East Lothian nursery E.coli outbreak reaches 50 confirmed cases

E.coli cases linked to a number of East Lothian nurseries have risen to 50, as two nurseries at the heart of the outbreak reopen after almost a month-long closure.

Hundreds of exclusion orders were issued to children and parents, effectively forcing them to self-isolate to limit the spread of the infection. 

E.coli causes illness with symptoms ranging from mild loose stools to severe bloody diarrhoea. Serious complications can lead to blood poisoning and kidney failure.

An outbreak of the bacterial infection saw the Church Street Pear Tree Nursery and Meadowpak Pear Tree Nursery in Haddington close their doors earlier this month

Cases of E.coli were later confirmed in a Musselburgh private nursery located on Bridge Street, forcing a third closure. 

Two further nurseries, West Road Pear Street Nursery and Musselburgh Private Nursery in Stoneybank, were closed as a precaution. 

Church Street Pear Tree Nursery has now become the first to re-open on Monday, August 29, followed by the Meadowpark nursery which reopened on Wednesday, August 31. 

The chair of the Incident Management Team (IMT) set up to tackle the E.coli outbreak urged families to continue to wait for clearance before letting their children attend nurseries. 

Dr Graham Mackenzie said: “It is really encouraging to see these nurseries opening back up and children being able to return to school and nursery and we would like to thank the families who have worked with us.

“Over the last few weeks, hundreds of exclusion orders have been put in place to safeguard public health and safeguard communities.

“This has been challenging for everyone involved. We all know how difficult the Covid19 lockdown and the pandemic has been on family life and that as a result these E. coli exclusions have been difficult for families to accept.

“However, the Health Protection Team has worked tirelessly to contain the outbreak and prevent wider spread and the IMT would like to thank them for all of their hard work and professionalism.

 “Scores of exclusion orders have been lifted over recent days which means that some families can get back to normal. There are also enough staff and pupils who have been through the clearance process and provided two negative stool samples 24 hour apart, to make it feasible for Church Street and Meadowpark nurseries to re-open.

“I would remind families that they must wait for the Health Protection Team to give them clearance for their child to attend nursery to ensure there is no possibility of continuing transmission.

“The Health Protection Team will call you as soon as the results are through, so please remember there is no need to call through to check if they have been received.

“These lists are being regularly updated with nurseries to ensure they also know who to expect and when.”

Church Street Pear Tree Nursery was originally closed on August 2 after a number of children fell ill and went on to test positive for E-coli.

Its sister nursery in Meadowpark was closed on August 12 as a precaution, with cases later being confirmed by the IMT.

Musselburgh Private Nursery, Bridge Street, had confirmed cases of E-coli on August 19 and will remain closed until the clearance process has been completed.

Families and nursery staff are also being reminded that they may be eligible for compensation for loss of earnings resulting from an exclusion.

An adult who has been excluded under the Public Health Act may be eligible as well as parents and carers who need to care for someone who has been excluded.

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Is it last orders at the bar for the UK’s pubs?

As energy bills bite and the cost of living soars, it could soon be last orders for many of the UK’s pubs

Says six of the UK’s leading pub and brewing chains – Greene King, JW Lees, Admiral Taverns, St Austell Brewery, Drake and Morgan and Carlsberg Marstons, who collectively make up the board of the British Beer and Pub Association. Concerned at the cost of energy among other things they have written an open letter to the government asking for some kind of support package for the industry and pointing out that unlike domestic customers, businesses such as pubs and inns have no energy cap – meaning the cost of lighting and heating their premises and, most important of all, keeping the beer flowing could simply rise and rise. Already some members are already facing price increases of over 400%, they note.

Will the government sort it?

What government? The current administration – or “the zombie government” as Labour at Westminster like to call it – has said no announcement on energy will be made until the new Prime Minister is in place on September 5. That’s over a week away. Heard that sound? Another pub taking down the darts board, emptying the puggie, sweeping under the pool table for any stray 50 pence pieces and closing its doors for good.

What does the letter say?

“Dear Prime Minister,” it begins, “we feel compelled to write to you to call for support … Across our businesses we are witnessing price rises which are causing irreversible damage. Hikes can now be upwards of 300% on pre-pandemic energy bills, with the current average increase around 150% across the beer and pub sector, putting jobs and businesses at risk. As more fixed price contracts come up for renewal this is only worsening.” It ends with a warning that unless something is done, pubs will be lost forever to communities across the country.

Anything else?

Each of the signatories to the letter have released separate statements too. Here’s what St Austell Brewery chief executive Kevin Georgel has to say: “Having survived the unprecedented challenges arising from the pandemic, pubs and breweries are once again faced with an existential threat because of circumstances beyond their control. The cost of energy threatens to cause mass business failure and the loss of thousands of pubs across the country … Pubs bring people together and play a critical role in their community and British beer is part of our rich heritage. The market is failing our sector and we need an energy price cap for hospitality before this crisis forces our licensees to close their pubs.”

Last orders at the bar then?

Could be.

Cheers, then


Discover Tattu: a multi-sensory experience with modern Chinese cuisine

Tattu is a multi-sensory experience, serving modern Chinese cuisine and taking guests on a unique culinary journey from East to West China with stunning interiors inspired by the ‘Old meets New’ concept.

In tribute to the historic and modern qualities of the city of Edinburgh, with its medieval streets of Old Town and modern architecture of New Town, the Tattu interiors blend heritage Chinese detailing and furniture with cutting edge design and luxury materials to depict a tranquil Chinese garden setting.

And a towering tunnel of cherry blossom taking centre stage.

Tattu offer fine wines and creative cocktails. Not to mention the season’s most loved, the infatuating Eastern Dragon. A beautiful blend of 135 gin, apple and raspberry, smoked with a berry flavour infusion to heighten the senses.

Tattu recommends a shared dining experience that starts with traditional dim sum and moves through to small and large plates, ending with not to be missed innovative desserts.


Tradition Meets Contemporary

Dim Sum, meaning “Touch the Heart” in Chinese. Enjoy small bites of divine flavour and pair your summer cocktails with a spread of delicious Dim Sum.

Such as Tattu’s elevated Lobster and Prawn toast and sesame and sweet chilli. Accompany with a portion of the Wild Mushroom Spring Rolls with a special moreish sour cream and our Chicken Truffle Shumai topped with freshly shaved truffle, bathing in a heavenly soy. Taste our Glazed Beef Gyoza drizzled with teriyaki, and our Date and Water Chestnut Gyoza that is surprisingly sweet in flavour – all utterly delicious.

The Ultimate Laurent Perrier Experience At Tattu

This September we are releasing a limited-edition sharing menu with Laurent Perrier.

With a choice of our classic sharing menu, including a crisp glass of Laurent Perrier Rosé, or choose to elevate your experience with our exclusive Laurent Perrier wine flight.

The Head Sommelier and Head Chef have joined forces to pair together each wave with a glass of the exquisite Laurent Perrier Champagne.

From the classic La Cuvée, to the Rosé and finally a special Champagne cocktail named the ‘Wildflower Fizz’ to pair with your desserts.

Inspired by Scotland’s heritage using Glenmorangie 10 whiskey and local wildflower honey, served in a chocolate dripped glass and of course topped with Laurent Perrier Champagne. Enjoy an unforgettable summer dining experience that is worth savouring.


Express Lunch

Tattu Edinburgh is now open for lunch from 12pm to 2.30pm. Offering delectable 2 and 3 course menus, Tuesday through to Friday from £27.50.

Book in for a chance to embark on a culinary exploration during your lunch hour and indulge in modern and contemporary Chinese flavours/dishes.

A luxurious lunch, delivered within the hour.



Arlington Baths Club to review management board after police incident

A long-established Glasgow health club is to review its governing board amid criticism over the running of the facility.

The Arlington Bath Club’s general manager said it was seeking to “broaden membership to maintain the confidence of members” and an extraordinary general meeting is to be held.

It comes after The Herald revealed that a member was arrested and charged by police after allegedly performing a sex act on himself in a public area of the club on July 12.

He has been expelled but members claim action was delayed and he was allowed to continue attending for more than a month after the incident was reported to managers.

According to members, it was only after both they and staff raised concerns that his membership was terminated around ten days ago.

Police Scotland said a 38-year-old man was arrested and charged, three days later, with public indecency and is due to appear at Glasgow Sheriff Court.

Members say there is growing unease about the accountability of the board which runs the Arlington, which marked its 150th anniversary last year and has a £600 annual membership fee.


Earlier this year a number of female members are said to have reported a male gym-goer for sexual harassment and claim disciplinary measures were delayed.

READ MORE: Glasgow health club ‘sullied’ by seedy incidents as police arrest member

In a statement to members, Andrew McGilp, general manager, advises that a meeting will be held on September 9 to discuss a “single item of business” and the board will be seeking support for the following resolution.

He writes: “Members recognise the board have on occasion to make decisions that can’t satisfy all members.

“The decisions are made in good faith. The board decisions are reached collectively by discussing information available to management.

“The board will seek to broaden its membership to maintain confidence of the club members and welcome expressions of interest.”

Members are said to have expressed disquiet after a nudist night was introduced several years ago, apparently without consultation.

One said:”I’m genuinely devastated that it seems to have been sullied.

“When I joined 15 years ago, there was a very clear sense that members had to follow rules – you got a row for not hanging your clothes up on a peg.

A petition was previously launched on Change.org calling for a “clear and actionable plan” on dealing with member complaints and a review of board members.

The baths is housed in a purpose-built Category A Listed Building  and opened on August 1 1871 and was the first swimming club in Glasgow.

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Letters: It’s time for a drink driving-style reset of our attitude toward litter

I AGREE with Andy Stenton (Letters, August 27) in his belief that persuading people to take responsibility for their rubbish and filth would make a huge difference. There are many countries where you see business owners washing the pavement in front of their premises every morning. In the United States, especially in more rural areas, there’s a long tradition of community groups going out a couple of times a year to pick litter from the verges of local roads.

Recently I was pleased to see that someone had cleared four bags of rubbish from the tiny burn that runs by the playpark near us. I remember years ago our daughter being concerned for the welfare of newts she’d seen in the burn, because of the rubbish. So I got my waders on and started clearing plastic bottles and the like. After a while, I stopped and went home for a coffee; by the time I came back, some eejit had thrown all the rubbish back in the burn.

As a nation, we’re not particularly clean in our public habits, and the bin strike simply amplifies a problem that is always there. We’ve managed to change attitudes towards drink driving and smoking in pubs and restaurants; surely we can persuade people to show some respect for the environment we all share.

Doug Maughan, Dunblane.


MUCH has been said and written about the refuse workers’ strike, and, of course, we need to pay them a rate that matches the important work they do for us. However, there is more that needs to be done and we all, or most of us, have a role to play. In the very short term we need more bins on the street, to reduce the “excuse” of there being nowhere to put refuse.

Looking at the refuse currently littering our streets it is clear that there are longer-term actions needed. First, we need the deposit-return scheme for drinks bottles and cans brought in with no further delay, and secondly we need to address the widespread use of single-use cups for takeaway drinks, with the view that a cup is for life not just one latte or whatever. Reusable cups are on sale in many places and the cost of a single-use cup must rise to encourage use of a reusable one.

Takeaway food places have a role to play to reduce the waste they create too, but as a final step we need to have enforcement of our litter laws, to encourage a change of culture among so many people. Yes, it will cost to employ enforcement officers, but once we have reduced the causes of litter the on-the-spot fines should exceed these costs.

Patricia Fort, Glasgow.


COULD we as a country having come through Covid be on the brink of another pandemic brought on by the rotting litter on our streets?

It’s an awful state of affairs that any group of workers can hold the country to ransom for their own ends.

Whilst I do have sympathy for the refuse collectors, this is not the way to get better wages and conditions.

Everybody wants a bigger pay packet but not everybody strikes.

I remember the time when the Army was brought in to do the job, going into back courts and rats were everywhere.

Please get round the table and deal with this before we have another pandemic on our hands.

Neil Stewart, Balfron.


TODAY (August 31) is International Overdose Awareness Day; events are taking place globally.

Today we reflect upon the focus of today in overdose prevention; there is within that hope the establishment of overdose prevention centres which are hygienic, safe spaces where people are able to take drugs safely under the supervision of trained staff. They have access to sterile equipment and staff can respond immediately to overdose. What’s not to like about that?

Today, though, there remain those who are blinded by prejudice against progressive reforms. The Westminster Government’s drugs minister last year said stigma must remain a tool to be used against people engaging in drug misuse; the UK’s principal drugs law (the Misuse of Drugs Act (1971) is more than 50 years old and if it was ever effective it most certainly is not fit for purpose in 2022.

Today let us remember too that there were 109 deaths as a result of drug misuse in Edinburgh during 2021, up from 92 the year previous and the highest figure ever recorded in the city. Across Scotland there were nine fewer lives lost in 2021 than 2020, the First Minister taking to Twitter to say this is “welcome”.

Today let us hold the feet of our politicians to the fire. Whether in the Scottish Parliament or council chambers across Scotland, they will be judged.

Today I remember, as will many, a problematic drug user saying “you politicians keep talking whilst we keep dying”.

Douglas McBean, Edinburgh.


BEING an only child, Catriona Stewart’s article (“Don’t worry about only children, we’re fine”, The Herald, August 30), resonated with me.

I attended primary school during the Second World War, my father was away serving King and Country, and I would have liked a brother or sister, but with coupon-controlled rationing for clothing and basic foods, I was always put off with “we don’t have enough coupons”.

Some time later, by which time I was versed in the “birds and the bees”, a relative told me my originators had taken one look and decided “We can’t do any better than that. Let’s call it a day”, kindly omitting a conditional “if”.

But I sometimes wonder: what if Hitler had never invaded Poland, of if there had been no rationing?

R Russell Smith, Largs.


MY wife and I visited our local cash and carry this afternoon and were alarmed to see an assortment of Christmas merchandise for sale. Is August 29 a record?

Too close to the first cuckoo in spring for me.

Willie Towers, Alford.

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Why Lochaber is a natural playground for outdoor enthusiasts

For an adventurous break in Scotland you can’t beat Lochaber. Yes, it might rain, but pack for all weathers, stay flexible with your plans, and go explore this incredible outdoor playground.

With Glencoe and the Mamores, the dramatic scenery of Lochaber has always attracted climbers, mountaineers and skiers. In the past few decades mountain biking has rocketed in popularity here, and to this we can now add kayaking, paddleboarding, swimming and many more ways to enjoy the hills and glens.

The University of the Highlands and Islands has been running a pioneering Outdoor Leadership degree in Fort William for some time now, and its success is evident in the increase in young and enthusiastic companies now offering outdoor activities. 

Look at the website for ‘the Outdoor Capital of the UK’ and click on ‘Who can help’ to find qualified local instructors. Here are a few ideas to get you started.


A sport that has really taken off in recent years, paddleboarding is easy to get the hang of with a lesson or two. Soon you too can look like you’re serenely walking on water. It looks relaxing but it’s also an excellent workout (especially when the wind picks up). I hired a paddleboard from Otter Adventures in Strontian and took it out on Loch Sunart.


It’s a quiet sea loch surrounded by trees, so a brilliant place for wildlife spotting. Apart from two intrepid swimmers I had this calm corner of the loch all to myself. I didn’t see the otters that give the company its name, but I’m definitely coming back for another go. In Glencoe you can have lessons from Rugged Coast and there are a number of qualified providers in Fort William too.


Woodlands in Glencoe has a fleet of very fancy e-bikes and are well situated for exploring the area on two wheels. Cycle around Loch Leven with turbo power for the hills, follow the Caledonian Way cycle path to Castle Stalker, or do as I did and have a quick scoot along to The Holly Tree hotel for a deep bowl of local mussels. All good options.


Off-beat bikes in Fort William also have e-mountain bikes which really do sound like a lot of fun.


From intrepid sea adventures to calm loch paddling, Lochaber is a great place to kayak. Starting in Glencoe village I explored Loch Leven and the island of Eilean Munde by kayak with a guide from Rugged Coast. The views of the Pap of Glencoe with swirling clouds were far more atmospheric than on a sunny day, and the seals dozing on the rocks were unphased by passing kayaks.


In Strontian Otter Adventures offers tuition and tours on kayaks, including full day trips with a hot lunch cooked on a remote island or beach, weekend family escapes in open canoes with a night camping under the stars, or for the most adventurous a three-day circumnavigation of the Morvern peninsula. Karl will also plan bespoke trips for all levels of skill and enthusiasm.

Trail running

Trail running has been gaining in popularity across Europe for the past few years and the west coast is an ideal destination to learn how to run on rugged terrain. Glencoe-based Girls on Hills was founded in 2018 by Keri Wallace and Nancy Kennedy with the aim of empowering women to run in the mountains. They’ve seen a huge demand for their courses, with some selling out within hours.


Keri explains that while women’s participation in trail races has increased, “it’s nowhere near 50:50”. Girls on Hills teach women the skills and confidence to enjoy running in the mountains with a motto of ‘You can run free’. On a recent course I learned how to safely cross a river and ‘run like a child’, bounding over heather and scree without twisting an ankle, plus mountain safety and navigation training. We also enjoyed incredible scenery, great camaraderie and white-tailed eagles circling overhead.

Trail running couldn’t be further from a sweaty treadmill in an urban gym and that’s why people love it. I’m keen to try the run and dip courses that include swims in secluded lochans and rivers, and the bothy adventures that include an overnight stay.

Girls on Hills also offer navigation courses, guided hillwalking and small group coaching that’s ideal for a mixed group.

Wild swimming

We can’t promise warm but we can promise awe-inspiring scenery and clear, clean water. If you aren’t used to cold water, definitely bring or hire a wetsuit, then take your pick from the beautiful rivers, lochs and beaches dotted all around Lochaber. My favourite spots for a dip are Camusdarach Beach near Arisaig, Samalaman Bay near Glenuig and Cuil Bay near Duror but you’ll be spoiled for choice. Off Beat Bikes in Fort William can provide kit and advice.

For inspiration and safe swimming tips pick up a copy of Vicky Allan and Anna Deacon’s Wild Swimming Scotland.

Mountain biking

Nevis Range has been home to the UCI Downhill World Cup since 2002 and is one of Scotland’s top mountain biking destinations. The lower trails are open all year round, look at the Nevis Range website for access and safety information.


Beginners, or anyone looking to improve their skills or take on tougher routes, can book a lesson or guided ride with the on-site bike school.

Indoor Climbing and Ice Climbing

It’s always good to have a wet weather option. If you haven’t climbed before, Three Wise Monkeys in Fort William is a good place to get started.


They’ll sort you out with shoes, helmet and harness and a qualified instructor will show you the ropes. In Kinlochleven you can take an indoor ice climbing lesson at The Ice Factor – the biggest indoor ice climbing wall in the world.




If you’re heading to Lochaber from the Central Belt then a breakfast stop at the Real Food Cafe in Tyndrum will set you up for a day on the hill or out on the water. Breakfasts are hearty: try a full Scottish with Stornoway Black Pudding, or the vegetarian and vegan versions.


Later in the day, refuel with venison burgers, crisp and tasty fish and chips or delicious home baking. There’s always a buzz and it’s a popular spot for walkers refuelling on the West Highland Way. If you’re extra hungry, order online and they’ll have it ready . . . and can even bring it out to your car.

Fort William

With queues snaking down the street at busy times, Rain Bakery is the go to spot for delicious cakes and excellent bread. I picked up a giant sourdough sandwich with grilled halloumi, sweetcorn fritter, chilli and pea smash sandwich, then ate it up a hill feeling very happy with my life choices.



Enjoy a hot, crisp pizza cooked in a wood fired pizza oven. It’s only open a few nights a week but well worth a visit. Take it away or enjoy on the decking overlooking Loch Sunart.

Fort William

After 30 years this is still the top spot for seafood dining in Lochaber. A bowl of mussels here overlooking Loch Linnhe is unbeatable.











Dumfries and Galloway food producers making a big impact

A new online portal offers a flavour of all the unique culinary offerings in Dumfries and Galloway, writes Erin McDermott

A NEW interactive project is shining a spotlight on the independent food and drink producers making a positive impact throughout Dumfries & Galloway. 
The region’s top culinary experiences are being profiled on a new website  – dgfoodanddrink.com – hosted by Eat SW Scotland, the regional food group for Dumfries & Galloway, with joint funding from the council and Scotland Food and Drink.

As the new site shows, in-depth information of the story behind the business can make the produce all the more enticing. 
To give you a taste of the new Food and Drink Dumfries & Galloway website, here are six of the many fascinating business it showcases….


Bladnoch, Newton Stewart
VISIT the 200-year-old estate which is home to Bladnoch Distillery. You can book a tour at this impressive site and discover how Bladnoch and Pure Scot Whiskies are crafted first hand. If you book the classic tour and taste option you will indulge in sampling three of the popular releases from the Bladnoch and Pure Scot range. Alternatively, the 1817 tour is designed as a more in-depth look through the centuries-old distillery. This two-hour tour and tasting experience gives visitors the opportunity to use the same tools and equipment as the production team. The visitor centre is open Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm, and don’t forget to visit Café Melba while you’re there. 

Portpatrick, Stranraer, DG9 9AD
WITHIN this 19th century country house hotel in Dumfries and Galloway is a charming 3 AA rosette restaurant. Knockinaam showcases the finest local suppliers with their rotating seasonal menu, accompanied by fresh produce, much of which is handpicked that morning from the Knockinaam Garden. Visitors are free to take a walk around the vegetable garden to hear first-hand how it is grown. Whether you’re tucking into a delicious lunch or dinner, a tasting guide is provided to explain exactly what you are eating, focusing on method, seasonality and local suppliers. There will also be a cocktail waitress on hand to prepare seasonal cocktails to pair with your food – these too will be infused with ingredients from the garden.

Nithsdale, DG2 OXJ
THIS small Scottish steading and farm shop is a real gem in the region. Everything sold through the shop Nurture From Nature is produced on the farm itself – from upcycled trinkets from the farm’s past, through to fresh produce from the animals. Low Auldgirth take great pride in the slow grown quality of the farm produce. The family farm work with natural and organic processes to build an ecosystem that is environmentally sustainable and self-regenerative. Wool and meat from the small flock of heritage sheep are among the farm’s key produce, all animals are raised organically – completely free from any chemicals or intensive systems.


Lockerbie, DG11 2FD
AS well as providing a popular service for wedding hire, The Love Bug D&G is now available for bespoke regional food or drink tours. Sample the foodie hotspots of Dumfries and Galloway in the style and comfort of a classic VW campervan. Enjoy a unique day out by booking on to the popular VW Distillery Trail or take the world’s first Tartan Chocolate Tour. Over the summer months, the option of a retro picnic serving a generous selection of local produce is on offer. And should you wish to compose your own foodie trail around the diverse region, tailor-made tours can also be arranged. 

5 Friars Vennel / 16 Brewery Street, Dumfries DG1 2RQ
BEER Without Borders is a craft beer project that aims to build bridges between the EU and Scottish beer communities. Two years ago the group opened their first taproom and bottle shop in Dumfries named Riverside Tap. At the venue you can enjoy a beer tasting experience led by one of the beer experts. Guests will sample six beers all made using different styles, here you will learn about the different methods involved in making each beer, and the background of the breweries involved. The Riverside Tap is open from 2pm (12pm on Friday and Saturday) seven days a week. Visit the website to book. 

Balmangan Farm, Borgue, Kirkcudbright, DG6 4TR
FOR a truly personalised farm tour experience Solway View, as the name suggests, offers a scenic setting to explore with all the family. As well as hosting a popular campsite for holiday seekers, Solway View is home to Balmangan Farm – a 330 acre estate located by the sea. Here you can enjoy a walking tour around the farm which is opening up to the wider public in the next week or two. The 1.5/ two-hour tour will highlight the farm’s rewilding project. As part of the Northwoods Rewilding Network, the farm is committed to improving the soil, reversing the decline in local wildlife, and helping to highlight the importance of small producers. On the tour you can expect to meet Tamworth pigs, Highland cattle and the surrounding nature trails are home to red squirrels and roe deer. Tea, coffee, cakes and scones will also be offered to visitors.

This article was brought to you in partnership with Eat SW Scotland

Only children face the worst stigma, even though we’re the best

I’LL tell you what’s an odd phenomenon: being constantly asked if your childhood was lonely, barren and has left you an anti-social misfit, living a life of regret.

This, if you are not in the club, is the worst part of being an only child.

No one ever says, “An only child? That must have been great!” They do The Face.

The Face is sort of sympathetic, unwittingly probing feature arrangement. The kind of face you would use to tell your elderly aunt her cat’s run away when you know it’s actually been run over by an SUV. You saw it, it was squished flat, but you want to carefully and empathetically shield her from the fact while also trying to fathom whether she knows you’re lying.

Usually The Face is deployed by people who are trying to decide how many children to have and they want you to confirm their biases and thus help go ahead with the decision they’ve already made but can’t yet quite face.

READ MORE: Confected fury over Sturgeon blinds us to injustice

People always frame it as trying to do the best thing by their child but, let’s face it, almost no one chooses to have children for the sake of the child.

The other main deployment of The Face is when people are peeved at their own siblings and want you to confirm that hey, their brother or sister is, of course, a nightmare but it could have been worse – you could have been me.

All birth orders have their associated stereotypes. The youngest child probably fares worse: spoiled, irresponsible, manipulative, slightly neglected. Fun loving, though, so there’s something.

The oldest child is confident, has the highest IQ and is conscientious, a natural leader. Middle children are peace makers and gregarious with it.

There is nothing like the stigma of being an only child. Nothing to recommend us. Spoiled, selfish loners, unable to share, outsiders. Stunted social development. Or precocious, due to all that adult company, but not in a fruitful or entertaining way.

Their weird formative years see them grow up to be rascals.

I love sharing, have a wide social circle and am extremely compliant. I have a friend who will do you physically injury if you try to sample her dinner in a restaurant. She’s the eldest of three. This stuff is hokum.

Imagine the only children of the world pummelling around going “Wow, I met your sister. That must have been a trial.” Or, “So, your brother…” and just leaving it hanging.

In part, this is another way of nipping at women for their reproductive choices. The ladies should be fulfilling their biological destiny and procreating, not fannying about with careers.

But as women have forged ahead in the workplace, the number of only child families has risen: women don’t want to miss out on work, they start trying for families later on, and etc.

READ MORE: Exam results make it too easy for adults to say there’s no wrong path

Society still views this as a little bit weird and so the progeny of such weird women must be tainted by association, right?

Good news everyone – only children are super weird, but so is everyone else. We are all meaningless specks with a finite time on earth and some of us are trying to make more of it than others.

I’ve been asked this question with frequency recently because I’m at that age where friends are having babies and so it’s become relevant. Concerns about climate change and the cost of living are going to make questions and decisions about family size increasingly pressing.

Let me be the voice of reassurance: being an only child is just fine. Some of my very closest friends are also only children because we seek each other out and we bond, fast.

Only children make loyal friends because they are not complacent. No one has given them a social leg up – they have to form their own families.

Make no mistake, I have sisters. We’re just not blood related.

The only children I know, and people who aren’t as close to their siblings, are the ones who get stuck in with volunteering and providing support systems for other folk.

READ MORE: Netflix and chill… with this online dross?

Did I ever want siblings? I went through a phase of it, certainly. I never wanted a brother but I did think a sister might hold some special magic.

In the end it’s an entirely fruitless thing to pine about because there’s absolutely nothing you can do to change it. If I’d had a sibling we might not have liked each other. They might have made life hell.

Humans are unpredictable and when you’re creating new ones you’re taking a gamble. The hope is they’ll be a lifelong support system to one another but there’s little guarantee.

There is, though, one sure truth about parenting. For a long time, no matter what you’ve done, your child will think you’ve done it wrong. At least with an only child, there’s only one to disdain you. Then we grow up and we realise our parents made decisions with love and we’re stuck with those.

The only kids, they’re really alright.

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20 amazing places to stay in Scotland this autumn

Whether your passion is for glamping in pods or yurts, enjoying award-winning dining in luxury country hotels or even living like royalty in Balmoral estate, there’s a heavenly holiday experience for everyone in our ultimate resort round-up – as chosen by Paul Trainer and Ailsa Sheldon.

Situated right by the pier at Galmisdale, staying at the Eigg Camping Pods makes exploring the beautiful Isle of Eigg a breeze. The pods are simple but comfortable, with electricity and heating, individual fire pits and communal cooking facilities, plus a wash house just over the road.


From Eigg Adventures you can rent a kayak and paddle around the bay, keeping an eye out for curious seals, or hire a bike and pedal over the island to Laig Bay and Cleadale. The pods are community-owned and operated so staying here helps look after the island too. AS
An Laimhrig, Isle of Eigg PH42 4RL




Hidden in the woods at Easter Hillockhead Farm in the Black Isle are eight cleverly designed handmade yurts. The yurts are off-grid with no running water, but all have cooking facilities and a wood burning stove to keep you cosy, and lanterns and candles for light and ambience.


The central hub has showers, washing up facilities and dazzling views over the Moray Firth. Nearby is the pink-hued Rosemarkie beach and the atmospheric Fairy Glen woods. A stay at Black Isle Yurts is perfect for wildlife lovers, families, romantic breaks or anyone in need of a digital detox (that’s all of us then!). AS
Eathie Hill, Rosemarkie IV10 8SL




As the leaves on the trees start to turn, what could be nicer than a weekend in Big Tree country? A stay at The Taybank ticks all the boxes: a lively bar with cracking live music, elegant and cosy rooms with stacks of books and enormous baths, and an incredible restaurant overlooking the river.


We feasted on langoustine dipped in garlic butter and vegetables grown in the hotel’s garden. The Tayside also has a casual eating option by the river, with open air cinema nights and a great buzz. The best bit? A 12 o’clock check out as standard and breakfast in bed. AS
Dunkeld PH8 0AQ




Having once endured a week trying to keep a tent up in the wind on Harris, next time I’ll book a stay at relaxing Scarista House. Overlooking three miles of sandy beach and turquoise sea, this former manse house offers simple and elegant rooms with coastal views.


There’s a cosy living room that retains the traditional style of the house, squashy couches for curling up with a book by the fire, and a truly excellent restaurant. A set menu reflects the best island produce, including local cheeses, dived scallops and fresh langoustine straight from the Minch. AS
Isle of Harris HS3 3HX




Pretty seaside village Elie is an East Neuk favourite, and The Ship Inn occupies a prime position right beside the beach. Rooms have an understated elegance, sea views and a beachy vibe.


On a warm day enjoy the beach bar and barbecue on the terrace or watch The Ship Inn cricket team play on the wide sandy beach. When the weather turns cooler, warm up after a walk along the delightful Fife Coastal Path with board games by a roaring fire in the bar and a deep bowl of Cullen Skink, made with St Monan’s smoked haddock. AS
Elie, Leven KY9 1DT




An impressive, idiosyncratic renovated 17th-Century farmhouse set on a 4,000-acre Highland estate near Kingussie, Killiehuntly is part of Wildland properties, a conservation project from Danish billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen and his wife Anne. They own vast swathes of Sutherland and other properties in the Cairngorms.


The Scandi-Scot interiors blend design cues from Denmark and Norway with Orkney chairs, Shetland sheepskin and highland farmhouse cosiness. There are four double rooms upstairs, a hayloft and two self-catering cottages. There’s fishing at Loch an t-Seilich, mountain bikes are available to borrow, and your neighbours will be Scotland’s only free-roaming reindeer herd. PT
Killiehuntly, Kingussie PH21 1NZ




Kilcamb Lodge occupies an enviable position on the shores of peaceful Loch Sunart with 22 acres of gardens to explore. The hotel changed hands last year after the previous owners retired but remains independent, family-run and a very relaxing place to spend a few days.

There are 12 rooms of varying sizes, with either loch or garden views.


After a day’s hillwalking in the area, my room felt designed for relaxation: a deep bath with Highland Soap Company bubble bath, then curling up with tea and homemade shortbread while I perused my personalised dinner menu.

Head Chef Gary Phillips has run the kitchens at Kilcamb Lodge for 13 years and is responsible for the consistently excellent reputation of the restaurant. Few chefs know local produce like he does. There are two separate food offerings: a simpler bar menu or the dining room tasting menu.

For hotel guests, the tasting menu is part of the package and really contributes to the convivial feel of staying at Kilcamb. In the dining room and in the cosy bar guests swap tips on where they’ve been walking, kayaking, and exploring.


The tasting menu took us on a tour of local delights: a juicy hand dived scallop with pickled cauliflower and capers, tempura broccoli, cured salmon gravlax with celeriac, then a delicious local sea trout with mussels.

Dessert was a tasty play on cranachan, with a whisky parfait, oatmeal crumble, honey sponge and raspberries. After a peaceful night I woke up to an incredible view of silvery Loch Sunart before wandering down to the sunny dining room for local smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, feeling like an honoured house guest. AS
Strontian, Acharacle PH36 4HY




It was the location that drew me to Northern Sands. The small, family-run hotel overlooks the end of Dunnet beach, a long, sandy bay with dunes on the coastal road between John O’Groats and Thurso. It’s a great beach for swimming and watersports or a windswept walk. Thurso is just a few miles away but Dunnet feels wonderfully remote.


Dunnet Head, the most northerly point on the Scottish mainland, is a short drive from the hotel. It’s an impressive sight, an active 19th Century lighthouse built by Robert Stevenson, on top of 300-foot cliffs. Dunnet Head is also an important RSPB bird sanctuary. Fulmars swoop up and around the cliffs, which are home to nesting kittiwakes and guillemots.

Next door to the hotel is Dunnet Bay Distillery, home of Rock Rose gin and Holy Grass vodka. Book in for a tour to explore the family-run distillery, enjoy a tutored tasting and a relaxed G&T by the wood burner. The distillery welcomes children so gin lovers travelling with small people don’t have to miss out.


Hotel rooms are spacious and simple with tartan accents, good hot showers and views over moorland and the beach. Downstairs there’s a lively bar and an excellent restaurant. The catch of the day was a delicious salmon fillet with roast vegetables and was followed by what might be Scotland’s most generous cheese board (I’ll keep checking!).

In the morning a hearty Scottish breakfast and plenty of good coffee was the perfect start to a day exploring Caithness. AS
Dunnet, Thurso KW14 8XD




Woodlands have taken the cabin hidden in the woods idea and turned it into a luxury retreat. ‘Riverbed’ cabins are perfect for a romantic getaway. Wallow in a heat-pump powered hot tub on the decking overlooking the river and surrounded by trees.


Inside huge round windows give just a hint of hobbit, and breakfast is delivered in a basket to your door. The larger ‘Seabeds’ have space for kids, a kitchen/ dining area, and expansive views over the loch. On-site there’s an activity centre with everything from archery to e-bikes, and it’s an ideal base for exploring Glencoe and Lochaber. AS
Ballachulish, Argyll PH49 4AA




Sitting on the banks of the river Tay, resplendent in 280 acres of beautiful Perthshire countryside, Dunkeld House retains the sense of luxury and period features of a country house while offering modern facilities like a spa, swimming pool and health club. This impressive accommodation is about an hour’s drive from Glasgow and Edinburgh cocooned in woodlands and historic surroundings – the house was originally built as the county retreat of the 7th Duke of Atholl.


The restaurants at the hotel feature Perthshire game, salmon and local vegetables and berries across their menus. For dessert, try handmade artisan chocolates from Iain Burnett, the Highland Chocolatier, paired with a matching whisky. Visit in autumn for adventures across their estate with wild salmon fishing, Land Rover driving on off-road tracks, clay pigeon shooting, cycling or a round at Dunkeld’s golf club. PT
Dunkeld, Perthshire PH8 0HX




This four-star caravan and camping park is in a 200-acre country estate, four miles outside Edinburgh, with holiday homes, wigwams and shepherds huts to hire. Combine the tranquility of the countryside with excursions into the capital.


The land of Mortonhall was originally granted to Sir Henry St Clair of Rosslyn in 1317 by Robert the Bruce and a fine country mansion house, which sits alongside the park, was built in 1769. The Stables bar and restaurant has seating in the stately home’s courtyard, with a wood-burning stove for autumn nights. Order scampi, steak and ale pie or haggis, neeps and tatties. PT
Frogston Road East, EH16 6TJ




Spending a night in a lighthouse keeper’s cottage sounds like the start of an adventure story, so tell your own on the Galloway coast. Corsewell Lighthouse has been guiding ships to safety since 1815.


Since automation the keeper’s accommodation is now a small, family-run hotel with mesmerising sea views towards Ireland, and back to Kintyre and Ailsa Craig. Rooms are simple but charming, and in the restaurant a changing five-course menu delights diners in the deep blue dining room. There’s a ruined Iron Age fort called Dunskirkloch to find in the grounds and miles of gorgeous coastline to explore. AS
Kirkcolm, Stranraer DG9 0QG




Sitting on the beachfront at Luss, this hotel enjoys panoramic views over Scotland’s most famous loch. It has 48 guest bedrooms and a range of conference and banqueting facilities for up to 200 guests. The addition of the new AmberRose Spa offers an additional dimension of luxury treatments and therapies from the leading brand Germaine de Capuccini. It has dedicated manicure and pedicure stations, while guests can also take time to relax and unwind in the thermal suite or Himalayan salt and herbal sauna.


Ready for autumn, there is now a smokeless gas firepit on the patio with seating for up to 20 guests and views of the changing landscapes around the loch. Colquhouns Restaurant offers waterfront dining – order seafood linguini with prawns, mussels, and smoked haddock. PT
Luss, Argyll & Bute G83 8PA




Fonab is a Scottish Baronial castle that has been transformed into Pitlochry’s only five-star hotel and spa with 42 individually designed bedrooms. Sandemen’s, the 3 AA Rosette restaurant within the castle, serves a fine dining tasting menu with matching wines chosen by their sommelier. You can also enjoy afternoon tea in the brasserie, which boasts floor-to-ceiling windows and a spectacular view across Loch Faskally and Ben Vrackie.


The hotel offers a boat tour along Loch Tay to guests with a chance to spot ancient ruins, crannogs and hear some local folk tales. For a more energetic journey they also offer canyoning experiences in the Falls of Bruar and white water rafting along a six-mile stretch of the River Tay from Aberfeldy to Grandtully. PT
Foss Rd, Pitlochry, Perthshire PH16 5ND.




There’s no shortage of smart city centre hotels but I love the Kimpton Charlotte Square. The decor is bold and art-filled with stacks of vintage luggage and travelling ephemera. The rooms are comfortable and stylish, and the service is impeccable.


The guest bedrooms are set around a domed central atrium, with an abundance of light, plants, and wicker furniture. There are two top restaurants on site – Baba and Aizle – so you don’t even have to leave the hotel to eat some of Edinburgh’s best food. Don’t miss the opportunity to swim in the lovely basement pool, or even book a massage. AS
Edinburgh EH2 4HQ




Situated on the southern peninsula of Sleat on the Isle of Sye, Duisdale House is a luxury boutique hotel, built as a hunting lodge in 1865, gazing over to the Knoydart wilderness. Its 22 bedrooms include accommodation in three lodges, sea view suite and cottage.

Dishes in the two AA Rosette restaurant include west coast brown crab with pickled mussel and apple, venison with beetroot and bramble then strawberry with elderflower and wood sorrel. Duisdale is dog-friendly and the whole hotel can be booked for weddings. It has five sheltered yacht moorings in the bay.


The Sonas Hotel Collection, founded by Anne Gracie Gunn and her late husband Ken, now managed by her and her family, bring together three properties on Skye. Nearby Toravaig House re-opened after re-decoration of its nine bedrooms. During the day, cream teas and charcuterie boards are served in the lounge by the fireside.

The 21-bedroom Skeabost House, celebrating its 150th anniversary this year, is situated in 23 acres of woodland on the edge of Loch Snizort, seven miles from Portree. A two-bedroom Gate Lodge designed for couples or families opened in August. On an island in the river are the ruins of two small chapels associated with St Columba. There has been a home at Skeabost since Viking times. PT
Sleat, Isle of Skye IV43 8QW




The reinvigorated and reimagined version of the hotel opened in May this year with 89 updated guest rooms, The Rabbit restaurant, The Seal bar and leisure facilities, including an indoor pool, squash court, sauna, and treatment rooms.


Throughout the Victorian sandstone hotel, enjoy unobstructed views of the Ayrshire coastline, the Isle of Arran and Royal Troon Golf Club, which will host The Open for the tenth time in 2024. The Rabbit and The Seal have menus led by Rusacks St Andrews’ Executive Chef and Masterchef: The Professionals winner, Derek Johnstone, featuring seasonal ingredients and local suppliers from across Ayrshire. Try local mussels served with ‘nduja, fennel, cider and lovage and Arran Farm ice cream for dessert. PT
Troon, Ayrshire KA10 6HE




Reconnect with nature, enjoy kayaking, paddle boarding on the loch or some wild swimming, bag a few Munros across the Ben Lawers mountain range or settle into the award-winning outdoor spa. Taymouth Marina is a stylish self-catering holiday destination that allows you to set your own pace.


The peaceful setting combines access to the Scottish wilderness with Scandinavian-style sauna experiences, charming accommodation and a water sports centre. Oscillate between relaxation an exhilaration. Stay in apartments with contemporary interiors and their own hot tub. The Ferryman’s Inn gastropub has a menu centred around a wood-fired pizza oven and open grill.

The Hot Box, Taymouth Marina’s sauna, has windows for views across the scenic location. To cool down, a slide goes directly into Loch Tay. PT
Kenmore, Perthshire PH15 2HW




This is a traditional 1810 country house hotel in woodlands below a waterfall on a loop of the River Forss: a wild setting with dramatic countryside under Caithness skies. Each of the 14 bedrooms, distributed between the main house and lodges on the estate, have recently been restored to their traditional glory. It’s an excellent base for exploring the north Highlands with cliff walks, castles and brochs.


The hotel restaurant’s tasting menu features dishes such as Scrabster scallops with onion and almonds, sea trout with fried potatoes and spinach or beef fillet with carrot and tomato. Tain cheese and oatcakes are the perfect finish with your choice from the house’s collection of 300 malts. PT
Forss, nr. Thurso, Caithness KW14 7XY




Mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee year with a stay on the monarch’s personal Scottish estate at Balmoral Castle. There is a range of self-catering holiday cottages set around the castle, its gardens and the Old Brig O’ Dee. The two Colt Cottages can be rented together or separately.


Deliveries can be arranged from local suppliers, including H M Sheridan Butchers, Deeside Deli and The Highlanders Bakehouse. The Garbh Allt Shiel cottage is five miles west of the castle in the Ballochbuie Forest. For most of the year the open ground in front of the property is inhabited by a large number of deer. The granite house can sleep up to seven people. PT
Ballater, Aberdeenshire AB35 5TB



NHS facing a ‘really challenging winter’ warns health secretary

The NHS will face a “really challenging” winter, the Health Secretary has warned.

Humza Yousaf said he expected the cost-of-living crisis to add to the usual pressures experienced by the health service.

The SNP ministers said health boards were being asked to factor rising energy prices into their budgets as well as prepare for the impact of winter illnesses like flu.

On Monday, he visited the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh to mark one year of the Scottish Trauma Network operating.

He spoke to clinicians and patient Sandy Baptie from East Lothian.

The 66-year-old was injured after being hit by a car while out cycling and is currently undergoing rehabilitation.

Mr Yousaf said he would soon be updating MSPs on winter contingency plans for the NHS.

He said: “Even with those plans in place, it’s going to be a really challenging winter

“Not just for the usual slips, trips and falls, Covid, we may well see a flu season come back.

“But frankly, the cost-of-living crisis is also a public health crisis too.”

Asked if high energy prices would squeeze NHS budgets for care, he said the UK Government should take “meaningful action” to reduce costs.

Mr Yousaf said: “We’re asking our health boards to factor that into the cost of providing care, particularly with an eye to winter.

“But immediate action by the UK Government could make a big, big difference.”

Asked if the Scottish Government would provide its own support if Westminster did not, he said: “We’ll certainly look at that of course, but the Scottish Government budget is extremely challenging.”

Earlier this month, the Royal College of Nursing union balloted members for strike action after rejecting a 5 per cent pay offer.

Mr Yousaf said he would soon be speaking to staff representatives about the pay offer, adding: “I can completely understand from their perspective, why they want to push the government further, given the high cost of energy and fuel and the cost-of-living crisis.

“But also I hope they understand the really challenging fiscal position that we’re in too.”

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