HAVE you ever thought about a Scotland with a warmer hue?
I have. Not because I’m not fond of the rain or indeed, the snow, but because sometimes, just sometimes, it would be nice not to go out without a brolly in your bag.
Well, I’ve found it. Not a remedy for climate change (sadly) or indeed a way to sink our fair isle a little further south, but a beautiful little treasure, lost at sea, in the middle of the Atlantic. The Azores. This wee gem is a Portuguese outpost stuck slap-bang in between Europe and the Americas.
You may have heard of the Azores high – when the winds are right it often turns our weather a shade or two up on the sun-o-meter. I may even have mentioned it in my weather reports a few times.
It’s a beautiful place, and oddly, large parts of it are reminiscent of the beauty of Alba. It’s green and lush, rugged and dramatic. Jurassic Park is a close analogy. However, it’s totally temperate. The Celsius sits at around 25C in summer months (not too hot for Celtic skin tones) and a not-too-shabby 13C in winter.
They’ve only recently put direct flights on from Gatwick so it does feel relatively undiscovered and, to be honest, the tourism side (although totally catered for) is a wee way behind the neon delights of many other European holiday destinations. But that’s its charm.
There’s diving and whale watching and swimming with wild dolphins. Walks and waterfalls and delicious hot springs – it’s volcanic so there are lovely natural hot tubs.
However, be warned ... they’re full of iron so they turned my hair, skin and nails bright orange. I felt like a walking Irn Bru can!
It does feel like a home from home, but that said I am looking forward to getting home. Partly because I can’t wait to tell everyone about it, but also because I think I’d like to come again. If they’ll have me.
Dive was really breath-taking
I CAME on my hols to the Azores to dive. And the diving is magnificent. It has not been usurped by the fact that on my very first dive I was attacked willy-nilly by a rather big fish.
I thought I was fin-shed (!). Then some 10 minutes later my air stopped working at depth. I’m a calm and experienced diver. But. Air. Stopping. At. 18. Meters. I thought I might end up literally “swimming with the fishes”, as they say. Thankfully my buddy helped me out and I dived on another day.
QB’s Corner – 5 things I’m loving this week
1 HOLIDAY READ: ‘It’s All Fun and Games till Someone Loses an Eye’: a fab book by Scottish writer Christopher Brookmyre. Unputdownable. Ok, that’s not a word, but it should be.
2 HOLIDAY TUNE: It’s old skool and I’m not sure I’m that in to new Madge, but I love Holiday by Madonna: mainly because it reminds me of being a kid. Ok, so, I’m a wee bit embarrassed but at least it wasn’t Summer Holiday by good old Cliff.
3 HOLIDAY ESSENTIAL: Sunscreen, nobody wants to burn out! Wear it high, reapply.
4 HOLIDAY DO: Try to speak the language. Even if just because you’ll cause the locals no end of amusement.
5 HOLIDAY DON’T: Suicide tanning. It’s the last day, you fancy returning home a bronzed god/dess. You sack the sunscreen and end up resembling a lobster!