I’m currently writing a Slow Travel Guide to North East Scotland, which will be out next spring. The thing about writing this book is I’m spending every working moment on it but won’t have anything to show for my efforts until it’s published. Until then it looks like I’ve fallen off the face of the earth. As we’re almost at the end of spring, I thought I’d finally resurface and reflect on what I’ve been up to over the past couple of months.
At the start of April I travelled down to Fife for a week. This was a particularly special holiday as I returned to the same cottage in the first part of Scotland I ever visited, back when I was eight years old. It was fantastic to be back and I realised just how much my wildlife knowledge has improved since that first visit. During my time in Fife I also visited the Audubon exhibition in Edinburgh, one of my favourite cites, and the incredible Topping bookshop in St Andrews.
On my drive back up from Fife I got into Book Mode again and stopped off in Stonehaven, a beautiful harbour town south of Aberdeen. I walked around the harbour and along the coast path and found a stone igloo decorated with thousands of shells hidden within Dunnottar woods.
At the end of April I was off on another book trip, this time back to the Cairngorms. This has been my favourite section to visit and write about so far. Although I’m very attached to my home in Moray and have been so impressed by Aberdeenshire’s coastline, it’s the ancient Caledonian pine forests of the Cairngorms that have really taken hold of me. During my time in Boat of Garten and Newtonmore I visited the amazing Highland Folk Museum, discovered the Green Lochan – so named because the fairies wash their green clothes in the water – and had an incredible hide encounter with four badgers!
Mindful Creative Retreat
At the start of May I had a brief break from book writing to take on another exciting project. Last summer I co-hosted a Mindful Creative Retreat on the Moray Coast. It was a great success so we held another one this year. The guests really enjoyed unwinding from their own work and commitments and dedicating time to nature writing, mindful photography, breath work and even outdoor yoga each morning. I benefitted from the experience too and found the process of slowing down and being in the present moment so rewarding.
And finally, last week I had another book trip back to Aberdeenshire. My friend Kim, who I co-hosted the retreat with, kindly offered me a place to stay in Peterhead, which was a great base for exploring more of my new favourite coastline. I visited Peterhead Prison Museum and Slains Castle (which was inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula castle), walked barefoot through the wind-sculpted dunes of Forvie and even managed to see a couple of distant puffins.