November Reading 📚

Good morning all and a very happy Little Christmas Eve / Christmas Eve Eve… ❤️🎄 we are just about ready for Christmas to arrive here and settling down for a few weeks of quieter life again here as lockdown begins again on Boxing Day. Been without a phone I could WordPress on the last few weeks so have missed a wee browse and scribble here but newly back up and running now so been enjoying catching up on reading some lovely posts this morning, and thought would catch up (very late!) on November reads.

📖The Sealwoman’s Gift ~ Sally Magnusson 📖 My first read of November was Sally Magnusson’s historical novel, set during the pirate raids on the coast of Iceland in 1627 and following the story of the family of Olafur Egilsson, a real-life pastor abducted with 40 others from a small island on the South coast. Choosing to focus on the untold story of Olafur’s wife Asta, this book imagines what this historical event must have been like not for the men whose experiences tend to be more well-documented but for the women whose stories are much less known.

Asta’s narrative is a raw and honest one and this is a heart-breaking and thought-provoking book about survival and holding on to a sense of self through great hardships. Icelandic folklore, the stories of many generations and the memories of a home far away weave through this compelling story, and as Asta forms relationships in the new world she finds herself in, similarities and differences between the cultures, religions and histories play out poignantly.

My mum had bought me this book a couple of years ago and I’d been really looking forward to getting it to the top of the to-read pile, but it was chosen as our book club book for this month and so I enjoyed reading it along with the others and having our usual virtual chat all about it last week, where it had been so well received by us all.

I especially enjoyed reading it at this time of year, as the twice I’ve been to Iceland, a place I love so much – on our honeymoon initially and again a couple of years later – were both in early November; – so in this at-home year it was so lovely to journey to a favourite place at a favourite time of year in Sally Magnusson’s beautiful descriptions of the sweeping Icelandic coastline and the unraveling tales of the Icelanders’ sagas.

📖 Christmas at Liberty’s ~ Fiona Ford 📖 I crossed over into the Christmas reads earlier than usual this year and am sure I will have more of them than normal too – I just absolutely and unashamedly love a cosy, comforting Christmas story so much; – and really enjoyed this first book in Fiona Ford’s Liberty Girls series, set in London in 1941, warmly telling the story of Mary and her friends and colleagues in the Liberty’s department store as they navigate the joys, heartache and everything in between of careers, relationships and the ever-progressing war, pulling together throughout no matter what they face. ❤️🎄

📖 Midnight Dancer – Running Free ~ Elizabeth Lindsay 📖 I never like to let too much time go by without returning to my beloved pony books, and this is one of my favourite books in my very favourite childhood series. I loved spending my evenings for a few days back in the wonderful world of Black Rock and Llangaby Farm more than ever – Mory, Josh, Cara and Lionel adventuring out on the hills with their ponies. What I love most about these books is Mory’s relationship with Dancer and how they grow together throughout, it’s always reminded me so much of mine with my own Charmer.

I picked this up again a couple of months ago and put it back down, with Charmer newly retired and my mind full of worries of how badly he was coping with his arthritis at the time and how uncertain his future seemed to be even just enjoying life in the field. Now, a couple of months on and my old man much more stable and thoroughly enjoying his life of leisure, it was so lovely to read it again, reminisce about all our yesterdays weaving between trees and flying over fallen logs, and appreciate so much how very lucky we are to still have each other and be enjoying this new stage too.

For anyone who loves pony books, I would so recommend Elizabeth Lindsay’s Midnight Dancer stories. Just six short books, they are just full of the warmth of family relationships, the rugged beauty of the sweeping Welsh countryside and the hard work and great rewards of life on a farm, with plenty of jumping or gymkhana practice and a good dash of adventure thrown in – just the perfect horsey escape!

📖 The Story Girl ~ L.M. Montgomery 📖 I love the Anne of Green Gables books so much and could read L.M. Montgomery’s beautiful writing all day so have been meaning to get more into some of her other works. The Story Girl was a lovely enveloping story full of the magic of childhood woven together with folklore. I had read that this was Montgomery’s own favourite of her novels and that strong autobiographical elements were tied in to some of the characters as well as many stories handed down from her Scottish and Canadian heritage, so I was all the more interested to read this – and I really enjoyed it and found it, as ever, a captivating and lovely read.

📖 One More for Christmas ~ Sarah Morgan 📖 As we move ever closer to Christmas I am looking forward to it so very much and loving reading some cosy festive books. This one was new for this year and I really enjoyed it. I’ve never read any Sarah Morgan before but I really liked all the characters in this book that was part romance (of course!) and also a very readable and complicated family story working itself out, and to the backdrop of the snowy Highlands. I just love warming uplifting Christmas books at this time of year and really liked this one. 🎄

November was a lovely reading month for me, more than ever just reading exactly what I fancied – an old favourite pacy pony book, two warming Christmas novels, a new branch of LM Montgomery’s incredible work in The Story Girl and Sally Magnusson’s compelling Icelandic historical novel The Sealwoman’s Gift. Both The Story Girl and The Sealwoman’s Gift were celebrations of stories themselves and beautiful examples of just how important they are; and I enjoyed all these stories very much in a wrapped-up November.

Hope you’re all now having a wrapped-up December and wishing you all a really lovely Christmas. X

2017 Reflections ~ Holed up in the snow

We are in the midst of the usual in-between period between Christmas and new year – that beautifully still time where the days stretch ahead and blur into one another (“Romjul” as I was charmed to learn is its romantic Scandinavian name); a few days of quiet contemplation and true unwinding. Every year I look forward to this, and every year it arrives with a familiarity that makes it so easy to sink into – before long the continual passing round of Quality Streets and the sticking on of an afternoon film without a second thought becoming second nature once more.

This year, we are enjoying that period as much as always and more so; but its familiarity has been shaken up by the new dimension added to all our days and every aspect of our little world since our daughter arrived to join us. ♥️

Born exactly a week before Christmas, our little girl has transformed our life unrecognisably, in the best possible way. The last couple of weeks have been an absolute whirlwind, and we have lived and learned so much as a little family already. She is settling so well, taking everything in her stride – and although it’s been a busy period full of new routines and challenges, visits from family and friends and Christmas coming along too; we’ve had a little bit of time now to start to enjoy settling into our new roles and getting to know each other.

Today, we are all cosied up inside as the snow falls steadily outside the window, and are taking the day at an easy pace from under our blankets here.

 

I always find myself reflecting so much on the year that’s been as we hibernate in these last few days of it; and this year has been one full of change and new horizons as we’ve transitioned in so many ways – moving home, all the journeying on we’ve done in different ways in our living and working, and having been blessed with expanding our family.

The pets (usually the main focus of any blog post but currently being sidelined in every way, poor souls!) are doing well too – or Jasper and Jet will be as soon as they get used to the sound of the wee one’s cry! Getting there slowly already though I think…

 

The pony headed off out to play in the snow this morning quite happily, on my brief foray out into the world of the farm and the wintry outdoors before getting home to the others once more.

Our world here at the moment is all new and all so exciting; but is strung together too by the constancy of the season – the twinkle of the lights, chill in the air and warmth of home – as we adapt to all our changes and find our feet together.

Hope you are all finding time to enjoy this cosy in-between time, and have a really lovely week from all of us. X

♥️

The Pets of Christmas Past… 🎄

This weekend has been Christmas decorating weekend in our little house; and yesterday we spent a busy but enjoyable day dragging our beloved (if a little lopsided!) potted Christmas tree in from the garden for his annual stint indoors and hanging our lights, stockings and strings of cards and decorations around the rooms – before settling in for a lovely and cosy night around the tree, watching It’s a Wonderful Life (♥️) and enjoying the season really and truly being here.

Earlier in the day, as we began the preparations, I did try to engage the boys in playing their role and even offered them a little festive hat each to get them in the spirit (thank you innocent smoothie caps! 😂😂) but, alas, in true Jasper and Jet style, they were not to be convinced that Christmas dressing-up was the way forward – though, if allowed, they would have spent a happy half hour shredding the pom poms off the top… 🙄

Laughing at the wee ones’ antics got me to reminiscing about all the many Christmasses we’ve shared over the years with the furry members of our family, what characters they’ve been and those who have loved the season most. So, on a very frosty Sunday morning, holed up cosily with a coffee under the twinkling lights, have enjoyed taking a trip down memory lane and recalling some of our favourite Christmas memories with the little ones.

There was never anyone for donning a Santa hat, languishing in front of the fire and lights, tearing into a stocking and most of all revelling in every shred of packing paper like our floppy-eared lionhead rabbit Simba, who made all the Christmasses we were blessed enough to share with him that little bit fuller of chaos and joy.

The first few years my husband and I lived together, in the much-loved little old cottage that was our first home, were years we loved so much – and that we filled with rats, hamsters and Simba as their ring-leader, enjoying them all so very much. I always loved filling stockings for the wee ones and coming up with new ways for them to enjoy the season – but mostly they found those themselves too just in exploring all the new climbing frames and exciting obstacles around the room December brought – most of all the prickly green one!

Some of my much-loved rats of Christmas past – Smokie, Peatie, Sylvie, Lizzie, Chae, Winston and Pipkin – enjoying their Christmas stockings and presents ♥️♥️

… and a few of the most intrepid Christmas-tree climbers and decorating helpers – Smokie, Peatie, Simba, Little Gracie-hamster and Harvey & Ty ♥️♥️ –

And, of course, it wouldn’t be Christmas in Scotland without some wonderful snow memories too – out with the fluffy pony, who is never happier than in the thick of winter stomping around in his bear-like coat, or at my mum and dad’s with their dogs and cats.

Christmases and games in the snow with Charmer, Ginny, Maisie, Phoebe and Jess ♥️♥️

Christmas morning at the farm especially fills me with a cosiness I can’t describe, and I absolutely love a trip along there as the start of our Christmas Day – everything so still and crisp outside, the barn so full of warmth, and my boy ready to share in some merriment.

So grateful for all the wonderful Christmases we’ve had over the years, and all the wonderful characters we’ve shared them with. Enjoying the beginnings of and looking forward to this one more than ever before, and lovely to spend a quiet weekend getting ready for the festivities ahead.

Merry Christmas all.🎄✨♥️ xx

Happy Advent ♥️❄️✨🕯

December has arrived at last, tumbled towards through the beauty and transition of autumn and early winter; and is now fully settled in, bringing with it all its usual cosiness and warmth.

I love the first morning of advent so much, calendars being opened and the countdown to Christmas truly beginning. Jasper and Jet got stuck in to opening their first door this morning, and were delighted with the dandelion treats they found inside!

I look forward every day to my early-morning routine of breakfast treats and a few minutes with them while the kettle boils, getting ready for the day to begin; but it was lovelier than ever today letting them explore the very beginnings of their first Christmas.

At the farm, too, I love to bring a bit of festivity early to Charmer’s stable with the same, and during the breakfast-and-muck-out routine we’ve hit the ground running with this week, the old boy was happy enough to take the first of his extra treats and do his best to help with the opening…

Arrived to the loveliest extra surprise too from our yard owners of an advent calendar for every horse outside our stable doors – we have in the past discovered stockings of treats for them at Christmas, or chocolate eggs and urns of coffee out on a table for us all on Easter morning, and it’s just such a nice reminder of the kindness and camaraderie of the livery yard, and of what a blessing it really is – especially when it can be such a big responsibility and such a challenge to find – to have a place for the pony to live that suits him and me so perfectly.

This has been the first week of my maternity leave, and, with work finished up now for a while, I have had some extra time for organising and pottering inside the house and out, getting the last things ready both for our new arrival and for Christmas time (our two new seasons ahead!) so have started on some gift-wrapping and preparing a little earlier than usual. Still, this morning, with the arrival of Advent itself, I feel the usual excitement I do every year at the idea of the preparations picking up pace, darkness falling earlier and earlier each day while lights begin to twinkle more and more in the homes around us as we head towards Christmas time.

At night, the togetherness and cosiness of this time of year really comes in to its own, and I love to get in to the warmth for the evening and light our advent candle for the first time, starting a month-long tradition that will count us down to Christmas morning and bring a peaceful and lovely hour to our every evening while we wait.

A very happy Advent / winter to all, wishing you all the loveliest December. ❄️✨ x

Wishing everyone a peaceful holiday season

Just wanted to wish you all a very peaceful remainder of the Christmas period and all the best for the New Year.

The warmth of these holidays and the wrapped-up days of winter-time, Christmas and all other festivals of the season can bring so much joy, and I look forward to them every year. They can also come at a difficult time for many if they coincide with pain or loss. I haven’t actually posted on here recently as we’ve been having a very difficult time in our life away from the pets, and it can be so hard to keep up with day-to-day life and especially with festivities in the midst of a dark period.

This blogging community though, over the past year, with so many people writing for so many different reasons and working through so many aspects of life, has been one I have valued very much; and wanted to wish to everyone reading, whatever your circumstances, all the peace and light the season can bring.

 

Hope to get back to writing about our boys early in the new year, but for the time being just wanted to wish to all my blogging friends a lovely week and all the very best for 2017. ❤️

Happy Advent ✨🕯

It has been a lovely first day of December in our little home, starting with opening an advent calendar for the wee ones first thing (Harvey can’t believe his eyes, below!!). Thought I’d be doling out yoghurt drops to the other three at every morning’s door-opening (in a vain attempt to keep everybody happy at once!), but was pleasantly surprised to find the dandelion-treats chocolate replacements are already happily divided into quarters – just perfect for our four!

At the stables, the cosied-up pony was very glad to enjoy an advent treat while his breakfast was made, licking his lips on the meander out to the field.. 

Plenty of time with both the house pets and the horse was a wonderful start to the day, love winter mornings allowing for that. By far my favourite part of a December day though is the evening, without a doubt. Door bolted shut against the wind, candles lit, advent candle taking up centre stage; it’s such a simple and cosy time. My old faithful advent calendar is one with a distinctly pet theme too – a lovely card one my mum brought to me years ago in one of my university flats with a painting of a dog and cat watching and waiting for home-comers in a festive doorway, as was always the way when I was growing up.

Had all four of our boys out this evening for a lovely long play – when they could tear themselves away from their game of the moment, burying themselves in packing paper in a Christmas shopping box, they were happily watching the candles flicker – especially Reuben and Perry, with this being their very first Christmas when it comes. 

Wishing a peaceful Advent/December to all. X