A WARMING hot toddy and the aroma of a whisky and honey conjures up the feeling of a cosy winter’s evening in the Scottish Highlands.

The distinct fragrance from cherry blossom in Edinburgh in the spring can take people back to a time and a place, and for now, with travel restricted, it is something for visitors to hold on to.

However, they might not be alone in craving the scents and aromas of Scotland, which is why traveller blogger Kay Gillespie has developed a range of candles to help people feel connected with this country until they can enjoy its beauty and countryside once again.

Through her Chaotic Scot travel blog, she is an ardent supporter of Scottish communities, tourism and businesses. Earlier in lockdown she set up the Dreaming Of Scotland Facebook page which was a place where people could post pictures of their favourite places they had visited while being unable to enjoy spending time there due to restrictions.

Now she is hoping to promote the best of small businesses through some of the products she carries in her online store.

“I love Scotland and travelling the length and breadth of it, but obviously as a travel blogger this year did not go to plan,” said Gillespie.

“For me, scents and aromas remind you of a place and after a chance connection with Isle of Lewis candle firm Sandwick Bay Candles I now have a dream come true and have just launched my own range.

“I chose my favourite places in Scotland at the time of year I most enjoy and so came up with Edinburgh in the spring, summer in the Outer Hebrides, autumn in Perthshire and winter in the Highlands.

“It took some time to get the scents right, but they are very personal to me and I think people might enjoy the aroma and remember a warming whisky while on holiday in the Highlands.”

Narrowing down the places was a difficult task for the blogger and while Glasgow didn’t get its own scented candle – there were many aromas to choose from – Gillespie says it is not a snub.

“There are so many places I could have chosen and hopefully I might be able to add some more in time, so maybe the Glasgow area will be added then,” she added.

Gillespie had been looking forward to a busy season of travelling around Scotland finding hidden gems and planning itineraries for her overseas clients, but it all stopped at the beginning of lockdown which is when she decided to start a Facebook community.

“For a travel blogger this could not have come at a worse time as I was just looking forward to the start of the season, she added. “I had also planned trips for clients as I have a lot of clients from America, but again those trips had to be cancelled.

“I know I was thinking about places I would like to visit again and places with fond memories so I started the Facebook page Dreaming Of Scotland and everything developed from there.”

Initially a few hundred people joined and left pictures of their favourite places in Scotland or a picture of where they were at that time. Now it has grown and has a following of 5,000 people.

It also showed how Gillespie quickly adapted and through her ideas has also been able to highlight some of Scotland’s bespoke businesses.

Always keen to support and promote local businesses, Gillespie took part in a raffle run by Sandwick Bay Candles to raise money for Bethesda Hospice in Stornoway.

She added: “I thought it was just a small raffle but it was anything but, Megan was flooded with prize donations and ticket sales, and ended up raising over £70,000. I knew had to work with this woman.

“I approached Megan with my idea, and together we’ve been working away behind the scenes for months to bring this to life.”

Gillespie approached the business with the idea and they began working on the project together. “Being self-employed and running every aspect of my blog/shop/business by myself can be really hard and quite isolating at times, so working with Megan has been a dream,” she said.

“Supporting Scotland’s creative talent is one of the reasons I set up Dreaming Of Scotland – Scottish Clothing and Gifts, and I’m sure you know how much I love the Scottish islands, so this is my most exciting collaboration to date. So far we’ve had orders from all over Scotland, Switzerland, the Netherlands, America and Canada.”

The range draws on places and aromas which are personal to Gillespie. Adding to the cherry hints of spring in Edinburgh, summer in the Outer Hebrides is reflected with sea salt and coconut aromas and is a little nod to where the candles are made. Autumn in Perthshire is signified by burnt orange with the subtle warmth of chilli, and winter in the Highlands – Wee Hot Toddy comes with the smokiness of whisky and the sweetness of honey.

And bringing the ideas together is New Zealand-born Megan Macdonald who started Sandwick Bay Candles in 2016 when she was looking for an alternative career from her occupational therapy role following the birth of her third child.

Macdonald, 39, said: “I knew about Kay and her Chaotic Scot travel blog as we like to follow people who have either visited or promoted the island. It was fantastic to work with Kay and given that she is a travel blogger she very quickly pivoted to change her business and we are delighted to be involved.

“Once we got the scents right which were very personal to Kay it didn’t take long to turn them round. I also put her in touch with a local firm we use for packages so the labels are also designed here on the island by Loom.”

Macdonald had been travelling on a work visa which was due to run out when she met her future husband Donald and set up home on the island. They are now married with three children.

She added: “We are nearly five years down the line with the business and

I love it. I did the research and development in the dark winter months and now I have six people working with me – it was important to me to take on people who were local and from different backgrounds.

“The candles are all 100% natural soy wax which are hand-poured to order, before being wrapped up with sustainable packaging. It is good time to buy local as I think people are very passionate about shopping local or ordering from local shops to support them during this time.”

To find out more go to www.dreamingofscotland.co.uk/collections/scents-of-scotland

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