Birds, Bees and Seedlings

We’ve been enjoying a spell of warm, sunny weather lately, which has meant we’ve been spending lots of time out in our garden.

I risked sowing chilli seeds at the start of February, as always tricky to judge when the best time to start them off is as they need a long growing season but seedlings raised on my windowsills tend to go leggy as they stretch towards the sun on East and West facing windows, before transferring them to the greenhouse.

I sowed pumpkin, squash, courgette and sunflower seeds in the middle of April, and I’ll plant them out in June – which will probably bring a month of rain and a plague of slugs knowing my luck. My husband has also started off lots of tomato seedlings, and we spent an afternoon at the weekend pricking out and repotting them. The greenhouse is currently full of seedlings and plants as we’re always ridiculously optimistic about how much we can grow in our garden.

There was blossom on three of our four apple trees, unfortunately the other has grown several water spouts from the trunk, which is usually a sign of stress or a failed root graft. Our plum tree also had two little flowers on it earlier in the spring.

In the flower beds, the tulips and daffodils have died back but the Geum and Thistle have flowered, and I always enjoy counting and identifying the bees that have been crawling all over them.

We got a bird house for Christmas and affixed it to the side of the house, soon after a pair of blue tits moved in and I love watching them flit back and forth to feed their chicks while I’m working in the greenhouse.

May is often a month of anticipation marking the gentle transition from spring to summer, and it’s been lovely to spend so much time outside. Even when we have very little to show for our efforts, gardening brings us a tremendous amount of joy. Have a lovely week. X

High and Low Tide at Lunderston Bay

We’ve had a couple of trips to Lunderston Bay, a little beach in Inverclyde, at high and low tide this spring, and it’s rapidly becoming one of our favourite places to visit.

The first time we visited Lunderston Bay this year, the tide was in and there was a fairly strong breeze that made it ideal for trying out our 3 year old daughter’s new kite.

We spent a lovely afternoon strolling along the shore, splashing in the waves and looking in rock pools for crabs. It’s amazing how much fun and how memorable such simple activities can be. After that we meandered up to the new playpark for swings, slides and climbing fun before heading home at dusk.

Our second trip was on a sunny morning when the tide was low. My husband and oldest daughter wasted no time in making straight for the rock pools to search for crabs and other aquatic critters, and we found lots of little crabs, sea snails, a sea gunnel and even a couple of starfish clinging to rocks. The sea was too cold for a proper paddle but we waded in wearing our wellies and I found a little sea urchin shell to take home as a souvenir.

A trip to the seaside is always one of my favourite ways to spend a day and I’m looking forward to lots of picnics, building sand castles, beachcombing, rock pooling and paddling in the sea over the summer. Have a lovely week. X

A Rainy Walk in the Woods

We’ve had a fairly quiet weekend as both girls have been poorly with fever, coughs and runny noses. After a few days recuperating at home, playing with playdough, potting up seeds in the greenhouse, plink plonking on the piano, reading stories, watching Sea Beast and How to Train Your Dragon, and having some epic afternoon naps, we were all feeling well enough for a little trip out.

We decided to visit Rouken Glen so we could buy some seeds at the garden centre and then took a wander around the woodland paths to see the waterfalls after a few days of rain.

It was overcast with drizzle but the trees protected us from the worst of the weather. I carried our youngest, while my husband gave our oldest daughter piggybacks when she complained about tired legs.

It was lovely to see the waterfalls flowing and the forest looking so green and leafy, but the unexpected highlight was spotting a little duckling nesting in a tree hollow. We were very quiet and after lifting the kids up to have a quick look, we returned to the path, then it was time to head home for cheese toasties for lunch and the girls’ afternoon naps. Have a lovely week. X

Spring Moments and Milestones

I feel like blogging has fallen by the wayside; time seems to be slipping through my fingers and I can hardly believe that we’re a quarter of the way through the year already – life is just so busy and full at the moment.

Our oldest daughter moved from nursery to pre-school at the start of the year, which has generally been a smooth transition. We still go to our sensory group together almost every week (which we’ve been going to since she was 6 months old), and I’ve also been taking her to playgym where she can play and experiment with gymnastics equipment. There have been regular trips to the swimming pool with her dad while I usually have a coffee and cuddle with the youngest. We bought her first pedal bike for her 3rd birthday, and with her typical determination she mastered pedaling, steering and braking in just a few days so we’ve been spending lots of time at the park while she practices cycling.

Our youngest – now 5 months old – is also hitting new milestones every day from giggling and rolling to teething. She’s still very petite, but a bright, cheerful and curious little baby. We’ve been going to Bookbug song and story sessions at the library (something I missed out on with my oldest during the pandemic) and we’ll start baby sensory soon but most of our days are still spent at home reading stories, singing nursery rhymes, playing and snuggling. Our daughters are fascinated by each other, and it won’t be long until they’ll become little playmates and friends.

Our senior lady, Mara, has spent most of winter hibernating, but she’s been a bit more active lately, wanting to play, snuggle up and curious to see what we’re up to. I’m so impressed with how well Mara’s coped with the upheaval two noisy little interlopers joining the family caused. Mara really is a very special cat, we’re lucky to have such a gentle, playful, affectionate and stoic family pet to teach them about caring and handling animals, and our little daughters adore her.

I’m so enjoying this period of family life as the baby and toddler stages are so brief and the girls’ milestones come thick and fast as they change and grow. I love having my blog to record all the details of daily life, and always enjoy looking back at older posts when I’m feeling nostalgic. Have a lovely week. X

Sunshine and Snow in the Garden

Over the last few days, we’ve had a cold snap bringing frost, subzero temperatures and a tiny dusting of snow, but it was only the week before that I spent a lovely afternoon out in the garden with my girls in the sunshine.

Our youngest was wrapped up in her bouncer watching pinwheels spinning in the breeze before she drifted off for a little nap, as I tidied up the long border removing all the dried stems from last year, while our the three year old played witch on a broomstick. It’s not easy to keen on top of gardening with two little kids underfoot so I’ve been trying a little and often approach.

It’s always lovely watching the garden waking up after winter, from the first hellebores underneath the bamboo to the tete-a-tete daffodils in the long border. I’ve also enjoyed watching birds flitting around the garden, there have been blue tits, sparrows, long tailed tits, blackbirds, Robins and tiny wrens, which we’ve never seen in the garden before.

We woke this morning to a light flurry of snow falling. Spring can be such a changeable and unpredictable season, and yet one that I appreciate more and more as a time of renewal and the return of light and life after the barren darkness of winter. Have a lovely week. X

A Little Adventure at Mugdock Country Park

We’re no strangers to inclement weather in Scotland but this winter we’ve had more damp cold and unrelenting rain than magical blankets of snow and sparkling frosts. As daylight increases we’re getting out for more walks and little adventures, and we took a trip to Mugdock Park recently for a wander and to feed the ducks, and had a really lovely afternoon spotting signs of Spring there before dusk descended. Some of the best days we’ve had at Mugdock have been when it’s been overcast or drizzling, and we’ve just pulled on wellies and waterproofs to splash in the puddles and feed the ducks anyway.

Both of our girls preferred the carrier to the pram as babies, which has meant we’ve never had to worry too much about the terrain on our walks, and on this outing carrying our youngest gave us the freedom to venture off the path to let our adventurous 3 year old jump in puddles, paddle in the stream, scramble through scrub, explore hollows and climb trees.

Living in a city, I often worry about whether our children get enough time outside, and given that both my husband and I are outdoorsy types who enjoy everything from gardening to hiking, we really want to inspire a love and appreciation of nature in them, but our oldest daughter always enjoys woodland walks and strolls along the beach as much as trips to soft play or the local parks.

Back at the start of the trail, we let the oldest have a go on the swings, slide and flying fox at the play park, before returning home with rumbling tummies and stretched legs. Have a lovely week. X

Counting my blessings amidst change…

Our daughter turned three this week and we had a little party at a soft play cafe with her cousins (our daughters are two of seven girls on my husband’s side all quite close in age) to celebrate. Our oldest daughter can be shy, but once she feels comfortable I’m always impressed by how enthusiastically she falls in with other children and their games.

At times our oldest still seems so little but I’m often surprised by how grown up she is; she’s bright, funny, determined and kind with seemingly boundless energy (that puts my laziness to shame), and she fills our days with so much fun, mischief and laughter.

My second maternity leave has been very different from my first, most of which took place during consecutive lockdowns through 2020 and 2021. This time around I’ve been able to meet friends for lunch, and join local baby groups like the Bookbug singalong sessions at our library and a music group at our community centre too, as well as a post natal pilates class, but I’m still enjoying slow days at home playing and snuggling with the baby too. Our youngest is now 3 months old, seemingly more placid than her big sister ever was, but absorbing everything with her big, blue eyes and always quick to flash her wide gummy smile.

Life has been a bit hectic lately, and there are times when I wish I could pause the clock as our girls are growing, changing and learning so much every day. We’ve had a run of almost laughable misfortune since Christmas that has added to the usual stresses and busy-ness, and although I’m hoping our luck will improve soon, it’s been a reminder to focus on our blessings, not our burdens. Have a lovely week. X

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

Twixtmas Greetings

I’ve been reminiscing about Christmas’s past lately, from one very cosy Christmas when I was little that was just me and mum to the year there were so many extended family members that the grandkids and cousins needed their own kids’ table; the early years of marriage when we’d spend the morning with my husband’s family and the rest of the day with mine; and visiting my nanna at the care home for our last Christmas with her before she passed away… For the last couple of years my husband and I have hosted Christmas, and the benefit of having had so many different festive experiences over the years means we’re free to make our own traditions instead of trying to fit in with everyone else’s.

On Christmas Eve, we spent most of the day outside hoping our nearly 3 year old would tire herself out enough to sleep (it worked and we got a rare lie-in on Christmas morning!). We had takeaway for dinner, a little tradition that started when my husband and I used to finish work, rush home to load the car with presents before driving down to spend Christmas with our families. Afterwards we put out a mince pie for Santa and an oddly-shaped apple for Rudolph that our toddler chose instead of a carrot, and read The Night Before Christmas before settling the little ones into bed.

There was absolute chaos on Christmas morning opening presents, before gathering around the table for our Christmas Dinner, then a leisurely afternoon of adults chatting, the little one playing with all her new toys and our six week old daughter wide awake and taking everything in, before a buffet supper and an early night for all. It was a simple, lovely day of togetherness celebrating the return of the light after the shortest day, followed by more of the same on Boxing Day and a visit from my in-laws the day after.

Christmas isn’t always a joyous or peaceful time though and within my family there have been deaths and divorce around the festive period, a sobering reminder never to take the people we love and care about for granted.

The remainder of the week has been busy and we’ve had an unexpected run of bad luck from our car breaking down, my husband and kids getting conjunctivitis, and a cracked phone screen, so I’m hoping for a quieter, calmer January.

Wishing everyone a very Happy New Year when it comes. X