The new year saw us literally jumping into the new decade as our Danish Hogmanay guests showed us their ‘jumping off a chair’ tradition to start a new year! And then we hit the ground running…. January & February have been our busiest in our 10 years here at The Allanton Inn!
We have seen an increase in guests coming to the Scottish Borders for Game Shooting in January. More Danish, Dutch & plenty English too! Really exciting to see this trend especially in the dark months. Shooting guests tend to have hearty appetites for food & drink! One of the group of Danes brought us some hares they’d shot, and we delighted them with their hares prepared for dinner.
We were thrilled to spend a day mid-January at the launch of #ScotlandStartsHere campaign by the Midlothian & Borders Tourism Action Group. Not only did this see us take the Borders Railway for the first time but we were excited and encouraged to see efforts and further plans to promote this beautiful region of ours and attract more visitors.
We ourselves have been local tourists while out and about in our ‘quieter’ months, collecting some of our wonderful local produce. We make no secret of our passion to source as much local produce as possible for our menus. In fact, we won a Highly Commended Award from Luxury B&B & Innkeeper Magazine for Best Use of Locally Sourced Produce.
A trip to the Chain Bridge Honey Farm always includes a scenic walk along the Tweed and cross the Chain Bridge. The Chain Bridge celebrates its 200th birthday this year. It’s a big year for the bridge as from February it is coming down!! There is a two-year refurbishment programme of the iconic Border crossing, a shame for our guests getting to the Honey Farm for the next wee while but a necessary project.
On our trip to Heatherslaw Mill to collect flour and oats, we took a detour to Duddo Standing Stones. A lovely easy walk up to the stones is rewarded with stunning views south to Cheviot, west to the Eildons and North to Berwickshire & Chirnside perched on the hill. And a trip to Ayton was rewarded with Woodcocks from Anderson & Sondergarrd Charcutiere.
January & February has been a time of comfort food as well as game. Greenvale delivered some Maris Piper Potatoes which we have been mashing, making dauphinoise and potato scones. The mash and potato scones were enjoyed with haggis and washed down with whisky at our 6th Burns Supper. We had a good crowd again in Allanton who enjoyed amusing recitals of Burns work from our regular performer, Ian Buick plus toasts to Lassies & laddies from our good friend Hamish and me! We love carrying on the tradition of Burns Suppers especially as a nod to The Whiteadder Burns Club which was formed here in 1952 and we invite Honorary President and village elder 94-year-old Walter Robertson to join us every year.
January always sees us joining our hardworking team for a night out and the famous Allanton Inn Oscars! Jenny won the most categories this year, not surprising as her personality is infectious which both our customers and her peers agreeing.
We have been spending time over the winter months with Joey working towards his Modern Apprenticeship in Professional Cookery in conjunction with the Border College, fingers crossed we will have this finished by Easter when the season goes into full swing again.
The Jim Clark Trail was launched in February in which we are recommended as accommodation provider. This is a fantastic 50-mile trail starting at the newly opened Jim Clark Museum is round the Borders & North Northumberland, taking the beautiful rolling scenery with places of interest particularly of course to Jim Clark. We are proud of our connections to Jim as he was a known local here at what was then The Red Lion. We have our little Jim Clark Corner in the bar in his memory with views across to his home at Edington Farm.
Our Scottish based wine supplier L’Art du Vin have opened their new warehouse and tasting room, so William and I seized the opportunity of a quiet day in February to get the train to Dalgety Bay to undertake some serious wine tasting. Really, I just enjoy listening to Phillipe with his French accent and his passion for wine, but William takes it more seriously honestly!!
All through the winter months we have been pushing and hoping to get started on our six bedroom conversion/extension but as we are STILL waiting for the building warrant, the realisation is we have missed the opportunity now to complete by the summer so now working on plans to start in the Autumn so the rooms will be ready for next Spring, fingers crossed.