My little blog turns five!

Taking some time at the end of a busy weekend full of birthday celebrations, a trip to the beach and my daughter’s first toddler sensory class to write a quick post as this weekend also coincides with the fifth anniversary of my little blog. A quick tally reveals that since I nervously hit publish on that very first (and slightly cringesome) post, I’ve shared over 220 posts including 19 recipes and almost 100 book reviews. More than anything else though, my blog has always been a record of life and I’ve written about my family and cat, our home and garden, the places and events we’ve visited.

I don’t share everything that goes on but I also don’t feel the pressure to pretend my life is perfect as I’ve found that it’s often the frustrations and sorrows, the challenges and changes that give me a sense of perspective for how much I still have to be grateful for.

When I first started blogging, I had no idea I’d still be writing it five years later or how my life would change in that time. I love being part of the blogging community, I’ve found so many inspiring and entertaining bloggers writing about so many different topics that I’m still slightly surprised that others are interested in reading what I write, but I’m always thankful to everyone who takes the time to like and comment on my posts. Thank you for reading, and wishing you all a lovely week. X

Early Signs of Spring

Early Signs of Spring

The shortest month of the year felt like the longest for us, and it was a relief to turn the page of the calendar and welcome both a new month and a new season. Over the last few days, I’ve enjoyed noticing all the little signs – from the first daffodil about to unfurl in our garden to the light creeping back into our mornings and evenings – that spring is on the way.

The end of February was unseasonably warm across the UK – such a contrast from this time last year when our garden was under a foot of snow, but for the most part we’ve had frosty mornings, sunny afternoons and cooler evenings in our part of the country. It’s been warm enough to resume my lunchtime walks in the park near my office, where I spotted catkins dangling from the trees like party decorations, and in our front garden the little Kilmarnock willow has also started producing furry catkins.

There still isn’t much growing in our garden yet, but we’ve started off a few things inside. In a fit of nostalgia, my spouse and I decided to grow something that reminded of us of our childhoods. My husband often reminisces about growing potatoes with his stepdad on their allotment, and there are now potatoes chitting on one of the windowsills. We’ve also started off some sweat peas, which remind me of happy hours spent playing in my grandparents’ garden. I let my husband pick whichever colours he liked, but insisted he stick to scented varieties.

When life feels overwhelming, there is something incredibly steadying about nature and the familiar cycle of the seasons; again and again, nature somehow finds a way to endure the harshest winters, scorching summers, and everything in between. Have a lovely week. X

The Giant Lanterns of China

One of my highlights of 2018 was visiting the Giant Lanterns of China at Edinburgh Zoo for Chinese New Year, and I was thrilled when I found out they were putting on another show this year. This time around the theme was Myths and Legends, and I loved the clash of Scottish and Chinese mythology, like the Loch Ness Monster tangling with a Chinese water dragon.

Nessie and Dragon

There were a few lanterns recycled from the previous event but I was impressed by how much thought and effort had been made to ensure it was every bit as original and memorable as the first, and I thought it was even better than the previous year.

Aside from all the fantastical creatures, there was also a section displaying extinct animals alongside currently endangered species, providing a pertinent reminder that we must act now to prevent species from disappearing in our lifetime due to climate change, hunting and loss of habitat.

Living in Scotland, we’re no strangers to inclement weather, but when it started snowing, it only made the experience seem more magical as we meandered between the gorgeous lanterns with cold hands wrapped around hot drinks, and it was a wonderful way to spend a wintry evening in February. Have a lovely week! X

Winter Gardening Indoors & Out

Unlike many people, I don’t dislike January, it’s a peaceful month to recover from the excesses of the festive period and ease into a new year. Unfortunately, I don’t feel quite as charitable about February, which I find frigid and inhospitable while I’m impatiently waiting for spring to begin.

snowdrop

I dug up the Iris Reticulata and Snowdrop bulbs last year with the intention of relocating them but then didn’t get around to it, which will make winter feel even longer as we might not see many flowers until April when the tulips appear. I must have missed one of the snowdrops though, and it was a pleasant surprise to spot the little flash of white in the border.

buddha and bamboo

At this time of year, I’m desperately grateful for the greenery that the bamboo (Fargesia Robusta) provides while the trees are still bare, and it looks lovely edged with white when it snows. We’ve also treated ourselves to a little Buddha statue with vouchers the in-laws gave us for Christmas to add a little Zen to the border.

I’ve been enjoying watching the birds that visit our feeding station over the winter. We seem to have a multi-generational family of sparrows living in our hedge and a pair of blue tits that nest by the side of the house every year, as well as the odd robin and black bird that visit.

Inside our home, we’ve been enjoying the warmth and coziness of our woodburner most evenings, and I’ve been tending our little houseplant collection, which I’m often guilty of neglecting during the warmer months when most of my time and attention is focused on the garden. I was very excited to notice that two of the Echeveria seem to be growing flowering stems, especially as their once red and pink edges have faded to the leaftips. Have a lovely week! X

A New Year’s Day Walk on the Beach

Arran and the Holy Isle

We were up bright and early yesterday for a New Year’s Day walk at our favourite beach, Croy Shore in Ayrshire. We never remember to check the tides before visiting but we were happy to discover that it was out when we arrived giving us an opportunity to meander towards the rocky outcrops that are usually inaccessible when the tide is in.

Strolling side by side with our hoods up against the chill wind and the sun warming our backs, the pale blue skies gave us a perfect view of the Isle of Arran and the Holy Isle. My spouse and I weren’t brave enough to take a dip in the sea, but it was a refreshing walk and felt like we were breathing in all the hope of a new year and letting go of the year before. I always feel inspired by new beginnings, and it’s exciting to think of all the opportunities to meet new people, visit new places, try new experiences, to learn and grow that a new year promises.

This week I’m enjoying a few more days off at home before we put the Christmas decorations away for another year, we return to work and normality resumes. Happy New Year and have a lovely week! X

2018 ~ Looking Back, Looking Forward

End of the Year

We’re in the midst of that peaceful and cosy time between Christmas and New Year when everything seems to slow down and I struggle to remember what day of the week it is.

2018 has been a year full of adventures and experiences for us, and it’s genuinely hard to pick out personal highlights because there have been so many from our roadtrip around Iceland (something my husband and I have been talking about since our first visit to Reykjavik in 2014) to day trips around Scotland, and slowly but surely transforming our garden.

The three most popular posts on my blog this year were:

  1. On the road around Iceland
  2. Pottering around with houseplants
  3. An Unruly Tangle of Flowers

I always find it interesting to see which posts seem to resonate with readers, but I try not to worry too much about likes and followers, and focus on writing about what interests me and what’s going on in our lives.

I was just shy of my reading target this year, which I blame on three books I started but didn’t finish. I’ve accepted that I’ll never read 52 books a year, but a couple of books a month seems like a realistic goal. This week I re-organised my bookshelves (still two rows deep) and I like seeing old favourites rubbing shoulders with new books waiting to be read.

I didn’t share many recipes this year, which was largely due to my husband and I adopting a gluten-free diet as he has suspected Crohn’s Disease. We both enjoy cooking (almost as much as eating!) and make as much as we can from scratch and I’m hoping to share a few new vegetarian and gluten-free recipes soon.

Looking back at our photos and all the memories we’ve made, I’m a little sad this wonderful year is ending, but I’m looking forward to seeing what 2019 holds. Wishing everyone a very happy New Year when it comes, and thank you so much to everyone who takes the time to read, like, comment on or follow my little blog. X

A September to Remember

A September to Remember

September is always a busy month for us with birthdays and anniversaries to celebrate as well as catch-ups with friends, and it’s only now that I’ve found time to sort through the photos and reflect on some of the highlights.

Earlier in the month, my husband and I celebrated our third wedding anniversary and ten years together with a romantic break at Stobo Castle. We had the loveliest time exploring the beautiful grounds, swimming in the pool, sweating in the sauna, soaking in the outdoor hot tubs and sipping cocktails in the bar.

A lot has changed since that Tuesday morning a decade ago when the bold, young student surprised this shy bookseller by asking her out for a coffee mid-book purchase, but I’m always very grateful that he did.

We also had a wonderful weekend away with friends in the countryside, enjoying rambling walks during the day and cosy chats round the firepit late into the night – as well as making friends with Bria the pony, and the cats.

31 Making new friends

Finally, this week we celebrated my grandmother’s 92nd birthday. My nanna has been quite unwell over the summer, but it was lovely to have the family together to celebrate the generous and independent woman she still is.

As it draws to a close, September has definitely been a month to remember, full of good times and good company. Have a lovely week. X

Growing Together

 

GrowingTogether

The heatwave appears to have come to an end in our part of the country, and we’ve emerged from the shade back into the garden. Over the last week, we’ve also enjoyed spending time with my parents in their gardens as well.

I often feel lucky that my husband and I have so much in common with my parents, and we’ve spent many happy hours over the years watching films together, sorting ourselves into our Hogwarts houses on Pottermore, and just chatting over mugs of tea, but whenever we’re together it doesn’t usually take long for the conversation to turn to the subject of gardening.

My parents – both introverts by nature – come to life when talking about gardening, always as eager to share their advice and show off their gardens as they are curious to hear about what we’re growing in our own. Unsurprisingly, I have my parents to thank for my love of nature and gardening, and one of my proudest achievements as a child was growing a fuschia from a tiny cutting, which has since grown into a bush measuring at least five foot tall and three feet wide, and now my dad has offered me another cutting from the very same plant for our own garden.

Gardening often brings out the most generous side of a person, and I never seem to part from my parents these days without one of them pressing a packet of seeds into my hand or loading my arms with whatever fruit or vegetables they’ve had an unexpected glut of.

Families today are often separated by geographical distance, conflicting work schedules and a hundred other distractions, and yet it is lovely that something as simple as our shared love of gardening seems to have brought my little family closer together. Have a lovely week. X

An Unruly Tangle of Flowers

An Unruly Tangle of Flowers

Sometimes it seems like our gardening to-do list is almost never ending as we slowly cultivate this space and bring our ideas to fruition, but the recent heatwave has given us an excuse to slow down and appreciate all the beauty of summer in our garden.

In retrospect, creating a flower border under the privet hedge was probably a mistake as the roots of the hedge stretch into the bed absorbing the nutrients and moisture from the soil, and the border is in full sun creating a challenging environment for anything we plant. There’s much more bare earth this summer than I’d like as some of the perennials we bought have struggled to establish themselves and I’ll probably have to move some of them elsewhere in autumn, but a few don’t seem to mind the conditions.

The Aquilegias were already flowering when we bought them, but the first of our own plants to burst into blossom was a little Sedum that my mum gave me from her garden, which is thriving in its new location.

Then all at once the annuals burst into flower – though just like last year, I’ve over-seeded the bed causing an unruly tangle of colour, and it seems like there’s something new to see every day as one flower fades and the petals of another start to unfurl. Have a lovely week! X

Cycling around the Isle of Cumbrae

Cycling around the Isle of Cumbrae

The weekend was spent celebrating my husband’s birthday, and as he doesn’t like too much fuss, we decided to have a little day away together; he suggested cycling around the Isle of Cumbrae, somewhere I’d never visited before.

We took the ferry from Largs to the Isle of Cumbrae, which runs every fifteen minutes during the summer, and the crossing itself only takes about ten minutes. From the ferry slip, we hopped on a bus to Millport, the only town on the island, where we hired a tandem bike for £7 an hour and set off clockwise around the island.

I was a little apprehensive as my husband cycles to work most days and I can’t remember the last time I was on a bike, but it didn’t take us long to find our balance and a leisurely pace that suited us both. The road around Cumbrae is about 10 miles long and relatively flat making it ideal for walking or cycling, and there are very few cars on the road. It took us about two hours to cycle around the island, including stops to enjoy the scenery and a picnic lunch.

The Isle of Cumbrae doesn’t have many tourist attractions, yet it’s one of the most accessible Scottish islands to visit and it’s so peaceful that it feels further away than it actually is; we both enjoyed our little tandem adventure so much that I’ve no doubt that we’ll be back again. Have a lovely week. X