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Today we drove a short distance along the coast, deciding to walk a tree-lined stretch of gravel track beside a golf course. Every weather app and news outlet had forecasted an incoming storm; the breeze was powerful, the air so fresh we gulped it into our stagnant office bodies, and the waves turned white in the Forth.

It was a beautiful winter’s day. I had my hat, scarf and little mitts on; B was shivering slightly in his thin waterproof. On our ‘regular’ walks — that is, ones we do on lazy weekend days around our local area — I don’t have many expectations. …

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If we explore Scotland through the lens of Instagram, how deeply are we experiencing it?

In the introductory blog to the #HashtagScotland project, I mentioned that the writing I’d shared around social media and travel back in 2018 had led me to meet Nicolas Loisel, an eco-tour guide and fellow Scotland lover.

We decided, following several coffee-shop chats, to set off on a spring road trip to document some of the most popular places in the country — and to contrast them with the silence of similar scenes a few miles off the tourist track. This is how the project began, and the story of that journey is the one I’m going to share now.

‘To make a race of it is to reduce to the level of a game what is essentially an experience’

Nan Shepherd in The Living…

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A postcard from Lochaber, and some thoughts on slower travel.

The first few days it rained almost solidly. Between cups of tea and chocolate-sunk biscuits, we turned pages of books as the raindrops tapped the caravan windows. Reading Kathleen Jamie’s Findings, I imagined myself in an alternative weather reality hoping that, in a few days, I’d be able to get outside and note all the intricacies of the summer season like she had in her novel.

This part of Scotland is known for being wonderfully wild.

On the third day, the cloud broke. Between then and when we left, we saw Scotland wearing its summer best — albeit under an lengthy blanket of heat. Yet, despite the climate change question causing its familiar twist in my stomach, we embraced the decelerated pace that fairer weather brings to a break in rural Scotland. …

Is social media serving a true purpose in your life, or is it just a distraction?

After five years of using digital channels for my weekday career and blogging side hustle, this is a question that bounces around in my brain on a near-daily basis. Why? Because over the past few years I’ve begun to notice a huge shift in our relationships with, and behaviour on, platforms like Facebook and Instagram. And I’m not alone in feeling uncomfortable with our new normal.

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Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

There are more headlines than ever out in the digital ether decrying fake news, data theft, mental health effects, suicidal selfies and aggressive advertising to name just a few of the social platforms’ pain points. Assuming, taking all the above into account, that you still want to be online at all, how can you filter out the noise and make sure you’re using this type of technology to benefit your life and relationships, and not simply the revenue of these omniscient companies? …

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One bright weekend a few Octobers ago, we spent the day in Perthshire.

This is somewhat of an autumnal rite-of-passage for white-collared Scots, eager to forget their commute and embrace nature as the nights darken. A wild, well-off region of ancient trees, hills and back-in-time villages, Perthshire is a photographer’s paradise at this time of year — as we were soon reminded.

Our first stop was the Hermitage.

It’s a glorious river-marked glen of trees, follies and trails that’s looked after by the National Trust for Scotland. During autumn it’s nothing short of breathtaking: the leaves explode into kaleidoscopes of colour; the river swells and spits from the last rains; the air is like perfume, signalling that Christmas is just around the corner. …


Laura Anne Brown

I write about slower travel, social media and Scotland.

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