House of Mark Diary o

March 2013

Is this Spring ?

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This past week I have spied a deceit of lapwing in the nearby field, do you think it is a sign their return means Spring is in the air?  I do hope so!  Although I do love snow (there has certainly been plenty of it) I am now ready for warmer, sunny days as I am sure you are!  The snow melt over the past few days has revealed many snowdrops flowering in the garden and shoots of daffodils at least 4 inches in height already.  The only things that appears to have suffered from the frosts are the bay trees but fingers crossed they will recover!

I must mention to you stargazing has been amazing, week after week with most evenings a cloudless, pollution free sky.  The occasional shooting star keeps one’s eyes fixated upwards, might even see a comet with the binoc’s!

I have copious demands on my time and my list of things to do grows daily.  Mr. Fixit is busy all over the place although I am never certain what he is up to!

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January 2013

Winter wonderland….!!

Sitting by the open fire glancing out of the window large snowflakes are gently falling, branches of the trees laden down with the weight of snow – so magical and picturesque!   It has been snowing off and on every day for the past week, snow drifts over 6 feet high blocking the driveway, luckily the larder and freezer are well stocked.

It’s a continuous job refilling the bird food containers for the ravenous variety of birds including the woodpeckers, also clearing the snow from their table to place food for the red squirrels.  A worthwhile task as it’s a joy to sit watching them from inside close up to the window. Thank goodness for my chest waders, usually worn for casting the fly but in this case to walk outside, knee high wellies are too short with this depth of snow…!  I have to admit most people will think I am mad (it must be difficult for most that have to travel) but it is rare to see snow like this and I am sure it will soon be gone so now time to wrap up warm and venture out camera in hand!

P.S. Have been looking out for a chance to see the illusive Otter as tracks are so clear at the moment!

January 2013

A Happy, Healthy and Prosperous 2013

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Decorations packed away for yet another year!   Christmas cards are wonderful to receive but after a while it’s a tedious job trying to dust and the needles from the tree clogging up the Dyson!  Weather improved dramatically over the festive season, (I am sure we all felt the deluge of rain would never cease!!)   It was a joy spending most of this weekend in the garden clearing debris and generally having a tidy – with the help of an amusingly inquisitive Army of Guinea fowl foraging for the odd grub/ insect.  Sunshine and fresh air so invigorating, the hills looking majestic capped with snow.

Just finished preparing a large Cottage Pie and Apple Crumble for a party of 7 Walkers venturing over Mount Keen today, arriving later this afternoon.   I am sure they will be starving!!

By the way, I recently discovered Pinterest

www.pinterest.com/houseofmark/) and have had fun pinning some of my photos on Boards and also looking at some amazing photos pinned by others.

November 2012

Wildlife of the Day !

Whatever the time of year there is always something interesting to see around House of Mark. As I sit here working away on my computer two magnificent stags are grazing less than 300 yards from the window. Looking so regal – one can understand why these handsome ‘boys’ are known as the ‘Monarch of the Glen’! (as painted by Sir Edwin Lanseer).

As I move into the dining room just outside the window three red squirrels nibble away at the peanuts from the bird feeder http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmI0205JvGo, occasionally scampering after each other playfully on the lawn. The Great Spotted Woodpecker ignoring them completely as he pecks away at another feeder. Most guests have also enjoyed watching these antics during breakfast time.

Distractions from my work – yes, but I think I am a very lucky person, don’t you?

October 2012

White Tailed Eagle

Excitement abounds just had my first sighting of a pair of White Tailed Eagles, also known as Sea Eagles … majestic raptors reintroduced to Scotland since becoming extinct. Make no mistake! these are big birds, flying barn doors. Right on the door step encircling Loch Lee and the mountain lochs, swooping silently waiting till the next meal can be snatched from the waters. Four times the size of a buzzard,  two and half metres wing span and at over one metre high; yet patience is required to see this the UK’s largest bird.

Take a peak at this   http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/life/White-tailed_Eagle#p005fsb9

what do you think ?

House of Mark wildlife tours don’t forget your binoc’s, camera,  yummy lunch /dinner if you wish….hope to see you soon.

September 2012

Wedding at House of Mark

Wedding! Wedding! Wedding! … all a rush… no Fixit being calm ignited into military mode arranging all to minute detail – just like a Fredrick Forsyth novel. “Can I get married at  House of Mark?”  said the bride-to-be. We replied ‘of course’, had a stiff drink in the aftermath of consideration of the “all to dos” oh and don’t forget the flowers!

My roll was the creation of the Wedding menu, to be based on a totally Scottish local food theme with a touch of “me”. Hendrick’s Scottish Gin and Concombre Sorbet; went down a treat!

I think Fixit had the microphone for lunch … MC and all that, the Marquee within the walled garden glistened in the sunshine. Oh by the way thanks to all for making the Wedding day go zoomingly.

They say every picture tells a story……

August 2012

Open Adventure

Very little sleep this week as I’ve been hosting a transition stage of
the 5 days of ‘Open Adventure’ live.addidas-ar.com
The competitive race started in Stirling and ended in Stirling 620kms
later. The teams made up of four people to include a least one female
were from all over the world. They had to mountain bike, canoe,
orienteer, or run on different stages. Teams started to arrive at
House of Mark from 02.00 on Wednesday and were still arriving after
21.00, these teams being the premier teams who chose to take a harder
lengthier route. A busy day!


House of Mark fed and watered the teams and helped the transition to
the next stage a mere 105 kms run. The event organised by Open
Adventure’s team and workaholic enthusiasts will be shown on channel 4
in the near future.
The whole race is an eye opener for any would be Mr and Mrs Fit who
thinks a triathlon is easy.
Take a look here is the leading team really tired now after a few days no stop

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RsWaQsq3PBk

June 2012

Solitude !

I find occasionally I need time to myself to reflect on life and generally think things through, we probably all do don’t we?   Glenesk is an ideal place to have  some solitude for a few hours.  With my soul mates at my side (Zoe and Lola my dogs) as company I set off to make my first visit to The Queen’s Well.  http://www.angusglens.co.uk/esk/queen_victoria.php

An overcast day, fine drizzle and low cloud I followed the path with the Water of Mark on my left, not far before I spied a small herd of red deer approximately 150 yards away I sat on a rock to watch them  for a few minutes grazing at the side of the water what an amazing sight.  How lucky I am to have such wonderful wildlife on the doorstep.  Time to move on and after about 30 minutes of easy walking I suddenly see the ‘stone crown’ in the distance, a strange feeling came over me thinking that I was on the same path as Queen Victoria used to ride.

For those of you visiting this part of the world it is well worth visiting the Queen’s Well.  My venture taking less than a couple of hours in total with the occasional stop,  binoculars at the ready, then returning home feeling refreshed and at piece with the world, new ideas in my head and two sleepy girls ready to stretch out in their beds.

May 9th 2012

What do think of First Born ?

For a number of years I have kept Guinea Fowl, they are amazing ‘watch dogs’ making a lot of noise when strangers or predators (e.g. Mr Fox) approach the property, especially at night when roosting in the trees. They love to roam around the garden all together mopping up the insects including midges and tics but thankfully ignoring the plants. The labs are often seen stretched out in the sunshine amongst the guineas and are protective of each other. This year for the first time I decided to try to hatch some Guinea Fowl eggs. After 28 days incubation I returned from visiting friends to find my first keet (guinea chick), what a sweet little bundle of fluff! Panic stations, find heat lamp, box, bedding etc.  The following day two more keets!

Now some of you may ask are the Guineas for eating? NO WAY!!  Although delicious to eat these are my pets, they do have a rather exotic touch not one would say beautiful – just different!

May 1st 2012

Number 10 has one ! ( so I’m told as not been invited yet ! )


Knock Knock.. who’s there..  a Lion’s head door clatterer, that should wake the dogs !!Mr. Fix-it required to attach to the front door. Ah yes that will mean a repaint prior too… what colour ? Probably black anyway come and see I want Red but as this is our new venture all is up for discussion. Let the readers decide !

Now I found this knock knock at a rather lovely localish auction in Dundee. I just love auctions don’t you ? We are refurbishing the old manse so much more to buy.

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5 thoughts on “House of Mark Diary o

  1. This looks a lovely exciting new venture in a beautiful location in Scotland. How wise that your entrance and the first impression of your accommodation is the first task that you undertake! A handsome knocker indeed.

  2. I think a RED door would be nice – always a welcoming colour! Dosen’t have to be pillar box red if that’s too bright, it can be Victorian red, in keeping with the age of the house. You two have been busy! Eileen and Maurice

  3. Hi Ian Really nice to meet you yesterday after our Bike/climb what a fantastic place you have there and thank you for your hospitality and great chat ! all the very best . Alan and John .

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