I am two

🎈 I am two today🎈

I seem to have found my legs and feet. I’m a little less wobbly and curious to explore more of the unknown.

It’s my blog’s second birthday! I can honestly say I’m happy to be here. It’s interesting as I write this to look back and reflect on what I’ve achieved.

My head has been saying that I’ve not done enough, I’ve missed doing this or that. Maybe I’m being too hard on myself and I really have covered more than enough ground this year?

My plans over the last year haven’t totally worked out though. I was hoping I could travel to different places in the north of Scotland and share these with you. I struggled to get very far, so I’ve mostly been exploring closer to home.

I visited the Isle of Arran in Ayrshire a few times this year. There are so many walks and mountains I’ve still to explore on this beautiful island. I’ll be back.

Here’s a snapshot of what I’ve been up to since my last blogday.

My peak challenges

Thinking about it, I haven’t written as many stories this year because of my physical challenges as part of My Peak Challenge.

I ran my very first half marathon in May 2017. The training for this was more tiring than I thought it would be. I’m smiling here but I remember feeling so tired. I only had four hours sleep the night before. I was peaker determined though and didn’t walk even though my legs were aching. I’m so proud to say I finished!

After this I said I wouldn’t run another half marathon…

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Edinburgh Half Marathon

Next it was my walking challenge, the Arran Coastal Way, including a wee secret wedding. It was so relaxing the first two days on the Isle of Arran, just the two of us. This was the magical natural medicine we both needed.

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Machrie Standing Stones, Isle of Arran, Ayrshire

Then it was time to put my walking boots on for seven days of hiking around the stunning coastline of Arran with my lovely husband. My poor wee walking boots are now worn out and torn… I’ll need to look for a replacement pair. I say a fond cheerio to my boots who took me on many adventures.

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View to Drumadoon Fort from the King’s Cave, Isle of Arran, Ayrshire

It was a very special time for us both. I’ll never forget it and I have my stories and video to remind me if I ever do. That’s what I love about writing on my blog, I can look back and remember my adventures through my own words, photos and videos.

It was also a pleasure to share this walk with fellow peaker Anne and her sister Kathy. I think I’ve sold Arran to them … even though they both experienced tough challenges too. When they return it will hopefully be a more relaxing visit!

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Anne and Kathy

After our memorable time on the picturesque Isle of Arran it was back to the running training. I was running another half marathon in October… I did say never again, didn’t I?

I had already committed to this run in 2016 so there was no opting out. I was even more tired training for this. I seemed to have lost my mojo a little. No matter how tired I was I kept going as I was raising funds for the charity Bloodwise.

I’m pleased to say that I finished the run with fellow peaker Sara. This was the first time we’d met each other. It was nice to have Sara running with me as I’m usually running alone. This run was slightly more enjoyable than my first half marathon in May. I was so relieved when we were almost at the finish line, as you can see!

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Me and Sara near the finish line!

Other peakers were running the 10k and half marathon as well. I didn’t get a chance to see everyone sadly. It was so busy. I’m so proud that everyone finished their run and I briefly met some lovely peakers at the finish line.

These challenges are part of my peak challenge, helping to raise funds for the charity Bloodwise. I have a list of many other challenges, they’re not all physical. So many kind people have sponsored me and to date I’ve raised £464.34.

Thank you very much everyone. I really appreciate the support 💙

My blog stories

I feel that my writing is improving, I seem to be writing longer posts now. Possibly too many words. It’s difficult to decide how long my posts should be, but I do try to break it up with nice photos. I hope this helps everyone enjoy it more.

Between my bigger challenges I managed to squeeze in some exploring since November last year.

  1. December challenges
  2. Dunure castle’s sunset
  3. The Merrick Trail
  4. Walking on Arran: Goat Fell Mountain
  5. Eglinton Castle and Country Park
  6. What lies beneath Culzean Castle
  7. Joining four rings on the Isle of Arran
  8. Arran Coastal Way ~ Day 1: Brodick to Sannox
  9. Arran Coastal Way ~ Day 2: Sannox to Lochranza
  10. Arran Coastal Way ~ Day 3: Lochranza to Imachar
  11. Arran Coastal Way ~ Day 4: Imachar to Blackwaterfoot
  12. Arran Coastal Way ~ Day 5: Blackwaterfoot to Lagg
  13. Arran Coastal Way ~ Day 6: Lagg to Whiting Bay
  14. Arran Coastal Way ~ Day 7: Whiting Bay to Brodick
  15. Day trip to Glencoe
  16. The water sources of whisky on Arran
  17. A golden autumn in the heart of Scotland

The eight posts about the Isle of Arran in June took over a lot of my spare time for a few months. I’m pleased with what I have written though and hope they also help others who are thinking of walking the coastal way. I definitely recommend it!

Improving my photography

I didn’t plan this, but I ended up booking myself on a 12 week photography course for beginners/intermediate to learn how to use my camera in manual mode. Using my camera in auto has given me some really nice photos, but I wanted to make them better.

I could never take decent night time shots, so using manual has shown me what my camera can do.

My new friend, the tripod, has also helped me capture clearer photos. Well … it’s sometimes my friend. Recently, the wind below my tripod over with my camera still on it. It’s now damaged showing a permanent black mark on every photo. Luckily, I can crop it out for now.

These are a few colourful night time photos I took at the new Illuminight light, fire and sound event at the Dean Castle and Country Park in Kilmarnock, Ayrshire this autumn. So beautiful and enchanting!

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Dean Castle and Country Park, Kilmarnock, Ayrshire
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Dean Castle and Country Park, Kilmarnock, Ayrshire
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Dean Castle, Kilmarnock, Ayrshire
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Dean Castle, Kilmarnock, Ayrshire

This is a photo of the Kilmarnock viaduct at night with trails of a bus passing. This is the first time I’ve tried anything like this. It gives an interesting effect, don’t you think? Quite ghostly!

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Kilmarnock Viaduct, Kilmarnock, Ayrshire

I’ve also been teaching myself, with a little help from my husband, to use Adobe Lightroom to slightly enhance my photos. I’m still not sure how to get the best out of this yet.

Scotland in 360

Scotland in 360 is a new page I created for my 360 photos. I’ve been experimenting with the Samsung Gear 360 camera. The photos don’t stitch together very well though and seem to cause a blurry join. Have a look at my pages and see what you think.

This is a photo of Culzean Castle from the rocky beach below and its caves. Look up, down and all around!

I haven’t used the camera for a while now as I found I was taking too much time juggling normal photos, 360 photos and video.

Thinking back, this is funny … when I was out taking 360 photos in the woodlands I had to set a timer, then run and hide behind a tree, log or wall so I wouldn’t be in the photo. There were a few takes and lots on the cutting room floor!

I will try taking more 360 photos though, it was fun trying to hide.

Scotland from above

I created a new page for our drone videos called Scotland from above.

My husband was lucky enough to buy a small drone this year. He’s been practising his flying and I’ve been creating short videos. We’re limited to when and where we can fly though. Rain and wind are not this wee drone’s friend and we can’t fly wherever we want.

We were excited to get permission from Dundonald Castle to take some drone footage of this magnificent 14th century royal castle. We even captured a stunning sunrise! I love walking through the woodlands here and along the Smugglers’ Trail.

Dundonald Castle, Ayrshire, Scotland from Love Exploring Scotland on Vimeo.

Drone photography

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Dundonald Castle, Ayrshire
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Drumadoon Fort, Isle of Arran, Ayrshire
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Dunure Castle, Ayrshire

Videos

I’ve really enjoyed dabbling in video. I’ve still so much to learn but I can now bring together clips, add words and music. Yay!

A few more of my favourite videos are the Arran Coastal Way, Arran Whisky Distillery Tour and Perthshire.

Arran Coastal Way, Isle of Arran, Scotland from Love Exploring Scotland on Vimeo.

Isle of Arran Whisky Distillery Tour, Ayrshire, Scotland from Love Exploring Scotland on Vimeo.

Perthshire, Scotland from Love Exploring Scotland on Vimeo.

I’m now also uploading my videos on Vimeo, YouTube and Facebook as some are a mix of drone and ground level recordings.

Making videos is purely a hobby and challenge, as is my blog. I’m sharing my love of Scotland and learning new skills along the way.

VisitScotland ambassador

I was so honoured when VisitScotland asked me this year if I would like to become a VisitScotland Ambassador and share my knowledge and adventures on their VisitScotland’s iKNOW Community.

The VisitScotland community is a friendly helpful place to go if you’re looking advice about visiting Scotland. Pop in, say hello! Use the search or post a message if you can’t find what you’re looking for. Remember to also visit their main website for everything you need to know about Scotland.

Facebook

I also created a Facebook page for my blog this year.

Facebook

I wasn’t sure about this for a long time. I kinda liked hiding in the background. Then I thought about my peak challenge. I should be challenging myself to do things I’m not comfortable with. It was time to try and overcome that fear, so I just went for it.

Blog design

I mentioned last year I wanted to look at changing my blog’s design. I tried some different WordPress templates and finally this month I liked this new template called Verity.  It looks pretty much the same on mobile and tablet, but PC viewing is much better! What do you think?

Reflection and inspiration

I want to be honest.

It may sound like I have wonderful adventures all the time. Mostly I do. I am happy in my life but I also have days when my mood can be low with that horrible anxious feeling hanging around, then stress creeps in unexpectedly.

My blog, running, walking and hiking is like medicine for me. It helps my lift mood. That’s why I always try to keep pushing myself with new challenges. I need it.

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Goat Fell, Isle of Arran, Ayrshire

The photo above is when I hiked Goat Fell with a friend I hadn’t seen in a long time. This was a brilliant way to catch up on a few years worth of talk!

We only had 800 feet or so to climb, but this was the hardest part. Although you can’t see it in this photo, further up the mountain it was quite scary with some deep snow covering the rocks. The path was buried. I’d never walked in the snow here before. Determined not to turn back, we both safely reached the top. Stunning 360 views as the reward!

Over the last two years, my peak challenge has helped me along the way to reach my goals. I never thought I’d ever run a half marathon, I ended up running two. This is from an unfit non-runner five years ago!

What’s next for me

I’ll be planning my peak challenges for 2018 soon. Once I create my list, that’s when my motivation will kick start again.

I don’t plan to run another half marathon, but I’ll still run shorter distances next year. I’d like to hike and walk more in beautiful Scotland. At least I can take photos and write about my day. When I run I can’t do that.

I’ll also try to keep improving my writing, photography, video and social media skills, sharing Scotland with you.

If I have inspired even one person to get outdoors, explore and feel better about themselves, then this makes me happy. If you’ve always wanted to do something, or go somewhere, make it come true, don’t wait until it’s too late.

Thank you!

Thanks again to everyone who has taken the time to read my stories. I appreciate that time is precious, and there’s never enough of it.

Take care, be positive and most importantly be happy.

Dawn-Marie x

24 Replies to “I am two”

  1. Congratulations on your anniversary and being on Discover Dawn-Marie. I am a Soct (from East Lothian) now living in the US. Your words and photos stir my Scottish blood! My hubby and I are planning to go to Arran next year, so this will be a wonderful resource. Keep sharing … and challenging yourself ❣️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Val 🙂

      That’s wonderful you are visiting Scotland next year! Have you visited the Isle of Arran before? It’s my go to happy place, also because I don’t need to travel far to get there. Total escapism for me. In fact I was there the other day for a day trip, just me and my camera. I posted some photos on my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/loveexploringscotland/

      I will keep challenging myself, it has become part of my life now to improve me and be happy. Very similar to what you say on your own blog which I’ll be reading for motivation!

      Have a lovely weekend ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you Dawn-Marie❣️ I haven’t been to Arran, but it’s my Mum’s favorite place. We may take her there and give all of us a treat!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hi Val, I forgot to mention, did you know there’s a retreat on the Holy Isle that sits just beside Arran? You can take a boat from the village of Lamlash: http://www.holyisle.org/ One of my challenges next year will be to visit the Holy Isle and walk to the summit 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Congratulations Dawn-Marie, you have had a fabulous year, so many achievements to be proud of, your an inspiration.
    I love doing 360 pictures although I use the Google Street View app on my phone and upload to Google Maps. I’ll be adding the drone page, can’t wait to see more of those too.
    Roll on year 3!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Paul. I do feel tired now, I seem to slow down in November and December. Challenging myself is a challenge lol. I’ll need have a look at your 360 photos, they do give you a sense of really being there. Here’s to year three! Let’s get planning 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Happy blogaversary! Having only recently discovered your blog I’m really looking forward to reading more as time goes on. Your photos are fabulous, especially the night shots – I particularly like the first one for the colours and think the second one is stunning. If you don’t already do this professionally then you really should 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Eunice! I really appreciate you saying that. I’m still learning though. Sometimes it’s luck and the right place and right time though 🙂

      Like

  4. Beautiful photographs; well done on taking the photography course. I’ve only just discovered your blog but a big congratulations on the two year mark!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Happy BlogBirthday, looks like a great year. The VisitScotland Ambassador is a great achievement, we’re going to Arran in April (campervan) and then up the west coast, so looking forward to it. The Half Marathon achievement I have nothing but praise for, well done!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Nick! I hope you have a lovely time on Arran. How long are you staying for? Half marathon was tough going… if I can do it anyone can! Thanks for reading 😃

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Many congratulations on 2 years blogging Dawn-Marie! You activity levels are an inspiration and so is your love to showing us the beauty of Scotland. Love the redesign as well, we know it takes a lot of time to get it right! On to year 3 🙂 – Horizons@

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello!

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting, I really appreciate it.

      I’ve loved all of it … even the difficult running. It’s overwhelming sometimes thinking you can’t do something, then you end up doing it and wonder why you ever worried about it lol

      The new WordPress template was easier than I thought 🙂. I still need to learn more about the CSS code though to customize it better 🤔

      Thanks Yoda and Dalek x

      Liked by 1 person

  7. What a wonderful summary of your year. You have achieved so much and I have loved watching your blog grow and blossom in between all your amazing challenges. I look forward to reading about your future travels and being inspired by your stories.

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Susanne x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment Susanne :).

      It has been quite an eventful year for sure, that’s probably why I’m knackered lol. I seem to slow down a bit in November, the same happened last year.

      I’m looking forward to bringing together my challenges and travels for next year. I need to get my thinking hat on 🤔

      Thanks again, take care
      Dawn-Marie x

      Like

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