Summer holidaying…. ☀️

We’re a few weeks into our summer holidays here, and have been enjoying them so much. It’s been lovely having so much time all together and the kids and I (and my husband too whenever he can, on holiday with us now for a couple of weeks and having some good flexibility with still home-working) have been enjoying parks, beaches, lots of time in the garden and reacquainting ourselves with soft plays at last!

The weather has been fantastic which is not always the case here, it’s been pretty consistently sunshine every day the past few weeks so there’s been lots of outdoor fun – some days so hot it’s paddling pool weather and ice lollies have been stacked up in the freezer.

We’ve also so enjoyed play centres and cafes with soft plays, something I never dreamed I would miss as much as I have the last year! Our youngest who is the keenest little climber imaginable had never had a chance to see any of these places until a few weeks ago but is absolutely making up for it now with so many adventures and finally a safe space she can test out her capabilities which gives us a break from pulling her away from walls and ledges in the real world!! And our oldest, after her playgroup year has drawn to a close, and with nursery on the horizon in August, seems to be so enjoying relaxing into a summer with us – being at home, seeing friends and family and enjoying the holidays with nothing too scheduled.

Of course, our summer is being dominated by our two newest additions. Rosie and Theo, our wee kittens, are now 12 weeks old and have settled in better than I ever could have hoped. They are such wonderful characters and in the three weeks we’ve had the they have become such a huge part of the family it’s hard to imagine life without them. When they first arrived there was so much that was new to them and that they found daunting but they have adapted to everything so well. They absolutely love to play with the kids and all four of them have got so used to them each other and enjoy mad half hours as a team! Then by evening they are just the purriest wee souls, curled up with us on the couch – they love company and follow us wherever we go, we’ll be sitting down to dinner and they’ll slink to their comfy spot on a stool under the kitchen table or when putting the kids to bed they’ll be padding around on the end of the beds. I just love having them around and getting to know them both. ❤️

Rosie
Theo

They’ve grown in confidence so much that we’ve abandoned the dog crate we originally had for them to sleep in at night, which the first week or so they seemed to really love and need the security of, and instead, treating the comfy cat beds on offer with the disdain they deserve, they have chosen the living room window sill as their sleeping area, which we’ve now emptied of all the picture frames and ornaments it once gave home to and laid a blanket down on (met with much better reviews than all other beds!!); and they are in a lovely routine of a bedtime play, a late dinner and then they curl up there to sleep. In the morning I invariably find them both still there, sleepily watching the world wake up. ❤️

They’ve made friends (of sorts!) with Echo our lovely visiting cat too, who comes and sits on the outside of their window when he’s done his rounds chatting to us in the garden.. though after an early assertion of his right to the house from a then really teeny Theo (first photo below!) Echo, despite being bigger than both Rosie & Theo combined, is always the first to back down if Theo takes exception to him!

Charmer is enjoying his summer – this heatwave is quite unusual for us here and I was a little worried about how he’d cope with it but he’s actually doing really really well. He comes in for a few hours’ respite every day in the cool of the barn which he seems to really appreciate, but he is still mostly enjoying life in the field. He’s been a little stiffer again recently so I’d do no little ambles on horseback for that reason and the heat, but he just loves to potter in the field with his field mate and seems very content.

And our little Sandy hamster is doing well too. In spite of two kittens who love nothing more than to sit at a vantage point where they can watch him pootling about with mild curiosity, he is neither up nor down, living his life quite happily and even benefitting from the youngest’s practice with the kittens by getting some lovely strokes from her – before Rosie and Theo taught her so much about gentleness she was just slightly too heavy handed to risk with teeny Sandy but she is loving now getting to give him a wee stroke more as well as watch him as she’s always rushed to do. On Monday it was 2 years exactly since he came to join us, and he’s such a lovely wee soul, just doing his thing and enjoying his old age!

It’s been a time of change for me and a bit of a whirlwind this last week as I finished up at my job last weekend and started a new one this week. I’ve been in my old job, working in home care, for over two and half years now, and have loved it so very much – it’s been more stressful, more heart breaking and more challenging than any other job I’ve done but also more rewarding than I can put into words and the wonderful clients I worked with meant so very much to me. Although overall it was a good time to move on, saying goodbye to some was incredibly hard and I found it a really difficult decision to make. But already now four days in to my new job, working in a care home, I can see that all of that same tug between sadness and joy – the struggle of difficulties and the soar of successes – that I’ve come to be driven by and love in spite of its hurdles, is just as present here; my first week really solidifying for me how much I love working in care regardless of the setting and how glad I am that I moved into this back after I had my first daughter – I really can’t imagine doing anything else now.

Usually I just work a couple of days a week at weekends and most of my week at the moment is spent chasing after the littles, but between doing a few extra shifts to help out before finishing and doing some extra in my new job to get up to speed I’ve been working most days the past couple of weeks. I’ve actually really enjoyed doing a bit more again for a change, but today am so glad to be returning to wrangling with my pair of tearaways. I’ve missed all the home things and it’s wonderful to be back to making packed lunches, catching a squealing toddler, laughing at all the nonsense, juggling everything round Tesco while both hands get pulled in different directions… all the lovely chaos! Really looking forward to another week of family holiday and time all together.

Hope you are all well and having a good summer. X

Rosie and Theo, Chapter One 🐾🖤

It really is hard to believe it’s under a week since we finally completed the Biggest Little’s daily countdown and reached our long-awaited Kitten Day at last. On Wednesday I drove my way through beautiful countryside to the farm where some lovely little kittens had started their lives, and brought two of them, this lovely wee pair, who we’ve named Rosie and Theo, home to join our family. 🖤🖤

Even looking at that first photo I took, all secured in the car and ready to go, texting home to the rest before I drove them on their first journey, they look so unlike themselves now as we’ve got to know them. They’re just two unknown nervous little kittens in a carrier there – but now, a few days on, they are such absolutely wonderful characters, so full of their own very different personalities, and such a wonderful part of our family already.

Spending their Sunday afternoon dozing yesterday beside us all

As I type this, with an early morning coffee and the radio on in the quiet of the living room, kittens just up and kids not quite descended yet, Rosie is watching her first raindrops roll down the window with great excitement while Theo cuddles in beside me and watches her from a comfy distance – pretty typical of them both!

Rosie is the bigger of the two, and much darker, almost jet black although with the teeniest hint of her dad’s tabby hidden away under a black coat that is really similar to her mum Mindy’s. We always loved seeing photos and videos of Mindy looking after her kittens so well and hearing from her owner about her lovely character, and she was so friendly when we visited and then collected them. Rosie seems to be a little double of her mum except for a little flash of white on her chest, just a few hairs. Back when we visited when they were six weeks old it was little Rose with that distinctive little flash who was adventuring out to greet us and who I had a little cuddle with and took such a liking to. I was having a glimmer of nerves about whether we could handle two little kittens when we met them all and they were so little and fragile, but stroking her and seeing her such a calm and steady little cat in spite of how tiny she was, really settled me, and I’m so glad she’s come to us. Her adventurous character has stood her in such great stead as she’s found her feet here, and she’s got a lovely self assurance too as well as a really affectionate streak, both to Theo who she is very much the “big sister” to and looks after beautifully and to all of us who she loves to cuddle with.

Theo, our wee tabby boy, is just a wee dot. He was just 830g when he was weighed on Friday, and is much more kitten-like in appearance than Rosie, very fluffy and with a short tail and eyes that are still in the process of changing from blue.. so our wee tiny tiger still has some growing to do but at both his 8 week check with the breeder’s vet the week before he came home to us and at our vet now he’s been given a clean bill of health, just one of the little ones in the litter. 🖤 I absolutely love his coat, he’s so stripy in the light and a light brown sometimes depending on how the sun catches him. Not sure if he’ll darken as he grows but will be interesting to see. He’s very much Rosie’s follower, at the moment at least, though he’s got a determined streak when wrestling with a ball on a string and sometimes when he loses himself in the chase completely he growls and wrestles it from us and stalks off very defiantly with it trailing behind him, making us laugh so much.

Both of them have done so well to settle so well in just a few days. On Wednesday morning when I brought them home they shot straight to a low-down bookshelf and hid there, spending much of the next 24 hours peering out from behind a row of books, coming out gradually in short bursts to play and eat. We knew their life before had been so quiet, in a porch room set apart from the rest of the house, so we were worried in those first hours about how they were going to adapt to life in a busy young family home; but they have absolutely just slotted in. Everything that’s made them nervous they’ve met so bravely, and we’ve done our best just to consistently keep doing it – the kettle, the hoover, the kids’ noise and bluster – and they’ve warmed to it all so much quicker than I dared hope.

The children have actually been brilliant so far and given them their space despite their excitement, but the kittens seem to recognise their potential as playmates and just join in games with them and bounce around all together and then retire to the grown ups for their sleepier times! Already we’ve got little lap cats of an evening and I just love opening a door and having two wee ones purring round my ankles.

It’s early days as they’re really just finding their feet and are so very young and so very tiny (Rosie actually not much bigger than Theo at just 930g, both going to be petite like their mum I think). We’ve got a lot of work to put in socialising them to life here, but so far we’re so very lucky with how well they’ve settled and what lovely characters they seem to be.

They’re thriving on routine, running to the sound of food in a dish, taking themselves off to bed at night and greeting us the same way every morning; and every day are getting more and more confident in their games and interactions. It really is lovely getting to know them. Will update on how they’re getting on in a while!

Hope you’re all having a good week. X

Books on a theme… 🐾 🐈

It’s 4 days and counting until our new feline members of the family come to join us, and thought I would write a wee summary of some of my reading in the last couple of months that’s been very inspired by them while we’ve waited! When we first started looking for a cat to join our home I jumped straight back in to some of my old favourite Tom Cox books, and then enjoyed it so much that I also added a few extra memoirs on a similar theme over the next few weeks, so just a wee round-up of them all.

📖 Under the Paw; Talk to the Tail; The Good, the Bad and the Furry and Close Encounters of the Furred Kind ~ Tom Cox 📖

I have read and enjoyed Tom Cox’s writing for years on his blog and in his books on nature, as well as – in these 4 books in particular – on life with his cats, and I love his depictions of a life touched by (or dominated by!) pets, one I’ve always known myself and could relate to so much.

This time around I read these all out of order – originally re-reading the final book, one of my favourites, but then enjoying it so much I found myself picking up my paperback copies of the first and third before finally downloading on my Kindle app Talk to the Tail, the second instalment and only one I’d never read.

These books are dotted with humour and are smartly written and entertaining but are also full of compassion for the animals who share Tom’s home and bring to life their characters so vibrantly. When these stories were first unravelling in real time, I loved the gentle tales of The Bear’s ageing in his quiet dignity, the evolution of Shipley & Ralph from boisterous kittens to elderly gentlemen, and I waited with baited breath as Roscoe recovered valiantly and with her usual business-like efficiency from an accident against all the odds.

Reading these again now, I remembered how much I loved Tom Cox’s witty writing style, and most of all the warmth and colour with which he draws his little companions. Immersing myself in these characters too gave me so much scope for planning, learning and looking forward to our own cats joining us. These books have comedy, heart and some simply unforgettable little characters. 🖤

📖 Casper the Commuting Cat ~ Susan Finden 📖

A few days later and feeling the void after loving my streak of 4, this lovely little book – the story of the life of a characterful little cat who took to riding the bus around Plymouth, tenderly recounted by his owner Sue; was my first book browsed and chosen from the library in six months. It also marked our first trip back to this one of our local libraries in over a year – one we used to visit every week for Bookbug sessions with a group of other parents and children and enjoy such a lovely social side to library life. Some of the smaller libraries near us had remained shut all the way through since the very first lockdown, and it was wonderful to return there for their reopening last week at long last, see the lovely staff again and browse the shelves. I had both my daughters with me – my oldest suddenly remembering the weekly visits that are so far in her past now, and my youngest taking it all in for the first time – and it was so lovely to catch up with the staff, and to each choose a book to carry back home together.

I really enjoyed reading this story not only about Casper, a very quirky cat, but about Sue herself, her gentle devotion to all the animals in her care, and the huge impact pets can have on a life throughout all its ups and downs.

Read here and there over a few days – with coffees, in the garden, and sometimes with our lovely neighbour cat visiting to join me – this was a touching story; and it was all the lovelier in its marking of our return once more as a family to a place we’ve loved so much and so look forward to frequenting again.

📖 A Street Cat Named Bob and The World According to Bob ~ James Bowen 📖

In the past few weeks I’ve enjoyed these two touching and honest stories by James Bowen about life with his cat Bob, – who came to him originally when he was living in sheltered accommodation in London, busking on the streets to get by and taking his first tentative steps in his recovery from a drug addiction. They are not only a fitting tribute to a cat who had a character more than worthy of the books and films he’s inspired, but also an enlightening and important insight into some of the issues around homelessness in our society today. James Bowen writes in a straight-forward way about the realities of the challenges he faced when he was living and working on the streets, and in particular – especially in The World According to Bob – gives an interesting insight into the work of the Big Issue and the world of its sellers. The transformative nature of James and Bob’s relationship is very notable – as their bond deepens and they share more of their lives together the impact of it on James’ perception of himself is evident, and his books are a moving testament to what animals can do for humans.

I have always loved animal stories – I love my pony books so much even now, I’ve always loved an animal book back to childhood and now – in fact I’m just embarking on an old favourite in a new format in the classic All Creatures Great And Small, after loving James Herriot stories so much growing up. I read all of these focused entirely on cats particularly because it was a really enjoyable way to learn all I could from the ups and downs of the stories – the vet trips, the escapes, the adventures, the settling in and the older age – before our cats arrive. But what these books reminded me of most of all was something much wider than that – the truly wonderful impact our animals have on the lives of their humans, no matter where they are in life.

From Tom Cox writing, relocating, weathering relationship break ups and discovering the nature around him; to Sue Finden working long hours in care and pouring all her spare time with her husband into rescuing cat after cat; to James Bowen working his way out of a living situation and addiction that had ensnared him for so long and finding his feet again; these people’s lives were all very different but all enriched so much in exactly the same way by the loyal companions who came into them.

I’ve been so lucky in my own life to have had so many animals do the same for me, and am looking forward to adding to their number; and I really enjoyed these wide-ranging books with a theme in common, and reminding myself once again just what a blessing pets really are.

Hope you all have a lovely weekend. X

📖 The Miniaturist ~ Jessie Burton 📖

Set in 17th century Amsterdam and infused with a haunting sense of place, Jessie Burton’s The Miniaturist, following eighteen-year-old newlywed Nella Brandt as she arrives at her new husband’s home for the first time, is a captivating story teased out little by little and characterised by a band of truly strong women – and a couple of wonderful male characters too.

The chilling strand of mystery unfolding throughout is so compelling in itself, but for me comes second to the relationships within the Brandt household – and also to the meticulously painted backdrop all of the action takes place to; the canals, buildings and streets of Amsterdam amidst the changing of the seasons, and most of all the house itself – once so unknown to Nella, gothic and unsettling, but as she settles in so pivotal to so much of the story.

I really enjoyed this book, found myself totally hooked and racing ahead to find out what happened next, feeling its sadnesses and injustices keenly and being so drawn to Nella, Marin and Cornelia in particular and the strengthening of their interwoven relationships.

This was a book club pick, and we enjoyed our virtual chat on it at the beginning of the month – finding lots to talk about in the themes of the book, the ways the author had shone a light so eloquently and at times painfully on the attitudes of society, the complexities of the individual characters and the imagery of the city.

I also learned in our conversation that there is a BBC adaptation of this and really want to watch it, this is definitely a story that would lend itself to being watched.

Let me know if you’ve read it or seen it and what you thought! Hope you are all having a lovely week. X

Our very first weekend away as a four ❤️ lovely time staying with family, Scotland touring and rambling, and meeting our kittens for the first time.. 🐾 (Wordless Wednesday)

Travels down south – service stations, car games and dinner break, stopping off in pretty Roslin on the way home for an ice cream and a wee glimpse of the Chapel
Summer holiday read and enjoying lovely stay with family 🥰
Enjoying the winding roads
And meeting our beautiful little soon-to-be new family members 🥰

Sunny farm days, growing kittens and back to some travel adventures… summertime begins ❤️

We’ve been lucky to have some wonderful warm weather here the last few weeks and have all been enjoying moving into summertime. It makes such a big difference to see the sun shining after what seems to have been a long winter and it’s wonderful that it’s gone hand in hand with the easing up of Covid restrictions to let us get out more places, and spend some time with family and friends. Last week I took the most wonderful trip with my mum and the kids up north, just all in a day, but it felt like a few days away by the time we were done – up to my uncle’s in Kirkmichael for a lovely visit, making a big loop and stopping off in Blairgowrie and Pitlochry as well as enjoying all the countryside and villages along the way. It was absolutely wonderful to be back in some favourite places again that I haven’t seen in so long and to spend some wonderful long time with family in such a relaxed way.

And this weekend in fact too we’re doing a trip not just for a day but our first overnight since our littlest was born 14 months ago, again enjoying time with family then too, and are so looking forward to the novelty of it!

As part of our trip we are also going to visit our soon to be new kittens, who are 6 weeks old today and growing well. Their breeder has been so lovely sending us photos and videos of them growing and changing and it’s going to be so lovely when we get them home to have had such a lovely insight into their early days.

Kittens at 4 weeks

One of the most absolutely fascinating things about their early days that’s developed more over the past couple of weeks, is that there are actually two cats with kittens in the home at the moment, born 7 days apart, and although the mother cats were originally each given their own space, they have chosen to raise the kittens together, and form a shared group between them. It’s incredible in the videos we’ve seen watching the two litters of kittens interacting with each other – the others so much bigger than those of ‘our’ litter, the mum of ours being a very petite black cat and the mum of the others a much larger ginger. The kittens will go to either mother even for milk and one will watch and look after all the kittens together while the other goes out. It’s really incredible to see the way they’ve organised themselves in such a similar way to big cats in the wild, and just lovely to observe.

Kittens at 6 weeks, and other litter at 7, with our lovely mum cuddling up with them all

I’m so looking forward to getting to meet them all this weekend and to bringing our two home in just a few weeks. Still reading around the clock on best care in the meantime and the catio project is underway too!

As part of our getting ready for the little ones coming I was doing some organising of our old small pet cages out in the shed – we are planning to use one of our larger rat cages as an “outer” cage for little Sandy hamster, so he can stay in his own environment in the kitchen where he likes to watch the world go by but be extra secure from any feline attention! Having a clear out of the rest of the cages and going to send them to the lady who runs the Hamster Rescue where Sandy originally came from so gave me a lovely chance to speak to her for the first time in a while. Had sent her a photo of Sandy and only when we were chatting about how he looked for his age, – and when I looked back at the photo I’d sent her of a young Sandy first settling in with us – did I realise how much he had changed! Such a little elderly gentleman these days!! She also mentioned his date of birth was down as 3rd March 2019, something I’d not realised before – we were giving him an approximate birthday mid-month! – so now he can definitely enjoy a monthly fuss right on time! 🥰

Sandy in July 2019 & May 2021

For Charmer the new season is definitely here, bringing with it the world of fly sprays, rugs and summer field maintenance. He’s in a lovely routine of taking a long lie in the morning before I bring him in for his breakfast and his fieldmate’s owners pop him back out after a couple of hours respite in the stable, and every morning just now I am finding him very relaxed in his field. ❤️

Been spending a couple of evenings at the old ragworting, and it’s actually been so lovely. Because I’m often at the farm in the mornings just now and because Charmer is all taken care of early doors, it is lovely to have the chance to just be in the field with him watching him graze and just co-existing. That’s always one of my favourite things to do especially at this time of year.

De-ragworting begins

Charmer is doing really well at the moment all-round. Got his new shoes again this week and he’s sound and happy… possibly edging towards being put on a diet shortly! But that’s quite a good problem to have, just really pleased he’s kept condition coming out of winter, and enjoying him enjoying this new season.

New shoes day
Summer nights ❤️

We are all really enjoying the good weather here and the beginnings of summer time.. hope you are all well and getting to do a little of the same! Have a lovely weekend x

A Bookish Sunday

A bookish Sunday… such a lovely morning having coffee and a long-overdue catch-up with lovely friends at the Book Nook in Stirling. It was lovely to be back in a town I lived and worked in for so long and love so much and was such a wonderful discovery – the most beautiful second hand and new books for every age and the cosiest atmosphere. We brought home a new book everyone in the family, and I settled with mine on a quiet Sunday afternoon, a second hand but beautiful copy of Tarka the Otter – which I’m sure I’ve never read before – in the lovely Puffin Modern Classics series that I had so many books in growing up, and still have most of on my shelf… 💚 Happy Sunday all x

Animal Updates 🥰 (Hamster scrabbles, pony wanders and new additions! 🐾)

The last month or so has been a good one for pets little and large, and an exciting one for us all as a family.

Little Sandy hamster has been doing well, despite being an elderly wee gent these days he’s actually full of fun – spinning his 12” wheel with great enthusiasm of an evening and enjoying a wee quiet cuddle out with us – and less often with the kids too, who are full of ideas for games to create for him.

Charmer, for his part, has been very much enjoying the beginnings of summer. So far, the infamous Scottish midge has not caused him too much trouble, although he’s now donned in his summer outfit of fly rug (never to be seen this bright and white again!) and a waft of citronella.

He’s mostly just enjoying life in the field and, much less frequently, the stable – he’s hit his summer attitude of looking at me when I arrive as if to say “I have everything I need out here, I don’t know why you’re here…” He is completely happy at this time of year just to eat grass, sunbathe, and take solace under a tree for some shade or rest from the flies. It’s really lovely to see, much as I do make myself unpopular by occasionally dragging him in for a break and a fuss!

We have only very occasionally had a ridden wander since I first started a couple of months ago – in fact last weekend was just our third – but it was a very special one as we got back out in company, with my friend and her lovely horse, our old hacking buddies! The horses were delighted to be nose to nose again and Charmer enjoyed our wander more than ever for the company and the chance to eat grass together. 🧡

When he comes back in from getting out a wee explore – especially ridden rather than just in-hand – he seems to feel just so pleased with himself – the look in his eyes back in the stable is lovely, full of adrenaline and expectation and purpose – even though all we’ve done is have an amble! It’s really lovely to see.

But the biggest animal news around our house is neither of our gentlemen, who are both just pottering away, but our plans to bring home a couple of new additions, two little black kittens who are just three weeks old at the moment, growing with their litter mates and their lovely mum on a farm nearby us, and, all going well, due to be ready to come home with us towards the end of June.

We have always wanted to adopt a cat when we felt it was a good time family-wise, and the last few weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind since we started discussing that we felt we’d now reached that time. Originally we had been thinking an older cat who would be comfortable with the children and with the set-up we have here, but through a chain of events we came across these little kittens who seem to be very well-suited to the life we can offer here, and, surprising ourselves even more, ended up deciding on two so they can settle in together and be company for each other as they grow. We are so enjoying photos and updates on the litter as they change and grow, still tiny little souls; and here we are doing what we can to get ready ahead of their arrival – it’s been a flurry of cat beds and scratching posts being put together, making drafts for runs and enclosures in the garden for when they’re a little bigger, registering with the vet, getting insurance in place and I’m hooked on re-reading all Tom Cox’s books about life with his cats as well as all the reference books and articles I can find, trying to get up to speed on everything we’ll need to know! Trying (quite unsuccessfully) not to get too excited just yet until it all becomes a reality – Being right in at the kitten stage is new to me, I’ve normally rehomed animals later in life in the past and I know plenty could go wrong, it’s still 5-6 weeks until they’ll be weaned, vet-checked and ready to come to us, but despite myself I am so excited about it all and just can’t wait to have them here.

In the meantime, the ridiculously handsome cat two doors up has begun to adopt us as his third family, already making himself comfy next door and expanding his rule along the street! We’ve been spending so much time out in the garden with a bit of nice weather and it’s been lovely having him pop to see us and seeing how well the kids do with interacting with him and giving him his space, I think he must be making it his project to give us some practice ahead of our first foray into cat ownership!

It’s a really exciting time, and at the moment I am just so enjoying preparing for our feline companions, doing lots of reading, and spending time with a summer-happy horse and a contentedly pootling hamster.

Hope you are all having a lovely week. X

Thoughts on Home and Family 💞

I’ve written many blog posts on the subject of home and family over the years, since I first started writing so long ago about life in our little corner of the world. Back then, home was a tiny one-bedroomed cottage, just the two of us and our beloved pets making up our family unit in the house. Now, we’re in our second home, which we’ve been in for the past four years, and our family has grown and changed so much in that time, with our two girls transforming our lives beyond recognition as they’ve arrived with us and grown into a pre-schooler and a toddler who fill our world with noise and chaos and love and just so much joy.

The animal members of our family have continued to be so important to us too, all of us doting on Charmer in his older years as much as ever, loving having a house pet in the form of our dapper little Sandy hamster, and actually (which I’m looking forward to writing more about in a separate post!) the most exciting time ahead of us now, which we are all counting down to every day – as we are planning, all going well, to be bringing home our first family cats, two kittens, at the end of June. 💞

All of the twists and turns of life since we first moved in together as a couple just over ten whole years ago have taken place as we’ve based ourselves here at home, first our first little cottage and then this slightly (!) larger one! But all of them, always, until this last year, have taken place linked with so many other homes around us, and with a wider family that we’ve always been so connected with.

Between the fact that we used to live just half a dozen cottages away from my mum and dad’s – a slipper-clad walk with the family dogs at our heels to let ourselves in the back door; the fact that we gathered as a wide family, a dozen of us or more, for weekly dinners all huddled round the table, both when we lived close by each other and still once circumstances had scattered us half-hour drives away; and the fact that our door was always open, and that we’d often just hear a shout of hello as family arrived and came in – we have always been very, very blessed that as well as our wonderful little unit here we’ve had a wider unit just as wonderful too.

I could never in a million years have imagined we’d go a year without sitting round a table all together – and don’t want to dwell on any of the negatives now – but simply to write a small and very thankful post that today, at last, we reached such a hugely important day here, as we were officially safely able, once again, to return to each other’s homes – and to hug each other again.

In this past year, as a family, we’ve found ways to be there for each other and, from video games nights to garden gatherings and wrapped-up walks in every weather Scotland could throw at us, we’ve managed to keep our tightly-knitted network in place – and I still feel that the twists and turns of life have been weathered hand in hand with our families, even if it’s had to be only metaphorically.

Still, nothing compares to actually being able to sink into the sofas in those other homes that were always as much our own as the ones we’ve been limited to over all these months; actually being able to reach out our arms and be there for each other in the way we really want to; actually being able to sit together, in the most natural way, and enjoy the closeness of family life.

I know we have to move forward tentatively, and not lose all caution yet – I know there are those even in Scotland that have unexpectedly not been able to take this step just yet, when they were so close, who I feel for so much – but we are getting there, so slowly and so surely, and, as I sat in my grandparents’ house today again at long last, I couldn’t have been more grateful for our family – for the homes we’ve always shared together, and for the hope of a future where we can do that more and more until we’re back to our normal; until at last a packed and noisy dinner table is where we draw our strength from and share our stories and laugh until our sides hurt again.

I bought this sign back in our old house five years ago or so – it’s simple, but I loved it. It’s truer now than ever for our home family with the children here with us and as we’ve all grown together; but it’s true too for our wider family and friends too – what I love most about my home is who is I share it with, and now I can finally share it once again with the people close to me, family and friends, who I love so much.

Hope wherever you are you are managing to take some steps forward too, and are having a good start to the week. X

Happy 26 months to wee Sandy hamster….

Last month we had Charmer turning 25 years old, and this week coming our wee Sandy hamster turns 26 months…. making both of them actually very similar in age when calculated in “human years”… two distinguished gentlemen in their 70s!

While he enjoys spending most of his days cosy in his beloved little hamster pocket, we coaxed him out for a bit of a play with the wee ones and made him a little obstacle course he thoroughly enjoyed.

Usually Sandy’s out of his cage time takes place when the littlest among us are safely asleep and he can enjoy a pootle away from all the excitement that arises in his no1 fans whenever he appears for a drink of water, nods in our direction and slinks back to bed; but he cheerfully rose to the occasion of a play out with us all in his usual super way before cosying back down. ❤️

Hope you are all having a lovely week. X