Home of the @HI_Voices rotational Twitter account, which features a new voice each week from the Highlands and Islands of Scotland

494: Rach

by handivoices


26 March-2nd April 2023

Hi everyone!

My name is Rachel (Rach to my friends!) and I am a Yorkshire lady who moved to the beautiful Isle of Arran in 2023.

I am married to the long suffering Chris and we have 2 wonderful grown up sons. Chris and I got engaged in Scotland and spent our honeymoon touring Scotland. We have visited Arran as a family for decades and during lockdown, Chris was asked to work from home. Home could be anywhere…

On holiday in Arran in October 2022, Chris suggested moving to Arran. I knew I loved Arran but wasn’t sure if I could make the move from the home we had built in West Yorkshire. The thought of leaving friends and family and moving to an island where we knew nobody was terrifying. But if you don’t move forwards, you end up staying still so we sold up, said our goodbyes and moved to Arran just less than a year later.

Chris now works from home overlooking the sea and I teach on the island. We have a beautiful black rescue dog called Blek who loves playing ball on the beach and a gorgeous black rescue cat called KC who has yet to bring home a seal or an otter. It can only be a matter of time though!

I love gardening, reading and good food and drink. I’m looking forward to sharing my experience of island life.


493: Lisa Pattenden

by handivoices


19-26 March 2023

Hi my name is, Lisa Pattenden, I’m an Mechanical Engineer and currently work in AI training, I’m an active volunteer and I live on the Black Isle in Resolis with my 17 year old cat called Baby.

I am a transplant from across the pond, via London, to finally come to stop here. I fell in love with the area on a photography holiday 4 years ago with my friends. I have an adult son who lives in Arizona and loves Scotland just as much as I!

I study space weather prediction and that translates to being an aurora/Northern Lights chaser. As soon as I figured out how easy it was to see them up here I was sold. I pride myself in helping people to ‘see’ the lights and help them photograph them with their mobiles or cameras. It is so lovely to help people see them. Here’s a photo from 13 March 2022 taken from Balblair, Black Isle looking towards Invergordon.

I’m the Sailing Secretary at the Chanonry Sailing Club so I will share some things about the activities we get up to and any tips about getting involved in sailing, coastal rowing, SUPs or Wild Swimming.

I look forward to the many things we can talk about and to learning more from everyone who engages during the week. The topics will be all things to do with the area, rural living, coastal information, the beautiful places locally and lovely shops here and more!

492: Steve Barron

by handivoices


Sunday 12th March to Sunday 19th March 2023

Hi, I’m Steve Barron, MD of Highland News & Media. I live in Inverness with my wife Alison and our black labrador Jock.

We love that most of our family live within a short walking distance. Both of my wife’s daughters stayed in Melbourne for a number of years. It’s much better having them closer to home. Although we did make the most of them being in Australia and managed three visits. One of my highlights was a sky dive over Melbourne.

We really enjoy travelling but are always delighted to return to Inverness and the Highlands – there’s no place like it for us.

As an Invernessian who leads a business which covers many parts of the Highlands I’m really grateful to have the chance to share some of the challenges and opportunities facing our business and the local news industry. 

I’ll try to share a mix of work and personal content. But given the week we have in store it’s likely to be a lot of work stuff – hope you all find it interesting

This week my focus at work is on delivering the SNP leadership (and ultimately our next First Minister) debate we have secured. All three candidates will be in attendance at an Inverness venue on Friday evening. We’ll have a live audience of 200 locals and also be live streaming from the Inverness Courier website. 

Before that, I will be in London for a couple of days at a conference about news in the digital age. It’s organised by Google News Initiative and FT Strategies. I will share more about our relationship with them during the week. 

And on Saturday I’ll share my trip to Murrayfield with you. Scotland’s Six Nations campaign ends against Italy. If any of you are there I will maybe see you for a Guinness!

In between all of that I’ll share more about how I live, what entertains me, and hopefully stimulate some conversations about issues important to those in the Highlands.

491: Simon Varwell

by Simon Varwell


Sunday 5th March to Sunday 11th March 2023

It’s great to be back as curator, having done week 2 all those years ago! I live in Inverness, and will be tweeting this week about my life in the Highland capital, travels both near and far, and other interests such as reading, writing, the outdoors, Esperanto, good beer and whisky, and much else. I’m also one of the admins of the HiVoices account, so will give a bit of an insight into what it’s like helping the account function on a week by week basis.

Besides Twitter I can also be found on an occasionally tweaked website and, increasingly, on Mastodon.

For some reason I can never take a selfie without a look of intense concentration.

490: Feargus Murray

by handivoices


Sunday 26th February to Sunday 5th of March 2023

Hi Folks! I’m Feargus Murray, a Masters student at the Centre for History UHI doing my MLITT in the History of the Highlands and Islands and Museum attendant. Born and raised in Inverness, I have worked in the heritage sector for the last 8 years in museums all over the Highlands, but I currently work at the Inverness Museum and Art Gallery. My love of Highland history covers all eras and topics, and I want to do a wee bit to help show some of the wonderful history that we have across our beautiful region.

In my spare time, I love to collect and paint models as well as play DnD and other roleplaying games.

Looking forward to the week and getting the chance to show you all some history from where I work, some of the history from my studies, and maybe some of my other hobbies as well!

489: Tim Riome

by handivoices


Sunday 19 February to Sunday 26 February 2023

Hi, I’m Tim, I’ve spent the last 33 years telling pilots what to do at a variety of locations around the UK. Within the highlands and Islands I’ve done stints in Sumburgh Shetland, Kirkwall Orkney and for the last 16 years at Inverness Airport so I’m slowly working my way south. I’ve been married to the long suffering Mrs R for 31 years and we have 3 children who have, to a greater or lesser degree, all left home. We live on the Black Isle which means that while only 5 miles from the airport, it’s a 25 mile drive to get to work. When I’m not working I spend a fair amount of time observing and managing deer numbers on a number of farms and self keepering a pheasant shoot for our small syndicate.

I hope to find something to interest you during my time curating this corner of the net and look forward to answering your questions and queries.

488: Sam Freireich

by handivoices


Sunday 12 February to Sunday 19 February 2023

Hello, my name is Sam. Through a mix of nominal determinism and outright luck I have been a firefighter for nearly 27 years with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service. My fire service journey has taken me from being an on call firefighter at a rural station, through various roles at many stations in Glasgow to now where I am a highland based Station Commander with responsibility for 5 on call stations in Sutherland and Easter Ross. I love the circularity of it all. I am married with two teenage and tweenage kids. My daughter studies anatomy at Glasgow University and my son is a technician with Ryanair. My wife is a Neonatal Midwife at Crosshouse Hospital in Kilmarnock which is why I split my time between my home in Ayrshire and my new base in the Black Isle. I am fortunate to have two of my best friends from my primary school days who are now married to each other and living just outside Avoch. They have generously and perhaps foolishly asked me to be their guest for the next phase of my career. In my spare time I enjoy kitesurfing and mountain biking, two sports with plenty of options in the highlands. I look forward to giving you a short insight into my life as I integrate myself into the highland way of life.

487: Astar

by handivoices


Sunday 5th February to Sunday 12th February 2023

Fàilte! Seo agaibh sgioba Astar – companaidh caran ùr a tha ag obair sa Ghàidhlig (tha Gàidhlig againn uile) agus tha sinn an-dràsta a’ ruith FilmG agus ag obair air iomadh phròiseact eile cuideachd.

Tha sinne gu math sùbailte agus gu fortanach tha sinn air a bhith trang bhon a thòisich sinn ach chan eil sinn buileach air stèidheachadh dè dìreach a th’unnainn. Pròiseactan. Tachartasan. Na meadhanan. Conaltradh. Cha mhòr rud sam bith.

Astar is a team of five Gaelic speakers working across projects of all sorts, including FilmG, the short film competition that we took over in summer 2022. We have the FilmG awards on Feb 16th so we’re very busy setting that up this week!

As a company, we’re based in Stornoway, although three of the team also work from their own homes in Glasgow.

Managing Director Murdo MacSween founded the company in late 2021. He’s from Ness in the Isle of Lewis but has lived in Glasgow since 2004. Co-owner Katie MacInnes (Account Director) joined in April 2022 and runs the Stornoway office.

Megan Dale is the Projects Lead, a Highlander living and working in Glasgow. Etta May Olley is from the Isle of Harris, working from her home in Glasgow as Astar’s Social Media Co-ordinator. Alison Campbell Clark joined in late October 2022 on a Graduate Placement scheme part-funded by Highlands and Islands Enterprise. Alison was born and brough up in Oban but moved to Lewis to take up her job as our Business Development Officer.

This week you’ll find out a bit about what Astar does, how we manage to do it while mainly working from home, and also a little bit about why we all came together to create a Gaelic project management (kind-of) company.

486: Halde Pottinger

by handivoices


Sunday 29th January to Sunday 5th February 2023

Oi EVERYONE!!! I am Halde Pottinger, and I am a Humanist Celebrant, part-time comedian and TikTok dude, based near Inverness in the beautiful Highlands of Scotland. I am really excited to be taking over the H&I Voices twitter feed this week, as I share with you a wee insight into my nonsense, from work… and leisure!!

You will also find more about my work on Facebook under HALDE POTTINGER CEREMONIES, and find out more about my play on TikTok under HALDE POTTINGER.

485: Isla Todd

by handivoices


Sunday 22 January to Sunday 29 January 2023

Hi, I’m Isla, a reporter for the BBC based in Inverness covering the Highlands and Islands.

I originally grew up on the Black Isle in Avoch before leaving to go study Journalism near Glasgow. I returned north after getting a job as a reporter for Moray Firth Radio, and then jumped over to the BBC a few years ago. My job as a broadcast journalist has me covering all and any news across the north of Scotland and sometimes national stories too. Usually I’m working for Reporting Scotland or The Nine tv news programmes, or BBC Radio Scotland, but this week I’m covering the local bulletins for BBC Highlands and Islands bringing listeners dedicated local content on issues that affect folk in the North of Scotland.

I live in Inverness with my husband and three bunny rabbits and two musk turtles. In my spare time I volunteer as a Scout leader at the group I joined as a kid in Avoch, and I also enjoy wild swimming, kayaking, and sailing, all of which are a lot more fun when it’s warmer.

Over the course of the week I’ll be tweeting about news (unsurprisingly), sharing some snaps of in the office and the different programmes we put together along with the Gaelic team and their programmes, and the occasional bunny photo because I can.
I hope you enjoy hearing more from behind the scenes and feel free to ask questions.




484: Shane Wasik

by handivoices


Sunday 15th January – Sunday 22nd January 2023

Hey, i’m Shane from Oban, where I live with my wife, 2 young goblins, cat, fish and friendly garden red squirrel, appropriately named ‘fluffy’ by no1 goblin. My background is in marine biology, diving & photography. I’m from the east coast originally and spent an extended stint in the paradise of New Zealand’s north island prior to landing in Oban.

For 10 years we’ve run a small adventure & wildlife boat tour business based in Oban. The main focus of our eco-tourism is experiencing the amazing basking sharks which migrate to the islands each summer. Whilst the business is funded by tourism we’ve heavily involved in science and conservation around the sharks.

We move out to the Isle of Coll for two months during peak wildlife season every summer. We’re very much not locals there, known as summer swallows who fly in and fly out! However outside of shark time we run all sorts, from our wildlife tour & boat charters to water-sports like snorkelling, wild swimming, scuba diving & paddle-boarding. 

I’ll be mainly posting about the amazing ocean wildlife we have around the Hebrides and whilst I get to do a lot of watersports & boating through ‘work’. I enjoy running, cycling and surfski paddling so i’ll probably add a few tweets about some of the adventure sport opportunities in the area.

So it might range from a 10m basking shark, to surfing, to getting woken up at 5am, chain watching Scooby doo (the current kid binge watch) and porridge been thrown at me!

483: Ailsa McLellan

by handivoices


Sunday 8th January to Sunday 15th January 2023

Hello there, I am Ailsa, originally from Argyll, I have lived in Wester Ross with my family and other animals for 20 years. Curious as to why one of my west coast heritage has not evolved any immunity against the midge.

My preoccupations in life are Scotland’s inshore seabed, how to make people care about marine mud (Scotland’s most significant, yet most underappreciated carbon sink – we will go there together this week), growing our own food (and whoever said gardening was ‘relaxing’), and the hope that one day Scotland’s seas and land will be managed for the benefit of the many, rather than the few.  

I have a background in marine science, and campaign for the protection of Scotland’s seabed, primarily via Our Seas. I work for Seawilding, a charity at the forefront of seabed habitat restoration in Scotland. We have a native oyster hatchery in Loch Broom from which we aim to release oysters in areas they once existed, in the hope that they will thrive again, bringing their many benefits including habitat for fish, stabilisation of sediment, coastal protection, and water filtration. 

My usual tweetage is fishy and ranty, I am unable to completely crush that part of myself (to the chagrin of many), but on this contender for the bleakest week of the year I shall endeavour to bring us all out of the post festive heebie jeebies with some general life stuff, and judicious use of the vibrancy, brightness, and warmth filters on any pictures.

If you don’t like ferrets or dogs look away.

@Seawilding www.seawilding.org

@ourseas_scot www.ourseas.scot

482: Natasha Hutchison

by handivoices


Sunday 1st January – Sunday 8th January 2023

Hello! I’m Natasha, a (not so new!) Scot based in Lochbroom for the last 19 years. By day I am the General Manager of Wester Ross UNESCO Biosphere, one of 4 UNESCO designated sites in the Highlands and Islands. 

I live with my husband, daughter and Uisge the Wonder Dog in a stone house built by my husband’s great-grandfather, in which we also run a micro B&B during the season. 

My day-to-day work involves coordinating community-led actions to help Wester Ross have a more sustainable future. My wish is for it to be a place where my daughter’s generation can have the opportunity to live and work here when they grow up –  a good pal once painted the picture as “a place where there are children in all of the schools and lights on in the houses year-round.” 

Over the course of my week curating H&I Voices I’ll be tweeting about the art of crossing cultures, family traditions, food, travel, and life in our dark winter days. 

📸 Instagram 🗂️ Wester Ross UNESCO Biosphere

481: Aileen Grant

by handivoices


Sunday 25th December 2022 – Sunday 1st January 2023

Hello there. I’m Aileen Grant. I’m an artist who lives in Lochcarron, Wester Ross. I live with my husband, Peter Barr, and I work in a studio at the back of my house. I am both a printmaker and a painter – I have a printing press in my studio, and I make etchings, photopolymer gravures and linocuts. My work is mostly landscape-based but I like to do figure/life drawing too. I exhibit in various local galleries in the Highlands and also in the Borders. Occasionally I enter work into national and other open shows.

I’ve lived in Fife, Dundee (art college student), Edinburgh, Musselburgh and now in Lochcarron – well situated for the hills of Torridon, Strathcarron, Skye and Kintail.

I am a member of the Bridge Art Collective and Arts Society Inverness. Also a member of VAS and SSA.

Website: https//www.aileengrant.co.uk

Instagram: https//www.instagram.com/aileen_grant

Twitter: https//twitter.com/AileenPix

480: Iona MacDonald

by Simon Varwell


Sunday 18th December 2022 – Sunday 25th December 2022

No bio submitted.

479: Shaun Panda Nicolson

by handivoices


Sunday 11th December 2022 – Sunday 18th December 2022

Hey, I’m Shaun Panda Nicolson and I live in Portree on the Isle of Skye with my family and 2 dogs. I have lived here all my life (except for a brief spell in Glasgow and the Borders) and am very well acquainted with its beauty. I work in the local High School as a Cleaning Supervisor and am generally quite happy with it. It pays the bills, anyway. I am also the host of a podcast called 4 Songs and a Dream (available here: https://linktr.ee/4saad) which is kind of like a rip off of desert island discs but, obviously, way way better. I also write music under the Shaun Panda Nicolson name and music is pretty much my life. If I ain’t singing something to myself or annoying my family with my humming then I amn’t Shaun and might possibly be an imposter. I enjoyed running the Twitter for a week but I wish I hadn’t been so busy so I could annoy people more with my tales of a very boring life. Here’s a picture of me on a typical, wet Skye day.

478: Louis Barabbas

by handivoices


Sunday 4th December – Sunday 11th December 2022

I’m Louis Barabbas, a songwriter and theatre composer living in Skinidin, North West Skye.
As well as writing music I work as an on-call firefighter with the Dunvegan crew and run community events with arts charity SEALL. I’m currently recording an album of songs about Skye & Lochalsh memories featuring people from all over the area.
Over the course of my week curating H&I Voices I’ll be tweeting about being a rural firefighter, music projects, the Skye music scene and probably some photos of my lovely dog Lorna.

For more info about me visit https://louisbarabbas.com

477: Eilean Green

by handivoices


Sunday 27th November-Sunday 4th December 2022

Eilean Green

Hello, I’m Eilean Green and I’ll be tweeting from the Isle of Skye where I live with my partner Gilleasbuig, 6-month-old baby and Seumas the cat!

Originally from Coigach on the north west coast, I’m now living in Braes on the east coast of Skye where my partner was brought up.

From the summit of Beinn Tianavaig in Braes, you can actually see Suilven and other mountains that I can see from my folks’ house, which helps cure any longing for home! It’s a 3 and a half hour drive from Braes-Coigach, but at least half that by sea. I really need a boat!

I’ve been doing Marketing & Communications at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig for a year now, with some maternity leave thrown in. Tha #Gàidhlig agam.

476: Baillie Baillie Architects

by handivoices


20th – 27th November 2022

Hello! Megan and I are very happy to be taking over Highlands and Islands Voices this week. We run a small practice – Baillie Baillie Architects – from our home and studio, just outside the village of Plockton in the West Highlands. We work mostly on individual rural homes across the whole of Scotland, including some of the most beautiful places in the Highlands and Islands.

Sustainability is hugely important to us, both as a business, and as a family. We’re passionate about designing simple, sustainable and beautiful houses, and we’re continually exploring how to improve the way our buildings are made. We’re also at the early stages of our own home building journey, and we’ll be sharing some of our experiences, including the challenges of building with all natural and recycled materials.

Alongside the business, and our self-build, Megan and I have a one-year-old baby girl, Ùna, and a border collie, Brochan. When we’re not in the studio drawing or making models, we’re often out and about, at meetings, visiting sites, playgroup in the village hall, or walks on the beach. We’re looking forward to sharing a bit more about our interests in design, housing, community, and the environment, as well as life in the Highlands in general.

475 – Misneachd Alba

by handivoices


Sunday 13th November – Sunday 20th November
Didòmhnaich 13mh An t-Samhain – Didòmhnaich 20mh An t-Samhain

Sin sibh! Bidh am buidheann-iomairt Gàidhlig ‘Misneachd‘ aig an stiùir an t-seachdain-sa. ‘S e buidheann saor-thoileach a th’ annainn, ag iomairt às leth na Gàidhlig agus a coimhearsnachdan. Tha buill againn air feadh na h-Alba agus tha luchd-taice againn cuideachd air feadh an t-saoghail.

Is mise Màrtainn Mac a’ Bhàillidh agus is mi a bhios a’ sgrìobhadh na mòr-chuid de na Tweets an t-seachdain-sa, ach bidh sinn cuideachd a’ cluinntinn (agus a’ faicinn dhealbhan) bho chuid de na buill a th’ againn air a’ Ghàidhealtachd agus anns na h-Eileanan. Tha mi fhèin a’ fuireach aig ceann a tuath an Eilein Sgitheanaich air chroit bheag eadar Sgeitheabost is Port Rìgh. ‘S i a’ Ghàidhlig a th’ agam a-staigh lem chèile agus tha sinn fortanach gu bheil croitear air leth againn an ath dhoras a bhios a’ cumail na Gàidhlig ris a’ chrodh againn fhad ‘s a bhios sinn fhèin ag obair! Tha mise ag obair do Shabhal Mòr Ostaig is mo chèile don àrd-sgoil an seo.

‘S e seachdain air leth cudromach a tha seo don Ghàidhlig, leis gu bheil ceann-latha a’ cho-chomhairleachaidh air Gàidhlig agus Beurla Ghallta gu bhith ann Diardaoin 17mh. Bidh sinn a’ sgaoileadh fios mu dheidhinn seo, na tha e a’ ciallachadh don Ghàidhlig agus don Ghàidhealtachd. Bidh sinn cuideachd a’ bruidhinn air iomairtean eile anns a bheil sinn an sàs, air cuspairean leithid taigheadais, cothroman obrach, bun-structair agus na h-àrainneachd.

Hello! The Gaelic campaign group ‘Misneachd‘ (which means courage or confidence) will be at the helm this week. We are a grassroots voluntary group, campaigning on behalf of Gaelic and its communities. We have members all over Scotland and we also have supporters all over the world.

I’m Martin Baillie and I’ll be writing most of the Tweets this week, but we’ll also be hearing (and seeing pictures) from some of the other members who we have in the Highlands and the Islands. I myself live at the north end of the Isle of Skye on a small croft between Skeabost and Portree. Gaelic is the language I speak at home with my partner and we are lucky to have a fantastic crofter next door who speaks Gaelic to our cows while we are at work! I work for Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and my partner works at the high school here.

This is a very important week for Gaelic, as the deadline for responses to the consultation on Gaelic and Scots is on Thursday 17th. We will be spreading the word about this, what it means for Gaelic and for the Highlands. We will also talk about other initiatives in which we are involved, on topics such as housing, job opportunities, infrastructure and the environment.