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 …………..