Hitting our stride with the winter routine ❄️♥️

In the last few days, Charmer and I have adapted to our new winter routine – or the first stage of it at least! Had him in every second night this week, our go-to bridging habit between the relaxed out-24/7 of autumn and the feet lined at the gate every night of the very thick of the winter.

Most years, this compromise can last us quite far through the winter and generally into the new year, with January into February tending to be the time the old boy gets thoroughly fed up with the mud, cold and lack of grass combined and suddenly gets on board with 12 hours a day in his stable… Until then I quite like the balance brought him still spending more time out than in, keeping his joints active and his Fell pony outlook on at least every second frosty morning intact.

His nights in have been welcomed so far though – extra hay much appreciated – and we’re ready for whatever the winter might bring. Rugs are all piled up now in the barn loft, in ascending order of coziness! And having already had our first snow unexpectedly at the weekend – and our first totter across an icy yard, Charmer’s careful stepping making the whole farm laugh ♥️ – glad to have them ready.

We’ve also got our new shoes on, ready to go for a new season, with an early farrier visit on Saturday morning, and I’m very excited to think of getting out and about on my boy’s back again early in the new year testing them out, on our favourite wrapped-up winter adventures.

<

This week we’ve got flu & tetanus jags and a winter health check coming up, and then we’ll be fully ready to greet December and the life of a winter pony – the very cuddliest and fluffiest kind! – head on. 😊

Hope everyone is having a lovely week. X

Endings and Beginnings

This week began in my little world with a sad goodbye, as I gathered together with my mum, dad, brother and sister to spend a last couple of days with our family dog Ginny, before taking her to the vet to be put to sleep. At nearly 14 years old, Ginny had done so very well and led a full and happy life, but her back legs had been failing her for a while, getting progressively worse, and we knew by this point that after a couple of days in the sun, this was the kindest thing to do for her. The joy animals bring to our lives is never felt more keenly than when we are faced with a hard goodbye, and as we came together for her last few moments in the vet’s room, praising her one last time, the years of family life and us all growing up together, dogs and children alike, were brought into sharp focus. It is easy to get overwhelmed at the end of a life with the final moments, but in fact those aren’t the ones that matter.

The real moments to remember are those that took place over the years, just everyday and often even unnoticed snapshots of our shared lives. The clanging shut of the gate as we came home from school to a young and fit blur of black and tan careering down the garden path to greet us – that tan replaced over the years by white in an ever-elegant ageing. Rambling through the woods with the dogs and the cat never far behind, amusing the neighbours with the Homeward-Bound-style walks the girls always chose to make. Waking up to four black paws landing squarely on the bed, face-licking commencing. Summers in the garden with sticks and balls lazily thrown and now and then some hilarity-enducing attempts at agility courses. Bending down to tell a 9 month old puppy not to lick the plates in the dishwasher, truly believing the message to be received and understood, and smiling in exasperation when chasing away a 12-year-old dog from doing the very same so many years down the line. Each of us children packing up at different times to leave home, nervously stepping away from all the comforts there, and being greeted with such a welcome on visits back. Leaving on our wedding day with kisses goodbye to an always adoring dog, face upturned to us all as ever. Christmas dinners round the big table with wrapping everywhere and the dogs and cat Instagrammed, party hats askew and loving the festivity of the day, before all tumbling out to throw snowballs that Ginny hunted for incessantly once they landed, ever sure that she would find the ball she was sure she’d seen just in the next drift of snow, and ever the puppy she once was nomatter her age.

Looking back, it hasn’t all been plain sailing, and the last few years haven’t been the easiest for our family. In all the different phases of our lives, however, the good times have been made even better by the pets running alongside us on all our journeys, and the worse times been helped by the reassuring weight of a gentle dog’s head in a lap whenever it was needed most.

Ginny was faithful, kind and above all loving, and as our lives meander on in whatever directions they do, she will remain an unforgettable part of our family story forever.

 


In my own little family, we have been preparing for change too, although of a much more positive kind. We are beginning to get things packed up to move house in a few weeks’ time, bringing to an end an era here and beginning a whole new one we’re very excited to start.

We have lived in our little cottage for over six years – it’s the only place we’ve ever lived together and it’s been home to so many memories over the years. It’s quite a thought to be leaving it behind; but we are looking forward unreservedly to starting a new chapter in the new house. It’s close enough to where we are now to mean we keep our same area in many ways, but have a new village to get to know just one along from where we live now, we keep our open fire and gardens and add more space inside and hill views from the windows in the new location which I’m so looking forward to waking to every morning.

 

The hard work has begun sorting and beginning to pack, and it feels, with new starts on the horizon for others in our family as well as us, as if change is all around us. This one though is one I’m so optimistic about making, and we are throwing ourselves both into making the most of our last few weeks here in the house we’ve loved so much and into preparing for the new.

In the midst of it all, when the shifting of  seasons becomes too much, I’m glad to be able to stand still for a moment with my boys, whether pouring morning coffee, spending evenings in in front of favourite TV programmes, taking night-time walks along the waterfront or increasingly light wanders with Charmer on the farm.

 

Starting the day with a curious Marley-rat

 


The daily walk out with my oldest boy ♥

 

In a time of endings and beginnings, heartache and hope, I’m grateful for the family and friends, both human and animal, I have, and for all the memories too of those we’ve loved and lost.

 


Charmer, Maisie (2004-2014), Ginny (2003-2017) and me ♥

“We have had our summer evenings…” 

One of my favourite quotes about Autumn, my most loved time of the year, is this by Humbert Wolfe, which never fails to make me smile –  “Listen! The wind is rising and the air is wild with leaves; we have had our summer evenings, now for October eves.”


It seems so sum up so perfectly the very moment that the balance tips between the seasons, when the long days of summer have finally given way to the swirling fall into autumn.

In the last few days it seems around these parts that this shift can really be felt hanging in the air, just around the corner. Tonight was a beautiful night at the farm with the pony – sun sliding down the sky at 7.30 ish and hay bales already stacked in the barn heralding the end of the harvest season as we trotted and worked in our circles in the school, enjoying the warm of a summer’s night but struck even as we did by the fading light and the stretch of stubble fields reaching down the hill.


Home again now, darkness having fallen fairly quickly after I got back in, and settled in with a distinctly ember-y Country Living magazine I can’t help but look forward to the season ahead of us as the winds of it begin to spiral our way.


For now, however, we have to take the chance to enjoy as much as we can in these last summer evenings the drawing to a close of a season which has been for me and the pony (the usual sweet itch and fly spray battles apart!) a very good one… 💙🌅