2017 Reflections ~ Holed up in the snow

We are in the midst of the usual in-between period between Christmas and new year – that beautifully still time where the days stretch ahead and blur into one another (“Romjul” as I was charmed to learn is its romantic Scandinavian name); a few days of quiet contemplation and true unwinding. Every year I look forward to this, and every year it arrives with a familiarity that makes it so easy to sink into – before long the continual passing round of Quality Streets and the sticking on of an afternoon film without a second thought becoming second nature once more.

This year, we are enjoying that period as much as always and more so; but its familiarity has been shaken up by the new dimension added to all our days and every aspect of our little world since our daughter arrived to join us. ♥️

Born exactly a week before Christmas, our little girl has transformed our life unrecognisably, in the best possible way. The last couple of weeks have been an absolute whirlwind, and we have lived and learned so much as a little family already. She is settling so well, taking everything in her stride – and although it’s been a busy period full of new routines and challenges, visits from family and friends and Christmas coming along too; we’ve had a little bit of time now to start to enjoy settling into our new roles and getting to know each other.

Today, we are all cosied up inside as the snow falls steadily outside the window, and are taking the day at an easy pace from under our blankets here.

 

I always find myself reflecting so much on the year that’s been as we hibernate in these last few days of it; and this year has been one full of change and new horizons as we’ve transitioned in so many ways – moving home, all the journeying on we’ve done in different ways in our living and working, and having been blessed with expanding our family.

The pets (usually the main focus of any blog post but currently being sidelined in every way, poor souls!) are doing well too – or Jasper and Jet will be as soon as they get used to the sound of the wee one’s cry! Getting there slowly already though I think…

 

The pony headed off out to play in the snow this morning quite happily, on my brief foray out into the world of the farm and the wintry outdoors before getting home to the others once more.

Our world here at the moment is all new and all so exciting; but is strung together too by the constancy of the season – the twinkle of the lights, chill in the air and warmth of home – as we adapt to all our changes and find our feet together.

Hope you are all finding time to enjoy this cosy in-between time, and have a really lovely week from all of us. X

♥️

The Pets of Christmas Past… 🎄

This weekend has been Christmas decorating weekend in our little house; and yesterday we spent a busy but enjoyable day dragging our beloved (if a little lopsided!) potted Christmas tree in from the garden for his annual stint indoors and hanging our lights, stockings and strings of cards and decorations around the rooms – before settling in for a lovely and cosy night around the tree, watching It’s a Wonderful Life (♥️) and enjoying the season really and truly being here.

Earlier in the day, as we began the preparations, I did try to engage the boys in playing their role and even offered them a little festive hat each to get them in the spirit (thank you innocent smoothie caps! 😂😂) but, alas, in true Jasper and Jet style, they were not to be convinced that Christmas dressing-up was the way forward – though, if allowed, they would have spent a happy half hour shredding the pom poms off the top… 🙄

Laughing at the wee ones’ antics got me to reminiscing about all the many Christmasses we’ve shared over the years with the furry members of our family, what characters they’ve been and those who have loved the season most. So, on a very frosty Sunday morning, holed up cosily with a coffee under the twinkling lights, have enjoyed taking a trip down memory lane and recalling some of our favourite Christmas memories with the little ones.

There was never anyone for donning a Santa hat, languishing in front of the fire and lights, tearing into a stocking and most of all revelling in every shred of packing paper like our floppy-eared lionhead rabbit Simba, who made all the Christmasses we were blessed enough to share with him that little bit fuller of chaos and joy.

The first few years my husband and I lived together, in the much-loved little old cottage that was our first home, were years we loved so much – and that we filled with rats, hamsters and Simba as their ring-leader, enjoying them all so very much. I always loved filling stockings for the wee ones and coming up with new ways for them to enjoy the season – but mostly they found those themselves too just in exploring all the new climbing frames and exciting obstacles around the room December brought – most of all the prickly green one!

Some of my much-loved rats of Christmas past – Smokie, Peatie, Sylvie, Lizzie, Chae, Winston and Pipkin – enjoying their Christmas stockings and presents ♥️♥️

… and a few of the most intrepid Christmas-tree climbers and decorating helpers – Smokie, Peatie, Simba, Little Gracie-hamster and Harvey & Ty ♥️♥️ –

And, of course, it wouldn’t be Christmas in Scotland without some wonderful snow memories too – out with the fluffy pony, who is never happier than in the thick of winter stomping around in his bear-like coat, or at my mum and dad’s with their dogs and cats.

Christmases and games in the snow with Charmer, Ginny, Maisie, Phoebe and Jess ♥️♥️

Christmas morning at the farm especially fills me with a cosiness I can’t describe, and I absolutely love a trip along there as the start of our Christmas Day – everything so still and crisp outside, the barn so full of warmth, and my boy ready to share in some merriment.

So grateful for all the wonderful Christmases we’ve had over the years, and all the wonderful characters we’ve shared them with. Enjoying the beginnings of and looking forward to this one more than ever before, and lovely to spend a quiet weekend getting ready for the festivities ahead.

Merry Christmas all.🎄✨♥️ xx

Camper van adventures – the memories we take with us as we trundle on… 💙

This winter, we are preparing to say a last goodbye to our much-loved 26-year-old Bedford Rascal camper van – bought on impulse, on eBay, from a pick-up location 500 miles away, just under half a decade ago.

This is, just to be clear, absolutely not the kind of thing it would ever have occurred to me to do, once upon a time – but is very much the kind of thing that was first introduced to my life (and repeated with what seems to have been increasing regularity over time) ten years ago when I first got together with my husband; for whom concepts like buying vehicles older than us from Brighton (and taking possession of them and driving them home in one long, Red Bull-fuelled day) have always seemed entirely feasible and achievable.

The Rascal wasn’t by any means the first – two 1980s Fiat Pandas had preceded it as his surprisingly reliable runarounds, one of which was also his partner in crime in a 10-country rally across Europe; and more recently we got three years worth of day-to-day life out of a bright turquoise ’96 Toyota Starlet he picked up very cheap one night in 2014 as a second car to see us through a couple of months of winter – going on to outlive everyone’s expectations until just this summer (when we finally gave it up for a “safe and reliable family car” which has, as it happens, caused us more trouble than all our older cars combined in the six months since… such is life!).

The van was, however, unique in that it was the first vehicle we could full-on holiday in – and suddenly the world (or, maybe more fairly, the parts of Scotland closest to us mainly, with the odd longer trip thrown in!) was our oyster; a night away requiring no more planning than slinging a bag in the back, beginning the (admittedly not always challenge-free) process of getting the engine started (tending to take slightly longer in the cold or when the choke was playing up!) and heading off.

Our first camp is one I’ll always remember – setting off on a beautiful sunny February day in 2013, we pitched up in Auchterarder at a lovely little campsite overnight, thankfully bringing plenty of layers and keeping every one of them on all night, as we woke the next morning to -10 degrees and a thick layer of ice on the windows inside and out. Our coffee that morning, brewed on the tiny two-ring hob, might have been the most warming I’ve ever tasted!

From those frosty beginnings on, we’ve had years of chugging up hills and waking up to the stillness of the world around us as we’ve got the van out and about and made so many memories I’ll hang onto forever.

The summer we got engaged, the autumn we got married, New Years being seen in on a cold, deserted but beautiful beach… They are all with us now wherever we go, moving on to all the next phases of our life together, and I’ll always be so very grateful for them. ♥️

Happy Advent ♥️❄️✨🕯

December has arrived at last, tumbled towards through the beauty and transition of autumn and early winter; and is now fully settled in, bringing with it all its usual cosiness and warmth.

I love the first morning of advent so much, calendars being opened and the countdown to Christmas truly beginning. Jasper and Jet got stuck in to opening their first door this morning, and were delighted with the dandelion treats they found inside!

I look forward every day to my early-morning routine of breakfast treats and a few minutes with them while the kettle boils, getting ready for the day to begin; but it was lovelier than ever today letting them explore the very beginnings of their first Christmas.

At the farm, too, I love to bring a bit of festivity early to Charmer’s stable with the same, and during the breakfast-and-muck-out routine we’ve hit the ground running with this week, the old boy was happy enough to take the first of his extra treats and do his best to help with the opening…

Arrived to the loveliest extra surprise too from our yard owners of an advent calendar for every horse outside our stable doors – we have in the past discovered stockings of treats for them at Christmas, or chocolate eggs and urns of coffee out on a table for us all on Easter morning, and it’s just such a nice reminder of the kindness and camaraderie of the livery yard, and of what a blessing it really is – especially when it can be such a big responsibility and such a challenge to find – to have a place for the pony to live that suits him and me so perfectly.

This has been the first week of my maternity leave, and, with work finished up now for a while, I have had some extra time for organising and pottering inside the house and out, getting the last things ready both for our new arrival and for Christmas time (our two new seasons ahead!) so have started on some gift-wrapping and preparing a little earlier than usual. Still, this morning, with the arrival of Advent itself, I feel the usual excitement I do every year at the idea of the preparations picking up pace, darkness falling earlier and earlier each day while lights begin to twinkle more and more in the homes around us as we head towards Christmas time.

At night, the togetherness and cosiness of this time of year really comes in to its own, and I love to get in to the warmth for the evening and light our advent candle for the first time, starting a month-long tradition that will count us down to Christmas morning and bring a peaceful and lovely hour to our every evening while we wait.

A very happy Advent / winter to all, wishing you all the loveliest December. ❄️✨ x