We have the same debate every year: when is it appropriate to bring out the Christmas clobber? Walk through any residential area in Scotland and you’ll see some intrepid homeowner displaying the first lines of tinsel and fluorescence in early December; others peer from behind their curtains and only get the trinkets out on Christmas Eve. Shops though, have a trickier decision. September is clearly too soon, but November a bit too late. Do they wait until Halloween’s over, or do they seize the initiative and take the tumble?
It’s nowhere near a tumble for Ardardan. Well, unless the tumble is a gloriously festive fall into lights, snowflakes and garlands; all those little extras that make the season feel so cosy. At the end of October, the riverside café, farm shop and garden centre near Helensburgh opened its offshoot Christmas shop. Don’t panic: there’s no sign of overhasty festivity in the deli and plant nursery. Quite perfectly, the yuletide creations are crammed into a deliciously-scented corner off the glasshouse (yes, it even smells of Christmas!)
Along with baubles, garlands, fairy lights and ornaments, there are numerous present ideas for the more organised shopper. Choose from local Lomond Soaps sets (surely the Winter Spice bar deserves a blog post all to itself…?) a selection of Just Slate giftware, plus some quaint stationary and books. Children will have fun testing the music boxes, looking at the storybooks and assuring you that it’s never too cold for ice cream. Really, it’s not!
If the Christmas shop isn’t enough to tempt you, there’s the popular tearoom, deli and cheese counters to sample. Over the next few months, the team are planning to host several events for food lovers and festive shoppers alike, so keep a wee eye on their Facebook page for updates. You don’t want to be the person that misses the poultry ordering deadline… A speedy last-minute trip to the supermarket before Santa arrives is never good for the nerves.