Sunday, 17 March 2013

A day in Crieff

The day begins. A tiny shaft of light spears across the ceiling and my ears open to the muffled, relentless delivery of the news reporter. His voice is coming from the next room. It strikes me that, whilst I can't make out his words, he has an awful lot to say at this time in the morning. His urgent intonation emphasises the importance he's giving to his thirty seconds of air-time.

I reach for my watch from the bedside cabinet.


My wife is still asleep. Our room, on the top-floor turret of Crieff Hydro in Perthshire, Scotland, has been specially chosen for my 40th birthday. It shapes out into a three window bay which looks down on and  across the surrounding countryside. Pulling the curtains apart I am met with a magnificent background vista of sweeping hillsides as far as the eye can see. Rolling mist forms the centre of the shot, whilst  the little town of Crieff makes up the foreground.

The hotel opened in 1868 as The Strathearn Hydropathic Establishment Company under the management of physician Thomas H. Meikle and looking down on the surrounding countryside, his choice of location must have factored in the health benefits of such a beautiful landscape upon its visitors.

Soon we are enjoying another window seat in The Meikle Lounge for a fantastic cooked breakfast. Maybe not so healthy, but certainly enjoyable.

Next stop, bizarrely,  is the chance to try out a two wheeled Segway on the ballroom dance floor. Despite my wife's calls for more speed, I'm happy to manouevre the boards with a slow elegance. Maybe I'm imagining the Segway is Ginger Rodgers or is it that I'm just scared that I might overbalance?

We head out as light snow begins to fall, icing the shrubs and trees as we squeeze together under the umbrella, glad to have put on warmer footwear. After a mile or so, we end up in the Clubhouse Cafe sipping hot drinks and reading the morning papers. To my right, another large bay window reveals the mist's descent to lower levels, but from the window to my left I have a perfect view of the clear eighteenth green and fairway stretching uphill away from it. We sip our tea and hot chocolate, interpreting, misinterpreting and laughing over a guide to improving marriage from a Saturday supplement in The Times as golfers pepper the green with various degrees of accuracy.

By mid-afternoon, we are relaxing in the hotel's Victorian Spa. It's a child-free oasis, hidden labyrinth-like in the basement of the hotel. As we descend the stairs, having parted with our entrance fee, piped music immediately readies us for a restful few hours. Despite its name, the spa has Roman marble decor as well as Renaissance-style frescoes on its ceiling. The glistening pool is mesmerising and the sound of jacuzzi bubbles merge with calming melodies and restrained voices. Soft low-lighting emphasises calm and the absence of hurly-burly.

Three hours pass.

(Steam room. Swim. Sauna. Shower. A drink of lime cordial. Bubble pool. Swim. Sauna. A coffee. Dipping into a Paulo Coelho novel. Eyes closed for a while. Another swim etc etc.... )


All is well with the world.

A perfect evening meal at the Brasserie follows. Time wanders past. After some good food, chat and people watching, I'm left with that feeling of having over-eaten.The pleasant sensation of sleepiness creeps ever closer and we are soon tucked under the covers where our day began. Turning forty is not so bad thanks to a day in Crieff.

(Our turret room is up there in the background. We were looking
out of those three windows at the top.) 


  1. oh wow had an awesome adventure turning 40...hmm...might leave this laying around for my wife come that spa treatment was rather looking place as well...

    1. I'd definitely drop some major hints Brian!

  2. a wow from me as well..what a wonderful place to celebrate your birthday, and wondering if once you learn to ride a
    Segway you never forget? Nicely written entry for your diary...

    1. The segway was fairly easy, but I read that someone drove one over a cliff, so you've got to be careful!

  3. Happy birthday to you! Sounds like you had a wonderful celebration and turned 40 in a magnficent setting. Ha ha, thinking ahead, how will you surpass that when you turn 50?? (Mean, aren't I?)

    1. That's quite a thought Mary! I did have a great time. Think I'll concentrate on 40 for now!

  4. I've known I like you, of course...but a day planned such by your wife? I've now firmly placed her in the "lovely" category as well. Congratulations on a splendid fortieth!

    1. Thanks Chantel. It was a great day. She is indeed one in a million :)

  5. Happy birthday! Thanks for letting us accompany you on this day through your writing.

  6. Sounds like a wonderful time! :-)


Thanks for leaving a comment. Have a great day :)

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