A Peaceful Day at Samye Ling

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A little while ago, my husband and I spent a day at one of my favourite places, Samye Ling. Founded in 1967, Kagyu Samye Ling was the first Tibetan Buddhist Centre in Europe, and the red-robed monks with shaved heads were an incongruous sight in the little Scottish town where I grew up. I’ve been visiting Samye Ling since I was a teenager, and over the years I’ve come with friends to buy books and prayer flags from the shop, chat over cups of tea in the cafĂŠ or sit peacefully in the temple. Nine years ago now, I suggested visiting Samye Ling as one of our very first dates as my then boyfriend (now husband) had never been before, and we’ve returned several times throughout our relationship.

In keeping with the Buddhist belief that everything is impermanent and ever-changing, Samye Ling is a work in progress and there is always something new or slightly different every time we visit. Nevertheless, I’m always struck by how calm and unhurried the pace of life at Samye Ling is, yet somehow the work still gets done.

I often write about slowing down because it is not something that comes naturally to me. Like many of my peers, I’ve rushed through life treating significant milestones like items on a to-do-list to be ticked off one by one, instead of achievements to be celebrated or precious moments to be savoured. Many of us are so impatient to reach our destination that we barely experience the journey itself, yet watching the monks mindfully – and joyfully – going about their daily routines and chores always reminds me just how calming and restorative it is to immerse ourselves in the here and now.

This has been a turbulent year for us with illnesses and injuries – as well as daily news reports of terrorist attacks, natural disasters and political unrest – reminding us just how fragile and fleeting life is, but I feel very grateful for the people and places that help me to find peace and contentment in the present moment. So much has happened since the first time we visited Samye Ling together, and so much has changed, yet some things have remained constant, like the serenity of Samye Ling and the steadying presence of my husband as we walk hand-in-hand through life together. Have a lovely week. X

September’s Golden Glow

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There has been an avalanche of gold and amber leaves in our street over the last week, and every day the sun seems to hang a little lower in the sky on my morning and evening commute. September is always a busy month for us, and this month has swept by in a blur of happy anniversaries, birthdays and annual traditions.

Every September, one of my closest friends hosts a get-together in the countryside. Over the years, we have become good friends with the other guests despite most of us living so far apart that we only see each other a few times a year. Our annual weekend get together is something we all look forward to, and it’s always a relaxed and wonderful time spent enjoying delicious food, rambling walks along the Solway Firth and long conversations with old friends and new around the fire-pit as the stars twinkle above.

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In August, my grandmother was in hospital for a procedure that was not without risks due to her age, yet she recovered in time to celebrate her 91st birthday this month. I feel very grateful to have had my grandmother all through my childhood and well into my adulthood, and while she is still fiercely independent, I can’t help noticing that she’s slowing down a little bit more every time I see her, which makes the time we spend together very precious.

At home, the cooler evenings have given us an excuse to light the wood-burning stove. My husband – a modern man in every other respect – relishes the opportunity to get in touch with his inner caveman and takes great pride in his ability to create fire, while our normally lap-loving cat Mara has firmly established herself on the hearth.

As the calendar edges towards October, it has been a lovely month full of family, friends and cosy moments, all suffused in September’s golden glow. Wishing everyone a lovely weekend. X

A Postcard from Argyll

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Over the last few years as part of our effort to simplify our lives and downsize our possessions, my husband and I have eschewed buying gifts for each other in favour of treating each other to experiences instead. This year for my birthday, my husband whisked me off to the Argyll coast for a little adventure together.

We traveled to the Isle of Seil about 20 miles south of Oban as my husband had booked a wildlife spotting trip by speedboat for us. We were provided with waterproof trousers and jackets, as well as a life-jacket and binoculars by our guides before boarding our vessel. Skimming along the waves in a speedboat turned out to be a thrilling albeit turbulent way to travel, and we were very grateful for our waterproofs by the end!

The tour lasted two hours and took us from Easdale, past the lighthouse on Fladda, before passing round Luing and Scarba.

We saw grey and common seals on Luing and Scarba. I’d only ever seen seals in sea-life centres or aquariums before this so it was lovely to see them wild and in their natural habitat, and they were not at all bothered by our presence. The seals were one of the highlights of the trip for me and I could happily have spent the whole day watching them laze on the rocks and splashing in the water.

The porpoises that sometimes visit the area were too shy to show themselves on the day we visited, but there were wild goats, as well as red and fallow deer grazing on Luing. Our sharp-eyed guides also pointed out a female hen harrier among the trees on Scarba, though she was a bit too far away for me to snap a photo of, but it was still wonderful to see such a rare bird of prey.

The final part of our speedboat journey took us to the Corryvreckan whirlpool which lies between Scarba and the tip of Jura. Local legends state that it was an old witch washing her plaid that created the whirlpool. This part of the experience probably wasn’t much fun for anyone prone to seasickness but it definitely impressed upon me the raw power of the Atlantic Ocean, and the skill of our skipper.

Back on dry land, we stopped to admire the Clachan Bridge, also known as the Bridge over the Atlantic, which connects the Isle of Seil to mainland Scotland. At first glance, it looks like a bridge over a river, but closer inspection reveals seaweed clinging to the rocks at the water’s edge and a narrow section of the Atlantic Ocean flowing between the two banks.

The nearby pub is called the Tigh na Truish Inn (or the House of Trousers) because defiant islanders used the inn to change out of their kilts into trousers before travelling over the bridge to Scotland, where the wearing of kilts and clan tartans had been outlawed following the Jackobite’s defeat at Culloden.

We stopped in Oban for something to eat, and as it’s been several years since we last visited, wandered up to McCaig’s Tower, which offers a view (Scottish weather permitting!) of the harbour below and the islands of Kerrara, Lismore and Mull in the distance.

I often lament that I live in a beautiful country with fascinating landscapes, wildlife and history but have explored so little of it, so it was a lovely birthday adventure and an experience that already stands out in my memory. Have a lovely week.

Liebster Award ❤️

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It was just over a year ago that I started my little blog, and last week I was surprised and delighted when the lovely Typewriter Girl contacted me to let me know she’d nominated me for a Liebster Award. Liebster is a German word meaning dearest, sweetheart or beloved, and the Liebster Award is a virtual honour passed from blogger to blogger as a way of supporting and promoting each other.

The rules of the Liebster Award are:

  • Thank the person who nominated you and link to their blog
  • Answer the questions your nominator asked you
  • Nominate 5-11 other blogs (and don’t forget to let them know)
  • Ask your nominations up to 11 questions or facts about themselves.

Here are the answers to the questions I was asked:

What is your favourite part of blogging?
I really enjoy taking photos for my blog, but I also love being part of such a friendly and welcoming community.

What country, city or continent would you most like to visit and why?
There are so many places I’d love to visit but at the moment I’d really like to visit Mexico, I love the cuisine, culture and I’m interested in the history. I’d also love to tour the Scandinavian countries in a camper van chasing the Northern Lights and maybe even spotting a troll. 😉

What was the most inspirational time in your life so far?
Probably around our wedding as we made most of the decorations and favours ourselves, some of it was a bit rough around the edges but it was a really fun and crafty project. After the wedding, I knew I wanted another creative project and started scribbling ideas and thinking about this blog.

What are you passionate about?
My family and friends, my cat and practising gratitude every day.

What is your favourite book and why?
This is such a difficult question! Maybe the Harry Potter series by J.K Rowling because I re-read them more often than any other books. I also love A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, it’s very moving and I love stories within stories.

What is your favourite time of year?
My favourite season is autumn, I love the colours of the leaves and the gradual transition from the fading light and warmth to the first frosts and cosiness.

What are your other interests besides blogging?
Reading, cooking (and eating!), gardening, walking and exploring new places, photography and yoga – all the things I blog about.

Do you prefer the beach or the mountains?
As forests aren’t one of the options, I’ll have to choose the beach.

Where did you go for your most memorable vacation?
We visited Japan for our honeymoon, and it was a dream come true because it’s a country I’ve wanted to visit since I was a child. I loved the food and the contrast between the old shinto shrines and the neon skyscrapers. I hope we’ll go back one day.

Do you prefer a sunny or rainy day?
I’m from Scotland so definitely sunny days because they’re so rare!

If you had a day all to yourself, how would you spend it?
Pottering about in the garden in the morning, visiting a bookshop in the afternoon followed by a peaceful and refreshing stroll along a beach or through a forest, then curling up at home with my cat and a book to read.

In no particular order, I nominate:

If you would like to accept the award (and there’s no pressure to at all!) feel free to answer the questions below and nominate up to 11 other blogs.

  1. What advice would you give to other bloggers?
  2. Other than blogging, what are your hobbies?
  3. Do you have any pets?
  4. Tea or coffee?
  5. What’s your favourite book and why?
  6. Where in the world would you most like to visit?
  7. What’s your favourite quote or personal mantra?
  8. Have you ever won any awards or trophies offline?
  9. What’s your favourite weather?
  10. Are you an early bird or a night owl?

Once again, thanks to Typewriter Girl for nominating me. Wishing everyone a happy Monday and have a lovely week!