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Pols on their hols: What our MSPs and MPs have planned for the summer recess

Scotland's political leaders get set for some fun in the summer sun.
Scotland's political leaders get set for some fun in the summer sun.

With summer recess now underway at both Holyrood and Westminster, MSPs and MPs will be putting their feet up and enjoying a relaxing break from work.

Some are travelling around the UK, while others are spending time with their families, reading books and enjoying the sun in a beer garden.

Although Scots can now travel abroad for their holidays this summer, the Scottish Government is still advising against non-essential overseas travel, so many politicians will probably steer clear of any international jaunts this year.

But that is not stopping our elected officials from having some fun in the sun this summer.

How our politicians hope to make the best of another Covid summer

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie may be standing down from his leadership role but he will continue as MSP for North East Fife.

He is planning two weeks off in early August to go camping with his family in Scotland but says the location itself is top secret.

“We want it all to ourselves!” he said.

“I’ve also got lots of reading I want to catch up on. My book pile includes Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart and An Isolated Incident: A Scottish Murder Mystery by JD Kirk.

“Other than that I will be spending as much time as possible in the hills. I would recommend a walk up the Ochil Hills from Dollar over hills like Kingseat, Tarmangie and Andrew Gannel.”

Mr Rennie’s counterpart at Westminster, Wendy Chamberlain, is planning a trip to North Yorkshire with her family before the schools go back.

Ms Chamberlain says she ruled out going abroad fairly early on so her other priority is to enjoy North East Fife, as she plans to attempt the Elie Chain Walk.

While planning to spend substantial time enjoying the magic of her own home constituency, she also visited the hangout of a certain boy wizard – the same one health secretary Humza Yousaf was forced to defend visiting earlier this month.

Wendy Chamberlain and her son Alasdair visit the Harry Potter Studio Tour.

Ms Chamberlain said: “I’ve already had the family down in London for a visit, and I don’t know if this a theme with Scottish politicians this year, but we did visit the Harry Potter Studio Tour.”

Quieter break in order for Douglas Ross

Scottish Conservative leader and Moray MP Douglas Ross is hoping to get a day or two away during the summer recess but following the birth of his son, James, last month – which included a 65-mile ambulance dash – a quieter break may be in order.

“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!” he said.

Douglas Ross, wife Krystle, son Alistair and one week old son James.

“Our holidays will need to wait until 2022 when, fingers crossed, things are back to normal.”

His Conservative colleague, North East MSP Liam Kerr, promised during last year’s pols on their summer hols feature that he would return to the sight of his 2020 trip, Suffok, and that is exactly what he did.

He told us last year the restrictions and coronavirus-related constituency work meant he had a late decision to make on where to go, and this year doing it again seemed like the easiest option – although it was same place but a different carriage.

Liam Kerr visits Mid Norfolk Railway during summer recess.

Mr Kerr said: “This year’s highlights (for me at least!) included the Mid Norfolk Railway, the beautiful Bury St Edmunds, and some outstanding family time at a kind of adventure playground called BeWilderWood, as well as the zoo.

“And the Mid Suffolk Light Railway. And the North Norfolk Railway. Not that there is a theme emerging here…”

Mr Kerr has no other trips away planned but says there is a “huge amount” of fun to be had in the North East.

He plans to go surfing in Fraserburgh next week and sail or paddles various craft every week in Peterhead.

“We spend a lot of time at Transition at the Beach,” he said. “And living next to Mannofield Cricket Ground with its newly opened beer garden means there is simply no need to venture far for great times!”

SNP to explore the sights of Scotland

Angus SNP MP Dave Doogan said he is looking to have a week off near the start of recess and then another week towards September.

He said: “The Doogan family won’t be heading far though, either walking Maggie our retriever up the Angus Glens, at the best beach in Scotland – Lunan Bay, or enjoying an ice cream from Marcos at Arbroath harbour.”

Dave Doogan with his dog Maggie at Arbroath Harbour.

Fellow SNP MP Pete Wishart will be holidaying in the West Highlands next week.

He said: “Like many other people this year, I will be taking a week’s ‘staycation’ break here in Scotland.

“My dedicated team will still be on hand to help constituents, but it will be nice to escape Westminster for a week and swap it for the tranquillity of the West Highlands of Scotland.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has already celebrated her birthday since the Scottish Parliament broke up for summer recess.

In the past week the first minister has also posted some book recommendations on social media that she has been reading.

And John Swinney, Scotland’s Covid recovery secretary, has been enjoying a trip to the isle of Tiree with his wife and youngest son.

The island in the Inner Hebrides is a favourite with the deputy first minister and his family, as they have been visiting it for a number of years.

However it was a short-lived break, as Mr Swinney is already back at work.

Holidays ‘years in the making’

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has set out an impressive itinerary for the summer recess and plans to take his family on a “summer staycation tour”.

“We are starting in Dumfries and going all through Scotland, to the North East and to the Western Isles,” he said.

Scottish Greens co-leader Lorna Slater is another Holyrood politician planning a big adventure and it is one that has been years in the making.

“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,” she said.

Her co-leader Patrick Harvie told us he is planning a quieter time this summer, saying: “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.”

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