Tag Archives for " Activity Holidays "

5 tips to enhance your photography skills

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

Scotland: the photographer’s playground

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. Play with your camera settings
    Black and white images bring out texture and contrast

    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.

  1. 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!

  1. Don’t be limited by your equipment
improve your photography skills

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.

Lace Making for Christmas – tutor Jean Leader's festive ideas

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

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!
snowflakes lace

snowflakes lace

rings lace

rings lace

festive lace creations

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!
spiral lace

spiral lace

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/

Gartmore House

Gartmore House Launches 2018 Activity Holidays

An activity holiday is a great way to keep life exciting. Gartmore House, set in the stunning Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, have now launched their full itinerary of activity holidays for 2018. This quirky 18th century country house has views that stretch 25 miles across to Stirling Castle and the Wallace Monument.
The options are endless, giving you the opportunity to unwind in a stunning location and embrace your passion or learn a new skill. Check out some of the exciting breaks below:

Foraging for the Foodie

Get your foodie fix with a unique foraging weekend. Learn all about wild food in Scotland. Tutor Andy Fraser has been foraging with passion for nearly 15 years, and has covered almost all the areas that Scotland has to offer in his hunt for wild foods. With breath-taking surroundings, this break will give you the opportunity to learn about lots of herbs, wild plants, coastal plants and or course wild mushrooms. Enlighten your palate and discover Scotland’s hidden culinary gems, they don’t come fresher than this.

Wellness and Mindfulness

We are living in an era dedicated to wellness so it could be the perfect time to book a detox or yoga retreat. Do you ever get overwhelmed with the fast pace of life? Gartmore House, in such calm and beautiful surroundings, is a perfect location to stop and be mindful.


Speaking of wellness, they say that a good walk is great for the soul. At Gartmore House, you will not be short of good walking spots and lots of fresh Scottish air. Walking holidays are a wonderful way to experience the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park and you can even bring your dog!


Ewan Barry, a professional photographer based in Edinburgh, runs the photography holidays at Gartmore House. Following a successful exhibition in the Edinburgh Fringe, he loves to pass on his hints and tips in a fun and relaxed environment. You will not be short of scenery to snap up in Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. Come and show us what you are made of.


If you love music then immersing yourself in song is the ultimate break for you. Hosted by renowned and highly sought after vocal teacher Sophie Bancroft, this singing retreat is packed with positive vibes and supportive people. You will learn classic songs from the genres of jazz, folk, blues and pop with all music being taught by ear, so the ability to read music is not necessary.


Join Teresa Mcclymont from Dance Time Scotland for a weekend of dancing and learn ballroom dancing, swing, country and modern Jive. You just need to bring your dancing shoes!

Arts and Crafts

If arts and crafts is your thing then the options are endless at Gartmore House and there is nothing like Scottish wildlife to get those creative minds (and hands) moving.

Patchwork and Quilting

A patchwork and quilting holiday will appeal to both the seasoned and novice quilter. From a studio, with beautiful panoramic views, you can enjoy the comforts of this historic house while receiving expert guidance from your tutor.

Knitting and Croquet

The rhythmic, repetitive motion of knitting has the same benefits to your mind and body as a meditation session, except you get a blanket or something to enjoy at the end. Would you like to learn to knit? Then this is the activity break for you. Gartmore House offer knitting and crochet breaks for both beginners and seasoned professionals. Teacher Samira Hill offers exciting workshops, suitable for all abilities.

Watercolour Painting

A watercolour painting break at Gartmore House gives you the chance to work on your technique in relaxed company and comfortable surroundings. These painting holidays are for all abilities. This is an intimate activity break to allow the tutors the time to give personalised instruction based upon your level of experience.

Mixed Media Painting

If you would like the chance to develop your drawing and painting ability using a range of different media, then this painting holiday is for you. Like the watercolour painting, this is also an intimate activity break to ensure that you get the attention you need to work on your skills.

Learn to Sew

Dedicate some time to be present with yourself and enjoy an unwinding sewing weekend in the country. Learning to Sew will give you a wellness boost. This course is for complete beginners or returners. Gill, a professional sewing tutor of many years, will guide you through a variety of basic sewing techniques. The teaching programme is extremely flexible and depends on what appeals the most to you.


The lacemaking holiday at Gartmore House is run by professional tutor, Jean Leader. Lace just never goes out of fashion. Season after season, it features on catwalks from New York to Paris. White lace is gorgeous in the summer and who doesn’t love a little black or red lace in the winter? Jean will teach Torchon, Bucks Point and Bedfordshire lace to advanced level. She will also cover the basics of other laces including Oniton, Bruges, and Milanese together with Needlelace and Tatting.


Artist and Felting Teacher, Ewa, has a lifetime of experience in Art and Design and over 40 years involved in Creative Textiles. With Ewa’s passion and patience to inspire, you’ll catch on quickly and make your own fuzzy, felt creations in no time! Find out more about Felting Holidays at Gartmore House.

Jewellery Making

Jewellery making holidays at Gartmore House are run by local jeweller Elaine McKay. This activity holiday is a perfect introduction to jewellery making and is suitable for beginners. You will learn how to make a basic ring using sheet or wire, using the various skills and techniques involved to complete your very own Silver ring. You will then have the opportunity to make a bezel set ring with a stone of your choice or a pendant.


If beading is your kind of jewellery then the beadwork weekend could be ideal for you. There are several basic stitches that underpin beadwork techniques. Each introduction to beadwork weekend will cover one of these stitches, making several gorgeous pieces. No need to go to a gift shop on the way home.

Glass Work courses

How about an engraving and fusing glass making holiday? Artist and Tutor Siobhan Smith will help you create unique, hand-made pieces of art, which are inspired by wildlife and the environment. Who doesn’t love a bit of personalised art?


Traditional hand tool woodworking has a peaceful and calming impact. David Mackay’s woodworking holidays at Gartmore House will teach beginners and intermediates new tools skills as well as knowledge about different hard and soft woods. All the wood used in the collection is storm damaged deadfall, or purchased from a not-for-profit wood management yard in Oakley, Fife.

Book today

With a full and exciting programme, catering for so many passions and talents, Gartmore House really is the ultimate place to book a Scottish activity holiday.
BOOK ONLINE or contact the team on 01877 382991 or mail@gartmorehouse.com

  • September 4, 2017
  • News
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