4 Melrose Sevens restaurants to tantalise your tastebuds

Leaderfoot Bridge

Leaderfoot Bridge near Melrose 


If you’ve ever been in town for Melrose Sevens, you’ll know that supporting your favourite rugby team all day can really work up an appetite. It’s just as well there are plenty of fabulous restaurants and eateries to choose from in the area, with cuisines designed to cater to most tastes.

Below I’ve put together four of the best Melrose 7s eateries, all of which are within walking distance of the Greenyards.

I’ve picked the following restaurants not just because of their locations, but also because they all pride themselves on using fresh, quality local produce.

Monte Cassino 

If you’re looking for award-winning Italian cuisine, Monte Cassino is the place to be. You’ll find this charming family-owned traditional restaurant at the Old Railway Station in Melrose.

You’ll find the menu is quite varied, with regularly updated daily specials using only the finest ingredients. My personal favourites are the amazing ravioli and the traditional Italian pizza.

The ‘open view’ kitchen means you can watch your meal being cooked in an authentic Italian style, which is always a nice touch as you can see everything is made fresh.


Some very relaxed and happy customers at Monte Cassino recently!

Antonio and his team of friendly staff get lots of local support, and always endeavour to cater to your needs and make your dining experience one to remember.

Russell’s restaurant 

Owned and run by an award-winning husband and wife team, Russell’s has a great reputation for deli-style delights along freshly baked cakes and scones.

This eatery also caters to specific dietary requirements (such as vegan, gluten-free etc.) so you’ll be sure to find a treat you can enjoy along with your fine tea or coffee.

You can also choose from a selection of locally-sourced home cooked meats, fresh and smoked salmon along with daily Chef’s Specials.

The Bistro Bar at Burt’s Hotel 

Just a few minutes’ walk from Greenyards, Burt’s Hotel is a family-owned business that has been running for over 40 years, and its restaurant The Bistro Bar is a firm favourite for locals.

The Bistro Bar offers excellent cuisine to suit just about every taste, including a mouth-watering butternut and pomegranate soup, but I just can’t pass on the delicious haddock and chips – the fish is caught locally at Eyemouth.

You’ll also find a wide selection of cask-conditioned ales and a wide array of different wines available to order by the glass.

For more information, check out their restaurant menu. I can also personally vouch for the receptionist!

The Town House

And last but not least, the Town House in Melrose is one of the most warm and friendliest places to dine, from the same owners of Burt’s Hotel; the Henderson family.

You’ll find the Town House directly opposite Burt’s, and prides itself on being a hotel with ‘a bit of a twist’. Relax in the ambient colour scheme and stylish surroundings with a glass of wine or wee dram.

The food itself is excellent, and just like Burt’s, caters to almost every taste using fresh, locally-sourced produce whenever possible. For more information on exactly what’s on offer, take a look at the online menu.


A mouthwatering trio of Border Lamb on the menu at The Town House Melrose!



Whether you’re here for the Melrose Sevens or just a relaxing weekend away from all your stresses, you’ll be spoilt for choice with so many examples of sumptuous cuisines to choose from.

It doesn’t matter if your tastebuds crave traditional Scottish fare, award-winning Italian cooking, or fabulous deli-style delights, you’ll be sure to find it all here in Melrose. Enjoy!


Visit Scotland & find 4 Captivating Castles for the perfect proposal

valentineblogLooking for the perfect proposal spot can be a surprising source of pain for many loved-up couples – however, when only the best will do, nothing else says romance quite like a captivating Scottish castle.

Steeped in history, and often surrounded by beautiful rolling landscapes, what better place to pop the question and declare your undying love?

The good news is, Scotland itself isn’t lacking in historical beauties, and you can pretty much take your pick. However, to give you a helping hand, I’ve put together four of my favourite romantic Scottish castles, with a bit of a twist, that I think would make the perfect spot for that special moment.

Hume Castle (near Kelso, Scottish Borders) 

 If you want to visit a castle with a difference, Hume Castle (three miles south of Greenlaw) is a good bet. In terms of location, it’s absolutely ideal, with all the signs of a traditional Borders castle set-up.

However, as you get closer to Hume, you’ll notice its looks set it apart from your average Scottish castle. In fact, as it says on the website, it’d probably look a lot more at home surrounded by a few camels and sand dunes.

Hume is actually a medieval castle in its own right, however its fragmentary ruins were later overlaid with a folly dating back to before 1789, which explains its unique characteristics.

Stone steps lead up towards the top of the castle ruins, where you can take in some great views and examine the stonework up close.

Fatlips Castle (near Denholm,Scottish Borders)


A new dawn at Fatlips Castle


Full of character, Fatlips Castle is beloved by locals, and was recently rescued from complete collapse by locals, who along with Historic Scotland and the Scottish Borders council, managed to secure funding for a new weather-proof roof.


You’ll find this charming wee tower sitting high atop a rocky hill called Minto Crags, and I can tell you now it’s quite a climb to get there – but totally worth it in my opinion.


Over the years, this castle has been given various different names, including Minto Castle, Catslick Castle, Mantoncrake Castle and of course, the one that’s perhaps stuck the most; Fatlips Castle.

Once a Turnbull Clan stronghold, it now belongs to descendants of the Elliot family of which I am one!


Hailes Castle (East Lothian) 

 The gorgeous ruins of Hailes Castle are set in an idyllic location in the Valley of the River Tyne. One of Scotland’s oldest stone castles, it dates back to the early 1200s, and contains two vaulted pit-prisons.

The tower house is particularly fun to look at, and can really spark your imagination, as one half of it still stands complete, all the way from basement to battlements.

Hailes Castle has a special meaning to my family. My mother-in-law was born at the cottage just opposite the castle back in 1924, as her father was a local gamekeeper there.

Tantallon Castle (East Lothian) 

 Out of all of the castles on this list, Tantallon Castle is by far my favourite in terms of its striking looks – in fact, it’s easy to see why it was chosen to feature in the recent Scarlett Johansson sci-fi thriller ‘Under the Skin’.

Set atop cliffs overlooking the Firth of Forth, the dramatic Tantallon Castle was once home to the Douglas Earls of Angus; one of the most powerful Scottish baronial families. The castle was used as a noble fortification for over three centuries, during which time it endured a total of three sieges.


The hauntingly beautiful Tantallon Castle in East Lothian


Tantallon is particularly beautiful if you visit during the wild flower season, but it’s also just lots of fun to explore the ruins and even touch the replica cannon. You can also enjoy a tea or coffee and various other refreshments at the visitor centre.


Although there’s no shortage of castles to visit in Scotland, these four particularly stand out to me, as they’re just so striking and different – the perfect spots to have a little romantic break and even pop the question.

Although undoubtedly each has its own character, Tantallon Castle is my absolute personal favourite, with dramatic looks and plenty of nooks and crannies to explore. Which one will you visit first?

Visit East Lothian & find 3 Islands where you can picnic with puffins


The Bass Rock visible from North Berwick Beach in East Lothian


If you’re anything like my family, you’ll know that a summer day trip out just isn’t complete without a picnic (weather permitting!) – and what better way to do it than surrounded by puffins.

That’s why I’ve put together three of the best Scottish islands for picnics and puffin-watching, so you’ll be sure to have a great family day out.

You can reach all of the islands below via the Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick – however, I recommend you book in advance during the busy summer months. [Read more…]

3 Fantastic Family-sized Holiday Lets for Melrose Sevens

It’s that time of year again to start preparing for Melrose Sevens, where thousands of rugby fans flock to the Borders to watch their favourite teams battle it out.

melrose sevens

Image credit thanks to Daniel

This April 11th will mark the 125th playing of Melrose Sevens, so what better way to celebrate than to spend a long weekend soaking up the atmosphere in Melrose with friends or family?

There’s plenty of things to do whilst you’re here, and for a couple of ideas check out my other blogs: ‘Some great suggestions for both walking and cycling in the Scottish Borders’ and ‘Four Melrose 7’s Eateries to Tantalise your Tastebuds’.

If you’re looking for accommodation close to all the action at Greenyards for your group or family get-together, there are various charming holiday lets in the area to choose from, and I’m going to detail three of my favourites below. [Read more…]

4 Scottish Borders Walks You Would be Mad to Miss


I recently had the pleasure of sitting down over a coffee with Hazel Hall, an exceptional lady who along with her husband John has just bagged her last of 282 Munro’s (Scottish Peaks over 3000ft) by reaching the summit of Ben More.

This love affair with Scottish mountain’s started in 1995 when her and John climbed Ben Nevis, they then set themselves the task of climbing all 282 Munro’s, taking them 10 years to achieve. This feat is in itself exceptional enough but the thing I really love about Hazel is her infectious enthusiasm for Scotland and walking. Not only has she achieved something amazing in her own right but she has inspired countless others including myself (via our various impromptu chats) and two further generations of her own family. [Read more…]

10 Ways to Help Ensure your Holiday Let Guests are Safe from the Risk of Fire

holiday cottageIn this guide I will introduce you to one of the main areas of health and safety for holiday let properties in Scotland – fire safety.

Much of this is covered by legislation that you must comply with.

I will also give you some common sense ideas to help ensure your property is safe. In my next guide I will discuss Gas and Electricity legislation.

If keeping your guests safe is not top of your priority list then it should be! So before you pick the fabric for the duvets or the pillows for the beds think safety first then everyone will be able to sleep well at night.

It is suggested that the risk of injury increases when people are in a property that they are unfamiliar with. You may know every nook, cranny and trip hazard in your house but that doesn’t mean that your guests will.

As a holiday let owner you are ultimately responsible for your guest’s safety and that your property complies with all safety legislation relating to the letting of self-catering accommodation.

Even if no specific legislation exists owners have a duty of care to guests and should adopt a common sense approach to eliminating potential safety hazards.

In conjunction with a sensible approach to risk assessment this should minimise the potential for any accidents or injury.

 Fire Safety

fire safety

Source: The Scottish government

Although the number of fires in Scotland is at a 10 year low, potentially 46 people lost their lives and 1311 were injured due to fire. (2012-2013) In order to minimise this risk at your property and avoid adding to these statistics you must comply with the following. 

Fire Risk Assessment

As the owner no one knows the property better than you and that is why it is your responsibility to carry out a fire risk assessment.

The fire risk assessment  is essentially a common sense review of the property you are responsible for, identifying any potential fire hazards and allowing you to decide whether you have taken adequate precautions to minimise this risk or whether there is more you can do.

The fire risk assessment should be displayed in the property perhaps with the welcome and property information pack that you should provide. If you do not feel confident to carry out the fire risk assessment yourself, you can employ a Fire Safety Consultant to do this on your behalf.

Furniture and Furnishings 

Enforced by the Trading Standards Department, The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations 1988/1989, 1993 and 2010  are designed to set levels of fire resistance for domestic upholstered furniture, furnishings and other products containing upholstery.  All furniture (new and second hand) that is affected by the regulations in your property must comply.

Open fires and log burners 


Log burners and open fires are a particular attraction of holiday cottages. The majority of guests will not have one of these at home and whilst this adds to the romance and cosiness of your cottage it also increases the risk of injury from fire or carbon monoxide poisoning.

If an open fire or log burner is provided for guests then the chimney must be swept at least annually. In addition to this a fire guard of appropriate size with mess that little fingers cannot poke through should be provided.

It is not only the fire that poses a risk, many people do not realise the danger of hot ashes. Ashes can and often are still hot enough the following day to cause a fire. The ashes should be disposed of in a metal bin kept outside the property.

Lowland Lettings properties have a minimum of one carbon monoxide alarm in each property. The alarm is relatively low cost (around £20) but could be a life saver.

Please do not make the mistake of installing alarm and forgetting about it. The alarm should be tested weekly and as most are battery operated the batteries should be regularly replaced.

You should ensure that any log burners or stoves are fitted by a qualified HETAS engineer.

Smoke alarms and heat detectors

smoke alarm

New building standard guidance published in October 2013 states that there should be

  1. One functioning smoke alarm in every room which is frequently used by the occupants for general daytime activities
  2. One functioning smoke alarm in every circulation space, such as hallways and  landings
  3. One heat alarm in every kitchen
  4. All alarms should be interlinked.

Whilst this is not yet compulsory in holiday let accommodation this is the standard that Lowland Lettings are planning as part of our ongoing maintenance and refurbishment of all of our properties.

As with all aspects of fire safety it is the owner’s responsibility to protect the people using your premises from the risk of fire.

Please note that this also applies to staff members using the property i.e. cleaners etc.  Current benchmarks should be used to reduce the risk of fire in your holiday let property.

When fire strikes there is clear evidence that early warning is a key factor to whether or not people escape unhurt. The vast majority of accidental house fires start in the kitchen.

That is why Lowland Lettings think that it is advisable to have a heat detector fitted in the kitchen. You must also have a wall mounted fire blanket readily accessible, situated between the cooker and an exit from the room.

Again please do not forget about the maintenance of the detectors, these should be tested on a weekly basis and a log kept. This can quite easily be adhered to as normally there is a cleaner in the property at least once a week.

The detectors should also be vacuumed at least every 6 months to remove any dust from the sensors.

Other common sense things to consider:

  1. All doors should be easy to open from the inside and should never be obstructed
  2. All tumble dryers should be regularly cleaned to ensure filter is lint free. Failure to do this can lead to the appliance overheating
  3. Fire retardant waste bins should be provided in the living room and the bedrooms
  4. A torch should be provided to aid evacuation in the event of a fire
  5. Emergency contact numbers and instructions on what to do in the event of a fire should be provided in the welcome and property information pack
  6. Provide Fire extinguishers. Guidance suggests a suitable fire extinguisher at least every 25 metres within the property

Key take aways

In order to reduce the risk of injury or death from fire in your holiday let property you need to do at least these 10 things:

  1. Carry out a Fire Risk Assessment
  2. Ensure all Furniture and Furnishings comply with regulations
  3. Adhere to regulations on log burners and open fires
  4. Fit and maintain adequate smoke and heat detectors
  5. All doors should be easy to open from the inside and should never be obstructed
  6. Fire extinguishers are also advisable. Guidance suggests a suitable fire extinguisher at least every 25 metres within the property
  7. All tumble dryers should be regularly cleaned to ensure filter is lint free. Failure to do this can lead to the appliance overheating
  8. Fire retardant waste bins should be provided in the living room and the bedrooms
  9. A torch should be provided to aid evacuation in the event of a fire
  10. Emergency contact numbers and instructions on what to do in the event of a fire should be provided in the welcome and property information pack.

It is generally acknowledged that relative to other ‘sleeping risk’ premises, the risk from fire to persons in well managed small B&B and self-catering premises is likely to be relatively low. Hopefully this guide will help you to understand your obligations and ensure that this is the case for your properties.

Now it’s your turn

Let us know what steps you take to ensure that your property is safe or any problems you have experienced.


Why a Poor Night’s Sleep Could Make Your Guests Fat

Adventures of A&WMan - Chap 1Research shows that 25% of us have some sort of sleep problem and that people who sleep for less than seven hours per night are more likely to be overweight or obese.

Now I’m not suggesting that a 7 night stay in your holiday cottage is going to put the pounds on your guests but getting a good night’s sleep is vitally important generally so why should it be any different when you are on holiday?

Hotels are vying to get you into their beds and some like Premier Inn base their whole advertising campaign on a good night’s sleep even offering a good night guarantee. [Read more…]

Holiday Letting Advice: Are You Barking Mad to Accept Pets?

37-52 the seventh nap of the day is the most important one
Deliberating whether to allow pets in your self catering holiday cottage? Can’t decide which way to go? Well I’m here to tell you that you can profit from either option.

Why would guests want to bring their pets on holiday?

A new poll conducted by Travel Supermarket revealed that two of 5 in the UK now take their pets on holiday. The survey of 2010 pet owners also showed that 13% would rather go on holiday with their animal than their partner!

To me guest’s holiday with their pets for two reasons:

Avoidance of separation anxiety for both parties. Our relationship with pets can be quite extreme and sometimes just plain weird. We buy them gifts not just restricted to birthdays and Christmas.

We talk to them in a baby voice referring to ourselves as ‘mummy’ and ‘daddy’. They sleep in our beds. We tell them our deepest secrets. [Read more…]

If you go down to Pressmennan Woods today you are in for a big surprise…

Go in search of mystical creatures known as Glingbobs and Tootflits who reside in what is believed to be the last traces of Scotland’s Ancient oak woodland. Pressmennan woods run by the Woodland Trust Scotland is a truly enchanting place situated in beautiful East Lothian countryside, near to the village of Stenton. With amazing views to the Bass Rock and beyond this magical woodland is rich in wildlife and you may be lucky enough to glimpse a Roe deer roaming through the trees or otter fishing in the lake. Woodpeckers can be heard high in the trees and if you dare to enter after dusk you may see bats and owls searching for food.

[Read more…]

Rally Round for 40th Anniversary

Saturday March 17th 2012 is set to be one of the highlights of the local motorsport calendar when the Borders Counties Rally celebrates its 40th anniversary with a special stage of the event to raise much needed funds for two local charities; the Borders Children’s Charity and the Great North Air Ambulance Service.

The Borders Children’s Charity provides children in the Borders who are in desperate need of beds, bedding, bedroom furniture, floor rugs, clothing and footwear. They also assist with equipment and funding for both physical and mental disability needs and provide much needed treats and holidays for young carers.  This allows children who are often in extremely stressful situations an opportunity to enjoy themselves even just for a short while which can make all the difference.

[Read more…]