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A year in the life of a Scotland blogger – my 2016 highlights

12 months as a Scotland blogger

I can’t believe 12 months have passed since I tentatively dipped my toes into the world of blogging with this Scottish travel blog.  At the time it was a world alien to me.

Instagram was my thing. I was part of a diverse group of Scottish Instagrammers and loved sharing images and little snippets of information about Scotland.  I received some flattering recognition for my photos and had a loyal following, so with more than a little trepidation I decided to diversify and become a ‘Scottish travel blogger’ too.

My plan was to craft my blogs around my photos, but when they say a photo tells a thousand words you generally don’t need to write a thousand words to accompany it – unless you’re a blogger that is.

A good USP for a Scotland blogger – where to start

I wanted a hook for my Scotland blog, something to give it character and a unique selling point. While I wanted it to be informative and factual, I also wanted it to be lighthearted and fun.

And then I found it, my USP and the hook for my Scotland blog – my beloved, travelling companion Casper the Westie. Or as he’d now become known, The Wee White Dug.  What’s not to love about travelling around Scotland with a wee Scottish dug, then writing about the fun you have together?

My introductory blog ‘Meet the Wee White Dug’ was well received.  People were actually out there reading and encouraging me to write more.  I was humbled, shocked and delighted.

I found writing extremely satisfying and therapeutic.  It was also amazed at how I recollected things so clearly when I focussed my mind on writing.

My first assignment as a Scotland blogger – yippee

And then in June came the first contact from a local PR company on behalf of the Whisky Lounge and Scotch Malt Whisky Society.  They wanted me to host a competition online to win a pair of tickets to the Edinburgh Whisky Solstice and there was a free press pass for me to attend too.  I jumped at the chance as it was something different.  I’d previously tried to get better acquainted with my national drink on the Isle of Islay with disastrous consequences.  I’d have crunched into a cyanide capsule with more relish than I drank a nip of Bowmore 15-Year-Old Darkest Single Malt Whisky.

This time was different I loved the whisky and the experience.  I was chuffed that I’d finally conquered my fear of whisky.

A terrifified Scotland blogger takes to the trees!

Next came a more terrifying fear than whisky – heights.  I was invited to experience a Treetop Adventure at Go Ape Glentress Forest near Peebles.  Whisky and swinging through the treetops.  I was beginning to wonder how I was portraying myself the blog to be considered for such unique opportunities. An adrenaline junkie with a penchant for hard liquor clearly.

I found my treetop adventure terrifying and exhilarating.  Mr G who I’d dragged along reluctantly, took to it like a duck to water. He zip-lined through the trees like he was auditioning for a 1970s Milk Tray ad. Afterwards he posed proudly with his completion certificate – there was even talk of having it laminated. I was just grateful to have both feet planted firmly back on the ground and for the shaking in my knees to subside.

A hotel review – some luxury for this Scotland blogger

Someone in PR land clearly took pity on me after my whisky and treetop shenanigans as my next blogging assignment was to enjoy a ‘Picnic with Mercure’ and a stay at the stunning and very dug friendly Ardoe House Hotel in beautiful Aberdeenshire.  It had been a miserable summer but that weekend in late August the weather played ball and Mr G, myself and the Wee White Dug enjoyed a lavish picnic of tasty local produce in the perfect setting of Crathes Castle.  It was bliss – sunshine, Aberdeenshire’s fairytale castles, stunning scenery and a sumptuous hotel stay.

The perfect assignment for a history geek

Being a history geek my next assignment was right up my street. As the leaves took on their gorgeous autumnal hues, we headed to the UNESCO World Heritage Site at New Lanark.  A historic cotton mill and mill worker village, it’s a fantastic visitor attraction and a really enjoyable day out.  We loved meeting the friendly ghost of 10-year-old Mill Worker Annie McLeod.

The nearby Falls of Clyde were an added bonus and the wee dug enjoyed a woodland walk, foraging through freshly fallen autumn leaves.

A Scotland blogger escapes to the country

As 2016 drew to a close and Black Friday fear gripped the nation, we turned our back on the consumer mass hysteria and headed for a scenic and remote spot in Lerags Glen near Oban. I was only too happy to support Embrace Scotland in a cause close to my heart by getting involved in their Paws for a Break campaign. The campaign aimed to promote Scotland as the perfect destination for a pet friendly break.  There’s nowhere more perfect in my humble opinion.

We struck gold with our accommodation at Cologin Country Chalets & Lodges. It was a great base for exploring the surrounding area and we managed to pack loads into the weekend we spent there. On the Saturday night when the on site country inn, The Barn had a power cut we ate dinner by candle and firelight and dubbed it Black Saturday. Calm, stress free and way more enjoyable that the horror show that is Black Friday.

Posh scones and a birthday for my Scotland blog

I adore Christmas but refuse to embrace it until December arrives. I was able to get right into the Christmas spirit in 2016 with an early December visit to the Royal yacht Britannia for their Christmas Weekend.  The yacht looked wonderful all decorated for Christmas. There was shortbread, mulled wine and a fun corgi treasure hunt.  There was also the best scone I’ve ever eaten and a fascinating insight into the historic yacht, which turned out to be nothing like I expected it to be. It was a great day out and a really enjoyable way to end my first year as a ‘Scotland blogger’.

This year in between a varied array of blogging assignments, I was honoured to be invited to become a Visit Scotland Ambassador.  The Visit Scotland online community is something I’m incredibly proud of and it was wonderful to be involved from the very beginning.

I’ve also put wellies, cagoules, backpacks and midgie sprays through their paces in the Scottish great outdoors so you could say that my first year of blogging has been a tad diverse. It’s also been hair-raising, interesting, a gastronomic delight and most of all a privilege and a huge amount of fun.

It wouldn’t have been any of those things without you guys – my lovely readers who take the time to read, comment and encourage me. I can’t begin to tell you how much I appreciate you indulging me in my passion for sharing Scotland with the world.

A big thank you too to those of you who’ve allowed me the opportunity to blog for you, making my first year of blogging a memorable one.

Tonight I’ll be raising a glass to toast you all on the first birthday of ‘Scotland with the Wee White Dug’ – slàinte mhath.

And as I stop a while to reflect fondly on 2016 I look forward to exciting new opportunities for my wee Scotland blog in 2017.

* I made it to the end of year two and it was even more fun!  Here’s how 2017 played out.

Until next time …………..

21 thoughts on “A year in the life of a Scotland blogger – my 2016 highlights”

  1. You’ve done a marvellous job with your blog! By far my favourite travel blog. I’m a little obsessed with Scotland. And my family all adore your great shots of the wee white dug.

    1. Samantha Grant – A Scottish travel blogger and digital influencer, exploring Scotland with my Westie Casper and husband Alex, to bring you the very best of scotland.
      Samantha Grant says:

      Thank you so much. Happy to hear you love Scotland and the Wee White Dug. 😊

  2. Philosofishal – Ohio – I write about writing and topics from poetry to travel to science. When not reviewing books and TV series, I champion creativity and photograph nature. As a thinker who loves ideas, I intuitively connect disparate concepts and inspire debate. As a teacher, I use connectedness to write and tutor. Obsessive in research, project planning, and knowledge input, I also get excited about dogs, birds, soccer, late-night ideas, the Outlander books and TV series, and psychology. I love alternative music, mind-bending films, languages, nature walks, and all things Scottish. My husband and I live with our canine babe in northeast Ohio.
    Philosofishal says:

    A very nice summary of highlights and what it’s been like for you. Thanks for the insight! You’re doing great, so keep it up in 2017. Can’t wait to see where you go next. Slainte mhath.

    1. Samantha Grant – A Scottish travel blogger and digital influencer, exploring Scotland with my Westie Casper and husband Alex, to bring you the very best of scotland.
      Samantha Grant says:

      Thank you – it’s been great fun so far. Looking forward to seeing what 2017 has in store. 😊

  3. Dawn-Marie – Scotland – Hello! I'm Dawn-Marie and I live in Ayrshire, South West Scotland. Think of a rugged coastline with a mix of sandy and rocky beaches, castles, stunning sunsets, rolling hills, woodlands walks and a few magical islands across the water to explore. I still haven't explored all of Ayrshire and Arran. I started my blog in November 2015 as a personal challenge and to teach myself to write and learn new digital skills. I soon realised that the only way to learn is to do it yourself. I also feel that my blog will eventually become my digital legacy. My children can look back and hopefully enjoy reading about my challenges. I love them both very much. I love to go on long walks, hike and cycle. I've not been as active the past few years though and my blog has been quieter. I try to post photos on my Instagram and share videos on my YouTube channel and more recently TikTok. I hope to get back outdoors this year (2022) to find my inner calm again. Getting outside in the fresh air with my eyes gazing across our beautiful landscape just makes me feel so much better. I hope you enjoy reading my stories and feel inspired to challenge yourself to try something new. It's so important to be happy in life. Do what makes you feel alive! 💙
    ~ Dawn-Marie ~ says:

    A huge congratulations on your blog anniversay Casper, Sam and Mr G! You’ve covered so much and been to many beautiful places. You’re such a brilliant writer and you’re photographs wow me all the time. I’m sure 2017 will bring you all many more opportunities. Let’s go on more adventures! I think we need more than 365 days in the year though … 🙂

    1. Samantha Grant – A Scottish travel blogger and digital influencer, exploring Scotland with my Westie Casper and husband Alex, to bring you the very best of scotland.
      Samantha Grant says:

      Thank you so much, that’s very kind of you. Like you I’ve had great fun in my first year after apprehensively taking the plunge. Definitely need to add more days to the year and stretch out the seasons for more trips. 2017 looks like it’s going to be great fun too. Here’s to a year of adventures. 🎉🍾

  4. edgar62 – Semi-retired in South Australia. Interests are Music (Andre Rieu, Anna Netrebko) Reading (SciFi / Crime) and History Movies: The Day After Tomorrow, Casablanca, The Man Who Would be King Community: Secretary Support group, Royal Flying Doctor Service.
    edgar62 says:

    Thank you for the posts and although I have only been here a short while, I have had great enjoyment from them. I look forward to next year and I will try to catch up on posts before I came – And you’re right, what’s not to love about a Westie in Scotland!

    1. Samantha Grant – A Scottish travel blogger and digital influencer, exploring Scotland with my Westie Casper and husband Alex, to bring you the very best of scotland.
      Samantha Grant says:

      Thank you for following along on our adventures. I look forward to hearing how your Scottish adventures go too.

  5. authorstephanieparkermckean – Fortrose, Scotland – While I am blessed to now live in Scotland with my wonderful husband, Alan, I'm a Texas girl and proud of Texas. I'm a writer--from birth--I think. Sunpenny Publishing has just released Bridge to Nowhere, the first in a Miz Mike series--and yes--Miz Mike is from Texas! Three Prongs where the misfits fit. Sounds a bit like Bandera, Texas!
    authorstephanieparkermckean says:

    Thanks for a brilliant 2016! Looking forward to sharing 2017 with you and the Wee White Dug. God bless.

    1. Samantha Grant – A Scottish travel blogger and digital influencer, exploring Scotland with my Westie Casper and husband Alex, to bring you the very best of scotland.
      Samantha Grant says:

      Thank you and likewise. Here’s to a fantastic 2017. X

  6. Haha love your photo sporting the Navy cap! As I read your intro: “the adventures of a wee white dug in Scotland” the words “children’s book” sprang to mind….. hmmmm?
    Cheers and all the best for 2017.

    1. Samantha Grant – A Scottish travel blogger and digital influencer, exploring Scotland with my Westie Casper and husband Alex, to bring you the very best of scotland.
      Samantha Grant says:

      Thanks Andrew – I’ll maybe compile a wee book based on the dug’s travels some day. Happy New Year when it comes. 😊

    1. Samantha Grant – A Scottish travel blogger and digital influencer, exploring Scotland with my Westie Casper and husband Alex, to bring you the very best of scotland.
      Samantha Grant says:

      Merci beaucoup 😊

  7. It’s been a great year. I may never get to visit Scotland, but your blog is the next best thing. My Corgis send their salutations to The Wee White Dug.

    Sue Grant Duffield

    1. Samantha Grant – A Scottish travel blogger and digital influencer, exploring Scotland with my Westie Casper and husband Alex, to bring you the very best of scotland.
      Samantha Grant says:

      Thank you Sue and hello to the Corgis. Hopefully you’ll manage to visit Scotland some day too. 😊

    1. Samantha Grant – A Scottish travel blogger and digital influencer, exploring Scotland with my Westie Casper and husband Alex, to bring you the very best of scotland.
      Samantha Grant says:

      Thank you – it’s been great fun. You really need to visit. Scotland is wonderful.

  8. Little Miss Traveller – England – An independent traveller writing about her visits to countries near and far - travel diaries and days out providing inspiration for fellow travellers
    Little Miss Traveller says:

    Congratulations on your first year of blogging – I’ve enjoyed following you through the year.

    1. Samantha Grant – A Scottish travel blogger and digital influencer, exploring Scotland with my Westie Casper and husband Alex, to bring you the very best of scotland.
      Samantha Grant says:

      Thank you – it’s been great fun.

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