Hogmanay, Highlands and Handbags

With Hogmanay knocking on the door, and my new hiking books in the hall, I have been dreaming of Scotland.  I yearn to greet Robert Burns’s Highlands in the summer. Stories and adventures are sure to be waiting in the ‘green vallies’ and ‘wild- hanging woods’.  Alas, my neighbour, Hamish, has warned me of the ‘hungry beasties’ – the mischievous midges.  And I hate the blighters, as I am sure to become their breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Exploring the literature about Scotland, I found ‘One Woman’s Search for Enchantment in the Modern World’, by Signe Pike.  Pike explains:

‘But in the Scottish Highlands, with their dark brooding mountains and eerie highland lakes, villagers warned of deadly water kelpies and spirit characters that packed a bit more punch.’

Perhaps, dear old Hamish is introducing me to the magic of the Highlands; and is referring to the beautiful spirits hiding in the lochs.  I can hear something whispering, ‘A dinnae ken’, to me.  Viewing online images of Scotland tempts me to explore the ‘brooding’ wilderness sculpted by nature.  Like a warrior blogger, I must face the midges!  And my brother suggests keeping some citronella spray in my handbag. Does this deter the midges, or would it be like marinating myself for the blighters’ lunch? Any advice is welcome.

So, while searching for the perfect romantic bothy, I have just found a bothy bag.  This is a survival bag that transforms into a tent.  Perfect!  I can fill this with books for my adventure. And if the midges appear, I will simply hide in the bothy bag and read.  Please recommend some books set in Scotland to prepare me for my adventure.

I can recommend the Daniela Sacerdoti novels set in the Highlands in which she paints a vivid picture of ‘…the windswept Scottish sky and black silhouette of pinewoods, a hint of mist resting on the land and the white ghostly moon peering…’, and this rekindles my yearning to visit Scotland. Ah yes, I will have to stash away Lizzie Lamb’s Highland romances. I wonder if Lizzie knows the best time of year to avoid the midges?

I will search for a holiday bothy in this glorious tide of time between Christmas and Hogmanay.  Once the bothy has been located, I will then begin to plan a menu for the end of year celebrations.  It is a tradition for the family or friend member, with the darkest hair, to open the front door to let the old year out.  This becomes a struggle as our hair turns grey, but I like to refer to MacLeod in the Highlander:

‘ “To see the years touch ye gives me joy,” he whispers, “ for it means ye live.”’

And, I wish to end the year with the celebration of life!


Please see all my adventures at Handbag Adventures and my blog at jessiecahalin.com.

20 thoughts on “Hogmanay, Highlands and Handbags”

  1. You mentioned two of my favourite authors, Lizzie Lamb and Daniela Sacerdoti. Although their style is very different they both made me yearning to visit Scotland even more. I believe reading Lizzie’s fabulous stories while staying there would add a bonus! Lovely blog post 🙂

    1. Thanks Isabella. I would love to organise a girly trip to Scotland, travelling in a camper van but staying overnight in only the BEST hotels. Plenty of ideas there for a novel (or two).

    2. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. I have read Daniela Sacerdoti’s books, and I am looking forward to Lizzie’s books. Which book should I read first?

  2. Love this! A perfect Hogmanay post. I’m a great fan of all of Lizzie’s books, with those wonderful Scottish settings. Thank you for the introduction to Daniela!

  3. If I ever need to get to Scotland quickly, one of Lizzie Lamb’s superb novels is my quickest route. I’ve already told (threatened!) a couple of pals I’ll be on my way north in the New Year – I love the warm welcome and droll sense of humour that always greets me. Aye!

    1. Scotland is a fine destination for New Year. We have been to Edinburgh many times and it is wonderful.

  4. Hi Jessie and thanks for mentioning my highland novels. We go to Scotland for a month every year (writing, chilling, travelling and researching). The received wisdom is that you are ‘pretty safe’ in late May/ early June but the wee beasties are bad in July and August. Having said that, if May is very warm, the eggs hatch and they come early. We’ve never been bothered by them and I’ve received worst bites in our garden in the summer. This site tells you everything you need to know – https://www.holidayscottishhighlands.co.uk/midges-scotland-midge-bites. On the plus side in June you get fabulously long days when the sun barely sets below the horizon. Very much looking fwd to Hogmanay myself and my husband doing the ‘first footing’ in his kilt.

    1. Thank you so much for the advice. We will continue our search and book something during that time. Can you recommend any particular area? Enjoy your New Year’s celebrations!

      1. Edinburgh or Inverness make great centres to tour from if you’ve never been to Scotland before. Fewer midges in that coast, too. We love the west coast but it is much wetter (and more midges). Stirling is also a good centre as you can have some fantastic days out exploring the Trossachs. When she get a feel for those parts of Scotland you can head for the ‘wilder parts’ on another visit.

        1. Thanks for the recommendations. We have have been to Edinburgh, Glasgow and Kintyre. We are thinking of the wilds of Scotland.

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