Tag Archives: photography

Great News!

For all those already signed up to receive the Unique Cottages’ Newsletter I’m pleased to say that the April-May issue should have arrived in your inbox this week – we hope you enjoy!

Our bi-monthly e-newsletter has now been electronically whizzing its way to our customers in its current format for over a year and readership continues to grow.  If you aren’t already signed up to receive your copy of this valuable resource then let me tell you a wee bit about it.

Unlike many of the other newsletters distributed by our competitors, we don’t try to sell you anything or go into the boring details of changes within the business, we just share with you our specialist knowledge of Scotland in the hope that it will help you enjoy your holiday in Scotland even more!

We are based in Scotland, focus only on self-catering properties in Scotland and by doing this for over 40 years we have built up quite a repertoire of useful and interesting information well worth sharing with you.  The 6th issue of ‘Unique and Unspoilt’ is once again full of articles which let you in on some of the best of our exclusive knowledge of Scotland, giving you an inside track on how to get the most out of your holiday to our beautiful land.

However, it’s not just we who contribute to the Newsletter.  In fact, we have a talented guest who was staying in one of our cottages near Loch Sunart to thank for one of the most stunning pictures in this issue, a photo that is testament to the beauty which surrounds you when you visit Scotland!

Whether you’re a regular visitor to our fine shores, thinking about holidaying here or just have interest in what the country has to offer, then why not subscribe to ‘Unique and Unspoilt’ which every two months will arrive in your inbox bursting with details of the delights of Scotland?

Here at Unique Cottages we are always grateful of any comments or suggestions from our customers and if you have any ideas for articles for the ‘Unique and Unspoilt’ Newsletter then please get in touch.

5 things you might not know…

As the readership of “Our Unique Blog” continues to rise, it occurred to me that we’ve never really taken the time to let you get to know Unique Cottages a wee bit better. So, in an attempt to address this, I’ve put together –
“5 things you might not know about Unique Cottages
1)We’re completely Scottish!
First established in Scotland, based in Scotland and only letting cottages in Scotland, you can rest assured that we know this fine land and how to help you get the best out of your stay here.
2)We’ve been around for a good while.
Since 1994, long before the days of the internet and our website which launched in 1993, we have produced a quality brochure full of unique properties in the best locations in Scotland.
3)We’ve got a lot of experience
Jill Bristow, the founder and Senior Director of Unique Cottages has over 40 years of experience letting holiday properties and ensures that the knowledge she has gained over the years is used to benefit all guest who book with us.
4)We’re small enough to care.
Our dedicated team of booking office staff have an in-depth knowledge of our properties and if they can’t answer your question about a cottage then they’ll be happy to find out the answer for you.
5)We turn down more properties than we take on.
Our commitment to bringing you well situated, beautiful and unique properties means that we only take on properties that we feel meet our exacting standards.
Whether you’ve booked with us before, learnt about us through a friend or accidently stumbled across us in an internet search, one thing you can be sure of is that we’re glad you found us and look forward to helping you find your ideal, unique Scottish escape.

A Royal Appointment…

Prince William and his soon-to-be wife Kate Middleton visit Scotland this week and return to the place there their relationship first started – St Andrews University.  Their trip is prompted by the university requesting that William be patron for their 600th Anniversary appeal.  One of the main aims of the appeal is to raise money for scholarships with the noble objective of supporting bright students without financial means to be able to benefit from a St Andrews higher education (not something William or Kate had to worry about when they attended).  Obviously, I am all for everyone, no matter his or her financial position, being able to attend university and St Andrews, the first University in Scotland, should be no exception!

I was accepted at St Andrews University myself (1 or 2 years before William and Kate attended!) and, on my intrepid quest to try to work out (at the tender and clueless age of 17) which University I should choose I visited the town and had a look around the university.  I decided in the end that St Andrews was not the University for me (much to my parents and teachers disappointment) and instead the City of Newcastle suffered my ‘interesting’ student years.   But my choice not to go with St Andrews was no reflection on the university, town or the surrounding area, rather the lesser number of pubs (which at 18 was of crucial importance to me) it had in relation to the big city!

Do not get me wrong, I enjoyed my time at Newcastle University, however now (older and wiser?) I can’t help but think that maybe I missed a trick (and the chance for a royal husband)!  St Andrews University and the town in which it is situated are steeped in history and tradition.  The architecture of the town is truly stunning and for those who enjoy golf it is definitely a place you can’t afford to miss.  My favourite building (or what is left of a building) is St Andrews Castle that stands close to the water’s edge over looking the small beach of Castle Sands, there is something quite haunting about the structure which was once used as a prison, and it proximity to the often harsh north sea just adds to its almost threatening character.

The history of the town extends beyond its boundaries; with the nearby village of Cellardyke has one of the most pretty old fishing ports in the country and Lower Largo birthplace of the ‘real’ Robinson Crusoe.    Branching further out of the town are treasures such as the village of St Monans with its superb coastal views and quaint traditional houses on narrow winding streets and intriguing stories of piracy, smuggling and shipwrecks.  Relics of the less distant past also wait to be discovered – Scotland’s Secret Bunker, built in the 1950, is well worth a visit.  And while Newcastle had its fair share of kebab shops (another staple of my student years) I have yet to find a better fish supper than the one served at the award winning Anstruther Fish Bar!

So, as William and Kate head back to St Andrews, the starting point of their romance, I do hope they get the opportunity to take some time out from their busy schedule and enjoy some of the peaceful pleasures the East Neuk of Fife has on offer before the stress of the pre-wedding frenzy!

My ‘seal’ of approval…

The news at the beginning of this week reporting the introduction of new laws to protect Scottish seals brought to mind an old Scottish legend told me as a child by my dear old, if not a little superstitious, grandmother.

The story went like this:

A seal hunter is woken one night by a stranger who states that his master requests the presence of the seal hunter and asks the hunter to go with him to his master’s abode. The seal hunter agrees and is taken, on the back a large black horse, many miles through the Scottish countryside to the edge of a cliff. On arrival at the cliff’s edge the seal hunter questions his escort as to where his master’s home is, at which point the stranger grabs the hunter and they both plummet downwards into the sea. The hunter wakes in a beautiful underwater kingdom, surrounded by the same animals that he has dedicated his life to killing and is approached by a large boar seal.

The boar seal leads him through the kingdom to a room where another seal lies dying with a huge knife wound to its belly. It turns out that this injured seal is the father of the large boar seal who invited the hunter to his realm, and the hunter recalls how earlier in the day, while hunting, he had stabbed a seal but not having killed it, only wounded it, the seal had managed to swim away with his knife blade still buried within it.

The hunter is told by the boar seal that he, as the one who inflicted the wound, is the only one who can save his father and requests that the hunter does so. The hunter removes the knife blade and magically the wound heals. The boar then tells the hunter that they will allow him to leave the underwater kingdom and return home only if he promises to surrender his job and vow never to harm a seal again. The hunter, feeling rather overwhelmed and more than a little homesick, agrees – worrying all the way home (on the back of that black horse again) how he will make ends meet now he cannot do what he has always done to make a living for himself. But when he returns home, before the stranger bids him farewell, he is handed a purse full of gold coins, enough to ensure that he will be comfortable for the rest of his life.

I’m sure the moral to this story is meant to be something along the lines of – if you do the right thing, and don’t harm others, you will be richly rewarded, but as a child the message I took from it was don’t hurt a seal or you might end up being taken to the bottom of the sea!

It would seem that seals now have more than just bedtime stories to discourage people from killing or harming them without good reason, as the new law makes it an offence to kill or injure a seal except under licence, with a potential penalty of a hefty fine or even 6 months in prison. Although seals can and do cause problems for the fishing industry, they are long standing residents of our seas and shores and I personally believe that more regulation of the way in which they are culled has to be a good thing – so the new law gets my seal of approval (excuse the pun, I couldn’t help myself!)

Seals in the Sound of Jura

Fortunately it still remains legal to shoot seals as much as your heart desires – as long as it’s with a camera! So, for those who fancy spending some time admiring these intriguing animals below is a list of my favourite places to spot them around Scotland:

The Moray Firth Coastline

The shores of Loch Linnhe

The Orkney Islands

The Sound of Jura

The shoreline at Fast Castle, near Coldingham

Fast Castle Seals

And just a wee bit of advice -please remember that even the cutest of seals with the biggest, most appealing eyes are still wild animals and if you do get too close and make them feel threatened they may bite in defence. Keeping a safe distance ensures seal watching is an enjoyable experience for both you and the seal!