What is there to do in the summer in Scotland? Head off to the seaside, of course!
I’ve been on holiday this week, so naturally I have been itching to get out and explore. Tuesday happened to be one of the hottest days of the year, but unfortunately my other half was working and our little seaside voyage couldn’t take place until the next day. Needless to say, come Wednesday the skies were grey, the wind was up and the temperature was back down to Baltic. Okay, that last part was maybe a bit of an exaggeration, but it certainly didn’t feel very summery when we reached Anstruther.
Anstruther is a little town in Fife, almost directly across the Firth of Forth from our little part of East Lothian. Despite it being so close, I have never ventured there. My partner used to spend his childhood summers there and he wanted to show me some of the places that he used to hang around.
Our first stop was the harbour, which is so pretty.
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Last Saturday was the one and only day of Scottish summer (well, unless the forecast is right and next week is nice and sunny and warm, but I’m not about to hold my breath as I have the week off work so it’s bound to chuck down with rain). Considering I spend 98% of my days stuck in an office, I was not going to miss the chance to be out in the sun, so off we set for Dalkeith Country Park.
Dalkeith Country Park is so ridiculously easy to get to I have no idea why we have never visited until now. Seriously, it took us maybe 25 minutes tops to drive there. Little did we realise until we were pulling onto the A720 that the Dalkeith Show was on last Saturday so it was crazy busy. Getting parked was a bit of challenge and we may have had a small domestic, but it was worth all the stress in the long run.
The main house is not open to visitors, but it sits atop a hill, looking down on the massive lawn and everything going on in the main area of the Park. It was an impressive view and I don’t really think our pictures do it justice. Incidentally, we both agreed that the lawn would make the ideal place of a picnic. There were quite a few families dotted about, just soaking up the sun and the stunning view of the Montague Bridge.
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This past week has been very, very cold. You’d think, being Scottish, I’d be used to chilly temperatures, but to be honest we don’t normally get properly cold weather until January. November tends to be a bit wet and windy, but so far we have been experiencing clear blue skies and frosty mornings. While this has made the commute to and from work a bit nippy, there has been one upside – beautiful skies.
I’m not a morning person. A little bit of my soul dies every time my alarm goes off at 6am. There’s nothing pleasant about getting up in the dark, but last week the early mornings were made more bearable by the gorgeous sunrises I stepped out to. The skies have been awash with fiery reds and oranges. One morning in particular the sky looked as if it were on fire. Unfortunately I had to rely on my phone camera to capture a picture which doesn’t really do it justice.
There have been some lovely sunsets this past week too. Looking up from my desk at 4pm, I have watched wistfully as the sky turned from dusky pink to lilac before night took over. Three nights in a row the world was bathed in an ethereal light that made me wish I was out on a beach capturing the moment with my camera. I did try with my phone but alas the picture doesn’t reflect the many pink hues that were visible to the naked eye.
Winter is my least favourite season. I loathe being cold, but there is something about a clear winter day. Seeing the ground coated in a layer of white frost, sparkling in the sunshine, made me smile. Nature has a way of making you feel calmer and happier, even in the bleakest of moments. The spectacular skies of the past week have certainly helped me combat the stresses of my daily commute. It just proves that even when it’s freezing outside there is still beauty to be found in the world.
Mini breaks are the best, right? There is nothing quite like getting away for a few days, soaking up the atmosphere and exploring your new surroundings. At the end of last week my other half and I went off to Birmingham for two nights. For me it was a chance to reminisce about my university days and show my boyfriend some of the sights.
One of the places we stopped off at was the Sea Life Centre. We’d visited the one in London and mister was keen to compare the Birmingham one. I was simply excited by the prospect of penguins and otters. It doesn’t take much to make me happy.
Our tickets were for 11am but we got there early. The Centre opens at 10am and even within less than an hour it was very busy. Unlike in London, however, we were able to get close to the tanks and see the fishes and animals. Much to my delight, the tour began with the penguins. Needless to say there was quite a crowd gathered around to watch them showing off in the water. One penguin in particular kept doing somersaults much to everyone’s amusement.
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Holidays are the best. There’s nothing quite like waking up knowing you don’t have to go to work, that time is your own and you can do whatever you like. Sadly holidays also seem to whiz by. I’ve been lucky enough to have the past week off and I can’t believe how quickly it has passed. I’m really not looking forward to the 6am alarm tomorrow.
On Wednesday we took off to Stirling for an overnight stay. While there we made our way to the Wallace Monument. It dominates the skyline and really does look like a Disney castle. Up close it is both impressive and imposing. For once the weather was on side and as we arrived at the base of the Monument after a short but steep woodland climb the sun was out, bathing the sandy stonework.
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Despite having grown up a mere stone’s throw from Dunbar, it’s not a place I am very familiar with. I have vague memories of my dad taking me swimming at the pool there but otherwise I don’t think we ever ventured there. As a result I had no idea Belhaven Bay existed until I saw some pictures of the Bridge to Nowhere. Being someone who likes to pose on bridges (don’t ask; it doesn’t make sense to me either), when I discovered there was a bridge at a beach which looked very photogenic in East Lothian, I was eager to see it for myself.
Nothing is ever quite straightforward for us, however, and the expedition to Belhaven Bay ended up being dragged out over two weeks. The first Sunday we attempted to find the bridge we parked at John Muir Country Park, the man being confident that we could walk down to the Bay from there. Granted there is a sign that says ‘beach’, so it seemed to make sense.
Perhaps if we’d actually followed the sign, things might have been a bit simpler. Instead, the boyfriend, in all his wisdom, set off in the opposite direction, declaring that ‘the shoreline is this way’. Who was I to argue? To be fair to him, I assumed if we walked over the dunes down to the beach the bridge would be right there. It’s my fault for not doing my research beforehand.
It was an unusually warm and sunny day for Scotland. As we made out way over the marshy dunes we encountered some good photo opportunities. There are lots of pretty flowers on the way to the beach, like these gorgeous purple foxgloves.
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Last week I had some time off and for once the weather gods were kind to us. Brilliant blue skies and warm sunshine greeted us on the Monday morning, so of course something was bound to go wrong. We were meant to be staying in Peebles for a couple of days, but the boyfriend came down with a sickness bug the morning we were due to leave. Unfortunately I had to call up the hotel and cancel our room, but luckily he felt a bit better the next day and so we decided to make the best of the good weather and have a day trip.
Traquair House is not that far from Peebles and we have been planning to visit it for some time. Stocking up on snacks for me (he couldn’t eat anything) and with our cameras at the ready, we set off to explore one of Scotland’s oldest houses.
On first sight, the house is picturesque, especially when bathed in sunshine. The annexes to the side put me in mind of little cottages and the overall feel of the place was homely, despite the years of history attached to the house. The gates give way to a small courtyard from which you can access the main house and also the gift shop and brewery.
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