Happy 5th year anniversary of living in Scotland to us. Yay! Five years ago this month we packed everything we owned into a box Luton van and the car and headed north, bound for Perthshire. I can’t believe it’s been that long already. Time really does fly when you’re having fun!
I would normally be sharing a full 12 month round up post but for obvious reasons there’s not much to warrant that. Let’s be honest though, 2020 has pretty much ruined plans for everyone this year but I think Dude and I have made the best of a bad situation. We had managed two trips away before lockdown was imposed on us. Since the travel restrictions were lifted in July we’ve managed a few days in the Cairngorms and had a week in Inverness, so it’s not all bad. Like so many others, Dude went to work all through lockdown but for me as a wedding photographer and travel blogger, my work dried up instantly.
That’s not to say I’ve sat idle. I’ve been updating old posts on both of my websites, editing photos I haven’t touched since they were taken and still keeping on top of my social media posts.
Here are some things we’ve been grateful for this passed 12 months:
Cold water swimming
Last year I embarked on my first winter of cold water swimming. Managing at least once or twice a week until lockdown in March. These two sentences bring such a huge smile to my face.
In each degree of water temperature drop the more I loved it. My time in the water was shorter that’s for sure but I seemed to get more of a buzz. My regular Perthshire loch seemed to be teetering around the 2.5°c mark for ages. I really wanted to swim somewhere where the water would be under 2°c before the end of winter.
The definition of ice swimming is anything under 5°c and so I was in that category already. There was one thing missing from my “ice swims” though, yup, ice.
Our trip to the Cairngorms just a week before lockdown gave me just what I wanted. We arrived at a loch just north of Aviemore, it was so peaceful. We could already feel the warmth of the sun and it wasn’t until I entered the clear water that I realised there was a thin layer of ice. The only thing breaking the silence during my swim was this weird noise the ice makes caused by the water moving as I push through it (the water not the ice). The temperature was a magnificent 1.5°c and I was in and out of the water faffin’ for photos, video and more swimming for about thirty minutes. Pure magic.
Then lockdown happened and no more cold water. My social media was filled with people filling wheelie bins with water or buying huge pools for their back gardens. I was periodically having cold showers but it doesn’t hit the spot, not even a little bit! At one point I was even considering a quick dook in the burn but with all the amazing weather we were having it was reduced to a trickle.
My first swim back in my favourite spot was a little bit emotional. The swimming Whatsapp group was alive with excited chatter once more. Making plans to meet up with pals within the Government guidelines. We were just chuffed to be allowed back out but it was weird with no hugging or hanging about warming up with our hot drinks and troughing cake together.
If I’m honest the water was too warm for my liking at one point and I’m pleased to report it’s currently at around 11°c.
A few weeks ago during our stay in Inverness I took a dip in Scotland’s most famous body of water, Loch Ness. It was a scorcher of a day and looking down the loch we did wonder if we had been transported to Lake Garda! What I didn’t realise would happen until I got in the water is that swimming here would play with my mind so much!
I was prepared for it to be much colder than it actually was. I’m aware that the further out you go the colder it gets and that I didn’t venture too far but it was still refreshing to cool down after our woodland walk. I was in the water for about an hour and I bloody loved it! I will be writing a post about our stay very soon.
So now we’re heading into the colder months again and I’m praying we don’t get a second lockdown so I don’t lose my acclimatisation.
Local walks during lockdown
During lockdown we were most fortunate to still get out for walks up into some wee hills. Some of them are part of the estate we live on but I’m ashamed to say we hadn’t spent much time exploring them. We knew there was a burial cairn on the side of one of the hills and this led us to looking for other treasures.
We discovered a cup marked stone, castle fort ruins, a wind turbine farm, the water source that supplies our home and had quite a few wildlife experiences too. I think the best one has to be finally making it through the disused railway tunnels though. Scary as hell but the walk in between was so beautiful.
As I work from home all the time anyway, I have a little route that I take around the lanes all the time. I do this as part of my lunch break or if I’m cold and need to warm up (rather than put the heating on). I have two options: a short one mile route “around the block.” The longer version means walking on the road for a bit longer but with practically no traffic around it was great. Talking of traffic, we walked over one of the motorway bridge near us and it was like a scene of out 28 Days Later! Really eerie.
Walking the same path twice meant that we noticed more. We’ve watched farmers ploughing, sowing and harvesting their crops. We watched the hedgerows spring into life and becoming nesting places. The swallows came and went from the yard and now the sound of geese honking fills the sky. I spent more time learning to identify wild flowers and wee beasties.
There is SO much bad stuff happening in the world but look closely at nature and it fills my heart with pure joy. I’m reminded that each and every day I love living in Scotland.
Golf – post lockdown
I have cold water swimming and Dude has golf. The golf courses were one of the first things to open back up after lockdown. After continuing to pay membership all those months where he couldn’t play he’s certainly made up for it since! On the occasions where he hasn’t been playing with pals from work I’ve tagged along for the walk.
More than anything for me it was for the change of scenery but I do enjoy walking the course. I keep saying this but I really must have some lessons and get out on the course with him properly. Maybe 2021 will allow me to do that?
Getting back in the swing of things has meant many variations of the good, the bad and the ugly for his game. Those are his words not mine. It’s just nice to have some sort of normality back.
Not the usual photo crammed anniversary post I normally share but that’s okay. Our enthusiasm for exploring Scotland certainly hasn’t waned but you won’t find us bouncing around the country from one place to another. Our travel plans are more reserved at the moment. COVID is here to stay for the foreseeable future and that means we will be taking more care over our travel choices. That’s not just from a self preservation mindset but also looking after others too.
We will find ways to continue supporting small businesses (like myself) who are also struggling to see any light in any way that we can. Celebrating our 5th anniversary of living in Scotland will certainly be a bit different to previous years that’s for sure.