Taking Time Out in the Scottish Highlands

The Lonely Planet calls The Trossachs, ‘achingly beautiful’. Less than an hour’s drive north of the hustle and bustle of Glasgow, The Trossachs (also known as the gateway to the Highlands) couldn’t be more different to Scotland’s second city. It’s a mountainous National Park, with lochs around just about every corner, plenty of wildlife and lush, rolling countryside in abundance.

This is a place of peace and tranquillity, where internet connection and mobile phone signals are practically non-existent, where cars slow to allow ducks to cross the road, red squirrels climb the trees and the only sounds you wake to in the mornings are the gush of a nearby waterfall, the trill of birds singing and the wind whispering through the forest.

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The Breathtaking Beauty of Snowdonia National Park

‘Mountain, forest, desert or sea?’ I always have a problem answering that travel question. Truth is, a part of me wants to sample a bite of each. But ask me, ‘mountain range or lowlands’ and my answer trips right off the tongue – mountains every time.

Whether driving, walking, riding or even flying over, there is something majestic about navigating mountainous regions. All those lovely winding roads, not knowing what is around the corner, what magnificent view will befall you next, lots of nooks and crannies that cry out to be investigated. It’s that enchanting air of mystery that makes my toes tingle with excitement and intrigue.

We are blessed with many such areas in the UK: from the beautiful Derbyshire Dales to the ruggedness of Cumbria and the Lakes, to the impressive Scottish Highlands; the magic of the Black Mountains in South Wales. This week I was fortunate to visit another area which has secured its place firmly in my list of favourites.

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Bollo’s Rabbiting Moment

I wandered down the field this morning, balmy sunshine sinking into my arms. It was one of those mornings that make you smile, when you suddenly feel happy to be alive.

Bollo was milling around my feet, foraging through bushes, checking out the sweet smells of the countryside. Or so I thought… You know that moment when you suddenly get a feeling there is something wrong? It’s almost like a sixth sense thing; you get a feeling in your gut, the hairs on the back of your neck prick up?

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A French Adventure

There is something about arriving in a country where they speak a different language that sends a frisson of excitement through me.

Stretching up to Belgium and Germany in the north, across to Switzerland and Italy in the east, and down to Spain and the wonderfully warm Mediterranean in the south, France covers over 643,000 square kilometres and offers a plethora of different regions and climates for the traveller to sample. The northern regions like Normandy mirror the temperate climate of Britain; the eastern alps, often still impassable in April and May offer excellent ski opportunities in winter; St Tropez and Cannes on the French Riveria (and the Principality of Monaco – one of my personal faves) offer wonderfully warm French chic and excellent sailing opportunities; while Marseille straddles the Med. at the bottom, almost guaranteeing succulent summer sunshine. And this is only the tip of the iceberg with many wonderful regions within.

This year we set our sights on the Dordogne in the south west, flying into its capital of Bordeaux. Not generally a lover of resorts, I find a car gives us the freedom to avoid the tourist traps, explore the surrounding area at our leisure, eat at French cafes, visit markets and soak up the local culture. 

Nestled in rolling countryside, equidistant between two ancient bastides, and offering panoramic views of surrounding fields of sunflowers, maize, Cyprus trees and olive groves the gite named ‘Josse’ was our home for the week. Josse is a beautiful 18th century construction with a large swimming pool, table tennis, badminton, bbq… In short, everything you need to occupy an eleven year old, not to mention two forty somethings;)

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Guest Post: Living and Writing in Pembrokeshire by Tony Riches

It’s wonderful to be joined on the blog today by my fabulous Tweep friend, Tony Riches, who talks with great passion about his life in Pembrokeshire, South Wales:  I live and write in Pembrokeshire, near the coast in the far south west of Wales.   (For readers who have never heard of it, Pembrokeshire is … Read More →