Barcelona, smoke and whisky

Last week I was in Barcelona for an Up & Running workathon with Julia. As always Gareth sniffed, “Away on your holidays again, eh?” but right now we have a big project with a short deadline. When your business partner lives in Italy, no matter how brilliant Skype and Google Docs are, you need proper face time once or twice a year to get things zipping along. And some tapas. Tapas help the creative process.


But before the work was the small matter of Julia running the Barcelona Marathon, along with two wonderful Up & Running alumni Paula G and Paula P. All three did brilliantly. As did the U&R cheer squad of Clare, Honor, Julia K, myself and Paula’s sister Adi. Julia K had brought pom poms all the way from Texas. Unlike the London marathon experience there was no scrambling for a “good spot”, but the small crowds mean we had to make a lot of noise to make up for it. With pom poms in hand, everything is worth celebrating. Go man with green tights! Go runner with tutu! Go pigeon crossing the street! Go abandoned water bottle on the ground!


It was so good to catch up with some of the U&R gang and witness the fitness.


On Monday it was straight to work. We established a routine of 5.30am wakeup, walk, coffee then workathon! Barcelona is even more beautiful when the streets are empty.


By the time we left on Friday morning I felt calm and like we’d achieved a lot. Which was such great progress from the snivelling panicky mess I’d been a week earlier!

As much as I’d enjoyed the balmy Barcelona weather, seeing the Cairngorms from the plane felt like home…


… as did the gloriously shithouse weather!

Welcome to Inverness

On Saturday I didn’t feel like returning to reality, so we went to Cromarty, a gorgeous historic village on the  tip of the Black Isle.

Cromarty lighthouse

It’s a great spot, and reminded me a bit of some of the coastal villages in Fife, except with better food. I’d been wanting to go to Sutor Creek Cafe as it boasts Britain’s most northerly wood fired pizza oven! But I saw someone eating this roast lamb roll when I walked in and got distracted. It was delicious, but I got totally pizza envy later on.

Gareth got a venison burger and was flummoxed by the fried egg on top. “It’s very Burger With The Lot” he said. But I could tell he enjoyed it. He would just never admit it!

Sutor Creek

The town is great for a wander. There was a great antique shop that The Mothership would have loved.


Praise be to the patron saint of healthy bowels.


Beautiful blue sky.


On Sunday we were still in the mood for escaping reality so we pootled down to the Glen Grant distillery to get my Whisky Project back on track. I could not face one more bloody distillery tour, despite Gareth’s pleas, “But they have purifiers on the stills! It’s TOTALLY different!”. I took a long wander through Major Grant’s garden instead (and got really annoyed afterwards upon realising I’d left my Fitbit on my pyjamas! ARRGH!).


I joined the end of the tour to watch the magnificent educational video. Somehow it managed to be even more cheesetacular than the Ghost of Roderick Dhu. Major Grant sat by the fire and told us the history of his whisky empire, how he went to Africa and shot a lot of leopards and wildebeest and was a dab hand at salmon fishing, curling, “and other manly pursuits”.

I was trying to take a photo of the video screen without the tartan-trousered guide spotting me. I’d just focused on Major Grant’s gigantic moustache when he said the distillery had expanded so much they had to add “STEAM POWER!”. On those words, two big gusts of artificial smoke blasted out of the mantelpiece and sent myself, Gareth and the septuagenarian Californian couple into coughing fits. It was magic!

The whisky was delicious, too.


About Shauna Reid

Ahoy there! I’m Shauna, an author, copywriter and content mentor. I love telling stories about life and helping others to tell theirs.

Find out more about me and how we can work together – I’m now booking for October 2021.

19 thoughts on “Barcelona, smoke and whisky

  1. I always get a kick out of your travelogues– the bits about the cheesy educational videos gave me a good laugh this morning! Are we going to hear more about this mysterious work project? Hrm? *waggles eyebrows*

    1. hey thank you Maggie! 🙂

      also, hell yeah, as soon as it’s done i shall… i feel like i have to finish something first, otherwise i will disturb the creative gods or something!

  2. I’m going to Barcelona in August and I can’t wait! I’ve never been before but everyone says how lovely it is.

    Also, I love that we’re just ignoring the British Tits.

    1. Mwahhaah!

      Oh I’m so chuffed for your trip, Jessica! If you don’t mind an unsolicited recommendation, I love love love the Picasso Museum. Especially if you get there super-early just as it opens so you don’t have to elbow your way around 🙂

  3. I love being out and about early in the morning in European cities before the tourists have woken up and only the bakeries and bars are open. Sounds like you had a great week.

  4. LOLOLOLOLOLOL “But they have purifiers on the stills! It’s TOTALLY different!” Oh man.

    Love reading about your adventures. I need you to visit John o’ Groats sometime, because I saw it on television once.

  5. Ooh, fried egg on a burger (or a host of other things) just makes it so much better!! Yum. 🙂

    Lovely post. Annnnnd now I want whisky!

  6. that looks like fun (though that lamb roll looks like a crazy amount of meat – I really need a program that means I just HAVE to go to barcelona – such a beautiful place

  7. I love the photograph of the hat store in Barcelona. What a beautiful storefront, and all of those hats floating around look eerie.

    Thanks for taking us along on your trip!

  8. Two things!
    1. When did Gareth stop being a vegetarian?
    2. Can we be fitbit friends??

    Would be a lovely motivator to see my lovely dietgirl’s step! hehe. I use sarahvader at gmail for fitbit. 🙂

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