Springing Out of Hibernation

April is one of my favourite months as cherry blossoms swirl around like confetti in the breeze, tulips burst into flower, the weather (usually) improves and it finally feels like we’ve shaken off another winter.

The first week of April was spent alternatively caring for and entertaining a toddler with chicken pox who was quarantined from nursery, soft play, playdates and play groups. I tried my hand at few sensory activities such as dying dried chickpeas and making pink sand (a big hit but very messy!), and we also made lots of no-bake treats like chocolate rice krispie cakes and rocky road, both easy enough that the little one could get involved with pouring and mixing the ingredients (and licking the spoon afterwards).

Then it was back to nursery, sensory group (just in time for the Easter party) and family swimming trips. We’ve also been going out for walks after dinner, and it really feels like we’re springing out of hibernation after a long, dreary winter.

We had an egg hunt in the garden for the little one at Easter, with eggs that I’d painted and a few mini chocolate eggs too. Our daughter probably got enough chocolate from her grandparents and our neighbours to last her to the end of the year.

We’ve been busy in the garden too. My father-in-law helped us moved one of the square raised beds into the back corner, a slightly shady area which we’ve struggled to fill with anything other than weeds. I treated myself to another climbing rose, James Galway, to fill the back fence alongside Crown Princess Margareta, which is already very well established. Our daughter helped me scatter wildflower seeds in the raised beds, and I’ve started off some sunflowers on the windowsill. I was very excited to see flowers on the plum tree and two of our four apple trees. My husband also found a greenhouse on gumtree, it’s a bit bigger than I had in mind but too good value to turn down.

Even though the garden is only just getting started, it’s been great to spend so much time outside pottering around, a real tonic for the mind and body. Already there are busy bees bumbling, ladybirds and even a couple of butterflies flitting around the garden – but most exciting of all is the return of the hedgehogs in the evening, we’ve counted three so far, and we’ve been leaving cat food out for them. I’m always slightly surprised and delighted by how much wildlife there is to be found in an urban environment and we try to make our garden as wildlife friendly as possible to support it.

We haven’t ventured too far from home lately, but it’s been a lovely month full of picnics and playdates at the park, and lots of fun in the garden. Have a lovely week. X

First Quarter in the Garden

We’ve spent lots of time in the garden over the last few days and I thought I’d share a little update about the first quarter of the year in the garden. I had briefly considered writing posts to coincide with the Celtic festivals of Imbolc, Beltane, Lughnasadh and Samhain but there really wasn’t enough happening in the garden in February to write about.

The first hellebore flowered at the end of December and they’ve been flowering constantly through the early months of the year, before being joined by the daffodils last month. Winter is often the season when I like to make plans for the year ahead while the garden is resting and waiting for spring. We have three raised beds in the garden, I’ve filled the long bed with my favourite perennials but I’m planning to fill the two smaller square beds with daffodil and tulip bulbs this autumn, and turn both beds into wildflower patches over the summer.

Our summerhouse has spent the winter under a huge tarpaulin protecting it from the worst of the cold and damp but on a very sunny weekend in March, my husband painted it a cheery shade of blue with white frames. We’ve already enjoyed eating our lunches in the summerhouse, our daughter loves having it open to explore and hide in, and I’m looking forward to lunchbreak reading in the shade through the summer. We’re also planning to replace our shed as the roof appears to be disintegrating, and we’d also like to get a greenhouse to try growing our own tomatoes, chilis and courgettes.

Our garden is small, oddly shaped and a real mix of different styles and ideas, but I’m grateful to have a garden and excited to get growing again. Have a lovely week. X

Autumn in the Garden

Blogging has fallen by the wayside over the last few weeks as we’ve all been off but not really enjoying much of a rest or holiday as our daughter caught hand, foot and mouth at nursery, and we’ve spent the last wee while taking care of her and pottering around the home and garden.

We’ve not managed to do much gardening this year as it was turned into a temporary building site while we were doing some home improvements. Nevertheless, it’s not looking too bad for this time of year. We’ve trimmed the bamboo, which has “clumped” since we planted it three years ago, and the climbing rose Crown Princess Margaret has been providing beautiful bouquets of peachy roses all summer. Hardy perennials like Crocosmia, Scabiosa, Asters and Geraniums are all still providing bursts of colour in the main flower bed.

The only thing I grew from seed this year is Crown Prince Pumpkins, which I trained to grow up over a frame my husband made to save space and protect them from slugs. This week I harvested three blue-ish pumpkins, the smallest weighing just over 2kg and the largest 5.1kg.

We’ve always enjoyed the wildlife that inhabits and visits our garden (with the exception of the slugs) but the upheaval and extra human presences during our renovations caused a temporary exodus, but over the last couple of months, the sparrows, blue tits and great tits have all returned. We’ve also had some bold grey squirrels coming right up to the window demanding nuts – much to our daughter’s delight. At the end of the summer, we also had a hedgehog wombling around the garden in the evenings.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll know that I love light shows and I’ve added a few solar lights to enchant our little garden (though my husband thinks I’m at risk of causing pollution if I add anymore). As daylight fades and the city begins to quiet, the lights flicker on one by one, and the garden starts to feel more peaceful and mysterious.

No sooner had our daughter started to recover than the tell-tale spots and blisters appeared on my hands and feet, but I’m hoping I’ll recover quickly so we can all get back into our routine and out for some autumnal adventures. Have a lovely weekend. X

High and Low Tide at the Beach

With the exception of a week of thunderstorms and torrential rain, we’ve had a wonderful summer of blue skies, sunshine and warmth, and we’ve been making the most of the good weather and our freedom after all the travel restrictions and lockdowns last year. We’ve had a couple of very different trips to our favourite beach recently, arriving at low tide one day, then high tide just a few days later, something we always forget to check before visiting.

When our visit coincided with low tide, we had a quick picnic lunch before exploring the rock pools that are normally submerged while the tide is in. My husband (an astrological crab) set about trying to find the biggest crabs he could, and found a couple of very aptly-named, red-eyed and fairly hostile, Devil Crabs, while I searched for starfish. Our daughter was fascinated by it all, pointing at rocks for us to turn over and giggling whenever we held up the aquatic critters we’d found for her to look at.

Just a few days later, we returned while the tide was in and spent an afternoon walking barefoot in the sand, paddling in the waves and letting the little one dig in the sand. We’re used to having the beach to ourselves most of the time, but this was the busiest we’d ever seen it with dog-walkers, swimmers and paddle-boarders, families picnicking and even someone trying their luck with a metal detector.

Whatever the weather, and regardless of the the tide being in or out, Croy Shore is always one of my favourite places to visit, and it’s been lovely to spend a few days there this summer. Have a lovely week. X

Spring in the garden and beyond

This time last year we were still adjusting to life under the very first lockdown, and it’s such a contrast to have the world opening up after another three month lockdown and nature waking up after a long, cold winter. We’ve spent a lovely Easter bank holiday weekend strolling through parks, playing in the garden and visiting family.

It’s been a while since I’ve written about our garden, but we’ve continued working on it right through the winter months, replacing the fence separating our garden from our neighbours’, constructing more pemanent raised beds and building a summerhouse. We’ve already enjoyed morning coffees and evening meals in the summerhouse, and it’s such a lovely spot of shade in our sun-trap garden.

The daffodils I planted last autumn have begun to flower, providing a burst of yellow sunshine under the window, and it won’t be long until they’re joined by the tulips. As the daylight lengthens and the weather improves we’re spending more and more time outside, and our daughter has taken to bringing us her shoes and coat whenever she wants to toddle around the garden, play hide-and-seek in the summerhouse or fly on her swing.

We’re still regular visitors at our local parks, and the cycling seasons is obvious there too as the Greylag geese that spent winter in the pond have flown North again, and the bare trees have burst into blossom.

Yesterday, we took a trip slightly further afield to Rouken Glen and combined a walk around the park with our first trip to a garden centre this year, where we bought a plum tree and I went a bit wild stocking up on seeds.

We’ve had a strange combination of sunshine and low temperatures over the past few weeks but despite the cold, spring has definitely sprung and I’m so grateful for the changes in nature and the gradual easing of lockdown restrictions. Take care, and have a lovely week. X

Winter Wanders

Our area is still under lockdown but we’ve been enjoying some wintry walks with frosts, a light snowfall and temperatures hovering around zero this week. We recently visited Pollok Country Park starting early enough to see rays of sunlight breaking through the mist over the river on a cool and crisp morning, cold hands curled around cups of hot coffee while exploring the grounds. It was a lovely park to wander and a pleasant change from our local parks, though I think my husband was more excited to see the Highland cows (his favourite animal apparently) than our animal-loving daughter.

On Thursday, we woke to a very light dusting of snow that had frozen overnight. I spent a little bit of time crunching around the frozen garden with my daughter snuggled up close in her carrier, decorating our little apple trees with fairy lights and glittery baubles, checking on the sprouts and refilling the bird feeder.

I spent the rest of the day cosy inside decorating the Christmas tree with festive music playing in the background, a playful cat and inquisitive infant scampering around underfoot. I always enjoy unpacking the baubles and trinkets as most of them were handpicked on holidays or trips to the Christmas market or received as gifts, and have so much sentimental value attached to them. The most recent addition is a glass bauble that I bought during our first family trip to Pitlochry in October.

We were up bright and early this morning for a walk in a frosty winter wonderland, and we were rewarded for venturing out into subzero temperatures by the sight of a heron standing in the partially frozen pond at our local park. Take care, and have a lovely week. X

Autumn Scenes

The colder months of the year are always a mix of tugging on boots and coats for walks outside, and cosy evenings at home in front of the fire. We’re back under lockdown again and confined to our local area, however, we’re fortunate to live within walking distance of two large parks. We’ve become regular visitors at both – enjoying the late flowering roses, the autumnal trees, feeding the ducks and swans, pushing our daughter on the swings, and even meeting friends and their little ones for playdates.

Now nine months old, our daughter is a little livewire, crawling, babbling, waving and clapping, growing, learning and just so curious about the world. In September, I started taking her to Baby Sensory classes where we sang, bounced, signed, played and shook rattles, albeit at a safe distance from the other parents and infants. The activities are not dissimilar from what we’ve been doing at home, but she was fascinated seeing other babies, bouncing with excitement, smiling and shouting to get their attention. Unfortunately, in-person classes have been suspended and moved online for the duration of the lockdown, but I hope we’ll be able to return in the not too distant future.

Halloween was quiet this year, the little one had a fancy dress party at Baby Sensory, I carved a pumpkin lantern for her at home, and once she was in bed, I had a Halloween quiz with friends over Zoom – that was as educational as it was fun.

We’ve started eating lunch and dinner together around the dining table, enjoying homemade macaroni cheese, comforting casseroles, spicy bean enchiladas and smoky chillis, with the odd takeaway to support our favourite restaurants. Our daughter has taken to baby-led-weaning with great enthusiasm, chubby hands grabbing fistfuls from her bowl and happily gumming and sooking almost everything we serve her, and even our cat Mara joins us in case anything tasty falls over the edge of the high chair.

The mood in my city has been somewhat subdued this week, the move to Tier 4 and a return to lockdown was not unexepected but leaves many of us facing a long, dark and potentially lonely winter. This has been such a strange year, so different from any other we’ve experienced, yet I’ve tried to make the most of it and embrace a simpler, slower way of life – and this autumn has been one of little joys, chasing butterflies around the garden, rambling family walks, splashing in puddles, playdates at the park and making happy memories together. Take care and have a lovely week. X

Emerging from Lockdown

Emerging from Lockdown

We’re tentatively emerging from lockdown in our part of the world. Although some of the restrictions have been lifted, life has continued for us much the same as it has for the past few months, we shop for food once a week, my husband will continue to work from home for the foreseeable future, we take our daily walks for exercise, and my only other excursions have been taking our daughter to various health appointments.

This weekend though we were finally reunited with my parents and I was so glad to spend some time with them after three months apart, though it was very strange not to be able to hug or kiss them, or let them hold the baby. As much as I miss haircuts, libraries, dining out, the freedom to come and go as we please, and all the other aspects of life I took for granted before, being cut off from our family and friends has been by far the hardest part.

Emerging from Lockdown2

It was a bittersweet reunion as our daughter has spent most of her life under lockdown, and the last time her grandparents saw her was at my nanna’s funeral when she was a tiny, sleepy 5-week-old, since then she’s grown into a chubby, curious and cheerful 4-month-old. Yet I know how lucky we are to be reunited at all when so many other families are mourning loved ones who lost their lives to Covid-19.

One benefit of the lockdown has been that my husband has been able to work from home, which has given us time together as a family that we wouldn’t have had otherwise. We’ve settled into our roles as parents, found a daily rhythm that works for all of us, and our daughter is healthy and content.

Emerging from Lockdown3
Evening light

Throughout the lockdown, I’ve been very grateful for our garden, which has given us another environment to explore with our daughter full of sensory experiences while other activities are unavailable. The garden itself is full of life and colour at the moment.

We try to make our garden as wildlife friendly as possible, even so I’m always delighted by how many different types of bee visit the garden, and it’s fun trying to identify them all. We also heard the hedgehog snuffling around the hedge one day while we were outside so we left a bowl of water and some cat food out for it (don’t tell Mara!), though I’m wary of getting too close for fear of fleas and ticks.

Even though restrictions are starting to relax, while the virus remains a threat it’s hard to imagine life going back to the way it was before, and impossible to imagine what the year ahead will look like with all our plans from significant birthdays, friends’ weddings and other events we were looking forward to postponed or cancelled altogether, yet I’m so relieved that we’ve all weathered this storm and a little normality has started to resume. Take care, and have a lovely week. X

Rainbows and Scenes from Lockdown

Raimbows

Our world has shrunk since the lockdown began nine weeks ago, and life now revolves around our daughter, the garden and daily walks around the local area.

Despite the lockdown, life at home is bright and colourful as our nearly 4 month old daughter is alert, curious and animated, amusing us everyday with exaggerated yawns, sighs and sneezes, and delighting us with big, gummy grins and babbling.

Toys

Over the last few weeks we’ve been playing with rainbow ribbons that help with her visual development as she tracks movement and fine motor skills by grabbing them. I use a set of soft blocks as a visual and tactile prop when I make animal noises or sing ‘Old McDonald Had a Farm‘ – though I’ve no idea what sound a tortoise makes or what one is doing on a farm. We’ve also been watching colourful propellers spin in the wind in the the garden. Simple penguin and polar bear finger puppets have also been a hit with our daughter smiling and babbling at them like they’re little friends.

I haven’t been able to join any baby groups but a few friends had their babies just before and after me, and it’s been great to have some peer support, share experiences and ask for advice from other new mums albeit through messages and calls.

We’re missing getting out to beaches and the countryside but still enjoying wandering around the neighbourhood for some exercise almost every day whatever the weather with the wee one in the pram or sling – depending on her mood.

In addition to the rainbows and chalk art we’ve seen decorating windows, fences and pavements, we spotted a Lime Hawk Moth on one of our walks recently, a reminder that nature is carrying on oblivious to the pandemic. We also had an exciting nocturnal visitor in the garden this week, a hedgehog!

One of our neighbours dropped off a homemade stained glass leaf as a little gift, which I’ve hung in the living room. We’ve really appreciated chatting to our neighbours from a safe distance over the garden fence, a little bit of face-to-face contact and community spirit that I value so much more now than before the lockdown.

Shelf

I’m missing our families and friends terribly, but I’m so thankful for the technology that makes it possible to keep in contact, and phone and videocalls have become a regular part of life under lockdown that help to bridge the distance with loved ones until we can meet in person again.

Hope everyone reading is safe and well. Take care. X

Unravel and Bloom ~ Early Spring in the Garden

Daffodils

Over the last few weeks I’ve been glued to the news as the Covid-19 pandemic unfolded and changed our lives beyond recognition. While we’ve been following guidance to stay at home, I’ve been grateful for our little garden, which gives us an escape whenever we start to feel a bit claustrophobic in our house.

Although our lives have been interrupted, nature and spring have carried on oblivious to the pandemic. We have a long winter here in Scotland, and I always appreciate the earliest flowers in the garden reminding us that spring and change are on the way. There were a scattering of delicate Snowdrops in January, quickly followed by the glamourous Iris Reticulata ‘Pauline’. The Tete-A-Tete Daffodils started flowering at the start of this month, and now at the end the Narcissus Apotheosis are just about to unravel and bloom.

Daffodils2

Regardless of what’s going on in our lives or the rest of the world, the birds in our garden need to be fed, the grass cut, weeds pulled and seeds sown – and these simple activities help to provide a little bit of distraction, purpose and normality in these strange and scary times. Hoping everyone reading is safe and well. X