Sunny farm days, growing kittens and back to some travel adventures… summertime begins ❤️

We’ve been lucky to have some wonderful warm weather here the last few weeks and have all been enjoying moving into summertime. It makes such a big difference to see the sun shining after what seems to have been a long winter and it’s wonderful that it’s gone hand in hand with the easing up of Covid restrictions to let us get out more places, and spend some time with family and friends. Last week I took the most wonderful trip with my mum and the kids up north, just all in a day, but it felt like a few days away by the time we were done – up to my uncle’s in Kirkmichael for a lovely visit, making a big loop and stopping off in Blairgowrie and Pitlochry as well as enjoying all the countryside and villages along the way. It was absolutely wonderful to be back in some favourite places again that I haven’t seen in so long and to spend some wonderful long time with family in such a relaxed way.

And this weekend in fact too we’re doing a trip not just for a day but our first overnight since our littlest was born 14 months ago, again enjoying time with family then too, and are so looking forward to the novelty of it!

As part of our trip we are also going to visit our soon to be new kittens, who are 6 weeks old today and growing well. Their breeder has been so lovely sending us photos and videos of them growing and changing and it’s going to be so lovely when we get them home to have had such a lovely insight into their early days.

Kittens at 4 weeks

One of the most absolutely fascinating things about their early days that’s developed more over the past couple of weeks, is that there are actually two cats with kittens in the home at the moment, born 7 days apart, and although the mother cats were originally each given their own space, they have chosen to raise the kittens together, and form a shared group between them. It’s incredible in the videos we’ve seen watching the two litters of kittens interacting with each other – the others so much bigger than those of ‘our’ litter, the mum of ours being a very petite black cat and the mum of the others a much larger ginger. The kittens will go to either mother even for milk and one will watch and look after all the kittens together while the other goes out. It’s really incredible to see the way they’ve organised themselves in such a similar way to big cats in the wild, and just lovely to observe.

Kittens at 6 weeks, and other litter at 7, with our lovely mum cuddling up with them all

I’m so looking forward to getting to meet them all this weekend and to bringing our two home in just a few weeks. Still reading around the clock on best care in the meantime and the catio project is underway too!

As part of our getting ready for the little ones coming I was doing some organising of our old small pet cages out in the shed – we are planning to use one of our larger rat cages as an “outer” cage for little Sandy hamster, so he can stay in his own environment in the kitchen where he likes to watch the world go by but be extra secure from any feline attention! Having a clear out of the rest of the cages and going to send them to the lady who runs the Hamster Rescue where Sandy originally came from so gave me a lovely chance to speak to her for the first time in a while. Had sent her a photo of Sandy and only when we were chatting about how he looked for his age, – and when I looked back at the photo I’d sent her of a young Sandy first settling in with us – did I realise how much he had changed! Such a little elderly gentleman these days!! She also mentioned his date of birth was down as 3rd March 2019, something I’d not realised before – we were giving him an approximate birthday mid-month! – so now he can definitely enjoy a monthly fuss right on time! 🥰

Sandy in July 2019 & May 2021

For Charmer the new season is definitely here, bringing with it the world of fly sprays, rugs and summer field maintenance. He’s in a lovely routine of taking a long lie in the morning before I bring him in for his breakfast and his fieldmate’s owners pop him back out after a couple of hours respite in the stable, and every morning just now I am finding him very relaxed in his field. ❤️

Been spending a couple of evenings at the old ragworting, and it’s actually been so lovely. Because I’m often at the farm in the mornings just now and because Charmer is all taken care of early doors, it is lovely to have the chance to just be in the field with him watching him graze and just co-existing. That’s always one of my favourite things to do especially at this time of year.

De-ragworting begins

Charmer is doing really well at the moment all-round. Got his new shoes again this week and he’s sound and happy… possibly edging towards being put on a diet shortly! But that’s quite a good problem to have, just really pleased he’s kept condition coming out of winter, and enjoying him enjoying this new season.

New shoes day
Summer nights ❤️

We are all really enjoying the good weather here and the beginnings of summer time.. hope you are all well and getting to do a little of the same! Have a lovely weekend 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

Blog birthday and a hello from Sandy hamster ❤️

It’s been 5 years this week since I started writing this blog, and I have really loved having a little outlet for all our adventures here at home and out and about enjoying the world around us. From the very beginning I’ve loved writing especially about the animal members of our family, starting back half a decade ago when we were loving looking after our rambling mischief of rats.

My lovely boys Harvey, Ty, Winston and Chae back in my very first post ❤️

Nowadays, we’re down to just one little furry resident in the house – Charmer of course a little further away! – and so it seemed a perfect time for a wee hello from our Sandy hamster, who has been with us a year and half now, unbelievably, and will be 2 years old in April.

Sandy

He is the most content of characters and a lovely addition to the household. Very happy in his own company and with his usual wee routines of reorganising his cage and keeping fit on his wheel, he also loves coming out for a ramble of a quiet evening and a cuddle on an armchair and as we find ourselves with a bit more time again, I am loving some extra time with him. He is also currently valiantly keeping the wee ones busy in lockdown, the oldest loving getting into a routine of his feeding and cleaning, and the youngest just in love with him, she could watch him scuffling about all day and he’s always happy to come up and say hello.

So a wee hello from Sandy, and a very lovely (beautifully sunny, if a little chilly!) Sunday to you all. X

✨ Happy New Year ✨

I haven’t written much in the last few weeks, but we have been wrapped up enjoying a lovely Christmas season to bring to an end the tumultuous year that was 2020!

It has been one to remember, and I’m with so many others in looking with hope to 2021 for the chance for more time with our family and friends and a return to some normality and freedom. As we stepped into the new year yesterday however, with a beautiful sunrise walk at the farm; I was very thankful, in spite of the obvious lows of last year, for all the wonderful things it brought us – our littlest member of the family first and foremost, nine months old today; lots of growing and changing of both little ones over the year; and, as we dropped off the fluffiest member of the family at his field gate, I couldn’t quite believe we were lucky enough to still have Charmer so well and healthy after such a rough patch for him earlier in the year.

We’re settling into another lockdown here, and are not quite sure when the new term, always a big part of the turn of the new year, will reach us. Everything is still very uncertain, and we haven’t quite seen the turn of the tide yet – but with vaccines approaching there is a definite ray of hope on the horizon, and I really look forward to moving into 2021 and discovering what it will bring.

A very happy new year to you all. Xxx

October Holidaying at Home

In October we had our second at-home holiday of the year, when we had a week off all together that we’d had booked since the beginning of the year. We had loosely planned when our summer holiday was cancelled back in July to take some time away in October instead but with all the uncertainty hadn’t actually got round to either re-booking our caravan holiday planned just south of the border into England, or our plan B of booking one of our favourite places not too far away here in Scotland instead – and, in the end, as coronavirus cases climbed once more, restrictions and advice ever-changing with them, we decided to do just as we did in the summer and make our October holiday an at-home one too.

I do look forward at some stage to having our first overnight trip away as a family of four and setting up camp in a holiday house or caravan all together, but, for now, it feels safer and has been just as lovely both times to just base ourselves in our own house but fill our days with so many wonderful adventures.

We were very lucky indeed that during our time off although there were some travel restrictions they did allow us to get to our families both north and south of us. Now, growing restrictions have seen us needing to stay closer to home but I’m so very glad that we had a chance to get down to Dumfries and up to Perthshire and spend some lovely time with family as part of our adventures. The travel in itself was a wonderful experience I won’t forget – driving home in the evening, stopping for a cosy tea of chips in the car – all that was permitted in certain areas along the way with restaurants closed – pyjama-ing up and car bedtime stories before the last leg home. All very 2020, but all experiences full of magic and excitement that we’ll always remember.

We also spent lots of lovely time with family and friends closer to home, mostly outdoors and adapting to cafe life for gathering too. And of course, being nearby meant we were able to spend days at the farm, where it was lovely to be able to have Charmer’s company – who is doing wonderfully well just now which is such a relief and a joy to see!

Halloween fell during our time off and we had a really wonderful time picking a pumpkin and toasting marshmallows at a patch near us, and carving our lantern and making pumpkin soup back home. We took a wrapped-up walk with the girls in their (very cosy!) Gruffalo Halloween costumes out for a little ramble and pumpkin hunt around the village as it got dark, counting the pumpkins lit on doorsteps and enjoying waving hello to other families doing the same.

As has been the case so often this year, it felt like there was just so much value in the little things we still can do, and the new traditions that are being formed out of them. I already look forward to doing something similar next year, and we really can’t wait to do lots of twinkle walks at Christmas time around the village too, looking at Christmas trees and lights.

Time is hurtling on this year more than ever and it was so lovely to have some time to pause and take it all in – can’t quite believe we have a nearly 3-year-old and a 7-month-old and what a team they have become… it was such a blessing to be able to wrap up, explore, holiday together and watch another season change.

Hope you are all well and a happy Sunday to you all. X

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

The Sunshine in Lockdown

As we come to the end of the first phase of lockdown, I look forward to being able to be with family and friends again, albeit at a distance, more than I can say. We’re reaching a time it sometimes seemed would never come and it will be beyond lovely to sit outside with the people we love most and speak in person after so long.

Being here at last, however, has had me looking back on the last couple of months. We have been incredibly lucky during these last 10 weeks we have been at home to all have been well, to have been well-connected with family and friends and to have everything we need at home to make it a positive place to be.

For us, these weeks have been time we could really enjoy as a little family, especially as our newest member arrived just a couple of weeks in. I will always look back on the bubble we had at this time as so special in spite of all the restrictions. It’s been a time span that’s covered so much for us – our second little daughter’s birth and first weeks, growing from a tiny newborn into a now 8-week-old holding her head up to take in the world and the sights and sounds around her, enjoying the breeze in the garden and giggling at the chaos of her big sister’s world of play. I’ve kept a diary for her of life in lockdown and her arrival into a world that was as far from its norm as it could have been but that we were all able to be together in while we waited to widen our circle once more.

For all of us, it’s been the beginning of a new era. Some of the things I’d been looking forward to most about family life have arrived. We’ve found our feet in a routine and taken a daily walk together every lunchtime as a four. The two girls have grown together, played together and settled into their new roles as sisters. We’ve had our first couple of family takeaway nights, our eldest’s eyes wide at the food arriving in boxes. We’ve started settling to a film all together – working our way through Disney films on quiet Sunday afternoons. We’ve had long walks gathering sticks and stones, the big little loving the exploring around our village that we often didn’t end up doing in favour of woodland or park walks further afield.

It’s been amazing how much more we’ve taken in of our own little corner of the world. A couple of months ago it seems now that we were just passing through the garden to jump in the car for busy days. Now we’re completely paused here, and are able to properly see it. At the moment we have blue tits nesting in the bird box in our back garden which is wonderful to see – they are just building their nest at the moment – and sparrows in a fir tree in the front garden whose babies have hatched already – they are very tucked away and we haven’t gone too close to see them but they are filling the garden with their tiny chorus when their mother flies in and out with food. Across the road too, a rural but normally busy one, now much more silent, deer and hares are running so much closer and more freely than ever before and are lovely to see. On our walks, just to the edge of the village usually, although once or twice slightly longer down to the shore we’re lucky to have just a couple of miles away, we’ve seen buzzards soaring and really enjoyed the wildlife and the world around us blooming even more for the lack of traffic and bustle.

Mostly we’ve been so blessed and I’ve been so grateful, but as I’m sure is the case for everyone there have been some times I’ve struggled more with being locked down and being away from my own family. In these, I’ve turned to some much appreciated rays of sunshine in this strange time. The wonderful world of video calling – Zoom, Messenger, House Party, we’ve tried them all! – has made the distance seem so much shorter, and has meant we haven’t been socially distanced at all, only physically. Week after week we’ve gathered with family and with friends too for quizzes, games nights and chats and it’s been wonderful to feel in some small way that we’re still able to sit and relax together, hanging on to all the things that are most important. We’ve managed to translate so many things across the distance – Pictionary, charades and Guess Who popping up in our increasingly inventive family games nights; quizzes and drinks with friends somehow managing to feel at least a little like the relaxed chat of pub nights; an afternoon coffee with a friend; book group analysis of our latest read; and even surprisingly successful play dates for the toddler, her and her friends loving seeing each other and amazing us by just going with it and adapting to the new normal.

I’ve found myself reading lots in my spare time (mostly in the middle of the night just now!), books a wonderful escape. Some will forever be synonymous for me now with this period and because a lot of what I’ve been reading recently has ended up being books I’ve been sharing with or had recommended by family and friends it’s been another wonderful way to keep connected.

TV box sets have also kept me going – we had already started watching our way through Parks and Recreation together for the first time when lockdown began and had been so enjoying it, but our watching definitely ramped up from then on. Feel-good, heartwarming and hilarious, I have absolutely loved it, and when we got to the end of the seven seasons we even had the extra bonus of the April 2020 special filmed and set during the pandemic, so perfectly pitched to be a lift at this time, and with all the heart of the show and a tear-jerker finale. ❤️ I’ve also turned to some proper cosy British comedy TV – The Vicar of Dibley and Outnumbered a couple of my go-to comfort programmes; and as so many of the country have done, we have found Gogglebox more appealing than ever these last few weeks – something so lovely about finding a way of still settling into the living rooms of familiar faces on a Friday night.

One of the biggest joys has of course been the actual sunshine – it’s been so wonderful as we’ve all passed the time, played and stretched our legs to have such wonderful weather; and now it’s even more of a blessing as we prepare to welcome family to our garden over the next couple of days at last.

As we move into the new phase, I’m so grateful for all that kept us going. I know our return to normal life will be gradual and these things will keep sustaining us when needed. I am so thankful to be able to look to seeing family again, and also for the time we’ve had as a little unit in these last weeks, before we take these first steps forward all together.

Hope everyone is doing well and having a good week. Xx

Lockdown adventures with the little one

Gearing up for another week of life in lockdown, and reflecting a little on the very different experience – one shared in every household across the country – that last week was. For me, it was mostly spent finding ways to keep an active and inquisitive toddler entertained while housebound, instead of with our usual routines full of morning play groups and afternoons between home and the farm. It’s been a good focus to have in the midst of all this, definitely a learning curve and a surprisingly fun challenge – and one that’s connected so many of us too, with parents sharing ideas near and far through the wonders of technology that we’re so lucky to have.

As last week went on, we settled into splitting our days up into separate sections to keep them as varied as possible, which I think we’ll stick to as this week begins. We also tried to use as many different places around the house as we could to break it up even more – starting after breakfast in the living room until snack time, up to the bedroom for a change of scene, and after lunch often out to the garden for a lot of the afternoon, with bath towards the end too – which has become a huge activity all of its own, trying to keep up swimming activities and pouring games even in the small space! 

It’s amazing how things have changed over the course of a week, and a lot of it has meant a real perspective shift, as some of the things I would previously just get done myself quickly – running bath, putting a washing on, making tea and looking after our little hamster, Sandy – have become not only activities that we can do together, but in fact also often highlights of the day. I feel guilty in fact with many of these for not working them into our day more so far, but it’s a good lesson learned and definitely something we can continue to do when all this madness is over! Mealtimes too have become such highlights, with my husband working from home it’s been lovely all of us getting together three times a day for meals instead of just once and we’ve all enjoyed more time together.

I’m so amazed at how quickly the wee one has adapted to all this, looking forward to heading up to her bedroom for some time with her dolls’ house, or out to gather sticks even just in the small area of the garden; and we were able to add some extra socialising too with video calls to family and friends, something I think we’ll do more and more as we all get used to this.

We began our week with an online version of our usual Monday music class on Zoom, which was wonderful – she so enjoyed seeing her teacher, singing her same songs and playing along with instruments at home with the other children on. Since then, we’ve utilised online activities as much as we possibly can to keep screen time as positive and as interactive as possible. Our local library has been running activity ideas, lego-building competitions, drawing lessons with children’s illustators, readings by favourite authors, which have been great to dip into. A few Bookbug sessions too, where we normally find ourselves in person at least once a week – gathered round in the library with familiar faces – have been uploaded to YouTube for using anytime, so have been brilliant for doing some songs and rhymes with actions from home. Within a couple of days it was clear how brilliant participating in online classes was, especially the ones that keep us moving, and we’ve also discovered through recommendations a couple of other ways to do the same – Cosmic Kids Yoga has been wonderful for getting some exercise in from home, accessible yoga for all the family to the narration of well-loved stories – the Very Hungry Caterpillar our favourite so far! And PE with Joe, which seems to be keeping just about every household in the UK and beyond active just now, has been wonderful too – though I hope I’m not the only one who’s realised how unfit I am through doing it!! 

As we begin this week, I think we will use these activities mostly as our starts to the days, in place of the usual groups we’d have been out at, as this seemed to work very well last week – moving on to snack and a quieter time with some of our usual stories or games later in the morning, just as we would have done on returning back home.

This is undoubtedly a very strange time for all of us, the littlest of children included; but it’s actually quite refreshing in some ways to have the challenge on our hands of finding ways to fill the day without the usual well-worn routines. There’s been a lot more time spent indoors than normal but I’m pleasantly surprised by how captivating activities like painting and stickering have become – and even more so at the imaginative play emerging just with a small play tent and a few soft toys. It’s been lovely too keeping in touch with other parents online and bouncing ideas backwards and forwards. We’re all in this together, and it feels like an experience we can all learn something from as we adapt to our new normal for the next little while. 

A big hello to everyone in the same boat, and wishing you all, whatever your situation, all the best for another week of keeping busy and keeping cabin fever at bay! 🙂