For those who don't know them, Hidden Scotland is a simply beautifully considered publication ( the kind where the ink and paper stock matter!) from the iconic instagram account Hidden Scotland, this magazine is a source of inspiration and information on travelling to and around Scotland. Bursting with ideas, paired with sumptuous photography that instantly transports this journal is one not to be missed. In equal measures it discovers hidden corners and time trodden trails, with a creative approach to storytelling and collaboration it inspires travellers and Scotland’s inhabitants to get out and explore one of the most beautiful countries our planet has to offer. Adventure through its beautiful matt ink rich pages, told from the viewpoint of many hidden Scotland travellers contributions, and onto the open trail for yourself.
I'm guessing we're all more or less in the same boat here when I say we were just about ready to break out of lockdown, seriously contemplating a method of 'sneaking' out, disappearing and slipping under the radar of our very much shared covid limbo lifestyles. The news read on the radio just a short while ago was a breath of fresh air that we didn't quite know how to take. We can go away. Wait, you mean we can leave our council zone? We weren't entirely prepared for this type of freedom and certainly hadn't realized how badly we needed that freedom back until just like that a voice, one that normally drones on in the background, gave us the very thing we had been gradually withering without. Other spaces, places, possibility and new encounters. Yes.
Learning to explore our own neighbourhoods, local footpaths and what's on offer within a 5 mile radius of our home council area has become a survival mechanism since early 2020. Becoming local pros has been a way to feed your soul as weeks turned into months. Living locally is an incredibly fabulous way to exist, as long as it's not just that, but possibly on the way to thriving locally. That then is something truly wonderful, with the potential to be deeply fulfilling and incredibly liberating as your free time, cash and energy stretch further more efficiently, locally. Something that for many, the home office of 2020-21 has proved.
But the real question was where to start when going local without jumping on the next available flight abroad. Particularly when the entire country is also trying to get to grips with what's on offer locally it's' easy to end up all hanging out at the same viewpoint. Hidden Scotland Issue 2, offers a brilliant platform to jump right in and begin exploring local food, independent retail, hiking, climbing and road trips must stop up and down the country and so the stay nation begins.
Something else that for us was certainly at the fore of our reevaluating, constant mutating and adaptive kind of lifestyle, I'm sure that many if not most of us now exist within, was the self assessment of what we consider most important in our environments and the balances at play therein. As a young couple, nearing the end of our tiny eco house build whilst also establishing our brick and mortar store in the city, the community in both building and business was one of the hardest things to get by without. Doing either in isolation or online does not equate to tools in hand, ideas bouncing between friends and colleagues. The need for real face to face connection was so great, coupled with being absolutely sick of facetime and needing a good old walk, work and talk somewhere desperately different from our own local stomping grounds.
That said, an incredible number of projects, work and friendships did convert to entirely online, which is both inspiring and amazing. But surely nothing will ever compare to the complete joy of travelling somewhere else, of meeting people with projects, both witnessing and being involved in ideas as they take shape and above all people making, creating objects, spaces, and beauty. The opportunity to run away for the first time in months to a fellow tiny house build and catch up with our dear friends and woodworking duo in the spring clad foothills of the Conic was the breath of fresh air and inspiration our souls needed.
Our two tiny house builds have been happening in tandem on both sides of the country and until now, all of our shared building experiences, questions, troubleshooting and ideas have been confined to the screens, and some things just don't translate there.
Eleanora and Máté have been hand milling locally sourced Scottish timber to build their tiny home, as well as setting up their own carpentry business fuelling them with work, inspiration, purpose and place during these lengthy lockdown months. What they have achieved, learned and created was stories and soul food for months.
And so our memorable first day of freedom was a sun filled one, full of conversation of going offgrid, living tiny, harnessing solar energy and growing food and flowers all with the earthy smell of freshly milled timber in the air, broken with an alfresco lunch and read (of Hidden Scotland 2 of course), enjoyed under a great tree beyond the mill and finished off with a wild swim in classically icy waters. Side note: Being pretty new to wild swimming we're taking our hats off to those who hacked their way through thick ice to take a plunge midwinter, that's definitely a goal we'll be working towards now.
As spring gradually rolls into summer the local roads have become a way finder for Scottish adventure both near and far. From foraging and exploring hidden glens to small fishing towns and scrumptious Scottish bakeries and eateries the shores and what lies between them will be all our oyster this summer and hopefully beyond as we, as a nation, rediscover the richness, people and sense of place and purpose of our own wonderful country and the people working so creativity across it.
Hidden Scotland issue 2 promises a taste, a map, and many voices paired with stunning photography sharing all this and a whole lot more.
And for more on Eleanora and Máté tiny house build and other works follow their progress on their instagram @join_em_woodworks and we hope to be able to share more of their beautiful work here too.
Our heartfelt thanks & a huge hug from us always, Nathalie, Jacek & Roo.