Botanical Art Exhibition: 19 Jan – 27 Feb 2019

The SOC is delighted to present an exhibition of contemporary botanical art, bringing together paintings by members of the Scottish Society of Botanical Artists (SSBA), alongside sculptures by Ellen McCann.

Botanical painting has a long and important history. It was used to record the nature of plants for scientific and medicinal purposes and continues to support scientific research as botanical illustration. While also steeped in the accurate observation of nature, Botanical Art differs from scientific botanical illustration by placing more emphasis on the aesthetic value of the plant.  The work in this exhibition, while always botanically correct, falls in this second category where detailed observation generates in the artist, and the viewer, a reflection on the beauty of nature.

The Scottish Society of Botanical Artists, founded in 2014, provides a forum for botanical artists from all over Scotland to meet, share expertise, exhibit work and generally promote interest in botanical art.  A cross-section of its membership is represented in the exhibition.

Ellen McCann’s sculptures complement the exhibition by offering a very personal response to the subject. Ellen takes her inspiration from the growth patterns of plants to create sculptures that distil the essence of the natural form using ceramics and metal. She lives and works in Biggar.

The exhibition runs from Saturday 19 January until Wednesday 27 February 2019.

Open daily, 10am to 4pm, at The Scottish Ornithologists’ Club, Aberlady, East Lothian, EH32 0PY

For more information, please call 01875 871 330 or email

Getting there:  The SOC is situated at Waterston House, in Aberlady, East Lothian, just off the A198. From Edinburgh, take the first left after the Aberlady sign. The East Coast Buses 124, X24 and X5 stop almost at the door.

Open times: daily 10am to 4pm, Free entry.

About the SOC: The Scottish Ornithologists’Club is Scotland’s national bird club with over 3000 members and a network of 15 branches across Scotland which host a programme of talks, discussions and outings from the Borders to Orkney and beyond.

About Waterston House: Waterston House is fully accessible and houses a resource centre for bird-watching including a shop, the largest ornithological reference library in Scotland and an art gallery dedicated to wildlife art.  The centre is open to all (members and non-members) free of charge.

For more information on the SOC and events at Waterston House, visit

Haddington Golf Club members vote to change the face of golf

East Lothian, Scotland – Golf enthusiasts are in for a treat this Winter, with a change to the way we play golf in East Lothian. Haddington Golf Club, a long established parkland course in East Lothian, is adapting to the changing face of golf. Yesterday was the final day of voting for the proposed new course layout at Haddington Golf Club to change the route of their golf course to feature 2 distinct loops of 9 holes. 

178 members voted in the Ballot, the result was an overwhelming majority, 79% voting YES to change to the new layout and 21% voting NO to remain on the same route.

Following this overwhelming result, Haddington Golf Club will now continue to play the new layout from this day onwards and immediately begin to make the necessary minor changes so that they are ready for the new season.

As part of a 4 week trial, Haddington Golf Club changed the route of their golf course to feature 2 distinct loops of 9 holes. There were 2 nines giving the club the option to sell 9 hole tickets, run 9 hole competitions and generally host shorter forms of the game. The two loops consist of holes No 1,2,18,14,12,10,11,15,16 and Holes 17,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,13. Members have now chosen to keep this layout and golfers can play for only £20.

Scott Thomson – Club Professional and General Manager of Haddington Golf Club commented, “We feel its vitally important to explore new ways of attracting more people to the game. We must adapt to show that people can still enjoy golf despite having less free time than ever before.  There is a very positive feeling about Haddington Golf Club right now and we want as many as possible to get involved.” 

There are a number of other courses in East Lothian who also offer 9 hole rounds, including Gifford Golf Club and many more. This is an ideal way to enjoy golf in the colder Winter months aswell as those who are tight for time.

For visitors with a little more time on their hands, Scotland’s Golf Coast is the perfect Short Stay Golfing Destination. East Lothian offers a diverse choice of accommodation, providing the perfect opportunity to rest, relax and reflect on the day’s play. All accommodation provides easy access to East Lothian’s 21 golf courses, meaning no need to waste valuable time traveling from base to course. Spoilt for choice with 5-star luxury properties, smaller hotels, bed & breakfast pubs and homes, self-catering apartments and even centuries-old stately homes are all on offer. While golf is the magnet that draws many to East Lothian, the County has a lot more to offer both the golfer and just as importantly the non-golfer. In addition to its proximity to Scotland’s Capital City, East Lothian boasts historic castles and battle sites mixed with a number of exciting modern excursions. And no visit to an area can be enjoyed on an empty stomach. The visiting golfer can enjoy the quality locally grown produce served in the hotels and restaurants across the County. Locally-raised meats supplemented with locally-caught seafood are there to tempt the discerning diner, washed down with a pint of local beer or cider, or perhaps a ‘NB Gin’, ‘Fidra Gin’ or a dram of ‘Glenkinchie’, Scotland’s Golf Coast aims to please the contented golfer.

To find out more about Scotland’s Golf Coast’s Winter golf offering, click on


Owners of Garleton Lodge unveil details of their delicious new handmade chocolate business – The Chocolate Stag

Angela and David Cockerton, owners of Garleton Lodge, a luxury small hotel in East Lothian, are delighted to announce the launch of their new handmade chocolate business – The Chocolate Stag.

Having worked in the property and catering industries in the Middle East, Angela and David Cockerton decided to return to the UK and set up a small hotel, Garleton Lodge, which offers a careful blend of five-star luxury in a homely environment. One year on, and having received various quality and food awards for the hotel, Angela (and David) have launched their very own handmade chocolate business – The Chocolate Stag – which is a complementary business to Garleton Lodge.

David & Angela previously ran a very successful handmade chocolate business before they moved to the Middle East. This was Angela’s first step towards following her (& David’s) passion for food & drink after more than 20 years as an accountant in the corporate world. The chocolate business has been ‘waiting to happen again’ – since their businesses in the Middle East focused on catering and a Cookery School.

Relaunching the chocolate business has always been part of Angela & David’s business plan since their return to the UK and establishing Garleton Lodge. In 2017, they launched Garleton Lodge primarily as an accommodation business. In 2018, their plan has been to expand Garleton Lodge, with greater focus on the food & drink/restaurant side of the business and to (re)launch the chocolate business. This is now a reality. Next, the plan in 2019, is to add a Cookery School onto Garleton Lodge to add yet another reason for guests to stay at this amazing hotel – which recently received a Quality Assurance Gold Award from Visit Scotland.

Angela Cockerton,  commented; “There are strong linkages between Garleton Lodge and The Chocolate Stag, with guest room ‘treats’, end of dinner petit-fours in the restaurant (open to non-residents on Saturday evenings as well as private events), and with our famous afternoon teas. Before adopting the GL letter-based logo for Garleton Lodge, we had intended on using a stag as the Garleton Lodge logo. This was dropped but the stag became embedded in our brand and internal décor – we have stags everywhere!  With this, and the daily visits from local deer (including stags), the name ‘The Chocolate Stag’ was a natural choice for our handmade chocolate business.”

 David Cockerton said: “Angela and I are delighted to launch The Chocolate Stag and we have further exciting plans in the pipeline – including the introduction of a Cookery School aimed at showcasing not only Angela’s cooking but also East Lothian’s abundance of food and drink producers.”

 The Chocolate Stag will be available through retail outlets or via their website:

Jingle Bags

“jingle bags, jingle bags, jingle all the way, oh what joy it is to have a meal on Christmas day”

Last year, 272 Jingle Bags were given out by East Lothian Foodbank.  Bags will be given out this year from 1st December.  A handy shopping list has been published on the East Lothian Foodbank website, so why not start putting together a few items now?

Shown below are links to some online grocery shopping sites.

You can drop off your items in all East Lothian libraries, Enjoy Leisure sports centres and at the Foodbank during opening hours.  All Co-op stores in East Lothian have collection points too.

Please support this initiative and help to make sure that no one in East Lothian goes hungry this Christmas.

Jingle Bags Online Shopping List

Asda Tesco Sainsburys
chicken/turkey (tinned)–round-can-200g
potatoes (tinned or packet mash)
carrots (tinned)–carrots—spinach/sainsburys-baby-carrots-in-water-300g
sweetcorn (tinned)
peas (tinned)
gravy (packet)–taste-the-difference-320g
bread sauce (packet)
stuffing (packet/box)–leek—chive-stuffing-mix–taste-the-difference-110g
Christmas pudding
mince pies
chocolates/selection pack
Christmas savoury snacks


East Lothian hotel celebrates 4-star Gold Award

A luxury hotel in East Lothian has achieved a prestigious Quality Assurance award from VisitScotland just one year after opening.

Garleton Lodge nestled in a countryside setting between Haddington and Gullane, has been awarded a four-star gold accolade from the national tourism organisation.

Picture Copyright Chris Watt
Tel – 07887 554 193
Twitter: @chriswattphoto
Instagram: chriswattphotography

Having worked in the property and catering industries in the Middle East, Angela and David Cockerton, decided to return to the UK and set up a small hotel offering a careful blend of understated luxury in a homely environment, which includes a restaurant, spa, outdoor hot tub and bar, all with spectacular 360-degree panoramic views across Edinburgh, the Forth and the East Lothian countryside.

The Quality Assurance Gold Award shines the spotlight on businesses within the QA Scheme who continue to exceed customer expectations on an on-going basis, whilst taking an innovative and proactive approach in delivering excellence within the tourism industry.

Garleton Lodge has also achieved a VisitScotland Taste Our Best Award. The award recognises businesses who are committed to serving and promoting high quality food and drink connecting the places people visit with first-class local produce. Already working very closely with East Lothian food and drink suppliers, Angela and David have plans to open a Cookery School later next year to help further showcase the best of Scottish food and drink. Ahead of this, next month will see the launch of their handmade chocolate business – The Chocolate Stag.

 Garleton Lodge also work very closely with VisitScotland and East Lothian Council to promote East Lothian as Scotland’s Golf Coast – host to no less than four competitions, the Scottish Open, Scottish Senior Open, Ladies Scottish Open and World Hickory Championship – attracting both international and domestic visitors to stay, play, eat and watch golf. The hotel is also part of the VisitScotland Information Partnership Scheme, giving guests the opportunity to enjoy the luxury and comfort of this accommodation whilst making plans to explore more of what East Lothian has to offer.

 David Cockerton, Co-owner of Garleton Lodge said: “Angela and I are delighted that VisitScotland has recognized our efforts to provide exceptional guest care, service and hospitality with this Gold Award.

 “After many years of planning, it was exciting for us to launch Garleton Lodge a little over a year ago. For VisitScotland to acknowledge what we are doing with this Gold Award is amazing and reinforces our enthusiasm to make all of our guests feel special during their stay. We have further exciting plans in the pipeline – including the introduction of a Cookery School aimed at showcasing not only Angela’s cooking but also East Lothian food and drink producers.”

 Neil Christison, VisitScotland Regional Director said: “Congratulations to David and Angela at Garleton Lodge on this outstanding achievement. The hotel is another example of high-quality accommodation in the East Lothian region which has a wide range and variety of visitor attractions, golf courses and food & drink establishments, making it a must-see visitor destination.”

 For more information, visit:

 To learn more visit:

More seats for commuters on North Berwick line

The introduction of brand-new class 385 electric trains from December will deliver an improved experience for East Lothian commuters.

The key improvements at a glance:

  • Half of North Berwick to Edinburgh services will have 6 carriages
  • 08:07 from Prestonpans to Edinburgh will now have 4 carriages
  • 07:55 from North Berwick to Edinburgh will now have 6 carriages
  • 17:43 from Haymarket to North Berwick will now have 6 carriages
  • More than 1,500 additional seats each day between North Berwick and Edinburgh

Michael Matheson, Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity said:

“These changes mark the first significant phase of timetable improvements on Scotland’s railways with £475 million being invested in rolling stock during this franchise, introducing faster, longer, greener trains.”

Independent review of the policing of the miners’ strike in Scotland

You may be aware that following extensive campaigning by former miners,
their legal representatives, trade unions and MSPs, the Scottish government has established an independent panel to conduct an inquiry into the policing of the miners’ strike in Scotland.

The panel is seeking evidence from former miners, members of the
community, police officers and anyone who had an involvement or interest
in the strike.

The attached information sheet sets out the terms of inquiry and
provides information on how you can respond.

You can complete your response online at:

Alternatively, you can send it to:
Head of Secretariat
St. Andrew’s House
Regent Road


Have your say on the new Historic Environment Policy

Formal consultation is now open for Historic Environment Scotland’s draft policy for historic environment-related planning issues

Communities, local authorities, developers and heritage sector stakeholders are invited to comment on the draft Historic Environment Policy (HEP), a key document for decision-makers in the planning process and others managing heritage assets.

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) today launched a public consultation survey for the new policy, which will replace the current Historic Environment Scotland Policy Statement (HESPS) in 2019.

The result of extensive consultation and peer review, HEP sets out a series of principles and policies for the recognition, care, management and sustainable use of the historic environment. The policy is part of a range of documents that decision-makers use to help them manage heritage matters, such as the Scottish Government’s own planning policy.

Consultation for HEP began in 2017 with the “What’s Your Heritage?” campaign, which asked the people of Scotland what the historic environment means to them and how it should be looked after. The first ever public consultation of its type, “What’s Your Heritage?” gathered more than 2,000 responses.

Based on the campaign and stakeholder feedback so far, HEP aims to:

  • Consolidate HES’ role as the lead public body for the historic environment
    Focus on the whole of Scotland’s historic environment, not just the properties HES is responsible for or designates
  • Demonstrate that everyone has a stake in the historic environment and how it is looked after
  • Provide leadership and best practice direction for heritage management issues
  • Show that HES has responded to public and stakeholder views
  • Align with the “Our Place in Time” strategy, the first ever Historic Environment Strategy for Scotland

HES Director of Heritage, Barbara Cummins, said:

First of all, I would like to thank everyone who has given up their time to help develop HEP so far. We cast a wide net to engage with the public on this new policy and the result is truly collaborative. The draft policy reflects the people of Scotland’s views on the cultural significance of the historic environment, while also addressing the needs of decision-makers.

“We want this policy to have a positive impact and provide guidance for anyone involved in the decision-making process, as well as for people interested in and impacted by the outcome of those decisions.

“I encourage anyone who cares about decisions affecting the historic environment to comment on the draft policy over the next 12 weeks and I look forward to your responses.

HEP is a much shorter policy document than HESPS, as it will be underpinned by a series of more detailed “Managing Change” guidance documents. The Managing Change policy guidance will also be reviewed, starting with consultation on a revised ‘Demolition’ document in November. HES will also consult on revised designations, including listed buildings, policy and criteria in January.

These new policy guidance documents will be in place, alongside any other essential guidance, before HESPS is withdrawn in spring 2019.

Consultation on the draft HEP runs until Monday 3rd December.

Find out more and take the survey

North Berwick station up for top award

North Berwick station has been nominated as one of the best stations in Britain.

ScotRail has announced that North Berwick station has been shortlisted in the ‘Station of the Year’ category of the National Rail Awards 2018.

The East Lothian station will be judged against set criteria, including safety, infrastructure and customer-friendly presentation.

North Berwick station was reduced to a single platform in the 1960s and lost its traditional buildings in 1984.

However, it remains a pleasant and welcoming seaside terminus, thanks to the award-winning efforts of station adopters North Berwick in Bloom and to the work of station newsagent Craig McLaren who has produced a guide to the attractions of the town.

The National Rail Awards will be held on Thursday 13 September at the Grosvenor House Hotel, London.

James Ledgerwood, ScotRail’s Head of Economic & Community Development, said:

 “North Berwick station remains one of the most welcoming stations on our network, and we are absolutely delighted to see it shortlisted. 

“Making our stations a more pleasant and relaxing place to catch a train is a key part of our plan to build the best railway Scotland has ever had.”

New electric train ready for North Berwick route

ScotRail will take another step forward in delivering faster journeys, more seats, and better services for customers with the introduction of a brand new Hitachi class 385 electric train to its North Berwick route.

Passengers travelling between North Berwick and Edinburgh will be able to experience the new six-carriage train from Monday, 10 September, as ScotRail continues its commitment to building the best railway Scotland has ever had.

17/07/18 – 18071706 – SCOTRAIL
The new Class 385 trains are pictured at the Millerhill depot

This is the third of the new Hitachi trains to be introduced, with two of the new fleet already operating between Edinburgh and Glasgow Queen Street via Falkirk High.

The trains are part of ScotRail’s £475 million rolling stock investment, following the £858 million electrification of the line between Edinburgh and Glasgow by Network Rail.

Customers using the North Berwick route will now be able to use the class 385 train on as many as 15 services throughout the week, with a further 12 on Saturdays.

It’s the latest in a range of improvements to services in East Lothian, with many of the trains on the route already operating with six carriages, and the majority of peak-time trains expected to run with this increased capacity by the end of the year. Further class 385 trains are due to be introduced on the North Berwick line before the end of the year.

ScotRail’s Chief Operating Officer Angus Thom said:

“I am delighted that we are able to introduce another brand new Hitachi class 385 train, this time to the North Berwick route. We know that our customers will really notice the difference from Monday.

“This is another step forward for ScotRail as we continue our commitment to building the best railway Scotland has ever had.

“The introduction of these trains will benefit customers all across the country, as they will allow us to move existing trains on this route out across the network. This will help us to deliver faster journeys, more seats, and better services for our customers.”

Transport Scotland’s Director of Rail Bill Reeve said:

“This latest introduction of the class 385 fleet brings the benefits of our new electric trains to North Berwick and Dunbar services and is just the start of delivering more seats across peak services and improved facilities to passengers along this route.

“This is all part of an ongoing Scottish Government commitment to ensuring Scotland’s railways are a popular choice and demonstrates the real benefits of our extensive programme of electrification. Work continues to deliver the remainder of the fleet which, once in service, will increase overall seating capacity by more than 23% across the Scottish network.”