The Enchanted Forest ~ A Retrospective

The Enchanted Forest ~ A Retrospective

Back in May the Enchanted Forest team made the difficult decision to cancel the event due to the pandemic. It’s a shame as we were so looking forward to taking our daughter to see it for the first time but we’ve already booked our tickets and lodgings for next year as the team are optimistic that it will go ahead in 2021. However, as I’ve been visiting the Enchanted Forest for almost a decade, I thought I’d share a little retrospective of highlights from previous years.

My first visit to the Enchanted Forest was in 2010, after I saw it advertised on the Glasgow subway. The first year I went with a friend (though every year after with my husband, and we got engaged during our visit to the Enchanted Forest in 2013), and I loved it so much that I’ve faithfully returned to Pitlochry every October since.

The Enchanted Forest roughly follows the same figure of eight path around Loch Dunmore and Faskally Woods but the design team choose a different theme every year and always make the most of the natural and permanent features such as the towering fir trees, the Loch and the bridge, as well as building temporary viewing platforms for projections and synchronised light displays around the forest.

It’s an incredibly creative and innovative light and sound show, and given that it runs for the full month of October in all but the very worst Scottish weather, and attracts 80,000 visitors, I’m always impressed by how smoothly the event runs.

I’ve shared posts from our visits in 2017, 2018 and 2019, but enjoyed this little trip down memory lane, seeing how the Enchanted Forest has grown and developed – though my photos don’t do it justice at all. It’s one of my favourite events, it’s been the setting of some wonderful memories and I’m very much looking forward to returning when we’re able to. Take care, and have a lovely week. X

A Windswept Walk on the Beach

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I’ve written before about our favourite beach, Croy Shore, and over the years my husband and I have enjoyed relaxing walks watching the sunset in the weeks leading up to our wedding, summer days paddling in the sea and searching for starfish in the rockpools, and refreshing New Year’s Day walks here.

We didn’t make it to Croy Shore for a walk on New Year’s Day itself this year as we were visiting my family instead, but wanted to visit before January was out. Unsurprisingly, on an overcast, cold and blustery day, we had the beach almost to ourselves and spent some time exploring the cave and rock formations towards the North of the beach. No matter the weather, I always find a wander along this familiar shoreline so steadying and reinvigorating.

This stretch of the coast is a place we’ve come to contemplate some of our most life-defining decisions and changes, to gather our thoughts and stretch our legs but also to immerse ourselves in the moment and savour the the regular crash of the waves against the shore and the view of Culzean Castle and Ailsa Craig in one direction and the Isle of Arran in the other. Have a lovely week. X

The Enchanted Forest ~ Lighting Up Dark Nights

The Enchanted Forest

Last weekend we made our annual jaunt to Pitlochry for the Enchanted Forest, which remains one of our favourite traditions, and a seasonal midpoint marking the transition into the colder, darker months of the year.

The theme this year was ‘Cosmos’, inspired by the skies above the forest and commemorating 50 years since astronauts walked on the moon. Now in its 18th year (and this was our 8th year visiting), it still impresses me that the creative team continue to explore new ideas and technologies, never content to just repeat what they’ve done before, and always striving to make it an immersive and interactive experience.

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It’s so refreshing and restorative to have a night away at this time of year, from watching the scenery change as we cross the country with trees lining the roads already various shades of red, amber and gold, to treading the familiar paths around an illuminated Faskally Woods, pausing to take photos and appreciate the displays, sipping hot chocolate and treating ourselves to a little Christmas decoration from the merchandise stall, before returning to the hotel for a well-earned rest and waking up to marmalade on toast and porridge with honey for breakfast.

The Enchanted Forest is the first of a few seasonal activities we’ve got planned over the next couple of months, and as the nights draw in and life moves indoors, it’s lovely to wrap up warm and get outside for events like this that light up the long, dark nights. Have a lovely week. X

By the Sea

On a windy, overcast day, we took a trip to the little village of Portencross in North Ayrshire, somewhere we’d never visited before, but somewhere we’ll definitely be returning to.

Portencross

There is a small castle at Portencross, which is free to explore, but a little underwhelming compared to some of the other sprawling castles steeped in history around Scotland. The top of the castle does offer some lovely views of the coastline, the islands of Wee Cumbrae and Great Cumbrae, and even the CalMac ferries transporting passengers from Largs to Millport and back again.

From Portencross we wandered north to Hunterston Power Station. It’s a short walk, only a mile each way on a relatively flat and straight path with crocosmia, aster and yarrow growing wild on either side. We probably walked a little further as we deviated from the path a few times to scramble closer to the sea to watch the waves crashing against the rocks and so my husband could search the rock pools for crabs and other marine life – always the highlight of a trip to the seaside for him.

With everything else we’ve had going on this year, we haven’t had much time for day-trips or adventures, but we both felt refreshed after our day by the sea, enjoying the fresh air and the chance to explore somewhere new, chatting about everything and nothing, and just letting our minds and feet wander. Have a lovely week. X

A Day Trip to Jupiter

JupiterArtland

Summer has been a bit stop-start in our part of the country but we recently took advantage of a very sunny day with clear blue skies and temperatures in the mid-20s (hot by our standards!) for a little day trip.

Jupiter Artland is a contemporary sculpture park set across 100 acres of forest and meadows near Edinburgh. There’s a lot to see but I thought I’d share a few photos of our favourite exhibits.

In a clearing in the forest, there are statues of five little girls in various stages of a tantrum, it is a little bit creepy but Laura Ford’s Weeping Girl sculptures capture so much emotion and movement.

Several years ago, we visited The Cosmic Garden of Speculation designed by Charles Jencks and the highlight was climbing the spiral mounds, although the Cosmic Garden of Speculation is only open to the public one day of the year (or by special arrangement), the Cells of Life provide a similar experience here.

There was much more to see but these were the exhibits I found most memorable. Jupiter Artland appears to be a little off the beaten path but it was a fun place to explore and offers a more interactive and multi-sensory experience than traditional art galleries. Have a lovely week! X

The Giant Lanterns of China

One of my highlights of 2018 was visiting the Giant Lanterns of China at Edinburgh Zoo for Chinese New Year, and I was thrilled when I found out they were putting on another show this year. This time around the theme was Myths and Legends, and I loved the clash of Scottish and Chinese mythology, like the Loch Ness Monster tangling with a Chinese water dragon.

Nessie and Dragon

There were a few lanterns recycled from the previous event but I was impressed by how much thought and effort had been made to ensure it was every bit as original and memorable as the first, and I thought it was even better than the previous year.

Aside from all the fantastical creatures, there was also a section displaying extinct animals alongside currently endangered species, providing a pertinent reminder that we must act now to prevent species from disappearing in our lifetime due to climate change, hunting and loss of habitat.

Living in Scotland, we’re no strangers to inclement weather, but when it started snowing, it only made the experience seem more magical as we meandered between the gorgeous lanterns with cold hands wrapped around hot drinks, and it was a wonderful way to spend a wintry evening in February. Have a lovely week! X

Happy Halloween!

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A few weeks ago we were in Perthshire for the Enchanted Forest, but this week we visited a lightshow closer to home at the Glasgow Botanic Gardens, which have been illuminated for Halloween.

The designers made great use of the space and existing features, and it was wonderful to see the grass meadow where locals flock to picnic and sunbath during the summer transformed into a sea of lights, as well as the ferns in Kibble Palace all lit up, and a few spooky effects scattered around the gardens.

As much as we love the cosy autumn and winter months, my husband and I are outdoorsy types and we’re always grateful to have an excuse to wrap up warm and get outside to stretch our legs at this time of year, and “Glasglow” at the Botanic Gardens was a delightful way to spend a cold, dark October evening.

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Tonight and tomorrow we’ll try to eke out the Halloween festivities a little longer watching Dia de los Muertos themed films (Coco and The Book of Life) and eating leftover sweets we bought for the local kids out guising (or “trick or treating”). Happy Halloween and have a lovely week! X

An Enchanted Evening in the Forest

The Enchanted Forest

We’ve been visiting the Enchanted Forest in Pitlochry every year since 2011 and it remains one of the highlights of our calendar, and this year was no exception with lights choreographed to music, interactive displays and a stunning projection over Loch Dunmore.

Visiting the Enchanted Forest is one of our favourite annual traditions, and we always enjoy wandering around the woods hand-in-hand, snapping photos and sipping the first mulled wine of the season, but my husband and I still always pause at the spot where we got engaged here and enjoy reminiscing about our many other visits to the Enchanted Forest over the years.

As lovely as it is having a little adventure together, staying in a hotel and not having to worry about cooking or washing up, we’re also happy to be reunited with our cat Mara when we return home. It was just over three years ago that we adopted Mara, and although we don’t know her actual age, a recent trip to the vet to have her teeth cleaned and one extraction reminded us that she is getting older, but fortunately she remains healthy, playful and full of purrs.

Have a lovely week! X

A September to Remember

A September to Remember

September is always a busy month for us with birthdays and anniversaries to celebrate as well as catch-ups with friends, and it’s only now that I’ve found time to sort through the photos and reflect on some of the highlights.

Earlier in the month, my husband and I celebrated our third wedding anniversary and ten years together with a romantic break at Stobo Castle. We had the loveliest time exploring the beautiful grounds, swimming in the pool, sweating in the sauna, soaking in the outdoor hot tubs and sipping cocktails in the bar.

A lot has changed since that Tuesday morning a decade ago when the bold, young student surprised this shy bookseller by asking her out for a coffee mid-book purchase, but I’m always very grateful that he did.

We also had a wonderful weekend away with friends in the countryside, enjoying rambling walks during the day and cosy chats round the firepit late into the night – as well as making friends with Bria the pony, and the cats.

31 Making new friends

Finally, this week we celebrated my grandmother’s 92nd birthday. My nanna has been quite unwell over the summer, but it was lovely to have the family together to celebrate the generous and independent woman she still is.

As it draws to a close, September has definitely been a month to remember, full of good times and good company. Have a lovely week. X

Exploring Cowden Garden

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Tucked away in the grounds of Cowden Castle Estate in Clackmannanshire, the Japanese Garden was originally commissioned by Isabella ‘Ella’ Christie in 1908, and brought to fruition by the female Japanese garden designer, Taki Handa. The Japanese Garden was closed to the public in the 1960’s due to vandalism, however, a restoration project was undertaken by Ella Christie’s great, great niece, Sara Stewart, and the garden has recently been re-opened.

A path skirts around the pond in the centre of the garden, and the garden features traditional elements of Japanese gardens such as bridges, stone lanterns and a Shinto shrine, which makes an unusual contrast against the Scottish landscape. There were a few gardeners still hard at work on the day we visited – and it’ll be interesting to see how it’s changed the next time we visit – but it’s already a beautiful and tranquil place to explore.

You can read more about the history of Cowden Garden and the fascinating life of adventurer Ella Christie here. Have a lovely week! X