For a while now I have been wanting to add a more personal space on my blog where I can chat more generally about my favourite things which mostly involve travel, adventure, blogging and of course everything Scotland related. There's nothing like a New Year for starting a new project so this is the first of what will hopefully be a regular weekly blether feature.
Expect a random mixture of things I've loved or hated during the week, my thoughts, discoveries, people that have inspired me, places I've visited and anything else that I think is useful or interesting to share. The only criteria I've set myself is that it fits in with one of the topics above so don't expect any lipstick recommendations as I'm still using the same Avon lipgloss I bought about 5 years ago (yes the actual same one!) so I am definitely not qualified in that area and you're definitely on the wrong blog!
So without further ado grab a brew and enjoy the blether...
What I've been watching this week
Into the Wild - I can't believe this movie came out in 2007 and passed me by until now. It tells the true story of Christopher McCandless who gave up his money and possessions to hitchhike to Alaska and live in the wilderness. McCandless has become a controversial character, admired by some for giving up on materialism to live his dream and criticised by others for naively entering the wilds unprepared. I personally just see him as someone trying to figure out his place in the world.
If you're interested in adventure and the psychology of what drives people to escape their lives then you might love this film as much as I did, just make sure you have plenty of tissues nearby!
Walking the Himalayas - For so many reasons Levison Wood has easily become my favourite explorer and his documentaries really capture the highs and lows of traversing some of the most remote, hostile and beautiful parts of the world. His epic Walking the Nile was one of my favourite series from last year and so far I'm loving Walking the Himalayas even more if that's possible.
He is one of the reasons I am heading to The Destinations Show in London next month and I can't wait to hear him talking about his adventures along with some of my other favourite travellers at The Stanfords Travel Writers Festival stage. Incidentally if you are planning on visiting the show you will find a complimentary ticket for 2 inside this months National Geographic Traveller magazine, bonus!
What I've been reading this week
Stylist Magazine interview with survival consultant Megan Hine - The headline "Meet the woman Bear Grylls turns to for advice on staying alive" was enough to draw me in. Megan is one seriously tough cookie who takes on intense challenges just to improve her already superhuman survival skills!
While her lifestyle seems a bit extreme (and just a tad dangerous!) to a mere mortal like myself who doesn't need to play Russian roulette with wild mushrooms when I can happily buy them from the supermarket next door, she does make a good point about how few of us possess even basic survival skills. It did get me thinking that if we were invaded by aliens, overrun by zombies or facing some other apocalypse then I would be one of the useless ones who wouldn't last a week in the wild which is why I have decided to go on a Bushcraft course this year, although if the worst does ever happen I'll be hoping Megan is nearby!
Alone in Iran - What was I Thinking by Silvia at Heart my Backpack - I've not long discovered Silvia's blog and it is quickly becoming one of my favourite reads. Her post on being a solo female American travelling in Iran is from 2014 but still makes a great read. It proves that the world isn't always as scary as you think and that on the whole people are generally welcoming, curious and helpful. In my own experience being respectful of cultural differences and an amiable disposition goes a long way to breaking down suspicion and forging friendships in any country.
Dublin - Next week I'm off on my first trip of the year and shock, horror it's not in Scotland! I'll be heading over to Dublin for my third visit to the city. I was last there in 2007 so I'm sure there will be plenty of new things to discover. I've already visited most of the touristy things so would quite like to get off the beaten track this time, although I'll no doubt still spend a disproportionate amount of time in an Irish pub enjoying the music and craic, although I won't be delving into the local stout as I just can't abide Guinness (I'm ashamed to say I opted for orange juice on my visit to the Guinness brewery) so I will be on the look out for some other more palatable local beverages.
With most bloggers writing up their highlights of 2015, I decided just to jump right in and embrace the New Year with my 16 photos to tempt you to Scotland in 2016. It turned out to be rather popular and Kate from Love from Scotland also featured it in her roundup of favourite Scottish blog posts which was a nice surprise and a lovely way to start the year. Kate also featured 4 other great Scottish travel posts so it is well worth popping over to check them out.
Next week I'll be writing about my campervan trip to Mull with Rockinvans and I'm already looking forward to our next weekly blether.
There are so many bits and pieces that I come across each week that I want to share, however as this is my first attempt at an online blether I'll just leave you with a photo of 'Hamish'. You can find out more about him next week and if you subscribe to my newsletter you will also be in with a chance of winning him, and yes that was my not so subtle attempt at convincing you to sign up for my monthly newsletter, if you're sold then add your e-mail in the box below ;-)
Until next week safe and happy travels!