🍁 A Scottish October Holiday 🍁

We have just had the October holidays here, and we had a really wonderful time off all together – all work, nursery and toddler classes suspended for the week and just some lovely quality time. We originally planned to take a few days away in North Berwick, but in the end decided just to base ourselves at home (ever so slightly influenced in part by worrying how the kittens would cope without us for a few nights! 🙈) and take day trips every day. It actually worked out a wonderfully relaxed way to have a holiday – the girls are at the stage that any change of routine overnight means a lot less sleep, and this way we were in our own environment every night all getting well rested but had had adventures all day.

We visited some wonderful places and really enjoyed them. We went to the Scottish Deer Centre near Cupar which we all loved – it was a properly cold day with a very wrapped-up picnic in the middle but we had a lovely time seeing the deer. We didn’t see too much of some of the other animals that we’ve enjoyed seeing the other time we went a few years back – they have some wonderful foxes, bears, wildcats and wolves who are incredible to see, but, a big plus to me, they have wonderful big enclosures and can keep themselves to themselves if they choose to, which on this occasion they did! I’m always so glad to know the animals have the choice over where to be and never mind seeing them a little less. We weren’t there for too long as it was a proper windy October day, and we do plan to go back soon with other family for more of an explore, but we had a wonderful time. The kids played in the play barn, we watched a bird of prey flying demonstration; and the deer were absolutely lovely, we all enjoyed feeding them and they seemed so happy, some entertaining everyone galloping around. ❤️

We had a really lovely day out too one day to Craigie’s Farm near Queensferry, for cosy hot chocolates, pumpkin biscuits, adventure play and pumpkin picking.

Our biggest venture was up north for a jaunt to Pitlochry and Aberfeldy, two places we often find ourselves on our holidays and weekends away. We really loved the road trip, the beautiful seasonal world outside the window as we passed so much incredible scenery, and our potters back in our favourite towns. We’re usually in Pitlochry at this time of year for the Enchanted Forest, and although it had been cancelled again this year, it was lovely to be there and do our other October traditions of buying a new decoration for the tree in the Christmas shop and starting some Christmas shopping in the pretty shops, windows all lined with decorative leaves.

In Aberfeldy, we visited the holiday park where we’d had our last couple of family holidays and enjoyed a walk in the town we’ve come to know so well through our trips there. We stayed late that night out and about, and pyjama-ed the little ones after tea to drive home sleeping, which they loved the novelty of. ❤️

Another day, we went back to our old home town of Stirling, where my husband and I first met and lived for years, and enjoyed introducing the kids to some of our old haunts; as well as just very close to home doing a very first family cinema trip, and some adventure golf.

It was a really lovely way to enjoy the holiday and we all had a wonderful week- there was the added bonus of lots of time with extended family too as well as the pets, and no travel stress. That’s two years now we’ve just done at-home holidays all year, apart from one night away at my in-laws at the beginning of the summer, and it’s actually been really great, although I do really look forward to planning now a week away or so next year.

Also have to give a quick mention of all the wonderful book shops we got a chance to visit in our tour, a little more about them all on my all-things-books Instagram but below are some of the lovely ones we got to stop for a browse at.❤️

Back home here, we’ve re-started our normal routine again, both of us back to work, nursery started back and all the littlest one’s classes and groups too – including a new village toddlers group it’s lovely to have and we’re going to enjoy helping out with. Everyone is settling to normal life and we’re looking forward to Halloween this weekend. We carved our pumpkins last weekend and look forward to dressing up for a wee wander around the village, as well as parties at nursery and music group.

Do have to give a wee update on the furry members of the family too while I’m writing, and sadly we’ve said our last goodbye to our wee Sandy hamster, who lived to a wonderful age but who we lost last Friday. We are all missing him lots and have loved having the last couple of years with him, since we brought him home when he was just 4 months old in July 2019. He actually arrived into our home the very day we found out our youngest daughter was also on her way to join our family; and at the time our oldest was 19 months, exactly the age her little sister is now. He’s been a huge part of our family life and a lovely pet for all of us. He was always so friendly and relaxed, so content in his wee world but curious about everything around him too and interested in whatever we were doing – nothing ever phased him and he was just a brilliant character. We are very glad he lived such a lovely long life, and we were very lucky to have him share it with us.❤️❤️

The others are doing well, the kittens without a doubt having found their season – they are Halloween black cats through and through!

And as we’ve been faced with some proper torrential rain here the last few days, my biggest fluffy boy has been very much enjoying some cosy nights in his stable and is thriving on a little more time in and pampered.

We’ve really enjoyed our October break and looking forward to a Halloween weekend and winter bedding in. Hope you are all well and enjoying the season. 🍁🎃 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

Happy Halloween from our little corner of the world ✨🔥🎃🌓

A very happy Halloween & Samhain from our little corner of the world, where the nights are moonlit, mornings glistening with first frost (the birds hovering by the doorway at dawn in anticipation of their feeding time) and – clocks turned back and the new time zone settling – winter setting in. I love this time of year of seasonal transition, lanterns bringing light in the darkness, and especially the reminder in these couple of days to remember those we have loved and lost as well as draw close to those around us.

In our wee house the boys have been enjoying cracking into monkey nuts and playing foraging games, we’ve been enjoying having the fire roaring and candles lit, marking this time of year and all it brings; and out at the farm the stillness and crisp air has the pony poised on the edge of his wintertime routine. 



Wishing you all a wonderful couple of days. 🎃✨🔥🌓 xx 

Happy Halloween from all of us…

A very happy All Hallows Eve from our little corner of the world… The pets have been enjoying it in their favourite ways, with Harvey and Ty having had their own minature equivalent of dooking for apples – fishing for peas and veg! Always a well recieved game, the wee ones had good fun with it this weekend…

With the biggest boy, it was lovely to have a perfect October-into-November hack out with our friends, watching the leaves fall and enjoying the pumpkins and decorations along the way; before back home for apples and dinner in the stable. ❤️

 

 

Looking forward to seeing in November wrapped up and cosy. A happy Halloween to all. X

Wisdom from Green Gables: An ode to Anne, a kindred spirit…

I loved so much writing a while back about my favourite pony and animal books from my childhood, and about what an amazing outlet they provided for passions which have defined so many stages of my life. I knew then I would love to write too about some of the other books or series which have been friends to me throughout the test of time, and as I have recently been cosily reading through the Anne of Green Gables books – their joy undiminished by the passing years – they seemed a perfect place to start. Anne Shirley gets a free pass to be included here first off purely because I love her so very much, but also because she holds in such high esteem family, friends, home, and the wonderful world around her – all things I do too, and love to pour into this little blog.

Some of her favourite phrases are ever-present at the back of my mind – whenever I meet someone new I love to see in them a “kindred spirit”, and when all else fails it is as Anne says “truly lovely to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet.”

Her enthusiasm for life, her unwavering faith in the beauty and wonder of the world around her, her flaring temper and her equally passionate love for her people all contribute to her well-deserved status as one of the best loved children’s characters of all time – and a true favourite of mine.

Anne treasures home to her heart among her very closest loves, a tendency I identify with very well:

““I wonder if it will be – can be – any more beautiful than this,” murmured Anne, looking around her with the loving, enraptured eyes of those to whom “home” must always be the loveliest spot in the world, no matter what fairer lands may lie under alien stars.” – Anne of the Island, L M Montgomery

At this time of year particularly I understand her most of all – I don’t think a day has gone by in this beautiful and ever-changing month that I have not thought how grateful I am for October…

Source: Thediaryofdaveswife.com

… And now as we approach November, possibly my favourite month of all, I long to see those crimson sunsets and hear those deep passionate wind songs in the pines once more.

(Source: Cranialhiccups.com)

This weekend has been spent mainly comfy on the couch, a spiced apple candle lit and the wind billowing outside while I read Anne’s House of Dreams – in between trips to the farm for autumnal rides in the golden-leaf-framed world and time with friends old and new, hands wrapped round mugs, appreciating the company and good times.

 In her spirited approach to every challenge she meets, her romantic streak and her settling as the years go by into the warmth of the people around her, Anne’s outlook on life is one of hope and unwavering optimism, and she is forever an inspiration to me and truly a kindred spirit of mine.

Wrapped-up weekend away ❤️✨🔥

This weekend has been a really lovely one, comprised in equal measure of very brisk weather – with a new whip in the wind there hasn’t been this year so far – and of cosy togetherness and wrapped-up fun. 

As Saturday morning dawned, there was a definite chill in the air and the rain was torrential. After gratefully nursing several morning coffees to get the day started, my trip to the farm merited the dusting off of my full waterproofs for the first time since last winter, and also a scout up in the rug loft above the stables for some rain sheets for the boy – to have ready for if and when he ever dried off of course! 

I spent a lovely long morning in the barn – hot chocolate in my flask and hay brimming in Charmer’s stable, both of us enjoying the shelter and warmth. 

Charmer, Harvey and Ty were all having some extra TLC before being left to fend for themselves overnight, as we were heading away this weekend, up north to a wonderful sound and light show in a remote forest we love to go to every year with our friends.

All packed up on Saturday afternoon, Charmer back out and happily full and the boys at home stocked up with fruit sticks and food for the night, we meandered our way up. 


The rain eased off considerably which made driving a little bit nicer, and the roadsides as we passed were nothing short of beautiful, really lovely to see all the myriad of colours in the trees and leaves fluttering around us like confetti as we drew into the little village where we would spend the night. 

We had a really lovely time away, enjoyed the forest walk and the absolutely beautiful show so very much, cosied round a bonfire, had such a wonderful time out with good friends and ended the night in the warmth of the living room, unwinding with nightcaps around the wood burning stove.

One of my favourite things about going away – no matter how wonderful a time we have – is always coming back home again; and today was no exception. Arriving back into the farm yard first to see the fluffy pony picking his way up the field to meet us; and later home to Harvey and Ty – who were especially keen to play tonight and were happily dodging in and out from behind the couch; it was so very nice to be back. 

Around our own fire at home, we were able to look back on it all and enjoy both the break away and our arrival back. It had been a really lovely couple of days, and a great way to spend a weekend.

Hope you have all had a good one. 🍁

October days… 🍁

This month so far has been a really beautiful one, full of sunshine from dawn until dusk – albeit that becoming a shorter and shorter window as the days go by. Night is descending earlier and earlier each evening, the smell of woodsmoke once again filling our little street as I pull up outside home – those who have beaten me to it already cosied inside, and our row of cottages shrouded in wisps from each chimney by night. Other swirls cover them too in the early hours of the morning  as the hanging mist stays a little longer and a little longer each day before it’s dispelled by the rising of a valiant wintery sun.


In between working and the usual dashing around, the last few days have been filled with some of my happiest times – fitting for a season of harvest and thanksgiving. Each evening at the farm has been more beautiful than the one before, and Charmer and I have been on a mission to catch the light while it lasts for games in the sandschool as the sun sets and the last of the post-work rides for 2016.

The last few days have also been filled with time spent with family, something that always fills my heart with joy – hands wrapped round coffee mugs in one or other of our family homes, meals shared to the sound of resounding laughter and long rambles with my parents’ dogs, their young lurcher and especially our old girl, their now 13-year-0ld and fairly arthritic collie who, despite her years and hurdles, has so much enthusiasm for life especially while trying to keep up with her new sister, and loves her walks and life. ❤️

Back in our little home, we’re been slowly creeping into winter mode with the fire lit in the evenings and lots of chillis and pies being cooked. We have been missing little Rosie around the house this week – this is the first time we’ve ever been down to one cage since we moved in six years ago and Pet Corner seems very small – but Harvey and Ty have been lovely and keeping us entertained as always.

This is such a truly beautiful time of the year, and I love it more than I can say.

Hope you are all having a lovely week. 🍁🍂🍃✨ x