It’s been a while since I wrote on here (it turns out life with a young baby is as busy as it is wonderful, haven’t found much time for scribbling in amongst what has become the everyday rhythm of feeding and changing, pram walks and naps, stories and games.. ♥️). I did have a few partly thought-out posts I never quite got to writing up in the last few weeks, as spring has wrestled with winter and time has tumbled on. For the longest time we seemed to be in limbo, snow in one direction and daffodils in another, truly “summer in the light and winter in the shade.”
Eventually, however, we have been rewarded for our patience throughout this very long winter, and a real and lasting change is finally in the air. This weekend we had a chance to spend some real time in the sun for the first time all year and even sit out in the garden, wee one and all!
We also all got out for a family walk, me on horseback (still so enjoying being back to riding and building up both my fitness and Charmer’s bit by bit!). It was so unbelievably lovely to all amble together and to watch the pony peering curiously into the pram and our daughter gazing up in amazement at his big fluffy face!
This morning the sun has risen straight into the sky without a hint of mist or a cloudy start, and so looking forward to another lovely day in it. Have already done the early farm shift this morning – brushing the mounds of winter coat out of my biggest boy and leaving him in the field happily grooming with his buddies looking for all the world like a summery pony at long last!
Hope you are all having a lovely week. 💛
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
2017 has drawn to its close and we woke yesterday morning to the dawn of 2018, excited to greet a brand new year. I always love the fresh-start feel to New Year’s morning and this year was as new and different as any we’ve ever had, waking with our 2-week-old baby to an era we move into all together, ready for so many adventures we can’t even begin to imagine yet.
We got ourselves up and ready – more of a mission now than a couple of weeks previously! – and, all wrapped up, headed along to the farm in the morning, where the pony was standing happily in his stable, all the horses en masse having a little longer a lie than normal as everyone sleepily arrived mid-morning to the yard with new-year greetings and chatter. I got him breakfasted and sorted, and took my first 2018 amble over to the gate with him in the tumultuous rain-wrestling-with-sunshine morning light.
Once he was out and sorted I rejoined my husband and the wee one, who were taking an extra five minutes cosy in the car, and we got transitioned to the pram and headed out for a lovely walk along the coastal path we’re so lucky to have right at the farm.
It was a beautiful morning and we had a lovely ramble before we bundled ourselves home for a bit of quiet as the daylight faded and the January super moon rose outside.
Just wanted to wish you all, wherever you are and however you saw it in, the happiest new year, and all the very very best for 2018. Xxx
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
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. ♥️
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