· October 7th, Scotland, UK · It’s during trips like this that I come to realise how little I appreciate the true beauty that lies here at home in the UK. Yes, we have our downpours and chilly weather however to quote the old Dolly Parton cliché ‘without the rain there would be no rainbow’ – a phrase I like to repeat when encountering apparent setbacks, this was vividly brought to life in the Scottish Highlands.
· A wifi-free haven · Having lived in a city all my life and mostly visited other cities, this was a great escape from the norm and with no phone signal let alone wifi, a technophobe-worthy retreat from daily life. We ocasionally caved and visited pubs or neighbouring towns to use the wifi, demonstrating just how dependent we have all become but all in all it was a wonderfully remote, refreshing and quiet haven away from London, social media, work, people and felt as if life was on pause.
· Edinburgh · Having flown from London to Edinburgh we discovered plenty of colourfully lit night-time architecture, multiple levels and bridges overlapping and elevating the city, and plenty of scotch, tartan and haggis.
As I learned after our numerous whisky tours, scotch is a whisky that has been matured in an oak barrel in Scotland for at least three years by law. We visited the Glenlivet and Edradour distilleries hence one of the largest and the smallest! I’m not a big fan of straight spirits myself however the cream liquor was slightly more palatable and reminded me of Christmas pudding. There’s also a tour with chocolate pairings which I’d recommend to others with tastes similar to my own.
Haggis on the other hand, is another local delicacy made from sheeps organs and minced with spices. It may also be rolled in oat flour (haggis Bon bons). In all honesty I would have preferred scotch eggs – of which I found none! Perhaps the name is misleading in its origins…
The local pubs are bursting with life and live music adorned with thick accents and digs at the English. A tour of Edinburgh castle was also in order as well as a look around the main university campus, where it happened to be freshers week.. Safe to say the streets were not looking their best the next morning.
· Pitlochry · The next day we drove up to Pitlochry in time for the Enchanted forest which was unfortunately sold out. If you happen to be visiting in October I would recommend that you buy tickets well in advance as the event is clearly popular with the locals as well as visitors. This was described as a light and music show in the middle of a forest a short drive away from the village. This is an otherwise sleepy area fully of cafes serving fresh scones and homemade ice cream, with beautiful lakes and stunning views including ‘the Queen’s view’ approved by HRH herself.
· Cairngorms · Cairngorm national park was our next and final destination. Here we were placed right in the middle of breathtaking surroundings, waking up to deer outside our windows, glowing sunrises and fresh air and water like you’ll never find in London! If you are a nature enthusiast this may be the area for you, minus the exhausting amount of roadkill to be found…
A must see is Loch an Eilein which is breathtaking and could be mistaken for Switzerland. We may have been a little over enthusiastic in throwing ourselves into its frozen October waters, falling over slimy algae coated rocks and being eaten alive by midges in the process – whisky must have gone to our heads!
It’s been a bit of a jolt coming back to reality and the lesson from all of this is – always remember to note down your aisle number before leaving the gigantic airport car park.