Holidaying at Home

The last little while has been our summer holiday, with my husband off work for two lovely weeks. We originally had a caravan holiday booked (pre-lockdown!!) for what would have been our first trip away together as a family of four. We had planned to go to Haggerston Castle near Berwick on Tweed for a week, with another to enjoy back at home too. As it happened of course our travels were cancelled, and so we settled ourselves to a holiday at home, with a plan to take a first holiday away again in October instead, when things are a little more settled!

We have had the most wonderful couple of weeks – we always do enjoy time at home as part of our time off, have done even before the kids came along, as it’s always lovely to relax in our own space too. This year more than ever, with our freedom just beginning to open up to us again, it was wonderful to have the time to enjoy things close by and explore our local area even more. We took long rambles in the woods, following trails and finding animal footprints; had picnics by the sea; a good explore of every park we could find – it was wonderful to have the chance to see so much on our doorstep especially after missing it all the last few months!

We took a drive one day to the Kelpies in Falkirk, always an absolute favourite place of ours to visit, walking through the Helix park, spotting wildflowers and ducks on the pond, meandering along the canal side, and standing under the majestic Kelpies – loving seeing the girls gazing up at them, the littlest one’s eyes wide as she took them (and everything else!) in for the first time.

One of the added benefits of being at home was being able to meet with friends and family, and really enjoying time with them with no rush or schedule – and Charmer too of course, who was able to be part of our days – my little stable helper loving it!

It’s been a wonderful couple of weeks – despite being based at home (a “pretend holiday house” to our imaginative two-year-old) and only little drives in the car (our “pretend camper van”❤️) it really felt like our first holiday all together and we have all enjoyed our time.

Hope all reading are keeping well! Have a lovely weekend x

Thankful Thursday #2 💛

There is so much to be thankful for here at the moment, and I started the day in my very favourite of places to reflect on it all this morning, out for an early-morning hack with my boy – something I’m so grateful for in itself. 💛

The last week has seen some changes in the easing of lockdown here in Scotland that have meant the world to our family, as it was announced that children were no longer required to observe physical distancing from other children and adults outdoors; meaning that our 2-year-old could run into the rest of our family’s arms once more, after so long apart; and our 3-month-old baby be held by them for the first time at last.

I’m prouder than I can put into words of our eldest for how she’s handled everything in these last few months – but most especially in the last six weeks for managing to understand distancing, and doing so with her usual optimism in spite of how impossibly hard to comprehend it must have been. I’m so very relieved it’s over for her now, and that she can be as close as she wants to be to her beloved extended family again. And our youngest, so alert and so interested, growing and changing every day, had no idea how far from normal the world she was born into was, just taking it all in her stride and settling to our little family of four. In the last few weeks though, as we’ve seen others again, she’s been so interested, even at a distance figuring out all her people – and she was so content this week to find herself in all their arms for the first time.

This week has been full of flashes of joy and special moments – reunions in our gardens after what I know has been such a difficult long wait for everyone, some in the sunshine and some under tarpaulins and umbrellas, but all so lovely; and walks and catch-ups with friends we’ve missed so much. I have been so grateful to be able to spend a little more time with family and friends again and slowly but surely relax back into it all, feeling such a relief at seeing them properly with the girls again at last.

This coming week everything changes once more and we edge ever forward as we find ourselves able to visit in each other’s houses. I’m so so looking forward to being able to sink into the sofas in my mum’s and dad’s and the other family homes that have always felt like an extension of our own and that we now haven’t been inside for any length of time in four months. It does feel strange making these changes after all this time, and the progress we’re making seems to bring waves of anxiety and uncertainty that it’s all ok, along with the joy: – but as we find our way and continue to take our tentative steps forward, I’m just so grateful to be doing it all together.

Hope all reading are doing well, wherever you are in the twists and turns of this strange time, and wish you a really lovely weekend. 💛

Pony diaries: Summertime ☀️

We’ve definitely transitioned from spring well and truly into summer here, and all the usual summertime pony adventures have begun, from ragworting to sunny hacking.

Despite loving autumn and winter so much, and definitely with horses too (the routine of nights in, wrapped-up hacks, hot chocolates in the barn ❤️); there is something so special for me every year about summer at the farm. This is the time of year I first got Charmer, and a life with horses came alive for me. The smell of citronella in the air, the dry ground in the fields and the spray of a hose to cool down – it all reminds me so much of that magical time and I love it just as much all these years on.

Summer does keep us on our toes too, Charmer in a variety of different fly rugs and masks, and all the sprays and bottles of the season tried and tested we try to keep his sweet itch at bay and enjoy the sunshine.

This year he’s done very well for the most part, although he did have terrible itch on his face a month or so ago that saw him with a lockdown vet visit and a steroid cream which thankfully cleared it right up as quickly as it came – he’s some boy for just going crazy itching now and then so had lost a lot of the hair on his face practically overnight, but thankfully the cream did a wonderful job of healing it up in no time, and with a good mix of barrier creams, sprays, rugs and fly tags we’ve managed the rest of the summer so far no problems at all – particularly enjoying his latest fly rug (which the toddler definitely loves!!!).

We’ve managed out for a couple of little early morning wanders now and it’s been absolutely wonderful to be back in the saddle and to take in the beautiful views we’re lucky to have around us through my favourite pair of floppy black ears. ❤️

For his part, Charmer seems to be enjoying being back to our adventures just as much as me and it’s been lovely exploring with him.

Of course it’s not always sunny in these parts, even in what’s been an incredible spring and summer so far; and I’m writing this this morning from the barn with my morning coffee and book, the rain pelting off the barn roof with a steady rhythm and a very wet and bedraggled pony munching his breakfast very gratefully! I do really love these moments too though in the midst of warmer days; and whatever the weather, it’s a wonderful time of year with my boy. ❤️

Have a good weekend all! X

Half Year Book Round-Up

As I come to the half-way point in the year, I’ve so enjoyed so many of the books I’ve read in 2020, and keeping tabs on them here in this blog too; so thought I would take the chance to reflect on everything so far.

It has been an eclectic mix, with 28 books read in total in the last six months – 20 new reads and 8 re-reads, a pretty good ratio for me as I love nothing more than returning to an old favourite book, but have sometimes found myself doing nothing but that, never getting stuck into trying anything new.

There have been 9 children’s books in the list, from my classic battered pony-book comfort reads (Ruby Ferguson’s inimitable Jill ❤️) to the beautiful and captivating The Girl Who Speaks Bear by Sophie Anderson.

I’ve also read several memoirs, stepping into the worlds of Tom Cox and Giovanna Fletcher among others, enjoying the humour and warmth of their story-telling and a window into their worlds – Judith Kerr’s Out of the Hitler Time not quite fitting into the memoir category but very almost, recalling her childhood and adolescence in the war years; and Last Christmas, with its collection of essays on Christmas from so many inspiring perspectives, full of memories too.

I’ve read 4 parenting books, learning and growing guided by the gentle and inspiring voices of Sarah Ockwell Smith, Izzy Judd – and Giovanna Fletcher too, whose lovely Letters on Motherhood definitely spanned both genres.

I returned to some absolute classics of childhood literature in Anne of Avonlea, The Secret Garden and Little Women, and read beyond where I had before in the Marches’ world in Good Wives, watching Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy find their feet in an adult world, still holding on to the grounding of their childhood.

My favourite new books I’ve read this year so far have been Lucy Mangan’s childhood reading memoir Bookworm; Jhumpa Lahiri’s beautiful novel about culture and belonging The Namesake; Sophie Anderson’s Slavic folklore-inspired The Girl Who Speaks Bear; The Trouble with Goats and Sheep, Joanna Cannon’s debut novel of faith, community and second chances; Good Wives by Louisa May Alcott, new to me and as warming a volume as Little Women; Lissa Evans’ Old Baggage, bringing to life vibrant characters of the Suffragette movement some years on; and Bernardine Everisto’s Girl, Woman, Other, a wonderful commentary on race, gender and the experiences of a diverse and engaging range of strong female leads.

Our book club, adapting to the new times with reads being chosen between us all and discussed remotely, has also covered a very diverse range. Three of my favourite books I’ve come across this year have come from those picks, and in fact both last month’s book, The Girl Who Speaks Bear, and this month’s, Girl, Woman, Other, have won the Indie Book Awards announced last week.

I feel like I’ve had a chance to experience so many viewpoints and places even in this very strange year where we haven’t been able to physically travel anywhere. I’ve caught a glimpse of both Norway and Italy’s beauty in A Modern Family; the Nigerian cityscape in My Sister, The Serial Killer; Jack Reacher’s America by greyhound bus and diner stop-offs; Anne Shirley’s Prince Edward Island under the white blossom trees; the rugged, sparsely house-dotted hills of Massachusetts in Little Women; the hospital corridors with Adam Kay; the Guernsey streets in Paper Aeroplanes; the roses curling to life in The Secret Garden with Mary and Dickon; Christmases in more times and places than I could describe in Last Christmas; the twisting passing-place lined Highland roads and lonely castle ruins in Bloody Scotland; and the view from curled on a sofa devouring book after book with Lucy Mangan in Bookworm – that one at least not far from the truth!

I’m so enjoying reading this year and at the half-way point really enjoyed reflecting and very much looking forward to another six months and many more books.

My books of 2020 so far..

Book reviews / reading round-ups:

January https://amischiefmanaged.wordpress.com/2020/02/15/january-reading-❤%EF%B8%8F/

February

https://amischiefmanaged.wordpress.com/2020/03/04/february-reads-📖❤%EF%B8%8F/

March https://amischiefmanaged.wordpress.com/2020/04/01/march-books-❤%EF%B8%8F/

April https://amischiefmanaged.wordpress.com/2020/05/13/april-books/

May https://amischiefmanaged.wordpress.com/2020/06/02/may-books/

June https://amischiefmanaged.wordpress.com/2020/07/01/june-reading-💛📚/

Hope you are all having a good week. X

June Reading 💛📚

My reading in June has been up and down but has ended on a definite high and I’ve read some books I have really enjoyed in the last few weeks.

I started at the same keen pace I’ve been reading the last few months with Dawn O’Porter’s Paper Aeroplanes, an easy-to-read and absorbing young adult novel about the struggles of adolescence and the joys of friendship. Set on Guernsey in the 1990s, it is inspired by the author’s own childhood there, and is a very honest portrayal of the universal ups and downs of teenage years that will resonate with so many – daring to cover many topics that are often more likely to be glossed over but that ring painfully true, and doing so with a comforting warmth. I really enjoyed the story and the characters’ vulnerability as they wrestled with friendships, family relationships and all that growing up entails in such a disarmingly relatable way.

My next read saw me returning to Judith Kerr’s semi-autobiographical trilogy Out of the Hitler Time for the final instalment, A Small Person Far Away, having read the first two last month. Set some eleven years after the end of the war, and finding Anna visiting Berlin for the first time since fleeing it as a child – with a huge weight of family illness and strain on her shoulders as she did so, her mother’s ailing health bringing her there – this was a less uplifting close to the story than might be expected, but a moving and thought-provoking one, and I felt for Anna in these new unknown years just as in all the others she had weathered.

The Second Baby Book is not one I read in its entirety this month but have been on and off over the last few months. I always enjoy Sarah Ockwell-Smith’s insight into parenting and family life and this book in particular’s unique focus sets it apart. So many books talk of every aspect of how to prepare for a new baby but so few cover the shift in dynamic of a second or more for the new arrival, their siblings and the whole family; and this book has been so very helpful as we’ve moved into life as a family of four. The description of “beautiful chaos” is one I particularly loved:

Read in snatched moments between the busyness and craziness here, as we’ve adapted to our own beautiful chaos, I really enjoyed the comfort and reassurance of this book discussing such a universal experience and I would definitely recommend it to anyone expanding their family and settling to what may be different to the first time around but ultimately feels absolutely right for everyone in the new little unit.

My reading had hit a bit of a rut this month – after the first two books I’d read quickly very early in the month, I had couple of weeks just dabbling in re-reading chapters, picking up novels and not getting into them and never finding the time to read.. But then along came Bernardine Everisto’s Girl, Woman, Other, our book club pick for this month and a truly wonderful book – incredibly written and genuinely unputdownable. I’ve devoured this in the last couple of days, falling asleep with my Kindle in my hand desperate to read just a little more and snatching another chapter on my phone throughout the day whenever I could. Told from 12 different perspectives, the interweaving stories in this book are so important – raising issues of race, gender and prejudice in all its forms eloquently and thought-provokingly. I am so looking forward to our book club discussions on it, as this book was eye-opening, enlightening and compelling, one I know I will remember for a long time to come.

Going into July, and into our two-week summer holiday (of course not away anywhere but determined to fill it with all the usual holiday-ish things all the same, reading included!) I feel right back into the swing of reading and so looking forward to choosing my next book.

Hope you are all well. Would love to hear any thoughts on any of these and chat about them if anyone’s read too! Have a good week. X