True confession time – I’ve never been to Portsoy.
If I’m perfectly honest, I’d be hard pushed to point to it on a map, or tell you much about, other than it has boat festival.
You see, it’s north of Aberdeen – a part of the world I’ve hitherto seen little reason to venture into. I mean, what’s up there?
The key word there is “hitherto” because I’ve decided to expand my horizons about the places I need to see and visit around Scotland.
It’s not just down to the rather nice folk at Portsoy making a film about their lovely community, pushing it as “Cornwall without the crowds”. I’ve been to Cornwall. It is indeed crowded.
Portsoy is punching above its weight
Portsoy seems to be punching above its weight, what with attracting Peaky Blinders stars for a spot of filming and acting as the backdrop for the latest Whisky Galore film outing.
It also speaks volumes about the locals’ vaunting ambition that their film poster-style publicity proclaims: “It’s about welcoming tourists from around the world”. And why not?
But my interest in exploring Portsoy and further afield is sparked by more than a bit of clever local marketing.
Courtesy of Covid-19, our options are limited – but that doesn’t mean our taste for travel has to be dulled
It’s actually driven by an unexpected consequence of coronavirus restrictions.
We still have a taste for travel
Normally, Mrs B and I would be plotting an escape to different parts of the world – a cheeky wee beach holiday in Gran Canaria, a bit of culture vulturing around European capitals like Berlin, or indulging a passion for Belgian beer in Brussels.
Now, courtesy of Covid-19, our options are limited – but that doesn’t mean our taste for travel has to be dulled.
Take, for example, the excellent weekend we just had on our own doorstep in the sunshine. Saturday was a return trip to the Stonehaven Sea Safari after rough seas saw an earlier outing curtailed.
There are hunners of places like that around Scotland we don’t know about, just waiting for us to stumble across
It was simply wonderful, with clear blue skies, calm waters and more wildlife than you could shake a stick at, plus some compelling local history and folklore thrown in. All this with a starting point 15 minutes from my front door.
Time to find our undiscovered country
Then Sunday saw us venture to Broughty Ferry. We wanted a 5k run with a change of scenery, so popped down to scamper along the riverfront there. When we parked up, we discovered a gorgeous little beach on the Tay, shielded by sand dunes and full of folk and families sunbathing and having a good time.
We joined them as soon as our plod was done. It was warm, laid-back and prompted memories of foreign hols. So much so at one point we actually said: “Who needs to go to Portugal?”
The thing is, there are hunners of places like that dotted around Scotland we don’t know about, just waiting for us to stumble across them.
Wouldn’t it be fitting if the lasting legacy of coronavirus was giving us time to find our undiscovered country?
Scott Begbie is entertainment editor for The Press & Journal and Evening Express