The Beekeeper of Aleppo ~ Christy Lefteri

Most of my reading in 2021 so far has been cosy and comforting – I’ve been heading off to the farm with pony books tucked in my jacket, slowly re-reading Jane Austen, breathing in the streets of Bath, finding my way through the week with Bridget Jones by my side for a bit of camaraderie and generally using reading as a lovely and reassuring escape from the world around us. This book was so, so not that (a book club pick I nearly didn’t join in with due to the reading mood I was in) and yet was one of the most wonderful books I’ve read in a long time.

This is the desperately sad and yet somehow – unbelievably – hope-glittered story of Nuri and Afra’s journey from their beloved Aleppo to the UK, seeking refuge from the war that had engulfed them. Beautifully compassionate and so painfully and perfectly written, this book is so important and so well done, shining an unflinching and much-needed light on the plight of the many refugees being forced to make such a dangerous and difficult journey. The beautiful descriptions of Nuri and Afra’s life in Aleppo, he a beekeeper and she a painter, their home life with their little boy Sami and their wider family, the peace and stability of their little world; are one of the things that make this book so wonderfully powerful, illuminating with painful truth how normal life was for these families before their world was turned upside down.

I read that Christy Lefteri wrote this after working with refugees herself, seeking to raise awareness and understanding of the crisis and the people trapped within it, and I think she achieves this beautifully with this book. Nuri and Afra are wonderfully engaging characters and their story together as the book unfolds is a deeply moving one. This is simply a very important book – wonderfully written, heart-breaking, challenging and ultimately uplifting against the odds.

January Reading Round-Up on a Snowy Sunday

2021 got off to a slow start for us all, the usual emerging from the cosy bubble of the Christmas period into a flurry of new year activity and starts never quite happening for all of us here, as lockdown began with the turning of the year and has continued since. We’re slowly edging now towards lighter nights and (hopefully) better days with some light at the end of the tunnel in all ways. But, for January at least, I sought out a few cosy reads and settled as much as possible to the extending of the lull.

Starting the year slowly, keeping the decorations up to the very last and finding myself hanging on to a bit of Christmas as long as I could, I enjoyed a major dose of nostalgia in a new book with Christmas at Mistletoe Cottage (enjoying writing some reviews on Instagram just now so will put some links in when not writing full reviews here!) returning to Animal Ark, the scene of many a childhood favourite story, in this new book series about Mandy Hope in adulthood, a really lovely read; before getting lost in Tom Michell’s lovely memoir of his time with his very characterful penguin companion Juan Salvador in The Penguin Lessons.

Over a few weeks I also read the short stories in Val McDermid’s collection Christmas is Murder, enjoying her masterful storytelling in so many different dark and unravelling tales; and got swept up in Cressida Ellen Schofield’s Incapability Brown, billed as a “pony book for adults”, a mix of a book with splashes of drama, unfolding relationships and, the parts I enjoyed most, often reading in the stable or while watching my boy graze, riding adventures. The horsey parts made me feel very nostalgic for my own riding days and because of that I really couldn’t believe it when my own came around again later the same month, my own boy, previously retired, improving in health and managing a couple of little ambles again, making my riding dreams come true. ❤️

And, lastly, I really enjoyed reading Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights, which I’ve just finally got round to posting a review on this morning, an action-packed and captivating journey and a book I’ve been wanting to read for a while and am so glad I have. For all I was looking for light and relaxing reads and all of these fitted the bill, it was the first month in a long time I didn’t find myself returning to any re-reads, the five books all new to me, and I really enjoyed my reading start to the year.

We are still in a snowy world here at the moment, and it’s now back to re-reading for me on an easy start to wintry Sunday morning. I’m lost in heroines classic and modern classic just now in Northanger Abbey which I’m loving, not having read in years, and Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, much more frequently read but a true friend of a book. ❤️ Hope you are all well, staying warm and safe and having a lovely weekend. X

Pony diaries: New shoes, a happy hack and snow days

Despite ever-changing weather and a few challenges in getting to the farm this last week or so when the worst snow in a few years descended on us here; 2021 has got off to a very positive start for my fluffy boy Charmer, who has really enjoyed the past few weeks.

We started the new year in a cold snap of frosty weather, although on New Year’s Day itself there was a thaw and a bright warm sun that got our morning at the farm – and family ramble down by the horses’ fields, watching them graze – off to a beautiful and uplifting start.

Charmer continues to be doing really really well at the moment with his arthritis and in January enjoyed some in hand walks down the hill he used to struggle on, loving exploring. On the 22nd, it was New Shoes Day once again for him, and this time around – after being shod the last twice since his equilibrium shoes were put on with a bit of sedation to help him cope with it – he managed without any sedation whatsoever and without a hint of discomfort the next day which just made me so, so happy. It’s wonderful to see him thriving again – and unbelievable to see my brave boy have hot shoes put on unsedated for the first time in his life since a disastrous attempt when he was 4… who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks!!!

He had his annual injections the same week, and both the vet who came out for them and the farrier were so happy with how well he was doing on his walks and in his day to day life, that we agreed if he seemed to be up for it there would be no problem with trying him with a little walk back on board to see how he managed. That’s a thing I never thought I’d do again, back in August when he was as lame as he was I was absolutely happy to retire him and didn’t expect to ever reverse that; but at the moment he is so enthusiastic about life and about his walks in hand and taking the lead from him he really did seem that getting out an explore together would be something he’d love.. so on one quiet morning when the conditions were briefly not too wintery, I just popped his bridle on and got on, just bareback and just for a quick wander around the yard, to see how he managed.

It was such a wonderful experience, I couldn’t believe how happy he was. As we wandered more of the hail stones we’ve got used to these days started, but this deterred him not one bit, and he was so keen to go. We ended up walking down the track a little, where he was pulling to just go on and on, so keen to explore, and when I turned him back, just wanting to keep it to a little wander, I had to hold him back to a walk, he was so enthusiastic and his wee head bouncing as he strained to break into a trot; it was beyond lovely to see.

So far that’s the only wee hack we’ve had, and I’ll keep them to occasional, as they always tend to be for us anyway, with some in hand walks and some little rides but everything still very steady for him. But it’s just lovely to see how much he enjoyed it and just lovely whatever he can manage to see how well he’s doing just now.

Yesterday was dentist day, with his teeth done by our same wonderful vet who has helped him so much over the last year first with his dental operation last February and then with his arthritis in the summer, and although he’s got a few things going on with his teeth that are to be expected for a boy turning 25 in a few weeks, and we’ll be keeping an eye on them with another appointment in 6 weeks time, he seems to be doing ok and at the moment is managing just fine to get his hay, grass and feed fully enjoyed. It was brilliant to have a chance to see his usual vet and get her take on how he was moving and thoughts for him, and to my relief his weight etc all seems ok and she’s happy with how he’s doing for the moment.

The last few days have been very snowy, which has been a beautiful winter wonderland (the difficulties of winter driving and practicalities of getting up to the farm aside, thankfully managed!) and Charmer has enjoyed a play in the snow as much as the kids have back at home, – rolling, running around with his field mate and some big happy bucks in the air I couldn’t quite believe his old legs could manage! It’s been lovely to see him out enjoying it.

We’re still under a blanket of snow just now, although thankfully getting around a bit easier these past couple of days, no need to park and hike up the hill anymore and just the perfect amount now for kids and ponies playing in. We’re starting to see the nights lengthening which is really lovely, and I’m really looking forward to getting my boy into spring; but am really so glad he’s managing (hopefully the last of!) the winter so well.

A happy Friday all from our snowy corner of the world. Hope you are all well xxxx

Blog birthday and a hello from Sandy hamster ❤️

It’s been 5 years this week since I started writing this blog, and I have really loved having a little outlet for all our adventures here at home and out and about enjoying the world around us. From the very beginning I’ve loved writing especially about the animal members of our family, starting back half a decade ago when we were loving looking after our rambling mischief of rats.

My lovely boys Harvey, Ty, Winston and Chae back in my very first post ❤️

Nowadays, we’re down to just one little furry resident in the house – Charmer of course a little further away! – and so it seemed a perfect time for a wee hello from our Sandy hamster, who has been with us a year and half now, unbelievably, and will be 2 years old in April.

Sandy

He is the most content of characters and a lovely addition to the household. Very happy in his own company and with his usual wee routines of reorganising his cage and keeping fit on his wheel, he also loves coming out for a ramble of a quiet evening and a cuddle on an armchair and as we find ourselves with a bit more time again, I am loving some extra time with him. He is also currently valiantly keeping the wee ones busy in lockdown, the oldest loving getting into a routine of his feeding and cleaning, and the youngest just in love with him, she could watch him scuffling about all day and he’s always happy to come up and say hello.

So a wee hello from Sandy, and a very lovely (beautifully sunny, if a little chilly!) Sunday to you all. X

Lockdown times at the farm

Just a little good morning from our corner of the world… hope you are all well despite the times we’re living in, and are finding ways to navigate through these next few weeks.

Here, we’ve been back to a life at home, trying to keep the little ones busy and happy, stay as connected to family and friends as we possibly can, and find a routine within what looks to be our new normal again for some time to come. One of the constants in life in lockdown and always is looking after my boy, and I’m very grateful that, just as last time, we have still been allowed access to the farm to look after the horses, just with separated slots to keep us distanced – and so Charmer’s schedule brings a steadying routine to this new time. At 10am and 5pm I find myself there with him, an anchor in this strange January as he has been at so many other times in the decades we’ve had together.

Our morning slot being 10am this time means I’ve had to take the girls with me which has actually ended up being wonderful – a safe, fresh-air way to get them out and bring the routine to their days that playgroup and baby classes normally do, and they’ve loved helping as much as Charmer has enjoyed having his little fans on hand.

And for me too, my dark evenings settling him in to the stable for the night, giving him a brush and sometimes reading a little in the quietness beside him, or weekend mornings like today, catching up on the barn chores and enjoying a wander just me and him; are valued even more than ever amidst all the uncertainty.

Charmer continues to be doing really well just now and amazing everyone with his enthusiasm for life and how well he is moving. I would actually be amazed at how well he was doing if this was summertime but for this to be the coldest winter we’ve had in a couple of years, coming in from nights out at -7 and weathering damp days and changing temperatures; I really can’t believe how much he is thriving. Something in amongst his medication, supplements and shoes is working more than I ever dreamed possible and I am over the moon to see him restored to such health.

I took him a walk on his rope this morning down the hill he used to really struggle with, his feet hitting the ground steadily and certainly, and let him have some grass at the bottom while I drank my coffee, read a few pages of the horsey book I’m reading, and watched some of the younger horses in the field opposite Charmer’s showing off some spectacular boisterous play.

Landing up back at the gate, time was up once again – as it is quickly now – for the farm window in the day, but I was very grateful both for it and for the strides forward C has taken in enjoying life and living it to the full.

Really hope you are all staying safe, taking care and feeling ok, as we all count down to spring and better days. X

📚 2020 ~ A Year In Books 📚

2020 has been a year like no other and through its ups and downs I have really enjoyed some anchoring and calming reading. With 55 books in total, I have read more this year than I ever have before (except maybe in the childhood years when I was flying through Famous Fives and Jill’s Gymkhanas!) – amazing what a few months of lockdown can do! I have done a fair bit of re-reading (one of my very favourite comforts) with 17 books either read for the hundredth time – proper old friends like Bridget Jones or Anne Shirley – or revisited for the first time since a distant memory, like The Secret Garden and Little Women, both of which I rediscovered this year. There have however been 38 books new to me, and among them some new absolute favourites.

I’ve read nine book club books, finding myself so very grateful for our book club finding a way to continue despite the library’s closure for most of the year. We covered such a variety of books I would never otherwise have come across, from Dolly Alderton’s memoir Everything I Know About Love to John Lanchester’s chilling dystopian novel The Wall. As well as opening me up to new types of books, it’s led to so many new favourites too. We discovered together a shared love for Sophie Anderson’s magical stories; Old Baggage had me fall completely in love with the formidable Mattie Simpkin (I now have two more Lissa Evans books now bought and waiting to read with a birthday voucher earlier in the year); and Eleanor Oliphant is a character I took so much to my heart and just rooted for so desperately all the way.

I’ve read nine crime or mystery books, Val McDermid’s Insidious Intent probably top of that list, my first Tony Hill & Carol Jordan, and more reading from her to come early in 2021 as I have a short story collection already started and a retelling of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey I’m very keen to get into on the shelf.

Twelve of the books I’ve read have been typically children’s books, so often I find the most captivating of all – some old favourites including four of my beloved pony books (that actually seems low looking back on it for such a favourite escape, I’m sure will manage more in 2021!!!); but some new to me – like Sophie Anderson’s lovely The Girl Who Speaks Bear, which is set to be followed by her new book The Castle of Tangled Magic, which arrived with me at Christmas and is high on the list for the new year! I always seem to love children’s books so much and am often reminded of a quote I read by Philip Pullman:

““There are some themes, some subjects, too large for adult fiction; they can only be dealt with adequately in a children’s book.”

There have been seven parenting books, from Sarah Ockwell-Smith and Dr Laura Markham’s handbooks to Giovanna Fletcher, Izzy Judd, Sarah Turner and Mindy Kaling’s reflective musings on their lives with their children; and eleven memoirs or biographies – Lucy Mangan’s Bookworm and Michelle Obama’s Becoming my favourites among some amazing stories; with some old-friend books of that genre returned to too, The Unumumsy Mum Diary and Tom Cox’s The Good the Bad and the Furry (my very first book of the year). And I’ve ended the year with a run of five Christmassy novels, which has been the most warming way to draw 2020 to a close.

My top five books of the year new to me have been Lissa Evans’ Old Baggage, following Mattie, a former Suffragette, adapting to older age and life after the cause; Lucy Mangan’s Bookworm: A Memoir of Childhood Reading, revisiting the magic of discovering books; Louisa May Alcott’s Good Wives, taking Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy into the next chapters of their lives; Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, an incredible story of resilience and strength of character; and Delia Owens’ Where the Crawdads Sing, a truly lovely novel set in the North Carolina marshlands following a young girl Kya as she grows up amongst the birds and nature.

My most-read era has definitely been the Victorian, finding myself lost in Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, The Secret Garden, Jane Eyre, Sherlock Holmes and A Christmas Carol all set within fifty years of each other around the end of the nineteenth century. Some had been long-standing favourites but I was so swept up in the ones new to me and found them so absolutely captivating and transporting that I really want to explore more in 2021, starting with Wuthering Heights on my list after making Jane Eyre my first Bronte, and A Little Princess too after loving rediscovering The Secret Garden so much.

My most-read author has been my very favourite, L.M. Montgomery, and I hope to read more from her in the new year too, returning to the Emily books which I’ve only read the first of a few years back; re-reading Rilla of Ingleside which I’ve been wanting to do for a while, and following that with The Blythes are Quoted, the final Anne book, only released in its complete form in 2009 and the only one I’ve never read.

I have had a wonderful time reading this year, and have been transported to so many different times and places in spite of spending much of the year in our own little home. Some have made me laugh, cry, feel such comfort or such inspiration – and some of the best all of those! So many of the books I’ve read too have been leant, gifted, recommended or passed on between the family and friends I’ve missed so much this year and have been a connection between us I’ve been so grateful for. I am so glad to have discovered so many wonderful books, and to have had so much fun journaling them too, and am forward to many more in 2021. A very happy new year to you all! 📖📚📚📖

December reading diary 📚

December ended up a busy month in general and so a quieter reading one than I expected, which, with lockdown fully back on now, it was lovely just to embrace while we could. I did manage to do some reading though, with our book club book, John Lanchester’s The Wall, in the first few days of the month; a couple of lovely Christmas books, Jostein Gaarder’s The Christmas Mystery and the one and only A Christmas Carol read slowly over the lead-up to Christmas, and finishing in the last few days of the year reading Laura Markham’s Calm Parents, Happy Kids which I’d been reading for a few weeks.

📖 The Wall ~ John Lanchester 📖 Really enjoyed reading and having our monthly book club virtual catch-up on John Lanchester’s dystopian portrayal of the UK after an event referred to only as The Change. A short and fast-paced but thought-provoking and certainly topical book, I found the unsettling world of the Wall and Kavanagh’s story within it hauntingly relevant and so gripping. Really enjoyed reading this and discussing it too, lovely to have a chance to gather even from afar and talk books.

📖 A Christmas Carol ~ Charles Dickens 📖 Every year as Christmas creeps closer I look forward to re-reading A Christmas Carol, and it’s part of my little tradition to read it from my old uni Longman Anthology of British Literature too, on the tall thin pages I first discovered it on, tucked between other works of its era but so very special. I always wait to read it when it won’t be rushed and it really feels like Christmas when I do finally pull it from the shelf and begin again. This year as always I loved returning to the grey streets of Victorian London, and to the warmth, spirit and challenge to us all of this inimitable, wonderful story ❤️❤️

📖 The Christmas Mystery ~ Jostein Gaarder 📖 This is a book I have had on my shelf since childhood and had read before but could barely remember it until I picked it up again this year to read in daily instalments in December.

Divided into 24 chapters, one for each day of advent, it tells the story of Joachim, a small boy in Norway in 1992, who is given a handmade advent calendar with a small folded excerpt from a story tucked behind each door, this going on to form the second strand of the novel.

In the calendar’s tale, a young girl called Elisabet is shopping in a department store in 1948 when she runs after a toy lamb come to life, following him on what turns out to be a pilgrimage through time and place back to Bethlehem at the time of Jesus’s birth. They are accompanied every day by a growing number of angels, shepherds, sheep, kings and other players in the Christmas story. The travellers cover many countries and many eras as they journey on and the complexity of the historical and geographical changes are meticulously detailed as they do so. Joachim’s family follow along with the story in atlases and books and a reader easily could too.

I enjoyed the two stories being revealed chapter by chapter and having a different twist on the Christmas story to dip into every day – the biblical characters brought to life with vibrancy and splashes of humour – but this was an unusual story in many ways and did make me feel uncomfortable at times.

Without giving away any spoilers, there was an unexpectedly dark twist for a children’s book towards the end and an accompanying shift of focus away from the twin themes of the nativity story and Joachim’s family’s warming preparations for their own Christmas which had been so central throughout, the pivot adding a more modern, political and unsettling dimension and holding this back slightly from being the cosy Christmas story it might otherwise have been. I did really so enjoy though having a few moments every day leading up to Christmas with an advent calendar of my own in book form.

📖 Calm Parents, Happy Kids ~ Dr Laura Markham 📖 I came to the end of Calm Parents, Happy Kids (originally Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids in the US) on the second-last morning of the year on a slow start to the day, after having read it over the past few weeks on my Kindle or phone in little chapters here and there – and overall I really enjoyed it. I’ve been following parenting blogs and reading books centred around gentle parenting more and more over the past few years and had heard this book crop up a few times – most recently in a conversation on Giovanna Fletcher’s Happy Mum, Happy Baby podcast – so had been keen to read it for a while.

I wouldn’t say I’d be convinced on absolutely everything in here, and I felt more than some other books of its type the tone could be a bit uncompromising in some respects (I can see from a wee browse of Goodreads I’m in the majority in finding reading it sometimes came with a side of guilt at any times the parenting ideal has been fallen short of!), but what I found so very valuable about it was the focus on connection between parent and child and the many ideas for how best to foster that in the various stages of childhood from babyhood right through towards the end of primary school, with lots of practical tips. The book is broken down into three parts: regulating ourselves as parents, connecting with our children and coaching rather than controlling them at each stage. It was really interesting to have this all laid out from a clinical psychologist’s perspective but in a way that was still very accessible, and there was lots I know I’ll remember and continue to try to put into use as our girls grow.

This will definitely join my very well-read Sarah Ockwell-Smith books, Izzy Judd’s lovely Mindfulness for Mums and SJ Strum’s catalogue of videos, as inspiring and valuable learning I will keep close and dip back into on and off as we navigate the twists and turns of the rollercoaster that is parenting!

Overall I really enjoyed some cosy December reading and have already settled into a January of life at home that will see more of the same. Hope you are all having a good week. X

✨ Happy New Year ✨

I haven’t written much in the last few weeks, but we have been wrapped up enjoying a lovely Christmas season to bring to an end the tumultuous year that was 2020!

It has been one to remember, and I’m with so many others in looking with hope to 2021 for the chance for more time with our family and friends and a return to some normality and freedom. As we stepped into the new year yesterday however, with a beautiful sunrise walk at the farm; I was very thankful, in spite of the obvious lows of last year, for all the wonderful things it brought us – our littlest member of the family first and foremost, nine months old today; lots of growing and changing of both little ones over the year; and, as we dropped off the fluffiest member of the family at his field gate, I couldn’t quite believe we were lucky enough to still have Charmer so well and healthy after such a rough patch for him earlier in the year.

We’re settling into another lockdown here, and are not quite sure when the new term, always a big part of the turn of the new year, will reach us. Everything is still very uncertain, and we haven’t quite seen the turn of the tide yet – but with vaccines approaching there is a definite ray of hope on the horizon, and I really look forward to moving into 2021 and discovering what it will bring.

A very happy new year to you all. Xxx

November Reading 📚

Good morning all and a very happy Little Christmas Eve / Christmas Eve Eve… ❤️🎄 we are just about ready for Christmas to arrive here and settling down for a few weeks of quieter life again here as lockdown begins again on Boxing Day. Been without a phone I could WordPress on the last few weeks so have missed a wee browse and scribble here but newly back up and running now so been enjoying catching up on reading some lovely posts this morning, and thought would catch up (very late!) on November reads.

📖The Sealwoman’s Gift ~ Sally Magnusson 📖 My first read of November was Sally Magnusson’s historical novel, set during the pirate raids on the coast of Iceland in 1627 and following the story of the family of Olafur Egilsson, a real-life pastor abducted with 40 others from a small island on the South coast. Choosing to focus on the untold story of Olafur’s wife Asta, this book imagines what this historical event must have been like not for the men whose experiences tend to be more well-documented but for the women whose stories are much less known.

Asta’s narrative is a raw and honest one and this is a heart-breaking and thought-provoking book about survival and holding on to a sense of self through great hardships. Icelandic folklore, the stories of many generations and the memories of a home far away weave through this compelling story, and as Asta forms relationships in the new world she finds herself in, similarities and differences between the cultures, religions and histories play out poignantly.

My mum had bought me this book a couple of years ago and I’d been really looking forward to getting it to the top of the to-read pile, but it was chosen as our book club book for this month and so I enjoyed reading it along with the others and having our usual virtual chat all about it last week, where it had been so well received by us all.

I especially enjoyed reading it at this time of year, as the twice I’ve been to Iceland, a place I love so much – on our honeymoon initially and again a couple of years later – were both in early November; – so in this at-home year it was so lovely to journey to a favourite place at a favourite time of year in Sally Magnusson’s beautiful descriptions of the sweeping Icelandic coastline and the unraveling tales of the Icelanders’ sagas.

📖 Christmas at Liberty’s ~ Fiona Ford 📖 I crossed over into the Christmas reads earlier than usual this year and am sure I will have more of them than normal too – I just absolutely and unashamedly love a cosy, comforting Christmas story so much; – and really enjoyed this first book in Fiona Ford’s Liberty Girls series, set in London in 1941, warmly telling the story of Mary and her friends and colleagues in the Liberty’s department store as they navigate the joys, heartache and everything in between of careers, relationships and the ever-progressing war, pulling together throughout no matter what they face. ❤️🎄

📖 Midnight Dancer – Running Free ~ Elizabeth Lindsay 📖 I never like to let too much time go by without returning to my beloved pony books, and this is one of my favourite books in my very favourite childhood series. I loved spending my evenings for a few days back in the wonderful world of Black Rock and Llangaby Farm more than ever – Mory, Josh, Cara and Lionel adventuring out on the hills with their ponies. What I love most about these books is Mory’s relationship with Dancer and how they grow together throughout, it’s always reminded me so much of mine with my own Charmer.

I picked this up again a couple of months ago and put it back down, with Charmer newly retired and my mind full of worries of how badly he was coping with his arthritis at the time and how uncertain his future seemed to be even just enjoying life in the field. Now, a couple of months on and my old man much more stable and thoroughly enjoying his life of leisure, it was so lovely to read it again, reminisce about all our yesterdays weaving between trees and flying over fallen logs, and appreciate so much how very lucky we are to still have each other and be enjoying this new stage too.

For anyone who loves pony books, I would so recommend Elizabeth Lindsay’s Midnight Dancer stories. Just six short books, they are just full of the warmth of family relationships, the rugged beauty of the sweeping Welsh countryside and the hard work and great rewards of life on a farm, with plenty of jumping or gymkhana practice and a good dash of adventure thrown in – just the perfect horsey escape!

📖 The Story Girl ~ L.M. Montgomery 📖 I love the Anne of Green Gables books so much and could read L.M. Montgomery’s beautiful writing all day so have been meaning to get more into some of her other works. The Story Girl was a lovely enveloping story full of the magic of childhood woven together with folklore. I had read that this was Montgomery’s own favourite of her novels and that strong autobiographical elements were tied in to some of the characters as well as many stories handed down from her Scottish and Canadian heritage, so I was all the more interested to read this – and I really enjoyed it and found it, as ever, a captivating and lovely read.

📖 One More for Christmas ~ Sarah Morgan 📖 As we move ever closer to Christmas I am looking forward to it so very much and loving reading some cosy festive books. This one was new for this year and I really enjoyed it. I’ve never read any Sarah Morgan before but I really liked all the characters in this book that was part romance (of course!) and also a very readable and complicated family story working itself out, and to the backdrop of the snowy Highlands. I just love warming uplifting Christmas books at this time of year and really liked this one. 🎄

November was a lovely reading month for me, more than ever just reading exactly what I fancied – an old favourite pacy pony book, two warming Christmas novels, a new branch of LM Montgomery’s incredible work in The Story Girl and Sally Magnusson’s compelling Icelandic historical novel The Sealwoman’s Gift. Both The Story Girl and The Sealwoman’s Gift were celebrations of stories themselves and beautiful examples of just how important they are; and I enjoyed all these stories very much in a wrapped-up November.

Hope you’re all now having a wrapped-up December and wishing you all a really lovely Christmas. X

Walking into winter with my boy

I’ve been meaning to post an update on Charmer for a while and this is one I’m absolutely delighted to be able to write, as we have so massively turned a corner with his mobility and I’ve been able to see him return to himself again after a good couple of months of struggling.

At the begining of October he had his new equilibrium shoes fitted in a joint appointment with the vet and farrier (both of whom I’m so grateful to!) and for the first couple of weeks I could see just some small improvement – which was wonderful of course, but I was still very worried about the winter approaching and what quality of life he was going to have still struggling a little to get between his stable his field. After around three weeks though there was suddenly a huge change and he really settled into the new way of moving. We’re almost at a month on from then and he’s consistently been doing great which has just been so beyond wonderful to see.

Before the turning point he was doing steadily better but on what I thought had become his new normal. He was managing to get around and be happy but was needing to spend nights in the stable, take things very slowly, have limited turnout and walk only certain paths to his field. Now though, with this most recent improvement, he is willingly spending all day and night out in the field again with his field mate, which has always been his default preference. He’s coming in quickly and comfortably across the concrete and enjoying short times in his stable for feeds and sometimes longer times in harsher weather, but then always enthusiastically heading back out again, something that had just been missing for those couple of months.

I can’t express how lovely it is to see him doing so well. I know we still need to just take things a day at a time but for now I’m so happy to have got back to where I had stopped expecting we would and to see him being his old self again.

A couple of weeks ago we went out for a family walk for the first time in months with Charmer on his rope, just down the road from the farm but he so loved being out with the kids, seeing different views and pottering along, it was perfect.

This weekend our yard joined together to hold a distanced fundraising ride / walk and treasure hunt in aid of the Riding for the Disabled Association and he was able to take part with us in hand, suitably tolerant of being dressed up in tinsel and reindeer antlers as ever! We had a similar event on the farm a few years back in aid of cancer research and back then he and I were doing the long route, galloping with friends across stubble fields and ducking and diving through the woods. Times have definitely changed for us since then and this time we were waving the rest off and doing the shorter ramble but I feel so so lucky that we were able to do that and with the whole family too, littlest one marvelling at Christmas lights round her buggy and Charmer’s glinting tinsel, toddler leading us in search of all the clues and Charmer happily going along with it all. It’s just so wonderful to see a happy and healthy boy. 🥰

Hope you are all having a lovely week and staying safe and well! X