A Week in Scotland: Loch Lomond & Loch Fyne

If you follow me on my Instagram, you might have seen that last month I went on my first holiday in a long time. We stayed in a lodge at Cameron House on Loch Lomond, Scotland (which made the news at the end of 2017 for a bad fire in the main house, which is still being rebuilt).

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I can’t tell you how ready I was to spend some real time outside, surrounded by beautiful scenery. Having spent 3 years living in a city centre, I was definitely in the mood for some fresh, fresh air. And for that, where better to go than Scotland?

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If you know me, you know that I have a particular love for trees, which made the scenes around Cameron House perfect for warming my heart. There’s just something about trees, and forests in particular, which have such magic imbibed into them. Why else would so much European folklore take place in forests? So, of course, my camera came everywhere.

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Early on in the week, we went on the Loch Lomond ferry tour – an hour long trip around the lake, to admire its beauty from all angles. The weather happened to be really moody when we went, but stayed just clear enough that we had some really spectacular views of the lake and the surrounding hills – and I think I was just about able to capture some of it on camera. If you visit the loch, I’d recommend the ferry trip any day.

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The next place I’d recommend? Loch Fyne. You might have heard of the restaurant chain – well, this is where it originates. We were fortunate enough to have an absolutely gorgeous day when we visited; the entire lake was crystal clear and, well, the photos speak for themselves. Quaint little boats, lots of seaweed as it’s a salt water lake, and absolutely stunning hills to boot.

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In fact, the photos from this particular day have been keeping my Instagram going for a while. Each angle had something different to offer, and it was truly spectacular to have it all right in front of you. Behind us was the town of Inveraray, site of Inveraray Castle and Inverarary Jail. The castle has a history dating back to the 1400s, though the building itself is more recent, and has some beautifully maintained grounds. The jail, which housed adults and children alike, allows visitors to walk into the old cells, while the audio guide explains what barbaric punishments and terrible conditions prisoners had to endure when it was in use – it has been closed since 1889. It may sound bleak, but if you’re a history geek like I am, it’s definitely worth a visit.

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The third and final place I’ll mention in this post is The Hill House. No, not related to the book, the films or the Netflix series about a haunted house. This is simply… a house on a hill. Except, it’s a bit more intriguing than that: the National Trust have taken care of this house because, built in the Victorian Era, it was created with an extremely out-of-the-norm art-deco style. Unfortunately, the man who had the house built didn’t quite take into account the amount of rain the house would have to endure, and so it’s always had a perennial damp problem. The solution? A really, really big box.

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Under the great metal cage lies the house, turrets and pebble-dash and all, and the strange opportunity to walk not only through the house, but over it as well. The outside seemed to me to be rather unassuming, but the inside was unexpectedly light and airy, though unfortunately I didn’t take many photos so I can’t show you here. Take my word for it – it is like one ginormous art piece; from the walls to the doors to the furniture, everything is carefully selected and feels oddly ahead of its time. Me being me, of course, I managed to whack my head on one of the metal wall lights while admiring the piano. Tall and clumsy, anyone? No? Just me? Cool.

So, that pretty much concludes this long-overdue blog post. We weren’t too concerned with rushing here, there and everywhere on this holiday, so we had a couple of quiet days as well. I even got into a swimming pool for the first time in years – though in order for that to happen we did dedicate an entire day to finding me a bikini… But it isn’t the time or place for that story! Either way, I’ll always maintain the relief from finding yourself some quiet time outside, surrounded by nature, is never to be underestimated.

Where was the last place you went on holiday?

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I Completed Adriene Mishler’s 30 Day Yoga Journey

If any of you have spent any time browsing YouTube for workout videos, you’ve probably come across Yoga With Adriene. With more than 4.5 million subscribers, Adriene’s channel is nothing if not successful; throughout the year she uploads free yoga practice videos suitable for anyone, from beginners to those who’ve been doing yoga for years.

I myself first stumbled upon her videos back in my first year of university, so around two years ago now. I’ll admit – I’ve not been consistent in my practice. University living generally doesn’t come with a lot of floor space, so I’d take my opportunities where I could. This year though, I have just enough floor space for me and my yoga mat to fit in my bedroom, so I thought I’d take advantage.

Adriene’s 30 Day Yoga Journey (not challenge) is something of an annual event; every January she releases a video per day, all aimed towards finding what feels best for you and your body.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m hypermobile – I’ve probably spent about half of my life injured at this point in some way or another, so fitness has always been a bit of an uphill battle. I’ve seen various physiotherapists who have liked to inform me that my hamstrings in particular are very short for someone my height, so that’s fun. So what I’ve always wanted to know was, if I were to follow a regular yoga routine (which, of course, involves a lot of stretching and muscle control), would any of this improve?

Day 1: Discern

The hardest thing about doing anything like this is getting started. Day one happened to take place on the same day I was travelling back to university after Christmas, which involved a lot of luggage, a car, a train, the tube, another train, and a taxi over the course of about six hours. Then came the unpacking, the food shopping, and the general tidying. So it’s safe to say I wasn’t feeling it when, at about half ten at night, I decided to lay out my yoga mat.

The good news? When the 50-minute session was finally over, I felt a great sense of triumph.

Days 2 & 3: Foundation & Observe

I decided I’d try doing the sessions in the morning, before my day had started, and see how that felt. And honestly, it felt good. I struggle with dark winter mornings, but Adriene’s videos are always soothing to the soul. It was nice to wake up, crawl onto the yoga mat, and just gently wake up my body.

Day 4: Feel

When day four rolled around, I thought I’d save it for the evening again – only a 20 minute practice this time, it was a floor session focusing on the shoulders, spine, and – wait for it – the hamstrings. And yep, mine are still very tight! But the session went well, it relaxed my spine somewhat (another thing that’s been very tense lately), and again, I felt better afterwards. Could this be the key to a happier body?

Day 6: Core

Day 6 was a day I coincidentally found out what has been going on with my ribs recently, and it turned out to be inflamed cartilage. But I figured that as Adriene’s yoga practices haven’t made my ribs feel painful at any time, it should be fine to continue. Plus I’d heard that yoga can help with inflammation, which is definitely something my body could do with!

Days 8 & 9: Meditate & Divine

I ended up doing days eight and nine on the same day – day nine. I spent actual day eight in a lot of pain with my ribs, which probably wouldn’t have been too much of an issue as the Meditate session was very gentle, but I felt like I’d be better off with my hot water bottle and working on my deadline. As Adriene says, it’s about finding what feels good.

I woke up feeling much better on day nine, so did day eight’s practice in the morning, and day nine’s in the evening. The day nine practice was definitely more strength-based, but I noticed my heels in downward dog were suddenly a lot closer to the ground (though not quite there yet), and my arms were shaking less on the planks. I even managed all the push ups! Bent knees, but still…

Day 15: Reveal

It’s been a while since I checked in, so I thought the half-way point would be a good place to do so. Today’s practise, ‘reveal’, was a short 17 minute practice in which Adriene remarked that if you keep consistent with yoga, its magic will reveal itself to you. And weirdly enough, I have noticed changes – in the way I hold myself, in the way I move, even in the way I breathe. Every now and again during the day I’ll find myself just taking a few deep breaths, or adjusting my posture to one better for my body. All without conscious effort.

Day 18: Love

In the interests of honesty, I have no idea what happened with this practice – I don’t think it was the practice itself, but my body just was not feeling it. Maybe because I didn’t eat much the day before? Who knows. I struggled through the video just to say I’d done it. But I’m over half-way now, so I’m not giving up.

Day 20: Lead

Two days later and my day eighteen hiccup turned out to be just that – a hiccup. Today’s practice came with the pleasing revelation that I can, for the first time in my life (I’m 21), bend over and touch my toes! Normally, the furthest I get is just past my knees, or maybe somewhere around mid-calf. Not anymore…

Day 30: Liberate

My main thought at this point was something along the lines of “I’ve done it!”. 30 days of yoga, completed in (I’ll be honest) 31 days. That’s not too bad going, right? The final session was unguided, with the option to either follow Adriene or to do your own thing, and it was surprising to me to find that even without her speaking, her guidance still sounded in my head, a friendly voice of support.


So what did I think overall?

Well, the biggest things to note are probably the physical changes in my body. My wrists (previously notoriously weak) are much stronger. My hamstrings are looser. I can touch my toes, and I can do some push ups. My thighs are stronger. I don’t want to blanket state that my balance (also notoriously terrible) is loads better, because that does differ day to day, but I would say there is more control there now.

Mentally, I’d say it’s refreshing. This month hasn’t been hugely stressful anyway, but it has been an enjoyable space to wander off by myself and bring my attention back to the basics. It’s funny, because I let some friends know I was doing the month journey and one of them said “oh, I forget you do yoga.” I agreed – I usually forgot too. But now, we’re in February, and Adriene releases monthly calendars of video suggestions day by day, and I’m planning to continue the practice. Maybe not everyday, though I will if I can.

So is it worth the time? I’d say so.

Blogger Recognition Award!

Blogger Recognition Award

A couple of days ago, the lovely Jess Cantoni nominated me for the Blogger Recognition Award! Jess runs two blogs, the one linked above, and Jess Eats and Travels, so she’s one hard working woman and you should definitely check her out!

The rules for this tag…

  1. Link back to the original post and the blogger who tagged you.
  2. Write a little about why you started blogging and your blog’s origins.
  3. Two pieces of advice you’d give to new bloggers.
  4. Choose (& tag!) 15 other bloggers for this award.

I started my blog in 2015. Specifically, just after my eighteenth birthday in November 2015. At the time I was a couple of months into year twelve, my first year of sixth form, and a lot was happening around me that was, frankly, making me sad. I started this blog because writing has always been a stress reliever for me and something I’ve loved, but I was finding it hard to make time for it – so I figured if I made an upload schedule for a blog, I might. I also thought regularly writing would be the best way for me to improve my style & become more comfortable reading my own writing.

Almost three years later and I have a small audience for my blog, but I’m comfortable with that – it’s very much my space and that’s all I wanted it to be! It’s definitely been through a variety of changes – themes, categories, content, upload frequency (this one does amuse me somewhat). But right now, I write about travel when I can, I write about the things that are close to my heart, and things I get up to. I’m currently uploading every Sunday (and a couple of Saturdays here and there too!).

Two pieces of advice I’d give to new bloggers… Firstly, I’d say don’t be in it for the numbers. Whether your blog becomes a high-flying site with lots of sponsors or not, the important thing is that it’s what you make it! And whatever you make, if you’ve put the effort in, it should be something you can be proud of.

Secondly, I’d say not to force it – if you know that all you’ll be uploading is a half-hearted blog post simply because you think you should be uploading, it would probably be more beneficial to take a step back and find your motivation again, and then upload when you’re happy with where you’re at.

My tags for this award are…

Katie from Katie L Clark

Lorna from Lorna Illustrates

Maud from My Passion Projects

Dani from World, Meet Dani

Liv from Seabreeze Corner

Jess from Foundations and Fairytales

Luke from Luke Heywood Style

Farrah from Farrah Aslam

Rebecca from Rebecca Jayne

Emmax from Lifeofemmax

Esther from Esther Wyse

Matt and Ally from Borderline Backpackers

Rebecca from Rebecca Faye

Emily from Emily Underworld

Ellie from Head in the Clouds

A great big thanks to Jess for nominating me! Happy October and I look forward to reading all your posts!