Inchyra House in Perthshire, Scotland | House & Garden

Inchyra House is a beautiful Regency mansion overlooking the Ochil Hills outside Perth. I am sitting in the kitchen with Caroline Inchyra, her husband James, and her brother Tim. It is this enterprising trio whose energy is behind the renovation of the Byre, a magnificent farm building on the Inchyra estate, and the setting for some of the most romantic weddings in Scotland. It is also the location for the Inchyra Arts Club, which is rapidly gathering a reputation as a venue for music, comedy and theatre. The final third of the Inchyra enterprises is made up by Inchyra Designs, a range of uniquely aged linen that Caroline and James began producing before the Byre and Arts Club were born in 2014.

It was in the Fifties that James’s grandfather, Frederick Hoyer Millar, bought Inchyra, then described in Country Life as, ‘the most perfect small estate in Scotland’. Following a distinguished diplomatic career that included being in charge of the British Sector of Germany after the Second World War, and later in the Foreign Office, he was awarded one of the last hereditary peerages. He took the name of Inchyra for his peerage. After he retired, he set about improving the estate, planting thousands of trees andestablishing parterre gardens, and playing host to politicians including Winston Churchill and Anthony Eden.

The estate was passed over to James in 2001 and, a year later, he, Caroline and their three children left London, where James was working as the finance director for a record company, and moved to Scotland. In 2010, Caroline’s brother Tim, his wife Belinda, and their young children moved from Somerset to live on the estate, too. Tim, who had previously worked for the Countryside Alliance, became the estate manager. He is, according to Caroline, ‘essential to the running of the place, often going for weeks without leaving. He’s also a dab hand with a power tool’.

Today, Inchyra is a family home with a collection of horses, ponies and deerhounds that has grown relentlessly over the years. But it is a far cry from the days when, as Caroline says, ‘it was assumed that there would always be staff in the house to open the front door for you, so there was no keyhole on the outside’.

Never one to stand still for long, Caroline had set up an antiques business in 2005, which over the next few years fuelled one of her abiding passions. ‘I have always particularly loved old fabrics and I became obsessed with the idea of recreating the look and feel of old linens.’ A fortuitous meeting with Angus Nicol, the managing director of Peter Greig & Co in Kirkcaldy, the last major linen mill in Britain, gave her the ‘in’ she needed. Working with printers in Cheshire and finish-ers in Lancashire, Caroline has developed a range of uniquely aged fabrics that sit perfectly in period properties. It was named Inchyra Designs, and the first range was shown at Decorex in 2011.

Inchyra Designs now has a range of eight archive-inspired patterns in a range of colourways. It is stocked across Britain in shops such as J R Design and Spencer-Churchill Designs, as well as further afield. Caroline uses the basement at Inchyra as offices and a cutting room. ‘With no background in fabric or design, I really didn’t know what I was doing when I started,’ she admits. ‘Anyone sensible might not have begun, but I’m very proud of the linens we produce now.’ In 2012, events conspired to interrupt the progression of Inchyra Designs. ‘That year was something of a milestone for the family,’ James explains. ‘It saw our fiftieth birthdays, our twentieth wedding anniversary and our daughter’s eighteenth, and we had been in Scotland for 10 years.’ They decided to have a party. Having initially booked a marquee, it occurred to them that the old cattle byre behind the house might just make a great party venue.

The late-nineteenth-century barn is built from stone with timber roofing. But at the time it had yet to be renovated and was in a poor condition, full of farm implements, tractors and chickens. So they worked like Trojans to make the building watertight, going so far as to hold the roof up with posts behind the scenes that no one could see. Tim used a sledgehammer to break down the stable walls himself, and the space was transformed into an ideal setting for a dance. With a Friday-night ceilidh and a 190-seat dinner the following night, the party was a huge success. ‘A friend who was an events manager came to the party and suggested that the Byre would make the perfect events space,’ says James. ‘So we looked into it and realised that we had the potential for a great business sitting right there.’

Once the planning permission was granted by the council in 2013, the real work started, and it was miraculously completed on time and under budget. Nothing was touched that did not need to be, every slate and stone was reused and a reclaimed floor was laid. The entire roof was rebuilt by hand and Tim made benches out of the old roof beams, which are now used for weddings in the stable room; even the bar is made from the Byre’s old wooden walls. With its vaulted timber roofs, rough stone walls, original stone cattle troughs and the old sunken cattle court forming a unique central dance floor, the character of the old barn was retained, apart from the spanking new kitchens and loos at the back. In June 2014, politician John Swinney officially opened the Byre and they were in business.

More than a year on, the decision to put so much time and effort into the Byre has paid off: it is fully booked for weddings into 2017 and frequently crops up on lists of the best wedding venues in Britain. Meanwhile, the Arts Club regularly attracts artists from across the world to this little spot in Perthshire – from Gretchen Peters to John Cooper Clarke and Dougie MacLean. With these two enterprises fully established, James and Caroline are once again turning their attentions to the linen business and two new patterns are being launched at Decorex in September.

James, Caroline and Tim are a brilliantly balanced group, each bringing their own skills and strengths to Inchyra. James does the figures and anything technical; Tim has the horticultural and building knowledge; while Caroline takes care of the design and marketing. In addition, they share a love of music and the arts. The past few years have put Inchyra on the map and on a sound footing for future generations. As Caroline says: ‘Everything we do at Inchyra is about making people happy.’ Not bad for enterprises that came about as afterthoughts.



Make Scotland a Shelter

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By Jason Michael

IRISH POLITICS HAVE TAKEN a turn for the better in the last couple of years. England’s decision to leave the European Union and its rapid descent into social, political, and economic madness have effected a change in the Irish government that almost a hundred years of independence from England have failed to produce – strong and stable government. Those unfamiliar with the Irish parliament, Dáil Éireann, will not know the origins of its two main political parties, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil. Cutting a long story short, these two parties were the result of the Irish Civil War (1922-23). Much like modern politics in Spain after 1939, politics in Ireland over the past ninety-five years have been the working out of the continuing and the unresolved tensions of a serious civil conflict.

Ideologically, the pro-Treaty party (Fine Gael) and the anti-Treaty party (Fianna Fáil) are both centre-right parties, looking after the interests of the dominant social class of each faction. It is a long-standing joke among the other parties in the Dáil that they should bury the hatchet and become a single party, but memories are long on small islands, and the grudges held in families since 1923 have not exactly died. But before the Civil War both were powerful factions within Sinn Féin and fought the British together in the War of Independence (1919-21).

🎙️ Brexit has done something good for Irish politics. It would be a good idea for Scotland to follow this example.… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…

Jason Michael (@Jeggit) December 13, 2018

Brexit has, it seems, reminded them of their common enemy, and in the cause of the national good they have set aside many of their differences to work together to stop the chaos in England spreading to Ireland. The party in government in Dublin, Fine Gael, does not have a majority; a situation, which in normal times would be dealt with in the formation of a coalition, but has gained the support of its old enemy, Fianna Fáil, in a prolonged confidence and supply agreement. While I am not exactly a fan of either of these parties, it has to be accepted that their decision to work together has stabilised politics in this country to an extent heretofore thought unimaginable.

In short, Ireland has become a haven from the madness of Brexit. Ireland is culturally closer to England than many Irish people might like to admit, and its upper class has always been hand-in-glove with its English counterpart – the aristocracy. This affinity between the two nations, together with the degree to which both benefit from mutual trade with one another, means that Brexit could easily infect and destabilise Ireland. This has always been a fear, and something British intelligence has tried to exploit with the creation of troll farms dedicated to persuading Ireland to join the dark side and leave the EU.

Knowing this, the two main political parties have made the smart choice to circle the wagons and work with each other to protect the interests of Ireland. This unlikely alliance has strengthened Ireland not just internally, but has given the country a louder and more powerful voice in Europe and as a part of the European Union. Never in its history as a state has Ireland had more power over its former colonial master than it enjoys right now. The overt anti-Irish racism being spat out from various quarters within the British establishment demonstrates how much this change in Ireland frustrates a Britain than genuinely believes it is owed something from Ireland.

“The UK decided they wanted to go ahead with Brexit, so any agreement has to be between the EU & the UK, but bear i… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…

Dr. Jennifer Cassidy (@OxfordDiplomat) December 13, 2018

The plan is bearing fruit. It is making Ireland stronger and producing the sort of politics – or at least political stability – of which anyone would be proud. This is something Scotland can take and make its own. Dealing with Brexit is not easy for the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish government. Everything they do is reactive – always responding to the chaos spewing out from London. The Scottish government is caught in a cycle in which it is constantly running about putting out the fires started by crazed Brexiteer pyromaniacs. But this doesn’t make for good politics. It makes for a seemingly endless state of emergency, a condition that is giving the Scottish people and the independence movement event fatigue. There is so much going on that people are becoming exhausted, and sooner or later an exhausted electorate will settle for anything for a bit of peace – and that would be a nightmare for Scotland and for independence.

Scotland and Ireland have much in common. They are countries of about the same size and population with a long history of English domination. When England wobbles, Scotland and Ireland quake. In both Scotland and Ireland, regardless of their social and cultural proximity to England, there is an acute awareness of the badness of Brexit. Both instinctively understand that it threatens the fabric of their society, and both are aware of the extent to which England is working to draw them in to the misery of its awful situation. Ireland, realising this, has begun the work of healing old divides in order to protect itself from becoming England’s toy again. Scotland, not so much.

Yet, even among Scottish unionists there is a growing wariness of Brexit and the impact it will have on our country. We have reached a critical moment – the end of the Article 50 negotiations – at which concrete steps must be taken to protect Scotland. It is time for greater national unity. We are one Scotland and we are quick to shout this slogan, but the divisions remain real and deep. It is time to put the well-being of Scotland first and begin the task of working together, across all divides, to save ourselves from the impending disaster that is Brexit. By making Scotland a shelter from England’s folly we give unionists the chance to see how dangerous union has become, and in so doing we give ourselves a better chance of voting Yes in the next independence referendum.

Nation Norway: discussion points


Livingston school praised by Education Scotland following recent report

Oglivie School Campus has been praised for its positive relationships between children and staff.

The Livingston school, which specializes in education for school for primary pupils with significant social, emotional and behavioral needs, received praise in a number of areas following a recent routine inspection by Education Scotland.

Inspectors highlighted a number of key strengths including a strong sense of community across the school led by the energetic, open leadership style of the acting headteacher, positive relationships between children and staff leading to children feeling safe and cared for, ably supported by advanced pupil support workers, teachers provide learning experiences which are engaging and motivating for children and strong partnerships with parents and other stakeholders.

Read more: West Calder library receives prestigious award

Headteacher Liz Speirs said: “We are very pleased to have received such a positive report.

“There are a number of areas to work on and I can assure parents and carers that every member of staff will continue to work towards improving the school for each and every one of our pupils. The relationships between our team and our pupils is very special to us and we are delighted that Inspectors have highlighted this as a key strength for the school.

“I’d like to thank all members of staff, parents, partners and the wider school community for the part that they have played to help achieve a positive learning environment for our fantastic pupils.”

Read more: Work completed on new £1 million West Lothian nursery

Executive councillor for education, David Dodds, added: “I’m delighted to see so many important strengths in this report for Ogilvie School Campus, and I’m particularly impressed with the school’s success in involving parents, carers and families.

“Positive relationships between parents and teachers are necessary to establish a firm foundation, enabling the school to focus on learning and improving the school.

“By creating an excellent environment for learning, I am confident that parents and teachers at Ogilvie can further develop pupils and partnerships.”

Inspectors also recommended that the school continues to review approaches to promoting positive behaviour and raises attainment and achievement.




Best Winter Breaks in Scotland

As the autumn leaves are turning and we delve into the cosy depths of winter, here’s our pick of the best winter breaks in Scotland to pack a book, turn off your phone and relax.

If you want to try out the latest Scottish wellness trend ‘Coorie’ (it’s Scotland’s answer to hygge…) then Callekille is a good place to practise it. Up on Applecross Peninsula on Wester Ros, Callekille is a white washed croft cottage, just 50 yards from the beach with some of the best views in Scotland across the Inner Sound of Raasay to the Isle of Skye. Interiors are cosy cottage chic at its finest with Farrow and Ball walls and oak flooring. Get out in the great outdoors and settle in at the nearby Potting Shed for dinner in the evening.

Read our full review of Callakille

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Jura Lodge

Another west coast beauty for pure Instagram gold is Jura Lodge. The interiors are the brainchild of Bambi Sloan and they’re an eclectic mix of drums for coffee tables, antlers on the walls, a suit of armour and some elaborate lighting fixtures. The drinks cabinet is fittingly well-stocked and there’s even an excellent whiskey distillery next door. There’s plenty of coastal walks right on the doorstep and plenty of wildlife to look out for, before you return to Jura Lodge for a relaxing soak in the free-standing tub.

Read our full review of Jura Lodge

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Loch Ossian Youth Hostel

For an incredible Scottish winter break that won’t break the bank Loch Ossian Youth Hostel is a winner. You’ll find it on the west coast of Scotland by Fort William, surrounded by the spectacular Munros. It’s so wonderfully remote that you can only reach it by foot. It’s around a 20-minute walk away from Corrour train station. Loch Ossian Youth Hostel is entirely wood-clad, and its eco-friendly credentials are high with hydro power and solar power and a reed bed system for composting toilets. For a completely soul restoring experience rent the whole place out with a group of friends and go off grid for the weekend.

Read our full review of Loch Ossian Youth Hostel

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If you’re after a Scottish castle with a spa, then Isle of Eriska is perfect. And if we didn’t have you at Scottish castle with a spa, then the wildlife will seal the deal, here there’s tonnes to spot, from soaring golden eagles to grey seals and cute otters all on the hotel’s 300-acre private island. There’s 34 bedrooms in total with the most luxurious coming with their own private hot tubs. Don’t miss the spa and its 17-metre heated pool, steam room, sauna and jacuzzi.

Read our full review of Isle of Eriska

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If you’re looking for a slightly quirkier place to stay, then Ecopod Boutique Retreat could be your place. Located in the middle of a lush Birchwood forest, the Ecopod Boutique Retreat is made up of two 750-foot light filled domes, which may have a tent like structure, but are about as far from a tent as you can get. You’ll be greeted with a luxurious food hamper, there’s a state-of-the-art 60s style kitchen, an outdoor wooden hot tub and cosy touches like the sheepskin rugs. Location wise, it’s just 15 miles from Oban with brilliant views of Castle Stalker and Loch Linnhe.

Read our full review of Ecopod Boutique Retreat

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Broad Bay House

Seven miles north of Stornoway, on the completely magical Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides sits Broad Bay House. It’s home to four well- appointed bedrooms and a huge glass sided communal area, with vaulted ceilings a warming fuel stove and the most incredible views of the ocean, which stretch right to mainland Scotland on a clear day. It’s only a short walk down to the sandy shores of Broad Bay itself, where if you’re lucky you can spot seals and basking sharks.

Read our full review of Broad Bay House

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Shieldaig Lodge

The gorgeous Shieldaig Lodge in the Highlands sits within a 26, 000-acre estate right on the peaceful waters of Gairloch and is a 19th century gem of a place to stay. Think roaring log fires, leather chesterfields, snug lounges and lashings of tartan. Your stay can be as action packed (there’s everything from sea kayaking to pony trekking to gin tasting on offer), to as relaxed as you like (board game and a pick from one of the 300 whiskeys anyone?). On the food front there’s a firm focus on delicious home grown produce, local game and seafood, which you can tuck into while looking out on a backdrop of epic Highland landscapes and Sheildaig Bay.

For more information visit Shieldaig Lodge

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The Net Store

The Net Store in Ardheslaig in the Highlands wouldn’t look out of place on Grand Designs with its floor-to-ceiling apex window looking out over Loch Beag, its central wood burner, gleaming pale oak floors and its minimalist vibe. Jaw dropping views continue upstairs, where you can see the starry night sky, or the mountains from the Velux windows. Everything here is finished perfectly from the immaculate high-tech kitchen to the white-marble bathrooms. Sink into a designer armchair or brave the cold and take a wild swim it the loch if you dare.

For more information visit The Net Store

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The Woodshed

Pack your most Scandi-chic knitwear and take your loved one for a romantic break at the Woodshed, which is a welcoming timber-clad cottage, looking right out over the Pentland Hills. Throw open the French windows and soak up the views, take hikes, tuck into homemade scones and come nightfall hop in the outdoor hot tub under a starry night sky. Bliss. Rates start from £78 per night, so you won’t feel out of pocket and if you want to mix in some culture to your trip, Edinburgh is only 10 miles away.

For more information visit The Woodshed

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Investing in Scotland’s future

A significant cash injection to health and care services and funding to help prepare Scotland’s economy for Brexit are at the heart of the Scottish Government’s spending plans for the year ahead. 

The 2019/20 Scottish Budget, published today, proposes an increase of almost £730 million in health and care services. This includes additional revenues generated by tax decisions that mitigate the shortfall in NHS funding promised by the UK Government.

Unveiling the spending plans in Parliament, Finance Secretary Derek Mackay also announced more than £180 million to raise attainment in schools.

The budget includes more than £5 billion of capital investment to grow and modernise infrastructure – including a new £50 million Town Centre Fund to support the future of our high streets.

Real terms increases in funding for local government, education, health and the police will support the transformation of our public services to meet new challenges, while investment in skills, social security and training will help ensure we deliver opportunity for all.

The Scottish Government will continue to deliver on its commitments to end homelessness and tackle child poverty, while investment in culture is also protected.

Mr Mackay also confirmed that the Scottish Government’s tax policy will ensure 55% of income taxpayers in Scotland will pay less than people earning the same income in the rest of the UK, while continuing to raise revenue to support investment in the economy and public services.

Mr Mackay said:

“This is a budget of stimulus and stability. It delivers for today and invests in tomorrow and does so with fairness, equality and inclusiveness at its heart.

“It provides an increase of almost £730 million for our health and care services, invests more than £180 million to raise attainment in our schools and gives a vital boost to our economy through a £5 billion infrastructure programme.

“As a result of these decisions, we have been able to invest in essential public services, particularly the NHS, while ensuring 55% of income taxpayers in Scotland pay less tax than those earning the same income in the rest of the UK. Taken together with the personal allowance, 99% of taxpayers will pay less income tax next year on the same income.

“This budget delivers the public services, social contract and economic investment people expect while mitigating, where we can, the impacts of the UK Government’s policies of austerity and Brexit that are causing so much harm.”

Assessing the impact of ongoing uncertainty around the UK’s exit from the EU on this year’s budget, Mr Mackay added:

“Our spending plans for 2019-20 include a commitment to mitigate the risks of Brexit as best we can, to enable our economy to thrive in any circumstances, now and in the future.

“It is disappointing that we are facing the prospect of having to revisit these plans in the event of a chaotic no-deal outcome. If leaving the EU can be avoided, those resources currently being directed towards essential preparations can be reinvested into our public services and economy.”

The 2019/20 Scottish Budget includes:

See more from @ScotGov on Twitter, and follow #ScotBudget for updates.  



Carers (Scotland) Act 2016


South Lanarkshire Council

Carers (Scotland) Act 2016

The Carers (Scotland) Act 2016 takes effect on April 1, 2018 and will ensure better and more consistent support for carers so that they can continue to care, if they so wish, in better health and to have a life alongside caring.

From April 1 2018 there is:

  • A new right for carers to be offered or request an Adult Carer Support Plan (ACSP) or Young Carer Statement (YCS), setting out their personal outcomes and identified needs.
  • a duty for local authorities to provide support to carers, based on the carer’s needs which meet the local eligibility criteria.
  • a requirement for local authorities to establish and maintain an information and advice service for carers. They must also publish and review a short breaks services statement.
  • a duty for local authorities and health boards to ‘take such steps as they consider appropriate’ to involve carers and carer representatives in the planning and evaluation of services that support carers, including the preparation of the local carer strategy.
  • a requirement for the responsible local authority to consider support in the form of a break from caring, and the desirability of breaks from caring provided on a planned basis.
  • a duty on health boards to inform the carer and to invite their views before a cared-for person is discharged from hospital. These must be taken into account before the discharge of the cared-for person.
  • the publication of a Carers’ charter to accompany the Act, which sets out the rights of carers in or under the Act.

    Please see the useful links section below to help signpost individuals or to find more information.

  • You can follow us on Twitter – @SG_CarersPolicy for regular updates and our countdown to implementation.
  • We will be posting information both from ourselves and our respective stakeholders, which you are welcome to share. 
  • If posting about the Carers Act, we would request that you use the tag  #CarersAct.