Family friendly holiday – New Lodge
New Lodge is a spectacular large holiday home set in the Highlands of Scotland. The lovely owner has put together this blog for us to share the story and passion behind the design of this purpose-built family friendly holiday home. Relax with a cuppa and enjoy…
The farm at New Kelso has been a productive sheep unit for the family for five generations. With the main farming enterprise located on the East coast, it was to the West that we travelled for our summer holidays, staying in the old lodge at New Kelso. In the early 1980’s the old lodge was sold along with half of the river, but with the condition that, should they be put back on the market, the family would be given the option to buy them back.
In 2007 the old lodge was indeed put back on the market and having spent many happy family holidays there ourselves, a very tough decision had to be made. Holidaying in the old lodge and spending other family holidays in Victorian lodges in the Highlands we knew their limitations and idiosyncrasies and so decided the time had come to create a purpose built modern lodge which would more than cope with 21st century living. We also bought back the half share in the river, meaning that we now have full control over double banks of 2 and half miles of one of the most successful West coast spate rivers in Scotland. A regeneration project of the river has produced some outstanding results and provides great sport for both the novice and experienced angler alike.
Once the decision was made to build a new lodge, which was to accommodate three families comfortably, we approached Reynolds Architecture in Dingwall. The initial drawings and requirements were literally done on the back of an envelope by George Reynolds and ourselves.
We wanted to be able to provide hot water for all the showers, baths and the kitchen sink at the same time. We had stayed in enough houses where if one bath was run the whole plumbing system ground to a halt or the hapless person having a shower was suddenly drenched in freezing cold water!
As we are a family of foodies we wanted to have a large kitchen, fully equipped with every modern gadget known to man, where you could cook whilst friends and family chat or equally, if you decide to take your own cook with you, they have a wonderful environment in which to prepare sumptuous dishes for you to enjoy. With a full house sleeping up to 18 people the two dishwashers are a life-saver. The kitchen was sourced from my brother-in-law, who runs a kitchen company in Edinburgh and we had the added bonus of choosing whatever Farrow & Ball paint colours we liked. The addition of a five oven Aga plus Aga companion gives over 2 metres of Aga in the kitchen with both electric ovens and gas hobs.
With modern living being more relaxed than our Victorian counterparts we wanted to have an open plan flow through the kitchen/dining/living space and having seen a double sided wood burning stove at Uncle Fraser’s house – thought that it would be a great way of dividing the living and dining areas without the need for solid walls. It also creates a lovely ambience when lit, with the warmth going both into the sitting room and dining room.
The major benefits of modern building techniques are under floor heating and triple glazing. The entire ground floor of the house has under floor heating from a ground source heat pump and the windows are all triple glazed. Even in mid-winter the house is warm and guests have even complained of being too warm.
Our other main requirements were to have comfy beds (- no lumpy Victorian horsehair mattresses -) and plenty of comfy sofas, so that everyone could sit together in one room.
The drawings that we did at that first meeting did not change much and Billy, (George Reynold’s son) completed the project. Our builders were fantastic and having done smaller projects for holiday lets on the East coast I was aware that when the builders asked you on a Friday night what paint colours or bathroom tiles you wanted it usually meant that the painters and tilers would be on site on the Monday morning! Thankfully we had prepared well and almost everything was decided well in advance. This definitely helped make the project easier and quicker in completion, once the planning processes had been negotiated.
This was the only area in the whole project which seemed to be dragged out. Just when we thought we had covered all the bases we had to undertake a flood risk assessment on the proposed site. It transpired that if we were to have the worst rain fall ever recorded in the West, combined with a high tide and snow melt, there was the possibility that water might reach the top of your wellies! Thankfully there was one elevated position in the same field where you would not need a canoe to get out and retrospectively it is so much better than the initial site, giving us fabulous views down the loch and, due to the slight elevation, a little bit more of a breeze to keep the midgies away!
We had also decided to build what we call the Ceilidh Shed. It is a child’s heaven, with table tennis, pool, snooker, darts, big screen TV and even a roulette wheel! This building was finished before the house was started and acted as a great storage area for all the deliveries for the main house. It is basically an agricultural shed, lined with Kingspan and then tongue and groove pine to make it look less like an agricultural shed! It also means that more partying goes on here, thus saving extra wear and tear on the house. It has also been used by the local art group for hosting their annual exhibitions and as a wedding venue.
The first piece of turf was cut in September 2009, and despite the winter being one of the snowiest in recent years, the first guests stayed in the house in July 2010. At that point the house was 99% completed, with Wifi better than we have at home and only a few very minor snagging items to resolve. Since then we have added a few more pieces of art, with the salmon sculpture in the hall, designed specifically for us by Jason Sweeney, having a real wow factor. The lengthier than planned planning consents meant that every shed on the home farm was full to bursting with furniture picked up at various sale rooms in Edinburgh and Dingwall. It also meant that when the building was complete we had enough furniture to fill the house combining both modern and antique styles, and plenty paintings to adorn the walls.
We still have to find one piece of sculpture or something similar to go above the front door on a ledge which is about ten foot by four. When we were taking delivery of some of the furniture the removal man said that a stuffed brown bear was about to come up in a forthcoming sale in one of the Edinburgh auction houses and it would be ideal for that space. We immediately looked it up and there she was, walking along a tree trunk. We had already planned to call her Gloria ( so as not to terrify any younger members of the family ) and were so delighted to have found something to fill the space so perfectly. Sadly it was not to be, and Gloria was not what she was purported to be and withdrawn from the auction. We are still looking for something as suitable to this day. I think we will find the right thing and it is quite fun to still be doing so.
What we love most about the house, and we still go there ourselves every year for our summer holidays, is that it doesn’t matter whether you are a party of 18 or 6 – the house seems to cope with it all so effortlessly. There are so many toys to keep everyone amused. We always start the holidays with ambitious plans to host tennis and table tennis tournaments and never seem to get past the first round, and the fishermen are usually up with the larks coming back in at breakfast with their tales of what got away or the big fish lying in a keep net in one of the pools. There is so much to do, whether you are a hill walker, bird watcher, kayaker or Masterchef finalist. Or even, if you wake at dawn and look out the window, to sit quietly and watch the deer grazing in the garden.
Our ambition was to create a Highland lodge with modern comforts that would be a great place to go for family holidays of all ages and I hope we have achieved it. Judging by the number of guests who come back year on year I think they feel it is every bit their holiday home, as we do!
If you are interested to find out more pop over to New Lodge today and see how well it would suit you and your loved ones. This is the perfect destination for that 60th birthday party, family holiday or that big friends reunion that is long over due! We look forward to hearing from you.
Remember you can call our sales team at any point on 01738451610