There’s a definite sense of slow down in the garden as the daylight wanes and temperatures drop. We’ve harvested the potatoes, carrots and kale from the veg beds though we’re still waiting for the sprouts and squashes. Most of the annuals have died back and in the next few weeks, we’ll plant snow drop, iris, daffodil and tulip bulbs to give us some spring colour until the summer flowering perennials like hardy geraniums and scabiosa start filling the border.
The scabiosa has been one of my favourites this year as it’s low maintenace with a long flowering period (prolonged by dead heading) and it’s a magnet for the bees and butterflies. This summer seems to have been a good one for our fluttering visitors as I’ve spotted Comma, Small Tortoiseshell and Painted Lady butterflies in the garden, as well as cabbage whites nibbling the brassicas in the veg beds.
We feed the birds all year round, and in addition to the sparrows, blue tits, starlings, magpies, pigeons and the odd grey squirrel that visit regularly, we’ve also seen long-tailed tits visiting our feeding station for the first time this year. Apparently, long tailed tits are very vulnerable to cold winters and I suspect the population has only just recovered from the Beast from the East last year, but I hope they’ll become regular visitors to our garden.
Given that we live in an urban environment, I’m always delighted by the diversity of wildlife that inhabit and visit our garden. Have a lovely week! X
Set four months after A Darker Shade of Magic (reviewed here), Kell and Lila have parted ways, as Kell tries to return to his duties as Prince of Red London while the delightfully rogueish Lila has chosen to make a fresh start in Kell’s world and has almost fulfilled her dreams of becoming a pirate (technically a privateer) on board the Night Spire under the charming Captain Alucard Emery. Meanwhile a new King rules White London, waiting and plotting revenge against our heroes.
Kell, who was never completely comfortable with his notoriety and privileges as both Prince and one of the last of the magical race of Antari, is now also struggling with the distrust and suspicion of his family and subjects alike in the aftermath of the night black magic ran through Red London consuming and killing those who came into contact with it.
A Gathering of Shadows follows Kell, Lila and Alucard as they compete in the Element Games against magicians from across the world to find out who is the greatest, though the tournament at times feels entirely secondary to the slow-burn romance as Kell and Lila try to resist their attraction to one another, yet their eventual reunion is worth the wait and I just love the chemistry between them, like a pair of magnets constantly attracting and repelling each other.
The middle book in a trilogy often has a hard time defining itself but A Gathering of Shadows finds a balance between giving us greater insight into the characters and developing their relationships while setting the scene for the final book, and when the White King finally makes their move, this ends on a cliffhanger that left me desperate to know what happens next. Have a lovely week! X
On a windy, overcast day, we took a trip to the little village of Portencross in North Ayrshire, somewhere we’d never visited before, but somewhere we’ll definitely be returning to.
There is a small castle at Portencross, which is free to explore, but a little underwhelming compared to some of the other sprawling castles steeped in history around Scotland. The top of the castle does offer some lovely views of the coastline, the islands of Wee Cumbrae and Great Cumbrae, and even the CalMac ferries transporting passengers from Largs to Millport and back again.
From Portencross we wandered north to Hunterston Power Station. It’s a short walk, only a mile each way on a relatively flat and straight path with crocosmia, aster and yarrow growing wild on either side. We probably walked a little further as we deviated from the path a few times to scramble closer to the sea to watch the waves crashing against the rocks and so my husband could search the rock pools for crabs and other marine life – always the highlight of a trip to the seaside for him.
With everything else we’ve had going on this year, we haven’t had much time for day-trips or adventures, but we both felt refreshed after our day by the sea, enjoying the fresh air and the chance to explore somewhere new, chatting about everything and nothing, and just letting our minds and feet wander. Have a lovely week. X
Today is the start of autumn according to the meteorological calendar, and I’ve been taking some time to reflect on the year so far. It’s been a turbulent one for us, full of changes and unexpected challenges as both my husband and I started new jobs, a member of my family spent four and a half months in hospital, I temporarily lost sight in my left eye, there were two deaths in my husband’s family, and my 92-year-old nanna moved into a care home. Yet in the midst of all the stress, sorrow and upheaval, we received one piece of very welcome good news – we’re expecting a baby in February. I’m not one to count my chickens before they’ve hatched but with every passing week, we feel more hopeful and excited about starting this new chapter of our lives.
Our journey to parenthood has taken longer than expected, long enough for ten colleagues, three close friends, two cousins and my sister-in-law to announce their own pregnancies and welcome their babies into the world; long enough for us to be diagnosed with “unexplained infertility”; and long enough for us to imagine that children of our own might not be in our future at all. Our little miracle has taken longer than expected, but we’re so looking forward to meeting them.
I haven’t written about this before – and I’m very aware of how lucky we are – but too often online we only see the celebrations and successes from the graduations, new jobs and new homes to the engagements, weddings and baby announcements without any context or mention of the hard work, stress or uncertainty that often preceded them. Yet there have been so many times over the years that I’ve drawn comfort and inspiration from seeing how others have coped with and overcome adversity, from illness and infertility to redundancy, divorce and grief. Life is full of unexpected twists and turns, I’ve been humbled more time than I can count but I’ve been overwhelmed with joy and gratitude just as often. Have a lovely week. X