‘The Travelling Cat Chronicles’ by Hiro Arikawa

‘The Travelling Cat Chronicles’ by Hiro Arikawa

The Travelling Cat Chronicles is a Japanese novel that tells the tale of Satoru and a stray cat he rescues and names Nana. Satoru is kind, easy going and whimsical with a deep affinity for misfits and strays of both the human and feline variety, while Nana is proud and independent but the pair quickly become devoted to each other. A few years after adopting Nana, however, Satoru begins to contact old friends and relatives to ask if any of them could re-home his beloved cat.

The Travelling Cat Chronicles is as much about friendship and families as it is about cats, and each chapter focuses on one of Satoru’s closest friends and relatives, and through each chapter the reader learns more about Satoru and the lives he has touched. In a way, this story explores the regrets and hidden hurts that people often carry through life, and what happens when life seems to give us another chance to atone for our past mistakes and heal some of our old wounds.

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The Travelling Cat Chronicles is a bit predictable, and yet it is such a poignant story that I still enjoyed it and was moved by the ending. Have a lovely week. X

Late Summer in the Garden

Late Summer in the Garden

I noticed the first yellow leaves on the trees this week, and although the weather’s still warm, it feels like summer is starting to wane in our part of the country. In our garden most of the annuals have died back, giving us an excuse to tidy up the flower borders and rescue some of the perennials that I planted in the wrong places.

Learning from our successes and failures over this summer and last, we’ve decided we’ll only plant annuals and wildflowers in the bed under the hedge as they don’t seem to mind the combination of the greedy hedge and full sun that the perennials struggle with. In the bed closest to the house, we’ve replanted the Aquilegia along with a few new additions to create a narrow herbaceous border.

Missing the privacy that the fir trees that used to be there provided, and wanting a screen to obscure the eye-sore building behind our garden, we decided to create a border along the fence with plants too tall for our other flower beds. My husband planted clumping bamboo along the fence and I’ve been filling in the gaps with varieties of perennial Mallow, Cirsium Rivulare and a Beautyberry shrub – a plant that we first saw during our honeymoon in Japan – though ours is unlikely to produce any berries this year.

I love looking at before and after photos of our garden, seeing all the changes we’ve made since we’ve lived here, but our garden is still a work-in-progress and it may be a while until it resembles the picture I have in my imagination. Have a lovely week. X

Exploring Cowden Garden

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Tucked away in the grounds of Cowden Castle Estate in Clackmannanshire, the Japanese Garden was originally commissioned by Isabella ‘Ella’ Christie in 1908, and brought to fruition by the female Japanese garden designer, Taki Handa. The Japanese Garden was closed to the public in the 1960’s due to vandalism, however, a restoration project was undertaken by Ella Christie’s great, great niece, Sara Stewart, and the garden has recently been re-opened.

A path skirts around the pond in the centre of the garden, and the garden features traditional elements of Japanese gardens such as bridges, stone lanterns and a Shinto shrine, which makes an unusual contrast against the Scottish landscape. There were a few gardeners still hard at work on the day we visited – and it’ll be interesting to see how it’s changed the next time we visit – but it’s already a beautiful and tranquil place to explore.

You can read more about the history of Cowden Garden and the fascinating life of adventurer Ella Christie here. Have a lovely week! X

Growing Together

 

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The heatwave appears to have come to an end in our part of the country, and we’ve emerged from the shade back into the garden. Over the last week, we’ve also enjoyed spending time with my parents in their gardens as well.

I often feel lucky that my husband and I have so much in common with my parents, and we’ve spent many happy hours over the years watching films together, sorting ourselves into our Hogwarts houses on Pottermore, and just chatting over mugs of tea, but whenever we’re together it doesn’t usually take long for the conversation to turn to the subject of gardening.

My parents – both introverts by nature – come to life when talking about gardening, always as eager to share their advice and show off their gardens as they are curious to hear about what we’re growing in our own. Unsurprisingly, I have my parents to thank for my love of nature and gardening, and one of my proudest achievements as a child was growing a fuschia from a tiny cutting, which has since grown into a bush measuring at least five foot tall and three feet wide, and now my dad has offered me another cutting from the very same plant for our own garden.

Gardening often brings out the most generous side of a person, and I never seem to part from my parents these days without one of them pressing a packet of seeds into my hand or loading my arms with whatever fruit or vegetables they’ve had an unexpected glut of.

Families today are often separated by geographical distance, conflicting work schedules and a hundred other distractions, and yet it is lovely that something as simple as our shared love of gardening seems to have brought my little family closer together. Have a lovely week. X