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!)

 

 

Books · Dogs · Inspiration · Trees

Inspiring Dog Days

Sometimes it’s dark, rainy, cold, dreich, miserable and you just don’t feel like going out for a walk.

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Molly and her new favourite toy.

Then again, if you’re a dog owner, you don’t have much choice! Maybe that’s a good thing. Yes, there is no such thing as bad weather – just the wrong clothes, I’ve heard it.

Still, say you do go out for a walk, there is beauty in the darkness.

Shape, form. Twisted trees, reaching on and up towards the light. Droplets balanced on pine needles. The surprise sighting of a heron crouched and tucked up tightly beside a nearly obscured pond.

 

Every time I go for a walk I find some different aspect of nature to think about. I want to learn more about the world around me. The birds I hear singing, what are they? The clouds, what type? Are they Altocumulus, Stratus, Cirrus, Cumulonimbus? Fabulous names to match stunning patterns.

I return home enthused, of course this is another excuse for me to indulge my love of learning and books!

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I hope you do get a chance to go for a walk today.

Then, when you come back home, switch the kettle on and settle down with a cuppa – here are a couple of book recommendations for all nature lovers, with links to my reviews on GoodReads.

 

The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd    Findings by Kathleen Jamie

Books · Inspiration

Last Minute Gift Ideas – Books of Course!

A book is such a lovely gift to give and receive.

Just in case you’re looking for some inspiration, here is the link to my blog about ‘cup of tea’ books – recommendations from friends and readers of this blog.

I hear a lot these days about the Icelandic tradition of ‘jolabokafloo’ – where books are exchanged as gifts on Christmas Eve and the rest of the evening is spent reading. It sounds ideal to me!

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At the moment I am reading ‘Slipstream’ a memoir by Elizabeth Jane Howard.

It’s fascinating as it explains about the many characters and experiences in her own life which influenced her writing of the Cazalet Chronicles.

 

 

Well, it’s certainly time for a holiday.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year – with lots of time for reading, hopefully!

 

 

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Winter skies with silver linings
Garden · Inspiration

Planting Seeds of Hope

 

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I bought cornflower seeds in the spring, planted them, was truly amazed when they grew so well and then continued to flower for weeks and weeks.

Now I know what they mean when authors write ‘eyes of cornflower blue’.

They reminded my Mum of when she was a child.

I took photos, lots of them.

Bees, butterflies, hoverflies all visited my little wildflower garden.

Finally I collected the seeds. Tiny little shaving brushes. I’d remembered what the seeds looked like from when I sowed them. Quite different to anything I’d seen before.

So all in all a real success. I’m very glad I bought that one little packet of seeds. It was quite relaxing, sitting at the kitchen table sorting them out. Now they’re carefully stored and I’m looking forward to planting them next year.

Those tiny little seeds, of hope.

Books · Inspiration

Drama

 

The leaves are collecting in the corners of the garden. The animals must be gathering their food for winter. Thoughts of hibernation arise but I am clearing out. If I am to hibernate then it is time for a sort out!

thumb_IMG_E0573_1024Helping to tidy up the shelves and shelves of books in my father-in-law’s house recently, we found a pile of Penguin paperbacks.

For some reason this one caught my eye. Perhaps because it has a play by J.M. Barrie and I keep meaning to visit Kirriemuir where he was born. Maybe it’s because I love the story of Peter Pan.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading these. They are witty and clever, some sad, others funny. As John Ferguson says in his introduction, the plays are a ‘clear and precise study of some particular character, situation or problem.’ You can read my review on GoodReads here.

As I looked up the playwrights I stumbled upon the fact that M. Luce was in fact Margaret Luce, the grandmother of Miranda Hart. I’m a big fan of Miranda’s shows – they’re so cheery!

With drama on my mind and St Andrew’s day fast approaching (November the 30th) here’s a link to a great video to be found on the http://www.scotland.org website. (Did I mention the actress is my aunt! One very proud niece here!)

 

Wishing you all a very enjoyable time during Book Week Scotland!

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Cotoneaster in the sunlight.

 

 

Flowers · Garden · Inspiration · Writing

Planting Patience

 

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First ever cornflower grown from seed.

Do you stop, hold your breath, count to ten, raise your eyes to the sky?

What helps you to be patient?

Do we have time for patience in this world?

At the graduation day of my nephew last week the speaker included this quote:

Judge each day not by the harvest you reap but by the seeds you plant.

Robert Louis Stevenson

Gardening and writing are both a game of patience.

Think of the countless authors who have folders full of rejection letters, think of the gardener planting seeds.

Patience and hope are needed. Will your writing develop into something truly worthwhile? Will the seed you planted or the cutting you took grow into something beautiful?

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Honeysuckle grown from a cutting

I have just been so delighted by this honeysuckle – I took a cutting from the one in my garden last year, dipped it in some rooting powder and stuck it in my raised bed.

Hey presto!

A beautiful flower and even better, I got to divide it in two; one for my garden and one to give to my parents.

 

Definitely a win for patience and hope.

Now just to keep on writing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

bees · Books · Inspiration · Knitting · Libraries · Reading

Connections

Funny how little things link together throughout your life.

At the weekend I had a day of ‘connections’.

I was lucky enough to attend a writing course run by David Gray on behalf of the SCBWI.

What a treat, to take part in a writing course and be surrounded by books! The course took place in the fantastic setting of Dunfermline Carnegie Library, which, linked with the new museum, galleries, reading room, cafe and much more, looks out over Dunfermline Abbey.

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Wonderful view from the Carnegie Library

Afterwards we had a look at the super  ‘Blooming Marvellous’ family friendly gardening exhibition and it even had knitted flowers!

 

I grew up hearing the story of Andrew Carnegie and love the way his gift has just kept on giving. Dunfermline was the world’s first library to be funded by Andrew Carnegie and it opened in 1883.

The library was busy, even on a rainy day, and I’ll definitely be back to spend more time in Dunfermline.

So many things I love all together in one place; writing, reading, gardening, art, museums, knitting (and a cup of tea!) – truly a day of connections.

 

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Bee on the raspberries