Willie and the Wasps

Shutterstock / Alex Nicol © willie and the wasps

Every once in a while, it’s nice to catch up face-to-face with our contributors, and I’ve just been out to see Willie Shand.

Willie’s just down the road from my house, and we met at Loch Leven’s Larder. We had a stunning view over lovely Loch Leven, on a warm September day. It would’ve all been perfect, had it not been for an absolute battalion of wasps that were patrolling the area!

We’ve been wafting flies and wasps away through our home office windows every day this week, so it didn’t surprise me to read that we’re expecting a bumper autumn for bugs. Everybody at the cafe today was flapping around trying to keep the wasps off their traybakes, but it didn’t stop Willie and I from having a good catch-up.

I didn’t take a pic of us because we’ve both got lockdown hair, but you still can’t beat a proper in-person gathering. Willie’s been kindly sending on features as and when he’s been able to get out. He sends them through to my house in these fab little CD cases, but he’s long since run out and was in need of me returning a few. I rustled up a bag full to build his stock back up.

Life After Lockdown

Willie’s been learning the piano in lockdown. He’s already a grand piper, but it seemed like a good time to pick up a new skill. Maybe there’s a future “Friend” feature in it!

Thanks to recent easing, he’s been back up and running on the features front! Though travelling through Scotland’s feeling a bit different these days – tourism round Willie’s usual Highland haunts is booming. He went to Oban for us earlier in the year, and the road queues just to get into the town were a mile long.

Thankfully, things are calming down again now the school’s have gone back, and Willie’s able to find some peace and quiet. And with autumn and winter just around the corner, we’ll be looking forward to more picturesque features from across the country.

I’ve probably said it before, but I’ll say it again – Willie is a treasure for us. As we scanned the horizon from the cafe, Willie pointed out all the hills and the walks he’d done in them. And I bet he’s got a historical story for every single one. That’s the sort of knowledge it takes years of reading and travelling to amass, and we’re lucky to have him writing for us.

If you’d like to hear more about Willie’s travels, I recommend going back and listening to this fab recording from two years ago. In it, Willie talks about his work and how he ended up writing for us.

Willie’s also back in the magazine in next week’s issue – September 25 – with a visit to Loch Rannoch in Highland Perthshire. Don’t miss it!

Catch up with all our blogs from Willie and other content from the man himself.



Alex Corlett

Alex is the "Friend's" Features Editor, working with the talented Features Team to bring you everything from cryptic crosswords to financial advice, knitting patterns to international travel and inspirational real life stories. Always on the hunt for a new feature idea, Alex also enjoys cycling and loves a good tea room.