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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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 🙂
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.
It’s official – we’ve retired from the shop in Helensburgh – best wishes to Bill, Christine and family who are now running Argyll Chandlers Ltd from our former premises at 89 West Clyde Street. It’s been a blast, being in business in the town for 26 years but we’re taking the foot off the gas a little bit and starting to enjoy our retirement.
So, I hear you ask, why did you mention semi-retirement??
Well, we’re still selling online on the internet – it would have been too much of a shock to stop work altogether – and that will allow us to do some work most days while giving us the freedom to have days out, work in the garden and catch up on friends and family – but not necessarily in that order.
Here’s to keeping in touch with our online friends and family!