School summer holidays in Scotland start end of June. We have six weeks to fill with fun things to keep the children occupied. First short break of our summer holidays we loaded up the car, and headed down to Kelso, for a two night stay at The Roxburghe Hotel. We had a jam packed itinerary, no time to spare to give the children a chance to complain about being bored. Karam, our eight year old daughter and Jeevan our six year old son, were both very excited about visiting Roxburghe. Dad, J.snr drove, whilst I kept the children busy playing animal alphabet games. Seriously name an animal beginning with the letter 'n', it isn't that easy! It took us approx two and a half hours driving from Glasgow city centre to Roxburghe, the journey was relatively painless, we only took one wrong turn. When we arrived in Kelso we headed to Floors Castle, when we should have continued through to Roxburghe. The drive is lovely, very picturesque.
We arrived at Roxburghe Hotel just after lunchtime on Thursday afternoon. As we drove up to the Hotel we took in the beautiful grounds. We had booked two rooms, a twin, and a double. After setting eyes on the double, the Cessford, the children refused to stay in the twin! The Cessford has a four poster bed and a seating area, so we compromised and agreed that they could have one night each in the four poster. Once our luggage was deposited into our room and we had donned our wellies, we raced out to explore.
Owned by the Duke of Roxburghe, the hotel is set in beautiful woodlands, and on the banks of the River Teviot. We had great fun, following the woodland paths, and spotted rabbits, squirrels and stoats, the children were very excited. Karam and J.snr soon gave up and headed back to the hotel. Jeevan and I continued our walk. We would have kept going but thirty minutes later, and J.snr was asking us to return to join them. Reluctantly we headed back; we were really enjoying the peace and quiet and taking in the stunning scenery!
We found Karam and J.snr cosied up in the bar/library. Karam was tucking into a hot chocolate, whilst J.snr was sipping a cold beer, and getting thrashed at draughts. He claims he let Karam win! We on the other hand know the truth. We had a wee drink and chill at the bar and then headed to our room to get ready for dinner. The Roxburghe has a rather formal dining room. Karam was thrilled! Any opportunity to dress up makes her very happy!
I ordered the scallops for my starter, J.snr opted for the soup, J.jnr and Karam decided to stick with the bread. The scallops were grilled and served with chickory & seaweed "pizza", and a herb salad, quite filling, which is good because there is quite a wait between courses, great if you are a couple dining on your own, not so great when you go with the children, they were getting quite impatient for their main course. The children chose off the menu, and ordered chicken burgers with chips. Their main course was a healthy portion and they struggled to finish it. I had the pan fried halibut with grelot onion, wild mushrooms served with a bordelaise sauce. J.snr had the fillet steak which came with chips, roast mushrooms and a side salad. The minute they polished off their main course the boys bolted for the room. The football apparently was more compelling! Karam and I hung out for our desserts, which we had in the library our favourite room in the hotel.
One full Scottish Breakfast later, and we were ready to meet Craig Montgomerie at the clubhouse for our golf tuition. The course was conceived by The Duke of Roxburghe, an avid golfer who commissioned Dave Thomas to design and construct this unique golf course with spectacular Scottish Borders views on the Roxburghe estate. It was opened in 1997 by Colin Montgomerie and Nick Faldo.
We could have just spent the rest of our break driving about in the golf buggies; the children loved driving so much! Steve was our instructor, and he was very efficient. Before we knew it we were hitting the balls like old pros! Despite a slight drizzle we had great fun! Even getting a little competitive. Eventually we got rained off. Don't think we would have left the green otherwise! Great way to spend the morning, no doubt we will all have sore arms in the morning!
We had a tour of the grounds on the golf buggies, the children were very happy as they got to drive. We headed back for a quick change of clothes and then out again to meet the hotel's ghille, Alistair Ferguson for our afternoon of trout fishing and clay pigeon shooting. Alistair is exactly what you would imagine a ghille to look like, very grandfatherly and suitably attired in flat cap, wellies and plenty of tweed. He has such a lovely manner about him, and put us at ease straight away.
Thanks to our great Scottish weather of non-stop rain, the river banks were flooded therefore we headed out to the Trout lake to fish. Alistair was very patient and very informative, for all of us it was our first time out fishing. Twenty minutes into our lesson, and Jeevan slipped into the lake, luckily it wasn't too deep, and we managed to drag him out. What do they say, never work with children or animals! Too true! Trooper that he is, he took it on the chin, despite being soaked through and covered in all sorts of stuff! He dragged himself up and joked that he hadn't managed to catch fish with his rod, so he had jumped in to see if he would have more luck with his wellies! Quick dash back to the hotel to wash him down, and we were back to join the others for Clay Pigeon Shooting. They had been unsuccessful with their fishing as well. We were hoping for better luck with the shooting. By the time we joined them they had already shot a few rounds.
This was our first time at Clay Pigeon Shooting it really was quite exhilarating. And again we got quite competitive, I hit quite a few of the clay pigeons, and J.snr was having a hard time keeping up! I was having great fun, but had to cut my shooting time short, as I had booked a thirty minute massage at the hotel.
I sneaked off back to the hotel as fast as the buggy would go, 15mph! And made it just in time. Despite being tucked away in the grounds of the hotel, the spa is quite busy, not only with guests staying at the hotel, but also with locals. And unfortunately I only managed to get a thirty minute treatment. I needed it after our active morning. And requested that the therapist concentrate mainly on my arms.
Refreshed, and relaxed I headed back to the main house. Everyone was shattered and as we hadn't had a proper lunch, we decided to chill out in our room, and order room service. The children love room service. The fact that they get to eat whilst in their pjs and tucked up in bed is a rare treat! The food was lovely and hit the spot. Soon we were all fast asleep.
All packed and ready to go, we checked out and headed to Floors Castle.
The current Duke of Roxburghe, Sir Guy David Innes Ker was born in 1954 and is the 10th Duke. He is married to the Duchess, Virginia Mary. They reside in the castle with their five children. It is the largest, privately owned castle in the Uk. The immense task of running the estates fell on the Duke at the age of 19, when his father died. The Duke first opened the castle to the public in 1977. He is very hands on, ensuring that the estate is self sustaining and financially viable for future generations. Since they opened to the public they have had over a million visitors.
The drive up to the Castle alone, makes you realise just how much land it is set in, and when you round the corner and see the castle it's quite a sight. It's very romantic, a perfect vision of a fairytale castle, and has a roofscape of turrets, pinnacles and cupolas. The Castle was originally built for the 1st Duke of Roxburghe in 1721. The 6th Duke invited Scotland's leading architect, William Playfair, to remodel the castle between 1837 and 1847. He drew his inspiration for Floors from the highly ornamented picturesque style of Heriot's Hospital in Edinburgh.
To keep the children occupied they issue them with puzzles upon arrival, they have to go round the castle be observant and answer all the questions. Karam really enjoyed this, and Jeevan also soon got into the spirit. As we entered each room, the presence of the family can be seen everywhere with the scattering of family portraits on display of the Duke, the Duchess and their five children. There are also collections from all over the world from 15th century tapestries to the 20th century post-impressionist artworks by Matisse. We were mostly impressed by the library/billiards room. Unfortunately the books are protected in locked cabinets, and can't be touched.
We headed to the Terrace Restaurant to enjoy a light lunch cooked by the Duke's chef, before we hit the road to head back to Glasgow.
We had a fabulous time at Roxburghe; the hotel was very accommodating to the children, who loved their short break. There's so much to see and do, it's great for a short family break. There's no danger of the children getting bored. The highlights for all of us were the activities, the golfing, fishing and shooting. The major highlights for the children were the golf buggies, and the sighting of the rabbits!
THE ROXBURGHE HOTEL, Kelso
The Welcoming Interior
Alistair Ferguson, the cool, calm, collected ghillie