Finding the right souvenir is tricky. You want it to be a reminder, something real, that lasts. Synthetic t-skirts made in China and plastic miniature buildings don't answer to your needs, or mine. I'd been looking for a Scottish souvenir for quite some time. Something to remind me of the ocean, the landscape, the good times and our family. One of our recent slow adventures with Mark's family in Thurso ended up as inspiration for one of my now most precious belongings, and I found it on Isle of Mull! It reminds me of Scotland and I will care for it and have it with me always. My ultimate Scottish souvenir is a Silver Cowrie Shell neckless and this is a post about how I found my perfect Scottish Souvenir, and what we recommend to look for when buying a lasting memory.
Looking for Cowrie shells, locally known as Groatie Buckies in the North of Scotland
For us, Scotland means family and slow adventures. Many of them happen on the way, or around Mark's family in Caithness. On our last trip to Thurso this resulted in a treasure hunt. A hunt for the local Groatie Buckies, also known as Cowrie shells. The shells can be pale pink, off-white, beige and can have small darks spots. They are as delicate and pretty as they are hard to find. Your best chance of finding the shells is after a storm or during low tide, when the sea is exposing more of its interesting shoreline. If you come back with ten shells, that's a remarkable achievement!
Going slow makes you relax and enjoy the moment
Finding a Groatie Buckie is special and resulted in the whole family digging in the sand. With wet knees and focused faces, we lost the concept of time.
Looking for shells in this way is the essence of slow adventuring. Tuning out of our daily worries, focusing only on the mounds of white, yellow and beige shells, looking for the curved rugged shape of a Groatie Buckie - this is mindfulness.
Finding the perfect Souvenir
Months after our Slow Adventure in Caithness, we traveled to the Isle of Mull. My father was visiting from Norway with his girlfriend, and we spent an whole day driving around the Island. After a very interesting and "educational" trip to the local distillery we stumbled upon a curious shop selling all kinds of local handcrafts. Hats, Socks, paintings, carved wood and tablecloths lined the walls of what we soon realised was an old converted church. Among all the different products I found a glass display with local jewelry and my eyes were immediately drawn to a small neckless of the Groatie Buckie!
It had all the right qualities: It lasts, It is connected to a personal story and it is a local product! After talking to the lady running the shop, I also found they have Cowrie Shells on the Isle of Mull, but only on one beach in the South - we must come back and have a look for them on another slow adventure!