A few of my favourite things.... by Ailsa Macaulay

You can take the girl out of Scotland...

Do I take the laptop or not? No. What about my walking boots? No. And so on. This is an inner dialogue I have with myself every time I travel home to Scotland. I go with a half empty case so I can bring back lots of goodies, that, despite being able to buy online, I still prefer to buy in the shop. Candles, hand-poured in Scotland? Don't mind if I do. Scottish fudge? Oh, go on. Isle of Arran cheese? Yes, please.

Splitting my time between Scotland and Spain, with the majority of the time in Spain, thanks to a Spanish husband, I miss Scotland a lot. And when people ask me what I miss, apart from my friends and family, well, weirdly it's the little things. The ice cold tap water. Central heating. Carpets. The smell of rain. Puddles. Tea and cake. EastEnders. Being able to jump in the car and be at a remote Loch side in an hour or so. Or halfway to the highlands in two hours. The long summer nights. The early summer mornings. Ok, so maybe the not so little things!

So that's why I hoard a certain brand of strong teabags to take back with me, stock up on cheese and biscuits and the latest Val McDermid thriller. That's why the blanket that gets me through the Spanish winter (I know it sounds weird to be moaning about a Spanish winter after the havoc wreaked by the beast from the east, but you guys have central heating!!) is an old-fashioned Scottish tartan blanket,  handwoven in Scotland that my husband and I fight over!

And the candles. The candles have to be Scottish.  How can they not be? There are so many to choose from. Highland Gorse from Skye Candles was my last purchase. Not only is it a beautiful decoration but it has a wonderful scent too which takes me right back to childhood holidays spent on the West coast of Scotland. That's why I'm looking forward to discovering more Scottish candle producers and their unique scents via my sister's wonderful new venture, Candle Jar. I've already spotted some that I'd quite like to having burning away right now, Shearer's Ae Fond Kiss, The Melt Pool's Geranium, Bergamot and Lavender, and LoveScottishCandles' Black Pomegranate to name but a few. I'll be getting my order in early before she sells out!!

So as this winter weather continues, I'm glad I've got my warm tartan blanket to be snuggled up under with a good book in hand, gallons of hot tea and a hand-poured Scottish candle flickering in the background. Which reminds me, on my next trip to Scotland, I'd better add another tartan blanket to the list!!


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