Monday, October 8, 2012

Scotland Escape: Inside Gargunnock House

 As we were driving to Scotland, David wanted to make one thing clear: "This isn't going to be some high-end hotel vacation, so don't get your hopes up".  Obviously.  In fact, I was fully expecting for Gargunnock House to be a giant old estate manor full of cobwebbed corners and lumpy beds.  Expectations for fun were high, but expectations for the spectacular were pretty nonexistent.  To say we were pleasantly surprised is an absolute understatement, for Gargunnock exceeded our every expectation*.

As we explored each of the rooms, we became more and more ecstatic.  Not because the house is ornate and lavish, but because it was wonderfully clean and had an authentic charm that made us feel as if we were stepping into a modestly wealthy estate house in the early 1920s.  most of the furniture was made of heavy wood and dated back to the early twentieth century and I was pleased to see not a single plywood IKEA piece in sight!  Original artwork hung on the walls as did an impressive amount of taxidermy that had been meticulously cared for over the years.  

Skye and I couldn't help but run through the house with our cameras, filling our memory cards faster than you can say 'cheese'.  Below is some of what we saw, but please keep in mind that these photos represent just a fraction of the home's charm, comfort, and space. 

When I said in an earlier post that our bathroom was bigger than our bedroom at home, I wasn't joking.  The en suite that David and I shared included a large shower/tub combo, a toilet (obviously), a sink that overlooked the fields at the back of the house, and an amour large enough to fit Narnia inside.  All the utilities were modern but were tastefully chosen so as not to detract from the aesthetic of the home.  Around the house, there were a few small water closets tucked away but there were also a number of equally large bathrooms with soaking tubs and inviting views.  I joked that I'd bathe in each tub before we left, but I never tired enough of my en suite to venture to try another. 

The house sleeps sixteen.  From what I remember, there are three rooms with queen-sized beds and five rooms with two single beds.  The rooms were simple and sweet, and though the flooring was sometimes a little wonky (like, some of the beds were on a slight incline, though not unlike my old Beacon Hill digs...), I think each of the rooms would have been charming to sleep in.

It is at this time that I would like to share a confession: seeing as there were only four of us sharing this home that accommodates sixteen, I will admit to sometimes being spooked whilst walking around at night.  It was just so large and truth be told, my imagination definitely got the best of me when I journeyed down a few dark passages....

Gargunnock house had three stairways (that we knew of).  There were two like the first stair pictured, which were rough and warn.  They were positioned at the front and back of the house and serviced those wings.  The grand staircase, which you see on the bottom, was the main stair and could be used to get to any floor in the house (or so we think).  There were a few sealed doors and 'off limits' parts of the house- which is probably where Mr. Rochester's wife is rocking back and forth, humming to herself- so we can't say for certain just how many stairs and floor the house actually has. 

This is the Large Sitting Room. Chopin was a friend of the family who originally owned the house and it's believed that he may have played on that very piano.  Though this is not a fact, we are going to believe it is a fact and propagate the rumor's circulation as such.  

I loveloveloved the library, obviously. 

More intimate than the Large Sitting Room and definitely working on a smaller scale, the Small sitting Room was cozy and inviting.  It's also closer to the kitchen (which I stupidly didn't take pictures of because I am an idiot), which is always a major advantage in my book. 

Though there were only four of us in the house, we decided to set the table for sixteen and have a feast in the Grand Dining Room (not the real name, obviously).  Our feast included homemade carpaccio (I know, right!), beet salad, roasted eggplant, and green beans and finished with fruit compote over ice cream.  I suggested we all dress for dinner and, as you can imagine, we had a spectacular time in our evening wear, dining under the gaze of many painted and glass eyeballs.  It was wonderful!  

Though all this looks like lots of fun (and it was), I'm still slapping myself for failing to take pictures of the servant bells in the laundry room (so Downton Abbey, I almost died), the Game Room (which consisted of a ping pong table and a lot of killed game hanging on the walls), the creepy bust that I mistook for a ghost, and the million other little things that made Gargunnock so wonderful.  If you're ever venturing to Scotland in a group, I heartily recommend spending a few nights at the house- it does not disappoint.  In fact, it awes.

*Those of you who travel and rent homes/apartments often will know what a wonderful thing this is: the kitchen already had a corkscrew in it.  How many times do you go on vacation, buy a ton of groceries/wine, and then arrive to the house only to realize that you are corkscrew-less and have no way of opening your wine?  Too many times is the answer!  But not at Gargunnock, they have a corkscrew ready and waiting. 

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