The Best of Buchan at Saplinbrae Hotel

Tuesday, 30 May 2017
Dinner, Bed and Breakfast at Saplinbrae Hotel and Lodges, Mintlaw. A country house hotel located in Aberdeenshire's Buchan heartland. Relaxed all day everyday dining with contemporary takes on traditional foods and a passion for provenance and local sourcing.

My husband aka Foodie Loon is from Buchan. St Fergus to be precise. So when we recently paid a visit for Fraserburgh Super Saturdays, Kinnaird Head Lighthouse and Glamping in a High Seas Hobbit he was very much back on his home turf. Whilst his farming and family roots are in Buchan, mine are in The Black Isle. As such I was delighted that on the same trip we were also invited for Dinner, Bed and Breakfast at Saplinbrae Hotel, near Mintlaw which for the last 18 months has been owned by a fellow Black Isler, Joanna Gall and her husband Noel. We'd been told that we were staying in one of their wooden self catering lodges but upon arrival we'd been upgraded to The Old Shooting Lodge, a fantastic historic property with three double and one twin en-suite bedrooms plus a gorgeous well equipped kitchen and three public rooms. For a full tour take a look at my Facebook Live video. Lots of lovely touches throughout with my own particular favourites being the Tunnock's Teacakes and the upcycled Rock Rose Gin bottles. 

After exploring the shooting lodge and arguing over bedrooms - the kids not me - I opted for the master bedroom with the awesome rolltop bath. We headed back to the hotel and into the cosy snug bar for a pre-dinner drink with Joanna and her sister Ailsa where a great choice of Scottish beers and spirits were on offer. I went for a Harris Gin and of course it just had to be matched with the local Walter Gregor's Tonic Water for a perfect serve. Saplinbrae is rightly proud of their relationship with and use of local suppliers and highlights them on their menu which includes Netherton Farm Shop, Farmlay Ythan Bakery, Ugie Salmon, The Store at Foveran, Ewan Morrice Butcher, Buchan Fish, Prime Seafoods, Methlick Salad Leaves, Rora Dairy, Springwood Wagyu, Mitchells (Inverurie) and Grahams Dairy. Joanna explained the ethos behind their offering - good food, drink, provenance, comfort, charm and service with a smile. We experienced all of this and more during our stay. Jo has definitely brought some highland hospitality with her to Buchan. 

We headed through to the busy dining room for dinner and perused the menu. I could quite happily have gone for pretty much anything on it. The boys went for a starter of poached Strichen egg, black pudding, rosti potatoes (£6), girl opted for lentil soup (£4) (almost as good as Grannys - high praise indeed) and I went for Seared seabass and langoustine, cucumber lime gel, burnt orange syrup (£8). The poached egg looked amazing and I hoped that it may also feature on the breakfast menu. My seabass was delicious and perfectly cooked with crispy skin although the cheffy touches of  gel and syrup had melted into a multicoloured puddle on the warm plate. 

When it came to the main event I had to stay local to my own roots and went for Belmaduthy lamb loin, minted herb crumb crushed potatoes, spring greens (£19). (Belmaduthy is Joanna's family farm in The Black Isle) Boy joined me with lamb, Girl went for the Chicken breast, cajan spiced crumb, pan fried vegetables and sweet potato mash. Suffice to say none of her vegetables actually got eaten... Our lamb was beautifully pink, tender and flavoursome however when Foodie Loon's dish arrived I was instantly jealous. He'd gone for the 10oz dry aged Aberdeenshire ribeye ( my favourite cut!) onion rings, wild mushrooms handcut chips, cherry vine tomatoes, peppercorn sauce (£25). It looked absolutely amazing! The pièce de résistance which hadn't even been mentioned on the menu was a deep fried soft boiled egg. To give him his due he did let me have a quarter of the egg, a couple of the chips (amazing dunked in the sauce!) and a mouthful of steak. To accompany we enjoyed a bottle of the house red which was a cheeky little number from a carefully compiled and reasonably priced wine list.

Somehow there is always room for dessert. The kids had chosen theirs almost as soon as we sat down. Warm chocolate brownie, chocolate sauce salted caramel ice cream (£6). The brownie was huge and perfectly squishy in the middle yet crunchy on top. I would usually go for the cheese but was swayed by Rhubarb and custard cheesecake, poached rhubarb (£6). I am rather partial to a dessert wine so went for the Pedro Ximénez, San Emilio, Solera Familiar, Andalucia as the menu said it's 'characteristic date and fig notes marry well with the cheesecake'. Perfect contrasts of sharp and sweet to round off a wonderful meal. It was up to Foodie Loon to take on for the team and order the Scottish cheeseboard. House chutney, oatcakes Smoked Applewood cheddar, Clava brie, Blue Murder (£8). Of course this required the classic pairing of a Ruby Port to wash it down. 

Top tip for all restaurants out there, if you offer a desert wine pairing 99 times out of 100 I can have my arm twisted to partake (the other 1% I'll be driving!). After fantastic food and friendly, knowledgeable service we returned to the snug for a nightcap (more Harris Gin and Walter Gregor Tonic) before heading back to The Old Shooting Lodge where a bubble bath had to be taken before retiring for the night (gorgeous complimentary Ness toiletries). Comfy beds and peaceful surroundings made for a good nights sleep, if a rather warm one as the thermostats must have been set a wee bit too high. 

Girl preferred a long lie to a hotel breakfast so only three of us headed to sample the full Buchan Breakfast. I was sorely tempted by Sandend smoked haddock, poached egg, black pudding but we all opted for the full Scottish. However I did also have to go for the Yoghurt, granola, summer berries with Rora Dairy Yoghurt as we'd organised to visit them later on during the weekend so I thought I'd better taste their offering in advance. I'd spotted Rora Dairy on Twitter only a couple of weeks previously and had got in touch with them to find out if they were really the Rora near Mintlaw - yes! And the same Middleton of Rora Dairy where Foodie Loon worked during the summer holidays as a teenager. Yes again! The yoghurt was deliciously smooth and creamy - more about the dairy to follow. Our hearty breakfast most definitely set us up for the day, in particular the awesome tattie scone. Time was ticking by so we returned to The Old Shooting Lodge and packed up or bags to head off for the rest of our adventures at Fraserburgh Super Saturdays, Glamping at High Seas Hobbit and visiting Kinnaird Head Lighthouse and Museum.

On our way home from Fraseburgh we dropped in to visit Middleton of Rora Dairy and find out a wee bit more about their 'Simple Pure Scottish' yoghurt. Whilst the dairy farm owned by Bruce and Jane Mackie has been in operation since 1966 it's only in the past few weeks that yoghurt has gone into production. The diversification came about in an attempt to minimise the effects of the closure of Muller's Aberdeen processing plant which has forced dairy farmers in the area to pay to have their milk taken to the central belt for processing. Currently yoghurt is made once a week with 500 litres of milk and a natural flavour. However there is scope for increased capacity and plans are afoot for fruit and honey flavours to launch soon. You can find a list of local stockists on their website.

We headed out to the dairy shed to meet the 240 Holstein Friesian cows who produce over 2 million litres of milk annually. The impressive set up contains four robotic milking machines where the cows patiently line up and wait their turn to be milked. It is a bright, calm and quiet environment with direct access to the fields outside. The robotics continue with a sweeper robot who pushes the silage towards the cows, lasers that scan the udder and a tag round each cows neck which reports everything about her and her milk to a computer in the office. Suffice to say the set up has changed drastically since Foodie Loon had a summer job there in the 1980's! As a farmer's daughter it was absolutely fascinating to see modern agriculture in practice.

It was great to go full circle and finish up or trip to Buchan by seeing where our breakfast yoghurt at Saplinbrae had come from. Literally just 3 miles down the road, farm to spoon. Unfortunately we didn't manage to squeeze in everything that we wanted to on our flying visit and must return to check out their Cafe at Aden Park, walk around Pitfour Lake and bag some tantalisingly close Geocaches. I was also delighted to discover that Saplinbrae serves a traditional High Tea (4.30-6pm, Monday-Friday). Not so delighted to discover that I'd missed out on their apparently famous cocktails. Why did no one mention Cammy's Cocktails whilst we were there?! Yup a return visit is definitely on the cards.

♥ Pin me for later... Dinner, Bed and Breakfast at Saplinbrae Hotel and Lodges, Mintlaw. A Scottish country house hotel located in Aberdeenshire's Buchan heartland. Relaxed all day everyday dining  with contemporary takes on traditional foods and a passion for provenance and local sourcing.

Disclosure: We stayed, ate and drank as guests of Saplinbrae Hotel and Lodges. As always, all views expressed are my own.

Top 50 signs of a Good Cook - How do YOU measure up?

Thursday, 25 May 2017
Post in collaboration with Circulon

Would you call yourself a good cook?  A study by Circulon has revealed the top 50 indicators of culinary expertise. Can you stand the heat? Read on and find out how you measure up...

I am most definitely a home cook and not a chef by any stretch of the imagination. If pushed I'd probably go as far to say that I'm a good cook. Definitely not excellent and have absolutely no aspirations to appear on Masterchef or Come Dine With Me! But what actually makes someone a good cook? A poll of 2,000 people conducted by Circulon - the non stick cookware folks - has revealed the top 50 indicators of culinary expertise. How would you measure up?  
  • Researchers found just five per cent of respondents class themselves as an excellent cook, while 43 per cent say they’re good. 54 per cent are happy to try attempt an extravagant new dish when friends are coming over.
  • The average person cooks around 11 dishes on rotation. While two thirds of those polled are confident about throwing together random ingredients from their cupboard to make something delicious and 55 per cent say they are confident knowing which herbs should be used.
  • A third of people often try to replicate celebrity recipes and 22 per cent are so proficient at preparing food they don’t even weigh the ingredients, preferring to throw them in at random.
  • And when it comes to cookware, 23 per cent will always read reviews before purchase and 22 per cent take recommendations from friends and family.
  • Inspiration for cooking still comes from cookery books for 54 per cent of people, while 43 per cent regularly watch cookery programmes.
A spokesman for Circulon said: “It has been very insightful to discover what makes the average consumer tick, and what categorises them as a ‘good cook’. The rise of cookery programmes and the increased popularity of sharing food on social media has influenced Britain’s love of food and desire to cook. Carrying out this research has enabled us to fully appreciate our customers’ needs in the kitchen, whilst recognising their ability, confidence and approach to home cooking. Our findings have informed and influenced key elements in the development of future cookware ranges, with customer buying habits and usability in mind.”

Can you stand the heat or should you get out of the kitchen? Reading through the top 50 below I found out that I might not actually be as good as I think I am...


1. Can rustle up anything from scratch
I'm not sure about anything, but I'll give most things a go!

2. Loving to eat as well as cook
Yup, my waistline is testament to that.

3. Willing to experiment and try all foods and ingredients when cooking at home
Experiment is my middle name. (actually it's Louise)

4. Being happy to prepare food in front of guests
Yes, but I'll probably hand them a knife and ask them to help.

5. Always being able to whip something up when there's virtually nothing in the cupboard
I regularly have 'Old Mother Hubbard' situations, yet still manage to feed my family. Pasta is my saviour.

6. When making a roast dinner everything finishes cooking at the same time
I'm pretty proficient at this but need to work backwards on the timings and write it all down for Christmas Dinner.

7. Can identify certain herbs from appearance
Thanks to watching many episodes of Ready Steady Cook in the 90's I know the difference between Flatleaf Parsley and Coriander.

8. Can throw things together knowing that the different combinations (of various foods, herbs, spices) will go together and taste fab
Surely that's what the Food Thesaurus is for.

9. Experiments with dishes by adding a twist on classics
I'm all for a bit of experimentation and hardly ever follow recipes exactly as written.

10. Experimenting with recipes more than once a week
On a daily basis #occupationalhazard

11. Being able to laugh if things go wrong in the kitchen
If I didn't laugh I'd cry. I've had more than my fair share of culinary disasters. Check out my cloud eggs...

12. Can identify herbs and spices by the taste


13. Knowing what herbs go in each dishes

I did my Higher Food & Nutrition Coursework on Herbs and Spices (and I got an A!)

14. Can chop things really finely, safely
I'm not too bad with chopping and haven't had too many serious blue plaster incidents however I do have a tendency to burn myself.

15. Always have eggs and milk in the fridge
My eggs don't stay in the fridge (egg skelter on the worktop) Usually have emergency milk in the freezer.

16. Home-makes all condiments and sauces
Nope - I'm all for a shortcut. Does anyone really make their own Ketchup??!!

17. Owning a spice rack
No spice rack (keep them in a drawer) but do have a Masala Dabba

18. Always the one people go to for cooking tips
Again another occupational hazard

19. Knows what every utensil in the kitchen does

I would like to think so

20. Have a very well stocked pantry with all kinds of ingredients, i.e.: masala leaves, curry powder, mustard seeds, different types of oils: olive, avocado, roasted sesame seed, peanut, truffle, canola

My pantry is overflowing. Admittedly many ingredients were specifically bought for one recipe, a spoonful used, then abandoned.

21. Doesn't need Oxo to make gravy
I really have tried to get better at this after 'fessing up about my gravy sins on BBC Radio Scotland Kitchen Cafe. However a tub each of Chicken and Beef Bisto still have a place in my pantry.

22. Will offer for extra people to stay to dinner at a moment's notice
I'm pretty good at eking meals out for extra mouths.

23. Rarely eat takeaways

Does every weekend count as rarely?!

24. Knows exactly how long to cook a perfectly poached egg
My poached egg game is strong and stable.

25. Knows how to peel fruit and veggies most efficiently
I HATE peeling Butternut Squash, but using a teaspoon to peel ginger is a great life hack.

26. Knowing and practising cooking terms like: 'Al dente', broil, blanch, clarify, deglaze, flambé, gratin, etc.
Those all sound a bit Masterchef to me if truth be told.

27. Always wanting to try a new dish when eating out

Guilty as charged.

28. Being able to guess what is in a dish just from the taste
I could certainly narrow it down but not sure quite how accurate my predictions would be.

29. Never needing to use a cookbook
I have an embarrassingly large collection of cookbooks which I use regularly, but I'm equally happy to wing it sans recipe.

30. Always the designated cook for large family gatherings
Not necessarily. Many cooks make light work.

31. Know when a cake is done without having to stick a cocktail stick in it a hundred times
Nope. I'm a prodder.

32. Knowing measurements without having to actually measure
I can manage a reasonable guesstimate for most things but always weigh/measure for baking and with rice/pasta to avoid cooking enough to feed the 5000

33. Owns good quality cook-ware
Not sure about good quality but I do own a LOT. It's probably my favourite thing to shop for.

34. Writes a detailed list for the food shop
I'm a wee bit addicted to lists in general (and notebooks to write them in).

35. Knowing which wine to pair with certain meat or fish
Nope. I choose my wine by how pretty the label/bottle is. Doesn't everyone?
(I may have recently chosen a wine as it had the same name as my daughter...)

36. Owning a full set of herbs/spices
I do have rather a lot. Especially since I discovered how much better and cheaper they are to buy in bulk in Asian grocery stores.

37. Enjoying a messy kitchen
Nope. I like to work in a clean and tidy kitchen.

38. Don't need a timer
A timer is absolutely vital. Without it everything would be burnt! Even then I sometimes forget to actually set it...

39. Understanding what all the symbols on the oven mean
Need my teenage son to help with this one.

40. Can chop an onion in seconds
Not quite seconds, but I still use the tried and tested method that I learnt in my Food and Nutrition classes at school.

41. Being able to cook steaks perfectly using the thumb technique.
Nope. I need my Thermapen.

42. Can always add in just the right amount
I need to remember that less is more. Especially when it comes to saffron and food colouring.

43. Knowing what 'Bain Marie' is and having the perfect pans for it
Know what it is but no perfect pans.

44. Knowing the correct pronunciation of unusual or exotic foods.
I still struggle with Quinoa.

45. Knowing which wine to drink with meat
Red for red meat, White for chicken/fish. Is it more complex than that?!

46. Can flip a pancake perfectly
Yup! I'm pretty handy come Shrove Tuesday. Was well trained in this particular skill at Brownies.

47. Knows how to prepare celeriac
I HATE celeriac.

48. Mum goes round for Sunday dinner rather than the other way round
Might be the case if she lived closer.

49. Always reads food magazines
My collection of food magazines is even larger than my collection of cookbooks. Give me Good Food over Cosmopolitan any day of the week.

50. Owns set of fancy knives
Only recently when my sister chastised me for my poor knife collection and bought me good ones for Christmas.

.....So how do YOU measure up? Let me know in the comments! Would you call yourself a good cook?  A study by Circulon has revealed the top 50 indicators of culinary expertise. Can you stand the heat? Read on and find out how you measure up...

Disclosure: This is a commissioned post for Circulon. As always, all views expressed are my own.
Thank you for supporting the brands who make it possible for me to continue to share my Edible Scottish Adventures with you. I’m super choosy who I work with and promise to only ever bring you the cream of the crop.

Little Red Dot Singapore Sling and my Singapore Top 10

Wednesday, 24 May 2017
Post in conjunction with

Singapore. The little Red Dot. A virtual tour around my Top Ten must sees plus a recipe for a taste of colonial Singapore from a Gin Sling made with Tanqueray London Dry.

Singapore. The little red dot. It refers to how the nation is depicted on many maps of the world, a little red dot at the southern tip of the Malay peninsula. It lies one degree north of the equator and has increased its total size by 23% via land reclamation. The dot is getting bigger. I visited for the first time in August 2015 when the city state was celebrating 50 years of independence and I fell hook, line and sinker in love with everything about it. Fast forward 18 months and I was back again for a second visit. Before I started researching in advance of my trip, Raffles and a Singapore Sling was pretty much all I knew about, so they were high on my to do list. However there is so much to see, do and discover in this country of sharp contrasts and multiple cultures. In no particular order here are my Top Ten must sees.

Built entirely on reclaimed land, Gardens By The Bay houses both the amazing Flower and Cloud Dome Conservatories and the high tech Supertrees. The whole concept cleverly combines design, innovation, botany and a huge wow factor. In addition to the spectacular, there's a lot of technology happening within the 18 metal trees which are adorned with plants, generate electricity and act as vents for the turbines which heat the conservatories. A trip up the 22m high OCBC Skyway is an absolute must for sweeping views. Both conservatories are amazing but particularly impressive is the Cloud Dome which recreates a tropical climate complete with 35m mountain and waterfall. 

On my first trip I only visited the ArtScience Museum which in typical Singaporean architectural style looks like a stylized lotus flower. This time I also managed to tick off the fascinating Chinatown Heritage Centre, Asian Civilisations Museum, National Museum of Singapore, Peranakan Museum, Singapore City Gallery and the moving Changi Museum. All of them were amazing in their own ways, although my particular personal favourites were the Peranakan and Chinatown Heritage. You can easily spend a good half day in the larger museums and they provide a welcome air conditioned escape from rain and/or humidity.

Hawker Food
Singaporeans live to eat. It's practically their national sport. The melting pot of cultures and the fact that the majority of people really don't cook at home and eat out all the time means that the food scene is vibrant, mouth watering and 24/7. If you want to eat at Michelin starred restaurants that is most certainly an option but the true taste of Singapore can be found in the numerous Hawker Centres (or more upmarket shopping centre food courts) Here you can feast on a dazzling selection of amazingly cheap food that is literally prepared in front of your very eyes in tiny booths. Cuisine covers Chinese, Indian, Malay, Indonesian, Peranakan and more. Hainanese Chicken Rice would potentially be the national dish jostling alongside a Toast Set with Kopi. Hawker centres are not for the faint hearted with their raucos vibe. Be prepared to queue, share tables and be adventurous! Maxwell Road, Lau Pa Sat (for arcitechture and satay), Tekka Centre and the Chinatown Complex would be my top tips. 

Boat Trip
Departing from several points along the Singapore River a bumboat cruise provides a fantastic change of perspective on the city whether during the day or by night. In the evening it makes a great vantage point to view the light shows at Marina Bay Sands and Gardens on the Bay. An alternative quirky option is a Ducktour on an amphibious ex military vehicle which traverses both land and water. 

Vying with eating for the top pastime is shopping. Orchard Road is the main shopping drag filled with dozens of interconnecting Mall's and department stores selling anything and everything you could ever wish for. Prices range from designer to discount. For quirky indie boutiques and gift shops head to Haji Lane in Kampong Glam. 

If Zoo's are your thing, Singapore has one of the best with more than 2,800 animals representing over 300 species. Animals roam freely in open a natural habitats. One of the biggest exhibits is the Orangutan habitat but for me the Sloths and Lemurs in the Fragile Forest was the highlight along with the Koalas.
For further animal encounters there is also a Night Safari, River Safari and Jurong Bird Park.

Cookery Class
On my first trip to SG this was the first thing that I did on my very first day and was a fantastic introduction to both the city and it's food. You can read about my adventures at Food Playground where I made Nyonya Laksa, Deep Fried Spring Rolls and Kueh Dadar. This time I headed to a home cooking class at Cookery Magic where I made Char Kway Teow, Singapore Chilli Prawns and Onde Onde. Both very different experiences but highly recommended. 

Walking Tours
Singapore has a wealth of fascinating neighborhoods such as Little India, Chinatown, Kampong Glam and the Colonial District. On both my trips I signed up for walking tours with local guides via Original Singapore Walks and Urban Adventures. A fantastic way to get a wee bit off the beaten path, discover temples, wet markets, traditional shops, hidden gems and get a glimpse into everyday life. 


Singapore prides itself on its green spaces and Garden City status. The Botanic Gardens are a huge oasis of calm slap bang in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the city. It is absolutely huge - I may have got a wee bit lost! Don't miss the amazing Orchid Garden. 

Singapore Sling at Raffles
Last, but by no means least, we are back where we started with a Singapore Sling in the Long Bar at Raffles Hotel. Thankfully I ticked this one off the list on my first trip as the Long Bar is currently closed as part of Raffles restoration programme (slated to reopen mid 2018) Here you can drink the world famous pink cocktail while tossing peanut shells onto the floor (the only place in Singapore where littering is permitted!) Rattan furniture and swaying fans complete the colonial look. 

After all that travel chat it must surely be time for a Cocktail. The Singapore Sling was first created in 1915 at Raffles Singapore by bartender Ngiam Tong Boon. In colonial Singapore the Long Bar at Raffles was a popular gathering place and watering hole. Whilst the gentlemen sipped spirits, etiquette dictated that the ladies could not consume alcohol in public so had to stick to fruit juices and teas. Ngiam saw a gap in the market and created a cocktail that looked like a fruit juice, but was actually infused with gin and other liqueurs. Making it pink gave further social acceptability and the Singapore Sling was born. What exactly the original recipe was has been lost in the mists of time but here's my take on the Raffles classic using Tanqueray London Dry Gin as the base. For further sling-spiration head to for their Singapore Sling and Perfect Singapore Sling Recipes.

Little Red Dot Singapore Sling

Makes one serving

25ml Tanqueray London Dry Gin
25ml Cherry Brandy
15ml Lime Juice
10ml Grenadine
120ml Pineapple Juice
Splash of Soda Water
Pineapple Slice & Maracchino Cherry to garnish

Add Tanqueray London Dry Gin, cherry brandy, lime juice, grenadine and pineapple juice to a cocktail shaker filled with ice cubes and shake until cold and frothy.
Strain into a tall glass filled with ice cubes and top up with soda water.
Garnish with a wedge of fresh pineapple and add a 'little red dot' with a maraschino cherry.

Linking up to CookBlogShare

♥ Pin me for later...

Disclosure: This is a commissioned recipe for As always, all views expressed are my own. 

Thank you for supporting the brands who make it possible for me to continue to share my Edible Scottish Adventures with you. I’m super choosy and promise to bring you only the cream of the crop.

Fraserburgh - Kinnaird Head Lighthouse and Glamping in a High Seas Hobbit

Friday, 19 May 2017
Sampling the best of Buchan at Fraserburgh Super Saturdays, sleeping in a Hobbit House at Down on the Farm Glamping in Rosehearty plus a visit to Kinnaird Head Lighthouse. 

I spent my childhood on a farm in The Back Isle only moving to Aberdeenshire when I went to University. Prior to that I made an annual pilgrimage to the area during the Easter holidays. Firstly to Aberdeen and latterly to Frasebrugh. My Mum's Aunt, Aunty Meg lived in Don Street in Aberdeen before moving to Scalloway Park in The Broch (the local name for Fraserburgh) and then to sheltered housing in Cross Street. My Mum along with my sister and I used to stay with her for a week each Easter. I remember those holidays as always being warm and sunny. There are certainly a selection of photos taken by my Mum on her Kodak Instamatic that would back that up. Happy days spent on the beach, eating ice creams, burying each other in the sand and riding ponies. All those nostalgic memories came to mind when I was contacted by Fraserburgh Super Saturdays and asked if I'd like to join them for their inaugural 2017 event and spend the weekend sampling the best of Buchan. How could I refuse?

Our weekend kicked off at Saplinbae Hotel near Mintlaw, but I'm going to save those adventures for a separate blog post so watch this space. Suffice to say we enjoyed fantastic hospitality and wonderful food which showcased the best local produce from the area. With full bellies from a substantial Buchan Breakfast we headed to the Broch for Super Saturday - Fraserburgh Celebrates. Organised by Fraserburgh Development Trust, Super Saturdays are family friendly themed community events celebrating all that is great about Fraserburgh. They take place in the town centre and feature a huge variety of stalls, entertainment, food and fun.

Dates for your diary for the remainder of 2017 are:
  • June 10th - International
  • July 8th - Get Fit Fraserburgh
  • Aug 12 - Fraserburgh Back to the Future
  • Sep 9 - Taste of Fraserburgh
  • Dec 8th & 9th - Frozen Fraserburgh (featuring an ice rink!)

We had a quick look around to get our bearings before it was time for the kids fancy dress competition which I was judging. Great effort from all (including one adult - you know who you are!) but there could only be one winner. Congratulations to the Broch Dragon! The event had plenty to keep the kids entertained with bouncy castles and the likes and the main attraction being a fee show from Artie's Tartan Tales which by all accounts went down a storm. My daughter's eyes popped out of her head when she spotted a Nutella Calzone at Basic Kneads. Theirs did likewise when she removed her jacket to reveal a Nutella hoodie!!! A match made in heaven. 

Time to properly explore the stalls and find out more about what Super Saturdays is all about. There was a great turnout of local suppliers selling everything from cupcakes and cheese to preserves and pies, fudge and fish. In addition to the food, there was also a really good selection of craft, charity and community stalls, over 40 in all. On top of the foodie goodies to take home there were also plenty of options to eat there and then. We enjoyed Paella, Pizza, Burgers, Coffee and Ice Cream. As well as a DJ, entertainment was provided from local drama, dance and singing groups - plus visitors from a galaxy far, far away... Myself and my daughter got roped in to trying out the belly dancing with the fantastic Tribal Mutiny. It is really hard work, but I'd totally be signing up for their classes if I lived closer. Such good fun! 

The local Rotary club did a sterling job manning the tasting gazebo dishing out samples from local shops and producers and cooking up tasters of wonderful fish dishes. We tried fish soup, Arbroath smokie risotto and fish fingers. All were amazing! I headed over to the fish stall to buy some Smokies and recreate the risotto but someone had clearly had the same idea and he'd just sold the last pair!

Super Saturdays is a great joint initiative from the local community, Aberdeenshire Council and Fraserburgh Development Trust to bring folk into the town centre. It's a challenge that many market towns face these days and it seems that local business in the Broch have also come on board as many were offering Super Saturday discounts and offers. The increased footfall in the area clearly means better trade for all so its a win win situation. Their ambitious plans for an Ice Rink at the December event are to be applauded and supported. 

Our Saturday night accommodation was in the 4 Bed High Seas Hobbit House at Down on the Farm in Rosehearty, 4 miles west of Fraserburgh. This was actually our third visit having stayed there in March 2013 and again in July 2013. Since our last stay there has been the addition of a 2 bed hobbit, a coastal carriage, a harvest hut and a 'teas and seas' tea room. Rosehearty is clearly Aberdeenshire's Glamping capital! We were welcomed by a fantastic hamper of produce from local suppliers. Bakery goods from Murdoch Allan and Websters Bakery, Eggs from Aberdeenshire Choice and Meats and Pies from I.J.McIntosh Butcher. What an absolute feast! 

We managed to fit in a couple of local Geocaches before returning to base camp to get a fire going and cook up some of our treats. New potatoes were wrapped in tinfoil and popped into the side of the fire to bake whilst we fried up sausages, burgers and kebabs. Picky Girl declared the Chicken and Mealie Burgers the best ever, I was smitten by the coleslaw and suffice to say that the Prime Steak, Cheese and Spring Onion burgers are deserving of their 'Best Burger in Scotland' accolade. Dessert was in cake form with a huge caramel topped and cream filled sponge from Websters Bakers for the little kids and Baileys Marshmallow Shots for the big kids.

The Baileys Marshmallow Shots caused a bit of a stir on my social media. Here's how to make them if you fancy giving them a try at your next BBQ or campfire.

For the ultimate Glamping Tipple... Carefully toast a marshmallow (the bigger the better!) allow to cool slightly then gently remove the outside layer to create an edible glass.
Slainte! The ultimate Glamping Tipple! Baileys in a Marshmallow Shot Glass.

Time to retire for the night in our cosy Hobbit House. If anything we were too cosy and certainly didn't need to use the fan heater. The Hobbit comes with all mod cons. Electricity, fridge, microwave and kettle plus crockery and cutlery. Outside there's a cupboard stocked with pots and pans, cooking utensils and everything you'll need to get a campfire burning. The 'facilities' are by means of an award winning Loo in a Whisky Barrel and there's even a shower. All you need to bring are sleeping bags, pillows, towels and a sense of adventure.

A long lie in on Sunday morning saw breakfast turn into brunch, and what a brunch it was! Sausages, tattie scones and fried eggs fae Strichen! There may even have been a cheeky burger. We all particularly loved the Mini Butteries from Murdoch Allan and I was delighted to see 'Mini Plate Scones'. These were a smaller version of what I remember my Grandma Corntown making which she called Girdle Scones. 

Time for a few more Geocaches on the road back to the Broch before a visit to Kinnaird Head Lighthouse. We'd missed the start of a tour up the lighthouse by 10 minutes so headed off to explore the museum which tells the tale not only of this particular lighthouse but that of the Northern Lighthouse Board, the engineers who built the lights and the keepers who tended them. I've always been fascinated by lighthouses - I blame Blue Peter who seemed to regularly visit them - and we've actually stayed in one of the cottages at Buchan Ness Lighthouse just a wee bit further south down the coast in Boddam. The museum gave a fantastic insight into the skill, courage and technical genius required to establish and keep the lights flashing.

As we headed outside to the Lighthouse we learned that it was Scotland's first - the leading light! In 1787, Kinnaird Head Lighthouse started off life as a giant lamp positioned on the roof of Kinnaird Castle. When structural problems began to appear, Robert Stevenson engineered a foundation, walls and a spiral staircase through the heart of the castle, completing construction in 1824. The sun was shining as we entered the lighthouse and climbed the spiral staircase to the top, stopping off to see the preserved keepers quarters enroute. However as we reached the top where there were amazing views, we could see the weather rolling in and by the time we made our way back down there was torrential rain and thunder and lightening! A rather soggy end to our trip as we retired to Stevenson’s Tea Room for a cuppa. A fascinating tour and only made me even more keen to find a lighthouse that I can spend the night in. I feel another edible Scottish adventure in the planning...

Disclosure: We were invited to Buchan as guests of Fraserburgh Super Saturdays. Thanks to Down On The Farm and The Museum of Scottish Lighthouses for their hospitality and to Murdoch Allan, Websters Bakery, Aberdeenshire Choice and I.J.McIntosh Butcher for our dinner and breakfast.
As always, all views expressed are my own.
Thanks to John Alexander Johnston for additional photography.

♥ Pin me for later... Sampling the best of Buchan at Fraserburgh Super Saturdays, sleeping in a Hobbit House at Down on the Farm Glamping in Rosehearty plus a visit to Kinnaird Head Lighthouse. Aberdeenshire, Scotland

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