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Hello from the Isle of Wight. When John & Irene invited me to pen a few lines about some of my experiences when I've been staying with them, I have to say that I thought that task a bit daunting. I'm not too good with words, you see – well, not written ones anyway.

Kirsten visiting Crubenbeg House Newtonmore

So, I am sorry to say that I kept putting the job off – the days became weeks, the weeks became months and still the paper stayed blank.

Anyway, when I was up at Crubenbeg just after Christmas last year (my first winter visit) I promised myself and John & Irene that I'd get the job done. So, here goes.

I has stayed with John & Irene on a few occasions when they were up the road at The Rowan Tree Hotel near Aviemore. They seem to have this canny knack of making us single ladies feel very comfortable, not a feeling you get everywhere.

It was during one of my stays at The Rowan Tree that they told me that they were selling up and moving on to open a new Guest House just south of Newtonmore. After getting over my initial shock of "losing" my comfy place to stay in the Highlands, which I love, my response was, "When do you open?"

The date they gave me was some 2 months or so after leaving the hotel and they explained that there was some work to be done to Crubenbeg House during that time.

I stayed in touch, mainly by text, which John is not a great fan of) and between us, we sorted out a date for my first stay at Crubenbeg – 14th May 2004 was to be the big day. It was "all systems go" – I got my flight booked, sent John the details and, as he does so well, he got my car hire sorted for me (10% discount and anything but a Corsa!!).

The days ticked over very slowly, work at the nursery seemed to go ever slower but then it was the big day. Ferry across to the mainland, drive to Gatwick, on the plane to Inverness, collect the hire car and off down the A9 to find the new place, not exactly knowing what to expect as, back then, I didn't have access to the internet so could get a sneak preview.

John's directions were easy to follow and, as I drove down the drive and over the ancient bridge over the Falls of Truim I thought, "Wow, I love this place already, even more than the Rowan Tree!"

John, Irene & Rajah, were all ready and waiting for me to turn up (unlike poor Michael who tells his tale in his own jotting). Up to my room, Capercaillie, shown round, settled in, then back down to the kitchen for a cuppa and, I must own up, a bit of Irene's home baking (my diet out of the window straight away!!)

I was thrilled, not to say almost honoured to be told that I was their very first guest at Crubenbeg. I felt very special indeed. They asked me to take a look right round the house, poking my nose into all the rooms and to see if I could spot anything they'd forgotten or anything I thought could be done better. It won't surprise anyone who has stayed there, that there wasn't – not one thing!!

That trip was just the first of many, I try to get back as often as my Boss and my bank balance allow. I've been up for their Autumn Walks, been there in September, once with my Mum & Dad and also on my own just to chill out and, last December, was there for my first Winter visit, arriving on Boxing Day.

Whatever time of year I go, whether I am watching the deer grazing in the field below the house at dusk, watching the sunrise from my bed through Capercaillie's cute little window, stargazing through the skylight or watching the snow falling from the lounge window, I realise that, for me, Crubenbeg is such a wonderful place. Somewhere I've been many times and somewhere I want to keep coming back to, again and again and again.

I hope that you'll feel the same way too.

Kirsten. 20th January 2012.