On the 5th October 2015 we packed up all our worldly belongings and moved nearly four hundred miles away from everything and everyone we know and love. I can’t quite believe that was twelve months ago. Twelve months. So I thought we would have a look back over our first year living in Scotland.
Hitting the ground running with a new job and training courses for the Dude, he was kept busy straight away but we still made time for exploring our new surroundings. We found walks up on Moncrieffe Hill, Kinnoull Hill, both through gorgeous woodland and lovely views. I remember spotting a red squirrel too. We were lucky with the weather, big blue skies and that big yellow thing in the sky too. We had only been here one week and were lucky enough to have seen the Aurora Borealis twice from just standing on our driveway! Discovering that the nearest beaches were less than an hour away was also a highlight.
At the end of October into the beginning of November I volunteered at the World Gymnastics Championships in Glasgow. A different role to that of my time as a Clydesider for the Commonwealth Games in 2014 but equally as rewarding. Another great opportunity to meet new people, catch up with old friends and make new memories.
I am also a big fan of shopping locally and enjoyed my first Perth Farmers Market. Again meeting lots of new people, introducing myself and getting to know more about some of the products Perthshire produces. We also used our RSPB membership for the first time up here and found the Vane Farm reserve near Kinross.
The days were much shorter but this just meant we had to maximise our time. Still managing to go for walks – we enjoyed days out at the falls of Bruar and around Pitlochry. Of course, with it being cold and wet it’s always a good excuse to take the opportunity to discover new cafes and coffee shops!
Before moving to Perthshire travelling to Mull was an epic road trip and one usually done in March. This year, through my blog we were given the opportunity to review a self catering cottage from an out of season point of view. With Oban now being just over a two hour drive we jumped at the chance to go back.
Oh and we had snow! And where do you go when it’s freezing? The beach. We went to Tentsmuir for the first time and the sand was frozen – that’s a first for me! The light was just perfect too.
By now there is a common theme arising. At least one trip to the coast a month. In February I was treated to a day out at Anstruther for my birthday and no trip to this quaint little fishing village is complete without a trip to the fish and chip shop. What could beat a fish supper on your birthday? Just a few days later we went to Scone Palace for the Celebration of the Snowdrops. A walk around the grounds (which was free before Easter) to enjoy the precious little white flowers and huge pine trees. It seems that we were lucky for the weather in February because as I look through the photos to remind me of what we did they all seem to be bright and sunny. Including a trip to the magnificent Kelpies and Falkirk Wheel. The photos don’t do these thirty metre high constructions any justice. If you are visiting Scotland, these should be on your list.
A rather exciting month for us. We got to visit the Outer Hebrides and stay on Harris to review a self catering croft, Tigh Fionnlagh. With it’s lunar landscape and stunning white sandy beaches, it really is so pretty. Berneray island is just a short crossing on the CalMac ferry and is worth a visit too – even in March. The Dude managed to get a couple of rounds of golf in on Harris and also on the King James course in Perth too. Another sighting of the Aurora from the driveway and coastal walks from Crail too.
I also managed to bag myself a job working with VisitScotland as a Coo-Viser. This was the start of my ever growing wanderlust.
It seems that April whizzed by and I don’t really know what we got up to! I do remember going to watch Altan and Karen Matheson at Perth Festival Theatre as part of the Celtic Sessions.
We had visitors! Friends from down south came to stay in Perthshire for the week and it was great to show them around and spend time with them. They loved Loch Leven and even went in the water for a swim.
The sweet scent of the bluebells also filled the woodlands and we found some great spot for photos and our annual fix! It’s a bit weird having to discover all these hidden places when for the last twenty years you have known where to find them. May was also the month where we bought bikes and took up cycling again. Discovering places by pedal power has been brilliant.
My in-laws came to stay for a few days in June and it was really lovely to share our new home with them. Showing them around Perth, Anstruther, Edinburgh, Pitlochry and Blair Atholl Castle they had a great time. By the next time they visit us we will have plenty more places to show them too. We also went to our first highland games at Ceres. Brilliant day out.
It seems we were rather busy in July; we visited the rather lovely Elcho Castle which is just outside Perth and is well worth a look. Even on this rather damp day it was still pretty and such a lovely building to explore. July is also when the Poppies; Weeping Window tour came to the Blackwatch Museum in Perth. A rather moving memorial to all those fallen soliders who died serving their country. It stayed until the end of September and we popped over a few times just to make the most of it (and make donations). I had also been invited to visit New Lanark Visitor Centre for the purposes of writing a review and we had a great time. Such a beautiful setting and so much history. Of course, there was a trip to the coast too and a boat trip on the Forth Ferry from Anstruther to North Berwick.
With another boat trip, this time of the Maid of Forth, we discovered Incholm Island and it’s Abbey. Located just below the mighty Forth rail bridge it gave us a rather different perspective on all three bridges that cross the river. Getting to know the shops in Perth happened in August too. I was given the opportunity to blog about the Perth Card, a brilliant incentive to support local businesses. I have lost count of the amount of times I have driven up the A9 this summer and each time wondering what the Hermitage was. So to put me out of my misery, we actually stopped and went for a walk around and I’m kind of annoyed with myself for not stopping before. It’s really pretty. Go check it out for yourselves!
September started to see changes in nature and I took up the opportunity to go on a fungi foray at Loch Leven. Very interesting and great to look at the smaller things on the woodland floor. The Dude and I also spent a rather pleasant afternoon at Culross. Wandering up and down the quaint cobbled streets, admiring the houses and eating cake! A place we shall return to, most definitely. After being invited to visit the Borders we jumped at the chance to stay just outside of Lauder. We played golf, drank gin and watched the stars for a hot tub. Magical.
This post hasn’t really scratched the surface of the things we have seen, tasted or done but I wanted at least share some of it with you. I have been lucky enough with my VisitScotland role to have seen so much more of this stunning place I now call home. All these experiences; travelling to Ullapool, Mull, Ballater, Dumfries & Galloway, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Fife, Orkney, Aberdeenshire, the Cairngorms, Moray and Speyside (Castles, Distilleries, Museums, Galleries, Highland Games – meeting fabulous people along the way who are equally in love with Scotland has just fuelled my passion for discovering more in the next twelve months.
We are in absolutely no doubt we made the best move and will continue to embrace our new chapter.
I hope you have enjoyed having a look back over our first year living in Scotland. If you have any suggestions of places you think we should visit in the next twelve please pop them in the comments.