Skye High :: #VisitScotland Pt 4

There was one particular reason Visit Scotland wanted me to go to Skye.  It was to experience the Tattie Bogal Scarecrow Festival.  I don’t know if I arrived too late, if they’d been moved because of the bad weather (doubt it, people on Skye laugh in the face of bad weather – I assume), but there were no tattie bogals in sight.  I was genuinely disappointed!  But never mind.

After a good search post-distillery I accepted that it wasn’t going to happen and decided to explore the island some more instead.  I drove toward Portree via Sligachan, struggling to see the scenery around as real rather than a painting or film set the whole way.

Suffice to say that the Isle of Skye is absolutely bloody ruddy crikey blimey o’reilly stunning!


Look at that
Look at that!!


Head in the clouds HAR HAR HAR!


Look.  At.  That.

It was then back in the car to arrive at Portree and appreciate more generally stunning nature.

Portree is very pretty.  I also did what I do best in any place – I found a decent cafe.  Cafe Arriba to be precise.

The view from Cafe Arriba
I was going to go to a restaurant, but sitting by the sea tucking into good old fish and chips was good enough for me!  The fish was as fresh as can be too.

I then headed home for an early night, I decided plenty of rest before the journey home the next day was a good idea going by how exhausted the journey up had left me!

This was the view from my B&B by the way, which was just outside of Edinbane.  It was so peaceful and quiet up there!

The next morning I was on the road by 7:30am leaving what had been an excellent few days in Scotland!  Yes, things hadn’t gone exactly to the plan, but that’s the way it goes with travel and that’s okay.  I still had a brilliant experience, thank you Visit Scotland for inviting me along!

Tattie Bye :: #VisitScotland Pt 3

After a very deep sleep it was time to try again for Inverness.  The trains were still cancelled from Perth, so it would be a short train journey followed by a coach… and then a three hour drive to Skye in a hire car.  Fazed?  Pah!  I think not!

I waved goodbye to Edinburgh with a cup of coffee, a sense of adventure and a strong desire to sleep – which was satisfied shortly after this photo:

Backpack holding out marvellously there

I also slept for most of the coach journey to Inverness.  Here’s the thing about sleeping in transit: it doesn’t matter how much sleep I get or how comfy I am, I always wake up feeling groggy and even more tired than I did pre-nap.

Needless to say by the time I got to Inverness I was feeling a bit desperate for y’know, an actual bed to sleep in.  Instead however, I had to pick up a hire car and set off on another voyage.  I really like driving and I’m so glad my parents pushed me to learn and pass my test as soon as I turned 17.  It really does give you great freedom.

As I was cruising merrily along taking in the scenery I suddenly noticed a huge lake to my left.  Wow, beautiful! I thought to myself.  I then saw a great big sign welcoming me to Loch Ness.  I almost screeched to a halt.

Firstly, this is an embarrassing display of how poor my knowledge of Scottish geography is, especially since I’d looked at the route on a map beforehand (soz guys).  Secondly, as a child I harboured a very intense obsession for dinosaurs, animals and other creatures – such as the Loch Ness monster.  So to see Loch Ness was a childhood dream come true.

I pulled in to the first lay-by I came across and grinned at the huge expanse of water with pure glee.



The adventuremobile!

After two hours I stopped in a very drizzly Kyle of Lochalsh for some dinner and a drink, then got back on the road to get on the Skye bridge and complete my journey.


Skye bridge to the right

I don’t actually have much experience of staying in B&Bs, but as soon as I arrived at the little white bungalow better known as Ronan House B&B I instantly knew I was going to enjoy my stay.  I’m a big fan of staying with family or friends when in new places, because it’s always best to get local insider knowledge of a place but also because this way you get that ‘homely’ feel.  Turns out you get that with B&Bs too!

I was welcomed with fresh milk and the comfiest looking bed I’d seen in a while.

Sort of felt like I was visiting relatives!
The first of many cups of tea

I settled down early to read my book and repay my by this point very big sleep debt, feeling excited to explore Skye the following day.

Breakfast the next morning was a real treat.  A big breakfast definitely goes a long way and my god this was a big breakfast!  I enjoyed every single bite/sip!

Skye is absolutely beautiful.  You’re surrounded by burgeoning hills, green grass, low misty clouds and a sense that to survive here you have to be made of tougher stuff.

I hope I never become complacent about stunning scenery, it’s a simple pleasure that I never seem to tire of.

I drove through Dunvegan and eventually stopped in Carbost.  One place I really wanted to visit was the Talisker distillery.  Distilleries are pretty commonplace in Scotland, so when in Rome…

The B&B owners very kindly gave me a wee packed lunch to take out with me, which I ate by the water and sitting on my Country Attire picnic blanket I got at the Blog Yorkshire meet a few weeks back (been dying for a chance to use it!).

I booked my place at the distillery and we were then taken on a tour of where & how the whisky is made.  The methods in place are still pretty much the same as they were years and years ago – manual a lot of the time!  I like that.  A real sense of tradition and pride.

I really like the aftertaste of whisky.  The warming glow you get in your throat.  The actual taste on my tongue though, I do not like.  I think my tastebuds need to mature a bit first, or I need to add a lot of water & ice to any whisky I drink!

I’m finishing this blog post here because as you’ve probably noticed it’s quite picture heavy!  The distillery tour was really interesting.  By this point I’d also firmly come to the conclusion that Scottish folk are lovely – everyone I’d met so far had been nothing but friendly, helpful and chatty.

On The Fringe :: #VisitScotland Pt 2

Aside from it being an extremely beautiful city, there was another reason I was pretty stoked to be stranded in Edinburgh for the night: The Fringe.

Possibly one of the biggest cultural events in the world, it’s something I’ve always wanted to experience.  Sadly, I wasn’t going to be able to pack a lot in to one night, something like this requires a planning.  I would have loved to see Aussie Sam Simmons, Youtuber Miranda Sings or bloody hilarious Paul Foot, but alas it was not meant to be.

I did get something out of it though, many a laugh was had.

I decided to saunter down Princes Street towards The Stand Square, I’d bought a ticket for Set List Live, a show where comedians take to the stage and improvise, taking inspiration from random phrases that appear on a screen behind them.  I love stand up and I love improv even more, so it was the perfect choice!

But before all that, a wander:




I did pop back to Fredericks for a glass of wine and a read of my book (which I’ve now finished, it was #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso and I recommend it to EVERYONE).




I then arrived at my destination, St Andrew Square!









The best place to learn more about Set List is to visit them on Twitter.  The Fringe is an event well worth making the journey to Edinburgh for.  There’s so much to choose from, the shows are all pretty well priced.  I loved it, want to go again and get more out of it!

Journey :: #VisitScotland Pt 1

Oh HI!  Hello.  Good day to you.  The past few days, weeks (months?  I’m losing track) have been a blur.  I’m working for Social Sheffield in my spare time again and a lot of other opportunities have started to make their way to me as well.  Naturally I keep trying to say yes to all of them, so I end up with no time and a messy brain.  I even had to buy a filofax last week in an attempt to keep tabs on everything!  Tis a challenge but I’m enjoying it.

Today’s blog post is the first of four about Edinburgh and the Isle of Skye in Scotland.  A few weeks back I discovered an email from Visit Scotland in my inbox.  The tourism bigwigs for Scotland.  GUYS!!!  They invited me to go on a short press trip to Skye as part of their #HomeComing2014 campaign.  They organised my travel and accommodation and gave me plenty of suggestions for stuff to see and do whilst up there – in return I had the utterly pain staking task of going on a short holiday in Skye.

As is always the way with travel however, there were a few mishaps on the journey up there meaning my first night was spent in the grand city of Edinburgh.

Not complaining!

I love travelling and seeing new places.  I know this is already common knowledge but I really do love it.  It makes me feel calm, happy and content.  I have needed some sort of holiday for a while now to refocus and recharge.  Travel is good for you!

Here’s some of the stuff I packed:

This camera case is technically from Peugeot UK, if you search #RandomActsOfJoy on Twitter you’ll see they’re doing a lovely joy-spreading online campaign.  I was lucky enough to be picked and they sent me an Amazon gift voucher – with which I purchased this beautiful camera case.  Thank you Peugeot!


These bad boys are a gift from Zeal Media & Inntravel.  Inntravel specialise in walking holidays and as part of publicising their Switerland holiday packages, Zeal Media sent me a #MySwissKit.  Pretty good timing as one of the things I really wanted to do in Skye was a walk!  Kitted out for it, literally!  They gave me a rucksack, a flask, a Swiss army knife and some chocolates just because.  Many thanks guys!  (They actually set aside a second #MySwissKit, which is part of giveaway you can enter by following this link)

Once these and all my computing gadgets and chargers were bundled into a bag, I made for Doncaster station to catch the first of three trains up to Inverness!  Did feel a bit like a hobbit starting a voyage to mordor, only without the orcs and impending doom (and the hairy feet).

However, once I was en route to Edinburgh I learned that heavy rain and flooding had caused all trains to Inverness to be cancelled.  A few phone calls here and there with Calum the PR guy, and I’d been booked into a guesthouse in Edinburgh for the night instead.  The thing I love about travel is the fact that you have no control over anything, you’re forced to go with the flow!

I last visited Edinburgh when I was about 15 years old.  It’s a really welcoming city.  The colour of the brickwork and the way the city is laid out makes me feel like I’m in a Scottish cocoon.  It’s a walking city, and no matter where you’re stood you’re facing something brilliant to look at.  I felt very lucky to have wound up stranded here!

In need of a coffee and a sit down I took to the internet and soon found a great little place not far from the station.  It’s called Fredericks Coffee House and is nestled on the first floor of a rickety old building.  Loved this place, a really great find!



After recharging on caffeine and caramel, I checked in at the Edinburgh Regency Guesthouse and then walked back into town to explore.







This is the Box Office, here I picked up an Edinburgh Fringe pamphlet and started pouring over who was performing where & when.  I think with something like the Fringe you definitely need to plan ahead, but I still managed to find something to see on the spur of the moment.  I bought my tickets online with my iPhone and then got some dinner at The Red Squirrel.



Definitely recommend.  The staff helped me work out directions to the show I was booked to see later and the food was reasonable, high standard pub grub.  Just what I needed after a long journey.

More exploring came after dinner, but you’ll have to wait until the next blog post for that!

NYE In The Cotswolds – Pt 3

Roused by pizza, we all congregated in the kitchen and/or play room.  Drinking resumed, merriment returned, Matt’s leadership skills were soon forgotten (that is, they weren’t forgotten at all).


This game is called ‘Mushroom’, you keep adding cards around the edge til they fall, when they do you drink.  In this case it was a shot of jaeger.




Things then got a little blurry.  There was still a couple of hours to go until we reached 2014, but we couldn’t wait that long so we started playing loud music and even let off a couple of fireworks in the garden (with a few near misses).

















I think this game was called ‘sit at the table and drink’



Fireworks?  Ben’s got it covered
There are now black burn marks on that plastic chair








Phil at one with the music










A few minutes before midnight Phil handed out shots for everyone and we returned to the garden for a marvellous firework display.


Happy New Year
Bucks fizz everywhere
The Melburnians


A brilliant start to the new year!