Inspiration · Nature

Appreciation

Sometimes your own advice comes back to haunt you.

It’s been a particularly tough time in my life recently and I have been seeking ways to cope with this if not quite being able to make sense of it. Keeping busy seems to me the best way at the moment,

Buoyed by the sight of a Tawny Owl near our house the night before, I was ready for a bit of a change and a wildlife adventure. Our destination for the day was Morven*, near Aboyne in Aberdeenshire.

I was hopeful, though not entirely sure that I’d get to the top but I thought I’d give it a good try. Blue skies above, an eagle circling, what a wonderful way to begin. I would say it was sort of a gentle start, following the path up to the ruins of an old house. Who had lived there? What stories would they have had to tell? What was the grinding stone used for?

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Onwards and upwards, panting already, breaking the silence. To be honest, the next part felt like a bit of a slog, like the hard work that sets in after your initial enthusiasm, when you just have to knuckle down and get on with it. This was when I was offered my own advice back to me – ‘chunk it’ – well, there you go. It was all I could do. This was a 300m, contours on the map squished together, steep section, a one foot in front of the other slow progress.

But now I have learnt that it doesn’t matter how fast I am. We were well prepared in terms of food, water and clothes, had plenty of time to complete (or not!) the climb and so I took my time. There were frequent stops to ‘take in the view’.

Stopping to sit on a rock for a snack, the scenery was stunning. I gazed, entranced, at the patchwork of fields stretching into the distance. September and many of the fields ploughed but still golden. Three grouse appeared, heads bobbing above the heather and letting their presence be known. Solitary bees, the occasional butterfly. One tree by the path to provide some welcome shade.

The next section thankfully wasn’t quite so steep. The joy of being able to walk on the almost flat, being able to look up and about at the beautiful countryside. A lull before the next storm right enough.

Ah, but of course, there had to be, a false summit. Just when I thought I had reached the top, there was more to come. I didn’t think I could do it. This was time for desperate measures – an early lunch and a chance to regroup. Time for a bit of much needed encouragement.

I’d got this far. I knew in my head I could do it. This time I could see the summit, the real one that is. Slowly, slowly, one step at a time and we got there.

I felt like Maria in The Sound of Music – I wanted to sing if only I had the breath left!

In the distance were hills I’ve climbed, some recently, some long ago, Bennachie, Clachnaben, Mount Keen, Lochnagar. I’m not so sure I could get to the top of some of them nowadays but I’m mighty chuffed I have done in the past and have some cracking memories from those times. Now it was definitely time for a few windswept selfies.

And so to the descent, not all plain sailing. There were a few times I stopped to use my Seek App – was that an excuse for a break? Tiny yellow flowers of Tormentil and delicate lavender coloured Devil’s – bit Scabious growing at the mouth of a clear stream enticed me. Why, when they are so pretty do they have such harsh names?

Devil’s-bit Scabious Succisa pratensis
Tormentil – Potentilla erecta

So, not by any means the highest hill out there but a real test for me, could I take my own advice? Could I chunk it? Well, yes, I could but I was very, very grateful for all the help along the way. And now, onwards, through the dips, the slogs, the plateaus, enjoying the highs and battling through the lows and appreciating all the support. Thank you.

*Morven is a Corbett – a Scottish mountain over 2,500 and under 3,000 feet.

I am reading.

The Shadow Sister by Lucinda Riley

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

The Pure Heart by Trudi Tweedie

Hope · Nature · Seasons · Senses · Trees

Joy – that old Chestnut!

Wow, wow, wow! Joy! Outside my window trees are being planted. This has made my day!

My dog walk used to take me past a row of huge trees near my house. I loved watching the leaves appearing in spring; appreciated their shade in the summer, the gorgeous colours of autumn and their signal that winter had arrived. Listening to the birds singing would start me in the process of resetting myself so that when I arrived back home I was calmer, fresher and more relaxed than when I left. Then they were chopped down. The depth of emotions I felt surprised me. Feeling powerless and not knowing what else to do, I asked if I could have a section of one of the felled trees.

Looking right at home, ‘that old chestnut’.

‘Here you go, no problem. It’s an old chestnut.’ And a log was heaved into the boot of my car. I had to wait for my sister to arrive to help me lift it out it was so heavy. After lying beside the car for a while it has found a home in our garden (thanks to my husband and a wheelbarrow!) – as a step so I can fill the bird feeder above it and, hopefully, a place for insects to hide underneath. Part of a very mini stumpery.

Perhaps a little good has come out of it?

Alongside the trees, there’s a beech hedge being planted. I have a little beech tree that grew, from a seed blown by the wind, in our raised vegetable bed. I did try to dig it out to move it to a better spot but it’s roots are pretty solid.

Like life, like fiction, putting down roots came up (down?) again as I read the latest Novel Points of View Blog about moving house. We’ve lived here in Aberdeen for seven years now, no I don’t have itchy feet but I am amazed. This is the longest we’ve stayed anywhere at all since we left home as teenagers. To be honest, I have my fingers tightly crossed we’ll be here a lot longer.

On a positive note and, I do love a coincidence, as I thought about writing this blog a friend told me about the River Dee Trust and their campaign to plant a million trees in the Cairngorms. To raise money for this they are selling beautiful buffs – they would make super presents and would be very light to post too – just thought I’d mention it!

Well, to finish with one more tree, Christmas trees!

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a safe and a Happy 2021!

I am reading my Secret Santa gift from a fellow bookworm; ‘Hawkfall’ by George MacKay Brown and ‘Beetle Boy’ by M G Leonard.

Nature · Senses

Spring Sense

This week I finished reading a book I had been savouring. Every now and again I would dip into this book of essays and immerse myself in the writing of Kathleen Jamie. I had already read her book ‘Findings’ and had been looking forward to reading her first book ‘Sightlines’. It didn’t disappoint.

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One lasting impression was her mention of a whale’s eardrum and how the bone is so dense it would often be the only thing left in the furnace from the carcass. The whalemen thought they could hear the sea in them.

 

 

 

 

 

Not a very charming thought really but this, and being in lockdown, made me consider my use of the senses. Perhaps it is a time for me to go back to basics?

So here is my round up of lockdown senses for the week. I wonder what would be on your list?

See

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The cherry blossom tree in our garden is stunning this year.

I’ve enjoyed watching the birds on the feeders and seeing them having a bath in the small pond we put in last year.

Books – Richard Mabey, Erica James, Rebecca Stead, A Little Book of Rhymes, Old and New.

Films – ‘The Matrix’, Doris Day in ‘The Glass Bottom Boat’,  BBC1 Drama ‘The Nest’, Beechgrove Garden, Gardeners’ World.

Hear

Birdsong!

The cheery radio presenters – thank you!

Bill Gibb podcasts

Mary Wesley on desert island discs

Smell

Scones baking – made my first gluten free scones. (Far too tempting, they’ve gone already!)

Taste

(As above!)

Touch

Planting seeds, transplanting seedlings.

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Tomato seedlings

(Scones again – making breadcrumbs from the flour and butter.)

 

Wishing you all a happy and healthy week.

 

 

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Couldn’t resist adding in this photo and thinking of Wordsworth’s daffodils.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flowers · Garden · Happy · Nature · Photography · Writing

Simply Not Perfect

Life isn’t perfect.

When I started writing this blog I was very aware I didn’t want it to be a relentless round of cheery posts with no indication of the reality of life.

On the way I’ve found it to be so much harder to write a blog post about sadness. I don’t want to be the person spreading sadness and yet there are always things that upset, worry and make me sad.

No one has fabulous days every day.

It’s the tough days that make me appreciate the good ones all the more

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Searching for the sun.

So if I post a photo of my garden, I’ll usually take it on a bright, sunny day. Sometimes I’ll have to wait for quite a few days for the sun to appear and when it does I’m out there,  really appreciating the light.

For every flower, fruit, vegetable and so on I’ve been proud of, there have been the plants I’ve put in the wrong position, or not fed correctly, or something (who knows what!) and they’ve not survived.

However, every seed, every bulb, every plant has been planted with optimism – I’m going for the cup is half full!

I guess there’s ups and downs in nature and in life but I’m going to keep on plugging away.

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A close up of  a murmuration of starlings at Aberdeen beach. (Not a very sunny day!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Books · Nature · Thank you · walking

A Year of Writing

 

I set a target to write a blog for a year. Well, I did. Now …

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Eight reasons why writing a blog has been a good thing for me.

1. The discipline to write and post once a week

2.  To connect with new people

3.  To take time to reflect

4.  The garden, photos and writing all link together

5.  To join the Big Bee Count and the Big Butterfly Count and share

6.  To walk the dog – with purpose, giving me time to think about the blog post

7.  To learn eg. – about Lady Bird Johnston and her ‘Beautification Programme’

8.  To read and review books

 

Funnily enough, one of the things I had to learn was to give myself a holiday from the blog!

 

So, what next?

A new target.

This year I’d like to write a fortnightly blog and continue with the other types of writing I love;  writing for children, short stories, poems and so on.

I hope you’ll join me along the way and I’d welcome your feedback!

Time to switch the kettle on, love!

 

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Stunning Sweet Peas

 

Friendship · Garden · Nature · Poetry · Seasons

Starting September

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September spiders, weaving webs from window to washing line.

A new academic year, time to refresh, rethink, reconsider.

Will we look at the web we’ve built for ourselves?

This is a new beginning, brighter, warmer, sunnier than January 1st. Life is full of hope and possibilities. New opportunities.

September sun shining after a cleansing downpour and it’s time to declutter. Do I need quite so many things? Can they be recycled, reused?

It’s the same with the garden. Time to tidy up, wash out all the pots ready for next year.

Amidst these thoughts for the future, I’m going to take a moment to think of all the good things. Yes, it’s exhilarating to plan new adventures but I think the starting point must be where I celebrate all the lovely people in my life and the successes, large and small.

Wishing you a happy, sunny and successful September! What will you celebrate?

“By all these lovely tokens
September days are here,
With summer’s best of weather
And autumn’s best of cheer.”
–  Helen Hunt Jackson, September, 1830-1885