Three years with my SO calls for a (government sanctioned) mini-escape to the beach. We headed out towards Dunbar, in East Lothian, to explore the John Muir Country Park.

The country park marks one end of the John Muir Way, which runs across the central belt of Scotland. Perhaps next year we'll walk it!

The end of this decade has really crept up on me. I can hardly believe that is now 2020!

This time last year, I wrote a piece on setting New Year Resolutions and how I'm not really a fan. Instead, I prefer assigning a word to the year as an intention.

With all that said, I want to take a quick look back at what has been an incredibly formative decade in 10 photos.

In 2010, I was 15. I had just received my dSLR (a Canon 550D that is still going strong to this day) and had just begun my journey into learning photography.

Despite being right in the middle of the dreaded International Baccalaureate, I was photographing throughout 2011!

In 2012, I finished up at my sixth form and started my undergraduate degree at the University of Stirling!

2013 was the year I founded The Travelling Quill!

2014 is hard to summarise with just one photo! I did so much travelling in this year, it was a bit exhausting. Asia in January, Africa in June and a semester in North America in the autumn.

In 2015... I actually did some uni work, but also managed a few trips here and there...

In 2016, I graduate and started my first job, which took me to some very exciting places in and around Scotland!

2017 saw me visit somewhere a bit more out of the way, Gibraltar, as well as some more touristy destinations in the US...

In 2018, I started working in the third sector, but still managed time to visit Bruges and manage another trip to the Highlands!

And lastly, 2019 was when I threw myself into art (but still managed a trip to Italy!)

It's a bit overwhelming to look back over all of these memories! I remember being a kid and working out that I'd be 25 by the time 2020 came around. It seemed light years away and I could hardly wrap my head around being that old. And yet, here I am! Mid-20s and trying to navigate all that comes with Being A Grown Up.

I'm not sure just yet what word I'll set as my intention for 2020, but I suspect it will be more academic than previous words as I'll be heading back to university to begin my Masters degree in September! Looking back over the years as shown me how different I am now to that quiet girl who fled London to Scotland aged 18, and how much I've grown in confidence as my own person.

Here's to many more adventures in the new decade.

In 2016, I decided to sketch every day for an entire year. And I did that! It was a big challenge to stick to but I did it! Since then, I've kept at my art in one way or another. It's been tricky between working full time and Being An Adult but I'm so glad I have a hobby that's all my own.

For my birthday this year, I asked for contributions towards a monthly drawing and watercolour class called 'Fur and Feathers' at the Royal Botanic Gardens of Edinburgh. I've done one or two classes before and had some very mixed results with them but I was excited to try this one because (as I'm sure is apparent by the number of zoo posts I've done over the years) I love animals. I have very little experience with painting at all but, I thought to myself, my love of animals will trump this!

So it turns out the drawing part was pretty straightforward, albeit more technical than I was used to; there was a lot of measuring using compasses and rulers and double checking references using a light box. As I have more of an affinity to illustration, this was a nice challenge to slow down and study the reference properly - a wild rabbit.

The less nice challenge was when we started to paint! What a remarkable learning curve. I'm grateful that I already had experience with the initial learning curve with drawing as that is what got me through the learning curve with this rabbit painting!

Each class, we'd observe the tutor do an expert replication with exact precision of a particular part of the rabbit. Then we'd go off to do the same (with varying results).

Fine details are what got me the most, requiring the precision of defusing a bomb except using a medium that in its nature is fluid and unpredictable.

But as they say, practice makes perfect. Having had time away from this bunny, I can safely say I don't hate it as much as when I shoved it into my bag once I decided I was finished with it! You can definitely tell it's a rabbit!

In December, we had a mini prompt in the form of this lil mouse.

I'm at the frustrating stage with any new art skill where I can now see the differences between my piece and an expert piece but don't have the skill level to do much about it!

Which means practice, practice, practice!

My course runs all the way to June so there's lots of time to improve still. In between classes I'll be trying my hand at more watercolours (like Cleadon Hills below that I painted for my mum for Christmas) so watch this space, I guess! Here's hoping that by the time June comes around I'll have come on leaps and bounds!