Sunday, December 21, 2014


We have had a very busy weekend for visitors. Last night I got an urge to practise my domestic goddess skills and looked up a simple shortbread recipe. This morning I baked. 

Delia Smith's shortbread with my touch - dried cranberries and chocolate chips. 
I was a bit worried about how dry it looked. I measured everything very precisely using my electronic scale. Cute spotty wee thing. When I managed to get it together into a dough I decided it resembled the Loch Ness Monster. 🐲
The biscuits were tricky little beasts to cut as the cranberries made the edges crumble. 
They turned out just fine though. 
While they were baking I picked some raspberries to make muffins. 
I used my usual Alison Holst fruit muffin recipe. The mixture looked glorious. 
My kitchen smelled like raspberry jam. Heaven. 
Also perfect! 
I don't bake very often as I only end up eating the delicious results, but with three lots of visitors coming today, it was well worth doing. The shortbread was lovely with the slightly tangy cranberries - highly recommended. Not many people would have a cup of just-picked raspberries on hand, but frozen ones would do. They are less sweet once cooked than blueberries, but make very yummy muffins. Chunks of white chocolate would be fabulous in them. 

We had some incredibly heavy rain not long ago. It pelted down. The day was lovely, but right now you never know what the weather will do next. I need to ride Zanny tomorrow, among other things. Time is racing by. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014


The Christmas holidays have begun. I couldn't be happier! Yesterday was actually my first day, and had a lovely morning ride on Zanny. She was a grouchy horse who was missing a shoe on my last visit, so it was great to see her full of beans and jolly. She needed a quiet plod because she was a bit sore after the farrier visited, so we had a few twirls around the arena then had a quiet explore down the road. We always turn left at the gate, but I decided to go right and it was fun cause Zanny was all alert, and I got to spy on properties I usually zoom past in the car. We couldn't go very far cause there is a narrow part just around a corner and I wouldn't like to meet a car suddenly, but it was just right for a short ride. Zanny only jumped a couple of times, and was ok when the farmer with the crazy barking dogs roared past and bellowed at his hounds just as she was eyeing up a big metal blob in a paddock. Good lady! 

My afternoon was spoiled by the arrival of The Headache of Doom. Blerk. Never mind, I pressed on and managed to cut out another dress. Look at the fabric I found:
Fergus likes it and slept on it. I think he imagines me in mohair. The print reminds me of my glorious roses. 
The garden has lots of treasures everywhere. 
The raspberry patch has been wonderful this year. It is rather a mess, but going out once or twice a day for a healthy snack has been glorious. Plenty for hungry birds too. 
My wee apple tree espaliered on the fence has plenty of fruit too. I think I will have to thin some out.
There are two huge cabbages ready. Coleslaw, anyone?
Shame the carrots are barely an inch high! 
As always, a prowl in the garden is never complete without my dearest friends along for a look in the undergrowth. 
Can you spot Fergus? 
Once we get inside I'll have to brush the bidibids from out of their fluffy coats. 

Time to finish my cup of tea and wrap some presents which need to be sent away today. I'm going to give Zanny a rest on those tender hooves, and will see how far I can get with my Christmas rose dress. 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

On not having children

It is almost Christmas, and not having children, I am apparently supposed to feel very bad indeed. My Christmas should be a miserable affair. The terrible longing I should have felt at my lack of offspring should be magnified by the Christmas lights and mall Santas that appeared weeks ago. 

Well, we chose not to have children for very sensible medical reasons, and I make no apologies for that. It seems that many childless women have had years of dealing with comments and questions about when they are going to start producing. Potential grandparents dropping hints at every opportunity. I, on the other hand, have only ever had one friend insist that I would change my mind about having no children, and would be a "wonderful mother." Our family has never put any pressure on us to have babies, in spite of the gorgeous wee grandchildren my siblings have created. 

Of course there are many women who long for a child that never comes, and I feel fortunate that I have never been at that point in life. I think my doubts about having children started relatively early, when I found out how they came out. I still have doubts about that! 

When I found out there is a massive online community called Gateway Women for childless women, I should have been less surprised. I have come to the realisation that life without children is pretty awesome, and a lot better for my health. Except maybe for all of the candycanes I don't have to share.

So I'm not going to feel bad about my lack of children, and enjoy my sparkly Christmas lights, sing Christmas carols very loudly, work out how to turn Zanny into a reindeer, and hope the cherry season is a good one. And I can get up whenever I'm ready on Christmas morning. 
It's going to be a lot of fun! 

Sunday, December 7, 2014


A new day. A cup of tea. Contemplation. I am relishing the freedom of this moment. 

In the garden there are possiblities too. 
Sage going to seed. 

Italian parsley. 



I could chop them off to tidy the garden, but then all of those wonderful seeds would never have a chance to make a new life. That's why my garden is never a showpiece. It is a little piece of nature doing what it is
 meant to do. Perfection. 

Saturday, December 6, 2014


I have had a tough year healthwise. Not in a lifethreatening way, and certainly nothing to complain about compared to many people. But after meeting with another Specialist who couldn't have been kinder, I was reflecting on the loveliness of people in my life. I try to be a kind, gentle sort of person, and lately I have been fortunate to have some wonderful people enter my life. Yesterday, for example, I met with a lovely parent who has a dear, sweet boy coming to my class next year. She left smiling, so I was happy. I was popping out at  lunchtime and came across a lady we have seen a few times on walks in the neighbourhood. We said "hello" and then she wanted to chat. A bit tricky, as she only has a few words in English, but we managed to introduce ourselves and I found out she is from India. I think she prefers it back home and doesn't really like living here. Maybe she is really lonely. On the way home I popped into the supermarket, and a lovely lady who worked as a relieving teacher assistant came out of the bakery and gave me a big hug. She has a fulltime job there, which is a bit sad because she was a wonderful reliever. 

I'm also so lucky to work with some amazing ladies who are now close friends. There are five of us working in our building, and we have so much fun together at work, and get each other through the tough times. Plus after school, I have another gorgeous friend who comes in for a bit of a chat, which is a lovely way to end the day. She's an inspiring lady and we never run out of things to talk about. 

I live very close to one of my dearest friends too. We enjoy cups of coffee (tea for me), grizzles, inspiration, commiseration, and shared interests. I feel so lucky to have her! 

Then there's my dear family. Saturday morning chats with my dear mummy. Messaging the family on the I-pad. Fun times together. I wish we were closer, but get-togethers are big celebrations. 

Most importantly, I live with my best friend, who is incredibly kind and the best husband ever. 

For an introvert who loves the company of animals more than most people,  have done really well getting to know so many kind, caring people. 

There's always time for cats though...

Have a lovely weekend. 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Walking with cats

I'm out in the garden with Fergus and Mouse. We are prowling around the garden together. I pad pics are not up to par, but portability and instant blogging is fun. 
I've got to watch Fergus as he escaped yesterday and has no sense of keeping himself safe, unlike Mouse. Unfortunately the wee devil is very keen to go over the wall. 
The garden makes me so happy, even weedy and rampant. 
I grew these clove pinks from seed, and love to sit on the lawn next to them drinking up their divine fragrance. 
There are foxgloves taller than me. 
And just a few glorious blue delphiniums. 
Mouse is checking out the poppies. 

Horse poo has helped the tomatoes to double in size in a week. 
Look out, Mouse could pounce from anywhere. 
I'm letting the artichokes go to seed. The bumblebees love them. 
This is Utersen, which looked so gaudy in our town garden, but glows prettily here. 
I thought Mouse was admiring my tomatoes and chillies, but no, he was looking for a good place for a poo. 
Indoor raspberries - yum! 
My courgette has had masses of flowers. Some fruit would be nice! 
Light on leaves. 
It is a cat's life around here.