How craft making and Scotland rescued me

How craft making and Scotland rescued me

Life before…

My life was consumed with working hard and very long hours to earn money for a few weeks a year of international travel.  We went to many fabulous and breathtaking places around the world including Hawaii, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Costa Rica, Australia, various US states and parts of Italy.  I also travelled to Peru and Bolivia for 31 days as a mix of holiday and unpaid leave (Follow links to see photo highlights).  And so I thought my blog was turning into a travel blog…

The breakdown…

At the end of 2016 I started to burnout and lose control of my mind, I wasn’t coping at work despite (or perhaps because I was) working almost every waking hour and not making enough progress to satisfy my own high standards. By early 2017 I was a jibbering wreck, unable to stop crying all the time and was eventually signed off with anxiety and depression.  When my sick pay ran out I couldn’t face returning to work, stressed at the thought and afraid that my resilience was too weak and I would return to old habits of working every hour and so I requested a 12 month sabbatical (unpaid leave).  So I am due to return in September, unless I resign.

My new life…

Whilst off work I have started doing more craft type things, I have wet felted a hat and a handbag learned how to knit, made some sea glass jewellery, bought a spinning wheel and I’m now learning how to spin.  We bought a tent last autumn and instead of international travel we have been exploring the North of Scotland and some of its many Isles either with the tent or renting small cottages.
I have been blown away by the scenery that we have seen…and with my calmer mindset I can actually be present and fully enjoy being in the moment and after walking 20k steps enjoy an evening sitting in our tent with my husband and dog and knitting another hitchhiker scarf! Scotland has white sandy beaches and turquoise water, okay you need to wear layers, not a bikini…but then you often get a beach to yourselves!
As for my future…we shall see!
October 2017  
Isle of Eriskay, Western Isles, Scotland
 March 2018
Coral beach, Isle of Skye 

 

June 2018
Sango_Sands_beach_Durness.jpg
Sango Sands beach, Durness
Balnakeil beach, Durness, North Scotland

 

A perfect day on the Isle of Skye

We headed to Skye for a week to celebrate our 10th Wedding Anniversary.  I first came to Skye on our 1st Anniversary and we have been many times since, but usually just for 1 night and so we wanted to stay longer to explore areas we haven’t seen yet.  On our first full day we headed to the North West, beyond Dunvegan Castle and up to see Coral Beach.  We were up and out early, so fortunate to be the first ones there, although there were others shortly behind us.  The walk to the beach is only 1 mile each way, we walked a little further around the coast and saw an eagle perched on a rock.   We could also see some seals across the water on a tiny island.

The weather was my idea of perfect, cold enough to need a hat and scarf (made by me!) but sunny and blue skies.

We stopped for our picnic lunch at Dunvegan Pier, and then drove to the Duirinish area and explored the peninsula and walked to Neist Point lighthouse.  This is a tougher walk, it was fine heading out to see the lighthouse but goodness climbing back up was taking my breath!  I say this but a guy walked past us and climbed all the stairs and was then chatting to an elderly couple and he wasn’t out of breath at all…clearly I am not very fit. On our way back we saw a herd of deer.  The only thing missing was sight of an otter…but we have the rest of the week to keep searching for one.

I kept saying to my husband, shall we retire here?  He replied that if it rains the rest of the week I won’t be thinking that.  But on a sunny day Skye really is hard to beat.

 

 

Pastels

Cala lily
Bolivian desert

Bolivia – a country that exceeded my expectations

La Paz, Potosí and Chuquisaca
Potosí and Chuquisaca area – vicuña and rock formations
Potosí and Chuquisaca area – salt lake and volcanic features
Potosí and Chuquisaca area – Laguna Colorada, flamingos and rocks
Potosí and Chuquisaca area – flamingo, salt lakes and railway track that Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid rode!
Uyuni Salt Flats
Uyuni Salt Flats early morning
Uyuni Salt Flats and salt hotel
Uyuni Salt Flats and train graveyard
5,000 perfectly preserved dinosaur footprints in the Cal Orck’o cliff

 

Quad bike trip to ‘crater’ viewpoint

Gadventures 11 day  Bolivia Discovery tour

 

 

I love Peru! I’ll let pictures tell a thousand words…

Ballestas islands boat trip from Paracas

Huacachina Pisco Winery and Oasis

Nazca Desert Cemetery

Arequipa

Animals on the road from Arequipa to Chivay

Volcanoes and Chivay

Colca Canyon 

Small town near Colca Canyon

Cusco

Ollantaytambo, Maras Salt Mines, Moray site and my favourite alpaca 

Machu Picchu 

Tambopata Rainforest / Amazon Jungle 

Lake Titicaca and the floating islands of Uros

Taquile Islands / Isla Amantani

 21 day – Gadventures Inca Heartland Trip

 

 

 

 

Lima Half Day Tour

Lima Half Day Tour

City of Kings and Queens Tour by Haku Tours

 A brilliant tour and really interesting guide.  I was picked up at my hotel in Miraflores and driven into the centre of Lima.  First stop was the St. Franciscan Monastery for a look around the church, the museum and the catacombs. Yep those are bones through the grate, people should not throw money down there apparently.

St. Franciscan Monastery

Walking around Lima on such a beautiful sunny day you really do get to see it at its best. The bar is allegedly the oldest in South America…Hemingway is said to have been here. The green building is the old station which also is apparently the oldest in South America.  I am going on what the guide told me, but haven’t verified anything.

The main square has a nice atmosphere and we felt very safe.

Changing of the guard at the Presidential Palace being watched by some tourists, locals and a couple of nuns.

Changing the guard at the Presidential Palace

The tour was 3.5 hours and I really enjoyed it. It wasn’t too far to walk, our guide bought us an ice cream which was appreciated as it was a very hot day. We learnt lots about the history of all the palaces and the gruesome stories about the catacombs and all the bones and skulls in there. There was also a really interesting story about a painting of the last supper that was in the museum…the artist was hung because of what he painted and he had said that Jesus was homosexual.  Edwin was so enthusiastic and interested in history, architecture and art.  We were a small group of just me and another couple, so for $36 I thought it was well worth it and would recommend to anyone. 

 

A day trip to Vienna from Bratislava

I had seen a suggested day trip to Vienna from Bratislava on Tripadvisor but discovered the night before our journey, that the train station it suggested you arrive at, in Vienna, no longer exists!!

So instead we made some slight changes and caught the 8.43 train from Hlavne Stancia (Main Rail Station) to Wien Hauptbahnhof Hpf (Vienna) €14 return.  The journey takes about an hour and you pass mile upon mile of farmland and fields.  We had our ticket checked by a Slovakian conductor and when we entered Austria we then had it checked by an Austrian conductor.  Having understood nothing that people had been saying to us for a few days it was refreshing to then hear some German which I have limited but some knowledge of.  
 
At Wien Hpf we bought a Shoppers underground railcard, €6.10, that is active from 8am-8pm. Don’t forget to validate your ticket before you board the first train, after that you don’t need to do anything but make sure you have it on you.

From Hpf we took the underground to Schönbrunn to see Schönbrunn Palace. The Palace is opposite the underground station which is great and was easy enough to find, this is not a small palace!  There are a number of different ticketing options and we opted for the Imperial Tour €12.90.  You are given a time slot for your visit, ours was 2 hours ahead, so we had apple strudel and a hot drink in the garden and then wandered around the Christmas market.

Apple strudel at the palace

 

Schönbrunn palace

The time soon went by and we didn’t even get as far as looking at the gardens.  We paid 50c each to go to the toilet and when we got back to the hotel found we had been given a voucher for a free visit (it must have come with our food!) Ah well!  I would recommend you go inside the palace a bit before your time slot so you can drop off any big bags and join the queue.

After the tour we headed to Herrengasse station on the underground and were lucky to book the last 2 slots on the 5pm English language tour at the Spanische Hofreitschule (Spanish Riding School). 

This meant we had a few hours to tour the shops and we bought a late lunch at Nordsee which sells nice salmon with wild rice, potatoes or vegetables, among other seafood and fish options.  The shopping streets of Vienna are so pretty.

Vienna shopping street

The Spanish horses and riders have Monday’s off, but on the tour you can see the horses in their stables. The other days they have morning practice sessions you can watch but I imagine you need to book well in advance.

Spanish riding school

After the tour of the Stables we headed to Philharmonikerstrasse (which was quite a challenge to find).  Here you will find the Hotel Sacher which has Cafe Mozart attached. Considering it is quite famous we were seated almost immediately, but it was very busy. I did try the Sachertorte (chocolate & apricot jam cake) which to be honest I found a bit dry and heavy (it was also lacking the mirror glaze I thought it was famous for).  Their other cakes looked delicious, but felt I should give it a go.

Hotel Sacher

We then walked to Stephansdom (St. Stephen’s Cathedral) and could just make out the spire in the fog. There are lots of people trying to get you to see a concert, but we just didn’t have time.  It was then time for is to head back to Hpf station and catch the train to Bratislava.  

St Stephens cathedral

Inside the cathedral

Our train on the way back was an old fashioned one, with a corridor against one window and lots of little cabins that seated 6. No-one checked our ticket for Austria or Slovakia which was weird. 

Train carriage

 Considering how much cheaper it is to fly to and stay in Bratislava, this is a much cheaper way of seeing Vienna.