The words “hidden gem” could not be more apt for describing ‘Seaweed n Stuff’- a beach hut crammed with goodies and gifts, situated in the pretty village of Rockfield, a few miles away from Portmahomack. I had a day of exploring the Tarbat peninsula recently, and Seaweed n Stuff” was my first stop in our tour of the area.
The beach hut themed shop is the brainchild of Gavin and Julie Campbell, who also run a one bedroom B&B within their own home in Rockfield, which looks out onto the Moray Firth. After setting up a stall on Mothers Day last year to sell Julie’s homemade ice cream, which was a runaway success and prompted them to build their own premises.
2018 is the first season for “Seaweed n Stuff” after Gavin led the renovations of their house, and Julie put her signature style of nautical and seaside to furnish it. We settled down with hot drinks ready to blether, when we caught sight of a group of dolphins passing by. They couldn’t have timed their visit better!
Back to the teas and coffees, and to accompany them, Julie served up tasters of her homemade preserves, all of them featuring seaweed sourced in Scotland. With flavours such as Tomato and Dulse, and Julie’s bestseller – Pineapple and Shony, it was a lovely elevenses break. While I had tried one type of seaweed – caragheen – when we visited the Isle of Lewis a few years back, and wasn’t a big fan, these were so tasty, and all had a unique flavour. The first chutney I tried was tomato and dulse, and while I don’t normally enjoy tomato chutneys on account of them being too acidic, the dulse really softens the flavour and it was delicious. Julie highlighted that the tomato relish is particularly tasty on a beef burger! There are numerous health benefits of seaweed and so it’s a genius idea to incorporate them into Julie’s range of chutneys.
Every aspect of detail has been thought of, with the chutneys in gorgeous small jars, and so they can be taken in hand-luggage on flights, making it easy to take home as gifts or your own souvenirs of your visit to the area.
We followed these up with tasters of preserves – all on a boozy theme. Strawberry & Pimms, bramble & gin, and apricot and amaretto are all flavours in the range and these were all very smooth and tasty. While we didn’t taste Julie’s lemon and ginger marmalade, I bought a jar to enjoy at home.
As well as the jars of preserves and chutney, it’s also possible to buy hot drinks and a sweet treat. During our visit, a slice of the most outstanding chocolate and cherry cake baked by Julie was given to us to try. Rich, and with a layer of soaked cherries to make it even more decadent!
After happily munching everything presented in front of us, we had a look at the goodies on offer in the shop.
As well as the seaside themed pictures and ornaments, Julie’s daughter also makes Highland Cow footstools which are very cute!
The shelves are crammed with local art, accessories, candle holders…
phone covers, door signs….
toiletries and bags…
the list goes on and on, the display is really well curated.
We retreated back to the sofa for one final taster…
Julie’s homemade luxury ice-cream. Julie makes small batches of many different flavours, including strawberry & rose, cranachan, and chocolate & cherry,but I didn’t spot any flavours which included seaweed! We chose pear & ginger, and apricot & amaretto.
They were both so tasty, with a high milk content. Julie often develops new flavours and is looking forward to soon stocking a homemade G&T ice-cream made with Glen Wyvis gin.
Julie invited us for a quick peek at their B&B which has been awarded a gold rating from Visit Scotland.
West End Beach House B&B continues the nautical theme of Seaweed n Stuff, and absolutely everything has been done to a high standard. The room cost is £100 a night and includes an exemplary choice of breakfast options and afternoon tea on arrival.
Other special touches include a complimentary dram, mini fridge with soft drinks and milk, coffee machine, a guest seating area to enjoy the view of the firth, and even an open upper deck to sit outside complete with sun loungers on those elusive Scottish summer days.
I love these additional touches and it’s clear that guests do too, with a almost perfect review rating on booking.com.
It’s clear that Gavin and Julie have dedicated themselves to offering something special in Rockfield in both the shop and the B&B, and when speaking to them it’s clear that they would love to see more passing trade, not only for themselves but for others on the Tarbat peninsula. With other locals, they contribute to Portmahomack.org, a really useful online guide to the local aea. With being a really easy short detour from the NC500 route, Seaweed n Stuff deserves be a discovered gem, not a hidden one! It’s now on our list to stay maybe after the summer for a treat night away!
I was invited by Julie and Gavin to visit their shop – Seaweed n Stuff, West End Beach House, Rockfield, Portmahomack, Tain, IV20 1RF as part of a day exploring the Tarbet peninsula. I was pleased to attend with a view to writing about their small business.
If you are a small business operating on/near the NC500 or elsewhere in Scotland and would like to chat about how I can help promote your business, please drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!