Inspired by nature : Heather Edit

Inspired by nature : Heather Edit

The heather on the surrouding hillside is a sight to be seen. When the sunshine beats down it gives off a sheen. The vibrant purple is iconic to Scotland but heather is not in bloom all year round (a common misconception with tourists). We wait patiently for the bloom come August each year. Our inspiration come from many hill walks and shooting days in the pillowy heather. Here is our 2020 edit below. 

Shopping Local During Lockdown

Shopping Local During Lockdown

I was a regular Tesco Delivery shopper, booking in my flexible slot the night before and building up quite an easy lazy list of items that I had grown to know. With two kids under two and a business to run this has suited me well. I am lucky I can then walk out into Beauly and purchase my meat from the butcher and a few treats from the deli Corner on the Square and that was my shopping pretty much done.
Then CoronaVirus put us on lockdown and getting a major supermarket delivery slot was impossible. This has forced me to get back into shopping local for all my needs and it is something I hope to continue. We have found that the small community we live in has really adapted and embraced community life during this pandemic and we are lucky to be a part of it.
Here are some top local suppliers
Hands down the best sourdough, world class and perfect texture. I like the the original, but they also do an excellent ‘porridge’ sourdough. Available to buy at Corner on the Square Deli.
A long standing favourite of mine, their products are available at markets and local shops, but to get the true section you need to visit their honesty shed where you can stumble across new creations like Chocolate Orange Jaffa, Amaretto or Berry Yoghurt flavour. Since lockdown we have visited much more often and with this good weather its an essential!
The foodie treat in Beauly. With their excellent wine selection, quinoa crisps, speciality products, the deli counter with prepared quiche, pork pies and scotch eggs (Johns favourites), you simply can’t leave without a full basket. During lockdown COTS have come into their own and provided the community with an extraordinary service. Jacqui and her team added all the fruit and veg and key products to their website and set up an order and collect/delivery system. The produce is notably higher quality so the fruit and veg not only taste better but last longer.
Last weekend we were able to order pizza takeaway which was exciting as take aways are few and far between up here.
The butcher has always been my go to for meat and eggs but during lockdown they have encouraged customers to place orders in advance. This has made me plan ahead with my food prep and get back into my slow cooker. It is marvellous, find a good recipe, order a kilo of mince, lamb shoulder, rolled pork or a whole chicken and whack in a load of spices and some liquid, 8 hours later and hey presto you have a scrummy meal and you have batch cooked a few freezer options for a later date.
The Storehouse of Foulis have also created a wonderful click and collect/delivery service. Quintin and Michelle have adapted their business model and helped many households in the wider community. We have very much enjoyed their prepared food range The Highland Cook House for evenings when it has been a busy day with kids and web orders. John offers to cook dinner and off he pops to the Storehouse to pick up a delicious dinner for two. My favourite is the Wester Ross Salmon Fillet.
I hope to continue this shopping pattern after COVID 19, it has made me look harder at the ingredients I buy and work my store cupboard….there were plenty of tins in there past their sell by date.. still taste OK but it has reminded me not be wasteful with food. I will always shop with our lovely local suppliers and I hope post Covid there will be a stronger support and commerical benefit for these small businesses who have adapted during this difficult time.
Gin o’clock – Our Top 3 Scottish Gins

Gin o’clock – Our Top 3 Scottish Gins

In this mini April heatwave we’re having, quite alien to us in the north, and given the circumstances, it’s important that time in the garden is time well spent! And how brilliantly British to sip away on what could be claimed to be almost a national drink – the venerable Gin & Tonic!

We’re blessed here in the Highlands to have ridden the gin boom wave over the last decade, and can boast in our opinion some of the most original and delicious gin’s on the market. Biased? Of course! If it’s from from the Highlands we love to sample it and we can buy it from our deli Corner on the Square!

Not forgetting the all important accompanyment – tonic. Walter Gregor’s is the Scottish go to premium tonic. Made in Aberdeenshire and highlighting mint tones, it adds a delightful and unique taste to your G&T.

An honorable mention also to our stag horn bottle opener maker Hugh (Instagram @p.i.c.a.d.a.e). Sustainable use of all all the bi products of one of Scotland’s much loved meats. We send Hugh the antler from some of the local estates we work with and he makes various handmade sticks and accessories for us. Thanks Hugh!

Below are Nic and John’s top three gins in no particular order.


Family owned and set in the Cairngorm National Park, Kinrara gin is fruity and floral. Using water, foraged berrries and flora from the mountains above, it’s a lovely smooth gin, with a long subtle orange and juniper finish.
From the western Isles comes one of their best summer exports in our opinion! Delicious distinctive taste, using sugar kelp as part of the recipe along with 8 carefully selected botanicals. It’s smooth, complex and refreshing and captures the maritime nature of the island.
From the rugged north coast comes this cracker. Privately owned and family run, Martin & Claire have come up with a much celebrated local recipe! The nose is delicate, the palate fruity, with a snotty but lingering lemon sherbet finish. I want one now!
Lego Technic Corona Virus Therapy

Lego Technic Corona Virus Therapy

John asked for a Defender for his 40th, and he got one – introducing the Lego Technic Defender!!

A fun and enjoyable project during lockdown. With a toddler desperate to ‘help’ build the Defender I think he did well not to lose any pieces or his temper.

We have Land Rover Defender cufflinks available to buy here.


An Interview with John: by Rosie Sugden

An Interview with John: by Rosie Sugden

Between being a father, husband and running your own business – it’s very hard to pin John down and interrogate him with some questions. Luckily, his sister Rosie Sugden managed to do some of the work for us, and released it in her journal which you can find on her website. Rosie is a talented knitwear designer, specialising in fashion-forward accessories made from luxurious cashmere. Her ethos states long-lasting, durable accessories in a time of throw away fast fashion – a sustainable focus, with all manufacturing made in Scotland.

Scroll down to read her conversation with John:

Tell us about yourself?

Since a young boy I’ve always loved menswear, so it was no surprise to my parents that I followed my Father’s footsteps into the clothing world, firstly 10 years working for a cashmere and fine woollens mill, and then 4 years at Mackintosh.

After 12 years in London I decided that the timing was right to move away and start my own business. It was a natural decision to move back to the highlands as its where both my wife and I grew up.


Where is home? 

Yorkshire. No doubt about it. Through and through. I was born in Huddersfield, schooled in the Yorkshire Dales, and then at Leeds university. But “home home” today is above the shop in Beauly. So proper traditional shop keepers!


John & Nicola Sugden


What got you involved with the textile industry? 

I suppose my family involvement over the years. Both my father’s and mother’s families were involved in the industry. Coupled with my love of menswear from a young age it was the obvious route for me to follow. That’s not to say that there aren’t some photos of me when I was young in very dubious wares!


Tell us about Campbell’s of Beauly?

Campbell’s is a hidden gem. One of the things that really endeared me to it. Untouched since it first started in 1858. Of course we need to tweak it here and there, but the character and charm of the store is what endears it to most who visit. We’re a country-wear specialist in the retail, and then we have our bespoke tailoring workshop above the shop making suits, jackets, trousers etc for all manner of people.

Beauly itself is a lovely little village in the Highlands, just North West of Inverness. It’s an amazing little town with an array of passionate shopkeepers plying their own trades.


Campbell’s of Beauly tailoring department


What makes Campbell’s so special?

Definitely its our history and heritage. In an age when it can be quite frustrating how the perceived “heritage” of some brands is rather cleverly marketed and ultimately inaccurate, Campbell’s truly is an historic store with a concrete history and heritage dating back to 1858. Not much has changed in store since then!


One item from Campbell’s shop that you’re coveting at the moment?

My mens Nehru gilet in navy harris tweed. We sell the style online, and we can also have them made individually in ones chosen fabric. I love harris tweed Hebrides fabric and so a smart navy option was just the number for me. My matching bespoke brief case is also accompanying me to all meetings.


CAMPBELL OF BEAULYTom Owen, our now retired Head Tailor

Describe your and Nicola’s typical working day?

Roughly speaking, our roles are defined quite well in that Nicola looks after the retail day to day, I look after the tailoring, and we both do the buying. At this time of year I’m flat out with tailoring appointments for many of the estates we work with, for whom we tailor the suits for the teams that manage the land in their individual tweeds. We’re also flat out doing the retail buying for deliveries from April when the season starts to pick up.

I will generally split my time between my office and the tailoring department when I’m in and then estate visits when I’m out. Nic will split hers between her office where she manages the website and then the shop floor so she keeps her finger on the pulse of whats happening in the retail.


John, Nicola and their Cocker Spaniel, Islay

You travel a lot for work – what is your favourite place you’ve visited?

Stockholm is my favourite foreign city to visit. I’ve a lot of friends there. It’s always nice to visit and see them, and I like the size of Stockholm, a nice manageable size of city. Not too big, not too small, plenty to do. Within the UK when travelling to meet some of the estates we work with, up the Glen from Beauly in Glen Affric is pretty special, or the North Yorkshire moors are very picturesque.


What do you love most about living in the highlands?

The peace and tranquility. and its rather nice that people say hello to each other in the street! I missed that in london. And also the space. The acres of space. It’s naturally relaxing.



What have you learned running Campbell’s of Beauly?

Back yourself. People will always, often unintentionally, sew a seed of doubt in your mind or make you change your mind. I’ve learnt not to let this happen and to stick to the plan and what I’d originally thought. If you originally thought something, there must be a justifiable reason, so go with it. And if you are wrong, you learn from your mistakes.

And if you are going to take advice from people, I believe you want that advice to be consistent, and it has to blend nicely with your own views, so there are 4-5 people who I’ll regularly seek out the opinion of, outside of Nic and myself.

And running ones own business is rewarding, but hard work!


What aspect of working for yourself do you most enjoy?

Being my own boss. No red tape and the freedom of when to decide to work flat out, and when to decide when to take a break.


Campbell’s of Beauly & Lambswool V Neck Jumper


Who or what inspires you?

I once heard that John Timpson was on a panel of advisors, answering questions on how to make a business successful. Other panelists answered in many different ways. Mr Timpson said in a matter of fact way that there was one thing that had not been mentioned which he felt above all else was a key factor – hard work. its hard to disagree. I’ve always remembered that. That always inspires me.

Application. Dedication. Determination. with these three ingredients you won’t go far wrong.


Favourite cafes or restaurants in the Highlands?

Corner on the Square in Beauly of course! Allangrange Arms for a pub. Sutor Creek in Cromarty for a pizza. The Scourie Hotel for a great night away of great food and peace and quiet and perhaps a spot of fishing!


Favourite place in Scotland?

Other than Mum and Dad’s near Lilliesleaf, the Struie viewpoint on the Struie road (B9176). Nicola and I got engaged there.


Struie Road Viewpoint

A big thank you to Rosie for allowing us to use her interview – the original post can be viewed on her journal. You can find a small selection of her spectacular knitwear in Campbell’s of Beauly, or you can view the full range on her website.