With my 40th birthday fast approaching, I was keen to do something to mark the occasion. A big surprise bash with friends and relatives was NOT something I fancied. A more intimate affair with my nearest and dearest was much closer to the mark, but what could we do that would be different? What would leave a lasting impression (for all the right reasons!) with those involved?
I was very keen to involve my 89 year old grandmother in our celebrations. She doesn't go on holiday these days, and had never stayed in a castle, so I knew she would be blown away with what I had in mind...
I wanted the time we were together to be very relaxed; no rigid hotel schedules to fit into; no austere reception desks for us to register at; no restricted access for inquisitive children.
Having run a chalet in the Alps many moons ago, I've had a bit of experience catering for larger numbers of people and, in fact, enjoy cooking for others. The prospect, therefore, of a self-catering venue where we could 'do our own thing' in terms of food/cooking, plus have a free run of the place, really appealed.
Scotland was my choice location. I lived up in Edinburgh a few years ago and still have a number friends 'up north' whom I don't see often enough, so my birthday celebrations seemed the ideal time to rectify this.
So this was my dilemma....how would I manage to catch up with lots all my friends and family, factoring in all of the above, without it costing the earth?
My solution? I booked week long self-catering stay at wonderful Castle Law on the west coast of Scotland. The property sleeps up to fourteen guests in seven bedrooms, so my core family took occupancy of three of the rooms for the week and, for the remaining four rooms, I arranged for groups of friends to come and join us for a couple of nights at a time. (Kate, the owner of the property, was kind enough to leave us copious amounts of crisp, fresh linen for regular bed changes!). Cooking was shared by all of us staying at the castle, which meant it wasn't too onerous for any one individual...in fact, in true 'Come Dine With Me' style, it brought huge amounts of fun each evening, as we anticipated and then devoured the culinary delights that had been concocted for our delectation!
The result? A fabulous week-long celebration, with true quality time spent with my very special family and friends.
My most precious memories of the week?
- Being greeted by Davey, the castle owner, dressed in full pirate's regalia, to give us a castle tour;
- My grandma sitting on her throne, feeling like a true 'queen';
- For once, my children being exciting about piling into the bath at the end of an action packed day - it did happen to be a huge stone bath, the likes of which none of us had ever seen before (see below!);
- The fun that came from spying down the 'murder hole', through which hot oil could have been poured over unwelcome visitors outside;
- Returning from a boat trip along the Ayrshire coast to a welcoming roaring fire, which was a fabulous focal point of the Great Hall.
Castle Law is available for weekly and short-lets from as little as 2250 pounds for a 3 night stay; this is based on self catering accommodation for 14 guests.