🍁 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

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 🥰

A Highland Adventure with my girl ❤️

I came across this post in my drafts, where it had been since it was written back in February, not having got round to posting it immediately and then with all the last few months’ events it having become pretty much obsolete. Decided today though to give it a post, on a day I’m struggling with so so missing spending time with wider family and so looking forward to reaching a point again before too long when all these simple things are the norm again. It’s lovely to remember how special little jaunts, time with each other, and all the places and memories we hold close with our family and friends truly are – I appreciate them now more than ever and can’t wait to return to them again.

A couple of weeks back, when Monday dawned again and it was back to weekday business as usual for me and the little one, we decided to break with the usual routine, skip our morning class, pack a picnic and head north to Highland Perthshire for an impromptu day out. We planned to visit my uncle for his birthday, who lives in the beautiful rural village of Kirkmichael, and make a swoop of the countryside while we did. The area is one we really love to visit – between family summer holidays the last two years in Aberfeldy (and a couple of weekends there just us two in the more distant past too!), annual autumn trips to Pitlochry to the Enchanted Forest with our friends, visits to family and camper van trips back in our exploring and touring days – always loving the winding road north and the walls of trees either side – ; it’s definitely a favourite place of ours as a family to head to, and it was lovely to point the car in that direction and set off.

River walk, Kirkmichael

As I drove, Radio Scotland my soundtrack for the day, topical debate in the morning moving into some chilled home-grown music as we journeyed north, the little one slept; and I enjoyed the quiet and the drive as the sun shone.

Our first stop was in Pitlochry, forever a favourite of mine, and I could feel myself sinking into the familiarity and charm of it as I crawled along the Main Street – the second-hand railway station bookshop to my left where we’d whiled away an afternoon in the summer and taken home a book each for all three of us… the craft shop to my right where we browsed, chatted and laughed every year with our friends on our weekend away together… the Christmas shop at the end of the road where my new decoration for the year was usually bought in the first chill of October.

Adventures in Pitlochry over the years

I drove out to Faskally Wood to stop, and just as we pulled in the wee one woke up – just in perfect time for a ramble in the woods. I’ve loved seeing Faskally in both summer and winter in daylight now, but the way we know it best is in the height of its “enchantment”, every year at Pitlochry Festival Theatre’s Enchanted Forest.

Sparkling Bridge, Enchanted Forest 2013

We spent a lovely hour wandering in the trees and had our picnic there before heading out over the hills on the beautiful passing-places-dotted route between Pitlochry and Kirkmichael.

There wasn’t another car on the road and every now and then I had to pause just to breathe in the view a little more while the wee one watched the sheep, hills and occasional old ruin pass us by.

We had a lovely visit with my uncle – coffee, cake, celebrations and a wander by the beautiful River, enjoying every minute; and continued our loop down towards Bridge of Cally, stopping off to admire the two repurposed “library” phone boxes we discovered along the way.

Winding our way through Coupar Angus and back down into Perth, we stopped off for a final leg stretch, snack and blast of fresh air to keep the toddler awake for the home straight! Walking across the bridges with Perth’s darkening skyline our backdrop, it was beautiful to take in the city to end our day, before heading for the last leg home.

It was a lovely way to spend a day, and we are so very lucky to live in such a beautiful country, and have all this not too far from our own little home.

Wishing you all a lovely week. ❤️

Hope everyone is staying safe and keeping well, enjoying all the simple things we can close to home just now and looking forward to getting back to the rest when we can! X

Camper van adventures – the memories we take with us as we trundle on… 💙

This winter, we are preparing to say a last goodbye to our much-loved 26-year-old Bedford Rascal camper van – bought on impulse, on eBay, from a pick-up location 500 miles away, just under half a decade ago.

This is, just to be clear, absolutely not the kind of thing it would ever have occurred to me to do, once upon a time – but is very much the kind of thing that was first introduced to my life (and repeated with what seems to have been increasing regularity over time) ten years ago when I first got together with my husband; for whom concepts like buying vehicles older than us from Brighton (and taking possession of them and driving them home in one long, Red Bull-fuelled day) have always seemed entirely feasible and achievable.

The Rascal wasn’t by any means the first – two 1980s Fiat Pandas had preceded it as his surprisingly reliable runarounds, one of which was also his partner in crime in a 10-country rally across Europe; and more recently we got three years worth of day-to-day life out of a bright turquoise ’96 Toyota Starlet he picked up very cheap one night in 2014 as a second car to see us through a couple of months of winter – going on to outlive everyone’s expectations until just this summer (when we finally gave it up for a “safe and reliable family car” which has, as it happens, caused us more trouble than all our older cars combined in the six months since… such is life!).

The van was, however, unique in that it was the first vehicle we could full-on holiday in – and suddenly the world (or, maybe more fairly, the parts of Scotland closest to us mainly, with the odd longer trip thrown in!) was our oyster; a night away requiring no more planning than slinging a bag in the back, beginning the (admittedly not always challenge-free) process of getting the engine started (tending to take slightly longer in the cold or when the choke was playing up!) and heading off.

Our first camp is one I’ll always remember – setting off on a beautiful sunny February day in 2013, we pitched up in Auchterarder at a lovely little campsite overnight, thankfully bringing plenty of layers and keeping every one of them on all night, as we woke the next morning to -10 degrees and a thick layer of ice on the windows inside and out. Our coffee that morning, brewed on the tiny two-ring hob, might have been the most warming I’ve ever tasted!

From those frosty beginnings on, we’ve had years of chugging up hills and waking up to the stillness of the world around us as we’ve got the van out and about and made so many memories I’ll hang onto forever.

The summer we got engaged, the autumn we got married, New Years being seen in on a cold, deserted but beautiful beach… They are all with us now wherever we go, moving on to all the next phases of our life together, and I’ll always be so very grateful for them. ♥️

Scribbles from Seal Cottage

Writing from our holiday cottage on the beautiful Isle of Islay, where we are making our home for the week on the edge of the water in Portnahaven, a village on the south-western tip of the island. Beyond the stillness of the little bay outside our front door, the powerful waves of the Atlantic crash inwards just yards away and there is nothing to the west until Canada is reached, the sea just rolling on and on. 

We arrived here on Saturday, and it feels, in the best possible way, as if time has slowed down to almost a standstill since we did. The pace of life here is so easy, and we have spent most mornings and most evenings simply watching the seals in the water, learning their calls, their patterns and the spots on the rocks they will return to each day at the same time.

The island of Islay is a truly beautiful one and already we have explored some incredible places, walking along Machir Bay in the sunshine, waves crashing in; touring the smallest and most family-run of Islay’s eight whisky distilleries, watching the entire process from malting to bottling taking place on site; driving through the most incredible countryside on narrow lanes, adapting once more to the passing places and to making way for the sheep, the highest priority of road users, whenever they require it! 

There is something incredibly relaxing and refreshing about holidaying close to home, and these are usually my favourite breaks – visiting old favourite places or discovering new parts of our own country we haven’t before, and finding corners of it where life slows down so much.

This year, being just a couple of hours’ drive (and a ferry ride!) away meant we decided to bring the pets with us. Not Charmer of course, who has stayed happily at home on his own farm, being looked after very ably by my friend at the yard; but the little ones managed the journey very well indeed and so far seem to be loving the jaunt! 

We had planned to travel them in their carry case and leave the cage in the back but they seemed more content just in their usual bed, and so we left them there, where they curled all three in a pile for the duration of the journey very happily, just doing the usual dozing they generally do in the daytime.
The boys posing with their ferry ticket, as we didn’t quite pluck up the courage for an on-deck selfie! 



It’s been lovely while we’ve been here to have them with us, especially as autumnal-feeling windy nights and the cosiness of the cottage have meant our evenings have been spent inside, and they have enjoyed the easy time in front of the fire.

One of the main reasons we decided to bring them with us, even though it was a slightly longer journey than we’d usually want them on, was that both Marley and Reuben haven’t been well. Marley is having trouble shaking off a chest infection, which I’m sure we’ll beat before too long, but at the moment is needing anti-biotics and a wee steam in the shower room to help his breathing. He seems to be making strides forward and we’re hopeful we’ll get it shifted very soon. Haven’t written about Reuben’s health in a while though and unfortunately his prognosis is not so good. He has been given a presumptive diagnosis of kidney disease – any further tests to fully confirm would be too invasive for him but his symptoms all line up – and unfortunately there isn’t too much we can do. This means he’s really just enjoying the finer things in life, extra cuddles every night, whatever scraps of our food take his fancy, and what medication we can give him to keep him as happy as possible. A few weeks ago he had dropped weight significantly and we thought we were on our last days, but time and time again he’s rallied; and although we always know we could be saying goodbye to him anytime, and knew when we brought him here he might not have the full week with us, it’s a wonderful bonus that he’s had so many good days in the last couple of weeks and that he’s come with us on this little adventure and enjoyed his nights by the fire here. 

Reubes loving the warmth of the fire

Our week here has got off to the loveliest start, and watching the spectacular sunset last night, listening to the wails of the seals on the rocks, was so incredibly peaceful.

View from our cottage last night

We’ve seen so many weathers so far, whipping wind, lashing rain and glorious sunshine by turns; another reason I love a Scottish holiday, waking each day to unpredictable and dramatic weather, framing the beautiful landscape in so many different lights. 

Looking forward to plenty more exploring and relaxing here, and will write again soon. 

Hope you are all having a lovely week. X