2021 In Pictures ❤️

Have really enjoyed in the last couple of days looking back at some pictures from this year. Seeing the early ones especially reminded me so much how shut down everything was in the first few months of the year and, even though all the snapshots here were lovely moments, how much I was struggling with it. The thing I’m most grateful for as the year has gone on is more time back with family and friends – and when I look at some of these: getting back to my in-laws to stay after months apart, drinks out with my friends for the first time in so long, I remember the soar of joy. So many returns to things we love for us all and firsts altogether for our littlest – her first birthday, first beach and first soft play all in the highlights. ❤️

There has been lots of change for us all in work, nursery, toddlers.. seasons coming to a close and new ones beginning. There’s more still even on the horizon as I already know as the new year arrives I want to make a change again at work, and for our oldest January is time for decisions on school applications and deferrals, a big topic for us at the moment. In 2022 I can already see us moving on just as in 2021.

We said goodbye to our lovely Sandy hamster this year but also a huge welcome the family to tiny Sparkle; – and of course to Rosie and Theo our little cats too, who’ve been with us six months now and fill the house with happy chaos… And Charmer throughout the year has been enjoying having the whole family running after him as much as ever, turning 25 and even toddling off on a couple of retirement-defying hacks. 🥰

As this year draws to a close it’s a big one we’re looking back on. Can’t wait quite believe it was a just-turned-3 year old and a little 9 month old who couldn’t walk yet (just! She began on day 2 of the year!) who we entered 2021 with this time last year… our 4 year old and creeping up on 2 year old seem so grown in a year.

Looking forward to lots more adventures this year, and wishing you all the very very best for 2022. A very Happy New Year one and all when when it comes. ❤️

September – December Reading Diary 📚❤️

I’ve not kept up too much with reading on here recently but have still been keeping a record as this year I’ve been absolutely loving being part of the bookstagram community on Instagram and having somewhere to easily share all my reads and share and swap book recommendations. I’m on http://www.Instagram.com/a_coffee_anda_book if anyone also happens to be on there and I do a wee review or at least a wee note of everything I read on there, but for now thought I’d do the quickest of round ups of the last few months’ books, as I’ve really found my way back to loving reading in this second part of the year.

💛🍂📚September Reading 📚🍂💛 Such a wonderful reading month, all books I really enjoyed and two shooting in to the top 5 of the year so far quite easily ❤️ L.M. Montgomery’s “The Blythes are Quoted”, the long-awaited final chapter of Anne & Gilbert Blythe’s story, was a book I’ve looked forward to reading for years, and it didn’t let me down, sweeping me up in the family and community once again just as I hoped ❤️. And “Stepping Up” by Sarah Turner (aka @theunmumsymum, whose parenting books and blogs I have always loved) was one I was already counting down to reading come publication in March 2022 when I was absolutely delighted to be accepted to read an advance review copy through NetGalley. I wasted no time in getting started and just couldn’t put it down, I simply loved this so deeply warm, moving and funny novel so much. ❤️ “Ponies in the Valley” by Diana Pullein-Thompson too was an adventure- and compassion-filled pony book I thoroughly enjoyed, and Fergie and Sandy’s series one I’ll definitely look to read more in very soon; and Shirley Barrett’s “Rush Oh!”, an atmospheric telling of one summer’s whaling on the coast of Australia with some engaging characters and beautiful descriptions of the dramatic seascape. These books were all very different from one another, though both “The Blythes” and “Rush Oh!” were set in the same time period, with the First World War looming; and some common themes – loss, coming of age and the binding of family ties – came up in most or all. It was a cosy month’s reading, one I really enjoyed, and got my autumn off to a lovely start. 🍁📚

📚🍁 October reads 🍁📚 Really enjoyed reading in October as I always do when the nights draw in and there’s longer darker evenings… 🥰 Actually read a lot more than a three-book stack seems because I was part-way through three others I’d been enjoying a lot of the month too that all tipped into November. But really enjoyed the books I finished this month – first “The Man Who Died Twice” which I’d been counting down to release day for, a wonderful return to the mystery-filled Coopers Chase retirement village; followed by “Haven’t They Grown”, an absolutely gripping thriller that has me wanting to read a lot more from Sophie Hannah; and lastly Stephanie Land’s moving memoir “Maid” which I also so enjoyed. Definitely a great month for books, would recommend all! (All reviewed in earlier posts). Photo star Teddy-cat Theo who enjoyed both his first Black Cat Day and Halloween this month and very much enjoyed the season 🤩🎃🐈‍⬛

📚🌟November wrap-up 🌟📚 Read six books last month which is a bit skewed by having finished off Tom Cox’s beautiful nature ramble “Ring the Hill”, Emma Barnett‘s ground-breaking “Period” and Cressida Ellen Schofield’s festive and horsey family drama “Mistletoe and Whine” in the first week of the new month after beginning them all towards the end of October.

These were all new to me, which I only realised this month was a continuing trend, and when I looked back saw I hadn’t re-read a single book since July, very unusual for me as I usually can’t resist the old favourites over and over..

However, I more than made up for it in the rest of the month with three re-reads, my beloved “Three Things About Elsie” by Joanna Cannon, Nicholas Evans’s atmospheric and moving “The Horse Whisperer” which I hadn’t read in decades, and, my last book of the month, the one and only “Pride and Prejudice”. ❤️

It was a mixed month of books, with some fascinating non-fiction and thought-provoking learning in “Period”, the prose I just love to sink into in “Ring the Hill”, a first splash of Christmas in “Mistletoe and Whine”, such emotion and a strong challenge and message in “Three Things About Elsie”, the sprawling ranch saga of “The Horse Whisperer” and the drawing in of the truly classic “Pride and Prejudice.”

📚🎄 December reads 🎄📚 I read 7 books in December which is a lot for me, but in there were four much shorter books than normal and three were children’s which kept my month’s reading light and cosy. There were also four purely Christmas books, as well as touches of Christmas in Anne’s little world, and it was a wonderful month of reading just what took my fancy in this beautifully festive time of the year.

I started with Adam Kay’s “‘Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas”, having enjoyed “This is Going to Hurt” last year – moving and funny, I really enjoyed it, all the more for reading on my first Christmas working in a care home with all its ups and downs. Then it was to Avonlea, my very favourite of places to disappear, to my beloved Anne. ❤️ I always enjoy re reading “Anne of Green Gables” so very much and did this time more than ever. Enjoyed a wee pony book in Susannah Leigh’s “Dream Pony”, one from my childhood, and then on to a wonderfully infused-with-Christmas-cheer novel “The Christmas Invitation” by Trisha Ashley. As Christmas arrived I was re-reading another favourite and a tradition for this time especially, “A Christmas Carol”, which again I loved as much as ever ❤️❤️, and then I had an extra dose of the season in Matt Haig’s “A Boy Called Christmas”, a children’s adventure full of magic and hope. My last is not quite finished yet but as the year draws to a close I’m reading “Mad About The Boy”, Helen Fielding’s return to Bridget Jones’ world in later life – the first two books are two of my favourites I love to return to but although I read this when it came out I haven’t revisited it since – so far have lots of thoughts on how it’s aged!! But am enjoying being back with such a familiar and loved narrator.

In December I also followed a tag on Instagram #literarychristmas hosted by some lovely bloggers which saw me dip in and out of some very well-loved worlds:

Weeks 1 and 4 were east for me as I was already reading “Anne of Green Gables” as the month began, and was able to enjoy the beautiful “puffed-sleeves” Christmas it contains, and I always read “A Christmas Carol”, ticking my Victorian Christmas box. But although I didn’t read in full anything from the Prairie or New England it gave me the perfect chance to look up some favourite extracts and enjoy Laura and Mary’s mittens-and-candy-cane Christmas morning and the March ladies’ memorable generosity. ❤️

On the note of Anne, do have to share as well one of my most special Christmas presents that I think will lead to me reading even more frequently than normal! – this beautiful framed print which contains the whole novel. It’s not even found its place on the wall yet but already I’m loving pausing by it for a wee chapter as I pass by and am absolutely delighted to have such a beloved book hanging at home. ❤️

In these last few days I’ve loved having more time for reading and enjoying taking life at a slow pace. Looking forward to looking back on the year’s reading and will write another wee post when I do. For now, enjoying the peace and the slow days ❤️ Hope you are all managing to do a little of the same however the season is panning out, and enjoying the last of the year. Xx

Hello from our now Christmassy corner of the world 🎄

It’s been so long since I last wrote and having just realised how much I’ve neglected this lovely wee space that I do so appreciate gathering my thoughts in, thought I would do a little catch-up post, as we somehow (how fast has time gone this year?!) enter the home straight with just under two weeks to go until Christmas.

Since I last wrote, here in this little corner of the world we’ve just enjoying watching October turn into a sunny and bright November, and then before we knew it we were here in a stormy December, with our tree up and excitement levels for the little ones reaching heights I could barely do justice to!!

Term has tumbled on and I’ve so enjoyed in this first half of this year getting my littlest one out to a village toddlers group where she’s grown so much in confidence, her little weekly toddler music group we’ve always loved so much, where again she’s ruling the roost now, and just all our usual play dates, wanders and adventures. She’s at such a fantastic age where she’s starting to look forward to meeting her friends and learning the routines – leading me down the hill in the village from nursery to toddlers very determinedly. ❤️ Meanwhile, we’re two terms in at nursery for my big girl who’s going to be 4 this week!! (Can’t quite get my head around that one..) and for the most part she’s settled so well, finding her feet and now loving coming to the end of the first half of the year, Christmas party around the corner and coming home with her face shining with a Christmas centrepiece for the table and stories of dressing up for the little nativity play 🤩 We’ve still kept nursery part-time for the moment and as a result I’ve still been loving some time with both my girls in the afternoons – and our activities are growing steadily more festive every day just now, hanging lights and baubles on our old bedraggled but beloved Christmas tree in the garden, making a wreath for the door under the direction of Grandad who does them every year, and wrapping up to head round the village on “twinkle walks” that definitely do not disappoint. 🤩❤️

And if the kids are hyped up at this time of the year, I’m not sure what that makes these two….

Rosie and Theo, now almost eight months old, could not be loving their first Christmas more!! I am forever gathering baubles from around the room, re-adjusting the branches on the Christmas tree from where some cat-shaped dents have materialised and re-hanging stockings by the fire.. but they are having quite simply the time of their little kitten lives, so we can’t mind too much!

Teddy-cat in the Christmas tree

We also have another little character in our home that I still need to introduce on here, the lovely Stitch Sparkleworks 🌟🐹 (long story short… he was originally named Stitch, but my wee My Little Pony fans had decided his new name for his new home was to be Sparkleworks… however by the time we went to collect him they had also got attached to the name he had in the rescue centre and didn’t want to part with it… so Stitch Sparkleworks he is, often variously shortened to Stitch, Sparky or Sparkle which gives him a range of identities but which he doesn’t seem too troubled by 😂)

He is a little 17-month-old dwarf hamster, a Campbells x Winter White hybrid. He came from the lovely local hamster rescue where we also adopted Sandy from back in 2019, and he is a truly lovely little character. I am so so happy to have him in our home and he seems so happy and settled which is just wonderful. We weren’t expecting him to be especially friendly, and knew in the rescue he had been a great character but handling very much on his terms and he was likely to want to be left alone a lot, but since he arrived he’s actually really got into interacting and when I open the cage door is often climbing out and keen to be handled and is just a wonderful wee soul.

Arriving home, 2nd November 2021, his fan club waiting ❤️
These two are endlessly fascinated by him, not that he minds one bit, think it’s mutual as he climbs up the bars to have a good sniff at them!

And I couldn’t forget Charmer in a round-up of pets, who is doing away really well so far this winter. He’s been out at nights, and at the moment just comes in for a wee breakfast and 2 or 3 hours at his hay in the morning, and I’m so glad he seems to be thriving on that. We’ll just have to play the winter by ear depending on the weather that comes our way but for the moment enjoying him living his favourite outdoorsy life. ❤️

Life is going at some pace, the end of 2021 coming round fast, and we’re so looking forward to this Christmas season, hoping for some lovely cosy times at home and with family. ❤️ We had a first little impromptu gathering together in a family home at the weekend, round a Christmas tree with all our usual pets, kids, chatter and chaos, which was all the more special as my mum was just back recovered and able to join us again after having Covid. This year more than ever before just so glad for us all being safe and well, and for the cosy glow of time together. ❤️ Have definitely enjoyed gathering some wee thoughts on the last few months and will write again sooner! Hope you have all had a lovely weekend and have a lovely start to your week xx