Bunchrew House Hotel

299484573_66404b6ae3.jpgA personal metasaga. On agreeing to do some work in Inverness at one of the local schools I found that my accommodation had been reserved at Bunchrew House Hotel. It is hidden away among the trees on the edge of the Beauly Firth.

"Set within 20 acres of beautiful landscaped gardens and woodland on the shores of the Beauly Firth near Inverness, Bunchrew House is a 17th century Scottish mansion steeped in tradition and history (part of the House dates back to 1505), offering quality accommodation, award-winning cuisine and a highland welcome second to none."

A strange choice on the part of the organisation as I was due to work in the centre of Inverness. It seems it was all a bit of a mistake. If you put the address of the school into google maps it positions it in a large field opposite this remote hotel. Somewhere someone in an office did just that and booked the closest hotel. Thank goodness they did not pick the caravan site nearby. I don't fancy a caravan in February.
Their mistake (google that is) resulted in a wonderful experience and this metasaga.maps_logo.gifWhere their x marked the spot
I had an evening to treasure.

Have you ever made a mistake and really benefitted from it?
Have you benefited from someone else's mistake?
Have you ever jumped to conclusions and been wide of the mark and what were the consequences?
Where do you think you are?
When have you ever been totally lost?
What direction are you heading in?
Use Google maps streetview and visit the place you grew up .

The bottom of the tree
Bunchrew is from the Gaelic meaning bottom of the tree. There are certainly plenty of them around, including a very significant one just outside the main door. This Cedar of Lebanon in known locally as the " Loving tree" and many wedding photos are taken under the branches.
random_517.jpgThe man who planted it Duncan Forbes was largely responsible for the defeat of the Jacobite force at Culloden in 1746, but was not in favour of the means used to ensure that this could never happen again – i.e. the Highland Clearances. He was also disillusioned by the fact that he was never compensated for the money - £4,500 a (huge sum at the time) he spent on helping quash the rebellion. He was granted the privilege of ‘distilling into spirits the grain of the Barony of Ferintosh’ which he also owned but that in no way really repaid him.

Do you have a place that captures a special relationship?
Have you ever been granted permission to do something different?
Have you invested time or effort into something and not felt you have been rewarded for it?
Do you feel someone owes you something?
When have you been a rebel?
When have you been put down and what did it feel like?
Why don't you get involved in planting some trees?

Hidden Treasure
At the time of the ‘45 there was great uncertainty in the Inverness area due to the Jacobite rebellion and it was common practice to hide valuables
The Drawing room
pending the “result” at Culloden. There is a tradition that ‘valuables’ from Bunchrew were buried near the top of the hill at Craig Dunain, but that the spot was not clearly marked. It is said that a redheaded girl driving a dun cow will find them. Hmm , my daughter has red hair wonder where I can find the cow? For me on a cold winter's evening the treasure was inside.

Where have you discovered some unexpected treasure?
What do you treasure in your life?
What do you keep hidden?
When have you put something somewhere safe and then not been able to find it?

Exploring the surroundings
random_526.jpg Having arrived at 2pm there was enough daylight to go and explore outside. I have a good friend who would say this is the perfect combination, the sea and trees. As usual I was drawn to the sea first, the Beauly Firth a tidal sea loch. It was high tide, almost as if the sea was overflowing as it lapped against the wall protecting the lawn. Leaving behind the hotel I walked on a strip of shingle bordered by sea weed and the leaves of last Autumn. As you can see from the picture it was almost a monochrome view of a February day. A calm silver loch against the Black Isle. Looking East I could see the giant skeleton of the Kessock bridge in the distance. In my mind I could hear the roar of the traffic crossing. Here there was only the sound of the water tickling the stones.
A few hours later the scene had changed dramatically. Looking West into a setting sun that reflected, amber on the exposed mud flats as the sea withdrew . It was as if you were watching natures kaleidoscope. Black silhouettes against gold rather than the silver of the afternoon. A heron flapped home on lazy wings , a day's fishing complete. Time for me to return to Bunchrew.

Where are things black and white in your life?
Do you need to look at something from a different angle?
What is under the surface waiting to be exposed or discovered/
The leaves and seaweed are what has been left behind, what have you left in your wake?
Where does the colour come in your life?
When is your day done?

Take a picture of somewhere important to you and using your photo editing programme or a photocopier change it to black and white. What do you notice?

Fine dining
BunchrewDining08.jpgOn entering I removed my muddy boots and padded in sock feet across tartan carpet to my room.I emerged changed and refreshed to a message that my colleague had been delayed and I would be eating alone. Rosettes and awards festooned the walls a testament to the fine dining offered and the menu looked wonderful. That was not the issue. As a woman who travels on her own for business I faced another evening dining alone. The dining room was small, intimate and ornate. A table by the window would offer a view that was diminishing by the moment as the darkness restricted it to the arc of the hotel lights. Would I be drawn to the conversations of fellow diners, eavesdropping forced on to my silence. I could arm myself with a book but would that seem to be a slight on the chef's artistic presentation. Good food becomes even better when it is shared. I withdrew to the Drawing room to consider my options.
What makes a good dining experience for you?1286118.jpg
Who would you invite to a dinner party
Is there darkness creeping in to your life, restricting your view?
What do you have an award for?
When are you forced to listen to other people and feel you have no choice?

Picnic by firelight

1608500.pngA bay window provided the perfect neuk for the evening. I sank into the deep armchair and surveyed the scene hidden from anyone entering the room. A fire crackled in the hearth bringing life and sound to the room, even smell as the wood gave off a scent of pine and musk. I took the warmth from the fire and not the iron radiator hidden below the window. Outside the darkness was complete and the hotel sat in a glow of green light. The loving tree disappearing into the dark sky. Over a glass of wine ( not the uisge beatha of this picture) I made the decision to set up camp for the night. A good book, a glass of wine , a wonderful sandwich , in all a picnic by firelight.

Every now and then passing diners emerged from the bar and crossed my line of thought. Their tones hushed in anticipation as they entered the dining room. Like the heron earlier on the firthrandom_542.jpg adding to the scene before returning to stillness. My dining experience was different to theirs but I would declare both were equal in meeting the needs and delights of us as individuals. A late evening highland brie and grapes sealed my feast.

Where have you felt really comfortable?
When have you decided to do something different?
Is there a green light in your life or is it full of red lights?
What would you have in a picnic by firelight?
What smells do you really like?

Returning to a favourite book is like going back to an old friend. Go and find a book you had and would like to revisit. Donate books to charity.

My thinking partner


For fours hours I soaked in the stillness, reading , thinking , relaxing. Lifting my head from my book, lost in my thoughts , my gaze drifting from the fire to the green view that now twinkled with frost. The house itself became my thinking partner. It certainly created the place to feel at ease. Attentive, unobtrusive staff made me feel comfortable , cared for , included. The room ,the food, the fire all seemed to be attending to my needs and it was if the house itself appreciated the company. The calm, the stillness provided the incisive questions, the space to think. I had this sense of comfort and security, as if the house had embraced me.

Find a space like this for yourself either on your own or with another. Even just for a few hours. Give yourself that space and time to think.

Of course some locals would say I wasn't alone...
Follow the link to find out about an unusual Bunchrew wedding guest.random_540.jpg

Another day

In the morning I left Bunchrew as the dawn split the Eastern sky. I said goodbye to the house an re- entered the world. . I certainly found something to treasure.I think I will be back another day.