By Laura Knowles, a photographer and adventurer capturing life and travels in the great British countryside
It's January. I wake to a pink sky; cold air foggy on the window panes.
I have two thoughts: first, how easy it would be to snuggle further into my duvet, reaching for my book that sits reliably close at hand. Or - as is so often the case - how I'd love to get to Monday knowing that my weekend has been spent doing something wholesome. That these two days stretched before me might be punctuated with something memorable when comes the inevitable question "So, how was your weekend?".
I check the weather (knowing full well it won't matter either way). Overcast with a slight breeze.
Next, to pull Violet from her slumber (which, as an eleven-year-old, is no small feat).
Since she was little, we'd spend endless days venturing off to different corners of the country together in search of new and wild spots to explore. The rugged beauty of the west coast; the vast expanse of mountain peppered with purple swathes of heather.
Today is no different. And this morning it's an easy decision - I'd grab some blankets, pack us a picnic and head for the beach.
Beckoned with the promise of tasty surprises, it doesn't take much to persuade her.
I pull on my boots and grab the keys to the camper.
As we set off - hamper, blankets and spaniel eagerly panting in the back - we chat about our week, catching up on all the little moments that fall between the gaps of homework and teatime.
It isn't far to drive, and as we pull up in the dunes and open the door, we're met with the cry of gulls overhead. The pink sky fading to a wintery glow as the sun hangs low in the sky.
Rhubarb (the aforementioned spaniel) shoots off ahead, nose down, tail wagging. Hot on a scent.
We push on up the sandy path behind her, spurred on by our own reward.
Laden with blankets and a hamper, we reach the spot - high in the dunes nestled amongst the grass. An old favourite which has seen many lazy afternoons. The view stretching far into the haze of the horizon.
Sea spray in the air, we lay out the blankets, unfastening the lid of the wicker basket.
Inside, an assortment of treats thoughtfully put together by Baxters of Scotland sits waiting - hand-crafted Florentines, Scottish craft cider, cashmere socks, and a handmade blackcurrant and cassis conserve.
Celebrating some of Scotland's small independent businesses, I can't think of a better place to delve into the array of treats that lay within.
As Violet chooses out a Florentine - a tossup between fine milk chocolate and dark, fruit and nut - I struggle to resist the socks. Made in Scotland by Kinalba - I take off my boots, pulling the soft cable knit cashmere over my toes. Heaven.
Satisfied with her fill, Violet runs off into the surf, Rhubarb in tow.
I sit and watch. Sun warm on my face, laughter carrying on the breeze.
Reaching for my own Florentine - hand-crafted by Iain Burnett, the Highland Chocolatier - I choose out the last remaining dark chocolate from the box, which glints gold in the winter sun.
As she runs back, collapsing into the grass beside me, I pull out the bottle of Seidear - a Scottish craft cider made using a traditional champagne method.
Glass balanced in the sand, I carefully unwind the casing, easing the cork away, before a satisfying pop sends it flying.
Chilled by the winter air, the crisp apple and lightness of the bubbles make for a beautifully refreshing end to the afternoon.
As we make our way back to the camper - the berry conserve offering an indulgent dollop on tomorrow's breakfast yoghurt - I knew I'd made the right choice.
Sand between our toes and cheeks rosy from the cold.
It was never in question.
Monday could wait.
. . . . .
Images from Laura Knowles. Follow Laura Knowles' adventures on Instagram at @thiswildandbeautiful.