we’ve already taken the kids to the cinema (we recommend the community-owned Birks Cinema in Aberfeldy) and the local swimming pool, so what else is there to do? Well, it turns out, quite a lot. In this article I’m sharing some ideas that may help. My original idea was to split them into categories for kids and adults, but I decided against that, because why should the kids get all the fun? If something appeals to you then go for it, without worrying if you’re too old!

weather is particularly unpleasant, and a visit to an independent cafe or tearoom can be really very enjoyable. Our suggestions for driving routes include: a circular tour around Loch Tay, with a break for tea or coffee in either Killin or Kenmore (depending on which direction you start from); a trip down Glen Lyon with a stop at the tearoom at Bridge of Balgie; a trip to Kenmore and Crieff via Glen Quaich, with several choices for coffee at either location; or a trip to Pitlochry and Blairgowrie via Glenshee, again with an abundance of coffee options available at either town. Visit a museum or art gallery While not strictly in Perthshire, the V&A museum in Dundee is not far out of it and is definitely worth a visit. There is a charge for entering the main display, but the secondary one is free and still very rewarding. There is also a nice gift shop and cafe. Find out more here.

Learn a Scottish recipe If the weather means you aren’t inclined to go out, then this is a great way to experience some Scottish culture from the comfort of your own home or holiday let. A particularly easy and delicious recipe is Scottish shortbread, and it can also make a great gift to take home for friends and family. You’ll find my recipe on page Go for a drive The Perthshire scenery can com- 71. Other ideas for Scottish foods to fortably be enjoyed and even photo- make are clootie dumplings, potato graphed from your car windows if the scones and Scotch tablet.


Perthshire is beautiful no matter what the weather, and if you go high enough, such as Glenshee, you might even find some snow!


Splash in the puddles Does the rain really mean that you can’t go outside? If you have wellies, raincoats and umbrellas then maybe not. Wrap up and go and stomp in the puddles for a bit. Afterwards, enjoy a steaming bath or shower and make a hot chocolate. Do some painting This can of course be done at home, or this month you can visit Perth Museum and Art Gallery for watercolour sessions inspired by the works of the Scottish Colourist, JD Fergusson, whom they are currently exhibiting. Between the 7th and the 20th of December you can drop in here and help them recreate a masterpiece. Click here to find out more. Try some chocolate Not just any chocolate. Take an audio tasting tour of the exceptional creations from the award-winning Highland Chocolatier. Find out more here.

“Wrap up and go and stomp in the puddles for a bit”


Visit a castle Perthshire abounds in castles and stately homes, many of which offer fun, educational and indoor tours. Huntingtower Castle, Drummond Castle and Scone Palace all offer these—or just see the lovely photos of a few local castles and stately homes in our photography feature this month. Shop for some local arts or crafts This is actually something that can be done inside if you want to buy some genuine local arts or crafts but aren’t sure what’s available. A scroll through the Perthshire Open Studios Facebook page will help you find local artists and what they offer, and from there you can find a website or Etsy store to purchase things you love, or you can go in person now you know where they are!

Design your own clan tartan All you need is paper and colouring pencils for this one and you’re good to go! Get the whole family to come up with an option and then have a vote for which will become your official family tartan (assuming that this won’t start an argument...). Take a distillery tour Dalwhinnie Distillery is offering free and half price tours this winter and can take children of over eight years old. We particularly recommend the whisky and chocolate tour. Find out more here. So that’s it—ten fun activities for rainy days. We hope this article helps you to get the most out of Perthshire, whatever the weather!


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Dunkeld Kinloch Rannoch

Strath Tummel

Perth Pitlochry Aberfeldy

Guay

Foss

Busby

Fearnan

Kinloch

Birnam

Murthly

Waterloo

Acharn

Ballinluig

Caputh

Dall

Dull

Kindallachan

Bridge Of Gaur

Spittalfield

Leys

Glen Lyon

Strathbraan West Toffs

Scone Gauls Cargill

Inver

Blairgowie

Crieff

Braco Hosh

Moulin

All information believed to be correct at the time of publishing. The Perthshire Magazine includes some paid articles and articles for which free incentives were offered. All articles reflect the views of the writer only and are not necessarily the views of The Perthshire Magazine, nor are advertisements endorsed by them. Advertisers are responsible for ensuring the accuracy of their adverts. Photos and reviews by the Perthshire Magazine are copyright theirs.


Well, that’s it: 2019 is toast. Actually, it will have a few days left when you read this… So it will nearly be toast. Half-cooked bread if you are going to be pedantic. At this point, I am feeling that I should have picked a better analogy… As usual, I’ve left it to the last day of the month to write this piece, so we will just have to run with the half-cooked bread thing. So, how’s your 2019 been? Ours has been fun, exhausting, adrenaline filled and creatively fulfilling. We would like to say a huge ‘thank you’ to all those who have supported us over the last year. Particularly those who have advertised with us—we couldn’t do it without you! A big thanks to our readers too, you guys are amazing. And an extra big thank you has to go to the fans of the back page. Amazingly, it has grown from something that was just a bit of a joke to one of the most popular pages of any issue. There are even some people that read this page first (hello Becky), and that just fills us with cheer. Anyway, let’s not all get too emotional, we are British after all. Here’s the last snack suggestion of the year! I have to admit to being slightly obsessed with Rich Stein’s new series on the BBC at the moment. It’s called Secret France. I like it so much I’ve even bought the book that goes along with the TV show. Actually, I pretended to by it for the wife so I could snag a few extra brownie points and it would appear that she’s fallen for that wheeze. Anyway, it is well worth a watch if you like French food and want to eat your body weight in butter, garlic, cream, salt and cheese in one meal. So the snack suggestion this month is chicken fricassee with morels. A heavenly dish of succulent chicken, tasty mushrooms, sherry and full fat crème fresh. Possibly not something to eat every day, but perfectly acceptable for a wee treat. I think we have all deserved one after all. I’d recommend matching it with the Gilbert Vincendeau Vouvray from 1989. Alarmingly, I’ve only got four bottles of it left.

Profile for The Perthshire Magazine

The Perthshire Magazine, December 2019  

A beautiful monthly publication that celebrates all that is great about Perthshire, Scotland. Stunning Scottish scenery photography, plus re...

The Perthshire Magazine, December 2019  

A beautiful monthly publication that celebrates all that is great about Perthshire, Scotland. Stunning Scottish scenery photography, plus re...