Scotland’s party leaders share their summer holiday plans and offer staycation suggestions

The Scottish Parliament may be recess but that doesn’t mean the country’s politicians can simply stop work until September.

With a pandemic still raging, and a final date for the ending of social distancing still to be signed off, there’s plenty of serious issues for MSPs to be pondering even if a heat wave is going on.

Yet it would be hard to judge anyone for wanting to enjoy some downtime this summer after we all endured a gruelling winter lockdown.

The Record asked the leaders of Scotland’s political parties to share their own holiday plans, their summer reading recommendations, and if there is anywhere in the country they would encourage Scots to visit while the weather remains warm.

NICOLA STURGEON (SNP)

Will you be taking a break this summer?

“It’s difficult to get uninterrupted days off just now given the circumstances, but I was able to spend a couple of days at home last week, enjoying the beautiful weather we’ve been having and spending some time with my family.”

What are your summer reading recommendations?

“I love reading for pleasure, though my time to do it is more limited of late. However, I’ve just read two new books written by women I hugely admire – 1979 by Val McDermid and the Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak. I was fortunate enough to receive advance copies of both books but they will be great late summer reads.”

Is there a hidden gem in Scotland you recommend people visit?

“Dunure beach, in Ayrshire, where the scenery is absolutely breathtaking. I also always enjoy visits to Wigtown – Scotland’s National Book Town – to attend the festival and explore the many amazing bookshops there.”

ANAS SARWAR (Scottish Labour)

Will you be taking a break this summer?

“My family and I are having a summer staycation tour. We are starting in Dumfries and going all through Scotland, to the North East and to the Western Isles.”

What are your summer reading recommendations?

“I’m currently reading Marc Stear’s Out of the Ordinary and Love Your Enemy by Arthur C Brooks.”

Is there a hidden gem in Scotland you recommend people visit?

“Lossiemouth is a hidden gem – but they need to fix the bridge to the beach!”

DOUGLAS ROSS (Scottish Conservatives)

Will you be taking a break this summer?

“We will hopefully manage away for a day trip or two but with a newborn, James, and our toddler, Alistair, it’s proving to be a bit tricky to get away on a longer journey! Our holidays will need to wait until 2022 when, fingers crossed, things are back to normal.”

What are your summer reading recommendations?

“I’ve had Barack Obama’s first post-presidency memoir, A Promised Land, on my bedstand for a wee while now. It takes you through his journey from meeting Michelle and rising through the ranks from an unknown state senator to joining the U.S. Senate and eventually, the Presidency. It’s a good read.”

Is there a hidden gem in Scotland you recommend people visit?

“It’s difficult to pick just one but Lossiemouth is described as the ‘jewel in the crown’ of Moray so, at the risk of offending dozens of other hidden gems across my constituency and all over Scotland, I’ll go for that. It’s got great local shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants, as well as beaches and so much more. It’s an ideal place for a family day trip or a wee holiday.”

PATRICK HARVIE / LORNA SLATER (Scottish Greens co-leaders)

Will you be taking a break this summer?

Patrick: “I’ve been taking an odd day here and there for a rest or a long bike trip, but I won’t be taking a proper break till later in the year.”

Lorna: “My husband and I will be walking Hadrian’s wall over six days, from Carlisle to Newcastle, which is something we’ve wanted to do for years.”

What are your summer reading recommendations?

Patrick: “ I’m currently re-reading Foundation by Isaac Asimov, which I’ve not read since I was about 15, because I want it fresh in my mind before the new TV adaptation begins.”

Lorna: “My husband has never read the James Harriot books, despite being from Yorkshire, and I loved them as a child, so we’ll be taking those with us to enjoy in the evenings during our walk. They still stand up so well. I’ve just finished reading The Moth and the Mountain – which is quite an astonishing real-life adventure story.”

Is there a hidden gem in Scotland you recommend people visit?

Patrick: “ For me, it’s all about the journey not the destination, so Scotland’s network of off-road cycle routes are definitely worth a try, like the one along the Forth & Clyde canal.”

Lorna: “We had a wonderful day out at The Bridge 8 Hub last Saturday, which is a social enterprise in Edinburgh that hires kayaks and canoes and teaches paddling on the Union Canal. Highly recommended.”

© Daily Record Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie

WILLIE RENNIE (Scottish Lib Dems*)

Will you be taking a break this summer?

“We are planning two weeks off in early August to go camping in Scotland but where is top secret – we want it all to ourselves!”

What are your summer reading recommendations?

“Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart, and An Isolated Incident: A Scottish Murder Mystery by JD Kirk.”

Is there a hidden gem in Scotland you recommend people visit?

“I would recommend a walk up the Ochil Hills from Dollar, over hills like Kingseat, Tarmangie and Andrew Gannell.”

(*Rennie announced he was standing down as Lib Dems leader on July 12 and the party has yet to announce a successor)