seaweed sunrise

In the first week of January I journeyed to the wilds of Scotland to visit my lovely friend Rachel on the Isle of Iona. She has lived there for many years since meeting her dear John who has a croft and a hostel at the north end of the island.

Iona sunrise

For years I have seen Rachel's photos of white sands, glowing rocks, clear sea and huge skies and I have enjoyed her #todayschangingroom series on Instagram where she photographs her clothes and her yellow wellies on the rocks before she goes for her daily dip, but I hadn't yet made a visit.

Rachel Hazell - today's changing room

I used to travel a lot on my own to visit friends in far flung places but somehow, since covid times and after my world got so much smaller post hysterectomy I found I had lost my bottle. When Rachel sent the invitation my initial reaction was 'I can''s too far, it's January, what about the winter weather, have I got the energy?' but when I heard her voice down the phone and remembered how much fun we have together and how we always come away super inspired the 'I can't' became a big YES. Two trains, a coach, an overnight stop in Oban, a ferry, a bus across Mull and another ferry later, there were Rachel, John and Snuffy dog waving at me from the pier as the boat got in and I was SO HAPPY to be there. 

The Green Shed, self catering cottage on Iona

John built The Green Shed about 23 years ago. It used to be a hostel that slept 24 but during Covid there was an urgency to change their business model, so they divided it up and now there are three wonderfully beautiful and cosy self catering places under this roof all within a few minutes of two stunning beaches. I shared The Sea Room with their wonderful young 'work away' called Meg who inspired me with everything she has learned since living on Iona; bee keeping (their honey is delicious), fishing, weaving, tree planting, keeping sheep and so much more. She was radiant with the whole experience.

Iona cottage

And Rachel and John live here, in a cosy cottage full of curiosities;

Rachel Hazell book art

antiques, craft, art, books, bits of boat, driftwood and a great great great grandfather clock that keeps the time.


The name of the cottage translates as 'the hollow of the otters' so I was full of hope at seeing some.

Iona sunrise

That hope got me out of the door at sunrise

crescent moon Iona

under a beautiful crescent moon and a clear sky.

beach north Iona

It's wonderful to wake up in a place SO different from home. All my senses were wide awake and I wanted to take it all in and not miss a moment.

beach Iona

I watched the hooded crows on the beach, listened to the crashing of the waves, embraced the cold breeze on my face, got fascinated by a bird I didn't know hovering above the marram grass (found it later to be a stonechat)

sunrise Iona

and I watched the sky turn all shades of candy.

otter tracks on the beach in Iona

I didn't see any otters but I did see prints! It was nice at least to know they were close by.

Rachel Hazell & John Maclean

It was wonderful to be on Iona with these two islanders. They knew the way through the heath and moss,

looking out to sea on Iona

they knew which lands could be seen across the water,

sandwiches in baking paper tied up with string

 they wrapped their sarnies like THIS

and they knew the best rock to sit on to eat them, although they failed to mention it was over 200 million years old until we got home (that's the rock, not the sandwich)!

Rachel Hazell

Everywhere we went we bumped into their friends and neighbours and listening to all the chat was a lovely insight into island life. I got to visit Rowena Brown's ceramic studio which was a treat and I was introduced to Rona who makes gorgeous papier mache birds. There are so many creatives here!

wild carrot seed head

There was a lot of beauty to hold in my short visit and I wanted to be everywhere all at once;

the bench to watch the stars by

 on the 'bench to watch the stars by',

starry sky Iona

under the sparkling night sky,


the whalebone studio

in Rachel's beautiful 'Whalebone studio' (imagine the journey it made to get here),

glowing rocks at sunrise on Iona

and among the glowing rocks

lichen and seaweed shadows

searching for shadows and treasure.

Rachel Hazell on the beach

 It was just a joy to be together,

Iona sky

under the big skies

sunrise on the beach Iona

and on those sandy beaches that I had only seen in photos.

wild carrot silhouette on Iona machair

People travel to Iona from all over the world. When I told people I was going, everybody had a tale to tell about the magical feeling they got from being there. Now I have my own.

I had a teary moment one day, when I realised how elevated and inspired I felt by being there with my friend, when I so nearly didn't come. Yes it was far away, but every bit of the journey was stunning. It was January but that made for winter skies, frost in the dunes and gorgeous sunrises. And as far as whether I would have enough energy, it GAVE me that in bounds.

The only otters I saw were on the back of a Scottish ten pound note! But I guess that means I just might have to go again...

There's an absolutely beautiful film made by my friend Sarah, all about The Green Shed here. It's a beaut. My friend Rachel is a bookbinder and teaches workshops in romantic places, Iona included.



Oh Hannah,
What a wonderful and inspiring trip! I’m so glad that you found the resources to make the journey and enjoy your friends’ hospitality and company. Jo x


Thank you for sharing this beautiful place with us! I could feel the magic through your photos and words, following every link provided to expand my experience and explore as much as possible. This was a truly incredible way to start my morning.

Diva Kreszl

So lovely of you to share the precious memories of your time away. Such beautiful photos. One can feel the energy of the visit in your writing.

Sue Reynolds

Your break looks absolutely stunning and like my idea of heaven. There is not a part of coastal Scotland I have visited yet that I have not loved. The pictures are amazing, but I bet the real thing was beyond words. I’m so glad you took a risk and went and not just because I now know this place exists.😉 Also, our local furry fish muncher hasn’t popped up since you’ve been away. Maybe they’re waiting for your return.

Victoria Fay

Dear Hannah, I’m happy that you’ve now been to Iona, a sacred isle. I’ve been there many many times and back in the day when they were small and I was young I took 3 grandchildren at different times. Always making the journey that you took. I hope you enjoyed the bus across Mull and arriving at Fionnfort – oh, it’s all so special. I’ve stayed all over and recognise the home of your friends from when it was the hostel. And the beach you photographed. I could write you pages of memory’s! But instead will thank you for the opportunity you’ve given me to recall and relive.
Hope your Open Day is a success

Christine Beels

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Hannah Nunn

Welcome to my blog

I'm Hannah Nunn, designer/maker of papercut lamps, wallpaper, window film and laser cut 'treasures' all inspired by the beautiful details of nature. Find out what inspires me and join me for walks in the woods and other adventures...


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