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 ❤️

Pony diaries: Ambling into autumn 🍂

The last few weeks have been good ones for my fluffball pony, who looks forward every year to the change of season between summer and autumn. Charmer has actually had a really good summer – he has kept his weight well, enjoyed his time both out and in and not suffered too much with the midges – and he does love the great array of grass that summertime brings!!; but between the heat, the flies and his sweet itch, it’s never his comfiest time; and it’s always a total joy when the temperature breaks, the nights draw in, that furry winter coat starts growing and he can relax into the most contented of days.

We’ve not been doing any riding the past few months – partly because he’s been a bit stiffer and partly because I’ve put on a bit of weight myself and would like to lose some before I get back on (I’m always quite near the top end of what’s probably ok for him at his age so definitely don’t want to add any pressure to those old legs!), but the last few weeks we have been enjoying a lot of little walks on his rope.

I had actually been walking him just in and out of the barn the shortest way for a few weeks back in August, having noticed that he was moving a bit less easily and wanting to keep everything as easy as possible for him, but after a few weeks of this he voted with his feet and started dragging me the long way round, where there is lots more to see and he loves just to feel like he’s on an adventure – and, as it turns out, he’s moving all the better for stretching his legs and having his wee brain busier again. One day we even found a little free library just at a cottage on the edge of the farm, and he always likes to stop for a munch of grass and a watch of the horses in the fields across the track especially his old hacking buddies.

I also took him a bit of a longer walk last week to see how he got on, and he absolutely loved it. In October, my lovely friend who works for the ambulance service is organising a fund raiser at the yard for the Scottish Air Ambulance Charity, with a lot of the girls and horses at the yard embarking on a month of long hacks racking up the miles. Every mile counts and can be added to their running total so we thought we would join in where we’re at just now, and went for a mile-long walk in-hand last week to test the ground. We found that it was the perfect distance for Charmer who absolutely loved every second, so we will do that wee loop every few days whenever he’s up for it and see how many we can count up in the month! – (and will maybe help me shed some pounds too, maybe by the end of the month I could be doing an amble on him!)

We’ve also been enjoying a bit of messing around and watching the leaves fall in the little sand school behind our barn, which seems to be a start to the day both of us love. ❤️

… and on the rainier days, it’s just breakfast on the barn and a shelter with a huge pile of hay.

It’s getting darker and darker every night at the moment, and at the weekend after work I had both my girls with me for a just-before-bedtime torchlight visit to the field which the horses and children loved – and I did too, always enjoying so much those first nights in the bright lights of the barn with the rain hammering and the dark fields outside.

I’m really pleased with how well Charmer seems to be doing and looking forward to our month of little walks for a good cause, and to the drawing in of winter. ❤️

Hope you all have a good week. Xx

September’s Eve 🍂

Just a quick update tonight as August tumbles into September, with so many thoughts whirling in my head as we settle in to a gently shifting change in season once again.

Our world the last few weeks has been filled with a back-to-school air – or off to school for the very first time really, as our biggest girl has started school nursery, and we have found ourselves in the primary school playground every day for drop offs and pick ups, finding our feet in a whole new world. She is settling in so well to nursery life despite what a big leap it seems to have been for her from her couple of mornings at playgroup last year, and it’s wonderful to hear all the new stories every day.

It’s been a time of transition for all of us in a smaller way, maybe most of all for our littlest who is adjusting to mornings without her sister around. We’ve picked back up with our usual toddler groups, music classes and song and rhyme sessions, only this time I just have her in tow, and she’s found that a bit different, her natural confidence taking a little longer to come out without her usual shadow to walk in. But it’s been really really lovely watching her too adapt to a new stage, growing in independence and changing all the time.

For my part, I’m enjoying this new era as much as the ones before it, especially with the freedom that’s returned more over the summer, and making the most of the time I have both with one and with two. Today after the nursery drop off, on a wander with tiny down to a lovely free sing-along session in a museum in town, we discovered a little library we had no idea was there. It was so nice to be able to choose a book to take home for the kids and we have some of theirs and mine we need to donate so it’ll be a lovely place to do it on our next walk.

After our little class, as we walked back up the hill, we came across a gated entrance that captured her attention, and I’d forgotten how enjoyable it was to be able to just take the path because she fancied it and do the exploring. Before we knew it we’d wound down into the glen with the squirrels and birds and it was a lovely impulse to be able to follow.

And we only had to wait until this afternoon for the pace to be shifted once again with both girls back home together (we’re building up the nursery hours slowly over the year so still have lots of times all of us). It was lovely just to settle at home, read our new book all together, do some quiet activities and enjoy the old routine.

Spent some time in the garden too in the newly-fresh air, a slight nip to it today after so long of hot days – with the kittens out too for one of their first wee plays while we watched them explore (just over 4 months now and a pair of energy-filled leggy tearaways at the moment, full of fun and doing well ☺️).

There’s so much else been going on I will write more on later – the pony doing well as we come to the to the end of the summer and making a start on getting him prepared for winter, starting to feel more settled into my new job at the weekends and the training along with it too keeping me busy of an evening, my husband taking his first tentative steps back to office life some days (though still with the home office as the default for foreseeable future which we’re so thankful for for time all together).

One of the things we’ve been most glad of in the last few weeks in the midst of everything else is that we have had some wonderful chances to catch up with friends and family. At the weekend we had the loveliest family garden gathering under twinkling lights, breathing in the smell of woodsmoke and the togetherness we’ve missed so much. It can feel sometimes to an extent like we’re still living tentatively in a hangover from all the disruption to life last year, and so it was so liberating to have such an old-school family day and night and remember how much we love to assemble. 🥰 I’m looking forward so much now to a season ahead of wrapping up for chiminea nights and cosy gatherings. ❤️

Hope you are all well, and wish you a really lovely start to September.. 🍁

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

Morning amble with my fluffy-necked boy ♥️

Started the day in the best possible way, arriving at the farm at sunrise – coffee flask under my arm and scarf tight round my neck – to greet the morning with my boy.

The horses in our barn had all been in last night, their faces lined up expectantly over the stable doors, clouds of breath meeting the cold air.

Got my mucking out done to the happy sound of C munching his breakfast bucket, and, tacked up, got out to the day.

Just love a quiet wander on my wee pony’s back, just me and him, and it was a beautiful morning as the light gradually filled the sky.

Love this time of year so much, with the leaves crunching under our feet, and enjoyed our wander so much. Charmer seemed to too which was even nicer, a bounce in his step and a little burst of canter up the hill back home. ♥️

🍁🍂♥️