Lessons learned from holidays…

I’ve just got back from my first holiday in 6 years. I actually feel like I need another holiday because what I discovered was that I’m not very good at having a holiday. I feel like I need to make sure I DON’T MISS ANYTHING.

I’m aware of my privilege. 3 years of jobs where you weren’t sure if you’d have enough money to feed and clothe yourself never mind do something frivilous like go to the cinema, the pub never mind go on a holiday and no annual leave to take a holiday anyway leaves a mark. I felt hugely guilty about taking annual leave, and it required encouragement from my line manager and my wonderful colleagues who have learned how incredibly anxious I get to reassure me that taking a holiday was something I could and should do.

The first lesson I learned was that you need to take time to organise your holiday so you don’t end up in such a state by the time the day comes you’re getting so stressed out you end up in bed with a migraine.

The second lesson I learned was that years of having no money meant that I felt that if I was spending all this money on accommodation and petrol I needed to see AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. In hindsight, I should really have taken time to not feel guilty about just spending my half my day in ONE place and just enjoyed doing not much at all. My anxious and fidgety tendencies meant that any time I got somewhere I immediately felt like I needed to move on to the next place.

The third lesson is research where you are going, and make sure there’s food you can eat. I stupidly assumed that staying in the UK meant this wouldn’t be an issue. Cue a close to tears increasingly emotional and hangry woman driving manically through Dorset trying to find town that would serve something other than pub food (which is generally not the koala friendliest).

The fourth lesson is that I stumbled across the most gorgeous, comfortable and friendliest bed and breakfast. If you are ever going to West Dorset (sans children) book a stay in Halsons B&B near Bridport. It is truly beautiful and in a historical moment I slept through the night in their comfortable bed on my first night there. That’s never happened anywhere before!

The fifth lesson I learned is that if you have a camera around your neck, people assume you are American.

The sixth lesson is I can’t poo in a portaloo.

And the final lesson? When you get woken before dawn by owls, can’t get back to sleep in the uncomfortable bed at B&B number 2… get up, put on your clothes, grab a fleecey blanket and go watch the sunrise from a clifftop.


And then go back later to the next cove to watch the sunset.




The one where I see baby penguins…

It’s been a crazy month. And I haven’t been able to talk about it much. If you know me and have been around my blogs and social media a while, you’ll know already that I’m an over-sharer. So many nights in the last week I’ve gone on my laptop wanting to write and I’ve had to just shut it again. I’ve also had a lot of friends checking in with me and it’s been difficult to reply as so much at the moment is up in the air. And then my heart has been hurt with some upsetting news from South Africa followed by the horrific news from Manchester (home to several friends, and it turned out my friend’s daughter & grandaughter were at the Ariana Grande concert – they are thankfully fine and physically unharmed. But many were not so lucky. Several Scottish girls who travelled down to the concert are still missing). So instead of talking about all that is going on in my brain right now, I’m going to share about new baby penguins.

On Saturday, I finished work earlier than usual. It was a miserable day, with bucketing rain but I wanted to stop by Edinburgh Zoo before I went home, camera in tow. Because BABY PENGUINS people…BABY PENGUINS. Yes, this happens every year. And no, it doesn’t get old.IMG_2249

I mentioned on my last blog that for the first time in many years, a baby Rockhopper penguin has been born at the zoo. Another regular visitor hiding from the rain gazing at the gentoo nests pointed me in the direction of the Rockhopper nests. The nest is located in a bit where you can’t get very close to it – there’s a garden area on the other side of the fence of their enclosure. It’s maybe a good thing though for the little chick to get some peace and quiet. With some difficulty and the help of my long lens, I did manage to get this pic…


I really hope this little one survives and thrives. I love the rockhoppers, and they are always the ones that come right up to the fence and pose for my phone and say hi! Case in point: Exhibit A below…


Quite a few of the penguins are looking a little scruffy and uncomfortable at the moment because they are moulting. Usually the King Penguins are all very tall and sleek, and felt very sorry for this poor dude. It’s really strange to see a King Penguin looking so cuddly, fluffy and rotund!


I hope the photos make you smile, and please know that if you are reading from Cottonlands or been affected by what happened last night in Manchester…I am thinking of you.

Much love,

BK x

The one where I visited some fairy woods…

So, it’s safe to say I’m pretty wiped out. Last week I struggled through with sore throat so I figured it was another cold  coming on care of the children of Edinburgh, but on Sunday I woke up with no voice. New self-diagnosis: laryngitis!

Suffice to say, it’s hard to do my work without a voice, so I’ve been resting it as much as possible today before I have to do some youth work stuff tonight. In an attempt to stay awake I thought I’d blog to share some photos from last weekend…


For the first time in a long time, I rode in Davina. She is still green rather than blue but I’m pleased to say that I didn’t have to pray for her engine to start. Sadly though it was a grey drizzly morning at the beach…so no beam work. Luckily though, members of the church had this very luxurious RV with a canopy for everyone to shelter under. I say everyone, most of the kids wanted to climb all over Davina and run around in the rain.


While people ate bacon rolls (I keep kosher) I sat in a camping chair snapping pics at strange angles in between having conversations. But this lad may have been my favourite subject to photograph. Even my friend who is an actual professional photographer saw pics and said “That is the most photogenic dog!”. He also woofs along when people sing Happy Birthday.


While we were there we looked up to see a group who were galloping across the beach on horseback. I’ve only ever seen one or two horse riders at a time, and it was really cool to watch. Especially with the backdrop of Bass Rock in the background. I felt so sorry for the horse that kept lagging behind. I can empathise.

And after going back to my friends’ home to warm up and collect their lovely beagle, we ventured back outdoors to a wood where fairies live…

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I’ve also heard that some baby penguins have been born including a baby rockhopper (the Northern Rockhopper penguins are my faves…they always come to say hello through the fence, and they look like punks so what’s not to love?). It’s the first time in 8 years a baby Rockhopper has been born. Usually it’s only gentoos that hatch eggs. A visit to the zoo is on my to-do list. 🙂


The one where I stop to capture the flowers…

I got bored while heating up soup in my Mum’s kitchen and decided to grab my camera and take pictures of some flowers I spotted in her back garden. One of our neighbours is a keen gardener, and she also kindly allowed me to go into her front garden to snap some pics of her plants and flowers too. I have no idea what these flowers are, I just like their colourfulness. I also like the ones that have little antennae on the inside. The biggest challenge was focusing on close up to the flower without creating a shadow in the picture and capturing it during the split second before the next gust of breeze blew the flower out of shot.

Anyway, hope the colours brighten up your day…. 🙂

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The one where I wandered by the river…

As I’ve mentioned previously on the blog, I took a wander down the Water of Leith Walkway from Roseburn to the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art on Mothering Sunday. These are just a few of the pictures I snapped. I’m still learning how to use the camera, it’s different settings and sometimes I use auto-focus, other times I’m doing it manually. I love experimenting, and would love to spend more time learning how to take better photographs.

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I would also love to know what the pink pinecone like plants are that I found just by the bridge over to the gallery steps. Does anyone know?

The one where I went to the zoo…

Ok. Since 20th January, things have gotten very bad in the western world. Justin Trudeau and Angela Merkel may be our greatest hope! 🙂 I literally haven’t really slept since Obama left the White House, and been working lots (my only day off last week was spent at the dentist and then doing youth work in the evening). And last week was week 6 since last getting paid. So on Saturday after work, armed with a Christmas gift in the form of a cinema voucher I headed for some happy escape with a few of my work friends. We saw La la Land. I loved it (though, I’ll be honest some of the sound editing seemed very poor – don’t know if that was the film or the cinema). One friend loved it, the other was very unhappy about the ending!

Monday was pay day! HURRAH! This meant a supermarket grocery delivery (i.e. proper meals again) and I decided to renew my membership to Edinburgh Zoo. One of my supervising managers hadn’t been since she was a kid and has been wanting to go for ages and it is rare that we have a day off on the same day. Monday was one of those rare days and so we made plans. We were blessed with a dry sunny-ish day, though very frosty, and ended up spending the whole day there. The zoo was quiet due to kids being in school and cold weather. It felt very peaceful. We both had our fancy cameras, but struggled to get good photos due to fences and glass. But here are a few pics that I hope you can enjoy! 🙂 We actually got to see both Yang Guang (the male panda) and Alinga (female koala) awake. Seeing pandas and koalas awake at the zoo is rare, so felt very privileged!

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The one where I fall up a hill…

So I’ve been quieter than usual this week, as last weekend I left work with some mild toothache. By evening I was going out of my mind digging through my bathroom cupboard for paracetamol and bonjela! Monday morning I was feeling hideous and trying to find a dentist because I was now willing to use any remaining savings to pay for a dentist to pull all my teeth out, and spent the day at work trying to avoid customers so I didn’t have to talk and tidying the stock room with my cloud snood wrapped around my jaw and face while popping painkillers as often as is medically allowed.

Suffice to say, I’ve not slept much this week, I’m now on antibiotics and next week the dentist will hopefully be able to see my teeth to give me the news of what 6 years living in a city with no dentists, 8 years of not being able to afford a dentist and a sugar addiction is going to cost me…!

Last night I went out the house for the first time in days for a meeting, and today it was so lovely that I decided to get a bus up to one of my favourite Edinburgh spots with my camera. I’m still working how to use it and did a lot more photos manually focusing the lens. And I used my long lens for the first time. I planned only to spend time in the walled garden, but ended up walking further up and then around and over the hill to take more pictures. What I didn’t realise is that it had snowed up there a day or so ago, and there were parts on the North side that had not melted and compacted making for an icy climb up to the Rest and Be Thankful spot to get a view of Leith, Fife and the City Centre. And yes I fell. A dog heard me slip and land and came around the main path I was trying to get up to and over to my slidier path to find me and saw me doing my best Bambi on ice impression – while trying to save my camera from any impact and just looked at me with a look of worry/pity. His/her eyes said “Oh. You seem to be in a bit of a pickle. Oh dear…” as I kept sliding back onto my derriere and back down the slope every time I tried to get back up.


Anyway, here’s a few pictures…tried manual focus, new lens and different modes and exposures (that’s the ISO thing, right?)

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