Okay now we have tipped into November is it safe to start a wee mention of Christmas?
I know many of us start out planning in earnest, who to invite, where to go, gifts to buy, cards to write, decorations to get down from the loft, trees to buy, food to decide on and so, so much more.
I love this time of year – I have to confess, I enjoyed it much more when Hettie was a ‘believer’ – but she has never admitted to not believing so we keep up this Santa thing…… and I hope we always do! When I look back at the effort I put in over the years… there are the obligatory footsteps in the living room of course, but I have been on a ladder at midnight making sleigh track on the roof before now! And one year Santa happened to leave his glove… which was very exciting… but even more so when the man himself called at lunchtime, asking for Hettie and asked if she would send it back to the North Pole – and he checked she was happy with her gifts, and saying “have to go now Hettie, I am just over your cousins Sean and Conor’s house in Washington DC” … she nearly passed out with excitement! (Thanks to Auntie Allena’s friend Dave for a brilliant Santa impression – Ho, Ho, Ho!)
This year at Hettie’s Tearoom we have decided to give our Afternoon Tea a Christmas makeover…. and a wee tipsy-ness! Afternoon Tea is so in fashion right now, so it made perfect sense!
We have given everything a Christmas Twist – all the savouries will have a nod to Christmas – no one wants to miss out on their pigs in blankets! Our normal (year round) cakes have been replaced with Christmas themed cakes – Mini Yule Logs, Snowballs, Baby Christmas Cakes and much more, we have gone a little bonkers, the scones are even Christmassy! Oh and there is the festive addition of a tipsy Jelly Shot or two – it’s Christmas! We thought you’d need a cracker as well!
And of course, we have added a Cocktail on arrival and a half bottle of Prosecco per person! (Of course you can add more if you fancy!)
As with all good parties – there is a goodie bag too! (Worth £20)
We start serving the Christmas Afternoon Tea on the 26th November through until Christmas Eve. 10.30am – 4pm – booking is ESSENTIAL.
When you are all grown up and responsible for ‘stuff’ sometimes the magic fades from Christmas – we’d like to think we can inject some of the magic right back in to your Christmas this year!
So you're thinking about coming to Pitlochry for the Enchanted Forest. I thought I would share with you my 10 top tips for a 'tip top' Enchanted Forest visit.
Top Tip Number One
Make sure you have a ticket! Believe me when I say, there is no point in coming to Pitlochry if you don't have a ticket. The tickets are virtually sold out. You might be luck to get a ticket for 9.15pm on a Monday or Tuesday, but there are no Prime tickets left at all. Oh and make sure you are travelling to Pitlochry on the right day.... I am serious - we have had customers in the tearoom who are a WEEK early!
Top Tip Number Two
Leave plenty of time for your journey. There are always roadworks happening somewhere. And at the moment with the dualling of the A9, roadworks are sprouting up everywhere. The roads on the way to Pitlochry both from the north and from the south are not exempt during EF. So ensure you leave plenty of time for your journey. A comfortable time from Glasgow or Edinburgh with no holdups at all is around 1 and three quater hours. Then factor in some hold ups. Then factor in a toilet stop. Then factor in getting stuck behind a slow tractor on the A9. Leave plenty of time for your journey.
Top Tip Number Three
Get parked up early. Pitlochry gets really full on Enchanted Forest nights and parking at a premium so the earlier you arrive the more choice you have of the best parking for your needs. And please just don't park anywhere. The Traffic wardens will be about, yes even in the evening during Enchanted Forest. So don't spoil your Enchanted Forest visit with a parking ticket. If you ignore this top tip you may get a bout of DOJS - this happens when time is tight and the man gallantly drops the good lady and/or kids near the departure point and off he goes to park... only to find the nearest parking is half a mile away and he has a sudden onset of Dropper Offer Jogging Syndrome.... very very prevalent during EF!
Top Tip Number Three A (messed up the numbering! 😊)
If you are planning to eat before you go to the forest in Pitlochry, the town is really busy, so if you have a favorite place in Pitlochry make sure you book ahead because you don't want to be disappointed. No one wants to be settling for their second choice. So book ahead for your choice of restaurant. And if you fancy having Afternoon Tea with us at Hettie's, great idea to book ahead.
Top Tip Number Four
If you're staying an Pitlochry. Make sure that you arrive in good time, even if you can get into your accommodation. There's still lots to do in the area. And one really lovely thing to do is go out to the forest - you can see it in the daylight - they close the forest about 4pm so you could have a wee trot round before that. We have a lovely new pottery painting workshop on the main street, fun for adultas and great for kids! There is lots to see and do over the October holidays and during the Enchanted Forest. So make sure you arrive early and make a real break of it.
Top Tip Number Five
When you are going to Enchanted Forest make sure you leave plenty of time from when you arrive in town to getting to the Enchanted Forest departure point. There is normally quite a long (but fast moving) queue. And be warned, if you miss your departure slot you may not get on the next bus because the event is full so the next bus is also full. All the buses leave from outside Fishers Hotel and you can't miss the big structure outside Fishers Hotel where you queue. The stewards there make sure you get to the departure point in plenty of time before your departure.
Top Tip Number Five A (and again 😊)
Look ahead at the weather, please don't turn up in stiletto heels and mini skirts to go to the forest. It's a forest. It's October. It can get really cold. So make sure that your all togged up for that wintry weather and also for rain. You might think it's going to be rubbish in the rain and that it is not going to be a nice experience but I absolutely adore the Enchanted Forest in the rain. Make sure the kids are all nice and waterproof - there may be the odd puddle to jump into! The advice I'd give to you is look up when it's raining. Because as the raindrops fall the light catches them and it's absolutely magical.
Top Tip Number Six
If you arrive in good time and you've got any questions or queries about departure. There are stewards at the departure point, usually about four of them at the departure point who'll be happy to ask you answer your questions, but the beauty is, these are all locals and so you can ask questiosn, not just on the Forest, but on Pitlochry as a whole and the surrounding area.
Top Tip Number Seven
Hang on to your kids!!! Pitlochry is so busy during the Enchanted Forest evenings just keep a good hold of your kids. Coaches are leaving every 5 mins from from Fishers Hotel, there over 2000 people in town every night, so keep a really good eye on the little (and not so little) ones. But in the event you do become separated it is a good idea to ensure your little one has your mobile number on them so you cna be contaced - I used to write my number on Hettie's arm!
Top Tip Number Seven A (oh dear 😊)
Listen to the announcements on the bus. Be sure you tune into the annoucements on the coach as well as health and safety they will give you tips to enjoy your visit When you get to the forest which is about a 5 minute coach ride my toppiest topt tip is, TAKE YOUR TIME ... the Enchanted Forest is best enjoyed sloooowly. Please, please don't rush around, the paths may be busy, take it slow, the actual circular walk around Faskally is only about 1km, and in order to miss nothing you need to be looking up, down, left, right, forward and back ... that way you will drink in the complete magic that is EF. It is a great diea to go round more than once - and there is no limit to how many times you go round. Your return bus is not at a set time, so you can get any bus back into Pitlochry. So enjoy your visit to the forest to the full!
Top Tip number Eight
Save some pennies for the forest There are fantastic, nice quality branded item to buy to remind you of your visit to the forest. I am still washing and tumble drying Hettie's hoodie that we bought 2 years ago. There's also places that have hot chocolate, coffee, tea and mulled wine as well as something to eat. So maybe go round once, stop for a snack and a drink and go round again?.
Top Tip Number Nine
There are loos in the forest and plenty of them. They are cleaned every day. It's not like T in the park so don't worry if you haven't managed to catch a loo before you board the coach. What's the tip here? Relax, there are loos!
Top Tip Number Ten
Have fun – relax - enjoy yourself. It's a great night. Yes, you need to allow good time on your arrival so you can get parked up and are not rushing, take time to look at the business windows around the town.... most will be decorated for Halloween. There will be busy pavements, queues, some waiting around and it might be cold - but plan ahead to cope with all this and you will have a very special night indeed!
Top Tip Number Eleven – not really a tip – more like a couple brilliant OFFERS!
You will arrive in your thousands to see The Enchanted Forest!
Many of you reading this will be heading to Pitlochry next month for the wonderful festival that it is The Enchanted Forest. This year the theme is In The Wild – and if the plans I have heard about are anything to go by it is going to be a stunning show this year.
Set up will be starting any day now and this takes about a month – there are fences put up, in an attempt to stop you plopping into Loch Dunmore, paths have been widened and improved, viewing platforms have to be built and of course the installation of thousands and thousands of lights and dozens of music speakers. It is quite an undertaking. The installations need to be tested and tested again. It takes a brilliant designer, a talented composer and a small army of technicians to create the final Enchanted Forest you arrive at on the bus in the darkness of Highland Perthshire next month.
I am an Enchanted Forest Groupie!
I love the Enchanted Forest – I have been to EVERY one – and most of them I have visited twice! I have tried to go on an evening when the weather is fair AND then again on a rainy evening – the experience is completely different. There is something about the rain catching the light as it falls that is quite “enchanting”! I like to go early in the run of dates – that way I can share the experience (“bore them into enchantment” as my team say!) with customers in the tearoom who are going. It still amazes me that despite some 76,000 people coming to the Enchanted Forest now, there are still people who think they can just pick up a ticket or five when they get here – sadly this is not the case. Don’t be disappointed – book ahead!
It’s not ALL Enchanted Forest – My Forest
I love Faskally woods where the Enchanted Forest is held – it is by far my favourite place to walk my brace of Labradors: Rascal and Rosie. But the Enchanted Forest that you see throughout October isn’t the amazing Forest I explore throughout the year – however, let me tell you, my forest is equally ‘enchanted’.
I am usually there really early in the morning – sometimes about 5.30am… as we drive in, we can often see a deer retreating into the cover of the trees to avoid us. At one point in the walk most days there are two deer watching us from up high on a hill – they are on their guard incase a Labrador nose turns their direction and then they are off. Rascal knows from previous experience that this is a chase not worth pursuing, although he does feel the need to run about 30 metres in their direction before thinking “that’ll do”! – they know the terrain and are 3 times as fast as him. Rosie, my wee retired guide dog chases nothing – except cuddles!
We don’t often just walk around Loch Dunmore – if you walk round here without lots of gorgeous lights and light shows to take your attention – it is only about an 11-minute circuit – nothing like enough to tire out the 8 paws I have with me. But, just recently, I fell and hurt my ankle quite badly, so it forced me to stick to the level path around Loch Dunmore for a few weeks – did you know that was its name – and we just did the circuit 3 tmes!
It is so beautiful – the lilies almost cover the loch completely and it is wonderful to see wading birds using the lilies like stepping stones to cross the water – this completely fries Rascal’s labrador brain! Birds.. WALKING on water! There are always lots of ducks and despite my two charges not being ‘duck chasers’, when the ducklings are about, the mum and dad ducks always ensure they know were the brood are for safety – usually near the middle of the loch.
Although they are away at the moment – A gorgeous Swan couple make Loch Dunmore their home for egg laying and hatching each year. Interestingly , they usually come back in time for the start of the Forest – keep your eyes open for them. Dad Swan takes weeks to complete the really substantial nest, he never expecting mum to use last year’s dilapidated effort. Men reading this take heid, look after your lady! This year, the nest was really close to the bridge that goes across the Loch. Lots of pictures of their signets appeared on Facebook as a result. But, sadly, they are not successful every year at hatching the eggs – sometimes mum sits on the nest for weeks with dad being the ever-attentive security guard, and feeder of mum… and nothing happens. I don’t know how the swans feel, but I feel so sad for them. This year we had 6 signets to start with – this reduced to 3 quite quickly. Maybe the heron, or a buzzard or maybe the nest being so close to the bridge meant a fox could reach it, who knows.
The Heron at Loch Dunmore is a bit stupid he always breaks his brilliant cover just as the dogs get close, not even REALLY close, it is only when he moves that they know he is there – and pay no attention to him at all! Daft bird!
This year I have had a friendly wee robin welcome me when I park up the car in the morning and flies between the tree stumps for the first few yards of our walk then leaves us to it – his name? Erm.. Robin of course!
A few weeks ago I heard a couple of buzzards having a good go at each other – not physically, it just sounded like very noisy ‘verbals’. More akin to something you might hear on a Friday night in Pitlochry! I figure, as I only normally hear one buzzard, this may have been some young upstart trying to muscle in on the territory! It sounded fierce and my quiet wee Labrador, Rosie was not happy about it at all, she’s a lover not a fighter.
Occasionally you will be lucky enough to see the early rising, lesser spotted fisherman – but not very often – a bit early for them! One chap did get a bit of a fright some years ago when one of my labradors, Midge, helped herself to his Battenburg cake!!!! That woke him up! Midge took her bounty into the woods and ignored me, and battled through the dry cake, struggling to swallow it towards the end, until it was gone!
At the far end of the Loch there is a wee memorial to a six year old boy who passed away in Jan 2016 and his dog who died a few months after him – I always say good morning and tell him to have a great day and let him how our walk has been – fresh flowers appear at the spot quite regularly. If this wee chap belongs to you, rest assured he gets a friendly word every time I pass, he is never alone for long.
I hear owls, and woodpecker and countless other birds, I hear rustling in the woods that could be foxes and badgers and mice and voles and shrews or any number of other forest dwellers.
I often see a red squirrel in the woods, and hear them in the trees above but my wildlife highlight has got to be seeing 4 squirrels chasing (I like to think ‘playing’) in the tree canopy above me – it lasted for about 3 minutes and was the most amazing sight.
I shot a few stills and popped them into a short slide show to give you a flavour of how Faskally looks without the razzamatazz of the Enchanted Forest - have a wee look.
So you see, the forest isn’t just enchanted for a month – it is enchanted all year round and I urge you to come visit and enjoy it.
For details on how to buy tickets go to www.enchantedforest.org.uk
To book a table at Hettie’s Click Here
And to get £8 off Afternoon Tea for Two at Hettie’s (ONLY for those going to the Forest) - Click Here
Does this picture make you want to STOP what you’re doing, grab a fork and start eating?
If you LOVE cheesecake as much as we do, then here’s some news that’s going to blow your mind.
We’re unveiling the Pitlochry Cheesecake Co very soon, and YOU are invited to our launch party!
I know what you’re thinking… “What happens at a Pitlochry Cheesecake Co launch party?!”
The truth is, there’s going to be A LOT of cheesecake. We’ve lovingly come up with 11 different varieties of delicious cheesecake, and there’ll be 6 flavours for you to sample on the night.
If you’re joining us for the party, let us know what your favourite flavour is, and we’ll see what we can do… Choose from Mango, Strawberry, Lemon, Mars Bar, Crunchie, Oreo, Caramac, Jaffa Cake, Malteser, Chocolate Orange and Mint Aero.
The party kicks off at 7pm at Hettie’s Tearoom in Pitlochry on Friday 13th April and there’ll be some savoury nibbles and fizz as well as our famous cheesecake.
Plus, if you join us on the night you can buy a raffle ticket or two and be in with a chance of winning Afternoon Tea for 4 at Hettie’s, A Highland Soap Co basket, Lunch at Hettie's for 2 or… wait for it…........ An entire cheesecake! But you have to be there to be in with a chance of winning :-)
If you’re thinking, “Cheesecake? I’m there!” then click this link and secure your tickets (spaces are limited!) so we can make sure there’s plenty of cheesecake for everyone!
And remember to comment and tell us your favourite flavour while you’re at it… we’ll serve the six cheesecakes that get the most votes!
See you there…