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

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

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

Happy 26 months to wee Sandy hamster….

Last month we had Charmer turning 25 years old, and this week coming our wee Sandy hamster turns 26 months…. making both of them actually very similar in age when calculated in “human years”… two distinguished gentlemen in their 70s!

While he enjoys spending most of his days cosy in his beloved little hamster pocket, we coaxed him out for a bit of a play with the wee ones and made him a little obstacle course he thoroughly enjoyed.

Usually Sandy’s out of his cage time takes place when the littlest among us are safely asleep and he can enjoy a pootle away from all the excitement that arises in his no1 fans whenever he appears for a drink of water, nods in our direction and slinks back to bed; but he cheerfully rose to the occasion of a play out with us all in his usual super way before cosying back down. ❤️

Hope you are all having a lovely week. X

Last night of the holidays

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

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

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

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

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

Brighter days

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thankful Thursday #2 💛

There is so much to be thankful for here at the moment, and I started the day in my very favourite of places to reflect on it all this morning, out for an early-morning hack with my boy – something I’m so grateful for in itself. 💛

The last week has seen some changes in the easing of lockdown here in Scotland that have meant the world to our family, as it was announced that children were no longer required to observe physical distancing from other children and adults outdoors; meaning that our 2-year-old could run into the rest of our family’s arms once more, after so long apart; and our 3-month-old baby be held by them for the first time at last.

I’m prouder than I can put into words of our eldest for how she’s handled everything in these last few months – but most especially in the last six weeks for managing to understand distancing, and doing so with her usual optimism in spite of how impossibly hard to comprehend it must have been. I’m so very relieved it’s over for her now, and that she can be as close as she wants to be to her beloved extended family again. And our youngest, so alert and so interested, growing and changing every day, had no idea how far from normal the world she was born into was, just taking it all in her stride and settling to our little family of four. In the last few weeks though, as we’ve seen others again, she’s been so interested, even at a distance figuring out all her people – and she was so content this week to find herself in all their arms for the first time.

This week has been full of flashes of joy and special moments – reunions in our gardens after what I know has been such a difficult long wait for everyone, some in the sunshine and some under tarpaulins and umbrellas, but all so lovely; and walks and catch-ups with friends we’ve missed so much. I have been so grateful to be able to spend a little more time with family and friends again and slowly but surely relax back into it all, feeling such a relief at seeing them properly with the girls again at last.

This coming week everything changes once more and we edge ever forward as we find ourselves able to visit in each other’s houses. I’m so so looking forward to being able to sink into the sofas in my mum’s and dad’s and the other family homes that have always felt like an extension of our own and that we now haven’t been inside for any length of time in four months. It does feel strange making these changes after all this time, and the progress we’re making seems to bring waves of anxiety and uncertainty that it’s all ok, along with the joy: – but as we find our way and continue to take our tentative steps forward, I’m just so grateful to be doing it all together.

Hope all reading are doing well, wherever you are in the twists and turns of this strange time, and wish you a really lovely weekend. 💛