A Cottage Blog

Our Lilac Bank Cottage blog keeps you updated on our wee country cottage in the lovely conservation village of Crosshill near Maybole in Ayrshire. Check in every now and again  for News, updates and recipes.



We had a guest in our b&b days who wondered what we do all day in the winter because "It must be bad living up here when you get no daylight hours". Well that might be one of the more extreme comments, but many of our guests coming for the first time to Scotland have believed that in winter, weatherwise, conditions are quite dire! So let me lay this myth to rest!

Every Boxing Day we try to have a long walk to blow away the cobwebs. Rarely has the weather prevented this! This year the Boxing Day walk with Emma, Gordon and Eve was followed on 27th with a walk taking the same route with Sarah, Mark and Leroy.  On 28th we decided to throw in a variation and walked round Culzean Castle and Country Park ending up with hot chocolate in the Home Farm Restaurant. While we were doing that, our cottage holiday makers were getting a ferry to Arran and walked virtually to the top of Goat Fell before returning to the cottage on the last ferry! 

Merry Christmas to all our guests, family and friends. We wish you peace, good health and happiness. Our thanks to guests for continuing to support our business, the kind words and good care you take of our beloved little cottage. Many thanks to family and friends for making our lives what they are and best wishes to all for 2018 🎄🥂🎅


Lilac Bank Cottage by S E Hamilton Photography

I'm wearing my proud mum hat for today's cottage blog post!

Our eldest daughter, Sarah, dropped in a few weeks ago to take photographs for my Autumn update of the website. You will find examples of her work with some lovely views of the cottage interior. Sarah qualified as a photographer at City of Glasgow College and has undertaken work in many fields of photography. 

If you like the images, take a look at her beautiful website (created entirely by Sarah). Clicking on the link below will take you there


Her passion for documentary photography, bouldering, children, art, the outdoors and animals is apparent in her work. You'll  also see a few pics of her two loves, hubby Mark and their adorable Labradoodle, Leroy! 

I hope you enjoy what you see😊

Sarah at work



Cranberry Sauce Recipe

Our guests Cherry and Martin, who are currently living and working in Latvia, have spent the past week at Lilac Bank Cottage. They left us with a lovely gift of cranberries fresh from their garden and so, a little earlier than usual, the cranberry sauce for Christmas Day is now residing in the freezer! I vary the recipe each year according to which Christmas / preserves book I hunt through first. Here is this years recipe, I doubled the recipe to use my 1lb of fruit.


1 orange

225g/8oz cranberries

250g/9oz sugar



1. Pare the rind thinly from the orange, taking care not to remove any white pith. The rind will be removed at step 4, however, if like us you prefer to keep the rind in then finely grate it instead.

2. Put the orange rind in a saucepan with the cranberries, sugar and 150ml/1/4 pt water.

3. Bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved, then simmer for 10 mins until the berries burst.

4. Remove orange rind and cool sauce.

Cranberry Sauce



Anne and I have been best friends for as long as I can remember, she is Jamie's Godmother and I left her in Morpeth when I came over here! We keep in touch via facebook, Christmas visits and she sends me the occasional recipe of which this is the favourite


2 onions chopped
3 tbsp butter
500g butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced
1 apple, peeled, and chopped
3 tbsp flour
1 tsp curry powder
pinch nutmeg
750ml chicken stock
400ml milk
juice and rind of 1 orange
pinch sugar
chopped parsley for decoration


Soften onions in butter, then add butternut squash and apple, fry for a few minutes.
Remove from the heat and add flour, curry powder and nutmeg, stir well. Slowly add stock, milk and orange. Return to the heat and bring to the boil. Gently simmer for 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Blend in a liquidiser (I use my hand held blender) until smooth then add a pinch of sugar and season well.
Serve with chopped parsley.

Don't expect it to reach the freezer, ours never does ( Rebecca's favourite). It is a lovely warming slightly spicy brew perfect for Autumn.

Butternut Squash Soup



It's 7.30pm mid September and Graeme, Nikki and I are just back from a beautiful walk. Most of our guests follow the same route, a series of left hand turns (or right if you step out of the cottage in the opposite direction) will take you on a three mile trek out of the village of Crosshill through gorgeous countryside, past pretty cottages, working farms and cattle grazing in the fields. The last turn brings you back into the village. A picture perfect opportunity and the most relaxing way to fill an hour. We have been walking this route for 27 years and we never get bored with it! We last did this two days ago with a friend and her dog and covered part of it on another walk yesterday, Nikki ran herself ragged picking up the scent it would seem!

Berries and lambs near Lilac Bank Cottage



After many years on the 'to do' list, we decided September was the month to tidy up the cottage walls. At some time in the past repointing had been undertaken with a cement mix roughly spread to cover lots of the beautiful stone work.

Not the best way to preserve a historic home for the future! Over the years the cement had lifted and there were signs of water beginning to penetrate the wall. Armed with all the appropriate paraphernalia, we set to work, the cement came away remarkably easily with no damage to the stone work. Graeme made an amazing job of repointing with a traditional lime mortar, but I take total credit for the suggestion of the piping bag! Hopefully now wind, watertight and beautiful for years to come.

The picture above shows you the before version, below is the nearly completed frontage. We'll give a little update when the back of the cottage is ready in the spring!