The Sunshine in Lockdown

As we come to the end of the first phase of lockdown, I look forward to being able to be with family and friends again, albeit at a distance, more than I can say. We’re reaching a time it sometimes seemed would never come and it will be beyond lovely to sit outside with the people we love most and speak in person after so long.

Being here at last, however, has had me looking back on the last couple of months. We have been incredibly lucky during these last 10 weeks we have been at home to all have been well, to have been well-connected with family and friends and to have everything we need at home to make it a positive place to be.

For us, these weeks have been time we could really enjoy as a little family, especially as our newest member arrived just a couple of weeks in. I will always look back on the bubble we had at this time as so special in spite of all the restrictions. It’s been a time span that’s covered so much for us – our second little daughter’s birth and first weeks, growing from a tiny newborn into a now 8-week-old holding her head up to take in the world and the sights and sounds around her, enjoying the breeze in the garden and giggling at the chaos of her big sister’s world of play. I’ve kept a diary for her of life in lockdown and her arrival into a world that was as far from its norm as it could have been but that we were all able to be together in while we waited to widen our circle once more.

For all of us, it’s been the beginning of a new era. Some of the things I’d been looking forward to most about family life have arrived. We’ve found our feet in a routine and taken a daily walk together every lunchtime as a four. The two girls have grown together, played together and settled into their new roles as sisters. We’ve had our first couple of family takeaway nights, our eldest’s eyes wide at the food arriving in boxes. We’ve started settling to a film all together – working our way through Disney films on quiet Sunday afternoons. We’ve had long walks gathering sticks and stones, the big little loving the exploring around our village that we often didn’t end up doing in favour of woodland or park walks further afield.

It’s been amazing how much more we’ve taken in of our own little corner of the world. A couple of months ago it seems now that we were just passing through the garden to jump in the car for busy days. Now we’re completely paused here, and are able to properly see it. At the moment we have blue tits nesting in the bird box in our back garden which is wonderful to see – they are just building their nest at the moment – and sparrows in a fir tree in the front garden whose babies have hatched already – they are very tucked away and we haven’t gone too close to see them but they are filling the garden with their tiny chorus when their mother flies in and out with food. Across the road too, a rural but normally busy one, now much more silent, deer and hares are running so much closer and more freely than ever before and are lovely to see. On our walks, just to the edge of the village usually, although once or twice slightly longer down to the shore we’re lucky to have just a couple of miles away, we’ve seen buzzards soaring and really enjoyed the wildlife and the world around us blooming even more for the lack of traffic and bustle.

Mostly we’ve been so blessed and I’ve been so grateful, but as I’m sure is the case for everyone there have been some times I’ve struggled more with being locked down and being away from my own family. In these, I’ve turned to some much appreciated rays of sunshine in this strange time. The wonderful world of video calling – Zoom, Messenger, House Party, we’ve tried them all! – has made the distance seem so much shorter, and has meant we haven’t been socially distanced at all, only physically. Week after week we’ve gathered with family and with friends too for quizzes, games nights and chats and it’s been wonderful to feel in some small way that we’re still able to sit and relax together, hanging on to all the things that are most important. We’ve managed to translate so many things across the distance – Pictionary, charades and Guess Who popping up in our increasingly inventive family games nights; quizzes and drinks with friends somehow managing to feel at least a little like the relaxed chat of pub nights; an afternoon coffee with a friend; book group analysis of our latest read; and even surprisingly successful play dates for the toddler, her and her friends loving seeing each other and amazing us by just going with it and adapting to the new normal.

I’ve found myself reading lots in my spare time (mostly in the middle of the night just now!), books a wonderful escape. Some will forever be synonymous for me now with this period and because a lot of what I’ve been reading recently has ended up being books I’ve been sharing with or had recommended by family and friends it’s been another wonderful way to keep connected.

TV box sets have also kept me going – we had already started watching our way through Parks and Recreation together for the first time when lockdown began and had been so enjoying it, but our watching definitely ramped up from then on. Feel-good, heartwarming and hilarious, I have absolutely loved it, and when we got to the end of the seven seasons we even had the extra bonus of the April 2020 special filmed and set during the pandemic, so perfectly pitched to be a lift at this time, and with all the heart of the show and a tear-jerker finale. ❤️ I’ve also turned to some proper cosy British comedy TV – The Vicar of Dibley and Outnumbered a couple of my go-to comfort programmes; and as so many of the country have done, we have found Gogglebox more appealing than ever these last few weeks – something so lovely about finding a way of still settling into the living rooms of familiar faces on a Friday night.

One of the biggest joys has of course been the actual sunshine – it’s been so wonderful as we’ve all passed the time, played and stretched our legs to have such wonderful weather; and now it’s even more of a blessing as we prepare to welcome family to our garden over the next couple of days at last.

As we move into the new phase, I’m so grateful for all that kept us going. I know our return to normal life will be gradual and these things will keep sustaining us when needed. I am so thankful to be able to look to seeing family again, and also for the time we’ve had as a little unit in these last weeks, before we take these first steps forward all together.

Hope everyone is doing well and having a good week. Xx

Summer nights with the pony ☀️

We are well and truly back on the summertime schedules and routines at the farm, and, as every year, it’s amazing to settle into. I absolutely love coming up to the farm and seeing, instead of four fluffy feet queued up eagerly at the field gate; the boy, looking bright bay in his light summer coat, grazing half-way down the field – lifting his head interestedly when he hears me unlock the gate and either watching me pick my way down the grassy hill or ambling over to meet me half-way, perfectly relaxed and perfectly happy in his field.

For my Charmer, this season is the best. He has always been an outdoor boy at heart, spending the first thirteen years of his life living out continually, and only beginning to have nights in worked into his routine in the colder months as he got into his teens and became a little arthritic. I’ve always tried to let him have as much time out as possible even as he’s got older and needed more feeding and shelter and for a native pony like him, I’ve always believed his time out is where his health and happiness comes from. 

By now, I pretty much take the lead from him on the in-or-out-at-nights question, and he’s evolved over the years from his younger days of 24/7 turnout, annually growing a winter coat as fluffy as a bear’s; to an older gent who looks forward to clopping across the yard to his stable  at the end of a dull winters’ day out (all laid out with dinner, hay and a straw bed, otherwise his very expressive face leaves me in doubt he feels the standards are slipping).

The routine suits us both in the long dark months, and he is happy with the new lifestyle, but it makes me so happy to see him return to his roots again at this time every year; adapting back to his outdoor self. As if a switch has been flicked, one day he’s just not by the gate as usual, and we go through a period of in-every-second-night on the wind-down, as for a while he does invariably opt for a night out with his friends one day, caught up in the excitement of the first few shoots of new grass, and then line up all the earlier the next night, hungry for his bucket feed and home comforts. 

And then comes the time we’ve got to now, these past couple of weeks, when the sun’s been shining non stop and all thoughts of the indoors are gone from the healthy-looking horse ambling around his field. It’s all the more wonderful to reach this time these days, after a few years of late-winter illness, and it means the world to me to see Charmer back in good condition and enjoying life. 

This week, evening visits to the farm have been just a case of sauntering towards my boy, armed with treats and fly sprays, and spending a bit of time with him relaxed in his own habitat. I’ve led him in for a couple of nights, after a few days each time of ruffling his sleepy head and laughing at his habit of never taking the same rest when out – obviously the outdoors being too full of opportunity for grazing or adventuring – to make sure he’s had a break from the grass and a proper sleep; but overall the days start to merge into one, and we both love the change of pace. 

Another lovely development in the past few days has been that when I do dip briefly into the cool of the barn, to collect headcollars and handfuls of pony nuts; my favourite visitors have returned, the swallows – beginning to scout out their old nests and prepare for another year of beginning new lives in here, nesting and then a few weeks on, teaching their little ones to fly from beam to beam, as we all watch below. ❤

Hope everyone else is enjoying some lovely weather too, and have a great week all. X

Sunny Sunday ☀️

This weekend was one spent enjoying time with family and friends, with, as it happened, back to back celebrations – a graduation, friend’s birthday party and Mother’s Day all rolled into a busy, warm and memorable couple of days. In amongst the festivities, it was absolutely wonderful to find time to enjoy the wonderful sunshine, sitting outside in a street café in the city, being out in the garden from first thing and watching the sun glint off the water all weekend long. 

Yesterday, waking from a busy day of enjoying family and friends, found myself with a spare couple of hours on the first morning of British Summertime, so the pony and I took a wander down the track, the sun already high in the sky, enjoying the morning light. On our way we passed so many walkers and cyclists, dogs and children playing; everyone drawn out – even on one hour’s less sleep – to greet the spring day.

 

Later in the day, my mum and I headed out for lunch to the beach, taking the dogs with us, and it was a lovely time to spend. We are sadly preparing to say goodbye to Ginny, our 14-year-old collie, who I recently wrote about here, as her difficulties getting around now that her back legs don’t support her anymore are getting too much to ask her to deal with long-term. Yesterday however, being helped down onto the beach and enjoying an ice cream, the sea air and the waves lapping in, she had a lovely day; ending back with the family all together at our house.

 

All being gathered, pets and people alike – Marley, Reuben and Perry eyeing up my mum and dad’s lurcher Katy curiously and clamouring at the bars to meet her, Ty taking the opposite approach of curling in his ball until he could be sure the extra people and animals were gone, Ginny sitting out the back door in the sun watching the world go by and the rest of us laughing and chatting inside – was the perfect way to bring to a close a sunny weekend.

 

Hope everyone else had a good one, and have a great start to the week. Xx

 

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