My Column

Wish you were here

  • Date: Monday 12th August 2019
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Schools might be about to go back, with those jet-setting beach holidays now a distant memory for many, but loads more of us won’t have even left the country this summer.


Staycationing – a byword for a holiday spent in your home country rather than abroad – has undoubtedly caught on in a big way in recent years.


The term first properly found popularity in the US in 2008 after a spike in petrol prices made it too expensive for many Americans to travel far from their own home.


The attempt to glamorise the idea of having a holiday, but not going far, worked and fittingly, the ‘staycation’ was here to stay.


And what a fantastic trend it’s been for Scotland.


The benefits of staying here are clear – from ditching the jetlag and the disappointing accommodation that looked great in the brochure, to enjoying all of the fantastic activities on offer right on your doorstep.


Staycations allow locals to make big financial savings, cut travel time, and take a great deal of the stress out of planning, while arguably enjoying a higher quality of relaxation.


In Scotland, we have some fantastic spaces for everyone to enjoy – many of which are the envy of the world. From country parks, stunning lochs and mountain ranges, to coastal towns and beaches, historic castles, and active city breaks, there is really no need to look elsewhere.


Looking for those amazing Instagram-ready beach shots with incredibly aqua blue waters lapping pristine golden shores? Then head up north to Scotland’s more remote islands.   


It should come as no surprise that TripAdvisor has placed Edinburgh as the second best UK destination this year, with Glasgow coming in at fourth place. Both cities boast a wide variety of green spaces, museums, galleries, restaurants, bars, and so much more - you will be spoilt for choice on your staycation.


Last year alone, Edinburgh saw more than two million visitors come through the doors at two large attractions - the Castle and the National Museum of Scotland.


The capital has also been the hottest place in Scotland so far this year, coming in at an impressive 31.6 degrees. With that kind of thermometer-exploding temperature, you can understand why locals have decided to make the most of the Scottish sun and stay at home this year.


Furthermore, a survey by the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions showed that Scotland outperformed the rest of the UK in 2018, attracting 13.9 per cent more visitors to our tourist sites. Scotland was made a top destination due to its landscapes and heritage.


Research from Travelodge shows that this year alone we have seen a rise, with 68 per cent of Scots planning to staycation over vacation. This has been reported to have boosted the UK economy by £3.5 billion.



Staycations are also a sign of the times. With the UK’s pending exit from the EU and the pound falling, travelling abroad has become less affordable.


Us Scots love value for money, with staycations providing the perfect platform to enjoy multiple holidays for the price of one, and the likes of Airbnb and Glamping have enjoyed phenomenal growth as a result.


Don’t get me wrong – jet-set holidays are a fantastic way to travel to exotic new places and experience different cultures, but for a low cost break that’s flexible and hassle-free, staycations can be the perfect solution.


Anything that encourages us to explore the best of what our own country has to offer, while putting cash in the coffers of our too often underappreciated indigenous businesses, has to be a good thing.


It may have come about as a result of wider economic concerns, but it’s wonderful to see the impact that the staycation trend is having on our country’s fortunes.




I talk a lot about today’s workforce, but let’s not forget the future workforce - school pupils.

They were of course the centre of attention last week as their long-awaited exam results rolled in.

Social media was awash with pats-on-the-back to those who excelled, and rightfully so.  It’s a nail-biting time for youngsters and there’s nothing more satisfying than seeing the fruits of your labours paying off.

But this year – perhaps more so than any other – I’ve heard loads of discussion around the fact exam results aren’t the be-all-and-end-all when it comes to success.

University is often hailed as the ultimate goal, but I think there’s been a shift change in attitudes towards this, and for the better.

There seems to be more acceptance that it’s not the right path for everyone, and that some people are better suited to other avenues.

These include vocational courses tailored to get people workplace-ready and apprenticeships that let people earn while they learn.

If your kid is one of those straight-A students who’s off to the likes of Glasgow Uni to pursue their degree, then a huge well done. You should be absolutely bursting with pride.

But if they’re not, all I’m saying is don’t fret about it. There’s still an array of options open to them to help them make a success of whatever they decide to do.

More so than ever, young people can be whoever they want to. The only true requirements for success are hard work and application.



Sometimes it only takes a short amount of time to make a big impact, and a famous Beatles album cover is testament to that.

The Abbey Road cover, featuring the band on a zebra crossing, marked its 50th anniversary on Thursday.

In the worlds of rock and photography, there are few pictures so iconic and adored.

But I could almost greet when I consider that LOADS of people don’t realise the best fact of all about this shot.

It was taken by a Scot – Iain Macmillan from Carnoustie in Angus – and his body of work includes loads of big names in rock royalty.

This particular shot only took him a mere 10 minutes.  Wow!



There’s something fishy going on in Edinburgh and it’s making big waves.

Apex Grassmarket Hotel successfully unveiled the capital’s biggest fish supper – and it’s a whopper!

In fact, it’s three times the size of a standard fish supper and comes with all kinds of trimmings, from mushy peas to tartare sauce and more.

The £20 ‘King of the Sea’ is designed to celebrate a classic dish and a number of diners have already taken the bait on this foodie challenge.

Could you do any batter? Could you find a plaice for a meal this big? Any fin is possible.

Sorry, that’s enough – you’re probably up to the gills in puns by now.


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