The view of Edinburgh from Arthur's Seat

Today marks two weeks since we moved up to Edinburgh and it still doesn’t feel entirely real; it feels like we’re on the laziest holiday ever and might return to our “old lives” at some point.

It’s been just over four months since we found out we were moving up to Edinburgh and it has gone so fast. Thankfully the move, sorting out a flat, and getting jobs went very smoothly. Both of us have just started work but I don’t think it’s going to feel like this is our actual life until we settle into a work and university routine.

I was expecting to come up here and end up writing a really deep or meaningful post about what it’s like to move 270 miles away from the place you lived your entire life but I can’t. At the moment, it just hasn’t sunk in yet, so instead I’m going to talk about some of the things I’ve learned since being up here.

 

There is so much going on & to see

Neither of us are big city people, but I don’t feel like Edinburgh is a big city; geographically, sure it is, but it doesn’t feel overwhelming or stressful. I think the old buildings make it feel a little cosier and less imposing too.

We arrived at the end of the Fringe Festival and managed to see Thrones! The Musical Parody which had us all in stitches – GoT fans, if you ever have chance, see it. We spent a couple of days walking around the city and making mental lists of the museums and exhibits we want to see, and record stores we need to keep out of because money.

 

Bands don’t play Edinburgh

WHY?! Why don’t bands play big venues in Edinburgh? I have three gigs booked over the next few months and they are all in Glasgow.

Buses are cheap as

Where we used to live, public transport was a bit of a nightmare and was pretty impractical the majority of the time. Around here, it’s easier to hop on a bus than to try and drive around and park in the city; buses are £1.60. ONE. POUND. SIXTY. Damn, that is cheap.

Is it really sad that I’m excited about that?

 

Damn, Scotland is beautiful

Edinburgh is a beautiful city itself, and wherever you seem to look you can see mountains in the distance and you can be up in those mountains in no time at all. Last weekend, Daz and I took a drive around the Highlands and I was reminded of how stunning Scotland is. And, in case you’d missed it, Scotland has just been voted the most beautiful country in the world, and Canada came in second – can you believe that? Am I going to end up in love with Scotland more than Canada? Perish the thought.

 

We can’t understand everyone – and they can’t understand us

You never think you have an accent until you’re surrounded by people with completely different accents. A chap came out from OpenReach to sort our internet out last week and when he started talking fast we were not entirely sure what he was saying.

On the other hand, people haven’t always been able to understand us either. We went out for dinner last week and I ordered macaroni cheese but ended up with a beef burger…

 

Veggie haggis might become 70% of my diet

I’ve tried vegetarian haggis before (it’s delicious) but now I’m living here and I can buy it in Tesco I’m becoming a little bit obsessed with it. Most restaurants or cafes you go to have some kind of veggie haggis on the menu too; it is a delightful change from the standard tomato sauce and pasta.

 

It’s nice having a smaller place

One of the biggest things I was worried about was downsizing. We moved from a good sized two-bed terrace to a two-bed flat. While I’m still trying not to walk into the corners of the bed when I walk around it, it’s nice to have a more compact space. Truth be told, we didn’t need all the space we had before and cleaning is easier and faster – go, lazy me!

What did you learn when you moved to a new place?

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View over Edinburgh from Edinburgh castle

Last week, we got the news we’d be waiting on since the start of February; the University of Edinburgh made me an offer on the best masters course I’d found.

I cannot tell you how many times I have refreshed my emails over the past two months, or how many times I’ve logged into their applicant hub hoping to see an update. The stress and hassle of my current university who don’t seem to understand what an interim transcript is and my tutor and I having to make one because they’re so useless. The anxiety Daz and I have had, stressing about how close it was getting and all the things we need to do and we still don’t have a decision. It was all lifted. I could have cried; but I didn’t because I am not human.

Well, I say the stress was lifted. It was and it was quickly replaced with a load more stress and things that need sorting.

Daz and I spent a few days in Edinburgh towards the end of last year when they had a postgraduate open day and we both fell in love with the place. I love Scotland, I love Edinburgh and the university was everything I thought it would be and more. Some of the buildings look like they’re straight out of Hogwarts; which I guess they kinda are since J. K. Rowling was living in Edinburgh when she started writing the books.

View of Edinburgh from Edinburgh Castle

The course is my dream course. Friends and family kept asking me if I’d applied anywhere else and I kept saying “no, because no where else does a course that is anywhere like this one. I have to get in because everything else seems pointless in comparison.” It was, of course, the most expensive course I could have applied for but the way I see it is that it would have been a waste of money doing a cheaper course because it wouldn’t get me where I want to be. The optional modules are all so exciting and I CAN DO A MODULE ON FORESTS! I cannot tell you how excited I am for that. I love forests.

Having lived in my hometown all my life, I’ve visited places and yearned to experience what it would be like to live somewhere else. Especially somewhere so fancy-looking, I mean Edinburgh has a huge castle on a hill (Ed Sheeran?) that is always in the corner of your eyes. What I also like about Edinburgh is that it isn’t so busy that it overwhelms me and stresses me out; though I’m told it will be completely different when the Fringe Festival is on.

I’m looking forward to living somewhere new but I am very comfortable where I am, as is Daz. The thing I am most nervous about is leaving my current job and finding a new one. I love the people I work with, it’s like a family. I am worried that wherever I end up working in Scotland (Hard Rock Cafe, I’m coming for you…goals) won’t feel quite the same.

Of course I will also miss my family and friends. There are plenty of ways for us to keep in touch though, and none of them appear remotely unhappy about the prospect of visiting us in Edinburgh.

It’s a really exciting next chapter that seems full of a lot of unknowns at the moment but I’m sure things will become clearer over the next few months. We’re also both seriously excited about getting to explore Scotland on our days off because it is all kinds of beautiful.

It sure is a weight off.

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Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh

I have a bit of a thing for finding a high point in a city so that I can look over it, and get a good view of the whole city. When we went to Edinburgh in April, a trek up Arthur’s Seat was at the top of my list.

We were blessed with a gloriously sunny, fairly still day, which made the trip even more enjoyable. 

Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh

To start with, we got lost trying to find the top. There were a couple of paths, but no clear signs, so we followed the one that looked most used. 

It turned out that it wasn’t quite the path we wanted, as this one just went around Arthur’s Seat instead of up it. We weren’t going to complain though because it provided us with beautiful views over Edinburgh, including the glorious Edinburgh Castle. 

Edinburgh Castle from Arthur's Seat

View over Edinburgh from Arthur's Seat

Interesting fact: In the photo above, on the right hand side, in the grass, you can kinda see a couple who were full on going at it. 

View over Edinburgh from Arthur's Seat

Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh

After getting about halfway round on the path well worn, we decided to turn back around and went in hunt of the path up to the top. We found it, and it turned out to be a little treacherous. You know the kind of path that just looks like it’s desperate to break one of your ankles? 

On the way up we were passed by a bloke who was running. He was running up something that I was out of breath from just walking up! It was so steep. Major props to him, he must have been fit as a fiddle. 

At the top, we were treated to spectacular views over Edinburgh. 

Edinburgh from Arthur's Seat

View from Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh

View from Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh

We sat at the top for a while and drank in the view. I love being able to view a city from above, you spot things that you don’t see while your wandering around the streets. 

I always find that memories of cities from afar, like this one, tend to stick with me a little more than 

Do you like seeing places from above? 

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Edinburgh Castle at night

Edinburgh Castle in the day

Edinburgh Castle is a majestic looking thing; it sits perched on a rock watching over the city. 

The castle looks pretty impressive from the front but when you go in through the castle gates, or see it from down on Princes Street, you realise how big it is.

It’s a huge, sprawling castle with paths that take you off in different directions.

My favourite part of any castle is never the inside. It’s the grounds, where you get to look at the beautiful buildings and down on the area surrounding it. It’s in moments like that where I can imagine for a second what it would have been like to live in the castle in it’s heyday.

View of Edinburgh from Edinburgh Castle

View of Edinburgh from the castle

The most impressive thing inside the castle was actually something you aren’t allowed to take photos of; the crown jewels.

They were absolutely stunning and every bit as lavish as you expect they would be, but annoyingly it was very, very busy in that particular room. That’s understandable, of course everyone wants to see the sparklies, but I think perhaps there should be a system in place where only a certain amount of people can go in at a time.

After we’d finished at the castle we went to the Hard Rock Cafe for dinner. I do not consider that I’ve actually been to a country if I haven’t visited the Hard Rock Cafe there and I their collect t-shirts / hoodies.

The staff at the Hard Rock Cafe in Edinburgh were great and as usual, they complied with my awkward request to have the twisted mac n’ cheese without the chicken and as usual, it was amazeballs. (There I finally said it in a sentence!)

I also surprised myself by trying something new (I don’t do that very often at all); a strawberry and basil lemonade. It was delicious, I keep meaning to try to make my own.

I completely forgot to take a picture of the Hard Rock Cafe itself because I was distracted by this beautiful building next door. I think it was a fancy restaurant. I don’t really care what it is, to be honest, because look at how beautiful it looks with all those Christmas lights on it.

 

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Share The Love - September 2017

Are you fed up of hearing that autumn is finally here yet? Ok, I won’t say it – but I’m definitely thinking it and I’m really excited about it.

September was our first full month living in Edinburgh, and it’s been a great month. We’re getting our bearings, are loving living here, work is good, and my masters is equal parts fascinating and horrifying. NB: we’re fudging the planet big time and need to stop being dicks to it.

In September, I decided to give being fully vegan another go and it’s going really well so far. We’ve made some delicious vegan food, like soup and butternut squash “mac n cheese”. 

 

Blog – What Is Maria

I found Maria’s blog towards the end of September and it fast became a favourite. Maria covers a range of topics, such as vegan food and recipes, anxiety, and overcoming exercise addiction to name a few.

What drew me to her blog was how absolutely honest it feels. It feels like you’re talking to her in person. She isn’t trying to be someone else at all. My favourite blog post from September was her top 10 vegan pantry essentials.

 

Links

 

Listening

September was an amazing month for new music.

 

Watching

Our TV signal is rubbish where we live, so Daz and I have been watching a lot of Friends re-runs and documentaries on Netflix / iPlayer. We really enjoyed BBC’s Life at the Extreme, Chasing Coral (it’s a hard watch), and being the Canadaphiles we are, we chuckled hard at Being Canadian.

Like most of the UK, we are pretty undecided on our feelings towards Channel 4’s Great British Bake Off. On one hand, it’s a baking show; what isn’t to love. On the other hand, it belongs on BBC and WHERE’S IS MARY BERRY?! At least it isn’t as bad as the reboot of Top Gear.

 

Popular posts on Girl In Awe

 

What did you enjoy in September?

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Fruit and veg stall - zero waste

Over the past few months, I’ve been trying hard to reduce my waste significantly and move towards zero waste.

I have always strived to recycle and thought I was pretty good at living fairly sustainably. The more I learn about zero waste and being sustainable, the more I realise there’s still a lot more I can do. Daz and I certainly don’t have a zero waste household, we are slowly reducing the amount of rubbish we send to landfill though. Moving house created a whole load of rubbish and we did donate or sell whatever we could, and only send to landfill what we had to.

Rubbish and waste is something we all have in our homes and trying to reduce it can seem really daunting. We’ve been trying to move towards zero waste for a few months now, so I wanted to share some of the biggest things we’ve learned.

 

What is zero waste?

If this is the first time you’ve heard of zero waste, here’s a brief introduction for you. The basic idea is that you produce no waste. Nothing in your refuse bin. Nothing. Nada. Zero waste is bigger than not producing waste though, it’s about buying products and food with less packaging, reducing the amount of plastic and waste you bring into your home, buying more thoughtfully and so much more.

 

What our zero waste journey has taught us so far

Over the past few months we have noticed a decrease in how full our refuse bin is come collection day. Up here in Edinburgh, in addition to a general waste bin and recycling bin, they also have food waste caddys and a glass recycling box. That means our recycling bin is pretty much plastic, paper, and cans. And boy, is there a lot of plastic. Too much plastic. 

 

Packaging – y u no use eco-friendly packaging?

My biggest recycling peeve is packaging. I think Daz kind of dreads going shopping with me because I go off on a rant every time I see “not currently recyclable” on packaging. There are so many recyclable and biodegradable packaging options that I cannot comprehend why a manufacturer would choose to use something that isn’t recyclable. Actually, I can; I suspect it’s to do with money.

When it comes to skincare, cosmetics, and vegan / dairy free food items, it’s really easy to find products in minimalist and recyclable packaging. The brand is well aware of their impact on the environment and usually uses packaging which is environmentally friendly.

It’s when you come to other items or food products that aren’t associated with the environment or special dietary needs that it gets trickier. It’s not impossible, but it does mean you might have to do some research and maybe stop buying a product you loved. If that’s the case though, I would definitely recommend emailing them and asking why they’re using non-recyclable packaging. You might think that one email might not make a difference, but if enough people tell a company they aren’t buying their products because of their packaging choices they will make a change.

A Plastic Planet are running a really interesting campaign and are trying to encourage supermarkets to offer a plastic free aisle. How wonderful would that be?

 

Plastic bags – learn to juggle or forward plan

By this point, I think we can all agree that plastic bags are bad. I’m slowly getting better at remembering to take reusable bags to the supermarket with me. Daz is much better than me, and remembers to keep some in the car.

 

Chemicals & microbeads

I stopped buying products with microbeads in last year when I read about how rubbish (excuse the pun) they are for the environment and marine life. Microbeads are used in a lot of exfoliating cosmetics and are small plastic balls that are absolutely pointless because there are so many natural exfoliants, like; rice, charcoal, coffee, sugar, oats, bamboo, walnut shells, the list is very long.

Being a science student I have always enjoyed reading the ingredients list on products, and it always scares me when I see something and think “hmmm, I feel like I used that in the lab and needed to wear gloves…” The long and short of it is that harmful and unnecessary products are causing damage in two ways.

  1. Your body is absorbing all those nasties, and they’re not good for you.
  2. All those nasties are ending up in the water supply when they get washed down the drain.

I’m sure they’re also causing damage in other ways as well, such as the manufacturing process. I’ve not really had to buy many skincare products recently but when I do I’m going for natural and sustainable products. It is my goal to now only buy natural and sustainable products; which means saying “bye bye” to some LUSH stuff. Le sigh. Since the start of the year, I think the only places I’ve purchased skin / hair care and beauty products from are Holland & Barrett , 100% Pure, and Antipodes

If you want to learn more about being eco-friendly in your bathroom, check out my updated 8 tips for being more eco-friendly in the bathroom

 

Don’t just throw stuff out

While we were relocating, we noticed there are a load of things we didn’t use or need. Some of it we sold on eBay, a load of it was donated or given to friends, and what was of no use went to the tip. 

 

Forward planning

The biggest thing I’ve learned so far is that I need to plan. Living in Edinburgh means we have access to a couple of stores that have bulk options – something we definitely didn’t have before. We haven’t needed to use them yet because we have so much flour, sugar, and oats, it’s ridiculous. At some point soon we’ll get through them all and I’m looking forward to bulk buying – that’s kind of sad, isn’t it?

  • By forward planning, we reduce our food waste by buying what we need and using things up.
  • I remember to take some suitable bags for putting loose produce in.
  • I can go a little out of my way to get something without packaging or with packaging that’s actually recyclable.  

 

We have a long way to go on our quest for zero waste, and maybe we won’t ever truly reach zero. We’re really happy with where we’re at so far. It was bin day a couple of days ago and our waste bin was less than half full.

If you want to cut down on your waste to landfill, here are a few blog posts that I found helpful:

 

If you’ve got any tips or want to share a useful blog post / blog, please do 🙂

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13 places to add to your Scottish adventure list

You didn’t think I’d be in Scotland too long before putting together a Scottish adventure list did you?

This beautiful country has just been voted the most beautiful country in the world by Rough Guide readers (and Canada came second?! WHAT?!). I’ve visited Scotland a couple of times and it’s easy to see how it won the title. Getting to adventure around Scotland was one of the things we were most excited for when we were moving.

While this list is in no way final (because we keep seeing more amazing places on Instagram and Pinterest), here are 13 places (plus a bonus) on our Scottish Adventure list. Incidentally, this is perhaps a list of 13 awesome travel photographers to follow on Instagram.

13 places that need to be on your Scottish adventure list

Ben More, Crianlarich

 

The North Face

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Daz spotted Ben More on Instagram a couple of weeks ago and it looks stunning. It’s not too far from Edinburgh so hopefully we can get this one ticked off before the days draw in. Having done some research into the hike, it looks like it’s incredibly unrelenting and is going to make me feel very unfit. Alas, the view from the top looks spectacular.

 

Isle of Skye

What list of awesome Scottish places to visit would be complete without mentioning the Isle of Skye? With it’s faerie pools, dramatic green landscape, moody weather, waterfalls, and the enchanting Man of Storr, it is everything we’re looking for in a place to visit.

There are so many stunning looking places on Skye we want to visit that I think this will turn into a few days of adventuring. That and the weather is so famously unpredictable that we might get one dry day out of four or five. Maybe?

 

John O’Groats

 

Pretty cool sea stacks #nc500 #visitscotland #coast #scotland

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I couldn’t care less about the whole tacky white sign thing, what I do want to see is the geographical (not political, ooh) end of the UK. There’s something weirdly exciting about looking out into the sea and knowing you’re stood at the end of a country.

 

Loch Ness

Loch Ness as seen from a tour boat

When you think about Scotland, one of the first places you think about is Loch Ness. Steeped in mystery and mythology, the dark loch is just somewhere you have to visit. I visited Loch Ness a couple of years ago, and sure it’s not the most beautiful loch in Scotland, but when you see it you can understand where the stories of a monster came from. Daz hasn’t visited yet so I definitely need to take him.

 

Eilean Donan Castle

One of the most visited castles in Scotland, Eilean Donan castle looks like it’s right out of Harry Potter or Game of Thrones. It’s on the main route to the Isle of Skye so exploring this castle would be the perfect thing to do on the way there or back.

 

Harry Potter walking tour of Edinburgh

 

The very photogenic Victoria Street, or Diagon Alley if you will ⚡️

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It is well known that J K Rowling worked on the series while living in, and being inspired by, Edinburgh. For any other Harry Potter adventurers, I came across this self-guided Harry Potter tour of Edinburgh which looks fantastic. Just walking around Edinburgh, it’s so easy to see how the Harry Potter universe came to life.

 

Skiing & Snowboarding

I learned to snowboard as part of Duke of Edinburgh though I didn’t actually make it onto a mountain, and Daz last went skiing on a holiday a few years ago. There is no way we’re living this close to a place we can go skiing and snowboarding and not doing it. I think I’ll stick to the bunny slopes though, once I’ve got over my fear of ski lifts; they just don’t look safe, what if I get tangled up in myself and fall flat on my face getting off? Serious fear.

 

Edinburgh’s underground


I only learned about Edinburgh’s underground a couple of months ago. Some part of the city you see today were built on top of existing parts, turning the original streets into tunnels and vaults. Mercat offer tours into the vaults which looks really interesting. It is marketed it as being haunted but I hope the ghost stuff isn’t too over the top.

 

Astronomy nights at the Royal Observatory Edinburgh & Calton Hill

 

Amazing photo of the stars by @kyleeeeliang ✨

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Both of us love space stuff and have wanted to visit an observatory for months, and now we have one right on our doorstep. The Royal Observatory Edinburgh runs public astronomy evenings every Friday throughout the year for just a fiver! We’re definitely going to get in on that as soon as we can.

On top of that, the observatory sits on top of Calton Hill, right in the city centre. We have heard that it’s supposed to provide better views over the city than Arthur’s Seat, so I guess we’ll find out if there’s any truth to that too. As another matter of interest, a fellow student told me that the Postgraduate levels in the main university library also provide amazing views over Edinburgh; so, if you’re a student get in that library and stare out the window! I mean, study.

 

Glenfinnan Viaduct Trail & Jacobite Express

 

📸 are proud to present our Scotland love of the day! ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• 🏅ARTIST @connormollison 🌍LOCATION Glenfinnan, Loch Shiel ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• We need you and your pics to show the beauty of Scotland to the world! Join us and be part of it! Tag us #scotlandshots or #scotshots ☝️ No stolen or web pics! Please visit the artist’s gallery and show them some love 💙 Photo selected by @nichbrand #glenfinnan #glenfinnanviaduct #harrypotterbridge #highlands #visitscotland #thisisscotland #unlimitedscotland #ukpotd #scotlandsites #hubs_united #brilliantbritain #lovegreatbritain #omgb #topukphoto #bestukpics #instabritain #vivocelticworld #photosofbritain #igersuk #beautifulscotland #britains_talent #highlandcollective #liveuk #uk #visituk #hiddenscotland

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As two huge Harry Potter fans, visiting the Glenfinnan Viaduct is high up our list. There’s a hike around the viaduct that takes a couple of hours, and hopefully we’ll manage to spot the Jacobite Express crossing the bridge. You can actually hop aboard the Jacobite Express and cross the viaduct pretending you’re en route to Hogwarts. I came across a blog post on Dangerous Business about her experience riding the train, and I am seriously hyped up to do it. That would be really fun to do when some of our Harry Potter loving friends and family visit.

 

Ben Nevis

 

#bennevis #highlands #scotland #mountains #landscape #valley

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As the highest mountain in the UK, a hike up Ben Nevis is probably the most adventurous thing on this list. With an estimated return hike time of 7 – 9 hours, this is probably one we’re going to have to leave until next summer to make sure we have plenty of daylight and (hopefully) better weather.

 

Coire Gabhail

Glencoe is one of my favourite places in Scotland, and Core Gabhail (also called the Lost Valley) is a hidden valley in Glencoe:

  • Visiting Glencoe – good
  • Hidden valleys – good
  • Custard – good (just a little Friends reference for you)

According to Walking Highlands the walk is 2 or 3 hours long, which gives us plenty of time to explore Glencoe some more.

If you’re interesting in visited Glencoe I cannot stress the importance of getting there early, or trying to go on a weekday if you can. During peak season, it is horrendously busy and you’ll struggle to find a parking space, and you might find a coach considerately blocking you in when you try to get out. The good news is that most of the visitors don’t stray too far from the road so the trails aren’t going to be jampacked and ruin your Scottish adventure.

 

Ben Lomond

 

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Loch Lomond is often said to be one of the most beautiful lochs in Scotland, so what better way to take it in than from the summit of a mountain? Seeing photos that look down to the islands on the loch really reminds me of Canada and the islands around Tofino.

With an estimated hike time of 4.5 – 5.5 hours, we might just be able to fit this one in before winter comes.

 

Bonus: Faroe Islands


No, I didn’t skip geography classes. The Faroe Islands are not part of Scotland at all but you can get direct flights to the Danish owned islands direct from Edinburgh. I keep seeing the Faroe Islands popping up all over Instagram at the moment and we’d like to go before it gets too touristy and the accomodation situation goes tits up and ends up like Iceland; in which it costs you a kidney to stay anywhere.

 

Traveling sustainably in Scotland

We all know that it is more environmentally friendly to travel by public transport. Traveline Scotland’s website has a great journey planner that will help you figure out how to get anywhere in Scotland using public transport. They also offer a carbon calculator to show you the CO2 emissions of your journey – which is pretty fun, and scary.

If you’re visiting Edinburgh as part of your trip public transport is the easiest way to get in, out, and around the city. With a single bus ticket costing £1.60, it is probably also the cheapest (again, depending on your circumstances) when you consider the extortionate costs of parking in the city.

Sometimes, public transport isn’t practical, so here are three tips if you need a car for your Scottish adventure:

  • Hire / use an electric or small car
  • Carpool; if you and your adventure buddies can fit in one car, get comfy with each other
  • Find out how many of these eco-driving tips you’re already doing, and what you can start doing

Where is on your adventure list at the moment?

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