Memories of Mull

Life has been busy lately*, and this little blog ended up hibernating for longer than I anticipated. With each passing week, it became harder to summon the motivation or energy to write, so blogging fell down the to-do list and then off it completely as other things (mostly lesson planning) took priority. So, it’s time to pick up where things on here left off: with last July’s trip to the Highlands. First up: snippets from our time on the glorious Isle of Mull, off the west coast of Scotland.

*We eloped in the Highlands, bought our first house and adopted an adorable ball of floof (aka a cat), all in the space of the last six months.

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Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park: Cruach Àrdrain and Beinn Tulaichean

When I sat down to write this post, I struggled to find words that would do Cruach Àrdrain and Beinn Tulaichean justice. We had incredible views along the entire route – amongst the best I’ve ever had on a hike. I celebrated another birthday in the hills. Throw in a borderline unhealthy dose of adrenalin (read: sheer panic) when we underestimated how steep Cruach Àrdrain was and found ourselves in a bit of a pickle on the NE slope, and we had the recipe for an unforgettable trip.

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Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park: Stob Binnein and Ben More

When it came to choosing a few Munros to bag over the course of my birthday weekend, it didn’t take us long to decide where to go: Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. We’ve explored embarrassingly little of it since moving to Edinburgh, but are (very) slowly rectifying that. Past Balquhidder, there’s a cluster of four Munros that can be combined into a two-day/one-night circular route. We tackled Stob Binnein and Ben More on the Saturday (this post), and Cruach Àrdrain and Beinn Tulaichean on the Sunday (stay tuned for those two).

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Edinburgh: One Day, Seven Hills

And just like that, it’s September and this wee corner of the internet has been (as was perhaps inevitable) neglected for the best part of a month. I’m five weeks into my year as a newly-qualified teacher in a new-to-me school, and it has been equal parts enjoyable and exhausting. But I digress. Today’s blog is a space for one of Edinburgh’s best urban walks: Seven Hills.

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A Few Favourites from Edinburgh’s #GiraffeAboutTown Art Trail

If you’ve been out and about in Edinburgh over the past month, you’ve probably noticed a few tall, brightly-coloured additions to the city’s streets. Wild in Art and Edinburgh Zoo have teamed up to bring a herd of forty-odd giraffe sculptures (plus thirty more wee ones designed by schools and local communities) to Edinburgh. Some are wacky, others whimsical. All of them have brought a smile to my face. I’ve had oodles of fun scouting out Edinburgh’s newest residents on recent trips into town, and today I’m going to share a few of my favourites (in no particular order).

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Puffin-Spotting at the Isle of May National Nature Reserve

Puffins are, quite possibly, the most endearing species of bird – and the Isle of May National Nature Reserve is home to thousands of them. 46,000 pairs, in fact, according to the sheet on display on the island. (And if for some bizarre reason puffins aren’t your thing, there are plenty of other seabirds to see.)

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Pentland Hills Regional Park: Hare Hill via Loganlea Reservoir and Maiden’s Cleugh

Hare Hill is, for me at least, the jewel in the Pentland Hills Regional Park’s crown. We’ve hiked up it in March, September, February and June (in that order, since moving to Bonnie Scotland), and have done a mixture of out-and-backs and longer loops.

Rewind to June, and the Platinum Jubilee bank holiday. (However you feel about the Royal Family, a four-day weekend is always a good idea in my books.) Previous bank holiday outings have tended to fall into one of two camps on the weather front: overcast with optional drizzle and/or downpours, or stonking hot. Mercifully, this particular bank holiday was a happy midpoint: glorious sunshine and definitely t-shirt weather, but not so hot that we felt in danger of melting into a puddle.

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Oaty Lemon Squares | Carrés Citron-Avoine

[veuillez défiler vers le bas pour la version française]. For one reason or another, I’ve not posted a recipe for almost two years. During one of the lockdowns (I’ve not a clue which), I stumbled upon a recipe for creamy lemon crumble bars. Think baked cheesecake and traditional fruit crumble rolled into one bite-sized bar. Delicious. I’ve been tinkering with it on and off for the past year, experimenting with other flavours (see the tips section) along the way, and here’s the result: a tasty, tangy-but-sweet treat that’s ideal as a lunchbox snack and wouldn’t look out of place at an afternoon tea. Bon appétit!

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Loch Rannoch and Glen Lyon: A Weekend of Cycling and Munro-Bagging

Although I spent a fair chunk of the Easter break penning the penultimate assignment for my PGDE (I can’t even begin to tell you how relieved I was to see the back of that particular one), there was still plenty of time for exploring. We opted for the area around Loch Rannoch and Glen Lyon, and while it’s impossible to see everything this area has to offer in the space of a few days, you’re sure to leave wanting more. (I don’t know about you, but I’d far rather a trip ended on that note.) Here’s what we got up to…

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An A-Z of the PGDE

While I was living out in Lyon, my oldest friend was doing her PGCE. She likened it to a year-long driving test – and that analogy rang true for me when I did my PGDE (the Scottish equivalent of the PGCE) this year.

You see, while you’re training there’s always a colleague at the back of the room – just like there’s always someone in the passenger seat accompanying a learner driver. They observe you in action, and provide feedback to help you hone your skills. You reflect on how your lesson went (some will be total car-crashes, others will feel more like a trip in Mr Weasley’s Flying Ford Anglia) and identify which aspect(s) of your practice you need to work on. Little by little, you gain confidence and competence behind the wheel (or stood in front of thirty-odd teenagers, as the case may be).

And then, just like that, the course finishes. Placement 3, done and dusted. The last assignments submitted. You pass. Next time you stand up in front of a class, there’ll be no one* observing you day in day out (which is both exciting and terrifying).

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