It has been few years, it has been a weird time, time we almost don’t remember anymore.
Getting on a plane, leaving isolation we so got used to was not an easy task. It has been first time I haven’t been back in Slovakia for few years and it did feel loong. It felt overwhelming coming back too, emotions I was not ready to have, people I was not ready to see, because everything was too much.
Yet once I crossed the door of my parents house I knew this is going to be a nice time together. And so it was. We made multiple trips to forest to pick up mushrooms, we did some little hikes, we just spent time together and I enjoyed and took in every single moment, walk and memory, because we never know when they are going to be last.
That was surely what pandemic thought me, we just never know and it can happen from one day to another, suddenly. I still cannot travel more often due to finances and life struggle, but at least I am trying to enjoy the times I am there as much I can.
These are memories I want to cherish, simple things, simple moments.
Little Scottish town on the east coast called North Berwick holds special place in my heart. When you travel there by train you basically end up on the very end of the world because train rails don´t continue anywhere else.
When I have seen these kind of ´ends of the world´ around Scotland for a first time I was fascinated by them, because in Europe there is always somewhere to continue and very rarely you get ´end of the rail´ station.
At least certainly not in Central Europe.
So very first thing one is exposed to is ´end of the world´ train station.
North Berwick is a beautiful place to visit once being in Scotland. It is tiny town with very atmospheric vibe, because on one main street you get a lot of tiny cute coffee shops and galleries, which create cosy feeling that one would love to live exactly here.
Then you pass through few houses and sea opens up in front of you.
Beautiful long beach with view on two islands, which one of them is very iconic ´Bass Rock´. This island happened to be inspiration for many artists who found themselves in Scotland.
When I was just getting to know arty world it was exactly here when I tried painting real outside object into my sketchbook.
It was my birthday and I had wonderful day in this little town.
Thanks to the painting I made (which wasn´t nothing that special yet special for me) I will always remember the feeling of that day.
Sitting on the beach and painting for a fist time with watercolours outside. I felt very anxious, because my skills weren´t very good and I was just very self-aware of my surroundings not wanting anyone to see what I am painting.
Probably here for a first time I have let go of my fears not caring what the outcome will be. There were very little people around and I had pretty much the place for myself.
It was strange feeling as almost connecting with other artists who sat on that beach and painted very same island in the past.
I think that was a time, when I decided to do whatever I can and continue this new journey which somehow happened to be present in my life.
Artistic journey of self- expression buried deep inside and waiting to be found one day. It was almost symbolic and I perceived that day sitting on the beach in North Berwick as a sign for me to continue besides my anxieties and uneasy feelings of self-doubt, comparing and not understanding why was I even brought on the journey with brush in my hand.
Trying to capture the sea, the colours with very limiting skills of someone who doesn´t even know how to paint. But inner drive and need to capture somehow this moment was much stronger than self-doubt about my artistic skills.
Come have a look with me and visit this tiny little Scottish town which is just so special and if you ever are visiting Scotland – North Berwick should be on your list.
Last year I made myself a promise that I will explore nature of Scotland much more than I have been doing until now. There have been few years when I just didn´t get much out of Edinburgh for various reasons from luck of money to studies responsibilities or work commitments. Last year was a turning point for me where I realised that nature is the place where I feel the most home. I did few trips either with friends or on my own to highlands, bought some hiking gear and at least few times tried it out.
This year was meant to be year of long distance hikes.
2020 had a different plan though, first half of the year we were stuck home in our neighbourhoods and when finally, was hiking and wild camping allowed I was coming back to work. So I have started exploring Pentlands close by mountains where I have been so many times since I moved here that they feel as my second home. It is amazing that just half an hour away is whole new world far away from the city.
Pentlands story is for another time though as today I would like to come back in memories when I had a chance to visit Trossachs National Park. Come along with me on the journey…
I was so excited to take my big backpack and just spend few days in Highlands. I didn´t gain enough courage to do wild camping so I thought taking it slowly and just stay in a hostel and do some one day trips around to get to know the area a little because one day I would like to hike 4 days long distance hiking road around here. What I tried was my kitchen equipment if it is actually working and if I am able to get it working.
What I love about solo hiking is that there is an opportunity to take everything in undistracted by other people.
I love nature trips with friends who have a similar way of hiking, but sometimes probably from artistic and inspirational influence I just need to be alone and listen carefully to the silent voice of nature which can get lost in conversations with others.
Very often I am most lucky to get inspiration keep it inside and be able to take it out later when I hike and observe nature on my own. I guess these are two polarities which need to be balanced. Experience nature with others on outside level and then experience it alone on inside level. For me at least one doesn´t go without the other.
Trossachs welcomed me greatly.
It was nice and sunny most of days just when I was leaving and had no more hikes planed it started raining. There is something special about this area.
Mystical forests and plain bold mountains creates just the right contrast.
I love the feeling entering mountains where all you see are mountains for kilometres and kilometres in distance. It makes me feel free and all I would love to do is just run and never stop. Sometimes it almost feels as the body is a limit which gets tired, cold and hungry but deep inside there is this free spirit which longs for freedom of the mountains.
I was stunned by the beauty around here. Not only the village Callendar where I was staying was the most beautiful tiny village with river crossing through and mountains on its backdoor but the whole area resembled something very special.
As I walked through the forests nature showed me beautiful places and moments where light just played with the colours of trees and I happened to be in the right moment in the right place to enjoy it.
Few seconds later the moment passed and I stood there grateful for being showed such a beauty.
I guess that´s where is the believe in forest creatures who protect and guard the land is coming from, because this kind of moments and encounters are way too special to be merely coincidence. And I do love keeping this child like part full of imagination present inside of me.
Trossachs and Callander are on my future bucket list once again because this time I got a tiny glimpse of the beauty of this Mountain range. On the way back I have visited Doune Castle which is very special place as well. Maybe you got to know it from Outlander series or Monty Python and Holy Grale. Castle was under reconstruction so I didn´t get to see it in its full beauty yet still the magnificence of the place and secretes hidden in the castle walls were still present.
I loved creating the collage once I got back home where I used my sketches from the trip and kept the feeling these mountains gave me forever – to see how it worked out watch the video above.
Have you ever visited Trossachs National Park in Scotland or would you like to? What was your experience? Is nature your inspiration as well?
When I moved here what I was most taken by were stories about mythical creatures and fairies srill fairly lalive among the people. They are very proud for this heritage which I find fascinating and somewhat similar to my own culture where many fairy tales about mythical creatures still live among the people. Maybe not in such extend as here yet I remember stories to be told as a child or attending events and festivities closely connected with old traditions.
With all this mythical knowledge once you see the beautiful nature here or wherever else there you can let your imagination go and meet fairy behind the trees.
I have few stories of my own while frowing up. There used to be a tree close to my parent’s field. I spent hours talking to it and back then I believed it is talking back to me. Sounds crazy right? Yet I don´t think it was that crazy at all, because as much I learnt there are different parts of our personalities and probably this one was one of them projected by my ´child me´ into a tree. I gave her even a name – Agatha. It certainly was my good wise fairy always providing comfort and good advice.
My mum taught me hug trees when I was little, because they carry beautiful energy from the source. Every time we would go to the forest she would hug trees I would follow until I entered ´cool´ age and found that to be somewhat crazy. I am realizing just now how much these small rituals meant and how they created my strong connection to life, nature and everything alive.
Walking through a beautiful forest thinking that there are tiny creatures protecting its beauty gives me joy and reassurance that not all is lost yet that nature will always find a way. Little painting I did here inspired by nature was very free flow illustration of possible worries and yet freedom of the fairies. It´s more of a study then final piece yet I enjoyed every second of the painting. Come with me for a little fairy hunt today.
Do you have any fairy stories of your own? I would be happy to hear 🙂
It is summer again. Scottish summers are very different to those back in Slovakia. There is a saying here…
´People need to get used to that summer is not in July and August but in May/June and September´
This saying couldn´t be more truth.
Lately we have a lot of rain and only few days now and then happen to be sunny and warm.
I think that´s why I was lately coming back in my mind to the last summer when I visited my parents. It was over thirty degrees nice warm and sunny almost all the time. One day we have decided to go to the forest for some mushroom picking. It wasn´t the best season for doing so but it was a bit rainy before I came so maybe there was a chance for some mushrooms growing.
This article though is not going to be about our family tradition of mushroom picking but rather about another quite traditional activity in the family – herbs picking.
Street where I grew up is a quiet street where you can enter fields just around the corner. There is a meadow and little stream where flowers blossom in the spring and summer. Many of them are herbs which generations of woman in my family used to pick up and cook different kind of remedies from them.
I remember when I was a little girl for every bump I had there was a special cream which my grandma made and cured everything with.
This skill and interest certainly is something I have inherited as well. I have done some herbs picking only few times here in Scotland so last summer as we got out of the forest and there was this beautiful meadow full of flowers I couldn´t resist and persuaded my parents to stay for a while.
They say that the best time for picking herbs is sunny midday, so that day was exactly like it welcoming us to the flowery meadow.
I felt recently that creating this video would of give me opportunity to connect with these parts of myself somewhat forgotten, connect with my ancestors whose life was so much connected with nature but for some reason they just tried to forget it. There is a lot of we can find in ourselves which is going into past generations of hundreds years ago. My need for nature coming to the basics is ´the calling´of my old ancestors whose lands were possibly taken and who were forced to become someone else than who they have been for generations.
Do you know that feeling that you are somewhere and you think that you know it there and yet still something can truly surprise you?
That´s why I love Scotland. It is beautiful green country where nature shows itself in its fullest. Every time I go somewhere I am stunned by its beauty. Always I found hidden treaures of this country and little suprises which inspire my soul.
Breath taking mountains wilderness and nothing just nature around is why I love hiking. It can be overwhelming sometimes but same time it´s one of those things which make you realise you´re alive.
Once you look from top of the mountain around feeling almost as a part of clouds and heaven. Do you know that feeling? Not just slight rush through your body and stomach, proudness of what you have just managed to climb but as well that feeling of freedom, being part of something much bigger which seems to be almost reachable on the top of the mountain or you can almost smell it in the air surrounding the mountain lake.
Do you need to get out of busy life of the city but don´t have much of spare time? Want to go for a short trip (1night) somewhere in Scotland? Are you very much skinned but still need to clear your head?
What about ´bonny banks of Loch Lomond? I can assure you they are even bonnier then the song.
Hitchhiking. I always wanted to try it. Well I did it couple of times when there wasn´t any other option get to the place but those were just short distances. This time it was completely different. We filled our backpacks to be ready camping on the way, I wrote signs for directions on the cardboards and we hit the road ready to hitchhike Scotland.
There was just a tiny problem.
It was Saturday and it was raining. Raining all day.
My friend once told me ´Buy a ticket to South Queensferry, cross the bridge, walk around and then stop by in Dalmeny. Just tell to the ticket guy that you will be stopping in Dalmeny and then continue to Edinburgh. He should be fine.´ As person who doesn´t like conflicts (in a case one would of happen with ticket guy) I wasn´t very sure about this idea. But I took a risk.
Edinburgh itself offers a lot of interesting places to visit. Do you want to explore deeper and more father? Just by train or bus distance there are amazing places which shouldn´t be abandoned in Edinburgh´s shadow.