Wordless Wednesday ~ Morning moments


The first buds of spring 💚

The last couple of weeks have seen some very extreme weather round these parts, with the “Beast from the East” snowing us in for several days as March began and warranting the first Red weather alert in UK history as our landscape disappeared under a thick blanket of white.

After a couple of days spent entirely indoors, watching the flakes fall and venturing out only to feed the birds and take in a steadying breath of fresh air; a neighbourhood driveway-digging session was required to get the village moving again – and even then only the main roads were passable. I was determined to get along to the farm as soon as it was safe enough, where thankfully those more local had kept hay topped up while the horses too holed up inside – but a gloved and wellie-clad hike was needed to get up to the top of the hill and finally be reunited with my fluffy boy. 💙

It’s always such a hard balance to strike in very bad snow between keeping the horses warm and fed and keeping them moving enough to minimise their colic risk from standing in one place too long – something I always fret about with my normally decidedly outdoor pony. We have not had to contend with weather so extreme since the winter of 2010, and for a couple of days I was only managing to get Charmer out for a brief walk around the yard once or twice a day – tottering carefully to avoid slipping and ice compacting in his shoes – before the thick drifts shifted enough to let him get out to his white field – where he was still in places up to his middle.

The volume of snow has taken its toll on the farms and land in our area, giving way as it melted to extensive flooding, and our turnout is being restricted and managed at the moment to try to let the fields dry up a little.

We are all hoping for a turn in the tide sooner rather than later; but, in some small ways at least, it’s beginning already, and I’m so very glad to see it. Getting out for walks the last few days I have been so happy to see the very first daffodils beginning to open, crocuses appearing in the garden, and the snowdrops gradually becoming the only white again at the roadside.

It’s only the odd flash of colour here and there, hardly enough to count, but it’s a promise that the vibrant seas of yellow daffodils and cascade of cherry blossom will come again before too long. It’s amazing that those little shoots could have survived under a foot of snow, and it makes the spring flowers on their way all the more special that they’ve managed to weather that.

For our lovely birds, it’s exactly the same. Having watched them struggle to find food and shelter in those days, flocking to the seeds scattered in a desperate attempt to keep them ticking over, it’s wonderful now to wake to their carefree singing, and watch our resident robin hop busily around the garden, fending for himself again.

I’m so very glad to see the first shoots and buds of spring, and looking forward to the new season arriving properly very much. 🌷

Hope you are all having a lovely week. x

World Book Day ~ The Beauty and Joy of Children’s Books

I have blogged before about how much I love books, especially children’s books, and really enjoyed writing about my favourite pony and animal stories from childhood – and confessing (as I absolutely don’t mind doing!) that I still keep and re-read them now. I loved looking at the Anne of Green Gables series too, which I’ve fallen in love with even more as an adult than as a child and count some of (Anne of Green Gables, Anne’s House of Dreams, Rilla of Ingleside ♥️) as my very favourite and most sustaining reads.

I really believe that reading can form such a huge part of growing and developing – and one of the things I’ve always looked forward to about having children of my own is being able to share stories with them.

We’re very lucky in Scotland to have a real focus on the importance of reading from birth onwards and even before. In antenatal classes we were encouraged to get used to reading aloud during pregnancy, Scotland’s Baby Boxes have cloth books and ideas for learning and playing from the Play Talk Read government initiative, and across the country free “Bookbug” classes are available for children from birth to school age in local libraries, run by the Scottish Book Trust, and age- appropriate books are gifted at every stage from a month on through the health visitor scheme, along with a calendar full of ideas for learning and developing.

In our short parenting journey so far we have discovered so many beautiful books for all ages through these recommendations, gifted to us by friends and family, passed down from our own childhoods or found in book shops and libraries; and are loving reading them to our little daughter. As so many of them are so special, I thought I’d love to write about them here, just a few at a time – and World Book Day seems the perfect day to start!

Home by Carson Ellis ~

The simple concept of this treasure of a book is the focus on all the many places different people call home; and it is the intracacy of its beautiful illustrations as much as its few well-chosen words that tell these stories so relatably and capture the imagination.

The Highway Rat by Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler ~

Couldn’t possibly have failed to include The Highway Rat as it fits so perfectly with the theme of this blog! It was a book I chose to add to our collection as it featured characters so similar to our own pets – the swashbuckling “baddie” the Highway Rat and his obliging horse! Its rhythmic verse, humour and eclectic mix of animal characters make it a book I know will become well-loved in our home, as I’m sure so many other of Julia Donaldson’s will too!

Peepo by Janet & Allan Ahlberg ~

This is a truly timeless book, documenting with such poignancy a day in the life of a baby in the 1940s. One of the things I love most about Peepo is how it somehow mirrors the events of the same even in the modern day – the rhythmic simplicity of playtime, bathtime, bedtime and family values are the same, just with the rich historic backdrop of life in that era.

Little Mole books, written by Jonathan Emmett, illustrated by Vanessa Cabban ~

This is a lovely little series of books featuring Mole and his woodland friends, with a strong focus on relationships and morals woven into simple and engaging tales. From the classic Bringing Down the Moon to the vibrant autumn colours of The Best Gift of All, they are a warm and appealing collection. I actually came across this blog post by the author when writing this, and see we have one, Diamond in the Snow, still to discover!

These are just a few of our very first picture books and would love to write about more so probably will. There are so many we’re just discovering as well as so many classics – Winnie the Pooh, Old Bear, Spot – who could have a chapter all of their own and who I’m just itching to pass on.

A very happy World Book Day all, hope you are all having a good week. X

#5photos1day #Horsebloggers

Decided to do something a wee bit different today as came across the Hay-net #5photos1day challenge and #horsebloggers network the other day while reading a lovely post by Gadding About With Galahad. Loved the idea of telling the story of a typical day in 5 photos and getting to see so many glimpses of others’ too, so thought I would join in and give it a go!

Started from the very beginning yesterday, getting up just as it was beginning to get light and grabbing my flask of coffee and keys, pulling on my cosiest jacket and leaving the house to head to the farm for the early shift!

The first flakes of snow of the much-anticipated “Beast from the East” storm were falling as I drove along the road, and by the time I got to the farm there was a light dusting covering the yard.

Charmer was waiting by his stable door as normal when I pulled the big barn doors open – always tuned into to the sound of my engine rumbling in – and I made his breakfast while he tossed his head and banged his stable door in his trademark morning impatience! (Tried to take a photo of this particular moment but just a blur of furry neck craning over the door and being thrown about at high speed!)

While he eats his breakfast I skip out round him, filling the barrow and throwing his bed up for the day to give me a head start for the evening visit; when I can just pull the bankings down and let him in for the night, filling his bed up and adding in hay once he’s in happily dinner-ing and playing with his ball.

I always really enjoy the wander out to the field in the morning light with my boy, taking everything in as we go; generally serenaded by the cockerel, sometimes the farm cat trotting up to say hello too and without fail having to pause to watch the pretty mares gathered around their ring-feeder at the top of the hill.

Charmer is an outdoor pony through and through, and ambles off happily on reaching the field in the morning whatever the weather; but by night in these temperatures he is usually to be found at the gate, another day done and anticipating his stable comforts!

Got him in and settled down for the night, enjoying some time with him before we parted ways; and headed back home, where snow had continued to fall steadily and had settled into a very beautiful and peaceful blanket.

Today the weather is due to ramp up a notch, and not quite sure what the next couple of days will bring! Last night though it was very still, completely tranquil and just gorgeous.

Really enjoyed snapping away all day and capturing all the little moments with the pony, and look forward to reading others’ too.

Hope you are all wrapped up warm and having a good week. ❄️

#5photos1day #horsebloggers

Early mornings with my boy 💙

The last few days have been beautiful here in our little corner of the world: blue skies, rising temperatures and the unmistakable hint of spring in the air from the moment the light begins to filter into the sky.

I’ve managed to make a few early morning trips along to the farm this week to see my biggest boy, just as the day is beginning (all activities are carved round our little daughter’s feeding and sleeping times just now and farm visits have been a juggling act, grabbed wherever possible here and there!). I’ve been so loving the chance to get along there first thing; it’s been amazing just to breathe in the dawn air, muck out with the farm cat purring round my ankles and walk the old boy the long way round to the field, stopping to let him graze at the snowdrop-lined verges as the sun appears above the fields.

Charmer is doing well just now, and although there’s still a good few “transitional” weeks to wrestle through, I’m glad to be most of the way through another winter. At 22 years this year it’s more of a challenge now for him to stay on an even keel weight wise in these dark muddy months; but so far so good, and we even had the first of the winter coat beginning to come out yesterday when I gave him a wee brush – a sure sign the seasons are on the cusp of change!

I love to see the first glimmers of spring arrive into our days; and there’s nothing quite like turning the corner onto the farm track to see the barns, the little church at the foot of the hill and the horses grazing in the fields between, all framed by a pink sky.

Looking forward very much to this next season and all the light it will bring. Hope you are all having a lovely week, and Happy Friday all! 😊

John Grogan’s Marley & Me

John Grogan’s autobiographical Marley & Me is a funny, honest and heart-warming story not just about the life of the eponymous Marley, but the family he was adopted into and the inevitable ups and downs of their lives, shared with their faithful – if a little chaotic – dog. Taking him from puppyhood right through to older age, the book is full of humour and love in equal measure; and the comedy jumping from the pages as Marley attempts to master the obedience he strives – not always successfully – to offer his owners, makes it unsurprising that the story leant itself to a warm and funny film further down the line.

I first read Marley & Me several years ago, and at the time so many aspects of it reminded me of my own childhood growing up in a family with dogs. Re-reading again on holiday last summer – actually as it happened with my own Marley in my arms as I did – so much of John and Jenny’s beginnings together had been mirrored in our own little family’s, and I could relate to the truth and warmth of the story from our own perspective as well.

Reading Marley & Me on holiday with my Marley and the other littles last summer 💙

The Grogans’ tale of life with Marley is a rollercoaster, and is full of mistakes and curveballs, but is held together by the love a life with pets offers so unconditionally.

Marley & Me documents the day-to-day reality of marriage, children and all the winding paths life takes us on. The family’s journey is enriched so much by Marley’s dominating presence in their midst, and as John Grogan writes, he teaches them as much as they teach him and more:

“A person can learn a lot from a dog.. Living each day with unbridled exuberance and joy, seizing the moment and following your heart. He taught me to appreciate the simple things – a walk in the woods, a fresh snowfall. As he grew old and achy he taught me optimism in the face of adversity. Mostly, he taught me about friendship and selflessness and, above all, unwavering loyalty.”

This is a warm and engaging story of family life and the life-long imprint a much-loved pet makes on it. ♥️