I’m wearing a tight roll neck jumper and my man Specsaver’s glasses as I’m typing this from a coffee shop and I feel like such a creative.
I think there might be jazz playing.
I’m so painfully hip.
Someone come and make me the face of Shoreditch.
(I am actually in Starbucks but whatevs. Don’t hate the playa).
Anyway, right, Scotland.
The Friday before last, Chris and I hurtled down the A12 just after morning rush hour headed towards Gatwick Long Stay parking. Hashtag glam blogger life.
We were actually running about 12 minutes behind schedule because Chris was faffing about with some scrambled eggs and I was being whiney af because there wasn’t time to stop for Starbucks en route and is a road trip really a road trip without a Starbucks?
I believe not.
I did the entire 85 mile drive without a sat nav because here’s a top tip about me, I really like maps and directions and roads and can actually name all four M25 service stations off by heart.
Don’t judge, we all have secret passions.
We met up with Josie and her boo Charlie, and my long-standing gal pal Tilly and her gf Lauren, at the airport and proceeded to drink brunch-time prosecco because what else are you supposed to do at an airport, ya know? And some Mexican food because holiday.
We’d actually booked our flights to Inverness for £45 return with Easyjet which is insanely cheap, and the flight itself was just under an hour and a half which was just long enough for me to fool myself into thinking I was going to do work but lol jk, girl gotta nap.
Once we arrived we were greeted by a friendly chap from Arnold Clark cars who we were recommended to book a hire care with. We ended up going with a NINE SEATER MINI VAN (we were planning on inviting another couple of pals, but left it too last minute and well, they missed out big time), which we got for just over £200 for three days, and Chris was our designated driver because there was no way I was ready to handle jumping up from a snug little Fiat 500 to a car we nicknamed ‘the wagon’.
On the road from Inverness to Ardmair, which is about 100 miles, we passed about 7 cars. So there’s that to give you an idea about how the Highlands compare to London.
I’d never actually been to Scotland before, but it’s been high on my list, mostly because OMG DEM BEACHES which are all over like The Guardian’s top UK beach round ups. With white sand and turquoise waters they basically look like they belong on the dreamiest of Greek islands, and not on the actual island that also houses places like Felixstowe and Bognor Regis (soz, you guys).
We arrived at Ardmair Bay House (which is available to book via Clickstay), as darkness set in, and it was just about light enough to gaze out at the rippling sea from our windows and do OMFG excited faces at each other. We greeted our lost ASDA delivery driver, headed out to scoop up an Indian takeaway, and settled down to more prosecco and a dreamy game of Balderdash (I won, because have you seen the stellar imagination in my head?).
I realise now that I don’t have many photos of the house. As you can tell I was *kinda* distracted by that view. It kinda lurred me in every few minutes to try and take another photo, and another and oooh look it’s sunnier now, let’s go again.
I was also pretty distracted by the hot tub because I so fancy.
I’ll obviously link Ardmair Bay House so you can have a proper nosy inside, but legit, these photos don’t do it justice.
We ran in like excited children, throwing doors open and exploring and squealing.
It has four double bedrooms, two en suites, Sky, a working fire-place, A KITCHEN ISLAND, two other bathrooms, every kitchen appliance you could ever need, puzzles, a Wii, WIFI, a ginormous lounge, a utility room, garden furniture, and of course, that hot tub. Which has witnessed many a lengthy gossip over local wine.
We woke up on the Saturday morning, amazed by the fact that when we stood outside, there wasn’t a single noise.
Not a car or a bird or anything, just our own voices. We cooked up avo and eggs and bacon and got ready for a long drive right ‘oop north, to Durness.
Which, just FYI, is pretty close to being the most northernly point in the UK.
I HAVE BEEN TO THE TOP OF SCOTLAND.
The drive up was dreamy because a) no cars, b) no phone signal and c) dreamy views. I felt quite a lot like I was in either Lord Of The Rings or Zelda: Ocarina of Time, y’know?
All our beach photos are from Durness, but it was so windy we stayed for about 3 minutes before racing back to the car. We’d hoped to go to Cocoa Mountain for hot chocolate (search the locatoin on Instagram, oh mumma they are INSANE), but it was closed due to low season and we ended up in a local pub drinking tea and eating paninis intead.
The rest of the weekend was dedicated to waltzing about the house in our matching dressing gowns and slippers, to attempting to finish an undersea 1250 piece puzzle, to eating all the nachos and finishing off our ahem, slightly oversized wine collection.
We also had a *slightly* heated game of Cards Against Humanity, ate several bags of Haribo, and explored Ardmair bay itself by basically rock climbing down some rocks near the house.
I hope Office know their trainers are suitable for rock climbing.
We also ventured out to the nearest town – Ullapool for the most heavenly of Sunday lunches. We shared burgers and venison casseroles at Ceilidh Place, polished off with big sexy bowls of sticky toffee pudding and ice cream.
No, YOU’VE gained back all the weight you lost in January…
We also had a bit of a time before our flight home on Monday to explore Inverness city centre. Which resulted in a 20 minute browse of the Yankee Candle shop (you need the Peony scent in yo life), a look at all the pastel coloured kitchen aids in Lakeland, and some hefty salad-ordering in Pizza Express.
I ordered the light salad dressing with mine so it was basically like having a green super juice, right?
And then we headed to the airport and Chris got searched by like four guards because they were training people and for like a whole 12 seconds I was worried they’d whisk him away somewhere and that would be us done.
Our flight back to London was reasonably jolly until we were descending because HELLO STORM IMOGEN, YOU BEAUT. I felt a bit like I was doing that thing you do as a kid where you sit on a bouncy castle and everyone’s jumping around you and you’re flying all over the place.
I was just nervously smiling at Chris, hoping I was giving off vibes that said ‘I’m not scared. Nope. But If I DO happen to die, I love you.’
No-one clapped when we did eventually land safely and I felt slightly sad that I couldn’t tweet and be like LOL OMG EVERYONE ON MY PLANE CLAPPED.
Then we left the airport and headed straight to M&S for car snacks for our journey home to Ipswich. And then lol jk the Dartford Crossing was closed and we were stuck for five hours and didn’t get home til midnight.
But traffic sob stories aside, we’re already planning another escape back to Scotland. Chris has told me at least twice that he could live somewhere like that – away from people and cars and hustle and bustle and the need for a fast-paced lifestyle.
I’m not so sure I could do it full-time, New York is, after all, my favourite place in the entire land and it couldn’t have a more different vibe.
But I loved Scotland and the Highlands. I loved the peace and laid-back attitude in the air. I loved that iPhone screen fascination was replaced just by looking at the window and being fascinated by the mountains and the views and the sea.
I loved that just staring out at the scenery and taking it in seemed to put everything into perspective, seemed to make things like emails and Instagram numbers and blogging events with strangers, not matter.
I have come away with my life priorities in a better order, and for that, Scotland will always have my thanks and my kiss face emojis.
Who knew you didn’t have to waltz half way around the world and empty your bank account to take photos of scenery so good your actual uncles and aunts like them on Facebook, eh?
I’m determined to explore more of our little island this year – it’s a great excuse to not drain away all of Chris’s holiday allowance in one go. So hook a girl up in the comments section below, with your fave UK vay-cay spots plz.
And on that note, I’m off to finally finish packing away the last few things from my suitcase. Til next time, travel-sized toothpaste…
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