Monday, 4 June 2012


Puffins on Handa Island, by me with little camera
 I reached another milestone birthday last week - and decided a year ago that I was going to celebrate it by seeing the funniest bird in the British Isles, the puffin. Puffins are the clowns of the bird world -  I think they were invented on God's day off, when a naughty but very creative angel on acid broke into the creating lab.
Puffins on Handa, by Chris with bigger camera - love this one.

Tanglewood House - pic from their website
We stayed at Tanglewood House a little slice of paradise dropped to earth on the edge of Loch Broom, to continue the heavenly analogies. Just on the outskirts of Ullapool, this place is in a class of its own - we have loved this place for some ten years, and the lovely people who run it.

The view from our room at Tanglewood House
Check out the Tanglewood House website - only a few rooms, all very comfortable, with unforgettable views, beds better than the ones at home, bathrooms with fluffy white towels, bathrobes, sigh. I want to go back.

The view was too good to only take one pic
Tanglewood House is a family concern - founded by Anne Holloway who has now been joined by her son Julian and his wife Corinna  - both Anne and Julian are superb cooks. See end of this post for some menus.... what we actually ate - I often wonder with websites whether some places advertise wonderful food and you don't really get that when you stay. At Tanglewood, you do!  See end of this post for some menus.  It is in a seriously stunning location and the house is beautiful.
And another - taken from my window very early on my birthday!
 So, puffins on a glorious birthday on Handa Island, right up in the north west of Scotland. A nature reserve, it is uninhabited, and you cross over in a rib that bounces over the waves. Great fun.
A good book, sunshine, Achmelvich beach.
The next day, a pie each from the pie shop at Lochinver, and a picnic lunch at Achmelvich.
Love this beach near Achkiltibuie
Some wonderful walks, and drives, lots of photo-stops.

Achmelvich again - gorgeous, and empty.
Birthday menus - (just what happened to be on - but we were asked if we minded having scallops twice - and said No! Love them.) Ya takes your own wine, no corkage. (Apols to Julian for the terminology - I know nowt about the titles of foodstuffs, but it was stunningly good.)

Day 1.
  • Scallops ceviche served on a bed of fresh salad leaves, with warm local crusty bread.
  • Breast of duck, and wilted greens, served in a light jus made with a rather special sweet sherry
  • Apricot tart and cream
  • cheeses (always a selection of three).
Day 2.
  • King prawns on a bed of salad leaves in a delicious dressing
  • Rich lamb 'stew' served with potato salad (a genius choice) and broad beans
  • Strawberry hazelnut meringue (with candles!)
  • cheeses
Day 3.
  • Scallop risotto
  • Scottish lamb chops served with breaded sweetbreads, artichoke hearts and new potatoes
  • Brandysnap tuiles with cream and berries
  • cheeses

Bird cliffs, Handa.

Rib from Tarbet to Handa Island


  1. Oh you are cruel to put up pictures AND menus from heaven! Happy happy birthday - perhaps we should retreat there sometime?!

  2. I can't think of anywhere that looks more idyllic to spend a birthday. I am emerald with envy.

  3. It would make a brilliant retreat, T - you'd love it!
    Thanks Sally - it might make up for turning sixty - but actually, I couldn't care less!

  4. With puffins too!?! Jealous x 10. But well deserved - happy happy birthday!!