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Retirement? Well, sort of!

Margaret, at Plockton.
We took the opportunity to visit Plockton, a couple of years ago.

It was 2015 when we sold our shop in Helensburgh, so technically, we’ve been retired now for five years! It’s passed in the blink of an eye. We miss all of our customers and also the chat, the gossip, the sad moments, the fun moments – but we don’t miss the work and we certainly don’t miss the responsibility of having a physical presence on the high street. Like many seaside towns, Helensburgh has its challenges and, now that the council have decided to upgrade the swimming pool and the parking on the seafront, there are going to be a couple of more “interesting” trading years for the businesses there. Infrastructure improvement is always important and, in the fullness of time, the town will benefit greatly from the new facilities.

So, what about our own lives? What has been the impact of retirement on our routines??

We have certainly slowed down; I don’t think I could contemplate working the hours that the business demanded. However, the plus side of being at home was that we could start to plan and execute renovations in our home – and by sheer chance, we chose to do the work last year. The builders were only interrupted by bad weather a couple of days; the work ran smoothly and we were delighted with the outcome. We’ve got a great new kitchen, a modernised bathroom and an extra bedroom. The house was rewired and we also had gas central heating installed (thank goodness!) I don’t know how we would have coped had the work been delayed till this year; the weather has been much windier and wetter, the Coronavirus pandemic has shut down most building sites with staff on furlough – and my guess is that we would be living in a building site for many more months to come! Luck was on our side last year.

Being able to spend time together is such a bonus. Sandy is enjoying doing the garden and practically killed himself riddling the gravel on the path and drive. I have been trying to keep our website up to date and to market our online business – but, to be honest, my concentration isn’t what it used to be and so I end up making adjustments little and often. We still do sell products and are happy to post things out to customers old and new. We so appreciate being able to reach customers old and new; as a now (very) small enterprise, this is enough to give us a modest top-up to our retirement income and to keep us aware of what is current and how technology is coming to the aid of high street stores who had no other way of reaching their customers while the United Kingdom was in lockdown.

We haven’t travelled as much as we would have liked but we have enjoyed visiting places in Scotland that we couldn’t reach while we were working. The Scottish islands are wonderful; we have several more to visit before we can tick them all of the list – so I’m looking forward to doing that over the next few years. It would be lovely to visit Fair Isle; the Shetland Isles and Orkney as well as Lewis and Harris. Another place we simply must visit is Islay – my mother used to spend holidays there when she was a child.

Retirement has been magic; the next few years look quite promising and we want to push on to see and learn as much as we can before our physical condition keeps us on a shorter leash!

MacGillivray’s

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A glorious Easter in Scotland

Cherry Blossom

Easter 2019 has been magnificent – the weather has been sunny and very warm. That has meant the beautiful scenery has been matched by stunning displays of cherry blossom and rhododendrons as well as spring bulbs on grass verges beside roads and in gardens.

Cherry blossom in Cardross

The Scotland’s Garden Scheme gives visitors the opportunity to explore gardens around Scotland – some of them only open a couple of times a year. “Scotland’s Gardens Scheme was founded in 1931 to raise money for the Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland, to help support the Queen’s Nurses, before the creation of the National Health Service. Our charitable support has expanded over the years but our love of gardens has remained constant.” There are often plants for sale on the open days and people can be seen heading back to their cars with arms full of plants in everything from cardboard boxes to carrier bags and black bin liners.

Margaret MacGillivray visiting Kilarden, Rosneath
Cherry Blossom, Scotland

The Scotlands Garden Scheme raises a lot of money for charity. Most weekends of the year, it is possible to find a garden open – and I would highly recommend taking the opportunity to explore.

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Instagram or bust?

I could spend my whole life viewing photos on instagram – and, to be honest, I do probably spend more time than is healthy, sitting at my pc, surfing the web.  (I’ve just been doing it right now!

Margaret MacGillivray
Grumpy old woman

I’ll just bet there are millions of youngsters out there, right this minute, busily snapping away, taking selfies, exposing themselves in all sorts of ways, with a view to garnering some attention and maybe some money for sponsored posts.

Well, good luck to them is what I say to that.  If you’ve got the brass neck to expose yourself so blatantly, maybe you do deserve a reward.  But, from the perspective of someone who lived a life before Instagram, the same pouty, pert, photogenic photos become extremely boring after about … thirty seconds!  I’m obviously not your target audience.  On the other hand, if you had managed to be interesting I might just have stuck around for a few minutes more to see what you’re promoting.

For goodness sake – do you always have to be centre stage??  Do I always have to look at your breasts hanging out of a bikini?  Or your ripped muscles about an inch away from the camera lens.  Get a life – go show me something else; for instance you walking to work, catching the subway, flying a Lear jet, standing at Monument Valley or the Tour Eiffel.

Aaaargh!

 

 

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Do you Instagram?

For several years, I ignored Instagram (silly me!) and, now that I’ve started to play there, I have a feeling that the real buzz is over.  Typical!  However, many millions of people still visit the site every day, so there is still interesting content out there.

So, what kind of things do I like to see on Instagram?  Well, sometimes it’s nice to follow a real person and see what they’re like in real life.

Happy Valentine’s Day, @MichelleObama. You make every day and every place better.

A post shared by Barack Obama (@barackobama) on

OK, I haven’t followed Barack Obama or Michelle – but, who knows!

Then, of course, there are the cute dog or cat photos (and, believe me there are millions of them!) so I’m always looking to see something different –

I loved watching the Queen walking through her gardens with David Attenborough, talking about the Commonwealth Canopy – what a project!

Travel photos are another rich area to explore – by jove, there are some amazing photographers out there.

Photo by @lochgmarcp #wigwamtravels

A post shared by Wigwam Digital (@wigwam.digital) on

Just wow – the view is spectacular – and some of us won’t have the oomph to find views like this. :O

So, finally, a little bit of self-interest here – there are also products to be found on instagram – and, on some of them, it’s possible to click through to the website and buy then and there!  So, as you would expect, I have been testing this out in the last few days so I include one of my own images, to see what reaction there will be to it – purely in the interest of self-satisfaction, you understand.

Believe me, this selection is just the tip of the iceberg – and some of the photos are things you probably don’t want to see or hear or read about.  But if you don’t tip your toe in the water, you’re never going to learn.  Enjoy!

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Visiting Scotland

We had some English visitors for the weekend – and it was great fun meeting them for the first time (although we’ve known each other for years on Facebook!)  Being online friends sometimes isn’t enough and we invited Debra and her daughter Annette to come visit us – turns out to be a brilliant decision as we had a great time.

The ladies booked a sleeper journey from Euston on the Caledonian Sleeper and then came to us via the local Glasgow train service.  As Sandy and I waited at the station to pick them up, the squally rain showers were zipping along the Clyde – and we started to worry that we would be house-bound for the weekend.

First stop - Carman Hill, Cardross
Carman Hill, Cardross

Ok, the weather was dry when we got out of the car at the top of Carman Hill – hoping to see a great view over the Clyde estuary – the low clouds had other ideas for us, though.  As we drove along the banks of Loch Lomond, there was no sign of Ben Lomond at all and the weather seemed to be closing in completely.

low cloud on the rest and be thankful
The Rest and Be Thankful

So, ever brave, even though there wasn’t much sign of good weather, we decided to go on to Inveraray.  We commented that the roads were quite busy – and then realised that the Scottish schools were on mid-term break (Tattie Holidays!) and, when we reached Inveraray, it was really quite busy.  Bracing – but definitely busy.

Inveraray
Bracing weather in Inveraray

Yes – you’ve spotted that Debra and Annette found some sunshine – and, although it was bracing, the scenery was stunning.  The Clyde Puffer, the Vital Spark, was tied up at the pier.

Vital Spark, Inveraray - ParaHandy
The Vital Spark – star of the ParaHandy TV Series

 

 

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Spring in Scotland

Narcissus
Spring in Scotland

This is the time of year when new life can be seen all around Scotland – just love the video of blackface lambs racing around the fields.

Not so sure about this one – a scary cat https://www.instagram.com/p/BSbYv8ujYQR/

The only Lake in Scotland – and a priory to visit at Inchmahome

Want to get married in Scotland – Luss Church is one very busy church where brides and grooms from all around the world tie the knot.

 

 

 

 

 

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Happy New Year 2017

Now that we’re semi-retired, we get to explore a little.  Perhaps that’s over-stating it as we do sell online and have to be around to manage the orders, but if we didn’t afford ourselves the luxury of day-trips, life would be a little boring.

So far this year we’ve visited two different coffee shops.  The first was in Broughty Ferry.  We went to the amazing Visocchis – Italian Coffee Shop and Ice Cream Parlor, Broughty Ferry  in Gray Street.  As it was just after New Year, there weren’t many places open and the place was jumping.  We were lucky, though, and found a table for four.  Visocchis specialise in pasta and pizza and their own, delicious home made ice cream and cakes.  I ordered lasagne and the others ordered Paperdelle Visocchi and Fettucine Al Salmone – rave reviews all round.  The ice cream deserts met all expectations, too.  Would we go back?  Definitely!

Coffee Shop

The next day, we decided to visit The Smiddy at Doune – run by the Blair Drummond Estate.  It’s brand new (opened just before Christmas 2016) and looked interesting, set back from the junction of the A84 and A873.  The building is brand new and nicely laid out.  Walking through the farm shop and gift shop, you come to the dining area which has a view out over open fields.

I had the steak pie from the lunch menu – while Sandy had one of the specials, gammon steak, egg and chips.  Both really tasty.

Sitting and watching, the staff were very attentive and food was made to order.  We did notice that some diners were getting a little impatient waiting for a soup order but again, it was a busy day and the staff were obviously dealing with orders as they came in.

We would go back again!

 

 

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I love competitions

Do you enter competitions?  I don’t do it often enough but nowadays, with the ease of access of the internet, it can be great fun and there’s always a possibility that you will win the prize!

Calmac Competitoin
Win a Trip to Arran and Islay

Caledonian MacBrayne (Calmac) competition for August is a trip to Arran and Islay for two plus car with a couple of nights accommodation on each island – and I think that’s a great way to get a taster of the Scottish islands.

I really would love to win this myself but, hey, I’d also love to see Scotland buzzing with visitors, especially if they’ve managed to win a prize from Calmac!

Keep an eye on this page – I’ll be adding more Scottish holiday competitions when I find them online!  Good luck 🙂

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Glamis Castle Gardens

Glamis Castle, birthplace of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.
Glamis Castle

It’s been about five years since we last visited Glamis Castle;  it was a chill November day and we had got lost trying to find Broughty Ferry (don’t ask!) and so we ended up at Glamis instead.  It turned out to be a fortuitous mistake as we just loved our tour of the Castle and our lunch in their coffee shop.  Scottish November days, though, get dark very early and we didn’t have time to visit the gardens.

We had the chance to visit the castle recently;  because time was short, we decided just to explore the gardens – we were so glad that we did because we discovered just how amazing and accessible they are.  The walks are well organised and flat, so if you’re not very fit, they are a great way to get some exercise.  We explored the walled garden, the pinetum, the Italian garden and some of the magnificent lawned areas;  all very impressive.

Hopefully we’ll be back soon to explore some more of this historical castle.