Friendship · Inspiration · Seasons · Thank you

Inspiration

The other morning a lovely friend asked if I had written a blog post recently, in case she’d missed it.

Well, I hadn’t. The question, and the discussion that followed, inspired me though. I did have something I wanted to say, to share.

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I wrapped up warmly and  watched a blackbird as he sat on a branch eating rowan berries. I listened to the cracking of ice on a puddle when I couldn’t resist stepping on it.  Then I went home to switch the kettle on for a hot cup of tea.

Reflecting on this I realise all the senses are covered apart from smell. Well, I think it was too cold!

Still, I have actually baked our Christmas cake – super early this year for me – and the smell of it baking was a real treat. This preparation, the making of the cake, is filled with hope.

As was planting the Hyacinth bulbs at the weekend and even, for my first time ever, planting an Amaryllis bulb. Watching Carole Baxter in the Beechgrove garden has inspired me and I thought I’d give it a go. Watch this space!

So a simple question about this blog has made me reflect on so many things, made me be grateful for friendships and realise how much hope there is at this time of year.

I wonder, what inspires you and gives you hope?

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Molly hasn’t been sent to the corner. She has just found a new place to sit in the kitchen where her paws won’t slide on the floor. (She is of course hoping to get a treat!)

 

 

bees · Books · Flowers · Garden

Back to Bees

I never think of myself as a non-fiction reader and yet here I am, having recently finished reading Michelle Obama’s ‘Becoming’ and one of my favourite summer reads this year was ‘Robbing The Bees’ by Holley Bishop. It’s a mixture of fact and fiction (faction, narrative non-fiction?) published in 2005 and hugely enjoyable. thumb_IMG_2221_1024

The thing is though, it only heightened my wish to have bee hives. I’m like a child who wants a pet and is not thinking at all about the practicalities.

One of the things I love about going to farmshops and summer fairs is the chance to buy local honey and after reading Bishop’s book I’ve been left thinking that I should eat more honey, with all its health benefits. In fact I think I’m going to try to have a spoonful of honey every day.  What a lovely thought!

 

Bees on the Comfrey and the Borage

Flowers · Garden · Vegetables

Return

 

I went away on holiday for two weeks. This must be every gardener’s dilemma, do I go on holiday just when the garden is looking good, when so much growth is happening, so many raspberries to pick, tomatoes to water? I’ve read as much as I can about looking after plants when I go away, I try my best then just have to hope.

Inevitably I return and spend happy moments with my head in the flowerbeds examining the growth and appreciating the lushness of Nature laid out before me. Yes, some fruit has gone over but there are ripe juicy raspberry bubbles left to pick and savour on my meanderings. There are potatoes to dig up, bursting up through the tongs of my fork from their hiding place in the dark, crumbling soil.

Not everything is rosy, my Kilmarnock willow looks distinctly sad, the wildflower patch didn’t take off as well as last year but I’m learning. It’s worth giving it a go, plant the seeds, they might grow.

Stunning cornflowers, starfaced borage, blousy lilies welcome me home and I have returned, inspired, fresh faced and with enthusiasm.

 

Cornflowers (grown from seed I collected last year- I’m so pleased about that!) and Borage.

Reading · stories · Writing

Short stories and Teapots

I was lucky enough to do a reading of a story I had written for children at the Aberdeen Booked! festival.

Of course I was nervous, who isn’t, but once I started I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Reading aloud is one of my favourite  things to do. The joy of sharing a story is such a treat.

Anyway, at the end a lady spoke to me and told me she had enjoyed my story and was herself re-reading Anne of Green Gables.

Now I know my writing and I know I have a long, long way to go but to even have ‘Anne with an e’ mentioned in the same conversation as my story – well – I’m still happily living off the buzz!

thumb_IMG_1391_1024For my birthday I was given this beautiful book by a lovely friend. Picking out stories I am amazed at how dark some of them actually are – even Cupid has a bad name.

I’m constantly told the stories I write are too ‘nice’ and I did wonder if I should channel some of the darkness of HCA into my stories but then I realised I’d it’s probably just not my thing.

The funny coincidence is, when I started this blog and my ‘Cup of Tea’ books section, I knew I wanted to include the story of The Teapot.

 

 

I think it fits very well with this blog. It does make me remember that the stories we write for children are so often read by adults.

 

‘One is one thing and then becomes quite another.’

‘It is a blessing to forget oneself in others.’

(Hans Christian Andersen, ‘The Teapot’)

 

 

 

 

Great to see the bees back in the garden on a bumper year for the Rhododendrons.

Art · Books · Seasons · Writing

A Book for all Seasons

I’ve just finished reading ‘Autumn’ by Ali Smith and coincidentally my sister bought me the next in the series, ‘Winter’ for my Birthday.

A few weeks ago we visited the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (M2) in Edinburgh and I’d loved seeing the Andy Warhol  and Eduardo Paolozzi exhibition.

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An image of an image of an image?

To see the iconic Marilyn Monroe images up close was an amazing experience and I was blown away by the gigantic ‘Vulcan’ sculpture by Paolozzi. Anyone who’s read Ted Hughes ‘The Iron Man’ will surely love it!

Having enjoyed the post on the Novel Points of View Blog about where writers write; I really appreciated seeing the studio of Paolozzi which had been gifted to the nation.

 

So what is the link to the Ali Smith book? Well, by reading it I learnt about the artist Pauline Boty who was the only female British painter who took part in the pop art movement.

As Jim McColl says – ‘Every day’s a school day!’

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Be prepared for all types of weather if you live in Scotland – hailstones in May!

 

Books · Happy

Book Shopping

 

The other day I helped out at a bookstall for a Girl Guides Fair.

Well it just so happened that I had a ‘Tinkerbell’ book in my hand as a lady and her little daughter approached. With exclamations of delight she said her daughter loved ‘Tinkerbell’ books but there aren’t many about and so she has to get them out the library. Now her wee girl thinks the books are hers! 

So, we got talking and I asked her if she’d looked online. Immediately she mentioned ‘The Big A’ and I agreed but also said how about other second hand bookshops online?

Anyway, it got me to thinking. When I joined a book group a few years ago we discussed where everyone bought their books from.

Some went straight to the High Street, others to the aforementioned online store, still more to buy second hand online and one lady usually used the library.

It made me stop and think. There are so many options out there. It is easy to buy with one click but if I take just a little more time to search for the book I want I could be saving money and hopefully helping the environment too. (I know, I haven’t even mentioned e-books!) thumb_IMG_1327_1024

Recently we made our way back to the delight that is The Bookmark in Grantown-on-Spey. I have to confess I bought four books – a massive treat, not just to buy them but also to go in and chat about books in such a great environment.

Buying books is a complete joy to me and these days I pick carefully where I buy them from. One here, one there. I picked up a few great bargains at the bookstall, I’ve collected my recent book group choice from the library and I’m hoping for a book voucher for my birthday so I can do a little bit of High Street shopping too!

Here’s hoping!

 

Where’s your favourite place to buy or borrow books from?

 

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Hyacinth in the Spring sunshine

 

 

 

Books · Libraries · Reading

Time for Reading

On the way to the recycling bin in our house I found myself reading the sports pages of the newspaper; an article all about ‘Match of the Day’. Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I’m not interested in football or indeed the world around me at large. It’s just that I surprised even myself, did I really want to read this article?

Well, yes, why not? I’ve always read everything I could get my hands on, the back of a cereal packet is the classic example (and I do!).

 

I’ve realised I may sit in a room by myself but I am never alone when I have a book with me. Yes, there are the characters but there’s more, so much more.

When I read I am part of a world. One of so many people on this planet who share a love of reading.

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I have six books on the go at the moment – thank you Aberdeen Libraries!

I only have to think of Bookshops and Libraries to know there are so many others out there who love books too.

Then there’s the times we share a book; the magic of reading out loud to a little one on your knee or a class full of children eager to know what happens next.

The memories created when listening to audiobooks in the car, laughing and recalling the story together years later (Horrid Henry and the injection scene springs to mind!).

What a treat it is to attend events during the Scottish Book Trust Book Week or meet friends at Book Festivals and Book Groups.

Of course there is also the joy when a book is adapted to TV or film and the discussions thereafter.thumb_IMG_1133_1024

Then there’s my favourite; recommending a book to someone and they love it too.

It’s a world of books, let’s hope it stays that way.

 

 

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Springtime!