When it comes to photography, Scotland has so much to offer. When you think about Loch Lomond and the Trossachs you think of the lochs, forests, rolling hills, and rugged landscape that surrounds us at Gartmore house. There’s so much beauty it can be hard to know where to start and it’s even harder if you’re a beginner photographer. How can you make the most of the landscape and your equipment? Well, we asked our photography tutor, Ewan Barry, to give us some insider tips and tricks so that you can start improving your photography skills today.
Scotland: the photographer’s playground
What do you want your photograph to say about the subject?
Once you’ve decided what you want to photograph, consider what you’re trying to describe. What sort of feeling do you want to evoke? For example, you can explore movement, texture, and form. Bring them to the forefront of your photograph individually or combine them to create a multi-layered image. Once you know what you want to say, it’s time to find a way of capturing it on camera.
Composition is key
The composition is the very foundation of you image. In many ways, deciding what to include is the easy part but you have to consider what you want to exclude as well. This can mean playing with elements like symmetry, negative space, shapes, and colours to direct the viewer’s eye across the photograph.
Play with your camera settings
Black and white images bring out texture and contrast
While it’s tempting to just point and click when starting out, a good camera will have a multitude of settings that will allow you to customise your picture. If you have decided to make movement your focus, then one particular photography technique to experiment with is different shutter speeds. Slow shutter speeds are ideal for photographs of running water whereas a faster shutter speed is perfect for birds taking flight.
Control your camera
When you’re just starting out, all you need in terms of photography equipment is something such as a tripod that will give you some control over your final image. Even a small tripod will make all the difference to your pictures. If you are focusing on using longer shutter speeds like we mentioned above then it will work to minimise any unwanted motion blur and help to give you the crystal clear photographs you so desire!
Don’t be limited by your equipment
Your phone camera is more than enough!
As a photography beginner, the thought of shelling out for a DSLR camera can be a bit daunting but don’t worry! Your phone’s camera is more than enough to capture some fantastic images when you’re first starting out. Of course, phones have their limitations in that they may not offer the same kind of quality or image size as traditional cameras, but this is only as issue if you want to make large scale prints. But these limitations can encourage a whole new level creativity as you hone your photography skills. In fact, most of the images shown here were taken with an iPhone 6s!
And there you have it! With these 5 tips you can start improving your photography techniques today.
Our lovely Sewing Tutor, Gill McBride is an absolute whizz with a sewing machine. She’s the go-to guru for all things involving dressmaking and patterns. In this Q&A blog Gill shares her top tips and answers some questions about the course – we hope you find it helpful! Q What are your top 3 tips for great sewing?
Get to know your sewing machine! It’s the first thing any new sewer, or any sewer with a new sewing machine, should do. Over the years I have found that a ‘fear’ of the sewing machine is one of the biggest stumbling blocks to being a happy sewer. Once you understand how to de-tangle it, re-thread it, sort the tension and so on, then you’ll be able to go straight to sewing without worrying about ‘what if’ the machine ……!
Sew in stages! Most of us don’t have time to sit and make a whole garment at one sitting! I’ve learnt this over the 45 years that I’ve been making clothes. So, break your project up into stages. Cut and prepare your pattern as one stage; pin your pattern and cut your fabric as the second stage; prepare for sewing and start sewing as a third stage and finally, do your finishing. In this way, you’ll make far fewer mistakes, you’ll manage to fit in an hour here and hour there and you’ll get your garment/project made – even though you have a full time job or are a full-time family and house person – without disrupting normal routines.
Press as you go! Lack of pressing is one of the key things that makes a project look ‘home made’. If you press as you go, you will be amazed at the difference in your finished garment/project!
Q What is your favourite thing to make and why?
A I just love to tailor a jacket. Even though I use modern speed tailoring techniques, it takes quite a long time and in fact the preparation takes most of the time and the sewing probably the least of the time. But it is so satisfying. And because the prep work has taken so long, the sewing to me, is less likely to have to be undone and redone! I suppose that’s because I’m really taking my time to make the jacket properly and not hurrying as I do with so many other sewing projects!! Ready to wear jackets never fit me very well because of my shape, so the pure pride and satisfaction of wearing a jacket that fits me really well, is immense!
Q Who are your courses at Gartmore House aimed at?
A The courses are aimed at all levels of sewers. The beauty of the sewing holiday is that we have 4 sewing days, so there is lots of time for everyone. So if you are not so confident with your sewing, or you don’t have a lot of experience, you will still have time over the 4 days to learn and to sew and you won’t hold anybody up. The number of people on the course is small, so I have lots of time to spend with each person at whatever stage of sewing they are at. The only course that probably demands more experience is the speed tailoring course. It is much more demanding and it is better suited to more experienced sewers. Q What about Sewing Machines?
A Sewing machines come in all shapes and sizes and the best advice is to buy according to your budget. Don’t ever be persuaded to buy more than you will use. It’s easy to upgrade at a later date, but to buy a machine and not use most of it is a pity! At Gartmore House, I can provide sewing machines (hire is £40 for the longer course or £20 for a weekend course), and I also bring along an overlocker. So if you can’t manage to bring a machine with you, that’s not a problem at all. Just let me know beforehand via the team at Gartmore House, and I’ll bring a machine for you to use. And, if you’ve never used an overlocker and are curious, then you can try one out!
Q What’s the best thing about a sewing/dressmaking holiday at Gartmore House?
A Having the time to sew without distraction; having company to sew with; having someone there to help with the sewing problems and questions; having loads of laughs, loads of fun and making new friends! I love it!
If you’re interested in joining Gill on a Sewing Patterns/Dressmaking residential course at Gartmore House, please take a look at the course webpage, give us a call on 01877 382991 or email our team firstname.lastname@example.org – we look forward to seeing you!
May is National Walking Month! Being situated in the midst of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, and surrounded by the Queen Elizabeth Forest , we’re lucky to have some amazing walking routes on our doorstep and even some famous national trails nearby. If you fancy joining a guided trip then Gartmore House offers Introduction to Hill Walking Holidays with expert local guide Gavin Clarke.
In celebration of all things hiking and walking, here are some great resources and top tips if you fancy a wander around these bonnie parts!
– A nice article by Countryfile talking about walks in our national park – Countryfile’s Best Walks in Loch Lomond & The Trossachs
– Walk Highlands – a huge array of walking routes are listed on this fantastic website, with details of start/end points, route notes, downloadable GPX tracks and even the route marked on online OS maps – here’s the link to the ever-popular Ben Lomond – Scotland’s most southerly Munro
– Ordnance Survey maps via the App – essential for safe hill walking. The App also has a lovely feature that allows you to point your phone or device at a certain vista and see all the mountains and features of the landscape named on your screen (such as towns/villages, lochs and lochans, hills and Munro’s)
– Ordnance Survey videos and leaflets – a handy blog linked to videos and downloadable leaflets which you should view if you need a refresher on map symbols, safety when hill walking, or advice on choosing the right scale map for you
– Iconic long distance National Trails the West Highland Way and the Rob Roy Way are within easy reach of Gartmore House – these are linear walks so if you have 2 cars you can easily dip in and out of part of the route, or give us a call and we can assist with arranging a taxi transfer back to your car to make your life easier!
Loch Katrine Cruise
– A lovely longer walk at picturesque Loch Katrine; drive to the pier (approx 30 mins from Gartmore House), then take the Sir Walter Scott Steamship out to Stronachlachar Pier and then walk the 13km along the loch-side back to your car (or walk to Stronachlachar and take the boat back) – make sure you check sailing schedules first. Both ends of the ferry have good cafes to replenish your energy with tea and cake!
And our TOP TIP if you do one hill walk in the area – make it Conic Hill – this is a popular and ‘short but stiff’ walk from the pretty village of Balmaha – you’ll be rewarded with some stunning views over Loch Lomond. Happy Walking!
To book or enquire further please visit https://gartmorehouse.com/walking-holidays/ or call us on 01877 382991, or drop us a line email@example.com
In September 2018 my husband and I (along with our springer spaniel Basil) packed our converted camper van and headed northwards from our home on the South East coast of Cornwall towards Gartmore House (located close to Aberfolye in the Scottish Trossachs) for a Felting Course. I had discovered Gartmore House and it’s residential courses/workshops quite by chance having sought out one of its resident tutors Ewa Kuniczak a (passionate felt maker/tutor of over 40 years experience and co-founder of The International Feltmakers Association).
Planning for the visit to Gartmore House had begun some twelve months prior to our visit and involved convincing my husband (who is not a Feltmaker) to accompany me. Thankfully he was easy persuaded based on the stunning location of the House, the availability of good fishing/walking close by and Tripadvisor reviews which gave Gartmore House good ratings for both their food and hospitality. An added benefit was that the local pub was within walking distance, was dog friendly and served a good whisky (he’s a “single malt kind of guy”, with a love of the peaty Islay whiskys).
We arrived at Gartmore House on a wet and rainy Sunday afternoon after a long drive from home. After walking the dog, unloading the car and settling into a very spacious bedroom with grand views across the surrounding countryside, we joined fellow students (and their partners) for an afternoon tea and a brief from the tutors in the grand old sitting room. Two courses were being run the week of our stay; the felting course on which I had booked and a watercolour painting course.
The next morning began with a hearty breakfast and a leisurely 10am start to our workshop. Having chosen/dyed the base fabric upon which we were going to create a large piece of Nuno felted material, we worked on the process of laying down our wool fibres ready for felting the next day. I had previously made Nuno felted jackets and coats however these had always been constructed using a template and a carefully considered approach. Ewa’s approach on this workshop however was more organic and intuitive with the focus on designing length of Nuno felted fabric first and only once this was completed then considering the drape/construction of the final finished garment. Initially I found this approach challenging as it took me out of my comfort zone however with Ewa’s encouragement and expertise as a teacher I started to engage with the process and my work quickly started to take shape in terms of design. By the end of day three I had successfully overcome my initial concerns and had constructed a piece of fabric which, when fully felted, became the reversible top seen here.
Days four and five allowed myself and another student on the workshop to develop our confidence and skills further as we focused on making a spiral scarf or a piece of neckwear. In designing/making this piece I tried to draw upon some of the influences/designs within the architecture of the house ie: stunning Mackintosh style windows/staircases and work in a bold colour palate of strong reds/blues to reflect the Scottish heritage. The results of applying Ewa’s intuitive approach in designing a garment from a single sheet of Nuno felted fabric were remarkable, and by the end of the five day workshop we were all proud owners of two quite individual and unique garments of which we were immensely proud.
I fully intend to return to a Gartmore House again soon to attend another of Ewa’s workshops for not only is she a passionate tutor but one who is incredibly generous in sharing her wealth of knowledge and skills. As for the staff at Gartmore House – all I can deliver is praise for their warmth and hospitality. If you are looking for 5 star accommodation then Gartmore House is perhaps not the place for you. If however if you are looking for a site with history, warmth and which is “good value for money” then step through the grand entrance of this lovely building…stay a few days and experience true Scottish hospitality.
Feltmaker (SE Cornwall)
To find out more about our Felting Courses at Gartmore House, visit our Felting course webpage, call us on 01877 382991 or drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
Well the weather outside is freezing and grey so working with the bright vibrant colours of traditional Seminole Patchwork is warming and cheering!
Seminole Patchwork was developed by the Seminole Indians in Florida when sewing machines first became available and is a strip piecing technique which was used initially to decorate clothing. It’s a very flexible technique with a great variety of designs – some very suitable for beginners and some more challenging for the more experienced. The designs can be used not just for quilts but for runners, hangings, bags,cushions and more…
Here is a picture of my Seminole Quilt – a lovely project for 2019!
Happy Quilting Clare
Tutor – Gartmore House
Hi everyone! My name’s Clare and I’m the Tutor for the Patchwork and Quilting holidays here at Gartmore House – and this is my first blog post!…..so here goes…..
When teaching I like to offer a choice of projects, so you can choose what you’d like to create and techniques you’d like to learn. Many of my students have attended my courses before, so it’s good for them to know they can learn new skills and work on different projects. Right now, I’m continuing to develop new projects for 2019/20 holidays which is always a lot of fun – I make sure there are lots of design and technique options so everyone can choose their own personal favourite to work on – we don’t all have to do the same thing!
I make sure there’s a good choice for complete beginners – and also to challenge and extend the skills of the more experienced. Sampler blocks, strips and borders will be options – they offer so much scope to learn a new technique fast and can be made up into quilts,cushions, runners, bags and more besides.
Quilting will be explored in more detail for those who want to try free machine quilting or discover what can be achieved with a walking foot and a bit of imagination – full guidance given…..playtime!! We keep class sizes small so everyone gets a lot of individual attention. It’s an ideal opportunity to build skills.
I am also extending the range of Bargello designs from traditional to contemporary and art designs – lovely landscapes in Bargello! Abstract is the new buzz word!
New for 2019/20 will be lots of smaller projects so students can sample different techniques and finish several smaller items during their holiday. I’m on a mission to reduce my ‘stash’ and these projects will be ideal… So, if you have a mountain or a molehill of fabric waiting to be used, bring it along and achieve that satisfied glow of putting all that fabric to very good use! A good clear-out does however make room for more possibly…!
I’m going to be posting some pictures of new works as we go along and am also working on a Guests’ Gallery which will showcase the delicious diversity of work we do here on our holidays! From complete beginner to experienced stitcher, all are welcome and there really is something for everyone to enjoy. Patchwork and quilting without fear – if you’ve always wanted to try it,come and join us for relaxed creative fun – you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve!
More details are on the Patchwork & Quilting Course webpage…. and more will follow on this blog…..
See you soon at Gartmore!
Christmas is coming… Lace making tutor Jean Leader shares some of her festive crafty ideas…
Although Christmas is nearly three months away, I’ve already been asked about suitably festive patterns for bobbin lace to hang on the tree or use on cards. It’s a long time since I made my first lace ornament for our tree — a little green Christmas tree decorated with coloured beads inside a ring. At a lace course I was given an anonymous page with three patterns, one for the tree and two others for a candle and a star. I made all three and when they were finished attached each one to a bangle ready to hang on our tree (the original tree in a ring went missing a few years ago and for its replacement I used fabric stiffener to give it more body instead of a ring).
Tree, candle, star lace patterns
Since then I have built up quite a collection of Christmas patterns, some I’ve found in magazine or books, and others I have designed myself. I try to come up with at least one new pattern every year but I’m still thinking about something for this year and I still have plenty of time!
festive lace creations
If you’ve never made bobbin lace you may be wondering if you’d be able to make any of these. The answer is a very definite YES. The twisted spirals can be made by complete beginners and even the little tree would be possible — it’s made with finer thread which means there are more stitches (think 2-ply versus double knitting) but they are the same stitches. In case you’re wondering the spirals are made flat, then wound round a pencil wrapped in cling film (to keep the pencil clean) and painted with stiffener. Once they’re dry take out the pencil and hang them on the tree!
If you’re new to bobbin lace making I can bring what you’ll need to get going (pillow, bobbins, thread etc) — please just let the folk at Gartmore House know in advance.
On the other hand if you’d prefer to work on something other than Christmas decorations then please also get in touch. I’ll be happy to help if you have any questions. For further information on lace making courses, see our website or simply pick up the phone and give us a call on 01877 382991. Our next course before Christmas starts 9 November 2018. Find out more about tutor Jean Leader, visit https://www.jeanleader.net/
Knitting and Crochet breaks are one of the most popular crafting holidays here at Gartmore House. Tutor Samira Hill explains a bit more about what you can expect from a rewarding escape to rural Scotland, where you’ll get to grips with knitting needles and crochet hooks:
Our retreats are the perfect choice for a relaxing, creative and inspiring holiday, based around your favourite hobby! Have you got a project that has been hiding in your bag for ages, but you can’t find the time to finish it? Have you a pattern that you would love to get on with, but need help with it? Or are you a complete beginner who would you like to learn something new?
If so, you’ll find a wide selection of knitting and crochet workshops available, and you’ll choose which of these to work on ahead of your break (see course info for example workshops). During your time at Gartmore House you’ll be working on your chosen topic with me, Samira. The activities and workshops are designed to suit absolutely everyone, encompassing all abilities and levels of experience; there is no prior knowledge of a technique or topic required for those who would like to learn to knit, crochet, and learn Tunisian Crochet. For those with some experience in knitting, there are a lot of new techniques to explore, such as Brioche knitting, Entrelac knitting, Fair Isle, sock knitting, cables etc… For those with some knowledge of crochet, there are also some fun techniques to practice colour work stitches, texture stitches and crochet cables… As well as Tunisian Crochet!
I’ve designed each of the workshops so that by the end of your crafting holiday, you will have one or a few finished items to show off the new skills you have learnt. What’s more, you will have acquired a strong understanding of your new techniques, so that you can carry on exploring further on your own with confidence.
The workshops are suggestions only; I’m always on hand to help you with any topic or project that you would like to work on! The activity weeks are a great opportunity to relax, explore the peaceful surroundings of Gartmore Estate, indulge in the delicious food on offer, and enjoy friendly and inspiring crafty chats by the fire… and naturally the simple pleasure of working with your hands – knitting and crocheting all day of course!
Want to learn to waltz like they do on Strictly? Instead of just admiring the dancers on the telly, why not join them! Studies show that dancing is so good for you. Here are some of the benefits (in case you needed reminding why all those Strictly contestants look so happy and fit!).
Dancing can help you lose weight – you can burn around 400 calories an hour!
Dancing improves the condition of your heart and lungs.
Dancing increases muscular tone and strength
Dancing reduces stress and can significantly improve your mood.
Dancing helps you with your coordination and agility.
Plus, you’re bound to make lots of new friends!
Come to Gartmore House and take your first steps in learning to dance on a couples dancing weekend (if you don’t have a dance partner, don’t worry – you don’t need one to attend!). All levels welcome. All you need is a pair of dance shoes and a willingness to give it a go! Your dance tutor is the lovely Teresa Mcclymont from Dance Time Scotland – she will take you through the steps to learn ballroom dancing, swing, country and modern Jive.Stay in a historic house in Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, with accommodation and full board included. Have a look at https://bit.ly/dancingweekends for dates and more info on courses or give us a call on 01877 382 991.
All of our bedrooms are en-suite apart from the ELO (a set of 3 rooms that share a bathroom). You will automatically be allocated an en-suite room, unless you specifically request a room in the ELO which will not be en-suite.
Do you have accessible bedrooms?
Yes, we have one accessible room and a lift to access all floors of the property.
Do you have bedrooms on the ground floor?
No, we do not have ground floor bedrooms, but we do have a lift to all levels.
Do all the bedrooms have a good view?
Our family bedrooms have the best views, looking towards Stirling Castle and the Wallace Monument. All other bedrooms have a side or back view of our grounds.
Are there TVs in the bedrooms?
There are no TVs in the bedrooms, however there is a TV that you can use in our Oak Room.
Is there WiFi?
There is no WiFi access in the bedrooms, however there is free WiFi in our public areas.
Are towels provided?
Yes, we provide towels for the en-suite bedrooms in the main house.
Are there hairdryers in the bedrooms?
Yes, there are hairdryers in the bedrooms.
I am under 18 years old, can I stay at Gartmore House without a parent/guardian?
No, if you are under the age of 18 you will require a parent or guardian to accompany you.
What is the booking process for B&B?
For B&B, full payment is taken at the time of booking.
What is the cancellation policy for B&B?
For B&Bs, if you have booked directly with us there is a 72 hour cancellation policy. If you have booked through booking.com, it is a non-refundable advanced purchase booking.
What time is check in/check out?
Check in is from 4pm, and we ask guests to check out by 10am on the day of departure.
I will be arriving late, will there be somebody to check me in?
There will always be somebody on duty to check you in, whether it is the receptionist or the night porter. If you are going to be very late, we would appreciate you letting us know in advance if possible please.
Can I bring my dog?
Yes, we are a pet friendly hotel. You can bring your dog at a charge of £10 per night. Unfortunately dogs must be kept in bedrooms; they will not be able to access food serving areas.
Can we make tea or coffee in our room?
Yes, we supply tea and coffee facilities in the bedrooms. FAQs about finding Gartmore House
How do I find Gartmore House?
Important: If you are using a satnav, it may try and take you through the village, along a rough track unsuitable for normal vehicles. Please do not go this way and follow the directions blow. Arriving from south (Glasgow): Take the A81 from Glasgow city centre, travel via Milngavie and Strathblane towards Aberfoyle. Continue past the sins for Gartmore village and Gartmore House is well sign posted on the left of the A81. Arriving from north (Perth) or east (Edinburgh): Travel towards Stirling on the M9 and leave the motorway at Junction 10 (marked for Stirling). Follow A84, sign posted for Callander. After 4 miles, take the A873 for Aberfoyle. After 17 miles, at the T junction, turn left onto the A81 towards Glasgow. In less than a mile, pass the sign for Gartmore village (continue on A81) and you will see Gartmore House clearly sign posted on your right.
Do you have parking?
Yes, we offer free parking.
Are there buses?
There are no buses, but there are reliable taxi services, Crescent Cabs and Buchanan Cabs. Crescent Cabs can be contacted on 07710 8000 or Buchanan Cabs on 01877 385 666.
Where is the nearest train station?
Stirling train station is the closest train station, it is about 30 minutes by car away from us. Or Milngavie train station (closer to Glasgow) is a 40 minutes drive away. For activity and crafting breaks only we offer a complimentary transfers; from Gartmore House to Stirling station (leaving the House at 10:00am), transfer from Stirling station to Gartmore House (leaving the station at 3:30pm). Please notify us in advance if you require this service.
Where is the nearest shop?
Gartmore village has a community shop that is a 10 minute walk away. For a bigger supermarket, Aberfoyle has a Co-op and is 2 miles away. FAQs about food and drink at Gartmore House
Do you have a restaurant/bar?
We do have a restaurant and a bar. The restaurant is open between 6pm-8pm.
Can I come for dinner even though I am not staying at Gartmore House?
Yes, however we would ask for 24 hours’ notice, as there may be a group in with exclusive use.
What time is breakfast served?
Breakfast is served between 08:00am-9:30am
Are special requests such as gluten free or other dietary requirements available?
Yes, we cater for gluten free, dairy free and vegetarian requirements. If you have any other special dietary requirements please contact us 24 hours prior to arrival. FAQs about craft & activity Breaks
What time is pick up and drop off from Stirling station, for the craft & activity breaks?
We offer a complimentary pick up from the station at 3:30pm on the day of arrival, and the drop-off service departs from the house at 10:00am on the day of departure.
What do I need to bring on my craft and activity break?
Your required kit list for your specific activity break will be listed in the area of the website that your activity break relates to. However, should you have any queries, then please feel free to contact us.
Where can I find out more about the course?
If you need further information about the course that is not on our website, please get in contact with us and we can provide you with the tutor’s contact details who will explain more about it to you.
How does the booking process work?
For craft and activity breaks, a £100 non-refundable deposit is required at the time of booking to secure your place, and the rest of the payment is due 6 weeks prior to arrival.
What is the cancellation policy for craft and activity breaks?
For cancellation of craft and activity breaks, your £100 deposit will not be refunded. The rest of your payment will be refunded if you have cancelled no later than 6 weeks prior to arrival.
Can I bring a ‘plus one’ to stay with me while I am on my craft and activity break?
You are more than welcome to bring someone along to stay with you (sharing the same room), while you are on your break. This is at a rate of £60 per night, on a full board basis. Other
What should I do if I have lost or left something in my room?
Send us an email or call if you think you have left something in you room, and we will do our best to find it and return it to you. However, we ask you to please reimburse us for the postage fee.
To make a booking, please give us a call on 01877 382991 or visit www.gartmoreestate.com