Saturday Rambles ❤️

Started our weekend off with a lovely wander in some local woods, enjoying the fresh air and sunshine, gathering sticks and twigs and admiring the nature surrounding us.

A beautiful and sunny “leap day”, this morning felt more like March than February and gave a lovely taste of times to come. Just love these days on the tipping point between winter and spring when the first buds appear and the warmth of the sun breaks through even just in small doses ☀️💛

Our little one couldn’t have enjoyed the exploring more, wellies on, branches trailing along behind her and wrapped up in her woolly hat and gloves.

It’s lovely to be able to spend Saturdays like this – I’m so enjoying settling into maternity leave and really loving the opportunity for slower paced weekends and family time all together.

This afternoon too I had a lovely chance for a bit of time with my biggest boy, who is doing very well at the moment and at his most recent vet check on Thursday they were really pleased with the progress of his mouth healing up. Still unsure of whether his second operation will be needed but everything going in the right direction and really pleased with how he seems.

By the time I got along to the farm, the weather was back to more January-esque, as it has mostly tended to be recently; and it was in between sleety showers and with a thick coat zipped up to my chin and the lead rope in my hand pushed deep into my pocket that I wandered Charmer round to the field. Took the long way round, enjoying a bit of time with him and stopping off at the snowdrop- lined grass to let him have a munch on the way.

It’s definitely been a mixed day, and the heating is on now as we settle in back home for the night, but it has been a lovely day for bursts of the outdoors in the tug-of-war between the early spring sunshine and the winter chill.

Have a lovely night all. X

Our vet adventure

It’s just over a week since I had my boy in at the vets for his canine tooth extraction, and very pleased to have it behind us (for now at least!) and to see him back home, settled back to normal life and doing very well.

All went very well preparing for taking him up to the vet hospital, with some lovely time just me and him on the morning of our travels, keeping everything as calm as possible with a breakfast, a good long pamper and a bit of time ambling and playing together in the sand school before we headed off.

With a little help from my friend who I was so grateful for transporting him up even on a very mixed-weather day with blizzard-like flurries of snow blowing through; we got him loaded up despite his usual nervousness of travelling, got up to the vets’ safely and him unloaded from the trailer and settled in the yard there.

It’s always so nerve wracking leaving him behind there. It’s only the second time I’ve ever had to do it, and this time was slightly different to before as I couldn’t stay with him for the procedure itself either. Last time I’d been there was six years ago for his liver biopsy and I was able to stay with him and hold him during the procedure to keep him calm before just leaving him overnight for recovery and monitoring, but this time with the X rays, long dental surgery and heavy sedation we just had to drop him off, give a last cuddle and leave him in the vets’ capable hands.

We are very, very lucky to have a wonderful surgery, with everyone from the vets to nurses to reception staff so very helpful, reassuring and most importantly so dedicated to the horses’ care, which is what I kept telling myself on the long afternoon waiting for updates!!

Eventually, the wait was over and I got to hear how my wee fluffball was doing and how it had all gone. Unfortunately it had been – as I’d already known was totally possible – a complicated procedure. I hadn’t actually realised before this cropped up for us a few weeks ago the history of canine teeth in horses. Relics from earlier days in the history of the horse and usually only found in males, they have no purpose in terms of eating or anything else our domestic horses today need, but were historically “fighting teeth” used for defence, and as such are very strong and large compared to other teeth in the mouth, extending down into the jaw. In Charmer’s case too, it had turned out when the surgery had begun that the tooth and bone had gone through some changes over time re-cementing at the root of the tooth and making it more difficult to remove. As a result, only a part extraction had been possible and the jury is out at the moment on whether we will have to go for a second operation.

For then, though, my wee boy was slowly coming back round, having been under sedation for as long as it was possible to be, and was to be monitored overnight at the vets’, and I was so glad to be able to get up to see him that evening.

I could definitely see all of his 24 years when I got to him, and how big an ordeal it had been for him, but it was beyond lovely to put my arms round him and have a cuddle; and he was so very well looked after there as he recovered overnight and was seen again in the morning before he was given the go-ahead to come back home.

The vet’s advice, given that the procedure is not complete to the extent they would like it to be and it’s difficult to tell whether any pain or problems would crop up further down the line, is to bring him in again to complete, this time with a travelling specialist also working on him given the complications. It may well be this is necessary and the best possible outcome for Charmer, so if so we will definitely go ahead. However, at the moment I’m very reluctant to put him through a second extensive ordeal if there is a chance the partial extraction could give him the relief he needs to live happily at the moment. It’s very difficult weighing everything up, but knowing his age, his almost-retired lifestyle, the stress he feels with travel and treatment; I want to try to do absolutely only what’s best for him. The vets have been very understanding of this, and so at the moment we’re playing a waiting game over the next six weeks, to see if Charmer’s mouth heals up and if he appears to be pain free. If not, he’ll be returning for part 2 within the next couple of months; but if so we will leave him for the moment have further X-rays a few months down the line to see how things are looking.

It’s impossible to know at the moment how the healing will go, but I am very grateful to the vets for working with what’s best for Charmer and very heartened indeed by how content and happy he has been since he came home – even though due to difficulties keeping the dressing in he was seeing the vet every other day for the first week for more sedation and re-packing and dressing! He seems very bright, very happy, is eating very well (where he’d been struggling a little in the few weeks between the routine dental that this first was discovered and the operation) and I really believe looking at how great he looks at the moment he can feel a significant relief from the extraction he’s had so far.

Keeping my fingers well and truly crossed, and just taking every day as it comes. He’s a wee trooper, and I know if we need to do it all again we’ll get through whatever it brings but at the moment I am so enjoying watching him settle and relax back home. ❤️

Happy Sunday all, hope you are having a good weekend. ❤️

January Reading ❤️

Decided to try to use this little space to keep up with my reading among the other bits and pieces I scribble – I’ve enjoyed writing book reviews on here in the past and always love reflecting on those stories I love best, but thought it would be good to keep track of my reading month by month as the year goes on.

The first of my books this year was a beautiful present for Christmas from my lovely sister that I couldn’t wait to read, opening its pages for the first time on Christmas night in the peaceful lull that settled when the busyness of a boisterous extended-family day was over and the little one was tucked in bed; and going on to read slowly, chapter by chapter, over the next few weeks.

Last Christmas – curated and introduced by Greg Wise & Emma Thompson

Sometimes a book is so special, a collection-type like this especially (I remember being exactly the same with Tom Hanks’ beautiful short story collection Uncommon Type), that I keep putting off reading it until I’ve got the time to really enjoy it, never wanting to miss a word, and ending up taking forever to finish but loving it nonetheless. Made up of over 50 different pieces on the subject of a Christmas from such a wide variety of contributors – including many from those who’ve spent time as refugees – and written in aid of Crisis and The Refugee Council; it is a unique and poignant gathering of essays and memoirs, and one I thoroughly enjoyed. It provides a valued insight into the memories and values of many well-loved figures – Emma Thompson, Stephen Fry, Caitlin Moran, Graham Norton, Victoria Coren Mitchell included (the latter moving me to tears in the last lines of her piece and, as it happened, of the book); balanced with some sometimes harrowing, raw and always moving documentations of Christmases in the Calais jungle, in war-torn countries, or in more peaceful ones – safe at last but heart-achingly far from home. This is a book that cuts to the very heart of Christmas, my favourite time of the year, and provides so much food for thought on the simplicity of what really matters during a festival that can be so huge and so anything-but-simple for many of us. I really loved reading it and know I will return to it next year as the season approaches again.

The Good, The Bad and The Furry – Tom Cox

Re-reads will definitely feature heavily in my reading lists and always have. Despite all the wonderful books there are in the world still to discover, I just can’t seem to help myself picking up old favourites over and over again and comfort reading those “old friends” books is one of my favourite ways to unwind. For years now I’ve enjoyed Tom Cox’s gentle humour and observations about many aspects of life in his varied books and blogs, but it’s his “cat books” I’ve loved most, particularly this one and the next, Close Encounters of the Furred Kind. Warm, fond memoirs on life with his cats, he captures perfectly for me what it is to love the pets we share our lives with, the vital role they play in our homes and the deep bond we form with them. This was the book I found myself picking back up from the shelf to head away for the night on Hogmanay, and so it was the one I was enjoying reading as we saw in the new year, making the most of the slow pace of life in the holidays and the comfort of favourite characters and stories.

The Gentle Discipline Book – Sarah Ockwell-Smith

I wasn’t sure whether to include this in my monthly round-up, being more of a reference book than anything else, but it’s one I really enjoyed reading and good to have a record of alongside the rest. The idea of a book about discipline sounds on paper a very dry one at best and a difficult read, but this was a book I was looking forward to getting into as our little girl hit the age of two and entered a whole new phase of her childhood and therefore us of our parenting journey too. I really enjoy all Sarah Ockwell-Smith’s writing, her perspective on child development and her focus on “gentle parenting”; and this book, like her others I’ve read, is thoughtfully and accessibly written and a common-sense approach to the psychology of a young child and the strengthening of the bond between parent and child. Far from focusing on any kind of authoritarianism, this is a refreshing and empowering study of discipline in the sense of teaching and guiding, and is a handbook that feels as though it arms any parent with a deeper understanding of just what their children are going through at the various stages of their growing-up and how best to help them through all its ups and downs.

Old Baggage – Lissa Evans

The main novel I read in January was Old Baggage, our book for the month at my book club – a lovely one in our local library designed for parents, where we gather of an afternoon to chat about our most recent book over a drink and cake while the little ones play. Over the last year and a half I’ve found being a member has been a much-appreciated anchor to the world of books and has kept me reading during some times I could’ve otherwise let months slip by without finishing a single one. One of the things I really enjoy about the concept of a book club is reading the types of books I wouldn’t normally and being opened up to different genres. Very occasionally, however, it leads me to exactly the type of book I love most, and Old Baggage was an example of that rare gift – I knew even as I began that I was holding a future favourite in my hands.

We are first introduced to Mattie Simpkin as she strides across the Heath in what very quickly establishes itself as her usual no-nonsense way, keeping everyone she comes across right as she goes. Her appeal is evident from the very first sentences of the book, a character I knew I would find myself smiling at throughout. Reminiscent of Three Things About Elsie‘s Florence and Elizabeth is Missing‘s Maud, two other all-time favourites of mine, she has a quality – a wisdom, a sense of humour and a strength of character – that I loved from the off.

It is 1928, and Mattie lives with her friend Florrie in the “Mousehole”, a house named for its role as a base during the Cat and Mouse Act some fifteen years before – both are former Suffragettes, now in their late fifties, and both for their own reasons feel a stirring still to be fighting, and making their voices heard where needed.

I read this almost in its entirety without being aware that it was in fact a prequel, and that the inimitable Mattie had featured already in Lissa Evans’ previous novel Crooked Heart, set even further down the line looking back from elderly years – by then struggling with the onset of dementia – at the days gone by. I definitely plan to get hold of a copy and can’t wait to add it to the reading list very soon, but as a book in its own right, Old Baggage was a wonderful read, and I loved its vibrant characters and unfolding tale of perseverance, strength and hope for a better future.

Happy Friday and Happy Valentines’ Day all, have a lovely weekend. X

Early February days at the farm 💙

The last few days at the farm with my fluffy boy have held all of February’s long-awaited first glimpses of the season ahead.

As we disentangle from the darkness of January and move into the new month, it is lovely to see so many small changes in the days. The lightening of the afternoons, so gradual until now, seems so much clearer all of a sudden – field walks as late as 5pm in the last of the daylight at last. The wet and wintry days are interspersed with at least the odd slightly drier one, bright sunshine making a welcome change and a feel of energy in the barn as I start to organise and tidy up a few bits and pieces around the stable.

Charmer himself is clearly feeling it too, with the beginnings of his winter coat coming out right on cue as I took his rug off on the second morning of February.

I’m sure he’ll end up hanging on to most of it for a couple of months to come, and just as sure we’ll have some weather curveballs before the winter is through; but lovely nonetheless to see the start of the turn of the tide!

Charmer is doing well, enjoying his field at the moment and keen to come in just for his dinners and a bit of fuss most days, lining his wee feet up right back at the door as soon as his bucket’s empty, ready to go back out and re-join his friends!

On others of course though, in the driving wind and rain, he’s definitely keen for a much-appreciated longer stable stint.

We’re just a few days away now from his stay at the vets’ to have his tooth extracted. Still very nervous about the the whole thing and trying not to think about it too much ahead of time, although this weekend we are letting him have a little practice load in the trailer with my friend at the yard who is kindly going to drive him up next week, so will be lovely to have a chance to settle him a little to the travelling side of things at least!

We are still very much in winter yet, and any evening visits are wrapped-up ones, standing in the darkness of the field shoulder-to-shoulder with my boy, enjoying the chance to see his view on the world.

It’s really lovely though to have had the chance in the ever-lengthening days to get out for some bright, dry leg-stretches and look forward to spring not too far ahead. 💚

Have a lovely week all. X