top of page

Our perfect holiday up in the Scottish Highlands

Where do I start?

We've been trying to find and adapt to a different holiday format since the two little things (i.e. our kids) joined us, having realised pretty soon that getting on a 747 to cross the ocean wasn't probably going to be as relaxing and exciting as it had been for us two so far.

In fact, Emily just made it, we took her to Hong Kong and Singapore when she was only 11 months old, not walking neither crawling yet as she was a preemie. As soon as she started to talk/walk, the world just changed for us. Two years later Daniel arrived, and it didn't get any easier.

I won't bore you with the whole history of each single failed holiday time we've had so far, but we really did our best to make things easier for us and the children and tried each year two/three different locations and holiday combinations thinking each time that it was going to be the right thing. It turned out it wasn't and, for some reasons, even the 'all-inclusive-with-kids-club' weren't as successful as we hoped.

So, it was with no expectations that we planned our first time in Scotland (my husband is English and he had been to Scotland before mainly for work, never dreamt to spend his holidays there though). I was really looking forward to it because, for a number of reasons, I was in need of a full immersion into nature and doing some exercise (funny that!).

We rented a cottage in Tomatin (btw, the correct pronunciation is Tomàtin, and not Tòmatin, as we would have thought), in the Inverness region and booked a rental car to explore around through the beautiful Scottish Highlands.

Yes, that's what we needed. And, yes, that was what we expected.

None of the pictures you can see in this post can really show the beauty of the landscape, the bright colours and the differing shades of green of the fields and forests, the clouds overlapping in the sky with their different shapes and density, the red squirrels crossing the road and a lovely smell of pure and fresh air wherever you go.

I did ask myself, why was it so good for the kids and us? We basically spent the whole day outdoors, walking through woods, hanging out in parks or playgrounds, driving through lands and visiting new places and as such there was no time left for Ipad/TV/Youtube/I-want-this/I-want-that. The moment we stopped, they crashed asleep (Yeeeeesssss!!!!!!!). It was as tiring for us as it was for them. That's it, I suppose, the winning formula, where as before the only people getting exhausted used to be always us parents (sometimes grandparents) unfortunately. They were just having fun, whilst we were running after them.

In addition to this, I just found it amazing how everything you possibly needed was available at any time and in short distance. Despite being in the middle of nowhere, you could still drive 15 minutes and find a 24/7 Tesco Store, have an Indian or Chinese take-away, and rely on a full 4G signal basically everywhere. And if your phone ran out of battery, no worries: of course there was a telephone box right in the middle of hectares of fields, for whenever a sheep has a hangover and needs some urgent medical attention, or so.

This&That of the English language...

realised (r.4): this is the British English spelling. Most verbs ending in -ise would be spelt in American English -ize. For instance:

British English: to realise

American English: to realize

Some British spellers do use the -ize ending but the American spelling is almost always -ize. Both spelling are considered correct, my suggestion though is to opt for one of the two and maintain the same standard, especially in written texts.

Can you think of other words with the same spelling?

In fact (r.7): this expression is one of those 'false friends' with the Italian language, which most Italian students get confused with. It's not to be translated with 'infatti', which could rather be expressed in English as 'indeed'. 'In fact' means = anzi, sometimes could be translated as 'effettivamente' or 'in realtà', which has a very different meaning.


I will have to take at least two books with me, in fact, I think I will take them all

= Dovrò prendere con me almeno due libri, anzi, credo che li prenderò tutti.

preemie (r.9): a preemie is a premature baby. I learnt this word when my first child was born, as she was a preemie indeed.

Bear in mind that British English would tend to shorten as many words as possible - for some unknown anthropological-linguistic behaviour that one day I'd love to find out,

I'm sure you've come across a few of these shortenings so far, like 'ad' for 'advertisement'.

And do you know what the shortening for 'television' is?

though (r.22): I don't think a lot of ESL textbooks would let you understand the meaning and usage of this adverb (which can act also as a conjunction). In this sentence it means 'però, tuttavia'.

I only learnt it after regularly speaking to native speakers for a while.

In colloquial Italian we often end a sentence with 'però', which is probably not considered elegant or too correct in written form, but we do say it a lot.


Elisa ha preso un voto più alto di me, non è giusto però! Lei non aveva studiato affatto.

Well, this is when we would translate 'però' with 'though', rather than 'but' (which is a conjunction)

= Elisa got a higher grade than mine, which is unfair though! She hadn't done any preparation at all.

hangover (r.52): if you know this word, it means that you probably had one. Or, at least, you spent some time in the UK. I only heard this word for the first time when talking to a native speaker (guess who), who was obviously referring to someone else having a hangover.

I hope you enjoyed this very basic bits of the English (and Scottish) culture and hope you found the language insights useful.

I will look forward to posting other topics and exploring with you the beauty - and madness- of the English language.

Meanwhile I'm getting ready and excited for

our new English workshops for young children, starting in October 2018 in Santa Maria delle Mole.

Find more about our courses here

#Scotland #holidays #ScottishHighlands #familyholiday #Inverness #Nairn #Englishlanguage #Englishculture #realise #preemie #though #hangover #Englishpronunciation #Englishspelling #Americanspelling #EnglishvsAmericanspelling #Englishshortenings #falsefriends #nature #landscape #forests #squirrels #Tomatin