🎈 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…
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
- December challenges
- Dunure castle’s sunset
- The Merrick Trail
- Walking on Arran: Goat Fell Mountain
- Eglinton Castle and Country Park
- What lies beneath Culzean Castle
- Joining four rings on the Isle of Arran
- Arran Coastal Way ~ Day 1: Brodick to Sannox
- Arran Coastal Way ~ Day 2: Sannox to Lochranza
- Arran Coastal Way ~ Day 3: Lochranza to Imachar
- Arran Coastal Way ~ Day 4: Imachar to Blackwaterfoot
- Arran Coastal Way ~ Day 5: Blackwaterfoot to Lagg
- Arran Coastal Way ~ Day 6: Lagg to Whiting Bay
- Arran Coastal Way ~ Day 7: Whiting Bay to Brodick
- Day trip to Glencoe
- The water sources of whisky on Arran
- 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.
This is a photo of the amazing 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!
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 because of regulations.
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.
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 below are the Arran Coastal Way, Arran Whisky Distillery Tour and Perthshire.
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. I also hope to leave this as my digital legacy for my children to look back on.
The Visit Scotland Community forum was closed down in 2022, but there’s still lots of information and resources on their website.
I also created a Facebook page for my blog this year.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Love, Dawn-Marie x