Well this summer we have seen our fair share of charity cyclists. The notion of cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats conjures up a variety of images, for me it is fear and dread whilst for others it’s an adventure, a challenge, hard work, a puncture or two, stunning scenery, glorious sunrises and a tremendous sense of achievement. Plus the odd day of Scottish rain and a few midges thrown in for luck. Since the 1960’s the End to End has become a firm favourite with the keen cyclist, a way to respectfully raise money with no easy days here. A gruelling pace for 9/10 days of punctures and blisters. Congratulations to Joe Burkinshaw, Dean Willoughby and their colleagues for raising over £1,400 for the Bluebell Woods Childrens Hospice.
Yet again Perth Concert Hall attracts a top star through it’s doors and to perform a sell out concert. Our guests who had travelled from Lanarkshire and Middlesborough to see him entertain the crowd certainly weren’t disappointed.
Morrissey rose to fame in the 1980s as the frontman of the alternative rock band The Smiths. The band was highly successful in the UK but broke up in 1987, and Morrissey began a solo career. Widely regarded as an important innovator in indie music, Morrissey has been described by music magazine NME as “one of the most influential artists ever”. Still 30years on he is able to pull in large audiesnces which can be testiment to his popularity.
He did have one request though for the Perth Concert Hall though which may have raised an eyebrow? He requested that the restaurant, the Glassroom, served only vegetarian dishes that evening. The concert hall duely obliged.
The Winds of May
For Monday 23rd May, the met office had the severe warnings of high winds announced in plenty of time. Never again will Michael Fish face criticism for telling us that “there is no hurricanes” (or yet never can he live it down).
But who told the trees? I love the North Inch park and often divert, whilst walking into town, through the park to walk. It is a pleasure to amble through the green open space with lovely trees, watch the rugby/football matches and and joggers etc. But what I saw on Tuesday morning brought a tear to my eye. Some of the largest trees in the park had been brought to their knees by the winds of the evening before. Also, some of the youngest trees only 20ft high were ripped out of the ground and had been blown around the park like candy floss on a stick.
Hats off to Perth council for having gardeners there first thing on Tuesday morning to tidy up the devastation. But whilst the debris could be cleared up in a week or so it may take another 50 years for replacement trees to match their predecessors.
Our Green Promise – Environmentally Friendly B&B
We know personally and from our conversing with our guests how beautifully Perthshire is, here you can find world class fishing, hillwalking routes both scenic and mountainous, great cycling routes both on and off road and an unsurpassed range of golf courses to satisfy all abilities.
But the success of a tourism business like ours depends on tourists being able to enjoy all what nature intended. At Almond Villa we are aiming to be as GREEN as we possibly can be. We believe everyone can do their small bit to help sustain the natural environment unspoilt and clean for everyone to enjoy.
Almond Villa is close to the heart of a city therefore limits what environmental measures we can take. I don’t think the neighbours would be best please if we had 120 tonnes of compost delivered to run our heating and power. But there are step we can take to help sustain he environment e.g. being in the city we can encourage our guests to take the short walk to the centre rather than rely on their cars and provide bus times for excursions to attractions like Scone Palace.
This is our first year as members of the Green Tourism Scheme and will be regularly audited to ensure we are keeping to our Green Promise. Below are some of the environmentally friendly actions we are taking.
World Junior Curling Championship 2011 What an exciting and enthralling time we have had here at Almond Villa over the last 10 days. We have been gripped with an enthusiasm for curling that we didn’t realise was possible. I for one certainly have a lot more respect for the sport and the dedication of the athletes.
Perth’s Dewars Centre has just hosted the World Junior Curling Championships 2011. An elite competition, inviting the ten best curling nations in the world, to battle it out for Gold medals. We had guests staying from Scotland, Sweden and Canada each hopeful of their country’s being in the medal positions.
During the first week all the teams play in a large round robin until the top positions were decided, then the weekend staged a tough schedule of play-offs, semi-finals and finals. Today, in the final for the Gold medal, Eve Muirhead magnificently skippered Team Scotland to victory over Canada. This win for Eve is a record fourth world junior title for her. Congratulations to her and her team of Anna Sloan, Vicky Adams and Rhiann Macleod. They notched up a convincing 10-3 lead over Canada before the Canadians conceded after the 8th end. With Canada getting the Silver and Russia collecting the Bronze medal.
Our guests from Sweden were also very happy since they picked up the Gold medal in the men’s competition, with Switzerland in Silver position and Norway Bronze.
The Christmas and New Year festivities are over and it feels like it is time to return to normality. Well as close to ordinariness as can be possible with a house full of painter and decorators. Yes, Almond Villa is undergoing a make-over. Not quite in the style of Gog Wan but a well needed spruce up. We intend to try and keep much of the charm and quaintness of Almond Villa but just make her a bit smarter. I’m hoping it will all go smoothly and look first-class, watch the website for an update, new photographs will need to be taken! (If it doesn’t look good I have no one else to blame I picked the wallpaper
We had family friends wanting to come and stay over Hogmany from Sheffield, looking for their first ever Scottish New Year celebration. We recommended they attended the Hogmany revelry at Perth Racecourse, they have everything all wrapped up with celebrations split over 2 floors. A ceilidh on the lower floor and a live disco upstairs if you need a rest after the Dashing White Sargeant. They also managed to board the, very reasonable, return bus from the town centre so they didn’t have to worry about anything. They thoroughly enjoyed the entertainment though were exhausted the following day having found muscles they didn’t know existed. But did think the Haggis, Neeps & Tatties was an acquired taste. I, myself, went into Perth city for dinner at Cafe Roma with family and friends and absolutely enjoyed our evening. The walk home was quite entertaining with all passers-by in good spirits and wishing us Happy New Year.
Wishing you a very prosperous 2011!
The weekend of 26th November saw a climatic end to the year long Celebration of Perth 800. It was a bonanza of lightnight festivities from a magnificent firework display to Perth’s historic building and bridges spectacularly lite up like never before. The fireworks were launched from platoons on the river Tay, which provided a beautiful back drop to the cavalcade of colours and illumination. The Perth 800 was a year long programme of events which celebrated the 800th anniversary of the granting of the Royal Burgh Charter to Perth by King William the Lion of Scotland in 1210. Throughout the year we have had an exciting and ambitious events held in Perth during 2010 on the themes of heritage, sport, arts and culture and the local economy. Both tourists and locals alike have been able to enjoy the Perth 800. Along with the Lightnight festival there was a medival market held on both the Saturday and Sunday. Almond Villa had many guests staying that weekend for the party and unfortuantely (or not) 2 of them were unlucky enough to be picked for the stocks and pillars.
Sadly the weekend ended in not quite the same spectacular force. Winter arrived with a very large bump and whilst we had been forewarned by the weathermen the strength and speed of the snow blizzards on Sunday took everyone by surprise. Due to the wintery weather all the main routes in and out of Perth were closed and motorists travelling up and down the A9, A90 and M90 had to spend the night in Perth. In good old fashion British spirit, a makeshift emergency shelter was set up in the North Inch Community Centre where the wonderful ladies of the WRI distributed bedding and hot food. Of course Almond Villa had it’s share of stranded travellers as did every other guest house and hotel in the area, we had guests coming in from the cold weather where a simple 15minute journey from Dundee had taken 7 hours.
Well what a surprising and pleasant start to September we have had. The weather has been sunny and warm (with the ubiquitous odd shower) and I have learned so much information on two relatively new sports, it almost puts me to shame how fit some of my guests have been. On Saturday 4th September Perth’s North Inch Park held the PERTH ULTRAFEST 2010 , a variety of endurance races (Six Nations 24 hour Race, National 100K Race, 12 hour mixed night time relay). Now prior to this weekend I had thought the longest track race was a 26 mile marathon but no, the winner of the 24 hour race managed to complete a mammoth 148miles (238km). The race had started at 10am and in the evening I went down to cheer on my guests to try and give them some encouragement and motivation because I knew it was going to be a long night. They were tired, after all they had been running for 10hrs, but were in good spirits and looking forward to the night ahead. Luckily I was also in time to witness the finish of the 100km race; I couldn’t believe the runners were still able to sprint across the line.
Then on the weekend 10th & 11th Sept Perth hosted an extravaganza of orienteering with a difference. The Friday saw a qualification race through the parkland, open forest and outbuildings surrounding the magnificent Scone Palace. At stake was a place in Saturday’s final. Saturday’s final was Park World Tour 2010 it is an event of street orienteering!!! Yet another discipline I hadn’t heard of! As you may know Perth is an old medieval city with plenty of narrow closes and back alleyways which presented the runners a really fast and exciting race, with short street and many quick changes of direction. Competing for the prizes were some of the World’s best orienteers, with over 17 nationalities racing through the streets of Perth city centre all hoping to scoop up the cash prize of 5,000euros. The winning times were quick with each race only taking 15-20mins but due to the number of categories and staggered starts it may have seemed to any one out for a quiet day’s shopping that the orienteers were racing around Perth all afternoon. No one seemed to mind though it put a real buzz and thrill to what may have been a normal Saturday shop.
Scotland; a land of history, intrigue and myth, with its glorious countryside, beautiful mountains and scenery. Each year thousands of eager travellers visit Scotland with many stopping off at my guest house, Almond Villa in Perth, to explore the landscape and castles. They meticulously plan their trip, starting in Glasgow, around Loch Lomond onto Fort William or Oban perhaps visit the islands then to Inverness. Then onto Aviemore, visit some distilleries, down the east coast not forgetting the legendary home of golf St Andrews, an overnight stop in beautiful Perth and then onto historic Edinburgh. A fantastic trip and a great holiday for sure, one I have made myself though all the chopping and changing of accommodation I found to be tiresome.
I have regular guests who come to stay each year for a fortnight and they love it here in Perth. When I first took over the guest house I asked them do they not get bored of visiting Perth, the same town, for two weeks every year? “No, no” they said “we come to Perth because it is beautiful and we love to visit the local attractions each year like Scone Palace and Branklyn Gardens but we spend most of our time on away trips.”
They showed me their itinerary and sure enough most of the destinations they were visiting were no more than an hour’s drive away from Perth, the first day wandering through Edinburgh, a visit to the Burrell collection in Glasgow, Stirling Castle, the famous Grouse distilleries, Auchingarrich Wildlife Centre, Loch Lomond, Balmoral, Oban, St Andrews, the Scottish Deer Centre Cupar, the Cairngorms indeed many of the places they were visiting are on the ubiquitous list of our intrepid tourist but without the stress of changing B&Bs every night. I marvelled at their planning and thorough preparation for a relaxing holiday with day trips designed for each elements of the Scottish weather and thought how clever they were to stay in Perth and yet to see Scotland in nutshell.