Walking into winter with my boy

I’ve been meaning to post an update on Charmer for a while and this is one I’m absolutely delighted to be able to write, as we have so massively turned a corner with his mobility and I’ve been able to see him return to himself again after a good couple of months of struggling.

At the begining of October he had his new equilibrium shoes fitted in a joint appointment with the vet and farrier (both of whom I’m so grateful to!) and for the first couple of weeks I could see just some small improvement – which was wonderful of course, but I was still very worried about the winter approaching and what quality of life he was going to have still struggling a little to get between his stable his field. After around three weeks though there was suddenly a huge change and he really settled into the new way of moving. We’re almost at a month on from then and he’s consistently been doing great which has just been so beyond wonderful to see.

Before the turning point he was doing steadily better but on what I thought had become his new normal. He was managing to get around and be happy but was needing to spend nights in the stable, take things very slowly, have limited turnout and walk only certain paths to his field. Now though, with this most recent improvement, he is willingly spending all day and night out in the field again with his field mate, which has always been his default preference. He’s coming in quickly and comfortably across the concrete and enjoying short times in his stable for feeds and sometimes longer times in harsher weather, but then always enthusiastically heading back out again, something that had just been missing for those couple of months.

I can’t express how lovely it is to see him doing so well. I know we still need to just take things a day at a time but for now I’m so happy to have got back to where I had stopped expecting we would and to see him being his old self again.

A couple of weeks ago we went out for a family walk for the first time in months with Charmer on his rope, just down the road from the farm but he so loved being out with the kids, seeing different views and pottering along, it was perfect.

This weekend our yard joined together to hold a distanced fundraising ride / walk and treasure hunt in aid of the Riding for the Disabled Association and he was able to take part with us in hand, suitably tolerant of being dressed up in tinsel and reindeer antlers as ever! We had a similar event on the farm a few years back in aid of cancer research and back then he and I were doing the long route, galloping with friends across stubble fields and ducking and diving through the woods. Times have definitely changed for us since then and this time we were waving the rest off and doing the shorter ramble but I feel so so lucky that we were able to do that and with the whole family too, littlest one marvelling at Christmas lights round her buggy and Charmer’s glinting tinsel, toddler leading us in search of all the clues and Charmer happily going along with it all. It’s just so wonderful to see a happy and healthy boy. 🥰

Hope you are all having a lovely week and staying safe and well! X

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

October Reading Diary 📚

October was a lovely, slow-paced and very autumnal reading month. I spent the first half lost once again in Anne & Gilbert Blythe’s little world, one of my favourite places to be ❤️ Both Anne’s House of Dreams and Anne of Ingleside are cosy and comforting reads full of family, friendships and warmth, and I love to return to them over and over. Mindy Kaling’s six brand new essays Nothing Like I Imagined were completely different and had me laughing throughout, full of her usual intelligence and humour; and then my last book of the month, Where the Crawdads Sing, was a wonderful discovery, so very beautiful and captivating.

📖 Anne’s House of Dreams ~ L. M. Montgomery 📖 I spent the first couple of weeks of October with this book – the fifth in the Anne of Green Gables series – by my side, reading it slowly and loving every word. This is only the second time I’ve read it, having fallen properly in love with Anne in adulthood and read all the way through the series just once before. As I re-read this, I could remember so clearly the first time I’d come to each turn of it, and adored it this time just as much.

Anne’s House of Dreams, beginning with Anne & Gilbert’s wedding and chronicling the first few years of their married life together, settled in their little house at Four Winds Harbour, is just a simply beautiful story. Miss Cornelia, Captain Jim and Susan Baker are characters that glitter with all Montgomery’s trademark magic – and Christmases and stays spent back with the “Avonlea folks” throughout too add the doses of Marilla and Mrs Lynde that perfect it.

I found myself just completely lost in the crashing waves and steady lighthouse of the harbour and in all Anne and Gilbert’s journeying together through the ups and downs of life and their friendships with those around them as they begin the next stage of their life together. I can’t think of a better way to spend autumn evenings than back in the wonderful Anne’s world with these characters.

📖 Anne of Ingleside ~ L. M. Montgomery 📖 I had meant just to dip into the world of Four Winds for one little story – but when I came to the end of House of Dreams found I couldn’t tear myself away from it just yet, and I so loved just picking up the next book straight away and re-reading Anne of Ingleside. Finding Anne, Gilbert, their children and Susan settled into life in their new home, this is a truly lovely book about the ups and downs of family life. Reading this again now that I spend so much time watching our own girls grow and change, I smiled all the more at some of the dizzying highs and weeping lows of the Ingleside children’s lives, as well as loving Anne’s navigating of it all. All of the Anne books are just the cosiest and loveliest of books to me and I really enjoyed carrying this with me and reading it whenever I could. ❤️🍁

📖 Nothing Like I Imagined (Except for Sometimes) ~ Mindy Kaling 📖 This was a surprise read for me this month and one I so loved! I discovered just as they came out that Mindy Kaling had written this collection of six essays, all short Kindle books, for Amazon Original Stories, which were free to download with Prime so a much-appreciated gift! I absolutely love her writing both on TV shows and in previous books and as soon as I heard about these I downloaded them right away, and ended up reading them very quickly. Mindy covers everything from motherhood to the fast-paced working world of script-writing to ponderings of faith and does so with all her usual warmth, humour, honesty and poignancy – as ever making reading seem like laughing with a friend over the ins and outs of life in the warmest of ways.

📖 Where the Crawdads Sing ~ Delia Owens 📖 I found this an absolutely beautiful book, and was completely swept up in the descriptions of the North Carolina marshlands, and lost entirely in Kya’s little world. I loved this book – Kya herself is a wonderful protagonist; and this book has everything I love – such a beautiful setting – the wildness of the marsh painted so beautifully; a story of anchoring friendships and learning and growing together (Tate, Jumpin’ and Mabel wonderful characters too); and a pacy and satisfying murder mystery weaving through it.

My friend had recommended this and leant it to me and I loved chatting about it with her – and my mum and my sister are reading it now too as we plan to make it the first of a little lockdown virtual book club keeping us going through winter, which I really look forward to – Yet another book that in this strange year of distance has pulled me closer to both family and friends. I finished this on the morning of Halloween and it felt so much like the perfect October read, and really was – with a lot of the action taking place between October 28th-30th exactly while I read. This is a lovely, cosy and captivating book, and I know that Kya and her marshlands will stay with me for a long time to come. ❤️

All of these were such perfect Octobery reads and made me think of a quote of Anne’s in Anne’s House of Dreams – “our library may not be very extensive but every book in it is a friend” – these books are all definite friends, old and new, and I enjoyed them all.

Hope you are all well – been so long since I’ve posted, don’t quite know how, life has just rushed on! But will write more soon. Have a good week! X

Saturday morning in the stable ❤️

Good morning and happy weekend from our very rainy corner of the world. Have spent a lovely Saturday morning in the barn with my boy and my book.

Charmer had a big day yesterday seeing both the vet and the farrier together and getting his new equilibrium shoes on which we are all hopeful will let him be a bit comfier over the winter.

The early signs are looking good as even on a miserable day and with all the extra manipulation yesterday he was walking pretty well this morning which was great! But we spent most of our time enjoying the cosiness of the barn, and I loved some quiet time with him just reading and enjoying his company. ❤️

Have a lovely weekend all. X

September Reading Diary 📚🍁☕️❤️

Autumn is upon us once more and that definitely calls for lots of cosy evenings and cosy books – I’ve really enjoyed reading this month, starting with three mysteries in a row all read so quickly at the beginning of the month and then slowing down with two longer books covering the passing of time.

📖 Insidious Intent ~ Val McDermid 📖 As September began and I started looking forward as much as ever to the autumn and winter months of cosy evenings reading, I found myself wanting to sink into a dark and unwinding crime story – and who better to turn to but Val McDermid. I had loved watching her talking as much as ever in the Edinburgh Book Festival online and so pulled Insidious Intent from the bookshelf that I had picked up a couple of years ago but never got to reading. This was my first Carol Jordan and Tony Hill book, and both characters intrigued me. This book was so compelling, I read it more quickly than I’ve read anything for a long time, always wanting just one more chapter and one more and loving the pacy chase of the hunt as Carol, Paula, Tony and the team closed in. This book definitely had me remembering why I love crime fiction so much, and was a perfect first read of autumn.

📖 Three Things About Elsie ~ Joanna Cannon 📖 When our book club chose Three Things About Elsie for our August book, to chat about (still online) at the beginning of September, I was so looking forward to discussing it as it’s one of my very favourite books, but at first decided not to re-read as I’d read it just a couple of years ago and I felt like I still remembered it all so well. When I picked it up on the day though I was just completely drawn back in and ended up reading it all again, loving it as much as ever. Joanna Cannon’s writing is so perceptive and so very relatable. Florence is a character it’s impossible not to fall in love with, so many others so wonderful too, and the lives and stories at Cherry Tree completely absorbing. This is just such a special book, with such important things to say about how we view older people in society, and full of so much warmth, intrigue and hope.

📖 The Sign of Four ~ Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 📖 After Insidious Intent and Three Things About Elsie I loved returning to a very favourite detective in Sherlock Holmes. I had never read The Sign of Four before and loved sinking back into Holmes and Watson’s world and especially meeting and getting to know Mary Morstan in this book for the very first time.

📖 The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies’ Book Club ~ Sophie Green 📖 I so enjoyed reading this lovely book at a slow and easy pace over a couple of weeks – mostly in evenings with a sleeping baby curled up on me or short bursts in the mornings with a toddler sneaked in to bed too! This was one of the books I had picked up on my first trip back to the library, and was a warm and comforting read. Set in Australia’s Northern Territory in the late 1970s/early 80s, and painted with a sweeping sense of place and atmosphere; it tells the story of a growing friendship between several women coming together to form a book club. The descriptions of the relentless rain of the wet season, the horses out on the hills and the weathering of so many storms to get to each other, all made this a perfect autumn/winter read and a perfect lockdown one too. I really loved the engaging characters, the flashes of other books throughout in the ladies’ book club choices and the strength of the women’s enduring friendships through the years. ❤️

📖 Philomena (previously The Lost Child of Philomena Lee) ~ Martin Sixsmith 📖 In the last few days I’ve been completely gripped by the incredible and heart-wrenching story of Philomena Lee and of her son, born to her in a mother-and-baby home for unmarried mothers in 1952 and taken away after three years of life in the Catholic convent under the care of the nuns and his mother. Anthony Lee would go on to be adopted by an American family and become Michael Hess, and most of this book, despite the new film tie-in title focusing on Philomena, is devoted to the story of Michael’s life.

I found this totally unputdownable and was completely captivated by such a remarkable story, following the twists and turns of Michael’s successful career reaching the heights of the White House alongside the ever-present pull back to his roots. I did come across some writing by people close to the story on finishing the book that was very critical of Martin Sixsmith’s reimagining of events, so I think this definitely has to be viewed as fictionalised retelling rather than non-fiction, but I found it both a totally compelling portrayal of a struggle for identity and a snapshot of life in America too during the decades covered, with all the social and political shifts taking place over the years.

I had been leant this book by my nana and discovered once again, as I have so many times throughout this year, in these times when restrictions find us further from each other than we’d like to be, the lovely closer sense of togetherness reading and sharing books can bring.

This has been a great reading month and I’ve really enjoyed the beginnings of the darker months with lots on the to-read list as they continue to settle in. X

Pottering about with the pony

This weekend brought with it September’s beautiful mix of the last days of summer and the first of autumn, newly yellowing leaves on the trees and the odd one floating down already.

Bringing Charmer in on Saturday morning, after catching up on some mucking out and barn tidying, I decided to take him for a little bit of time in the sand school.

At the moment he’s not meant to do any forced exercise of any kind, and I feel a little hesitant even leading him as he’s often reticent and worried about where he’s placing his feet, but I thought in there with his headcollar off he could decide himself exactly what he felt comfortable with. We’ve used the space for games and join-up and ambles before, and when I took his ropes off and started just having a wander around myself, I found I had a very happy follower. ❤️

It was really, really lovely. I’ve missed even just walking in hand with him and know he has too, and it was so lovely just to move around together and to know he was only doing what he felt up to. He found plenty to explore and investigate, and when I got him in to his stable afterwards he was exhilarated and happy-looking just for having seen something ever so slightly different!

It was a lovely morning, and so enjoyed finding new ways to have adventures with my boy. ❤️

Hope you are all having a lovely week. X

Autumn Term & New Beginnings 🍂

The summer holidays have drawn to a close here, and – this year for the first time in five months instead of in six or seven weeks – the schools have started back. This time last year that meant me and my biggest girl we were slipping seamlessly back into all our usual toddler groups again after just a few weeks of sunshine and holidays. This year, it’s all very different in every way. For us especially of course, as we have not one but two little ones, a soon-to-be 3 year old in just a few months and a 5 month old growing and changing so fast and so determinedly I can hardly keep up with her! But for everyone the world is a completely different place, meaning that in fact none of those things that made up my weeks at home with my oldest are around at the moment, and no one is quite sure when they’ll be starting back.

One thing that has had the go-ahead is early learning and childcare, so our local playgroup has opened and it’s here our big girl has found herself two mornings a week – going off somewhere on her own for the very first time. She has taken to playgroup so well, and settled in wonderfully to playing with the other kids, coming home full of stories about the day.

Paintings hang along our fireplace every day, sent home in stacks that reveal how enthusiastically she’s taken to every new activity, and I’ve adjusted to the new little routine of drop-offs and pick-ups – finding the optimum parking spot, scooting the little one into her carrier, holding the biggest’s hand and walking along the street to the flower-filled grounds of the village hall – normally multi-purpose, but at the moment home only to the playgroup, while all its other uses wait to resume, lending a reassuring permanence to all the children’s play corners.

The beginning of playgroup also means the beginning of time at home just me and the littlest, which has been really lovely – and focusing on that wonderful new opportunity has helped me get through the waves of sadness that came along with the joy of watching her sister take her first steps away from us, even just a few hours a week.

First adventures out just ourselves, Littlest exploring the world

This is around the age my oldest was when I started slowly getting out to baby groups for the first time, after a few months of enjoying the time at home and on little pram walks around our village. I know I would have got to that quicker this time around, for so many reasons – not least that my littlest little is so very curious about the world around her and game for any adventure out into the world! These last few weeks, we’ve begun the 2020 versions of lots of new experiences, with Jo Jingles online classes streaming on the TV in place of an in-person music class and play dates with friends’ wee ones in place of local baby groups.

The Baby Club on BBC with the lovely Giovanna Fletcher, one of my tiny’s very favourite ways to enjoy music which she loves so much!

Despite the difference from normal, it’s been absolutely lovely exploring so many new things together. The supermarket is a weekly adventure, we’ve had her very first trip to the library this week (with a very wide-eyed response!) and also her first time in a cafe, and my first for six months – Little loved the sights and sounds and I couldn’t believe how totally amazing it was to have a beautiful hot coffee and amazing cake out and about once again!

Lovely sign in our library

As lovely as it is to tentatively step into some of the places we haven’t been in so long, I’m still spending most of my week with the girls at home or outdoors, and as we have unfortunately seen a bit of an upturn again in Covid-19 cases in the last few days and weeks, and a tightening of lockdown restrictions once more as a result, I know we’ll be continuing to wrap up as winter creeps in and stay outside as much as we can. It’s disheartening of course to see things take a step backwards, but as we enter my very favourite time of year, there are lots of positives to be found in the way we’re approaching the world this year, and already we are enjoying some beautiful autumn colours on all our rambles.

Lovely fairy “village” in one of our favourite woods

I always love the feeling at the start of the autumn term of a fresh starts and new beginnings; and this year it’s been a time of change for us all – my husband is changing jobs just now as well as the girls starting new chapters in their little lives, and even the pony starting one too with his retirement beginning earlier this month. I don’t return to work myself until the spring, and I am absolutely loving having so much time with the family stretching ahead and enjoying maternity leave; – but I have started a little new venture of my own too doing a little bit of study at nights when the wee ones are asleep, for an online course on dementia – and its impact on individuals and on society as whole – I’ve just begun, which has been so very interesting so far. I really love learning and focusing on something new, this is something I’m so passionate about and everything we’re covering will be so very helpful when I do go back to work. Really enjoying scribbling and watching lectures and meeting (or trying to meet!) deadlines again.

While this year has been as different as it could possibly be from any before it, it’s lovely to feel the reassuring normality of the back-to-school season settling in and the September sunshine and first cascade of leaves arriving once more.

Have a lovely weekend all. 🍂🍁 x

Happy retirement to my old man ❤️ 🐴

Earlier this week, Charmer and I had another visit from our vet to see how we were getting on with his wee old legs. We’re seeing him feeling a little better and comfier on his feet around the yard which is great, and have some more plans in place to try to help him further – so all is looking more positive and I’m starting to feel very optimistic now about seeing him comfortably enjoying his life.

However, we did agree that now is the time to bring his working life to an end. To be most representative, “working” should really be in inverted commas, as over the years we’ve really done nothing more than playing. When we were very young, the odd local show, a little dabble in jumping, but it’s generally just been a life of exploring the countryside around us at a very leisurely pace!

And it’s been a wonderful one. I have absolutely loved all these years of rambles and ambles and have pondered some of the biggest moments of my life from my seat up on my boy’s back. I’ll never forget steadying rides on the mornings of my graduation and my wedding day, all those autumn hacks through stubble fields and crunching leaves, wintry ones all wrapped up with our clouds of breath in the air, and summertime canters along bright green verges here and there in all our homes over the years.

Watching the world through his ears ❤️

When he was first diagnosed with arthritis in 2011, I was completely happy to bring the riding to an end if it helped him. Somehow though we got another nine years of adventuring, only putting a stop to the jumping; – although even then not quite as the photo in the woods below was taken much more recently – just a fallen log we often came across in our local woods that he absolutely loved to pop over and, taking the lead from him as always, I was happy to let him occasionally just to see his burst of happiness at flying over it again. ❤️

I really never expected to ride again after I’d had my second daughter so the fact that we got even just the three little rambles we did this summer with him so strong and so loving it was incredible – they were just a bonus, one I loved having and know he did too.

Riding fun and games over the years ❤️

So now we’ve hung up the tack for good, and it’s a very happy retirement to my boy – I have no doubt he’ll have no trouble at all in enjoying the views, watching the world go by and keeping an eye on all the goings-on! ❤️ xx

August Reading Diary… and a couple of virtual book festival jaunts!

My August reading diary is definitely a map of all the directions my heart has been tugged and pulled in this month – a mix of pony books while I’ve been pouring my evenings into looking after my own star pony; The Unmumsy Mum Diary for a bit of hand-holding company in the midst of the pride and heartache of my two wee ones growing up; and Jane Eyre joining the list of classics I’ve discovered are my 2020 go-to reads, somehow the most absorbing to get lost in when a proper escape is needed from what is still a very strange year.

The Swallow Tale by K.M.Peyton & A Pony To School by Diana Pullein-Thomson

The first book I read this month was K.M. Peyton’s The Swallow Tale, one that’s been on my shelf since childhood but not one of my very favourites that I’ve read over til I know it well, so quite fresh to me as I read it for the first time in so long. As with any pony story I found plenty to get lost in in Rowan’s falling in love with the wild and captivating Swallow. I followed it not too long after with a Diana Pullein-Thomson book, A Pony to School, one I hadn’t read before but had picked up a few years ago in my old favourite second-hand bookshop when they had (to my joy!) literally a bucket of old pony books. Both of these were very old-school classics and reminded me of the way I used to read when I was young, tearing through so many different books indiscriminately- just as long as they had horses in them – and learning lots of different ways of viewing and handling a life with horses as a result. Those among them back in the day whose values most closely mirrored mine – Ruby Ferguson’s Jill, and Elizabeth Lindsay’s Mory, Josh and Cara – are those that have stayed on my bookshelf and been re-read over and over, seeing my Charmer’s own character and story mirrored so perfectly in Black Boy’s and Midnight Dancer’s; – but it was actually really fun to go back and read completely different perspectives. Even if I could never take quite the same approach to horses as the Hawes of High Hawes did in Swallow (though much more as Babar and her “shabby” pony Black Diamond did, my stand-out characters of this book!) or use the old-school methods of Christina and Augusta in handling Clown and conquering his rearing habit in A Pony To School; there’s a common ground in the world of horses no matter the differences and as I worried and fretted over my own boy, I loved being lost in some proper classic pony stories – a genre I unashamedly love!

The Unmumsy Mum Diary by Sarah Turner

I’ve followed Sarah Turner, aka The Unmumsy Mum, on her blog and social media for a long time, and have read all of her books in the past. This month I found myself re-reading her second – and my favourite – The Unmumsy Mum Diary. Documenting life with her two sons at the time, Henry and Jude, during a year that saw Henry begin school and Jude navigate toddlerhood; I really enjoyed this book. I’ve always appreciated Sarah’s honesty about parenthood, but I think what shines through despite the telling of all the bad with the good is her huge and unwavering love for her children, and that mix of joy and sorrow I’ve come to learn comes along with watching every stage of their growing up going by so fast. This month as my biggest baby took off to playgroup to start making her own experiences for the very first time away from us, and my littlest too strained and stretched and wrangled her way to new stages in record time, desperate to sit up and join in with everything her sister can do; I was so aware of how quickly time goes by and how much I want to make the most of every single moment, and it made me feel comforted and uplifted to read all the emotions I could feel written down in someone else’s diary, and have some company in all the ups and downs of a busy and transforming month for the little ones.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

I’ve been meaning to read Jane Eyre for so long and finally got to it this month. It’s always been a favourite of my sister’s (which usually means I’ll definitely love it!) but I’d given it a couple of abandoned attempts years ago back at uni – where I studied English literature and we covered Wide Sargasso Sea so touched on it but never actually studied Jane Eyre itself – and I had never got back to it. Picking it up now, I found it so easy to read and so compelling. I started reading on the night of the most incredible thunderstorm we’ve had here in years, the perfect set-up for discovering the shadowy Thornfield Hall with all its mysteries; and I found myself completely swept up in Jane’s story from start to finish, simply loving her strength, resilience, intelligence and passion in every situation she found herself in. This is such a wonderful book, with such a wonderful heroine at its centre – so ahead of its time in so many ways, romantic, gothic and completely captivating; and I’m so glad to have read it at long last!

August would normally be a big book month for me, as it would tend to find me taking at least one venture over to the Edinburgh Book Festival, to sit with a coffee under twinkling lights in the beautiful garden in Charlotte Square, listen to talk after talk in the Spiegel Tent and file into the auditorium for a ticketed event or two. This year, of course, this was not to be! But I was really pleased to find that they put on such a wonderful online programme, streaming live and many events available on YouTube afterwards – so in spite of staying home, I’ve spent a couple of evenings this month enjoying some talks from favourite writers.

Book festival previous years and this year from home 🏡

I will listen to more I am sure as there have been so many interesting authors involved, but so far I have enjoyed Ian Rankin, who I always to love to hear, talking about his next Rebus book A Song for the Dark Times (definitely going on the to-read list!); Val McDermid and Jo Sharp discussing their collaborative collection of essays Imagine A Country, contributed to by some of Scotland’s most prominent voices; and Bernardine Everisto talking to Nicola Sturgeon about Girl, Woman, Other, which I enjoyed reading so much earlier in the summer. I always think it’s such a privilege to hear writers speak about their work and it was wonderful to be able to listen to some amazing people I admire so much talking so passionately about books and the world we’re living in today, all from the comfort of home!

Have really enjoyed reading this month and as we move into September, my very favourite season upon us of autumn leaves and cosy nights in, I’m so looking forward to my next reads. Have a lovely week all. Xx

Step by step

The last few weeks have been very focused on trying to get Charmer more comfortable and get a handle on his arthritis again, and have been a bit of a rollercoaster of steps forwards and back – but we’ve just been taking it one day at a time, making breakfast and dinner a cocktail of supplements, using his new magnetic bands and trying everything we can – and I’m now very, very hopeful that we’re getting some real progress!

All his many feed additions with a sprinkle of the sweetest treats to put him off the scent of them all!

After starting on a new supplement Nutraquin+ at the vet’s advice a few weeks back, in addition to his usual Danilon at a slightly increased dose, and going back on turmeric back then too which he had been on in the winter last year; in the last week or so we’ve also started No Bute at a recommendation from a friend and also switched the turmeric to Turmeraid, with added black pepper, at another’s recommendation – all of which seem to be contributing to a comfier boy.

I’ve always been glad to have the support of others with more experience than me throughout my life with Charmer, but have never been so grateful as now for friends at the livery yard. In the last few months, especially with juggling the littlest baby at home and lockdown schedules, I’ve had a lot of practical help from Charmer’s fieldmates’ owners, managing the bringing in and turning out, who have been wonderful; and there are also a few of us on our lovely yard with horses at just exactly the same age all of whom are navigating arthritis, and some of the things that have worked best have been recommendations from them or other friends either at the yard or who I’ve known from the past. It’s wonderful being able to share ideas and try out new things and when Charmer was struggling most and I was so upset, the kindness of the people we share the farm with was overwhelmingly lovely and such a big help as we moved slowly forwards.

As well as the feed additions we’ve built his magnetic bands, which I started him wearing a couple of weeks ago, up to full use, so he now has these on while he’s out, about 16 hours a day, and just has them off while in his stable for his 7-8 hours in. Got him on a new routine at the moment of coming in for breakfast at 11ish with his fieldmate, having some hours in, and then when I arrive at either 5ish or 8ish in the evening (depending on whether pre- or post- bedtime here at home!) he has his second feed, and we walk back out. It’s always hard to know how to play it in terms of time in and out as I know he does better out for keeping moving and not stiffening up but with needing two feeds at the moment for the staggered Danilon didn’t want to have him walking in and out twice, and he seems to enjoy some downtime in the stable at the moment and not seem too stiff when it’s kept to under 8 hours or so – so going with it for the moment, although I hope maybe when I see the vet next week we might be able to combine everything in one feed and then he could be in for a shorter time.

Watching the ships on the water with him on our wanders out

Walking back out to his field has been the most difficult thing to manage over the past weeks – we can either make it a very short walk straight from his barn to his field gate, but on a slight slope which he seems to find really difficult, or a longer walk around the yard but more on the flat. He definitely seems to prefer the long way, but although some nights he’s managed fine, others he’s been really struggling whenever on the concrete, although managing fine on grass – and managing absolutely fine on the grass in his field too. One of the other owners at the farm had suggested Scoot Boots hoof boots for him, and my lovely friend let me borrow hers to see how they worked out. After two nights of using them to walk back out I’m very very hopeful we might have found a bit of a breakthrough for him, as they seemed to make the most incredible difference to how he felt – basically just letting him walk with shoes on without the trauma to his legs of being shod.

Still want to stay just cautiously optimistic as I know we’re battling a difficult thing here and it’s taken a long time to see the improvements we have but I’m absolutely over the moon to see some (sometimes quite bouncy!) strides forwards in the last couple of days. As we walked round to the field last night he almost broke into a trot to follow my friend walking a little ahead with an apple, and was ears forward and happy all the way – such a welcome sight!

He seems to be doing well and be comfy at the moment both in the stable and in the field and he’s otherwise in such good health for his age, so it’s just the movement between we’ve got to master, and I really hope we’re getting there.

Enjoying the field life….
…and our quiet nights in the barn together 🥰

Hope you’re all having a lovely week. X