Sunday, 21 January 2018

A CITY GIRL'S GUIDE TO GETTING AWAY


Unless you've been reading this blog with your eyes closed, you'll know that I'm a fan of a Scottish night away. In fact there's nothing I love more than a regular one or two night escape and by the time we had hit mid-January of 2018, I had already booked a weekend near Dunoon (for a lovely friends hen), a night in Dundee, a night in the borders, another weekend on the Isle of Skye (for that lovely friends wedding) and I am currently pricing up a night in Torridon and a jaunt over to the Isle of Mull with Ava to see Tobermory.

I've tried to explain to that kid that the shop & Balamory characters don't actually exist. And that the locals don't all dress in fluorescent coloured clothing. But she's having none of it. So I guess she's gonna have to discover it herself the hard way.

I'm often accused of being a juxtaposition. A walking contradiction. Some struggle to understand how the gal who likes nothing more than eating in fancy restaurants, constantly needs a high speed wifi connection and who loves sipping free fizz at some fancy blogger event can crave the solitude and escape of the highlands so much. But truthfully that is where I would rather be. And I've made a promise to myself that at around my mid-fifties, that is exactly where you will find me. On an island or a remote Scottish fishing village. Hunter wellies & cosy sweaters, growing my own fruit and veg out the back. Getting my shopping at the only Co-op around for miles and drinking in the same old local where everyone knows each other's names. 

Hell, I might even drive a Landrover.

It's not everyone's dream.

But it's mine.

In the meantime though, I'm happy to settle for city life while watching my daughter grow. And these nights away are the perfect balance to satiate me until it's time for her to flee the nest and for me to disappear up north. So I've been thinking of all all the different components that make the perfect night away for me. All the different little bits that make it so much fun. And I've composed a little list. A city girl's guide to getting away if you will. 

So here's what you need...

  1. Music. I almost always prefer to take the car when going on nights away. I always have a list as long as my arm of castles I want to check out, viewpoints I want to stop at for snaps and hidden attractions that are off the beaten track. So en route to your destination, you need good tunes. I have lots of playlists on my Spotify for trips such as these. Because believe me, there is nothing more satisfying than having your foot to the floor on an open road, belting out Pink Floyd tunes at the top of your lungs.
  2. Coffee. This has become a little bit of a tradition of mine, and no road trip is complete without a pit stop at Starbucks or Costa to get a massive latte for the journey. There's something about sipping a hot coffee as you speed over the Erskine Bridge, knowing it's the last large commercialised coffee chain you are going to see in a while, that makes me feel all warm and happy inside.
  3. Room snacks. Likewise, no matter who is accompanying me on my journey, a supermarket stop off before you hit the open road is obligatory to stock up on your favourite crisps and chocolates for the bedroom. But if you don't get a chance then panic not, in my experience every town in Scotland north of Stirling has a decent sized Co-op, so if necessary, you can always stock up when you get there.
  4. Walking Boots. Despite the fact that a couple of years ago I would have been more interested in the jacuzzi than a jaunt up a big hill during one of my Scottish escapes, these days I'm usually dying to get out and do some walking. So if the weather is permitting then walking boots are most definitely a must. Especially as the higher up this country you go, the more beautiful it seems to get.
  5. Bubble bath. Do not forget the bubble bath. And when booking your hotel make sure and remember to get a room with a tub! Whether it's to light some candles, drink some fizz & indulge in some sexy time with a loved one, or to soak your bones on your own post hill climb, there is no feeling more decadent than lounging in a roasting hot hotel bubble bath before dinner.
  6. Lochs. Speaking of water, about 90% of my hotel stays are located somewhere near water. There's nothing more breathtaking than waking up in your room, throwing open the curtains and watching the water glistening against the backdrop of some snowy mountains. It's even better when you can still see that stunning view over breakfast. So when you are checking in, try and remember to reserve a window table for the next morning
  7. Pool table. I have a confession to make, I'm terrible at pool. And I literally never play it in the city. But give me a run down local pub in the heart of the highlands and a pint of fine Scottish ale and I will already have my fifty pences stacked up thank you very much. Same goes for darts. However despite being utterly delighted at myself for winning my first ever game of darts in a pub in Fort William, subsequent games have led me to the conclusion that unfortunately, that was more than likely a fluke.
  8. Seafood. I'm a lover of seafood anyway, but when I'm away it's usually the first thing I order come dinner time. Whether it's salmon smoked at the local smokehouse or massive langoustines courtesy of Loch Fyne, you can rest assured that is how I will be filling my belly in the evening. The same goes for local beers. I drank a delicious pint of Eilean-Or the last time I was in Skye and maybe it's psychosomatic, but it's still one of my favourite beers to date.
  9. Whisky. And speaking of booze, there is nothing that gives me a warmer, cosier feeling inside than sipping a really good single malt in front of an open coal fire. Preferably watching the snow falling outside. While listening to some live folk music. Oh my god, how long till I turn fifty five?
  10. History. It's no secret how patriotic I am, and the older I get the more of a geek I turn into. So whether it's exploring crumbling castles, discovering ancient cairns or even just taking pictures of pretty bridges, if it's got a bit of Scottish history about it, consider me there.

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