looking back – 2013 in pictures

IMG_6358IMG_6823January – a sad start to the year after the loss of my Dad; cold weather

February – ahhhhhh, sun and sea and family in Cape Town for three weeks: good times – a birthday, a cricket match, a grown-up weekend away, lots of days at the beach.

IMG_7486IMG_7705March – more snow;

April – 8 years married – still loving it; sunshine at last and afternoons in the garden; D learns to ride his bike; weekend with good friends in Ely

IMG_2966IMG_4650May – paddles in the canoe; visits from my Canadian aunt and cousins; apple blossoms and yellow poppies in the garden; first visit to the dentist; Gran arrives to help out with…

June – the arrival of our littlest; first sports day; walks; family to stay; fun with friends; strawberry picking; five of us climb a hill

IMG_8799IMG_7523July – summmer holidays; braiis in the garden; sunflower growing; a precious week away in Gardenstown; a new citizen is added to the United Kingdom.

August – birthday parties; a flower show; first day of school

IMG_5399IMG_9660 September – another birthday; a ceilidh; a dedication service; some family feasts; a final harvest of apples

October – an eighty-year old and a three-month old enjoy each others company;

IMG_20131116_154642IMG_8814November – cold; leaves turn slowly; a long weekend in Edinburgh; D loses his first tooth; E gets her first tooth.  Not enough sleep.

December – Christmas parties; Christmas food – time to celebrate.

the turning of the seasons

IMG_9471Summer has definitely come to an end here this last week.  I’ve got out my boots and a warm jumper. We’ve lit the first fire in the stove and reluctantly turned the heating on.  In the garden the plums on our tree are finally ripening.  Our apple trees are weighed down with fruit.  Rowan berries are bright.  A few leaves on every tree are yellow among the green.  After such a good summer, I welcome autumn: I love the brilliant colours and mild days; the yellow fields, the bales stacked high; I even enjoy trying out my warm clothes for the first time in months.  But still I feel a little heavy at the thought of  seven months of cold, layers, dark mornings and short afternoons.  I’d better enjoy this time between the seasons while I can.

we like it

We enjoyed a rare evening out on Saturday – by ‘we’ I mean Ross and me without D and K (but with E!).  What a pleasurable escape from the everyday: watching a performance of ‘As you like it’ in the grounds of a castle on a summer’s evening while eating a picnic of all my favourite food.  And the best bit about it – a mere six miles away.  The play was put on by The Lord Chamberlain’s Men at Glamis Castle.  According to the websites, that’s Shakespeare’s finest comedy, performed at Scotland’s most beautiful castle.

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Glamis Castle deserves a post all to itself (coming up): it is one of my family’s favourite places to escape to and definitely one of the best tourist attractions in Scotland.  Our picnic included smoked salmon, oat cakes, carrot and cucumber sticks, crisps and sour cheese dip, rolls and pate, grapes and chocolate eclairs.  According to the BBC, this is: “Open air theatre as it should be and at its very, very best.”  Yes, I’d say it was just as we like it.

its show time

I remember taking these photos of our local village flower show last year.  Its come round again and I managed two entries: in Class 134 – An item of Handmade Jewellery and Class 140 – Felt Brooch (Novice).  Both produced at the Last Minute (8 o’clock at night  to be handed in before 10 o’clock).

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The whole thing is presided over by a painting of the Queen Mother as a young woman who opened the show in 1919.  The cake section was extensive and the six foot long leeks  quite impressive.  Someone had produced prize begonias bigger than a fist that looked like they were made of silk.  My results? Third prize out of three for my felt brooch (Novice) – oh dear!  At least it came with some helpful advice in beautiful hand-writing and I’m glad I participated.  Next year I will do more: I should have entered some of our apples which are every bit as good as the ones exhibited.

beach holiday

Our summer holiday this year was spent in the little Scottish fishing village of Gardenstown, on the Moray coast.  The cottage we found (Eva’s Cottage) was perfect for a holiday with two small children and a baby – enough space for us indoors (large bedrooms) and two metre’s from the sea.  The sun shone four out of five days.  We spent most time on the beach where the sea was warm when it came in over the sand.

IMG_8921 IMG_8799 IMG_8784 IMG_8825 IMG_8840 IMG_8852 IMG_8906 IMG_8945 IMG_8964We visited the excellent McDuff aquarium.  We enjoyed coffee and cakes served at the harbour in Gardenstown by local ladies in an old fishing shed.  They were raising money for the local school.  It was such a treat to have cakes and proper coffee after a few hours on the beach.  Driving home, we stopped for a swim in the heated outdoor pool at Stonehaven, built in the twenties and still a thriving place on a summers day.

milestones

Tomorrow my little boy starts school.  As I cradle his littlest sister in my arms I wonder where the last five years have gone.  I want every moment with him back, when he was two months old and lay against my neck just like she does now; one year sleeping on his stomach; two years – strong and chubby; three years, four years, five years.

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These are D’s first shoes, worn today by Esther for the first time.  I bought them before D was born, for my husband on our third wedding anniversary which just happens to be leather.  This week we picked up up his black school shoes in size 11.  Yes, I’m happy to see him growing every day, but oh how I have loved these first five years with Daniel.  After tomorrow, things will never be the same again.  For him, though, the best is yet to come.

something

Something told the wild geese
It was time to go;
Though the fields lay golden
Something whispered, – ‘snow’.

Driving back from Edinburgh last night, we saw a flock of geese flying south in a ‘v’.  All the fields were full of round bales.  The sky was clear and blue and the sun was bright.  Today is cold and wet and windy.  You can read the whole of this poem, by Rebecca Lyman Field, here.