January in the Garden

Something about the new year always fills me with inspiration, and I’m itching to get into the garden – alas we’re still in deepest, darkest Winter here in Scotland. The bamboo is providing some greenery, the Winter Spinach in the raised bed is doing well too and there are tips of spring bulb stems peeking above the soil but with the temperature hovering around 0°C this week, spring still feels like a long time away.

Nevertheless, I’ve been sorting through my seed box and thinking about what I’d like to grow. We have heavy clay soil and have never had any luck growing root vegetables, and its easy enough to get carrots, potatoes and onions so I leave those to the professionals. This year the plan is to grow kale, spinach, chard, peas, pumpkins and squash, as well as tomatoes and chilli peppers in the greenhouse. I’d also like to try growing ginger and my husband wants to try growing asparagus though that’s a long term project.

The flowerbed is fairly full of hardy perennials but I’m planning to grow more wildflowers around the garden too, partly because they’re lovely but also for the pollinators and insects. I’ve had mixed success with wildflowers in the past, the first few years, the beds were overflowing with lavetera, cornflowers, poppies and calendula but they haven’t done as well over last couple of years but I’ll keep trying.

Though we’ve lived here for 6 years now, I’m still so grateful to have a garden of our own. Have a lovely week. X

The Year Ahead and the One Behind…

January is usually a peaceful month for us spent recovering from the Christmas busy-ness. We’ve been gradually settling back into our routines, our older daughter was delighted to be reunited with her friends at nursery and returning to our weekly sensory group, exploring new soft play cafes and I’m glad to have a few days at home with the youngest (now 10 weeks old) while the older one is at nursery.

I always like to take some time to reflect on the previous year, and 2022 was another good year for us with visits to Culzean Castle and Five Sisters Zoo, trips to the beach, a night away in Edinburgh and ice-skating at Elfingrove among the most memorable moments. Our oldest daughter turned two in February, then in September my husband and I celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary and 7 years since we adopted our cat Mara in October, but the real highlight of the year came in November with the arrival of our second daughter, who has slotted into our family so smoothly.

The low points of the year were mostly related to illness, in March we were all knocked out by the flu, and our toddler had a night in hospital with chicken pox due to a stubbornly high fever and a secondary skin infection, then we had a nocturnal trip to A&E in October when she had croup. We ended the year and started this one with illness too, thankfully nothing serious but it’s taken me a little time to bounce back.

I don’t go in for new year diets and gym memberships, which seem so out of sync with the natural world that’s conserving energy until spring, but there are some changes I’d like to make. I started going to yoga classes in 2014 and continued right up to the month before my first daughter was born in 2020, since then I’ve struggled to get back into a routine so I’ve joined a local post natal pilates class – something I’ve wanted to try for ages – and I’m determined to get back to my old yoga studio once the baby can be left for longer.

In many ways I’m feeling very content and I don’t have any burning ambitions but there’s a whole year stretching out ahead of me and I’m looking forward to time with family and friends, reading, gardening and improving my fitness. What are your plans for the year ahead? X

2022 in Books

A very belated happy new year! I decided to combine my end of year reading review with my December wrapup as I only managed to read 2 books last month between Christmas and late nights up with the baby, though just managed to reach my goal of 52 books.

The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna

The story follows lonely witch Mika Moon who takes on a job as a tutor for three witch children being raised in secret. This is a slow burn grumpy-sunshine romance between the children’s guardian Jamie and Mika, but it was the found family storyline that really drew me in and kept me hooked. The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches is such a cosy, comforting and heartwarming story about magic, romance, family, home and belonging.

Calm Christmas and a Happy New Year by Beth Kempton

This was an impulse purchase but appealed because it’s about creating a personal and meaningful Christmas. Kempton suggests that there are five main themes of Christmas: faith, magic, connection, abundance and personal traditions, and each of these themes will have more or less significance to us. It was lovely reminiscing about Christmas from childhood to present but also reading about how other cultures and countries around the world celebrate, thinking about ways to simplify how I celebrate Christmas so that it encapsulate all my favourite parts and eschews all the aspects I find stressful or meaningless, and for a relatively short book it covers a lot of different facets of Christmas from budgeting to coping with grief and loneliness around the festive season.

2022 was an interesting year for reading: I read 52 books, 19 of which were borrowed from the library, as one of my reading resolutions was to read at least one book from the library every month, and as it happened all the books I read in March and August were borrowed from the library.

The majority of the books I read were fiction with a mix of contemporary fiction, fantasy, mysteries from Agatha Christie to Richard Osman, and ten children’s stories from ghost stories like Bridge of Souls, Gallant and The Haunting of Aveline Jones to environmental stories like Julia and the Shark, October, October and The Summer We Turned Green.

I didn’t find as many new favourites as the year before though my absolute favourites were the gripping small town drama Beartown by Fredrik Backman and the urban fantasy Jade City by Fonda Lee, which I enjoyed so much I binge read the whole trilogy in February. I also loved the King of Scars duology, and the final books in the Scholomance and Inheritance Games trilogies.

I also read 16 non-fiction books most of which were on environmental themes or parenting, easily the most non-fiction I’ve read in a year since graduating from university, and something I definitely hope to continue in 2023.

My reading goals for 2023 will be similar to last year, though I’m already off to a slow start and I’m feeling less confident about reaching my target of 52 books by the end of the year. I’ll continue to use and support the library service, and I’d also like to make a dent in my TBR which is currently 45 books long.

What are your reading resolutions for 2023? X