scotland 2015 part iv | mull

This the fourth post in a series about my recent trip to Scotland. You can also read my previous posts: 
Part I: Edinburgh  //  Part II: Glasgow  //  Part III: Oban

While planning our trip to Scotland, I knew I wanted to visit at least one island. Since there are well over 100 islands in the Hebrides (the archipelago off the west coast of mainland Scotland) I wasn't at all sure where to begin. Serendipitously, I came across this cute quiz on Visit Scotland's facebook page, Which Scottish Island Are You? and was informed that I was the Isle of Mull, the second largest island in the inner Hebrides. After doing some quick research, I realized it was one of the more easily accessible islands, and known for its beautiful beaches and bays. I had originally hoped we could do some island-hopping (I had my heart set on Islay, Jura and Colonsay) but once I learned how expensive it is to travel by ferry with a rental car in tow, our budget would only allow for one adventure by boat. By choosing to visit Mull, we could travel there directly from Oban in a short 45-minute sailing, spend the afternoon exploring the island, and spend the night in its tiny but charming main town, Tobermory.

So we hopped on the ferry and began our little journey to Mull. 

After driving around a little bit, we arrived in Tobermory and booked a tour of the whisky distillery of the same name. This tour was much smaller and more intimate than the one at Oban, and I just loved it. They were also very generous with their pours from both the Tobermory 10 and Ledaig bottles. 

We decided it would be fun to drive around the full island. It took a few hours, with a few stops along the way, and it was glorious. It was our first experience driving on single-track roads, but we passed so few cars on the route, that it felt like we had many parts of the island to ourselves.

That night, we had dinner at Cafe Fish —a fish pie— which was insanely delicious. Our time on Mull was brief but so very memorable. The next morning, we would be off to Ballachulish and Glencoe, which will comprise my next post!

life lately, in pictures | september - mid-november

The past few months have contained equal parts travel and settling in, of movement and stillness. Since my last personal post, I have begun to create a home in Edmonton. Every box (except one — there's always one!) has been unpacked, all the furniture has been set up, and we're starting to put a few personal touches on our place. We are slowly discovering new and cozy corners of the city that will be extensions of our home. I've met a few wonderful people already, and am excited to grow a community here.

All this nesting has been taking place in short bursts, between guests visiting us, and being on the road for many days or weeks at a time. Since we moved in at the end of the summer, I've been to Winnipeg, Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Atlanta. Every time I unpack, I mentally prepare to begin packing again. It's been wonderful travelling, and I'm looking forward to heading out again soon, but I've come to cherish these moments in Edmonton. I look forward to the first few months of the new year when we plan to just stay put for a while!

As of yesterday, I caught up with all my editing and delivered my last outstanding collection of client images. It feels amazing! I'm busy working on album designs and print orders, and beginning to plan some big projects for 2016. I still have two weddings and several portrait commissions this year, but right now I'm trying to take a little pause before the next bunch of work kicks off.

For those who have asked, yes, I'm available for portraits in the Toronto area in December. Get in touch if you are interested in booking a shoot!

Now, to backtrack a bit, here's a little bit of what I've been up to since September.

We were lucky to have our dearest friends Jennie and Zach visit us in Edmonton as part of a very important personal trip through western Canada they took. It was a treat to have them here with us.

We travelled to Drumheller to visit the Royal Tyrell Museum of Palaeontology, and I was obsessed with the surrounding scenery.  

We drove down to Calgary to visit our friends Ian and Jen and photograph their family.

While I was back in Ontario during September, I stayed with my best gal Rozlyn for part of the trip, and we spent a sunny afternoon at a pumpkin farm with her baby and our friend (and 2014 bride!) Lesley, who is expecting her first child in the near future.

Once I was back in Edmonton, while our friend Jessica was visiting, we got our first flurry of snow of the season. I walked along the top of the river valley with my camera before it all melted away within the hour.

Last week, Brian and I spent his fall reading week down in Georgia visiting my grandparents. My parents were also there for a day on their way to Florida, so we got to all spend time together. My grandparents were absolutely amazing hosts, and we had a great time at their beautiful home. During our time down south, we visited Madison, Athens, and on our last day we took a road trip together to Dahlonega, a former gold mining town in the foothills of the Appalachians.

Wishing you a beautiful month.

scotland 2015 part iii | oban

This the third post in a series about my recent trip to Scotland. You can also read my previous posts: Part I: Edinburgh  //  Part II: Glasgow.

The last time we visited Scotland, we had planned to make it to Oban but due to some transportation woes, got stranded in a much less exciting town and missed this destination. We were so excited about finally having a do-over and visiting this Scottish holiday hotspot. The main things that drew us to Oban were the Oban Distillery, the fact that the town is known as the seafood capital of Scotland, and that—with its busy ferry terminal—it is the perfect jumping-off spot for many destinations in the Hebridean Islands.

We drove to Oban from Glasgow, stopping along the way at Doune Castle. We drove the western shore of Loch Lomond, which I had always wanted to see after singing the eponymous song ad nauseum at vocal recitals as a child and teen. It was an easy and gorgeous drive, though the shockingly narrow "highway" roads and sharp turns caused me more than a little anxiety, even as a passenger!

The first thing we did after checking into our B&B was book a tour of the distillery, then headed to the ferry terminal seafood shack for some fresh oysters. I could have eaten 100, they were so perfect. The Oban distillery tour was a great introduction to whisky making. We loved learning about the process, and sampling a dram (accompanied by some crystallized ginger) at the end was the definite highlight.

On the morning of our second day in Oban, we woke up early to drive to Fort William's train station to catch the Jacobite Steam Train. This excursion was my most eagerly anticipated moment of the trip, as the Jabobite and its route on the historic West Highland railway are both featured in the Harry Potter films as the Hogwarts Express. My inner child/geek was overjoyed, and Brian patiently accompanied me through it all.

Sitting on the train, sipping a hot cup of tea and looking out at the breathtaking views was just heavenly. I wish this was my daily commute.

The train stops twice along the route. Once in Glenfinnan, and again in Mallaig for a lunch break, a tiny town in northwestern Scotland with not too much on the go, but it was pretty nonetheless. We got takeaway fish and chips which we ate sitting crosslegged on the ground because the entire town ran out of seating for all the number of passengers on the train. That's how twee it is!

Back to Oban, we explored the town, had more oysters and a beautiful seafood dinner at Cuan Mor, then Brian humoured me and came to watch Magic Mike XXL in the town's wee theatre with only one other audience member. Awkward and eerily silent in the theatre, yes, but a thoroughly campy and enjoyable movie-going experience. Going to the movies on vacation is one of our favourite things to do, especially on a cold and rainy night, so it was great.

The next morning, we'd be catching the ferry for our first island adventure to the Isle of Mull. More on that in my next post.

scotland 2015 part ii | glasgow

This the second post in a series about my recent trip to Scotland. You can also read my previous post: Part I: Edinburgh.

Though Glasgow certainly didn't come recommended by many people who've spent time in Scotland, I couldn't help but be curious about the city. I'm always attracted to places that don't draw as much interest. When I was planning out the whole trip, my eye kept being caught by snippets about the city. Talk of its museums and galleries, top-notch shopping, impressive architectural range, and rising culinary scene (including some of the country's best Indian food) led me to insist Glasgow have a place in our itinerary. Yes, the city has historically had a tough reputation, but Glaswegians are also known to be some of Britain's friendliest people. Though it can be tough (even for fellow Scots) to decipher the Glaswegian accent, if you're up for the challenge you are promised great conversation. I am so glad we went! It was one of the neatest places I've been and I would highly recommend visiting.

For just a few pounds, we hopped on a bus from Edinburgh and arrived in the city in about an hour. After walking from the bus station through the city, we arrived at our guesthouse in Glasgow's west end, very close to the University of Glasgow, the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum and countless restaurants and pubs. We had a simple lunch at Mother India, which will live on in my mind as one of the best meals of the trip.

After exploring the Kelvingrove, we traversed our neighbourhood and stopped in at The Steamie for coffee and tea. We had seafood at Crabshakk for dinner and then walked through the University and nearby nightlife hotspots Ashton Lane and Dyer's Road. We took a bit of a whisky crawl and sampled drams at The Left Bank,  Duke's Bar and Big Slope.

The next day, we ventured down an alley off Argyle Street to have lunch at The Hidden Lane Tearoom, which was the most adorable spot.

Afterwards, we walked all the way over to the city's east end park, Glasgow Green. We visited the People's Palace Museum and Winter Garden, then headed back through the architecturally stunning Merchant City quarter to see the Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art.

On the way back to our neighbourhood, we did some shopping with the crowds along Buchanan Street and stopped in for an afternoon charcuterie at the Wilson Street Pantry. For our final meal in the city, we chose Ox & Finch, which obliterated any stereotypes about the lack of fresh, healthy, and innovative cuisine in Scotland. If there's one thing we noticed on this trip, it was how much the country's dining scene has changed in the last decade.

The next morning, we picked up our rental car (sadly not the mint green dream pictured above) and hit the road. On our way out of Glasgow, we stopped at Doune Castle, which is less than an hour's drive to the north. It was a beautiful spot, and especially cool to see as it was the set of scenes from Monty Python, Outlander and the Game of Thrones pilot.

After that, we were on the road to Oban, where I will pick up the story in my next post!