The Giant Lanterns of China

One of my highlights of 2018 was visiting the Giant Lanterns of China at Edinburgh Zoo for Chinese New Year, and I was thrilled when I found out they were putting on another show this year. This time around the theme was Myths and Legends, and I loved the clash of Scottish and Chinese mythology, like the Loch Ness Monster tangling with a Chinese water dragon.

Nessie and Dragon

There were a few lanterns recycled from the previous event but I was impressed by how much thought and effort had been made to ensure it was every bit as original and memorable as the first, and I thought it was even better than the previous year.

Aside from all the fantastical creatures, there was also a section displaying extinct animals alongside currently endangered species, providing a pertinent reminder that we must act now to prevent species from disappearing in our lifetime due to climate change, hunting and loss of habitat.

Living in Scotland, we’re no strangers to inclement weather, but when it started snowing, it only made the experience seem more magical as we meandered between the gorgeous lanterns with cold hands wrapped around hot drinks, and it was a wonderful way to spend a wintry evening in February. Have a lovely week! X

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

TheLiesofLockeLamora

The first book in The Gentleman Bastards series follows Locke Lamora an orphan who grows into a criminal mastermind addicted to the thrill of pulling elaborate cons on the nobility. However, the delicate accord that exists between the nobles, law enforcement and criminal factions in the city of Camorr is torn apart when the mysterious Grey King arrives, and Locke and his crew find themselves caught in the middle of the murderous, political machinations of much powerful players.

The Lies of Locke Lamora is as much a story about found families as it is a fantasy heist, with each member of the Gentleman Bastards bringing unique skills to their operations, and the friendship between Locke and Jean (the brains and brawn of the crew respectively) is the emotional keystone of the story.

TheLiesofLockeLamora2

I often talk about books being easy or quick to read because many of us lead busy lives and it can be hard to find the time to read, and I tend to have a 100 page rule that if I’m not invested in a story by that point then I give up and move on to something else, but it took me about 200 pages to really get into The Lies of Locke Lamora. There are definite pacing issues, with a lot of verbose descriptions of Camorr and setting up all the rival political and criminal factions before the action begins, yet the endearing characters, witty dialogue, clever foreshadowing and the combination of heart-pounding, nail-biting suspense and thrilling, unexpected twists more than made up for the slow start, and as soon as I finished this I bought the next two books in the series. Have a lovely week! X

Winter Gardening Indoors & Out

Unlike many people, I don’t dislike January, it’s a peaceful month to recover from the excesses of the festive period and ease into a new year. Unfortunately, I don’t feel quite as charitable about February, which I find frigid and inhospitable while I’m impatiently waiting for spring to begin.

snowdrop

I dug up the Iris Reticulata and Snowdrop bulbs last year with the intention of relocating them but then didn’t get around to it, which will make winter feel even longer as we might not see many flowers until April when the tulips appear. I must have missed one of the snowdrops though, and it was a pleasant surprise to spot the little flash of white in the border.

buddha and bamboo

At this time of year, I’m desperately grateful for the greenery that the bamboo (Fargesia Robusta) provides while the trees are still bare, and it looks lovely edged with white when it snows. We’ve also treated ourselves to a little Buddha statue with vouchers the in-laws gave us for Christmas to add a little Zen to the border.

I’ve been enjoying watching the birds that visit our feeding station over the winter. We seem to have a multi-generational family of sparrows living in our hedge and a pair of blue tits that nest by the side of the house every year, as well as the odd robin and black bird that visit.

Inside our home, we’ve been enjoying the warmth and coziness of our woodburner most evenings, and I’ve been tending our little houseplant collection, which I’m often guilty of neglecting during the warmer months when most of my time and attention is focused on the garden. I was very excited to notice that two of the Echeveria seem to be growing flowering stems, especially as their once red and pink edges have faded to the leaftips. Have a lovely week! X