We’re almost at the end of 2018 and I’ve been reflecting – it’s been a busy year for A Highland Blend, with lots of travel and foodie adventures that I’ve enjoyed, both at home and further afield. It was hard to whittle them down but here are 10 of my favourite experiences of the year!
Kicking off the year, we started the cold winter months with some warming grub, thanks to the Spice Pioneer! Without leaving our house we were enjoying authentic Sri Lankan and Moroccan recipes, one of my favourites was this date and orange salad!
Highland Afternoon Teas
Earlier on in the year, I enjoyed two delicious afternoon teas – one at Dornoch Castle Hotel, which is also home to the Thompson Brothers Highland Gin which is made at their onsite distillery. Their scones were the epitome of light and fluffy!
Even further back in March, with North Hop festival director Michelle, I escaped the #beastfromtheeast travel chaos into Muckrach Country House Hotel near Grantown on Spey for their afternoon tea. It was a gorgeous and luxurious afternoon tea, and it was a hard decision to tear ourselves away from the roaring open fire to face the snow and ice again!
I loved my maiden voyage so much that I booked a two further trips with Caithness Seacoast in 2018, and I imagine that 2019 will only bring more! This is a must do activity if you are wanting some water-based adventures when visiting Caithness – seeing castles, caves and the coastline from the water is an amazing experience.
Big Burn Walk, Golspie
Doing the Big Burn Walk in Golspie was one of my favourite ‘hidden treasure’ walks of 2018, and we didn’t even do the full circuit. A lovely little leg stretcher if you travelling up or down the east coast of the NC500.
Pizza and a North Coast stay at the Melvich Hotel
We enjoyed a couple of trips along the north coast during the summer months, and a highlight was getting takeaway pizza from the Melvich Hotel to enjoy whilst sitting on the nearby beach. Towards the end of the year, we were invited to enjoy a night’s stay at the hotel, where we experienced some true Highland hospitality, again a place much recommended if you are travelling around the North Coast 500!
Wick saw a unique visitor back in May – a walrus which had been travelling the waters of north Scotland on his summer holidays! Likely to be once in a lifetime occurrence, he was basking for a day or two, much to the amazement of the whole town (and other sea watching enthusiasts who made special trips up from Sutherland and beyond!). Affectionately known as Wally, throughout the spring he also made stops across the North Highlands, Orkney and Shetland.
Mey Highland Games
Despite living in Scotland for over 7 years, it was only in 2018 that I went to my first Highland Games! Pipe Bands, friendly competition, royalty and Highland dancing all featured on my trip to the Mey Games, and I’m already looking forward to next year!
Dunnet Bay Distillery Tour
This is another must-visit if you are travelling across Caithness – particularly if you are a gin fan! The Dunnet Distillery tasting room is gorgeous, the tour informative, and the Rock Rose gin itself – fantastic! Advance booking is definitely advised.
Darnleys Gin School
My gin adventures didn’t stop there – I even went to Gin School in September! Darnleys kindly hosted me in my role as North Hop Highland Ambassador to distill my very own bottle of gin, and it was the perfect build up to the last large scale North Hop in Dundee!
Grabbing some summer heat in 2018, we had a week split between the cities of Malaga and Seville. Whilst Seville is gorgeous and has some amazing architecture and views, Malaga was a surprise hit with street art and a redeveloped marina to enjoy.
So, that was 2018! It was a great year, and I look forward to seeing what next year will bring!