December already! How did that happen? I’m normally champing at the bit to put the Christmas tree up and write cards to send south to family and friends but this year I’m just not feeling it. Even sitting in front of the fire with a mulled wine can’t stir me from this Grinch like state. So when we were invited down to the Scottish Borders town of Peebles I thought it would be a perfect way to avoid the C word for a bit longer. Instead, we swapped it for two other C words, coorie in at Cringletie House.
We’ve all heard of the Danish concept of hygge (pronounced hoo-ga), well in the last couple of years Scottish interpretations of this trend have had a revival – Coorie and Còsagach. Although there is some debate on their true meaning they essentially purvey the winter cosiness, snuggling, warmth and all the other things Cringletie House has to offer.
We are guilty of not spending much time in the Scottish Borders since moving, with just a few day trips and a couple of nights spent near Lauder some time ago. But the sweet town of Peebles is actually closer to Edinburgh than I thought. Deciding to stop off at Rosslyn Chapel on the way down we enjoyed the stunning carvings and marvelled at it’s story. It really is well worth stopping for.
Arriving close to lunch time the first port of call was to eat before hanger got the better of me! It quickly became apparent that this market town was a hive of activity and there are plenty of places for soup and a sandwich, burgers or haggis, neeps and tatties in the pubs, cafes, hotel or coffee shops along the high street. Spoiled for choice.
We had noticed quite quickly how many independent shops there were in this wee town and it really was delightful. Lots of locally crafted winter woollies, a bakery, a (very busy) butchers, wooden toys in window displays. Very quaint and testament to this was how busy it was.
Escaping the hustle and bustle of the shops for a while we went down to the river for a walk and to look around the Old Town of Peebles, just over the Cuddy Bridge. As I was taking photos (in the rain) one lady stopped me and asked if we were on holiday and expressed how she was so sorry that the rain should spoil the view of her home town. Very proud of her Royal Burgh heritage she gave me a run down of where her grandmother and mother were born (just in the wynd opposite). I had a really nice chat her and she made me feel very welcome.
Coorie in at Cringletie House
Just a few short miles drive north of Peebles and still a bit soggy from wandering the town we arrived to a warm welcome and a roaring fire at Cringletie House. Aaaaaaaand, relax.
It’s funny how some places immediately embrace you and you feel at home. That’s exactly what happened to us. We were shown to our room on the second floor and no sooner had we put our bags down we knew this overnight stay would be perfect.
The first thing to make me smile even before opening the main door was the line of various sized wellington boots for visitors to use, if need be, to explore the woodlands and walled garden.
A spacious room with a large sash window overlooking the woodland and comfy chairs, perfect for reading or sipping the ‘welcome whisky’ which had been left for us. Steps leading down to the bathroom, passed full length mirrors and more storage space. It’s always nice to see a big roll top bath in a spacious bathroom, even though I can’t remember the last time I used a bath! So I was also happy to see the large ‘rain’ head in the separate shower. One of my pet hates in hotels is small bath towels but I am pleased to report Cringletie House came up trumps with the HUGE bath sheets. My favourite.
That night we had a dreamy nights sleep and the duvet is thick, snug and hugs you tight.
But before that, we decided to explore the grounds. Covering 28 acres of land, Cringletie House has plenty to offer; manicured lawns, woodland trails, sculptures, a doocot (dovecote) and a walled garden that dates back to 1660. At this time of year the garden is lacking in colour but still rather impressive nonetheless. I imagine when the yellow laburnum flowers on the arch are in bloom against the green of the 350 year old yew hedge it is pretty as a picture (a good excuse to come back and see it). We did ‘enjoy’ a game of chess on the giant board in the walled garden, I am no grand chess master so Dude’s victory was short and sweet.
Back indoors and it was way past any suitable time to have a drink. Spoiled for choice with two bar areas and a lounge with roaring open fires we perched ourselves in comfy leather seats with an 1881 distillery G&T for me and a local ale for the Dude. With the relaxed atmosphere and not one note of a Christmas song being played through the speakers we chatted with other guests and speculated about what would be on the menu.
The darkness through the windows soon masked the dreich weather outside as we settled in for a second glass of something cold.
After testing out the shower and putting on some more suitable attire (as opposed to the walking trousers and layers we had arrived in) we went down to dinner. Being led into the lounge for drinks and to peruse the menu we were spoiled for choice. Lots of ooo’s and ahhh’s as we read through each section and the obligatory question “what are you having?”
I was torn between two main course meals and so decided to ask the young man who came to take our order which one he would recommend. Very honestly he told me he hadn’t tried the vegetarian meal I mentioned but the trio of pork was delightful. Sold!
The dining room itself is a beautiful room with panelled walls, an open fire and a beautiful painting ceiling.
Starting with an amuse bouche of lightly spiced carrot soup and a cream cheese sable we knew this meal was going to be delightful.
I’m always sad when I see scallops on the menu because in recent years I seem to have built up an intolerance to these lovely white gems from the sea, they were one of my favourite starters. However, Dude reported that his roasted Shetland scallop with caramelised cauliflower puree, pickled and raw cauliflower with caviar dressing was really tasty. So, in the absence of scallop I chose breast of smoked duck with a miso gel, nori wraped confit leg and soy reduction – mouth-wateringly good.
Looking forward with anticipation to our main course of trio of old spot pork – slow cooked cheek, roasted fillet, crispy pork belly, glazed baby carrot and a burnt apple puree – when it arrived we barely spoke to one another for wanting to savour each mouthful of this culinary delight.
I have a sweet tooth and the best part about eating out is dessert and choosing just one from the menu was not an easy task. But in the end I opted for a trio of autumn plums. Yes that’s right, three wee puds on one plate. Genius. A spiced plum crumble, frozen plum souffle and a plum and almond tart. What a treat.
Unlike me, the Dude is a weirdo and doesn’t like sweet things so was about to pass on dessert but was offered a cheese board that hadn’t been on the menu. Four different cheeses, oatcakes and biscuits, grapes and a fresh chutney. He was happy as a songbird.
We then retired to our room with big contented smiles on our faces to relax and do some reading.
I hate goodbyes
After a good nights sleep we woke to the fog covering the view out of our window but with a 11am checkout time, we were in no rush to leave.
I’m not quite sure how we managed breakfast after all that food the night before but we did. Plenty to choose from – cereal, fruit, pastries, yoghurt etc. Opting for smoked salmon and scrambled egg and a full Scottish breakfast, it was just the ticket to start the day.
Although we had only stayed for one night our invite to coorie in at Cringletie House was just what we needed to relax before the chaos of Christmas finally descends. The history of the house, the tartan carpet that invites you up the staircase, the log fires, the friendly staff, excellent food and perfect location for exploring the Scottish Borders. Definitely not one to miss.
I would like to thank Cringletie House for their kind hospitality in return for this review. All views on weather and choice of drinks in the afternoon are all my own. Also note the menu was read out in my best Masterchef voiceover.