Friday, 5 December 2014

How to Have a British Christmas

I found this video a few days ago and I've been laughing ever since. It's all true. And I love it!

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

{Ask Mary} What is Council Tax?

After this post and the comments I realized that I should probably clarify exactly what is council tax and why you'll need to pay it when you move to Scotland.

What is council tax?

Council Tax is the system of local taxation used to part fund services provided by local authorities. The rate of tax payable is based on the value of residential property. Meaning, a 3 bedroom house would pay more council tax than a studio flat. The reason being the amount of services used. The amount that each household pays depends on their band (A-H).

Council tax goes partly to fund your water, sewage and rubbish pick up. It is essentially just your utility bill. But it just so happens that everyone in and around your area usually pay about the same amount. It's is paid each month. 

When searching for a property you can ask your letting/estate agent what council tax band the property is in.  You can often find the council tax band listed with the property description online (A-H). Then you can find the amount per band HERE. Council tax is paid by whomever lives in the property--either owner or renter. 

Council tax should be added to your expenses each month. Once you move to Scotland you need to go directly to the council building and get set up for council tax to avoid a fine.

ps. My Sausage Mini Fritatta recipe was on MSN! I was totally surprised to see it. I had completely forgotten it was going to be featured. It is perfect for a Thanksgiving/Christmas brunch. I hope you'll try it.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Visit Scotland: The Falls of Feugh

Saturday was such a gorgeous day that we decided to hit the road and play tourist. It was cold but the sun was shining so it was really perfect. We headed to Banchory and stopped at The Falls of Feugh. Autumn is spawning time and you can watch the salmon swim upstream and actually jump out of the water!

When we were almost to the footbridge I coud see the salmon jumping already and I got really excited! I thought we might have to sit outside and wait for awhile before we saw one but they were jumping like crazy! There was one every couple of minutes. Luis caught them in action for your viewing pleasure.

The best time to see the salmon leaping is from February-March and September-November. The footbridge is easily seen from the road and there is a free car park by the Falls of Feugh Restaurant and Tea Room. The town centre of Banchory is just a small walk and it looked like there were several other walking routes close by.

Once we were frozen to the bone and ready to head back to the car we decided to check out two castles (Crathes Castle and Drum Castle) that we saw on the drive up. One thing I love about living in Aberdeenshire is that we can just get in the car and go in one direction and there will be several interesting things to see. We don't even need to really plan anything and we'll see something awesome.

Check out the pictures from our day!

Crathes Castle         

Drum Castle

Drum Castle (backside)

Friday, 10 October 2014

Lets Talk About Jobs in Scotland

The number one email I receive on a consistent basis has always been about where and how to find jobs in Scotland. I also get a lot of people asking if I could assist them with their search. I've been thinking for a long time about how I could possibly help you. I hope this gets your wheels turning.

Let me tell you a little bit about S1 Jobs. They are a site that specializes in jobs in Scotland. Not the whole United Kingdom. They are just focused on Scotland. They have a great blog and their site is full of helpful information. They also have thousand's of job listings!

S1 Jobs and I have teamed up to hopefully answer some of your questions about working in Scotland. We each asked and answered 3 questions. I really hope this helps some of you know where to start your job search in Scotland!

S1 Jobs: What was the reason for choosing Aberdeen for your profession?

Me: While my husband had a good job in Glasgow, he wasn't growing and getting where he wanted. It was one of those jobs that you could stay in for the next 20 years but also never grow and learn more. We wanted an opportunity to better our family and my husband wanted an opportunity to learn and grow in his chosen field. So the hunt for a new job began.

Aberdeen is a thriving oil and gas city that has so much to offer this country in terms of financial gain and a standard of living that isn't just about money either. There is so much happening in Aberdeen! Aberdeenshire has so much beauty and fun to offer a family. We wanted to be a part of that.

S1 Jobs: What were the factors you had to consider when choosing a location for work?

Me: We lived outside Glasgow for over 5 years. While we did enjoy  it, my husband's communte to and from work was very long. We didn't have much in the way of entertainment and shopping where we lived so we wanted a place we could get everything we wanted in a smaller, cleaner city than Glasgow--without the commute. We also wanted to be quite close to the country without feeling so far away from the world. Aberdeen could give us all those things. The sea view didn't hurt either!

S1 Jobs: What were the challenges you encountered whilst finding work in Aberdeen?

Me: Aberdeen is a competitive place. The people are very educated and experienced in the oil and gas industry. It can be a difficult market to break in to when you don't have any prior experience. But, we felt like the companies we interviewed with were very open to the idea of what my husband had to offer and we secured a job with a great company! We've been living here just over a year now and couldn't be happier!

Now, I got a chance to ask S1 Jobs some questions too. I had YOU in mind.

Me: I get a lot of emails asking about how to find jobs in Scotland from people all over the world. Does S1 Jobs have any options to filter sponsored job listings for foreign applicants?

S1 Jobs: Not exactly, but we don't necessarily need to have that option. The application process is open to anyone who wants to work in Scotland. There is no preferential treatment to anyone currently living there. The decision lies with the employer on who they would like to hire. If you are looking to work in Scotland, regardless of where you are searching, the results will be the same. 

Me: What differentiates S1 Jobs from other job seeking competitors like LinkedIn, Monster UK, Total Jobs and others?

S1 Jobs: S1 Jobs is a site that specializes in job located in Scotland. For those who are looking for work in Scotland, we are able to funnel their search to the location they desire and focus only on Scottish jobs. We don't see sites like LinkedIn as competitors but more as another tool for users to utilize to further their job hunt.

Me: What is your number one piece of advice for job seekers that makes the most difference to their CV or cover letter?

S1 Jobs: It depends on the employer and what they require from you. One number one tip would be make sure you show the  best examples of your skills in the cover letter or CV that match what the employer requires from their desired employee. Don't exaggerate but make sure your examples are:
  • True
  • Accurate
  • Displays the skills that they are asking for
And ....there you have it. S1 Jobs is THE place to find jobs in Scotland. You are welcome to apply no matter your country. Take a look, get yourself registered and start applying! I really do hope you find what you're looking for.

There will be a few more posts in this series on Finding Jobs in Scotland so stay tuned. Good luck on the job hunt!

S1 Jobs also asked me what my dream job would be. I said a novelist. I would love to write fiction someday. They had an illustrator come up with this little picture to inspire me. Which I find...hilarious.

ps. This post is NOT sponsored. Unless you count that little illustration up there. It is purely a collaboration to help all of you looking for jobs in Scotland. Good luck!

Monday, 29 September 2014

The Lake District:: Cumbria, England

A few weeks ago we took a road trip to England. I told Luis that the only place I really wanted to stop was The Lake District (aka The Lakes or Lakeland). It is famous not only for its lakes, forests and mountains but it is also associated with famous poet William Wordsworth and writer Beatrix Potter.

Have you seen the film Miss Potter starring Renee Zellweger?  It is the incredible life story of Beatrix Potter and her wonderful children's stories like Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny. Beatrix Potter lived in The Lake District on her very own farm. She was such an independent woman! She bought up acres and acres of farmland throughout her life. When she died she bequeathed thousands of acres to The National Trust of England. Making the land untouchable. It can not be built on or changed. What a wonderful gift that she gave this great nation! I wanted to see it.

We had a long way to drive home but we took a detour through The Lake District and I have to say that this is the most beautiful piece of land I have ever seen in The United Kingdom. It is stunning. Stone walls that are hundred's of years old separate the farms. Beautiful small cottages and animals dot the land. I can not adequately describe the beauty of this place. It was the perfect sunny day. 

We drove for awhile until we came to the town of Windermere. Which was so quaint that I want to scream. It was perfection! Shops for everything you could imagine all with flowers overflowing. We stopped for some homemade ice cream. I got the pink grapefruit sorbet and it was sweet and just the right amount of tart. Sebastian had chocolate and Luis had the pistachio (of course). We stopped at a confectionery and picked up some English Fudge and other treats. We passed cute little cafe's and everyone was sitting outside to enjoy the sunshine.

We made our way down to the lake and watched passengers rent old wooden row boats and I vowed when we come back someday I would take a boat tour. Sebastian was having a blast just walking around and looking at everything and everyone. It was so nice to get out of the car and walk around such a beautiful place. Luis and I talked about how much we wanted to come here for a holiday one day. It was everything I was hoping for and more.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

How to Deal with the Scottish Rain

Last year I came to terms with the rain in Scotland. I accepted it for what it is and my life has been completely different since. The rain is a part of Scotland. It isn't going anywhere. But, for a long time I let it dictate my feelings and how I spent my day.

We've been having a lot of rain here in Scotland as of late. It's kind of abrupt moving from summer to autumn here. One day it is sunny and the temps are good and you're spending every day at the park. Then without any warning the temps drop, the leaves start to change and the rain comes. Lots and lots of rain.

My first month in Scotland it rained every single day. I didn't go out and I just watched it rain and rain and rain. It was a complete shock and I didn't know how to live like that.  After years (years!) of practice I'm going to let you know how I do it and how I love it.

+ Check the forecast:: This one may seem like a no brainer but let me explain. I'm an obsessive weather app checker. I plan my week around what's going on with the weather. It helps to know that Tuesday and Wednesday will be clear but the weekend will be rainy. Even though the week will change from one day to the next, you can usually know what's going to happen at least one day in advance. Plan your week around the sunny days.

+ Be prepared. The weather app is never right. Make sure you have a rain coat, umbrella, something.

+ If it is sunny (or not raining) then you get yourself outside. Do not stay indoors. I don't care if you're just going for a walk around the park or to lunch at a cafe by yourself. You just get your butt outside. Have a mound of laundry and a dirty kitchen? I don't care. You get outside. I keep a  list of things I want to do/see when the weather is nice. Do not waste this precious time. Stay out all day! You'll thank me one day.

+ Just because it's grey and cloudy does not mean it isn't a nice day. You can still get outside in that and you will grab yourself some vitamin D while you're at it. It might seem gloomy in the beginning but you'll quickly realize that as long as it isn't pouring down the rain it's a great day!

+ When it is pouring the rain (for days on end) that's when I do my house cleaning and baking. Sebastian and I plan some activities to do indoors and it actually feels nice to be inside because we've spent so much time outdoors lately!

+ If it rains more than 2 days in a row, get outside. Get dressed and get out in the rain. Walk somewhere, anywhere. But do not stay home. When you spend more time inside it makes it harder to leave.  I never let myself have more than 2 days in a row inside. Just make it a rule. You might have to get wet once in awhile but it will be worth it. I promise. I never regret getting outside, even in the rain.

+ What do you do when you are really depressed and you literally can't force yourself out of the house? This is where I would first suggest talking to your doctor. This weather is the pits and when you aren't used to grey skies all the time your body goes through a shock or sorts. You can become depressed and lethargic. First talk to your doctor. Then get outside. Sometimes I have such a hard time trying to just get out the door. I have to call someone (usually my mom) and ask her to stay on the phone with me until I get outside. I force myself. It can feel like pushing a brick wall some days but I put my shoes on, pack a little bag for Sebastian and get him dressed. Sometimes this takes a long time. But I just do it. My Mom is on the other line and we just do it. Even if I am just walking around the block a few times we do it. Staying in is not going to make you feel better. But getting outside for a little bit and smelling the fresh air and seeing a little bit if sunshine (ok, let's just call it light. sunny is too misleading) is going to help you. You're stronger than this.

+ Make plans. Is there someone you've been wanting to get to know? Then ask them to lunch. Is there a place you've been wanting to see? Then plan a time to go and see it. Want to know what is in your neighborhood? Then take a walk. Just do stuff. The more you get out the more you will realize that the weather isn't the problem. It is just another factor in your life here.

+ My best advice on this subject is just to get outside. Do it. Do not wait for the rain to stop and the sun to come out. It isn't going to. But you're going to get more depressed and feel more alone if you stay inside. Just get outside. Push yourself. It might take some time but I know you're going to love this rain as much as I do.

ps. If you ever want to chat about it or need someone to go walking with just let me know!

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Moving to Scotland? What to bring and not to bring | vol 2

In case you missed it | vol. 1

What to Bring::

+ Something sentimental to get you through the rough patches. I brought a cozy blanket from home. I would wrap myself up in it when I was feeling lonely and cold. Your life in Scotland is going to be so new and everything is going to be different. Carefully choose items to bring that will make you feel more at home. It might be a homemade quilt, maybe your grandmother's serving tray, or it might just be a few pictures to hang on your walls. Whatever it is, pick something to bring that will make you feel at home.

+ If you need a new wardrobe or any clothes it is best to purchase them in your home country. I know there is a space issue in your suitcases but hear me out. The sizing is different in the UK, the styles are different and the cost is staggering with the conversion rate. If you need new suits to start your new job here in Scotland, it is best to purchase them before you leave from a trusted retailer. Go ahead and throw a few new pairs of your favourite jeans in there as well as some new sweaters. Trust me.

*I usually suggest purchasing your raincoat/winter coat here in Scotland. You will be able to get exactly what this weather demands here. 

+ An open mind- Things are going to be different in Scotland than what you're used to. You'll take longer in the grocery store and things like the washing machine will be different. Just keep an open mind and enjoy the experience. It's okay that things are done differently here.

What NOT to Bring::

+ Shorts or summer clothing- You can, but keep it to a minimum. We only have a few weeks in the summer where you can actually wear them. Don't feel like you need to bring a whole summer wardrobe. You won't need it. If you need more suitcase space, toss them.

+ Wellies- Seriously, you don't really need them. Sometimes they are nice to have but I hardly ever wear mine. I think people expect Scotland to have flash flood type of rains (are you used to going out in this type of weather?) but unless you live in the country, your rain boots aren't a huge necessity. If you need suitcase space then just don't worry about them. If you find that you need them once you get here then you can get a cheap pair for £10 that will do the trick.

+ Bedding/towels- Unless you're bringing that special sentimental quilt then don't bother. They are a huge waste of packing space and you can get anything you need here. Also, the bed sizing is just a tiny bit different. My queen size American sheets are just a tad bit too big for my bed here. Just plan to budget for new bedding and towels when you first arrive.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

{Ask Mary} What is a TV License?


Kate G. asked:: "A TV License??"


You must have a TV License in the UK if you watch or record programmes on a TV, computer or other device as they're broadcast. A TV license (or broadcast receiving license) is mainly used to fund the BBC.

The cost per household is £145.50 (£49 for black and white tv sets) per year. You can pay weekly, monthly, quarterly or yearly.

You can be fined up to £1,000 if you watch or record live television without a TV License.

When I first moved here I thought this was the dumbest tax I had ever heard of. I still think that.  But, along with the license you receive all the BBC channels/radio stations and a handful of other channels. It's like basic cable accept they make you pay for it. We could just not have a TV, computer, tablet or mobile in the home. Don't think I haven't considered it!  Now it is just part of our budget and I don't notice.

I don't want you to be fined so when you move to the UK you must obtain a TV License ASAP.

You can get one here::

ps. There are some great discussions/comments on my Facebook page about this. Great insight!

Monday, 4 August 2014

Finding a Rental Property in Scotland

The laws and customs relating to rental accommodation vary widely across the world. For this reason it is important to study up before you plunge in. You can go to for specific laws on private rental properties in Scotland.

I get countless emails asking me what good sites the locals use to find properties for rent. Here are the most widely used sites {and ones I have personally used}:

You will need to be open minded when viewing properties here in Scotland. They probably won't be as big as you are used to. The average size home in America is 2,300 sqft, the average home in Great Britain is 818 sqft. Keep this in mind when you are packing your furniture.

It is fairly standard practice that a landlord will not rent to a person without having viewed the property. This just means that you can't rent a property in Scotland while you are still living in America {or any other country}.  A lease is not signed here until the day you move in. The landlord will want to see your face.

So, what do you do? You need a place to live. I'm going to give you my best advice.

+ If you are lucky enough to have connection in Scotland ask them if they would help you. They can view the properties and make the arrangements for you. Then you would be able to move straight into your new home the day you arrive. If you are indeed lucky enough to have this option make sure to thank them. It will be a lot of work on their part.

+ Find a Leasing Agent that will work with you. Ask them to prepare 10+ properties to show you in a 1-2 day period when you first arrive in Scotland. You will view them all in one go. Decide on a property and set your move in date for in a few days or weeks. This means you will need to book a hotel/hostel for those days/weeks when you first arrive.

+ If you aren't wanting to stay in a hotel/hostel you can look for short term holiday rental. You will be able to rent for as many weeks as you wish.

+ If you are being transferred with your company they will probably be taking care of all the arrangements for you. You lucky dog!

+ Depending on your circumstances you may have to pay your 6+ months rent upfront. These situations can happen when attending school abroad or when you do not have a job. The letting agency will just need a confirmation of your payment. Be prepared to shell out at least 6 months rent if need be.

+ Keep in mind different areas have different council tax bands. These will be stated in the property listing. It will be a letter {ex: Council Band A, B, D, etc}. That letter will be associated with a price. Council tax is a local taxation on every household. It covers water, sewage, trash pickup, etc. The cost depends on where you live. When deciding your budget for your rental home also remember you will need to pay council tax on top of that which can be anywhere from £99-£300 per month {or more}. You can see more {here}.

Although intimidating, it is worth it to take the time and effort to secure yourself the right property to make you happy in Scotland. I hope these tips helped in some way.

Friday, 1 August 2014

{British Recipe} Sausage Mini Frittatas

I love breakfast. It is definitely my comfort food. Eggs, sausage, bacon and pancakes just make me feel better. Let's not forget the cold glass of orange juice. Savoury breakfast are most popular here and now you can have a taste of Scotland in the mornings too.

These mini frittatas are so easy to make. I'm addicted. Frittatas for everyone! I hope you like them.


1 1/4 cups cooked sausage
1 apple finely chopped
1 lemon
4 eggs
1/4 cup of milk
3 TBSP grated cheddar
4 TBSP of sultans {raisins} optional
2 large potatoes peeled and finely chopped
1 pinch of salt
1 pinch of pepper

Makes 12


1. Place the potatoes in a saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Cook until tender then drain in a colander.

2. Peel and dice the apple and place in a bowl of cold water. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice into the water - this will stop the apple turning brown.

3. In a bowl, whisk the eggs, milk and grated cheese until thoroughly combined.

4. Add the cooked sausage, apples, sultanas and potatoes to the bowl and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Mix gently until combined.

5. Preheat the oven to 190°C/gas mark 5 (375 F)

6. Line a muffin tin with muffin cases. Divide the mix into the muffin cases and bake for 12-15 until cooked through. Serve warm.


ps. Check out these British Bacon Roly Polies. They're amazing! 

Monday, 21 July 2014

5 Common Expat Mistakes

I've been living in Scotland for 6 and a half years. When I moved here there weren't blogs or books to read on moving to Scotland. I didn't know anyone who had moved abroad and so I learned everything the hard way. These are mistakes I have made myself but also I have seen expats make these mistakes time and time again. I want to help you be a little more prepared than I was. I don't want your transition to be as rocky as mine was. If I was to make this move for the first time (knowing what I know now) these are the first things I would do differently.

1. Not Doing Enough Research. You should be researching everything about your new country. No question is too small. No question is to silly. No  question is stupid. It might be to the people who know the answers but they know them because they've lived it. Go ahead and ask. No aspect of your research is too small. I've seen expats come and go here in Scotland that are fined for not paying council taxes and for not having a TV license. Why? They didn't even know about them. Research the customs in your new country as well as the everyday things. Learn as much as you can. Knowledge is power. Especially when you move abroad.

*In the UK, a TV licence is an annual tax that must be paid by any household that uses a TV to watch or record TV shows as they are being broadcast. The revenues are used to fund the BBC.

2. Unrealistic Expectations. It goes without saying (I hope) that you will be excited about your move abroad. Who wouldn't be?! What an exciting adventure! Until you get here and you relize that living abroad is very different from visiting on holiday. Be aware that it takes several months to start feeling more comfortable. I didn't say at ease or even comfortable. Just more comfortable than when you arrived. Everything will be much different than you pictured. There is a period of time you need to give yourself to come to terms with your new life.

3. Getting bored. Seriously. This happens. Before I moved here I had an Eat Pray Love experience pictured in my head. What I got was sitting in my pj's and watching TV for most of my first year. Really. Make yourself a list of things to do and things to see. Slowly check off items on your list. Make sure you keep yourself busy. Give yourself something to do.

4. Comparing Cultures. This is one of my pet peeves after living in Scotland for 6+ years. I absolutely hate it when expats move here and all they seem to do is compare their new life to their old one. They can't help it. Everything is different. But instead of using the word different they use the word weird. I don't like that word. It's just different that's all. Most expats come over here expecting to have an American experience in Scotland. They want the feelings/experiences you get on holiday. Sure you can have that but it's just going to be different because you live here. You aren't on a break from your life back home, you are living it. Stop comparing and embrace the differences. Can't find your favourite ingredient? Try a new dish with ingredients from your new country. You're going to have to live a little differently because you are indeed living in a different country. Stop comparing. Move on. Embrace the differences.

5. Restricting your social interactions with expats only. I'll go the other way too and say restricting yourself to socializing only with people from your chosen country isn't a good idea either. You need a balance. It's nice to have a few friends from your home country to converse with and know they understand what you're talking about but also it is important to make new friends and you never know, that kindred spirit could be just around the corner. You've just not opened yourself up.

There are oh so many mistakes expats make when they arrive in their new country and I'll be sharing more of those in the coming weeks. If you're an expat what is one mistake you made?

Monday, 14 July 2014

This is Crovie, Aberdeenshire

This weekend we had the most brilliant weather. It was literally scorching! Luis was off work on Friday so we decided to check out an old fishing village. The whole drive was on country roads. Sheep and cows dot the countryside as well as crumbling ruins of I'm sure were once cottages or old farm buildings. We caught glimpses of the North Sea on our way.

Crovie is unique. The shelf is so narrow there is only room for the cottages and a small foot path. There is a fantastic view point at the top of the cliffs that took my breath away. The peace and quiet that surrounded this village was amazing and I can't wait to go back.

We wanted a closer look so we walked down the path and a set of steep steps to get down to the village. We found a group of kids kicking a ball around and every cottage had wet suits hanging from their clothes line. We saw children climbing on a large boulder, barefoot, and then sat back on the rock and pulled out their book from their back pocket and started to read. There were more kids and parents hanging out of the dock and getting into the water.

A cute older couple stopped us to chat for a bit and I asked them if the water came right up to the path and she said it did. She told me there was a big gale the other day and the waves were crashing on her roof! Then she said, "It makes this an interesting place to live." I now have a desire to stay here for a week to experience such a thing.

There was a storm surge here in 1953 that was so large it washed away the path leading to the other side of the bay into Gardenstown. The damage to the fishing industry was so great most of the people living here just packed up and moved across the bay--leaving Crovie one of the most well preserved fishing villages in Europe. The cottages here mostly make up holiday rentals now. I am itching to stay here!

What do you think? Would you stay here during a storm?

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

9 Different Ways You Can Move to Scotland

The number one email I receive is about obtaining a VISA to live and work in Scotland. I've addressed this topic very briefly {here and here} many years ago. I went back and read those old posts recently and realized that they aren't that informative. Mostly because I didn't know very much about it at the time. Sorry! Times have changed and I want to share what I know with you.

I am living in Scotland on a Residence Visa. I'm the lucky one who married an EU member. We both have the legal right to live and work anywhere within the European Union--that's 28 countries! But most people don't have that option and are looking for other ways to live and work abroad.

I can not stress enough the importance of doing this legally. There is a lot of red tape but you must do it correctly or you could be in some real trouble. I've known people to arrive here and in the end they had to pack up and move back to the US because they didn't do things correctly. I can't even imagine the costs involved. If you need to hire an immigration attorney then do it. But do your homework. Dot every i and cross every t on those forms. It all matters.

I mostly get emails about obtaining a Work Visa. Those are hard to get. Let's say you're an American and you want to live in Scotland. You think you can just apply for a job in the country of your choice and this said company will hire you and become your sponsor. They will provide the funds and job to warrant a Work Visa. This is very unlikely but it can happen. Let me explain. For a company to do that they have to prove to the government why they couldn't get someone within those 28 EU countries to do the job. Let's be honest anyway, they can most likely find someone to do the job within their own geographic boundaries.

The last thing I want to do is discourage anyone from going for their dreams so I am here to help you think outside the box. I want YOU to live in Scotland!

Here are some ideas to get you to the UK::

+ Study Abroad. Have you wanted to go back to school? Well, maybe doing it in another country is just the adventure you are looking for. You can even obtain a Student Visa for just a few small courses. If you are already in school your current university will have study abroad programs where you can spend a semester in another country. Do it! You won't regret the experience.

+ Volunteer for a UK charity. This will be unpaid but a great experience if you save your pennies.

+ Do you have a grandparent that was born in the UK? Then you could be in luck!

+ Dreaming of starting your own business? Doing it in the UK could give you the VISA you want.

+ Apply for work at a Fortune 500 company in your home country. Oil companies are a great place to start. Aberdeen, Scotland is the Energy Capital of Europe {wink wink}. It may take you a few years to get where you want but some good planning could have you jet setting throughout the world on the companies dime.

+ Have you ever thought about being an Au Pair? Many busy families are looking for caregivers to help in their home and prefer someone from another country to give their kids a diverse upbringing.

+ Did you know you can obtain a Visitor Visa and stay in the UK for up to 6 months? Save your money and you can have the experience of living in the UK for a short period of time.

+ Intern Abroad. This will look great on your resume!

+ There are a whole host of Work Visas available. You never know, you just might qualify!

Are any of you planning the move? Share with us how you're doing it in the comments!

Monday, 24 March 2014

Things to See and Do in Aberdeenshire {part 2}

Balmoral Castle via
Two of my older sisters are coming to visit in May. I have so much I want them to see and so many ideas about what we should do. I want to share with you more of what there is to see and do here in Aberdeen City + Shire. If you're heading to Scotland I hope you will add some of these sites to your list!

I am not usually a tour kind of person. I like to head out on my own. But, these tours are a little different and definitely on my list. What a great way to sit back, relax and let someone else do the planning!

+ Wilderness Scotland are rated No. 1 adventure travel company in Europe by National Geographic Magazine. They are a pretty pricey but I'm sure they are the best of the best. So why not splurge and have someone else show you around the highlands?

+ Puffin Cruises offer daily sightseeing and fishing trips. They are one hour north of Aberdeenshire in the gorgeous Banffshire Coast. They have 3 hour wildlife tours for just £25 per person. Want to see dolphins, puffins, seals and birds? Then this is the place! What a perfect way to experience untouched Scotland.

+ Want to experience Scotland by motorcycle? Then you're in luck! offers self guided tours and a beautiful way to see Scotland!

+ Braemar Highland Safari's offers 3-4 hr scenic drives through Cairngorms National Park {the heart of the Highlands}. They are a great price at just £30-£35 per tour. I'm all over this one!

Aberdeenshire is home to over 300 castles! That's more castles per acre than anywhere else in the UK. Welcome to Castle Country! Listed below are the most well known castles in the this area.

Crathes Castle
Haddo House
Balmoral Castle
Dunottar Castle

Tourist Trails::
If you're looking for some help in planning your itinerary might I suggest one of these trails? They are all mapped out and ready for you to discover Scotland!

+ Victorian Heritage Trail- Queen Victoria and Prince Albert first visited and fell in love with this area in 1848.

+ Castle Trail- Experience 17 of Scotland's Castles right here on this trail!

+ Coastal Trail- Discover part or all of the route's 165 continuous miles of cliff-tops, coves, beaches, charming towns and villages, and marvellous wildlife. 

+ Scotland's National Tourist Routes- Scotland has 12 National Tourist Routes. Fancy a driving holiday? Spoil yourself, rent that dream car, book a chalet for a week and explore amazing roads like these!

ps. Looking for more? Take a look at Part One in this series.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Things to See and Do in Aberdeenshire

When planning a trip to Scotland many people head straight for the capital, Edinburgh, and then go west to the Highlands. It seems to be the course for many travellers. It was the same for us. We lived just outside Glasgow for 5 and a half years. We have been to Edinburgh more times than I can count yet I'd never made the trek to Aberdeen. Now we live here and love it! I'm here to make a plea for Aberdeenshire and why you must travel the 1 hour and 45 min north of Edinburgh and see this beautiful place.

Things to See::

+ "Scotland’s only dedicated Castle Trail lets you discover the dramatic stories of 17 of Aberdeenshire’s most famous castles. This itinerary is organised into 4 broad areas of Aberdeenshire to group the castles around a main hub town. A visit to any of the castles makes an ideal day out or navigate your way along sections of the trail for a longer break." -Visit

+ One of the best places to look for wildlife is Cairngorms National Park, Britain's largest National Park and the heart of the Highlands. Or how about a trip to see The Falls of Feugh. The footbridge is a popular place to see salmon leaping!

Things to Do::

+ Why not take a costal walk that passes the impressive Slains Castle, the inspiration for Dracula, and reaches a massive blow hole and several natural arches. I'm always up for a day with a sea view!

+ Scotland is the birthplace of golf and Aberdeenshire has what you want. Trump International Golf Links is on the coast and is said to be the most ambitious course ever created. While I'm not a golfer, I have been here and it is so gorgeous!

Where to Eat::

+ The Carron Fish Bar in Stonehaven is where I had the best fish n' chips of my life. I can not recommend it enough! My Mom and I ate here on our way home from Dunnottar Castle and I'm still thinking about it. It was that good. You need to make this a must on your list. FYI: This is the birthplace of the deep fried Mars Bar.

+ Farmer's Markets are regular features across Scotland. The Aberdeen Country Fair held on Belmont Street on the last Saturday of each month is the largest in Scotland. You can pick up a range of delicious produce such as local cheeses, cured meats and handmade chocolates. Will I see you there?
There will be several more posts in this series and will include different cities too. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Scotland's National Tourist Routes

Campbelltown, Scotland
 Fancy a driving holiday? Spoil yourself, rent that dream car, book a chalet for a week and explore roads like these!

Scotland has 12 National Routes for you to enjoy diverse landscapes, towns and villages. If you're planning a trip to Scotland you are going to want to check these out.

For our First Anniversary Luis and I took a road trip through the highlands. It was amazing and I'd wished I was an awesome blogger to photograph and write about it all. I have very few photos of our trip. We left from Glasgow and took a few tourist routes to get up to Thurso--the Northern most point of mainland Scotland. It was amazing!

We drove on tiny one lane roads {pictured above} nestled deep in the Scottish mountains. I remember coming over the crest of a hill and stopping the car to look down on hundreds of majestic deer. It was a site I won't ever forget. We just sat there for ages watching these deer. We started counting their antlers and trying to find the oldest one. We actually found an 18 point! It was all just incredible. We sat there for probably an hour. Just waiting for the deer to pass the road.

We drove through small villages and big cities. Any chance we got we drove the coastal routes. There is just something about the ocean that never gets old. We passed castle after castle and saw wildlife and derelict estates just about everywhere.

I would encourage anyone who is visiting Scotland to rent a car and head out on one of these routes for a few days. It is an amazing way to see this country!

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Let's Talk About Rain Gear

Rain Gear in Scotland

I am coming up on my 6th anniversary of moving to Scotland. I never thought in a million years we'd still be here. But we are. I must have lived here too long because I don't even think it rains that much. Seriously, what's wrong with me?! Even the locals know it rains a lot!

I get a lot of emails about rain gear. What should you buy? What will you need? Should you buy at home or wait until you get to Scotland? I'm going to share with you my opinions on the matter.

Are you ready? This is big.

Wait until you get here.

The advice I usually give is to wait until you get here to purchase your rain coat. I'm sure many of you who receive this such email aren't exactly satisfied but I really think it is best to wait. You need to experience the rain a bit and decide what you need. Do you walk a lot? Cycle? Hike? Drive your car everywhere? The stores here cater to our climate. You'll find just what you need when you get here. I'd hate for you to spend so much time and money on it only to realize what you bought at home isn't working for you here. Although, you can buy those wellies anywhere. Knock yourself out.

For those of you who don't take my advice and really do want to bring rain gear/coats with you I will share with you some pieces that will work for you here.
+ Get a winter coat and rain jacket with a hood and pockets. This is a must. You never know where
you will be when it starts to rain. It's easy to just pull your hood up and keep walking. Getting something with a collar and a hood is perfect. We get a lot of wind here. You'll want to feel snug and warm in there. I walk everywhere so I need pockets to throw my keys in or keep my gloves where I can get to them. Or snacks for Sebastian when I don't want to go rummaging through my bag.

+ Umbrellas are sort of superfluous here. The wind is so strong it will turn it inside out. But, the umbrellas that go down further and make a dome around you are perfect for a downpour. You won't use it all the time but they are nice to have.

+ Hats! I wear a hat all the time. ALL the time. We have strong winds here in Scotland and your hair gets whipped around and all up in your face if you aren't wearing a hat. I keep it simple with a beret that can stay in place if I need to put my hood up too.

+ Rain boots. Get them anywhere, any size, any style. They will all work. Find yourself a pair with good soles and support and you're ready to go!

That's my advice and I'm sticking to it.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Cove Bay

We had a few sunny days last week that just had me itching to get out over the weekend. We all had colds but that didn't stop us when the sun came out on Saturday. I have a few places I'd been dying to see but I'm saving those in my back pocket for warmer days. Oh, I just can't wait.

We headed to Cove Bay instead. It is a suburb on the south-east edge of Aberdeen. This village-like town boasts gorgeous rocky cliffs and never ending waves crashing on the rocky shore. The very small finishing community berths their boats on the shingle beach {a natural harbour with a beach of pebbles or small cobbles instead of sand}.

I was hoping to get out onto the rocks but the wind was fierce. Fierce I tell you! I was having a hard time standing on my own two feet let alone if I tried to climb slippery rock. So, we stayed on shore and watched the seagulls ride the waves on the North Sea.

If you go to Cove Bay bring all your winter gear. It was cold! But very beautiful. Like something out of a novel. It's nice to spend some time in beautiful places. It does my heart good.