One beautiful year ago, my little girl was born. I still think of her as a baby, but look how she’s grown. Crawling, standing but not walking; saying mama and dad but not really talking. Laughing when she’s not crying; happy most of the time she’s awake. Good at sleeping. Very much a part of our family with her own expressions and her own voice. Today we celebrated with family and it was fun to have everyone here for a feast. I remember the relief I felt after when my other two turned one and I started to get a little more sleep and feel a little less exhausted and more of myself again. The peonies and poppies in our garden are blooming, just as they were this time a year ago when our little girl was born.
One of our favourite things to do, rain or shine (yes, I mean it) is to go charging down the sand dunes at Lunan Bay. We spent today there in the glorious east coast sunshine. As well as charging down sand dunes, we dug for treasure, paddled in the sea, flew a kite and ate sandy sandwiches. Exhausted by the pleasures of the beach, we finished with coffee, cake and ice-creams at the glorious little cafe, the Lunan Bay Diner. Walking back to the car park, we spotted this. I wonder if this is Banksy’s most northerly work? (Is it genuine?) This weekend is Angus Open Studios and after passing a few of the signs on our way, we pulled up at Red Castle Pottery on our way home. It was a lovely surprise to find that K could get her hands dirty. With R’s help, she made a little tortoise out of a lump of clay which Maralyn Reed-Wood will fire and post. Thank you, Maralyn.
This was the highlight of our recent holiday to Skye: a day when our planning, the weather and the scenery came together in perfect harmony. Our plan was a walk to the lighthouse at the Point of Sleat, about three miles. We expected this to take the morning. Thankfully, we packed enough sandwiches and snacks to last day. Just before we reached the lighthouse, the path came out onto the most perfect sandy cove you can imagine. The sun came out and we stayed all day. It was better, far better than even the best remembered days of my childhood holidays.The children played and played in the sand and the sea, requiring no entertainment from us. Ross found an old rope and spend a long time unravelling it. At the end of the day, Daniel and I walked back along the ridge. What joy to scramble hand in hand with my son, up the rocks and through the heather. I think this is the first time he experienced the pleasure of walking and climbing: I will look back on it as the day he discovered a love for Scottish mountains.Ah, April on the West coast of Scotland: so fair, so fair.
Its only in Britain that we would have a primetime TV slot dedicated to sheep farming. I’m glad we do: there was certainly something wonderful about our own visit to a live lambing shed this morning. The little lambs are very pretty, clean and sweet. The mothers are not pretty but their care for their new offspring is beautiful and fierce. D was delighted to tell us he saw two being born. The smell of sheep and straw in the shed was rich and warm. The talk is of births and mothering and care. What a great place to be.
Yesterday it felt and looked like spring and we spent the afternoon tidying up the garden a little with the help of my sister. I love the yellowness of spring flowers and the way it is so often paired with bright pink or purple in combinations I would never enjoy anywhere else. Look at the colours of this flowering currant! And this forsythia. (I must pick some and bring it inside – the bush is need of pruning anyway.)We have daffodils and primroses coming up, and the hundred tulips I planted in November (very late) have beautifully healthy looking leaves about 8cm tall. I can’t wait to see the flowers. Little E was out in our tent, exploring the leaves and grass and sticks – and anything else she could reach and get into her mouth. D and E were running around in bare feet.Today is grey, again, and cold and wet. Still, we have our promises of spring. We can wait a little longer.
Spending time with people you love, in a place you love, doing things you love: thats a good enough way for me to celebrate Valentine’s Day. This time last year we were in CapeTown and I cooked a Valentine’s lunch for eleven, including both great-grannies. Here’s the table before we sat down to eat. (I made the big hearts with paper and a stapler. The little heart baskets are woven from two pieces of paper – I remember making them at primary school).
The display of orchids in the RBG glass houses were stunning. I love flowers and it is lovely to be given some. Last year there were giant protea’s on the table. This year, I am still enjoying a bunch of tulips R brought me. Cards? Of course there were cards. I think I like them best of all: little messages saying the things we so often forget, reminders for this year, 2014, of the things that we have committed to, the things that really matter to us and to our family. Valentine’s Day: a simple reminder to keep loving one another every single day.
Here are some photos from a weekend we enjoyed in Edinburgh at the end of November. We worked out the importance of camouflage for little fish at the National Museum of Scotland;
Walked through the Christmas festivities on Princes Street; stayed with my sister; met up with a brother and cousins; gate-crashed the National LIbrary of Scotland which was open to the public for Book Week Scotland; read and choose a children’s book to take away for free; Ate a winter picnic at Yellowcraigs beach; walked over the headland where Robert Louis Stevenson set the start of Treasure Island; drank hot chocolate in Gullane at the amazing Konditorei and Kaffeehaus Falko’s (well worth a visit for amazing cakes).We came home refreshed and exhausted by the pleasures of a weekend in the city.
Ah, Edinburgh, Edinburgh: never mine and mine forever. Its good to have a few more memories to place on my own personal map of the city.
“Regular maps have few surprises: their contour lines reveal where the Andes are, and are reasonably clear. More precious, though, are the unpublished maps we make ourselves, of our city, our place, our daily world, our life; those maps of our private world we use every day; here I was happy, in that place I left my coat behind after a party, that is where I met my love; I cried there once, I was heartsore; but felt better round the corner once I saw the hills of Fife across the Forth…”
― Alexander McCall Smith, Love Over Scotland
Summer 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.
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).
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.
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.
We 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.