Pottering about with the pony

This weekend brought with it September’s beautiful mix of the last days of summer and the first of autumn, newly yellowing leaves on the trees and the odd one floating down already.

Bringing Charmer in on Saturday morning, after catching up on some mucking out and barn tidying, I decided to take him for a little bit of time in the sand school.

At the moment he’s not meant to do any forced exercise of any kind, and I feel a little hesitant even leading him as he’s often reticent and worried about where he’s placing his feet, but I thought in there with his headcollar off he could decide himself exactly what he felt comfortable with. We’ve used the space for games and join-up and ambles before, and when I took his ropes off and started just having a wander around myself, I found I had a very happy follower. ❤️

It was really, really lovely. I’ve missed even just walking in hand with him and know he has too, and it was so lovely just to move around together and to know he was only doing what he felt up to. He found plenty to explore and investigate, and when I got him in to his stable afterwards he was exhilarated and happy-looking just for having seen something ever so slightly different!

It was a lovely morning, and so enjoyed finding new ways to have adventures with my boy. ❤️

Hope you are all having a lovely week. X

Autumn Term & New Beginnings 🍂

The summer holidays have drawn to a close here, and – this year for the first time in five months instead of in six or seven weeks – the schools have started back. This time last year that meant me and my biggest girl we were slipping seamlessly back into all our usual toddler groups again after just a few weeks of sunshine and holidays. This year, it’s all very different in every way. For us especially of course, as we have not one but two little ones, a soon-to-be 3 year old in just a few months and a 5 month old growing and changing so fast and so determinedly I can hardly keep up with her! But for everyone the world is a completely different place, meaning that in fact none of those things that made up my weeks at home with my oldest are around at the moment, and no one is quite sure when they’ll be starting back.

One thing that has had the go-ahead is early learning and childcare, so our local playgroup has opened and it’s here our big girl has found herself two mornings a week – going off somewhere on her own for the very first time. She has taken to playgroup so well, and settled in wonderfully to playing with the other kids, coming home full of stories about the day.

Paintings hang along our fireplace every day, sent home in stacks that reveal how enthusiastically she’s taken to every new activity, and I’ve adjusted to the new little routine of drop-offs and pick-ups – finding the optimum parking spot, scooting the little one into her carrier, holding the biggest’s hand and walking along the street to the flower-filled grounds of the village hall – normally multi-purpose, but at the moment home only to the playgroup, while all its other uses wait to resume, lending a reassuring permanence to all the children’s play corners.

The beginning of playgroup also means the beginning of time at home just me and the littlest, which has been really lovely – and focusing on that wonderful new opportunity has helped me get through the waves of sadness that came along with the joy of watching her sister take her first steps away from us, even just a few hours a week.

First adventures out just ourselves, Littlest exploring the world

This is around the age my oldest was when I started slowly getting out to baby groups for the first time, after a few months of enjoying the time at home and on little pram walks around our village. I know I would have got to that quicker this time around, for so many reasons – not least that my littlest little is so very curious about the world around her and game for any adventure out into the world! These last few weeks, we’ve begun the 2020 versions of lots of new experiences, with Jo Jingles online classes streaming on the TV in place of an in-person music class and play dates with friends’ wee ones in place of local baby groups.

The Baby Club on BBC with the lovely Giovanna Fletcher, one of my tiny’s very favourite ways to enjoy music which she loves so much!

Despite the difference from normal, it’s been absolutely lovely exploring so many new things together. The supermarket is a weekly adventure, we’ve had her very first trip to the library this week (with a very wide-eyed response!) and also her first time in a cafe, and my first for six months – Little loved the sights and sounds and I couldn’t believe how totally amazing it was to have a beautiful hot coffee and amazing cake out and about once again!

Lovely sign in our library

As lovely as it is to tentatively step into some of the places we haven’t been in so long, I’m still spending most of my week with the girls at home or outdoors, and as we have unfortunately seen a bit of an upturn again in Covid-19 cases in the last few days and weeks, and a tightening of lockdown restrictions once more as a result, I know we’ll be continuing to wrap up as winter creeps in and stay outside as much as we can. It’s disheartening of course to see things take a step backwards, but as we enter my very favourite time of year, there are lots of positives to be found in the way we’re approaching the world this year, and already we are enjoying some beautiful autumn colours on all our rambles.

Lovely fairy “village” in one of our favourite woods

I always love the feeling at the start of the autumn term of a fresh starts and new beginnings; and this year it’s been a time of change for us all – my husband is changing jobs just now as well as the girls starting new chapters in their little lives, and even the pony starting one too with his retirement beginning earlier this month. I don’t return to work myself until the spring, and I am absolutely loving having so much time with the family stretching ahead and enjoying maternity leave; – but I have started a little new venture of my own too doing a little bit of study at nights when the wee ones are asleep, for an online course on dementia – and its impact on individuals and on society as whole – I’ve just begun, which has been so very interesting so far. I really love learning and focusing on something new, this is something I’m so passionate about and everything we’re covering will be so very helpful when I do go back to work. Really enjoying scribbling and watching lectures and meeting (or trying to meet!) deadlines again.

While this year has been as different as it could possibly be from any before it, it’s lovely to feel the reassuring normality of the back-to-school season settling in and the September sunshine and first cascade of leaves arriving once more.

Have a lovely weekend all. 🍂🍁 x

Happy retirement to my old man ❤️ 🐴

Earlier this week, Charmer and I had another visit from our vet to see how we were getting on with his wee old legs. We’re seeing him feeling a little better and comfier on his feet around the yard which is great, and have some more plans in place to try to help him further – so all is looking more positive and I’m starting to feel very optimistic now about seeing him comfortably enjoying his life.

However, we did agree that now is the time to bring his working life to an end. To be most representative, “working” should really be in inverted commas, as over the years we’ve really done nothing more than playing. When we were very young, the odd local show, a little dabble in jumping, but it’s generally just been a life of exploring the countryside around us at a very leisurely pace!

And it’s been a wonderful one. I have absolutely loved all these years of rambles and ambles and have pondered some of the biggest moments of my life from my seat up on my boy’s back. I’ll never forget steadying rides on the mornings of my graduation and my wedding day, all those autumn hacks through stubble fields and crunching leaves, wintry ones all wrapped up with our clouds of breath in the air, and summertime canters along bright green verges here and there in all our homes over the years.

Watching the world through his ears ❤️

When he was first diagnosed with arthritis in 2011, I was completely happy to bring the riding to an end if it helped him. Somehow though we got another nine years of adventuring, only putting a stop to the jumping; – although even then not quite as the photo in the woods below was taken much more recently – just a fallen log we often came across in our local woods that he absolutely loved to pop over and, taking the lead from him as always, I was happy to let him occasionally just to see his burst of happiness at flying over it again. ❤️

I really never expected to ride again after I’d had my second daughter so the fact that we got even just the three little rambles we did this summer with him so strong and so loving it was incredible – they were just a bonus, one I loved having and know he did too.

Riding fun and games over the years ❤️

So now we’ve hung up the tack for good, and it’s a very happy retirement to my boy – I have no doubt he’ll have no trouble at all in enjoying the views, watching the world go by and keeping an eye on all the goings-on! ❤️ xx

August Reading Diary… and a couple of virtual book festival jaunts!

My August reading diary is definitely a map of all the directions my heart has been tugged and pulled in this month – a mix of pony books while I’ve been pouring my evenings into looking after my own star pony; The Unmumsy Mum Diary for a bit of hand-holding company in the midst of the pride and heartache of my two wee ones growing up; and Jane Eyre joining the list of classics I’ve discovered are my 2020 go-to reads, somehow the most absorbing to get lost in when a proper escape is needed from what is still a very strange year.

The Swallow Tale by K.M.Peyton & A Pony To School by Diana Pullein-Thomson

The first book I read this month was K.M. Peyton’s The Swallow Tale, one that’s been on my shelf since childhood but not one of my very favourites that I’ve read over til I know it well, so quite fresh to me as I read it for the first time in so long. As with any pony story I found plenty to get lost in in Rowan’s falling in love with the wild and captivating Swallow. I followed it not too long after with a Diana Pullein-Thomson book, A Pony to School, one I hadn’t read before but had picked up a few years ago in my old favourite second-hand bookshop when they had (to my joy!) literally a bucket of old pony books. Both of these were very old-school classics and reminded me of the way I used to read when I was young, tearing through so many different books indiscriminately- just as long as they had horses in them – and learning lots of different ways of viewing and handling a life with horses as a result. Those among them back in the day whose values most closely mirrored mine – Ruby Ferguson’s Jill, and Elizabeth Lindsay’s Mory, Josh and Cara – are those that have stayed on my bookshelf and been re-read over and over, seeing my Charmer’s own character and story mirrored so perfectly in Black Boy’s and Midnight Dancer’s; – but it was actually really fun to go back and read completely different perspectives. Even if I could never take quite the same approach to horses as the Hawes of High Hawes did in Swallow (though much more as Babar and her “shabby” pony Black Diamond did, my stand-out characters of this book!) or use the old-school methods of Christina and Augusta in handling Clown and conquering his rearing habit in A Pony To School; there’s a common ground in the world of horses no matter the differences and as I worried and fretted over my own boy, I loved being lost in some proper classic pony stories – a genre I unashamedly love!

The Unmumsy Mum Diary by Sarah Turner

I’ve followed Sarah Turner, aka The Unmumsy Mum, on her blog and social media for a long time, and have read all of her books in the past. This month I found myself re-reading her second – and my favourite – The Unmumsy Mum Diary. Documenting life with her two sons at the time, Henry and Jude, during a year that saw Henry begin school and Jude navigate toddlerhood; I really enjoyed this book. I’ve always appreciated Sarah’s honesty about parenthood, but I think what shines through despite the telling of all the bad with the good is her huge and unwavering love for her children, and that mix of joy and sorrow I’ve come to learn comes along with watching every stage of their growing up going by so fast. This month as my biggest baby took off to playgroup to start making her own experiences for the very first time away from us, and my littlest too strained and stretched and wrangled her way to new stages in record time, desperate to sit up and join in with everything her sister can do; I was so aware of how quickly time goes by and how much I want to make the most of every single moment, and it made me feel comforted and uplifted to read all the emotions I could feel written down in someone else’s diary, and have some company in all the ups and downs of a busy and transforming month for the little ones.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

I’ve been meaning to read Jane Eyre for so long and finally got to it this month. It’s always been a favourite of my sister’s (which usually means I’ll definitely love it!) but I’d given it a couple of abandoned attempts years ago back at uni – where I studied English literature and we covered Wide Sargasso Sea so touched on it but never actually studied Jane Eyre itself – and I had never got back to it. Picking it up now, I found it so easy to read and so compelling. I started reading on the night of the most incredible thunderstorm we’ve had here in years, the perfect set-up for discovering the shadowy Thornfield Hall with all its mysteries; and I found myself completely swept up in Jane’s story from start to finish, simply loving her strength, resilience, intelligence and passion in every situation she found herself in. This is such a wonderful book, with such a wonderful heroine at its centre – so ahead of its time in so many ways, romantic, gothic and completely captivating; and I’m so glad to have read it at long last!

August would normally be a big book month for me, as it would tend to find me taking at least one venture over to the Edinburgh Book Festival, to sit with a coffee under twinkling lights in the beautiful garden in Charlotte Square, listen to talk after talk in the Spiegel Tent and file into the auditorium for a ticketed event or two. This year, of course, this was not to be! But I was really pleased to find that they put on such a wonderful online programme, streaming live and many events available on YouTube afterwards – so in spite of staying home, I’ve spent a couple of evenings this month enjoying some talks from favourite writers.

Book festival previous years and this year from home 🏡

I will listen to more I am sure as there have been so many interesting authors involved, but so far I have enjoyed Ian Rankin, who I always to love to hear, talking about his next Rebus book A Song for the Dark Times (definitely going on the to-read list!); Val McDermid and Jo Sharp discussing their collaborative collection of essays Imagine A Country, contributed to by some of Scotland’s most prominent voices; and Bernardine Everisto talking to Nicola Sturgeon about Girl, Woman, Other, which I enjoyed reading so much earlier in the summer. I always think it’s such a privilege to hear writers speak about their work and it was wonderful to be able to listen to some amazing people I admire so much talking so passionately about books and the world we’re living in today, all from the comfort of home!

Have really enjoyed reading this month and as we move into September, my very favourite season upon us of autumn leaves and cosy nights in, I’m so looking forward to my next reads. Have a lovely week all. Xx

Step by step

The last few weeks have been very focused on trying to get Charmer more comfortable and get a handle on his arthritis again, and have been a bit of a rollercoaster of steps forwards and back – but we’ve just been taking it one day at a time, making breakfast and dinner a cocktail of supplements, using his new magnetic bands and trying everything we can – and I’m now very, very hopeful that we’re getting some real progress!

All his many feed additions with a sprinkle of the sweetest treats to put him off the scent of them all!

After starting on a new supplement Nutraquin+ at the vet’s advice a few weeks back, in addition to his usual Danilon at a slightly increased dose, and going back on turmeric back then too which he had been on in the winter last year; in the last week or so we’ve also started No Bute at a recommendation from a friend and also switched the turmeric to Turmeraid, with added black pepper, at another’s recommendation – all of which seem to be contributing to a comfier boy.

I’ve always been glad to have the support of others with more experience than me throughout my life with Charmer, but have never been so grateful as now for friends at the livery yard. In the last few months, especially with juggling the littlest baby at home and lockdown schedules, I’ve had a lot of practical help from Charmer’s fieldmates’ owners, managing the bringing in and turning out, who have been wonderful; and there are also a few of us on our lovely yard with horses at just exactly the same age all of whom are navigating arthritis, and some of the things that have worked best have been recommendations from them or other friends either at the yard or who I’ve known from the past. It’s wonderful being able to share ideas and try out new things and when Charmer was struggling most and I was so upset, the kindness of the people we share the farm with was overwhelmingly lovely and such a big help as we moved slowly forwards.

As well as the feed additions we’ve built his magnetic bands, which I started him wearing a couple of weeks ago, up to full use, so he now has these on while he’s out, about 16 hours a day, and just has them off while in his stable for his 7-8 hours in. Got him on a new routine at the moment of coming in for breakfast at 11ish with his fieldmate, having some hours in, and then when I arrive at either 5ish or 8ish in the evening (depending on whether pre- or post- bedtime here at home!) he has his second feed, and we walk back out. It’s always hard to know how to play it in terms of time in and out as I know he does better out for keeping moving and not stiffening up but with needing two feeds at the moment for the staggered Danilon didn’t want to have him walking in and out twice, and he seems to enjoy some downtime in the stable at the moment and not seem too stiff when it’s kept to under 8 hours or so – so going with it for the moment, although I hope maybe when I see the vet next week we might be able to combine everything in one feed and then he could be in for a shorter time.

Watching the ships on the water with him on our wanders out

Walking back out to his field has been the most difficult thing to manage over the past weeks – we can either make it a very short walk straight from his barn to his field gate, but on a slight slope which he seems to find really difficult, or a longer walk around the yard but more on the flat. He definitely seems to prefer the long way, but although some nights he’s managed fine, others he’s been really struggling whenever on the concrete, although managing fine on grass – and managing absolutely fine on the grass in his field too. One of the other owners at the farm had suggested Scoot Boots hoof boots for him, and my lovely friend let me borrow hers to see how they worked out. After two nights of using them to walk back out I’m very very hopeful we might have found a bit of a breakthrough for him, as they seemed to make the most incredible difference to how he felt – basically just letting him walk with shoes on without the trauma to his legs of being shod.

Still want to stay just cautiously optimistic as I know we’re battling a difficult thing here and it’s taken a long time to see the improvements we have but I’m absolutely over the moon to see some (sometimes quite bouncy!) strides forwards in the last couple of days. As we walked round to the field last night he almost broke into a trot to follow my friend walking a little ahead with an apple, and was ears forward and happy all the way – such a welcome sight!

He seems to be doing well and be comfy at the moment both in the stable and in the field and he’s otherwise in such good health for his age, so it’s just the movement between we’ve got to master, and I really hope we’re getting there.

Enjoying the field life….
…and our quiet nights in the barn together 🥰

Hope you’re all having a lovely week. X

The Little Ones’ Books ~ Pt 2 ❤️

I’ve been meaning for a while to write about some more of the favourite books of the young team here in our little house! I have always had such a love for children’s books, some of the favourites from my childhood treasured and re-read over and over; and I’ve loved getting to know some beautiful books for very young children ever since my oldest daughter arrived. I did write one post away back at World Book Day a couple of years ago that I had always meant to be the start of many but never quite got round to it. Now, though, I’m so enjoying writing about all my own reading on here that thought it would be a lovely time to start writing about our very favourites just a few at a time.

Last time had a look at Carson Ellis’s Home, Julia Donaldson’s The Highway Rat, Jonathan Emmet’s Mole series and Janet & Allan Ahlberg’s classic Peepo!

They are all still very well-loved additions to our bookshelf. Our Julia Donaldson collection has grown and definitely now have more of hers to cover! The Mole books and Home still make for lovely quiet reading and Peepo! especially has been a frequently-selected bedtime story for the last couple of years here and is one of the many our biggest girl loves to recite from heart after so many readings. It’s become even more special to us too since our littlest daughter arrived – we love the sister squabbling for the baby on her knee, all the chaos around the littlest member of the Peepo family, and most of all that he finds so much love and security in it despite its noise and bluster. ❤️

Old Bear books, by Jane Hissey

Starting with an absolute favourite of mine, and a collection so well-loved by us all, Jane Hissey’s Old Bear books are so very special thanks to the perfectly drawn characters, the warming stories and the detailed and simply beautiful illustrations. Although like so many others we’ve got really into, these are favourites from my own childhood (my copy of Old Bear dated to me at Christmas when I was one, and a story I’ve never forgotten), it is actually some of the more recently written books that are the best loved here. The All-Together Painting, published in 2013, is a really lovely one, and the newest addition to our bookshelf is the most recent, Happy Birthday, Old Bear, a beautiful 30th anniversary special, with all the old favourites and a new character, Elsie the little grey elephant, too – who has become as much of a hit as Old Bear, Little Bear, Bramwell Brown and all the rest.

Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney, illustrated by Anita Jeram

This is a simple and lovely bedtime story that I never get tired of and that both girls love. Little Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare’s lovely exchanges as they move gradually closer to bedtime are just perfect, and it’s a beautiful little book.

Baby, I Love You – illustrated by Helen Stephens

We have two copies of this very special book and I’m actually going to keep them both so both girls have one – this is a UNICEF books created and published to support babies and new parents in those blurry early days and is just so beautifully done – the illustrations are perfect. I love that there’s mess, there’s imperfections, but there’s so much love in every drawing. These are gifted here as part of babies’ first Bookbug bags, and I loved receiving them both times, a really lovely, calming and reassuring gift for all the family to mark such a big moment.

Alfie: The Big Alfie Out of Doors Storybook by Shirley Hughes

This is one that arrived with us in lockdown – our biggest girl got a wonderful birthday present from her grandparents of the chance to choose a book a month through the year. We have had a great time doing it (mostly having them delivered as it’s turned out instead of bookshop browsing as planned!) and it’s been so nice that it can grow with her and be the perfect book for now. All our outdoor play in lockdown – gardens and tents and exploring the world on our doorstep – lent itself perfectly to being completely swept up in Alfie’s adventures, and all his games with his little sister Annie-Rose were wonderful too as we adapted to sibling relationships here. Shirley Hughes’ drawings bring nature to life in such a beautiful way, and this is a lovely collection.

There are so many books we’ve come across and loved, will definitely write with some more soon!

Hope you are all having a good weekend. X

Ups and downs with my boy

The last couple of weeks have been very mixed in life with Charmer. Back at the end of July I celebrated 20 whole years of life with him, making a fuss of him and giving him a few extra treats – enjoying some time with the whole family joining in – his junior groom busy sweeping up around him and the littlest member of the family stretching out her tiny hand to get to know him for the very first time ❤️❤️ – and some of my favourite times, just me and him, too.

As always, I was thinking how very lucky we were still to have him so well and so healthy, loving summertime life and feeling good, but unfortunately just a few days later he was suddenly struggling a bit walking in and out between his field and the barn, and within a day or two was practically refusing to move from his stable at all, which is so unlike him. Called the vet out and they were wonderful as always and were able to say and show that it was definitely his arthritis (it was so acute all of a sudden that I hadn’t even been sure if it might’ve been an injury or if he was ill and just not feeling well enough to move) and that it was below his knees that was causing the problem rather than his knees as last time, and believed coffin joints – which definitely made sense as his last X-rays a year or so ago showed arthritic changes moving that way. The vet said it was hard to tell really whether it could just be a flare or further degeneration that will be the new normal; but either way needed to get on top of it quickly. He’s had his anti inflammatory upped slightly in the short term, but with the caveat I totally understand that we really are at pretty much the maximum he can have long-term at the moment without risking too much damage to his kidneys. He’s also started on a new supplement I really hope might help and was recommended to have front shoes put back on, which he’d had off since last year, with a rolled toe to try to help his movement and reduce any impact on the joints in his front legs.

The first couple of days after the vet visited last Monday were pretty bad, and he actually seemed worse every night and I really thought we were approaching a time of having to make a decision for him – although with his level of discomfort just shooting up so suddenly and him having been so sound and so well just a couple of weeks before I really wanted to give everything a chance to help. Thankfully towards the end of last week he started to improve and had a few good days walking almost like his normal self again.

Spent a lot of time watching him in the field to see he could get around ok, still lie down and get back up and was very relieved to see he could.

The farrier came out on Wednesday to see about putting the shoes on. He was also wonderful – as ever I’m so grateful to have such dedicated people working to help Charmer and do what’s best – but he was reluctant to put shoes on knowing the trauma it would involve to his legs. He did say Charmer’s feet were very even despite his leg tending to turn in a little due to the changes and in very good shape which would already be giving him some good support, so instead as a first try trimmed his feet with a rolled toe trim rather than shoeing with that.

Having seen him since Wednesday I’m very glad we didn’t go for the shoes just now, although it might be they would really have helped in the long run. Even just with holding his feet up for the most careful trim and the least time possible and even with some extra pain relief he was much worse again yesterday which was a shame after a few days’ progress but have to hope it helps longer term.

This morning, visiting him in the field, he seemed comfortable enough and was enjoying grazing with his fieldmate and watching the younger horses over the fence careering around with interest, which is all I really want for him. Obviously we’re off riding at the moment and that may be for good this time, but I know that wouldn’t phase him as long as he can definitely be comfy enough enjoying his field, stable and routine he’ll be happy.

Hopefully he’ll get back on the mend again very quickly, but I have never been more aware that we don’t have all the time in the world and I really want to enjoy every minute. Times in the barn with him quietly companionable, grooming him or reading a pony book while he takes his time with his dinner, or standing side by side out in the field are my most special moments. Last night as we left the lights of the barn and took our slow steady walk to the field there was such an autumn-like wind and it was dark for the first time all summer heading out. I love watching seasons change with him and just enjoying the stillness.

Keeping everything crossed for him over the next few days and weeks, and taking each day as it comes. Wishing you all a lovely weekend x

July Reading Diary

I’ve so enjoyed reading in July, and, as usual, read quite a variety! I started off with Dorothy Koomson’s The Chocolate Run, picking it up when looking for a light holiday read while we we had a couple of weeks off and were enjoying a nice slow pace of life at the start of the month. It’s years since I read a Dorothy Koomson book but I remember really liking her writing and enjoying both light, warming books like Marshmallows for Breakfast and the more pacy and thriller-like The Woman He Loved Before which really drew me in. Unfortunately I really wasn’t keen on The Chocolate Run, one of her earlier books, published back in 2004 – although it did totally tick the box for an easy read to pick up anytime, and with the added bonus of having to be read with a wee taste of chocolate too! I just couldn’t get on board with Greg as the romantic interest and really didn’t like some of the ways Amber was treated by him and how accepted it seemed to be.

That’s the second romance novel I’ve read this year that I’ve felt exactly the same way about (One Day in December the first) and I was disappointedly thinking maybe I really couldn’t get on board with that type of genre anymore, once a well-loved escape. But then I turned to my old friend, the very best, Bridget!

Re-reading Bridget Jones’ Diary, as it always does, reminded me what I love so very very much about a good romantic comedy. I love everything about it – Bridget’s determination and spirit, all the ups and downs of the story, the camaraderie and tight bonds of that wonderful “urban Singleton family”, the painfully relatable and disarmingly funny take on family relationships and work struggles, and of course, a truly lovely male lead in Mark Darcy. I’ve re-read both of the first Bridget Jones novels so many times over the years and I was pleased to see once again that my love for them is undiminished by time. ❤️ In an introduction to a newer edition of the first novel than my battered and so very well-loved copy, Caitlin Moran writes:

Apart from having the self-control to keep the re-reading to every five years or so (I usually find my way back to either one or both of them during the days between Christmas and New Year each year!) I couldn’t agree more, Bridget Jones is undoubtedly just as much of a friend to me now as always.

My next book was another new one to me but one that’s made it into my favourites straight away – Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman.

I have been meaning to read this for so long and don’t know how it slipped down the pile but it was our book club book for July and I’m so pleased that gave me the shove I needed. I found it a thought-provoking, sad but life-affirming book. I adored Eleanor and her way of viewing the world, and was rooting for her so whole-heartedly from the off. The other characters she encountered, Raymond and Mrs Gibbons, Sammy and Laura, were wonderful too, and I got completely lost in Eleanor’s journey and in this little story about loneliness, bravery, and the indescribable difference friendship can make to a life.

And it’s definitely been the month for getting to long-awaited books as I have also just finished reading Michelle Obama – Becoming, which I’d started away back last year and for one reason or another only got a little way into. Coming to it now, I have so thoroughly enjoyed it. Writing with dignity and poignant reflection on everything from her kindergarten days to navigating parenting in the White House, the former First Lady draws such an vivd picture of her incredible story. This was a wonderful book to read, uplifting and inspring, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

It’s been a good month’s reading – it’s never a bad one when it involves my beloved Bridget, I enjoyed racing through a holiday read, fell in love completely with Eleanor Oliphant and have really enjoyed spending the last couple of weeks sitting evening after evening with Michelle Obama’s strong and inspiring voice for company.

Looking forward to mapping out what to read next – heading into my 33rd book of the year having coincidentally just turned 33 this week – my birthday bringing with it (as well as lots of truly lovely family time ❤️) many more books to add to the to-be-read stack! I’m so enjoying all the books I’ve been reading this year and journaling on them all too!

Hope you are all having a lovely weekend. X