So, as I sit here on a Moray evening in December, it is not surprising our days have become shorter and the long nights are coming in earlier; summer seems a distant memory. With our longer summer days and shorter nights, it is hard sometimes to appreciate our global location. For example, did you know that in Moray, we are on the same latitude as Kodiak Island – we don’t have bears!
Orkney Islands Day Trip
This makes me think of some Summer holiday activities you can do from here. This Summer, I found the time to take a day trip to the Orkney Islands. It is a day full of incredible new experiences and sights. The ferry ride home was magical, and the scenery was not to be missed. Again, latitude-wise, I was reminded that as I marvelled at the medieval St Magnus Cathedral, I was closer to Norway than London and still in the UK!
Speyside Cooperage Visit
This summer, I also found the time to visit Speyside Cooperage and watched the ancient art of Coopering with fascination. Still using many traditional methods, the Coopers busy themselves shaping, shaving and charring casks for what is an integral part of the local whisky industry. The skill of looking after these barrels is incredible, and each distillery has its special barrels. I recommend a visit as you explore our local distilleries.
And, of course, every Summer is complete with a visit to Edinburgh. Although we are in the Highlands, it is a very scenic drive through the Cairngorms National Park or an easy journey on the train from Aviemore to arrive where you need to be in the city centre. Both of my visits to Edinburgh this year were on business.
The first trip was to celebrate Blervie House’s inclusion in the latest “Scotland The Best” guidebook. Written by Peter Irvine, who knows Scotland inside out, it is a special honour to be included in his Guide. The second visit was to a Visit Scotland meeting in Leith, the old maritime centre of Edinburgh and the current home of the Royal Yacht Britannia. That allowed me to explore a new side of Edinburgh. I loved the waterfront and lovely restaurants in that area, which was so accessible from the city centre.
So as Christmas approaches, like most of us, I will think of what presents to give and look forward to Hogmanay. Scotland will be celebrating the Year of Coastal Waters 2020, so with Moray having some 35 miles of Coastline and some of the best Dolphin spotting in the UK, there will be some great new experiences.
This can only lead me to wish all of you reading this a Happy Christmas and hope you find some time to plan your own 2020.
Top Tip – if you are booking a car hire from Edinburgh, consider hiring from one of the Leith locations as it makes pick up and driving out of Edinburgh very easy, plus it gives you time to enjoy the city without a car!