6 Months in the Highlands – Thanks, COVID-19!

In one of my previous posts (here’s the link), I talk about moving to the Highlands. It was just a small ‘travel’ post really, with a few pictures, intended to be a precursor to future travel posts.

But it didn’t quite work out the way I planned.

And… I *might* be moving again!

Pre-Covid-19

On Feburary 24th, I had my first day at my new job – but it was in London. I travelled down to London from the southern part of Scotland where I had been temporarily living. I got to the hotel, realised it was the wrong one, so ordered a taxi to the correct one, and the next day was my induction training.

My induction training lasted two days; Monday and Tuesday, although I didn’t see much of London in that time, so no cool photos to show you guys (sorry!). By Tuesday evening, I was on a flight to Inverness.

Wednesday morning, I started my first day in the office.

I took with me, one medium/large suitcase, my laptop bag and a work laptop bag (which I collected from the induction day).

I have been living out of that suitcase for 6 months!

For the first few weeks, I had planned to get settled at work and get a feel for the area. Once I knew the best area to live, public transport routes (currently car/bike-less, don’t judge!) and how much I could possible afford, I was going to find a nice place to rent.

A few weeks in, I started looking at places, I viewed two flats, and contacted a lot more for other potentials…

Then Covid-19 hit.

Post-Covid-19

For the first few weeks before the UK was put into official lockdown, I was given the option to work from home, the last week before lockdown, I did. I found it cool and novel – I’ve always wanted a remotely working job!

Then lockdown officially started 23rd March. Shops started to shut (except for essential shops). People weren’t allowed out except for 1 hour exercise (this wasn’t set in stone, apparently, but it was ‘advised’ to limit to an hour). We had to have letters to say we were keyworkers if we got stopped by police.

I was classed as a keyworker, but was lucky that I had a company laptop so I could work from ‘home’. And, I was equally lucky that the host of the Airbnb I had booked was more than happy for me to stay with her until lockdown lifted. I pay her a small fee a month, instead of booking continuously through Airbnb – and it works out a lot cheaper.

The novelty of working from home wore off quickly. Especially since I couldn’t go anywhere! I was inside for work. I was inside on days off. Summer came, and I was inside for that too. The only time I could go out was for walks/exercise or shopping. That was the only time I could see bits of Inverness; the area I was really looking forward to exploring! When lockdown restrictions eased a little, I started to go a little further afield. Which is the next section…

University of the Highlands and Islands

This is something that is pretty close to where I have been living for the past six months. When I first moved, pre-Covid-19, I would walk through the grounds to get to the office. Post-Covid-19, I would either walk through to get to Tesco to do my shopping, or just go for a walk to get my hourly exercise.

Although it’s not exactly a destination to pack your bags to go see (unless you’re starting a course there!), it certainly is a lovely place to walk around when the sun is shining!

Culloden Woods and Battlefield

I went to Culloden Woods/Forest a few times, it was suggested to me by a colleague from work. I had no idea what to expect, I couldn’t find any information on it. But, to do something different to my usual walk around the University grounds, I went here on a day off instead.

First time I went, I was happily exploring; following the path, taking in the sights, smells and sounds, and I came across a sign that said ‘Culloden Battlefield Trail’. It didn’t tell me how far it was to the Culloden Battlefield, but I at least figured the walk might be intersting, even if I didn’t walk all the way there. But, I did end up walking all the way to the battlefield!

And, I was glad I went, as although I was only there for a little bit, it was a really interesting site. It’s the site where the Jacobite Rising came to and end in 1745. There is a visitor centre (which was closed due to the lockdown) which holds a cafe, museum and shop, there is an old cottage (Leanach Cottage), clan gravestones and memorial cairn (be careful not to walk on the grass on this bit, there are real remains there – I found that out afterwards and felt really guilty!) and then there is the battlefield itself with the different flags to represent the two sides of the battle, and there are markers dotted around with more information.

Second time I went, I visited more of the woods and forest, this time around it was really foggy and I got some really interesting shots in the fog.

Long walk to North Kessock

I add emphasis on the ‘long walk’ here, because I was out for six hours! I walked all the way from Cradlehall/Westhill, through Inverness City Centre, over the Kessock Bridge and into North Kessock and Craigton… then back again. I was sore for a few days afterwards.

Again, I got some really interesting shots. North Kessock is a lovely little place, right on the edge of Beauly Firth, I found a lovely little swing seat on the edge by some woods, there was a fog coming in which hid part of the Kessock Bridge. I saw a few sights walking through Inverness too.

Inverness Castle and the Islands

When lockdown started to ease, and the shops started to open, I decided to go back into Inverness to do some shopping. But the main part of my walk into Inverness was to see Inverness Castle! No trip to Inverness is complete without at least seeing the Castle!

Unfortunately, the Castle was closed, but not because of Covid, but because it’s undergoing some renovations, so I wasn’t able to go inside. When I get back to the UK after my contract abroad, and if I get my old job back in Inverness, I am looking forward to seeing it again, hopefully go inside this time!

As well as Inverness Castle, I also had a wander along the River Ness. A little further down is what’s called ‘The Islands’ or ‘Ness Islands’, which, as the name suggests, is a colletion of islands on the River Ness. There are a few bridges across them so you can walk along them, and they have a few trees and lights up along them (which I can only imagine look nice in the evening).

Motorbike Ride to Nairnshire

One day, I had the pleasure of catching up with an old friend from college. He was coming up for a tour of Scotland on his motorbike and decided to pop in to see me. He brought his spare motorbike helmet and we took a trip out to see Nairn, an area I had hoped to see when I first moved up, pre-Covid-19. And yes, I am aware there is still a Covid risk, but luckily he had already had Covid and had the anti-bodies. There was no risk of spreading.

We went to Fort George to begin with, it was closed, but we were still able to walk on the pebble beach and around the old Fort. We then got back on the bike and headed to Nairn Beach, where we wandered about, sat and caught up, had lunch and then headed back. We stopped at Sueno’s Stone – a 9th Century Picto-Scottish standing stone, Clava cairns and the viaduct close by.

My next adventure

I can’t talk too much about my next adventure. I have mentioned it a few times, so it’s not exactly a secret. But I don’t want to dedicate a whole blog post to it just yet, as it hasn’t been officially confirmed.

However, I will say; I was recently given the opportunity to go to anther country, with the company I work for!

At the moment there are a few issues with Covid-19; the borders being closed and, I have a few issues with my visa. But when things have been sorted, if I am still able to go, I will give you more updates!

~~~

Don’t forget to like, reblog, share, comment and/or follow! 😊
You can check out my other photos on my Instagram, see the link below.

thegirlwhowhispered.com

facebook.com/TheGirlWhoWhispered
instagram.com/thegirlwhowhispered/
twitter.com/penny_hoops

Let’s get back on track!

Hi guys!

Dusting off the cobwebs on my blog (and website, and Twitter, and… everything, really!)

So, as I explained, I am currently completing a Master’s Degree and… wow, is it difficult! It’s been taking up so much of my time that I haven’t had chance to do anything in terms of writing, editing, marketing, etc. It’s crazy!

4617171-crazy-images

But today I had my viva, and although I haven’t yet finished, hopefully I have freed up some time to get back to blogging, writing, editing, and updating everything!

It’s good to see that I’m still getting royalties, even though I have done next to no marketing what so ever. And come onto my WordPress in what feels like a few months to see I’m getting traffic through – even if it’s a little, it feels like it’s actually improved, even though I haven’t been blogging frequently.

*

As I’m nearly the end of my Masters I’ve been really thinking about getting my own business up and running, selling my own work (see below for links to my two published books), doing a bit more freelance work.

I have also wanted to do a vlog or something similar… maybe branch out a little from writing, getting back into photoraphy, both landscape and architecture as well as modelling photography (I have plans of making a room into a photography room!)

And… I have plans for a new instagram account.. but this one will be a bit of fun.

*

Of course, get back into writing and editing my two last books; Ender’s Love and Rose Garden Sanatorium!

Rose Garden Sanatorium(1)

~~~

Here are the links to my books (in paperback):

It’s My Mistake

I fell in Love with a Psychopath

Here are the links to the e-book versions:

It’s My Mistake

I fell in Love with a Psychopath

Here are links to my social media:

Twitter

Instagram (going to have a revamp soon!)

Butterfly House – Chapter 1

Click here to read the Prologue

Chapter 1

“Hey, big guy, you keep the house safe for me while I’m gone, yeah?” said a brown haired man with glasses and a crease on his forehead. He walked through his kitchen while his fourteen month old baby boy was sat in a highchair and gave him a big grin when his father kissed him on the head, trying to avoid getting the baby food that was smothered around his little pink cheeks onto his suit.

“Will you call me when you land, Dave?” said a woman at the sink, washing out a cup with a bright purple dish-cloth.

Dave turned around from his son and looked round to his wife. He was a handsome man, although slightly rounded on the stomach after letting himself go a little over the years. But he knew he was still attractive to the ladies. “Signal might be a big patchy, but I’ll try my best,” he said, as he walked over to her, wrapped his arms around her waist and kissed her on the neck. The woman smiled.

“You do that and I might actually miss you,” the woman said.

The guy chuckled slightly as he kissed his wife on the neck again, before running his hand from her stomach and down her abdomen.

“Do you really have to leave now?” she whispered back, closing her eyes.

Dave broke away from her, placed both hands either side of her waist and span her round. She managed to let out a small gasp before he pressed his lips against her lips, pressing his body against her body, so she was pinned against the large deep sink behind her.

When she let out a small groan of pleasure, Dave automatically pressed his body harder into her, his own body reacting to her, and kissed her passionately. He moved his hands up the hem of her shirt, his fingers starting to wander up her sides and finding the bottom of her bra.

Dave was about to unclasp his wife’s bra, finding himself caught in the moment, when there was a small clatter behind him and the shrill wail of his son. He groaned when his wife pushed him away to check what was wrong.

“Leave him, Jan!” Dave groaned, feeling frustrated for being interrupted. “He’s fine.”

“No, Dave, he might be hurt!” she snapped, and peered around her husband.

“Hurt?” he snapped accidentally, pulling away from his wife and looking round at the red face of his baby boy, noticing a small plastic spoon in his hand, but the green bowl he was originally eating from was now on the floor, the contents of the disgusting baby food now all over their expensive kitchen floor.

“It’s okay, baby!” said his wife, slinking from between her husband’s body and the sink, drying her hands on a tea-towel she grabbed, and rushing over to her son to comfort him.

“See, he’s just dropped his food, he’s fine!” Dave said, resting his hands on the sink and trying to control himself; mostly his frustration, he knew he could snap if he didn’t control it.

“I know,” his wife muttered absentmindedly before she started annoyingly cooing to her son.

Dave rolled his eyes, took a deep breath and decided to try again. He turned around and walked over to his wife as she wiped her son’s face with the tea-towel she had in her hands and gave him a kiss on his forehead, much like what Dave had done moments before.

Dave stuck his tongue out at his son, crossing his eyes as he did, and getting an instant reaction from his son; his wails suddenly turning into a fit of giggles. Exactly what he wanted, so his wife didn’t have to fuss over him and could get back to concentrating on him instead.

“See, he’s fine!” Dave said, wrapping an arm around his wife much life last time by the sink.

Jan sighed and stood there while her husband kissed her neck and rubbed his hands down her body.

“Don’t you have a flight to catch?” she said a little too harshly, but Dave chose to ignore it.

“I do, but I can be a few minutes late,” Dave whispered, trying desperately to get his wife in the mood again.

“Dave, not in front of Charlie.” She sighed.

Dave closed his eyes, stopped kissing his wife’s neck but continued to hold onto her waist. He took in a large breath and then let it go, hoping his frustration would go with it. It didn’t. “He’s a year old, Jan, he doesn’t know what’s going on.” He kissed her again, almost determinedly.

“Maybe, but I don’t feel comfortable,” Jan explained.

Dave groaned into her hair. “Then put him in his cot or playpen for a minute?” He kissed her on the neck again and pressed his body into her back.

“Dave, please stop!” Jan snapped, pushing her husband’s hand away from her stomach again before his hand wandered downwards again.

“Jesus Christ!” Dave finally snapped, raising his voice, and his son suddenly started to wail again.

“Well done!” Jan snapped angrily, and pulled her son out of the highchair.

Dave groaned angrily and ran his finger through his hair. “I’m going away for a while, Jan, I just wanted some alone time with you before I leave.”

“We had alone time last night, after we put the kids to bed,” Jan said, trying to rub her wailing son’s back to sooth him. “We have children, Dave, we have responsibilities now.”

“You were too tired to have sex last night!”

Jan frowned at him. “Is that all you think about?”

Dave shook his head at her. “Don’t start!”

“No, I am starting, Dave!” she said, frowning angrily at him. “I’m too tired because I have to run around after our children all day every day. I know you work, and you work hard, and I am forever appreciative of that. I don’t complain when you come home late, I don’t complain when you go on business trips away for days or weeks at a time, because you support this house financially, but I do require a little bit of respect! Do you know how hard it is to look after two children?”

“One, you put the other in day care,” Dave muttered, walking away from the woman and into the living-room in their open-plan living-space.

“That’s not fair!” Jan said, looking teary eyed. “It’s good for her.”

“Good for her, or good for you?” Dave snapped as he put on his blazer.

“Fuck you,” she whispered.

Dave looked up at his wife in shock, she hardly ever swore, and she never did around the children. “What?” he said, not sure if he had actually heard her correctly.

“You heard me!” she said as a tear escaped down her cheek. He knew he should be feeling bad, but his frustration and anger was too much and it clouded his judgement. “I’m trying my best here, and I’m sorry if it isn’t good enough!”

“I didn’t say…”

“No, you did, but you might as well have!”

“Jan, I am just frustrated, that’s all!” he said, trying to keep his voice calm, but was unsure how well it was working. “It’s been a while since we were intimate, you’re either too tired or something happens to one of the children.”

“You have hands!” she snapped, just as Charlie’s high-pitch wail pierced through their ears again, clearly picking up on the tension in the room that was expanding.

Dave laughed and shook his head at his wife. Without really thinking about the consequences he accidentally snapped; “Allison always appreciated my needs.”

Just before he slammed the front door shut, he heard another wail, but it wasn’t his son this time. It was his wife.

~~~

Click here to read the next chapter!


Don’t forget to check out my other works!

Rose Garden Sanatorium – Prologue

Ender’s Love – Chapter 1

My Normal – A Short Story by Penny Hooper

New Story Idea – “I fell in Love with a Psychopath”