As we start looking to Spring, it is hard to think we have come through another winter of the COVID Pandemic and on top of that the ongoing atrocities being played out in Ukraine with threats of nuclear war, as well as the on going climate crisis, which now feels less urgent considering current situations, headlining with reports that more than 40% of the world’s population live in places and in situations that are “highly vulnerable to climate change” and that Climate change has already caused death and suffering across the world. So here are some escapism recommendations.
I am writing this monthly blog for purely my own benefit, but making to public for mainly, my own accountability. I have become lazy with writing for my own pleasure, I also like the idea that a couple people might read it and gain something from it (feel free to let me know if 1. you read it and 2. if you gained or even lost anything, other than just time!, from reading it!). Just to note everything below is my own thoughts and nothing here has been a paid or gifted promotion. Though I am I guess promoting my own book at the end!!
So what I am reading…
I have two for you this month, one is a newsletter, and the only newsletter in my email inbox that I will reliably read every week. This is Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez, who is author of the book by the same name. Every Monday Caroline’s quippy newsletter highlights the gaps in design, science and consideration of 50% of the population in pretty much every product we use from clothing, seat belts, medicine, PPE, cutlery and even items supposedly designed FOR women such as breast pumps, women’s clothing and female specific sports equipment. Caroline also highlights companies and individuals working to rectify this oversight of half the population even if it is as simple as adding pockets or making gardening gloves that actually fit our hands.
You can sign up here for your weekly read (estimates read time is 7 mins) https://newsletter.carolinecriadoperez.com/issues/invisible-women-one-dose-fits-men-1050315?utm_campaign=Issue&utm_content=view_in_browser&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Invisible+Women
My second read for Feb is the Wayfarers series by Becky Chalmers. I am not normally a sci-fi fan, but I do love stories where, as Max puts it – nothing happens. There was a recent Twitter thread around the concept of the need for a genre of ‘cosy fantasy’ and ‘cosy sci-fi’. A kind of feel good comfort genre, where the characters only want the best for each other and you do not need worry the entire time your new pals could be killed brutally or emotionally attacked at any moment. There is enough anxiety in real life.
What am I listening to….
This month my listening recommendation came from a fellow Oban Mountain Rescue Team Member while we were away on a team building social weekend at the end of January in Kinguisse. Over dinner I made it clear to every one how much of a crazy hen lady I have become since lockdown (did you know I have 4 hens??). Robert kindly sent me this podcast from BBC Sounds where Jo Fidgen interviews Guirec Soudée who sailed around the world with his pet chicken, Monique, for company. His affection and companionship for Monique is clear throughout the recording. They even crossed the treacherous Northwest Passage between the Pacific and the Atlantic. Guirec Soudée became the youngest sailor to complete the crossing; Monique the only chicken. I hope you can take away two things from his podcast 1. to adventure more and 2. to stop eating chickens (or at least only eat free range birds).
Following on Twitter = @Thereisnocat_
And finally, what have I been up to?
Well, most of you will know that I recently wrote a guide book, which is now out for pre-order. Huge thank you to 100 people who have already ordered the book! It is a guide of some of Scotland’s best beaches and imaginably called The Beaches of Scotland. You can order it here.
So mostly over the last month I have been doing book marketing in-between my full-time job, mega commutes as well as trying to eat and see daylight. I have been asked by several magazines, websites etc to compile beach lists – best beaches for swimming, best beaches for holidaying, best beaches for adventure… but no one has asked me for a list of my favourite beaches, the ones that bought me the most joy visiting and why. So here they are (in no particular order)
- Balnakeil Bay, far north coast – for its remoteness and unique flat light and a sunset that I felt so unbelievably privileged to watch from this far flung and almost unknown part of the UK. There is a lot of history and war presence here, this added to the atmosphere too.
- West Beach Berneray – for the breathtaking beauty of this spot and waters that leave you feeling in the only way I can describe, like you are swimming in the best most refreshing gin and tonic of your life.
- A Secret Bay, in a Secret location – so this beach is not in my book, but is hinted at, as it was just too utterly special and it was special because it was hard to find and to reach. The royal family supposedly visit this beach by yacht for their holidays as it is so secret. It is very difficult to reach and easiest by yacht, but doable on foot or MTB. This is an oasis hidden amount the inner Hebrides, and left me feeling I could have been living on a desert island. Max and I camped here and from the camo of our tent watched yachts go by trailing porpoise in their wakes unknowing of our gaze.
- Achnahaird Bay, Wester Ross – a north facing beach with stark mountains rising to the east, there was just something special about being here.
- Red Point, Wester Ross – again similar to Achnahaird Bay, the atmosphere on this beach felt magic, also made me smile to find rocks placed in the shape of a big heart as I reached the beach.
- Tynninghame, North Berwick – My best friend was married on this beach, and for the book I revisited it along with her baby son. We had not seen each other in months due to the pandemic. It was the first sunny day and my first time outside of Oban since the lockdown started and just was one of those wonderful days with people that I had not realised I had so missed.
- Ganavan Sands, Oban – this is my local beach, and I love visiting, for parkrun, for swimming, for walking along the cliff tops or coastline and looking out to Mull, especially when there is snow on the hills. I find visiting this beach at the end of the working week gives me some perspective and peace.