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New jobs


It has definitely been too long since I’ve written anything. Most of you will know that the main reason for this is that I have a new job – owning and running (in partnership with my mum) a small cafe in a tiny village in the north west Highlands of Scotland. As well as being an engineer (or “modelling consultant”), I’m now a professional cake baker, barista, cafe worker and administrator. I’m also hoping to get out hiking enough to get my Mountain Leader qualification so I can be a professional mountain/hiking guide.

But this post is not about any of those jobs. This is about my latest professional detour. I’m now a professional ornithologist! I’ve just spent 2 days conducting a moorland bird survey. This is actually the second time I’ve done it this year, but the last time someone else did half (or more) of the work. This time I had to do the whole thing on my own. So,….. 2 days, 43km walked, 350 miles driven and a blissful 22 hours of not having anybody else near me! (much needed now that I share a house and work in a cafe every day)

I saw (or heard) a wonderful range of birds including meadow pipit, skylark, stonechat, ring ouzel, wren, redpoll, sandpiper, greenshank, golden plover, buzzard, cuckoo, snipe and possibly a golden eagle (it was too high for me to identify properly) and less possibly a merlin (too far away). The big red dog Merlin was not able to come due to ground-nesting birds. I think I would’ve seen some grouse and more snipe if he’d been with me.

I also saw some lovely flowers (I haven’t been out much this year so have been missing the procession of things flowering), butterflies, moths, a caterpillar, spiders, trees and rocks. I also saw loads of red deer, including one young calf, one Cheviot sheep and lamb and a few (luckily friendly) cows. I don’t know my cattle breeds very well, sorry!

Here are some pictures for you, to hopefully appreciate (and maybe be jealous of) my “office” for two days.



  1. Butters' mom says:


  2. Anna says:

    So good to “hear” from you on here! You are a lady of many talents it seems! Glad all is going well with you, sounds like Scotland has been good to you! Coming back to oz to visit anytime soon? Let me know the next time so we can try and have a catch up again! X

    • Helen says:

      Hi Anna. Nothing planned in the near future…. I think I used up my “international trip allowance” for the next few years with my 1x France/Italy, 2x Aus and 1x USA trips between October and April this past year. I will DEFINITELY let you know when I’m back though – would love to catch up again!

    • Helen says:

      I’ll definitely be around some time “ever again”!!! Will see you then, . . or maybe you’ll make it over here first!

  3. Where’s the café and what’s it called then? We were up your way early in May, but since I hadn’t heard from you for so long, I didn’t contact you. Sorry! I wish I had now! Chrissie

    • Helen says:

      It’s the Elphin Tearooms (in Elphin). The past year was pretty stressful with the purchase, then really busy with a bunch of international trips, moving my mum over here, getting it all set up and now actually running the place so I’ve been very quiet and unsociable! I’ve barely even been checking wordpress to see what everyone else is up to. Would’ve been great to see you, but don’t worry, hopefully we’ll be here for a while so you can drop in next time you’re up. You’re welcome to stay, or park the van up here too (Geoff and the dogs are welcome too, obviously!).

  4. Jackie says:

    Beautiful photos x

    • Helen says:

      Thanks. The camera has some problems (especially after the dog filled it full of sand and I scratched the lens) but it certainly does macro “point and shoot” pretty well!

  5. Tracey says:

    loved the update. Beautiful photos!

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