A Highland Adventure with my girl ❤️

I came across this post in my drafts, where it had been since it was written back in February, not having got round to posting it immediately and then with all the last few months’ events it having become pretty much obsolete. Decided today though to give it a post, on a day I’m struggling with so so missing spending time with wider family and so looking forward to reaching a point again before too long when all these simple things are the norm again. It’s lovely to remember how special little jaunts, time with each other, and all the places and memories we hold close with our family and friends truly are – I appreciate them now more than ever and can’t wait to return to them again.

A couple of weeks back, when Monday dawned again and it was back to weekday business as usual for me and the little one, we decided to break with the usual routine, skip our morning class, pack a picnic and head north to Highland Perthshire for an impromptu day out. We planned to visit my uncle for his birthday, who lives in the beautiful rural village of Kirkmichael, and make a swoop of the countryside while we did. The area is one we really love to visit – between family summer holidays the last two years in Aberfeldy (and a couple of weekends there just us two in the more distant past too!), annual autumn trips to Pitlochry to the Enchanted Forest with our friends, visits to family and camper van trips back in our exploring and touring days – always loving the winding road north and the walls of trees either side – ; it’s definitely a favourite place of ours as a family to head to, and it was lovely to point the car in that direction and set off.

River walk, Kirkmichael

As I drove, Radio Scotland my soundtrack for the day, topical debate in the morning moving into some chilled home-grown music as we journeyed north, the little one slept; and I enjoyed the quiet and the drive as the sun shone.

Our first stop was in Pitlochry, forever a favourite of mine, and I could feel myself sinking into the familiarity and charm of it as I crawled along the Main Street – the second-hand railway station bookshop to my left where we’d whiled away an afternoon in the summer and taken home a book each for all three of us… the craft shop to my right where we browsed, chatted and laughed every year with our friends on our weekend away together… the Christmas shop at the end of the road where my new decoration for the year was usually bought in the first chill of October.

Adventures in Pitlochry over the years

I drove out to Faskally Wood to stop, and just as we pulled in the wee one woke up – just in perfect time for a ramble in the woods. I’ve loved seeing Faskally in both summer and winter in daylight now, but the way we know it best is in the height of its “enchantment”, every year at Pitlochry Festival Theatre’s Enchanted Forest.

Sparkling Bridge, Enchanted Forest 2013

We spent a lovely hour wandering in the trees and had our picnic there before heading out over the hills on the beautiful passing-places-dotted route between Pitlochry and Kirkmichael.

There wasn’t another car on the road and every now and then I had to pause just to breathe in the view a little more while the wee one watched the sheep, hills and occasional old ruin pass us by.

We had a lovely visit with my uncle – coffee, cake, celebrations and a wander by the beautiful River, enjoying every minute; and continued our loop down towards Bridge of Cally, stopping off to admire the two repurposed “library” phone boxes we discovered along the way.

Winding our way through Coupar Angus and back down into Perth, we stopped off for a final leg stretch, snack and blast of fresh air to keep the toddler awake for the home straight! Walking across the bridges with Perth’s darkening skyline our backdrop, it was beautiful to take in the city to end our day, before heading for the last leg home.

It was a lovely way to spend a day, and we are so very lucky to live in such a beautiful country, and have all this not too far from our own little home.

Wishing you all a lovely week. ❤️

Hope everyone is staying safe and keeping well, enjoying all the simple things we can close to home just now and looking forward to getting back to the rest when we can! X

Sunday night peace after a lovely weekend 

Enjoying the peace of a Sunday night at home as the most “hyggeligt” of weekends draws to a close – soup on the hob, candles burning and looking forward to putting feet up after a couple of tiring but lovely days in the outdoors, enjoying the very best of October’s charm. 

We have been away overnight on our annual trip to the beautiful town of Pitlochry in Perthshire, to the Enchanted Forest sound and light show. We first discovered it in 2013, taking our old camper van up to a campsite nearby overnight, and just fell in love with it – so since then have returned every year, the last few with our friends, wrapping up once again to amble the tracks of Faskally wood, toffee apples in hand, twinkling lights overhead, hot chocolates round the fire pit as the night thickens, and everywhere we look something new to take in. 

This year’s show, Oir an Uisge, or Edge of the Water, incorporated so many rainbows which I just loved. On rainier nights the magic of the forest is sometimes brought to life even more – with extra droplets everywhere to reflect the lights in different ways – and last night was certainly no exception; the weather lending itself so much to the theme and everything in the forest winding its way in – most beautifully of all when the supremely unperturbed swans woke to serenely join in the display.

There’s something really lovely about having a traditional break at this time of the year; a watershed moment before winter sets in to slow down for a weekend and take it all in. From the trundle up in the car, walls of trees in every shade of autumn lining the roadside and the Young Farmers’ hay bale displays catching our eyes along the way; the evening walks through the forest; late nights round the fire with our friends, chatting, relaxing and enjoying the warmth; cooked breakfasts the next day and a wander in the beautiful town on a long easy morning – with so many lovely gift shops to browse including a little Christmas shop with carols playing and tiny cups of mulled wine pressed into our hands as we crossed the threshold into its cosy taste of the season to come – it is all just such a lovely experience. 

As ever, though, I enjoy getting home just as much as getting away. Heading back to our little house, the preparations in full swing for our daughter’s arrival – now just seven weeks away; our ever-boisterous boys Jasper and Jet keen to get out to play; and my fluffy-as-a-bear Charmer ambling up the hill at sunset for a dinner in his stable that only weeks ago he was passing up in favour of the summertime grass – it all never fails to make a trip complete. Back at home now with just a quiet evening in ahead of us, I am looking forward so much to the cosier months ahead.

Hope everyone has had a really lovely weekend, and have a good week all. X  

Scribbles from Seal Cottage (Part 2)

Once more writing from our summer holiday home on Islay, this time as our week away is drawing to a close, with our ferry back home booked for 9am tomorrow and just one last day of exploring the island ahead of us today. 

This week has been one of the most peaceful holidays we’ve had, and there have been so many highlights in a restful few days adventuring at easy pace around the landscape. On Tuesday, we spent a lovely afternoon at the RSPB Loch Gruinart Nature Reserve, a beautiful expanse of land with amazing walks and dug-out hides in concealed wooden sheds where we could settle and watch hen harriers circling overhead and everything from wrens to buzzards swooping across the stillness of the hills.


We have spent days browsing tiny shops in tiny villages, local craft fairs here and there, cosying up with hot chocolates in hotel bars when the rain comes on and in the brightness of early evenings walking along huge untouched beaches where only the sheep contentedly lie.

In the middle of our week here, we decided to take a day trip across to neighbouring Jura, which was one of the most breath-taking places I have ever seen. With only 200 people there and 5000 deer, it is one of the wildest and least populated of all the Scottish islands, and we were so looking forward to seeing it, but it exceeded all expectations. I absolutely love rural Scotland, and there are so many corners where such incredible beauty can be found; but, within minutes of alighting on the island from the tiny drive-on ferry, I was absolutely speechless at just quite how incredible it was. Having pulled over to watch a buzzard circle overhead, we found ourselves at the vantage point of a whole group of red deer, antlers glinting in the sunlight, grazing, communicating and eventually taking flight across the hillside en masse, disappearing into a thicket of trees and leaving us amazed to have been able to watch such a breath-taking display. 


After a meander in the main village of Craighouse, a lovely lunch at the one and only hotel, a tour of the whisky distillery and a wander along the street, seeing the busyness of a Wednesday afternoon, with the mobile bank and fish van both parked up; we got back in the car and followed the road as far as we could, with the sea glinting to our right, Paps of Jura dominating the landscape to our left, and each twist and turn bringing new sights as we journeyed on. 


My favourite place we’ve ever been to outside Scotland is without a doubt Iceland, where we had our honeymoon three years ago and returned to last year, knowing we’ll be back again and again. The winding drive through such abandoned and completely still landscape did remind me of some of our drives up the hills there in the winter of 2014, gasping as we turned a corner to another incredible waterfall or reached a new height where the snow flakes were gently falling for the first time all year – yet what is so incredible here is the wildlife as well as the landscape. Reaching the end of the road, from where the most northerly points of the island can only be reached on foot, the last rural farm houses lying behind us, we again were face to face with a herd of deer, peacefully grazing in their untouched world. 

Back on Islay, strangely ‘busy’ by comparison in spite of being such a quiet island itself, we’ve trekked out to Finlaggan, the historic seat of the Lord of the Isles; stood on the shore at Bunnahabhain looking out to the most northerly point of the island; stopped still in the peace of ruined chapels, Celtic crosses weathering time, and warm working churches alike; and befriended the loveliest highland cattle around our little Portnahaven. 


By evening, we have more often than not been back at our cottage, and dropping temperatures have given the perfect excuse to light up the fire and settle in. We’ve done nothing but read at nights (many of my books animal or pet related which I look forward to writing about here too!) and for the pets, the evenings have been absolutely wonderful. 


The decision to bring them on this holiday was absolutely the best one. Just as we always enjoy having quality time to spend with each other when we’re away, we’ve enjoyed having quality time to spend with them too. Without all the demands of home life, we’ve sat peacefully for hours and the boys have adored curling up beside us with just the crackle of the flames. Perry, at home always on the go, has been uncharacteristically keen for cuddle, spreading out in the warmth and lifting his head whenever one of us has the audacity to stop stroking him. 

Marley has enjoyed mornings sat on the front doorstep, the sea air helping clear his wee lungs; and Reuben has again surpassed all our expectations by still being with us and what’s more still being content and happy. He’s eating, drinking, and enjoying time with his brothers and with us, which is all we can ask for. Have thoroughly enjoyed having them with us on our adventure. 


Looking forward too of course to getting back home again, and to bring reunited with the pony (who I’ve happily been provided with photos and tales of throughout the the week!); but this has been the loveliest week away and have truly loved Islay and Jura and all they have to offer. 

Hope you all have a lovely weekend. X

Scribbles from Seal Cottage

Writing from our holiday cottage on the beautiful Isle of Islay, where we are making our home for the week on the edge of the water in Portnahaven, a village on the south-western tip of the island. Beyond the stillness of the little bay outside our front door, the powerful waves of the Atlantic crash inwards just yards away and there is nothing to the west until Canada is reached, the sea just rolling on and on. 

We arrived here on Saturday, and it feels, in the best possible way, as if time has slowed down to almost a standstill since we did. The pace of life here is so easy, and we have spent most mornings and most evenings simply watching the seals in the water, learning their calls, their patterns and the spots on the rocks they will return to each day at the same time. ​​

The island of Islay is a truly beautiful one and already we have explored some incredible places, walking along Machir Bay in the sunshine, waves crashing in; touring the smallest and most family-run of Islay’s eight whisky distilleries, watching the entire process from malting to bottling taking place on site; driving through the most incredible countryside on narrow lanes, adapting once more to the passing places and to making way for the sheep, the highest priority of road users, whenever they require it! 

There is something incredibly relaxing and refreshing about holidaying close to home, and these are usually my favourite breaks – visiting old favourite places or discovering new parts of our own country we haven’t before, and finding corners of it where life slows down so much.

This year, being just a couple of hours’ drive (and a ferry ride!) away meant we decided to bring the pets with us. Not Charmer of course, who has stayed happily at home on his own farm, being looked after very ably by my friend at the yard; but the little ones managed the journey very well indeed and so far seem to be loving the jaunt! 

We had planned to travel them in their carry case and leave the cage in the back but they seemed more content just in their usual bed, and so we left them there, where they curled all three in a pile for the duration of the journey very happily, just doing the usual dozing they generally do in the daytime.
The boys posing with their ferry ticket, as we didn’t quite pluck up the courage for an on-deck selfie! 



It’s been lovely while we’ve been here to have them with us, especially as autumnal-feeling windy nights and the cosiness of the cottage have meant our evenings have been spent inside, and they have enjoyed the easy time in front of the fire.

One of the main reasons we decided to bring them with us, even though it was a slightly longer journey than we’d usually want them on, was that both Marley and Reuben haven’t been well. Marley is having trouble shaking off a chest infection, which I’m sure we’ll beat before too long, but at the moment is needing anti-biotics and a wee steam in the shower room to help his breathing. He seems to be making strides forward and we’re hopeful we’ll get it shifted very soon. Haven’t written about Reuben’s health in a while though and unfortunately his prognosis is not so good. He has been given a presumptive diagnosis of kidney disease – any further tests to fully confirm would be too invasive for him but his symptoms all line up – and unfortunately there isn’t too much we can do. This means he’s really just enjoying the finer things in life, extra cuddles every night, whatever scraps of our food take his fancy, and what medication we can give him to keep him as happy as possible. A few weeks ago he had dropped weight significantly and we thought we were on our last days, but time and time again he’s rallied; and although we always know we could be saying goodbye to him anytime, and knew when we brought him here he might not have the full week with us, it’s a wonderful bonus that he’s had so many good days in the last couple of weeks and that he’s come with us on this little adventure and enjoyed his nights by the fire here. 

Reubes loving the warmth of the fire

Our week here has got off to the loveliest start, and watching the spectacular sunset last night, listening to the wails of the seals on the rocks, was so incredibly peaceful.

View from our cottage last night

We’ve seen so many weathers so far, whipping wind, lashing rain and glorious sunshine by turns; another reason I love a Scottish holiday, waking each day to unpredictable and dramatic weather, framing the beautiful landscape in so many different lights. 

Looking forward to plenty more exploring and relaxing here, and will write again soon. 

Hope you are all having a lovely week. X