Gask House Holidays

Gask House, Farr, Inverness, IV2 6XG
 enquiries@gaskhouse.co.uk / +44 (0)7973 800917 

Gask House News

Check below for the latest news around Gask House

April 2024

Spring blog 2

It is now Easter and Spring is slow to reach this far north. Whist there are signs of Spring, like my daffodils are blooming and the birds are singing loudly to attract a mate, we are still getting the odd flurry of snow at ground level.  The recent easterly winds have kept temperatures down, which is why the sheep farmers in Strathnairn delay their lambing until mid April at the earliest.  It is generally hoped the snows and frosts will have passed by then. So I have no cute lamb pictures to show you but I do have lots of chocolate egg photos. For all those chocaholics amongst you, Easter is a great time of year!

 

There has been no further sightings of frog/toad spawn in the Gask pond.  I do hope the spawn I saw in early March will survive.  A heron has been stalking the pond so that's not promising for the survival of the spawn.

 

There have been more Curlews returning to our fields.  Their calls can be heard throughout the day as they are starting to mate and nest.  I mentioned in the previous blog that they are ground nesting birds so we have to be careful where we let the Gask House Labradors explore. Talking of which.....The Gask House Labradors continue to enjoy life. Each new day is so exciting for them that I find their their enthusiasm always puts a smile on my face.

 

We continue to have amazing clear skies at night. So before the days get too long, it is stil possible to book a holiday at Gask House and book yourself onto a star gazing tour (see our page of Things To Do).

 

We have an Easter Offer which I promoted through our Facebook and Instagram Pages.  Make a booking for April or May 2024 (min 3 nights) and get £50 off using the code GHEaster2024.

 

We look forward to seeing you soon.

 

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March 2024

Spring blog 1

A lot has been happening in and around Gask House this winter.

 

The winter storms tested our new glass wall (which didn't fail). The Structural Engineer certainly knew his stuff for which we are sooo grateful.  We lost one old tree in the garden to the storms but unfortunately it had already died so it fell quite easily.

 

The exciting news today (8 March 2024) is that the first Curlew has returned to one of our fields.  these ground nesting birds herald the approach of Spring in our area. The come inland to nest before returning to the coastal areas in early summer.  I just love to hear their call.

 

Our nature trail is still under development. There have been new insect houses and bird boxes erected. The hedgehog house remains unoccupied so perhaps this year (fingers crossed).....

 

The hens and ducks have gone to pastures new. The hens, of which I only had 5, were tired of laying so I gave them to a friend to join his lonely hen. The ducks have gone to join their offspring in a larger pond. So for the moment we have no fresh eggs to sell to our guests.

 

There have been a few more cosmetic improvements to the cottages, new art work and furnishings which we hope you will like.

 

The Gask House Labradors are doing well and enjoying life as only Labradors know how!

 

We have had amazing clear skies at night. So before the days get too long, it is stil possible to book a holiday at Gask House and book yourself on to a star gazing tour (see our page of Things To Do).

 

We look forward to seeing you again soon.

 

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October 2023

Autumn blog I

Storm Babet continues to batter the east coast of Scotland as I write this.  We consider ourselves to be very fortunate that the storm has not seriously affect us.  Whilst  there were a few trees blown down around Strathnairn there was very little rain this time. It has stripped the leaves of the trees so that'll be this week's job sorted.

 

However, the deluge that occurred earlier in October caused severe flooding in parts of the Strathnairn Valley causing the River Nairn to burst it banks at Flichity, which cut off the B851 for several days.  But the water table soon subsided and normality resumed.

 

The garden at Gask House took a battering by the rain from that early October deluge.  But the water-loving plants thrived, so I'll be planting more Bog Myrtle and Willow. I love the smell of the Bog Myrtle, and those of you who have stayed in one of the cottages will probably have used the Bog Myrtle liquid soap, which has been created and produced by Ness Soaps. 

 

I recently attended a class at the Inverness Botanical Gardens on how to create a compost. I now have a better understanding of the ratios of green to brown materials that should go into the compost to prevent a smelly, soggy heap developing. I had no idea just what is required to obtain the perfect soil from a compost heap. It is quite a scientific process!  The down side is that the hens will loose out because less scraps will be coming their way.    

 

Chris has been very busy putting his creative technical skills to good use. An automated door for the hen coop was created. Or at least he created the electronics and I built the wooden doorframe. Despite a few malfunctions (no decapitated hens!) it worked.  However during Storm Babet the wind turned to the east, which blew strong winds directly into the hen coop door and unfortunately created another malfunction! Thankfully I kept the manual door.  Sometimes the 'old ways' are best....

 

The Gask House Labradors now have a new enclosure. They were becoming too eager to welcome new guests arriving, new guests leaving, the Amazon delivery man, if fact anyone coming-or-going. Whilst this  might have been nice for some guests, the dogs have no road sense. So we have fenced them in,  much to their disgruntlement!

 

I recently placed a hedgehog house in the Nature Trail and have planted some hedgerows with native plants, all in an attempt to encourage this scarce animal to settle at Gask House.  Goodness knows there are plenty of slugs for it to eat!

 

We've had a busy summer and autumn season, with many delightful guests returning for repeat visits. It's been a pleasure to welcome international guests and offer suggestions of where to visit that are generally not in the guide books.  There is a break in the booking sheet coming up, which will give us an opportunity to tweak the interior decor and do some minor repairs. So you never know what might have changed when you next visit!

 

The log store is full, we have a new kindling and log splitter (the best purchase ever!) so we are ready for whatever the winter weather throws at us and our guests.

 

We look forward to seeing you again soon.

 

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July 2023

Summer blog IV

This was another first for us at Gask House!!

 

We hosted 3 of the 488 Golden Retrievers who were gathering in Inverness this week for the 155th anniversary of the founding of the breed.  Being dog lovers we thoroughly enjoyed meeting our furry guests and their owners who were all very well behaved!

 

There was a week of activities for the dogs and their owners culminating in a mass photo shoot at the ancestral home of the breed , Guisachan in Glen Affric . The breed was founded by Lord Tweedmouth (Sir Dudley Marjoribanks) in 1868 who wanted a gun dog to suit the rugged Highland terrain. He cross bred a Tweed Water Spaniel (a breed now extinct) with a wavy-coated yellow retriever. It wasn't until 1913 that the Golden Retriever was officially recognised as a dog breed by the Kennel Club.

 

The event received plenty of coverage by the national and international press.

 

We look forward to welcoming our guests back to Gask House to celebrate the next Labrador Retriever convention but hopefully we will see them all before then!

 

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July 2023

Summer blog III

This was a first for us at Gask House!!

 

In all the 4 years since we have lived at Gask House I have never seen a red squirrel in the garden.  This one came to the kitchen window!

 

I think it was a hungry youngster and it was not bothered by me at the other side of the window taking photos.

 

I wish I had filled the nut feeders the night before. So when the squirrel left the window I rushed out to refill all the feeders around the garden.  I also have ground feeders so they too were refilled.

 

Since writing this blog a week later, I have not spotted the red squirrel around our garden...but I am ever hopeful.

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29 June  2023

Summer blog II

Following on from the last blog where I was remarking on the weather, we had a very serious wild-fire in The Strath that started on 10 June.  It affected about a mile of forest between Craggie and Moy. The fire came far too close for some residents but the skill of the Scottish Fire & Rescue Service saved all houses including a care home for the elderly. Thankfully no human lives were lost.  

 

 

In mid June when the temperatures remained high (I recorded 28 degrees C in the shade at Gask House on 15 June) we had power cuts.  Apparently one of the transformers on the line into Gask House had melted and a transformer further back on the line had also been affected by the heat.

As the month of June has zoomed past, the weather has cooled and the rain has arrived in thunderous bouts.  The oldest of The Gask House Labradors is none too keen on thunder (nor hoovers, floor mops, the dishwasher or the garden hose)  and usually retreats under Chris's desk!

The rain has encouraged the weeds to appear in abundance! I can't keep on top of the weeding, so I've decided to embraced them. I have long envied the wild flowers on many a Council Roundabout, so thought I'd attempt my own wild flower meadow at Gask House. It is much more difficult than I thought to encourage colourful blooms. Mine seems to be just long grass! 

9 June  2023

Summer blog I

Well.... there is only one thing to remark on in this blog, The Weather!  We have been very fortunate to have had high pressure sitting over the UK for the past 2 weeks. This has brought dry, warm sunny weather daily, which is quite unusual for this area of Scotland.  There has been a cool easterly breeze which often creates morning fog, but this generally dissipates by midday to reveal a gorgeous day.

 

I realise the farmers are starting to get anxious because the land is so dry. I am also very aware that  the risk of wild fires increases daily.  But from a purely selfish point of view I am delighted for our guests.

We recently welcomed a family from Colorado USA who came equipped with clothing for a more typical day in Scotland. They were delighted to have to buy some summer outfits not to mention enjoy the stunning clear views of Strathnairn and beyond. 

 

Doris the Duck has also been enjoying the dry weather as there are lots of bugs to search out in the long grass. However the level of her pond is getting rather low but a bowl of water in her pen is very much appreciated.

 

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28 MAY 2023

Spring blog IV - TICK SEASON

I thought I'd put up a short reminder that we are in Tick Season.  

 

They can be found in woodland, moorland, grassland and parks. Young ticks can be as small as a poppy seed, whilst older ticks look like a tiny spider. As part of their life cycle, ticks feed on other animals – usually deer and sheep. Occasionally they feed on us too! Ticks don't fly or jump but climb on to animals or humans as they brush past.

 

It is important to check yourself for ticks after a visit to the countryside. And remember to check your dog too.

 

You're less likely to pick up a tick if you:

  • Keep to clearly defined paths
  • Avoid dense vegetation
  • Use insect repellent

 

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The Strathnairn Valley and beyond is so beautiful. Whilst we want you to enjoy the countryside, we felt it was important to inform all our guests of these wee blighters!  Don't get me started on the midges.... Thankfully we are much less bothered by the latter around Gask House :-)

16 MAY 2023

Spring blog III

I do enjoy Springtime. Perhaps its the fresh lime green vegetation that emerges from brown, dead-looking grass and bare trees, or perhaps it's the longer days. I think Spring is my favourite season.

 

This afternoon I had a walk in Milton Wood which is a community woodland, managed by Strathnairn Community Woodland.  It has well managed footpaths, a decent car park and a dog poo bin. But the main reason I like this woodland is the mix of ground vegetation, the trees, the views and the river that runs through the lower part of the wood.

 

My route was on the upper paths. The sun was shining through the trees onto the new foliage on the forest floor which was mainly Blaeberries (Vaccinium Myrtillus). The colour was a vibrant lime green.

The Gorse (Ulex europeus) was in bloom and the vibrant yellow was stunning in the sunshine.  The perfume off the gorse has a scent of coconut and it was attracting more than insects. There were small birds trying to make a nest in one bush I passed. I believe Yellowhammers like to nest in gorse bushes.  They would definitely be safe from most predators as the gorse bush is very prickly.

https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/wildlife-explorer/trees-and-shrubs/common-gorse

 

The peace and quiet in Milton Wood is also an attraction. Often I spot deer (they're small so must be roe deer), red squirrel, chaffinch and in 2022 I spotted an owlet. It let me get so close and the dogs were with me.

 

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5 MAY 2023

Spring blog II

The yellow daffodils (Narcissus) continue to bloom at Gask House into May . Whilst some are just starting to fade the white variety are coming through. My family helped plant several hundred bulbs on each side of the main driveway in the Autumn of 2021 and the results are splendid this year. I believe the bulbs multiply and get better each year! I have also just read that red deer don't like Narcissus. I had better rebook my family for bulb planting this autumn! 

 

The Poly Crub has just been planted with tomatoes, peas, chillies, courgette and lettuce. So I'm looking forward to a good salad crop this year.  Staggered  planting should also ensure there is not a glut of produce.

The weather has been a bit erratic since the last blog and I'm still keeping an eye out for frosts. But as I type we're enjoying a balmy 18degrees. That'll encourage the grass to grow so Chris had better fire up the lawn mower.

The youngest of the Gask House Labradors, Luna, (aged 11 months in this photo) has finally got the hang of swimming.  Up 'til now she was not keen on getting her feet wet. But I purchased a flotation jacket and now there is no holding her back.  I'm sure her confidence has been boosted which is great to see. I'll just need to work on her style of entry!  A crashing belly -flop is her current style whereas the older dog, Wish, takes an a much stealthier elegant approach, not to dissimilar to an Edwardian lady gently testing the water then easing herself in.

 

 

We are now a member of Premier Cottages which are a marketing company for holiday home owners. They have a wide coverage in the UK but most importantly guests book directly with us.

We have been undertaking some further landscaping in the courtyard and have built some more raised beds. These have been planted with a variety of evergreen   foliage with the hope they grow fast and bush-out.  The red deer who are regular visitors to the fields and the garden have (so far) not sniffed out the lovely plants in the courtyard. 

As I type this latest blog a cuckoo has been calling regularly. I popped outside to locate him and there he was sitting on a fence, then he hopped onto the ground. I've never seen a cuckoo on the ground before but perhaps there was some tasty food to scavenge. It was interesting seeing him flying off as it didn't look to dissimilar to a kestrel with its sleek body, long tail and pointed wings.  Unfortunately I didn't want to move and get my camera out so I can only offer a photo of a cuckoo taken from the internet by a professional.

 

 

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26 March 2023

Spring blog

Spring generally shows its face around the end of March at Gask House. And right enough, as of 2nd week in March the daffodils were starting to push through. I love to see new colour and new growth poking through in the garden. But it’s a constant battle between my plants and the red deer, the latter loving anything that I plant which is not grass.  Which means all the plants have to be protected by wire fencing.  I guess I am starting to get used to it. 

Despite it being the end of March and the clocks have just gone forward, the weather has decided to remind us winter is not over. There's a dusting of snow around Gask House and on the hill tops. But the forecast is due to get milder as April approaches. 

Luna

The youngest of the Gask House Labradors is Luna. She is currently 10months old and is a fast learner. She is very attentive and her recall is good.  If there is a ball to chase she can already outrun Breagha!   Whereas Wish, the oldest of the Gask house Labradors at age 10, takes it easy these days but joins in the fun now and again to show the youngsters how to retrieve ....

In April we are very much looking forward to welcoming our first guests of 2023 .  We closed the business for 2 months at the start of 2023 so that we could fit on a wee skiing holiday, to the Italian Alps,  whilst friends stayed on site to look after the menagerie!

 

It is fair to say that we expect a tough year operationally as we are all having to cope with an increase in our daily living costs and, inevitably, holidays get shunted down the list of priorities. But that said, we are very much looking forward to welcoming some 'new bookers' from the USA and also Germany.

 

A very Happy Easter to all our readers, guests and friends. A warm welcome awaits you and your furry friends at Gask House so what are you waiting for! Get that next holiday or short break booked with us. 

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