🍁 A Scottish October Holiday 🍁

We have just had the October holidays here, and we had a really wonderful time off all together – all work, nursery and toddler classes suspended for the week and just some lovely quality time. We originally planned to take a few days away in North Berwick, but in the end decided just to base ourselves at home (ever so slightly influenced in part by worrying how the kittens would cope without us for a few nights! 🙈) and take day trips every day. It actually worked out a wonderfully relaxed way to have a holiday – the girls are at the stage that any change of routine overnight means a lot less sleep, and this way we were in our own environment every night all getting well rested but had had adventures all day.

We visited some wonderful places and really enjoyed them. We went to the Scottish Deer Centre near Cupar which we all loved – it was a properly cold day with a very wrapped-up picnic in the middle but we had a lovely time seeing the deer. We didn’t see too much of some of the other animals that we’ve enjoyed seeing the other time we went a few years back – they have some wonderful foxes, bears, wildcats and wolves who are incredible to see, but, a big plus to me, they have wonderful big enclosures and can keep themselves to themselves if they choose to, which on this occasion they did! I’m always so glad to know the animals have the choice over where to be and never mind seeing them a little less. We weren’t there for too long as it was a proper windy October day, and we do plan to go back soon with other family for more of an explore, but we had a wonderful time. The kids played in the play barn, we watched a bird of prey flying demonstration; and the deer were absolutely lovely, we all enjoyed feeding them and they seemed so happy, some entertaining everyone galloping around. ❤️

We had a really lovely day out too one day to Craigie’s Farm near Queensferry, for cosy hot chocolates, pumpkin biscuits, adventure play and pumpkin picking.

Our biggest venture was up north for a jaunt to Pitlochry and Aberfeldy, two places we often find ourselves on our holidays and weekends away. We really loved the road trip, the beautiful seasonal world outside the window as we passed so much incredible scenery, and our potters back in our favourite towns. We’re usually in Pitlochry at this time of year for the Enchanted Forest, and although it had been cancelled again this year, it was lovely to be there and do our other October traditions of buying a new decoration for the tree in the Christmas shop and starting some Christmas shopping in the pretty shops, windows all lined with decorative leaves.

In Aberfeldy, we visited the holiday park where we’d had our last couple of family holidays and enjoyed a walk in the town we’ve come to know so well through our trips there. We stayed late that night out and about, and pyjama-ed the little ones after tea to drive home sleeping, which they loved the novelty of. ❤️

Another day, we went back to our old home town of Stirling, where my husband and I first met and lived for years, and enjoyed introducing the kids to some of our old haunts; as well as just very close to home doing a very first family cinema trip, and some adventure golf.

It was a really lovely way to enjoy the holiday and we all had a wonderful week- there was the added bonus of lots of time with extended family too as well as the pets, and no travel stress. That’s two years now we’ve just done at-home holidays all year, apart from one night away at my in-laws at the beginning of the summer, and it’s actually been really great, although I do really look forward to planning now a week away or so next year.

Also have to give a quick mention of all the wonderful book shops we got a chance to visit in our tour, a little more about them all on my all-things-books Instagram but below are some of the lovely ones we got to stop for a browse at.❤️

Back home here, we’ve re-started our normal routine again, both of us back to work, nursery started back and all the littlest one’s classes and groups too – including a new village toddlers group it’s lovely to have and we’re going to enjoy helping out with. Everyone is settling to normal life and we’re looking forward to Halloween this weekend. We carved our pumpkins last weekend and look forward to dressing up for a wee wander around the village, as well as parties at nursery and music group.

Do have to give a wee update on the furry members of the family too while I’m writing, and sadly we’ve said our last goodbye to our wee Sandy hamster, who lived to a wonderful age but who we lost last Friday. We are all missing him lots and have loved having the last couple of years with him, since we brought him home when he was just 4 months old in July 2019. He actually arrived into our home the very day we found out our youngest daughter was also on her way to join our family; and at the time our oldest was 19 months, exactly the age her little sister is now. He’s been a huge part of our family life and a lovely pet for all of us. He was always so friendly and relaxed, so content in his wee world but curious about everything around him too and interested in whatever we were doing – nothing ever phased him and he was just a brilliant character. We are very glad he lived such a lovely long life, and we were very lucky to have him share it with us.❤️❤️

The others are doing well, the kittens without a doubt having found their season – they are Halloween black cats through and through!

And as we’ve been faced with some proper torrential rain here the last few days, my biggest fluffy boy has been very much enjoying some cosy nights in his stable and is thriving on a little more time in and pampered.

We’ve really enjoyed our October break and looking forward to a Halloween weekend and winter bedding in. Hope you are all well and enjoying the season. 🍁🎃 x

Animal Adventures – September into October 🍁

As we move deeper into my favourite season of all, watching the leaves slowly change on the trees and begin to tumble to the ground, just a wee summary of how the pets are getting on, filling our wee world as they do with so much character and love.

It’s not long since I last wrote about Charmer, and not too much has happened with him, just a shiny new pair of shoes since I last wrote, and a start to our October of charity walks with his first couple of half-mile wander on his rope this week, one just with me and one with the A Team in tow!

Little Sandy too is still pottering away very happily, almost 31 months now and I’m so delighted with the shine in his coat still and how he’s holding his weight.

The cats are our biggest changers ❤️ Rosie and Theo have just turned 5 months old, and been with us just over 3 months, and they are growing and changing all the time. Their characters are really becoming so clear and they have transformed life in our little house. ❤️

Rosie is very relaxed and loves cuddling and playing with the whole family, often joining in the kids’ games (kids’ toys and cat toys appear to be interchangeable, there is often a cat toy joining in the dolls house and one of the kids’ dinosaurs turning up in the cat bed!). She is always on some mission or other and tends to keep herself busy nipping upstairs to steal the bath plug and hide it around the house or paddling in the shower or sink after someone’s used them – and whenever I open a book, especially a big hardback, she jumps straight in, I barely do any reading anymore without a purring Rosie on my knee with her nose in the pages.

Theo (affectionately known as Teddy) is more of a reserved type, he’s very affectionate but keeps more of a distance from the chaos and comes into his own in the evening when the house is quieter – he has also settled to being a bit of a one-master cat, he definitely loves my husband most of all, seeking him out for 3am cuddles every single night, but now and then I get my moments with him and he’s a gorgeous and lovely boy.

Last week I had them both at the vets for their neutering, but in the end Rosie was still a little too little at just under 2kg, so she was given a few more weeks to bulk up. Theo, who was originally the littlest, has streaked ahead of her to become a strapping boy-cat, and at 2.4kg was ok going ahead with his operation.

He did really well, charmed everyone in the vets, the receptionist reported she’d barely been able to get any work done for cuddling him as per his demands! And when he got home he recovered really well. Unfortunately wee Rosie though was disconcerted by the smell of the vets or maybe just their first time apart, even though it was only a day, and gave him a hard time when he came back, hissing and not seeming to recognise him. It only lasted an evening before she settled, but it seems to have upset the balance a little between them and they had not been sleeping curled up together or spending all their time together since.

About a week later we actually made another appointment for Theo thinking something was wrong as he was sleeping round the clock and very lethargic but the vet could find nothing and believed the poor wee dot was just reacting to Rosie having been more aloof with him and missing the security of how close they were. The vet nurse at our local practice has a keen interest in cat behaviour so she gave us a few tips on ways to ease things for both of them to hopefully allow an improvement and fingers crossed it does seem to be working – We’ve gone from them keeping to opposite sides of the room to this….

To this..

And yesterday, briefly, their old tumbly cuddly selves ❤️

Teddy seems much more relaxed and like himself as a result so we do hope they get back to their wee pack of two before too long; but they are both such wonderful characters regardless and we just love having them in our home, it feels like they’ve part of the family forever.

Last but not least a wee cameo from our newest unofficial “pet”, Henry the Hedgehog (named by our eldest!) who frequents the garden at night. Was so happy to see what an excellent size he is! But we’ve been putting a wee bit of the cat’s food out nonetheless and a wee bit shelter in the bushes for him and love to sit out late and watch him in the dark.

We are on a week’s holiday here at the moment, and really looking forward to it, we were originally going to go away for a few days but have decided to stay closer to nine and do day trips here and there which we are all so excited about. Will post at the weekend some at-home adventures. Whether October break where you are or not hope you all have a really lovely week. X

Theo watching the world go by this morning ❤️

Happy (half) birthday to our wee Sandy… and big love for all the littlest ones ❤️

Our little Sandy hamster turned 2 and a half on Friday, and we decided to make a proper little fuss of him and give him a wee day of celebration! I think it’s quite hard to judge but have seen some hamster to human years “conversions” showing around 2 and a half creeping up to a very good age maybe even around 100 equivalent, and we are absolutely delighted to have little Sandy still with us and in very good health.

We brought him home at 4 months old from a lovely little hamster and small animal rescue not far from us in Fife where a couple of volunteers work tirelessly to help wee ones find their forever homes, and we’ve been lucky to have over two years of his company and counting. He’s a pottery wee soul these days, sometimes a little wobbly on his feet when he first wakes up, but he’s just doing away, enjoying life in his cage and some explores out and about with us too and he’s actually holding his weight really well which is great. He has been completely and utterly unfazed by the arrival of two curious kittens into his life who like nothing more than to watch him going about his business, and regards them with interest but no fear whatsoever, getting on with his important work of moving food around and now and then doing a wee bed reshuffle.

The kids loved making him some decorations and giving him a treat stick which he got straight to work on and is still very much enjoying a few days on!

I’ve been thinking a lot about the small pets in our lives the last few weeks as it was August eleven years ago, just as the back to school feeling was around us and the change of autumn in the air, that I decided to really start our little animal family. I’d already had a lovely wee companion for a couple of years while at uni, briefly back home, and then in my first flat of my own, in the form of my very first hamster, little Annabelle, who I’d always so enjoyed the company of. She had died a few months before and I had really missed her. I always remember so clearly the day in August 2010 I came back from a weekend at home with my family and all our assorted animal companions (always a full house ❤️) to my empty flat and realised that I wanted so much to have a pet again. That led to me bringing home Smokie and Peatie, my first rats, two such wonderful wee characters – and never having been without pets since.

Smokie, Peatie and Simba, our original wee team ❤️

I knew so little about small pets then (Annabelle never having caused me any trouble, we’d never even seen a vet!) that it took me a few weeks to realise the boys I took home (originally Smokey and Petey) were actually girls. They taught me my first lessons early on and from that day on I’ve loved and lived and learned so much with my tiny companions. Within six months Smokie and Peatie and I had moved in with my husband and his house rabbit Simba and since then we’ve had a total of 14 pet rats, 5 hamsters and the rabbit (and also two Giant African Land Snails who were more my husband’s charges, I still know very little about them!) – mostly rescued or given their second home with us and all of them bringing so much joy to our home.

The rats: Smokie, Peatie, Sylvie, Lizzie, Chae, Winston, Pipkin, Harvey, Ty, Reuben, Perry, Marley, Jasper and Jet

Keeping small animals has been so incredibly rewarding for me. The rats in particular always taught me so much, there were so many health issues to learn about and absolutely fascinating behaviour to study and interactions to be had. Our hamsters too, Annabelle, Grace, Darcy, Rosie* and Sandy, have been such amazing characters. I always hear of people complaining of grumpy bitey hamsters but the five I’ve been blessed to share my home with have been such lovely wee souls.

The hamsters: Annabelle, Grace, Darcy, Rosie and Sandy

As the kittens keep us busy with new lessons to be learned (back on the back foot again after almost always knowing what the vet would say before I took the rats with a few years of experience under my belt, suddenly I realise how little we know about our new pets and I am googling and researching cat information at every turn!); and Charmer – as he has for over twenty-one years now – fills my animal world; I’m so so glad too for all the space taken up in our home and hearts then and now by the tiniest of our pets – and love having wee Sandy around so much.

Happy birthday little gent 🧡.

Hope you all have a lovely start to the week. X

*yes we have now had so many pets that we are repeating names! Little Rosie-ham who we brought home back in 2014 was our first Rosie, named for her pinky-red eyes and bright wee face, but when our oldest daughter was determined to call our girl cat Rosie from the moment the idea of getting a cat was floated we went with it, she can be Rosie-cat for long! My husband’s second snail was also called Sandy so it’s not even our first offence… But when Sandy hamster arrived to us so perfectly coloured and so in love with his sand bath he couldn’t be anything but…. ❤️

Summer holidaying…. ☀️

We’re a few weeks into our summer holidays here, and have been enjoying them so much. It’s been lovely having so much time all together and the kids and I (and my husband too whenever he can, on holiday with us now for a couple of weeks and having some good flexibility with still home-working) have been enjoying parks, beaches, lots of time in the garden and reacquainting ourselves with soft plays at last!

The weather has been fantastic which is not always the case here, it’s been pretty consistently sunshine every day the past few weeks so there’s been lots of outdoor fun – some days so hot it’s paddling pool weather and ice lollies have been stacked up in the freezer.

We’ve also so enjoyed play centres and cafes with soft plays, something I never dreamed I would miss as much as I have the last year! Our youngest who is the keenest little climber imaginable had never had a chance to see any of these places until a few weeks ago but is absolutely making up for it now with so many adventures and finally a safe space she can test out her capabilities which gives us a break from pulling her away from walls and ledges in the real world!! And our oldest, after her playgroup year has drawn to a close, and with nursery on the horizon in August, seems to be so enjoying relaxing into a summer with us – being at home, seeing friends and family and enjoying the holidays with nothing too scheduled.

Of course, our summer is being dominated by our two newest additions. Rosie and Theo, our wee kittens, are now 12 weeks old and have settled in better than I ever could have hoped. They are such wonderful characters and in the three weeks we’ve had the they have become such a huge part of the family it’s hard to imagine life without them. When they first arrived there was so much that was new to them and that they found daunting but they have adapted to everything so well. They absolutely love to play with the kids and all four of them have got so used to them each other and enjoy mad half hours as a team! Then by evening they are just the purriest wee souls, curled up with us on the couch – they love company and follow us wherever we go, we’ll be sitting down to dinner and they’ll slink to their comfy spot on a stool under the kitchen table or when putting the kids to bed they’ll be padding around on the end of the beds. I just love having them around and getting to know them both. ❤️

Rosie
Theo

They’ve grown in confidence so much that we’ve abandoned the dog crate we originally had for them to sleep in at night, which the first week or so they seemed to really love and need the security of, and instead, treating the comfy cat beds on offer with the disdain they deserve, they have chosen the living room window sill as their sleeping area, which we’ve now emptied of all the picture frames and ornaments it once gave home to and laid a blanket down on (met with much better reviews than all other beds!!); and they are in a lovely routine of a bedtime play, a late dinner and then they curl up there to sleep. In the morning I invariably find them both still there, sleepily watching the world wake up. ❤️

They’ve made friends (of sorts!) with Echo our lovely visiting cat too, who comes and sits on the outside of their window when he’s done his rounds chatting to us in the garden.. though after an early assertion of his right to the house from a then really teeny Theo (first photo below!) Echo, despite being bigger than both Rosie & Theo combined, is always the first to back down if Theo takes exception to him!

Charmer is enjoying his summer – this heatwave is quite unusual for us here and I was a little worried about how he’d cope with it but he’s actually doing really really well. He comes in for a few hours’ respite every day in the cool of the barn which he seems to really appreciate, but he is still mostly enjoying life in the field. He’s been a little stiffer again recently so I’d do no little ambles on horseback for that reason and the heat, but he just loves to potter in the field with his field mate and seems very content.

And our little Sandy hamster is doing well too. In spite of two kittens who love nothing more than to sit at a vantage point where they can watch him pootling about with mild curiosity, he is neither up nor down, living his life quite happily and even benefitting from the youngest’s practice with the kittens by getting some lovely strokes from her – before Rosie and Theo taught her so much about gentleness she was just slightly too heavy handed to risk with teeny Sandy but she is loving now getting to give him a wee stroke more as well as watch him as she’s always rushed to do. On Monday it was 2 years exactly since he came to join us, and he’s such a lovely wee soul, just doing his thing and enjoying his old age!

It’s been a time of change for me and a bit of a whirlwind this last week as I finished up at my job last weekend and started a new one this week. I’ve been in my old job, working in home care, for over two and half years now, and have loved it so very much – it’s been more stressful, more heart breaking and more challenging than any other job I’ve done but also more rewarding than I can put into words and the wonderful clients I worked with meant so very much to me. Although overall it was a good time to move on, saying goodbye to some was incredibly hard and I found it a really difficult decision to make. But already now four days in to my new job, working in a care home, I can see that all of that same tug between sadness and joy – the struggle of difficulties and the soar of successes – that I’ve come to be driven by and love in spite of its hurdles, is just as present here; my first week really solidifying for me how much I love working in care regardless of the setting and how glad I am that I moved into this back after I had my first daughter – I really can’t imagine doing anything else now.

Usually I just work a couple of days a week at weekends and most of my week at the moment is spent chasing after the littles, but between doing a few extra shifts to help out before finishing and doing some extra in my new job to get up to speed I’ve been working most days the past couple of weeks. I’ve actually really enjoyed doing a bit more again for a change, but today am so glad to be returning to wrangling with my pair of tearaways. I’ve missed all the home things and it’s wonderful to be back to making packed lunches, catching a squealing toddler, laughing at all the nonsense, juggling everything round Tesco while both hands get pulled in different directions… all the lovely chaos! Really looking forward to another week of family holiday and time all together.

Hope you are all well and having a good summer. X

Rosie and Theo, Chapter One 🐾🖤

It really is hard to believe it’s under a week since we finally completed the Biggest Little’s daily countdown and reached our long-awaited Kitten Day at last. On Wednesday I drove my way through beautiful countryside to the farm where some lovely little kittens had started their lives, and brought two of them, this lovely wee pair, who we’ve named Rosie and Theo, home to join our family. 🖤🖤

Even looking at that first photo I took, all secured in the car and ready to go, texting home to the rest before I drove them on their first journey, they look so unlike themselves now as we’ve got to know them. They’re just two unknown nervous little kittens in a carrier there – but now, a few days on, they are such absolutely wonderful characters, so full of their own very different personalities, and such a wonderful part of our family already.

Spending their Sunday afternoon dozing yesterday beside us all

As I type this, with an early morning coffee and the radio on in the quiet of the living room, kittens just up and kids not quite descended yet, Rosie is watching her first raindrops roll down the window with great excitement while Theo cuddles in beside me and watches her from a comfy distance – pretty typical of them both!

Rosie is the bigger of the two, and much darker, almost jet black although with the teeniest hint of her dad’s tabby hidden away under a black coat that is really similar to her mum Mindy’s. We always loved seeing photos and videos of Mindy looking after her kittens so well and hearing from her owner about her lovely character, and she was so friendly when we visited and then collected them. Rosie seems to be a little double of her mum except for a little flash of white on her chest, just a few hairs. Back when we visited when they were six weeks old it was little Rose with that distinctive little flash who was adventuring out to greet us and who I had a little cuddle with and took such a liking to. I was having a glimmer of nerves about whether we could handle two little kittens when we met them all and they were so little and fragile, but stroking her and seeing her such a calm and steady little cat in spite of how tiny she was, really settled me, and I’m so glad she’s come to us. Her adventurous character has stood her in such great stead as she’s found her feet here, and she’s got a lovely self assurance too as well as a really affectionate streak, both to Theo who she is very much the “big sister” to and looks after beautifully and to all of us who she loves to cuddle with.

Theo, our wee tabby boy, is just a wee dot. He was just 830g when he was weighed on Friday, and is much more kitten-like in appearance than Rosie, very fluffy and with a short tail and eyes that are still in the process of changing from blue.. so our wee tiny tiger still has some growing to do but at both his 8 week check with the breeder’s vet the week before he came home to us and at our vet now he’s been given a clean bill of health, just one of the little ones in the litter. 🖤 I absolutely love his coat, he’s so stripy in the light and a light brown sometimes depending on how the sun catches him. Not sure if he’ll darken as he grows but will be interesting to see. He’s very much Rosie’s follower, at the moment at least, though he’s got a determined streak when wrestling with a ball on a string and sometimes when he loses himself in the chase completely he growls and wrestles it from us and stalks off very defiantly with it trailing behind him, making us laugh so much.

Both of them have done so well to settle so well in just a few days. On Wednesday morning when I brought them home they shot straight to a low-down bookshelf and hid there, spending much of the next 24 hours peering out from behind a row of books, coming out gradually in short bursts to play and eat. We knew their life before had been so quiet, in a porch room set apart from the rest of the house, so we were worried in those first hours about how they were going to adapt to life in a busy young family home; but they have absolutely just slotted in. Everything that’s made them nervous they’ve met so bravely, and we’ve done our best just to consistently keep doing it – the kettle, the hoover, the kids’ noise and bluster – and they’ve warmed to it all so much quicker than I dared hope.

The children have actually been brilliant so far and given them their space despite their excitement, but the kittens seem to recognise their potential as playmates and just join in games with them and bounce around all together and then retire to the grown ups for their sleepier times! Already we’ve got little lap cats of an evening and I just love opening a door and having two wee ones purring round my ankles.

It’s early days as they’re really just finding their feet and are so very young and so very tiny (Rosie actually not much bigger than Theo at just 930g, both going to be petite like their mum I think). We’ve got a lot of work to put in socialising them to life here, but so far we’re so very lucky with how well they’ve settled and what lovely characters they seem to be.

They’re thriving on routine, running to the sound of food in a dish, taking themselves off to bed at night and greeting us the same way every morning; and every day are getting more and more confident in their games and interactions. It really is lovely getting to know them. Will update on how they’re getting on in a while!

Hope you’re all having a good week. X

Our very first weekend away as a four ❤️ lovely time staying with family, Scotland touring and rambling, and meeting our kittens for the first time.. 🐾 (Wordless Wednesday)

Travels down south – service stations, car games and dinner break, stopping off in pretty Roslin on the way home for an ice cream and a wee glimpse of the Chapel
Summer holiday read and enjoying lovely stay with family 🥰
Enjoying the winding roads
And meeting our beautiful little soon-to-be new family members 🥰

Animal Updates 🥰 (Hamster scrabbles, pony wanders and new additions! 🐾)

The last month or so has been a good one for pets little and large, and an exciting one for us all as a family.

Little Sandy hamster has been doing well, despite being an elderly wee gent these days he’s actually full of fun – spinning his 12” wheel with great enthusiasm of an evening and enjoying a wee quiet cuddle out with us – and less often with the kids too, who are full of ideas for games to create for him.

Charmer, for his part, has been very much enjoying the beginnings of summer. So far, the infamous Scottish midge has not caused him too much trouble, although he’s now donned in his summer outfit of fly rug (never to be seen this bright and white again!) and a waft of citronella.

He’s mostly just enjoying life in the field and, much less frequently, the stable – he’s hit his summer attitude of looking at me when I arrive as if to say “I have everything I need out here, I don’t know why you’re here…” He is completely happy at this time of year just to eat grass, sunbathe, and take solace under a tree for some shade or rest from the flies. It’s really lovely to see, much as I do make myself unpopular by occasionally dragging him in for a break and a fuss!

We have only very occasionally had a ridden wander since I first started a couple of months ago – in fact last weekend was just our third – but it was a very special one as we got back out in company, with my friend and her lovely horse, our old hacking buddies! The horses were delighted to be nose to nose again and Charmer enjoyed our wander more than ever for the company and the chance to eat grass together. 🧡

When he comes back in from getting out a wee explore – especially ridden rather than just in-hand – he seems to feel just so pleased with himself – the look in his eyes back in the stable is lovely, full of adrenaline and expectation and purpose – even though all we’ve done is have an amble! It’s really lovely to see.

But the biggest animal news around our house is neither of our gentlemen, who are both just pottering away, but our plans to bring home a couple of new additions, two little black kittens who are just three weeks old at the moment, growing with their litter mates and their lovely mum on a farm nearby us, and, all going well, due to be ready to come home with us towards the end of June.

We have always wanted to adopt a cat when we felt it was a good time family-wise, and the last few weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind since we started discussing that we felt we’d now reached that time. Originally we had been thinking an older cat who would be comfortable with the children and with the set-up we have here, but through a chain of events we came across these little kittens who seem to be very well-suited to the life we can offer here, and, surprising ourselves even more, ended up deciding on two so they can settle in together and be company for each other as they grow. We are so enjoying photos and updates on the litter as they change and grow, still tiny little souls; and here we are doing what we can to get ready ahead of their arrival – it’s been a flurry of cat beds and scratching posts being put together, making drafts for runs and enclosures in the garden for when they’re a little bigger, registering with the vet, getting insurance in place and I’m hooked on re-reading all Tom Cox’s books about life with his cats as well as all the reference books and articles I can find, trying to get up to speed on everything we’ll need to know! Trying (quite unsuccessfully) not to get too excited just yet until it all becomes a reality – Being right in at the kitten stage is new to me, I’ve normally rehomed animals later in life in the past and I know plenty could go wrong, it’s still 5-6 weeks until they’ll be weaned, vet-checked and ready to come to us, but despite myself I am so excited about it all and just can’t wait to have them here.

In the meantime, the ridiculously handsome cat two doors up has begun to adopt us as his third family, already making himself comfy next door and expanding his rule along the street! We’ve been spending so much time out in the garden with a bit of nice weather and it’s been lovely having him pop to see us and seeing how well the kids do with interacting with him and giving him his space, I think he must be making it his project to give us some practice ahead of our first foray into cat ownership!

It’s a really exciting time, and at the moment I am just so enjoying preparing for our feline companions, doing lots of reading, and spending time with a summer-happy horse and a contentedly pootling hamster.

Hope you are all having a lovely week. X

Thoughts on Home and Family 💞

I’ve written many blog posts on the subject of home and family over the years, since I first started writing so long ago about life in our little corner of the world. Back then, home was a tiny one-bedroomed cottage, just the two of us and our beloved pets making up our family unit in the house. Now, we’re in our second home, which we’ve been in for the past four years, and our family has grown and changed so much in that time, with our two girls transforming our lives beyond recognition as they’ve arrived with us and grown into a pre-schooler and a toddler who fill our world with noise and chaos and love and just so much joy.

The animal members of our family have continued to be so important to us too, all of us doting on Charmer in his older years as much as ever, loving having a house pet in the form of our dapper little Sandy hamster, and actually (which I’m looking forward to writing more about in a separate post!) the most exciting time ahead of us now, which we are all counting down to every day – as we are planning, all going well, to be bringing home our first family cats, two kittens, at the end of June. 💞

All of the twists and turns of life since we first moved in together as a couple just over ten whole years ago have taken place as we’ve based ourselves here at home, first our first little cottage and then this slightly (!) larger one! But all of them, always, until this last year, have taken place linked with so many other homes around us, and with a wider family that we’ve always been so connected with.

Between the fact that we used to live just half a dozen cottages away from my mum and dad’s – a slipper-clad walk with the family dogs at our heels to let ourselves in the back door; the fact that we gathered as a wide family, a dozen of us or more, for weekly dinners all huddled round the table, both when we lived close by each other and still once circumstances had scattered us half-hour drives away; and the fact that our door was always open, and that we’d often just hear a shout of hello as family arrived and came in – we have always been very, very blessed that as well as our wonderful little unit here we’ve had a wider unit just as wonderful too.

I could never in a million years have imagined we’d go a year without sitting round a table all together – and don’t want to dwell on any of the negatives now – but simply to write a small and very thankful post that today, at last, we reached such a hugely important day here, as we were officially safely able, once again, to return to each other’s homes – and to hug each other again.

In this past year, as a family, we’ve found ways to be there for each other and, from video games nights to garden gatherings and wrapped-up walks in every weather Scotland could throw at us, we’ve managed to keep our tightly-knitted network in place – and I still feel that the twists and turns of life have been weathered hand in hand with our families, even if it’s had to be only metaphorically.

Still, nothing compares to actually being able to sink into the sofas in those other homes that were always as much our own as the ones we’ve been limited to over all these months; actually being able to reach out our arms and be there for each other in the way we really want to; actually being able to sit together, in the most natural way, and enjoy the closeness of family life.

I know we have to move forward tentatively, and not lose all caution yet – I know there are those even in Scotland that have unexpectedly not been able to take this step just yet, when they were so close, who I feel for so much – but we are getting there, so slowly and so surely, and, as I sat in my grandparents’ house today again at long last, I couldn’t have been more grateful for our family – for the homes we’ve always shared together, and for the hope of a future where we can do that more and more until we’re back to our normal; until at last a packed and noisy dinner table is where we draw our strength from and share our stories and laugh until our sides hurt again.

I bought this sign back in our old house five years ago or so – it’s simple, but I loved it. It’s truer now than ever for our home family with the children here with us and as we’ve all grown together; but it’s true too for our wider family and friends too – what I love most about my home is who is I share it with, and now I can finally share it once again with the people close to me, family and friends, who I love so much.

Hope wherever you are you are managing to take some steps forward too, and are having a good start to the week. X

Last night of the holidays

It’s the last night of the Easter holidays, and it’s been a really lovely couple of weeks here in our little corner of the world. Weather wise it couldn’t have been more mixed, with whipping winds, days of glorious sunshine broken up by a string of unexpected April snow showers – a December-worthy blizzard swirling down outside as I type – , and in the middle – just when we needed it most – some wonderful warm and springy weather.

Right in the middle of the holidays fell Easter itself and for us it was an extra special weekend as our littlest girl turned 1 on Good Friday. We had a wonderful few days of celebrating her with visits from family over a few days for such memorable gentle but joyful garden visits that were so special. Born a week into full lockdown last year, we celebrated her 1st birthday on the very day that lockdown began easing this time around with the “Stay at home” advice being lifted in her honour! Next year hopefully a more normal world with family all able to gather together, but we were so very blessed to spend time with everyone individually and even more so to have some gorgeous sunshine to do it in.

We’ve really made the most of a lovely couple of weeks’ break. Our first “school year” is just about to enter its last term, with our biggest little having been at playgroup nearly a year now, the loveliest start to learning and playing for her before she heads to school nursery in August. After a delayed start to last term and a whirlwind of settling back into normality over a few weeks, she seemed to really enjoy the holidays, and we’ve filled them mostly with park trips, mornings at the farm with the pony and catching up with family and friends where we can, and have really enjoyed the change of pace and the quality time.

As we get ready to return to our normal routine again from tomorrow, after a wee family film night tonight and an evening pottering around packing gym shoes and spare clothes, it’s lovely to be settling back to many of the things that bring us our anchoring stability day-to-day – and that seems to be happening all around us as at long last our world begins to open up again. This morning as I drove up to the farm for Charmer’s morning visit, I passed a small group of people just coming out of the little church at the bottom of the track looking so happy to be back to a first service after a year of disruption; and when I got to the top of the hill some of the girls and ponies were loading up for a Pony Club day, horse lorries, fleeces, travel boots and the chatter of pre-show excitement filling the yard again. It’s wonderful to see people getting back to the things that are important to them after so long, and I’m really looking forward to the start of summer term, time with both girls, continuing to settle in again at work, the easing of lockdown and all the time with family and friends that will bring, and the sunshine slowly but surely edging ahead of the winter showers in their springtime wrestle!

Hope you are all well, and have a great start to the week xxx

Brighter days

It’s so long since I’ve written and life has moved on so much for us in some ways. The long-awaited return to playgroup for our oldest finally arrived after a two-month Christmas break and she is all settled back to long happy days of playing and learning with her friends and thriving on all the interactions and the re-instated routine. My maternity leave came to an end after a year fully at home, and I’m in the midst of navigating my first few weeks back at work, a mix of returning to some things with a welcome familiarity and of learning the ropes all over again with lots of completely new dimensions too. Our littlest one is approaching her 1st birthday and seeming so very grown up all of a sudden, and has been enjoying a bit of time geared more around her while her sister is off at playgroup, finding her feet in lots of ways. And as for the pony, turning 25 in a few weeks, his winter coat is coming out in handfuls and he is happily seeking out spring grass as he makes it clear he’s 100% ready for the season ahead.

But, in other ways, it feels as though life has stayed still the last few weeks and months, as we have reached 3 months since we last went into lockdown with no change, the weight of restrictions on time with family and friends and all our normal day to day activities still on us. I’ve found these last few weeks some of the hardest, and have been so looking forward to the turn of the tide. This week it feels that it finally is upon us, with the some of the springiest days we could have wished for – glorious sunshine from morning until night – and an announcement from Nicola Sturgeon on the easing up of lockdown over the next few weeks, with some very positive changes ahead and one already in place that lets us enjoy walks and garden visits with some family again after such a long wait since Christmas time.

Doing my mucking out at the farm last night, I stepped out the back and had to stop and just enjoy the sound of the birds singing and the sight of the bats swooping overhead against a sky that was just losing its light at 7pm. This has been a very long winter while we’ve waited and waited to feel a change in the air; but now at long last we can – and I am so, so looking forward to the summer ahead.

Really hope you are all doing well, having a good week and enjoying some of the first signs of spring. X