“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” ....Oscar Wilde

Monday, 30 September 2013

Happy Blue Monday...with a winter warming recipe

Can you believe that it's Monday already? 
Where did the weekend go?
I'm happy to say that we made the most of it whilst it was here, but even so a three day weekend would be perfect wouldn't it? 
But let's not let it get us down because there's lots to be happy about...who knows what is installed for us in this coming week? 
So chin up, put a big smile on and let's get started...bring it on I say! 

I've wanted to show you for some time one of my leaving presents from a friend when I left Melbourne. 
Well it was part of a leaving present actually, but it just captured so much in one item. 
It is a Monet apron purchased by my friend from the Monet exhibition held earlier in the year during May to September at the fabulous National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.
Isn't it exquisite?

Claude Monet (1840-1926)
Monet's Garden is a stunning exhibition devoted to Claude Monet's iconic garden at Giverny. Renowned as the 'father of French Impressionism', Monet was inspired by his direct experiences of nature, culminating in the ravishing depictions of his lily and flower gardens in the rural property at Giverny, northern France. 

“My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece.”

I'm a little wary of using the apron really...either to paint or cook in it, as I don't want to spoil it. 
It covers so many things about me that my friend captured in one go. 
My love of art, Monet, gardening, the colour, cooking and baking all wrapped up in one. 
Wasn't she clever? 
So that's why when I wrap it around me it's like having a huge of all the things that make my spirit fly and I thought it would be perfect to enter for todays 'Happy Blue Monday'

Having mentioned baking if you want a winter warmer recipe for something seasonal then why not visit one of my old blog posts where I bake a Pear and Almond Cake
It's from back in July 2010 when we lived in Melbourne, Australia. 
Be warned there's a mention of Christmas...but then it is in the middle of their winter. 
It's so strange to read my old posts from back then...how I've changed. 
You can tell mostly by the photographs. 

Now why not pop across to see Sally and the other Blue Monday posts? 
I'm sure you'll have a very happy Monday if you do. 

Smiling Sally

Happy Blue Monday to you all. 
I hope you have a great week!

Friday, 27 September 2013

A Simple Woman's Day Book

FOR TODAY ~ Friday 27th September 2013

Outside my window...I've waited and waited before completing this section of the Daybook by answering all the other questions first, because I was hopeful that the grey blanket that enveloped us this morning would lift...and so it has, just! The clouds are still low over the hills in the distance, but there are small pockets of blue appearing. I'm hoping that they expand. 
The sun has just peeking out but it seems very shy today. I'll wait a wee while before I head out with the lawn mower...I don't want to frighten it away. Oops it's gone again!
The field at the back of the house is still and empty with only the silent growing of the lush green grass now that the wheat has been harvested. I'm hoping that we may have lambs come to prance and bounce about in the spring. When we had our first year here we were privileged to have them come to stay and it was fantastic to watch their antics. There was never a dull moment. 
We've been lucky to have a couple of deer coming into the field grazing, which is so special. I'm hoping that they settle and stay for a while.  
The wild grasses on the peripheral of the field have dried out now, their seeds scattered by the wind and birds. 
The trees are still green although the night air grows chilly. There is just a yellowish tinges to a few of the upper most leaves. I'm looking forward to the autumn colours but not the lower temperatures. I suppose you can't have one without the other! 
The large black and white milk tanker has just passed down the lane after collecting today's milk from the local dairy farm. Seeing it pass when you need milk can be very frustrating! I want to stop him and syphen off a few pints...hehe.
If you want to see my view then click here although it's not today's view, but it is very similar other than the sky. The photo was taken on the 1st September.
For those who might be new visiting I am taking a photo on the first day of the month to show how it changes over the coming months.
I apologise if Muffy's snoring is distracting, but she's had a busy morning...up early for her walk, chasing the neighbour's cat down the lane, checking the garden for overnight intruders and meeting the boiler service/repair man! 

I am thinking...that I really must take time out today to thank everyone who visits my blog because without you I'd just be wasting so much time tapping away at my keyboard. I know how busy lives can be these days which makes the fact that people stop to read what I'm nattering about even more precious. For you to take the time to let me know they've been here is just the icing on top of the cake ;D 
I adore seeing that you have visited...yes even the ones that never comment...I know you are out there because my globe tells me, plus where you are in the world and how many times you've dropped by. I'm truly staggered by how many countries spread so widely across the globe come to my little part of the world. So if we have never chattered I'd just like to send you a huge thank you, in fact everyone gets a huge thank you today. Maybe one day you might be brave enough to say 'Hi'? 

I am thankful...for the above.

In the kitchen...Everything is tidy. There are no cakes or baking surprisingly enough, but that could be corrected soon. 

I am wearing...my working gear because I'm going to be like a turbo charged demon any second, charging through all my chores this morning. So at the moment it's joggers, long-sleeved t-shirt, and a fleece (yep I'm afraid so...well it's a little chilly sitting here until I get up and running). Anyway I needed them on this morning for McMuffty's walk. Don't worry I'll get dressed up after I've finished my jobs and showered ready for Friday night! Yay!

I am creating...a new home which is taking up all of my time. I desperately want to keep creating my art, but it's difficult to fit it in at times. But I WON'T give in to all the other demands...I will keep trying. I have visited a few little galleries this week and even chatted to some lovely artists. They have kindly given me lots of information about local classes that I will research over the coming week. I also want to carry on with drawing my cards and there's a few other ideas jumbled in my mind that hopefully will form an orderly queue. 

I am going...to continue to reaquant myself with the local area and what's out there. It's been strange because some things are so familiar to me but only once I've rediscovered them. They have been tucked away in my memory but more and more are resurfacing.  
I've got castles, parks, galleries, historic buildings and much much more lined up. Phew! 

I am wondering...well this is a strange one and maybe not one for you to read if you're having your breakfast or lunch! It's about poop! Well I did warn you but it's not as bad as you might be thinking...it's just that something come's into our garden each night and leaves a call card shall we say. I can't for the life of me work out what it can be. I've gone through the usual suspects cats, foxes, badgers, hedgehogs, deer, etc and they just don't fit. I've even gone to google images to check! Did you know you can find poop images out there...yeah I agree it's so gross unless you need to know :( and I wish I didn't need to know. 
I forgive you if you want to move on to the next question but if there's anyone out there that might have a clue then please let me know. 
Now comes the description....
It's quite small green pellet like rounds in one pile all grouped together. The whole thing is about 2 inches in diameter max. I was thinking of posting a photo of it but thought that was pushing our friendship a little too far. I'd be interested to hear your verdicts...polite comments only please! 
I can't believe that I've put this in my post today, but it's really bothering me...Sorry now on to more pleasant things.

I'm reading...The Ivington Diaries by Monty Don

Monty Don and his wife Sarah moved into their semi-derelict farmhouse at Ivington in 1991. Their garden is the most tangible symbol of the spectacular way in which they have since thrived. Springing with amazing vigour from the soil behind the house, this space has been central to Monty's life; ever since he dug the very first border, he has obsessively written about it. The Irvington Diaries is a personal collection of Monty's jottings from the past fifteen years. Generously illustrated with his very own photographs, and beautifully packaged, this book promises to be one of the most delightful garden books ever published. 

Now I know why I love the month of May...just read Monty's eloquent description in the photo above. He discribes it so beautifully. Oh how I wish I could write like that.

About the Author: Born July 8, 1955 in Berlin, Germany. Montagu Denis Wyatt "Monty" Don is a British television presenter, writer and speaker on horticulture, best known for presenting the BBC television series Gardeners' World. He was brought up in Hampshire, educated at a variety of schools and at Magdalene College, Cambridge. 
He and his wife, Sarah, set up and ran a costume jewellery business in the 1980’s but the business collapsed, since 1988 he has worked full-time as a gardening author, journalist and broadcaster. 
If you'd like to read more about Monty click here
He also suffered a mini stroke in 1988 read here for more details about his incredible recovery. 
Monty has written many books so this one won't be my last.  

I am hoping...that my son's course hits the spot and keeps him on track. So far so good. He seems to be enjoying it which is wonderful. But I'll carry on crossing my fingers and toes just in case. 

I am looking forward to...getting my veggie plot under way. It's going to be a lot of hard work but I'm hoping that it will all be worth it. I love to go out into the garden to pick flowers to bring indoors, so to be able to nip out for a tattie (potato) or carrots for dinner will be brilliant. I think there's nothing better and it's so rewarding.
I know I need to start the preparations soon because there's such a lot to do and spring will be here soon enough. Did you notice that? I just skipped over winter with ease! 

Here's a photo of my latest pickings from the garden.

Around the house...there are a lot of spaces which needs to be filled. I'm not one for clutter or minimalism so I want to reach the right balance. There needs to be lots of shopping trips soon.

My favourite quote for today...Ordinary riches can be stolen; real riches cannot. In your soul are infinitely precious things that cannot be taken from you ~ Oscar Wilde

One of my favourite things...is a Friday night. It can be the simplest of nights just lighting the fire and candles, a good meal and a glass of wine, then settling down for a relaxing evening after a hectic week. My daughter sometimes travels from Edinburgh to stay for the weekend and then I'm a really happy bunny having all of my chicks in the one nest :D  
A few plans for the rest of the week: A bit of everything really...you name it and I'll probably be doing it! Well within reason obviously...no ski-diving this week! 

A peek into my day...we are organising a few extensions (Gasp)

Not the usual conservatory, garden room or even a greenhouse extension (those are on my to-do list) but bird nesting boxes. Since we arrived back to this property the bird population in our garden has grown exponentially. To carry on looking after their welfare I want to provide not only good food and water but safe homes to enable them to hang around and provide beautiful sights and sounds to be enjoyed by all. I've just got to work out where the best sites are located. It'll be an on-going project that hopefully we'll reap the rewards when spring comes.  
I'm wanting to put up owl boxes too because I've heard them calling so I know they're here. 

 So that's it for this week; I hope you enjoyed your visit and if it's your first time reading my day book entry, I hope you'll be back again soon.
Don't forget to pop over to The Simple Woman's Daybook and check out the other day book entries.
I can't believe that I've only just managed to write this Daybook for September...I nearly missed it!
https://secure.quebles.com/content/hotmail/emoticons/1511763.gif I hope to see you again soon...Have a wonderful week.
Have fun and hopefully the sun will shine for you!!!

Monday, 23 September 2013

Happy Blue Monday...Blue Sky, Sea and there's Sunshine!

I feel I need to shout this from the rooftops!
We have had a fantastic weekend with the warmest temperatures in the UK.
I know...I can't believe it either but it was true.
We captured the end of the summer (the equinox) in a very special way!
I know we're on limited time to enjoy the warmth of the sun, with winter lurking just around the corner, but we certainly made the most of it over the weekend. 
Look here's the proof...
Can you feel that warmth?
It's incredible because we've had quite chilly weather over last week and I nearly succumbed to my thermals. Call me a woos, but at the risk of repeating myself 
Anyway...I digress (what's new I hear you say...) 
So we all jumped into the car, hubby, daughter, son, McMuffy and I and headed to the coast.
The boot of the car was decidedly lower than the front and it wasn't just because the girls were in the back! It was heavily laiden with various garbs of clothing from fleeces to duck down filled jackets...well you never know what to expect especially when you are heading off to the beach and a coastal walk in the East of Scotland. 
Be prepared is my motto :D

This cove is situated in the historic fishing village of Catterline. 
Perched on cliff tops overlooking the bay and harbour are fantastic little fishing cottages. There's lots of history here.

We'd just finished walking along the cliff top to the RSPB Fowlsheugh nature reserve where we reminisced about the last time we had been there...many years ago. 
I remember that the noise was deafening from all the nesting birds accommpanied with a powerful pong! 
I remember my ears nearly dropping off with the freezing wind that whipped around the cliffs, but that was then and this is now...beautifully calm, fresh crisp sea air and warming sun. 
We were obviously not in the nesting season at this time of year, but we did have the privilege of seeing and hearing all the geese flying overhead trying desperately to work out whether to fly south or not? Their constant vocal call seemed to say "Do we go or do we stay? I thought it was cold enough didn't you? But actually I'm really rather warm now...maybe we should stay awhile? 
It's amazing just how far away their calls can be heard. You normally hear them long before you see them in their ever changing formation V.
Upon walking back along the cliff tops we were so thrilled because there below was a large pod of dolphins. Another amazing spectacle :D
I tried desperately to capture them on camera but failed miserably. 
Here's one of the better photos which gives you some idea of what a task I had. 
See how near I am to that cliff edge? 

One sneeze and I'd have been a goner!

You can see the dolphin if you zoom in...promise! 

Who could resist a little toe dipping on a day like this, although my son took it to a whole new level...stripping off and diving in! 
I've never seen him move so quick once the water hit him...then there was the scramble to get back into his clothes to hide his modesty! Hehe ;D

And so as you can imagine we'd worked up quite an appetite but help was at hand because can you believe it...The Creel Inn was just where we'd parked our car...
fancy that!

The Creel Inn
(photo courtesy of The Creel Inn website...I was too busy eating)
We actually sat out on these tables to devour our fantastic seafood platter fresh from the boat. The white paintwork was actually painful on the eyes due to the terrific sun light...but we weren't complaining. 
I couldn't resist snapping these lobster pots stacked along the rear wall as we were leaving. 

So have you detected that there's a theme here today?
I couldn't possibly be blue on this beautiful Monday...but it appears I am.
So after visited Little Wandering Wren earlier today for my Aussie fix and seeing her blue post, I wanted to join in too with a happy Blue Monday.
I'm a sucker for blue, so if you are too or just nosy interested then why not pop across to see Sally and the other Blue Monday posts.

Happy Blue Monday and have a great week!

Blue Monday Instructions

Thanks for stopping by...I've got so many bloggy bits scrambling to get posted, so I'll probably be back soon. 
(In a hushed voice)...I hear that rain is coming this way on Wednesday for who knows how long, so I'll stay indoors then...right now I'm getting out there to enjoy it! 
I hope you have a Happy Monday too 

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

What's on Your Work Desk Wednesday...WOYWW #224

Morning Peeps...and fellow WOYWWer's as it's Wednesday! 
You are going to be so impressed with me today...not because I've been super clever, talented, artistic or for any other reason other than this is going to be the shortest post EVER! 
(Hopefully a gold star potential)
So to make sure I keep my word...quickly here's my very temporary desk but at least there's something on it. 
Nothing much has changed in the room but hey ho it will one day.

This week I finally got a little time to start painting colour on some of my thistle cards...plus I spent a very enjoyable evening in here whilst my boys watched, shouted and screamed at the television whilst watching football in the lounge. 

I lit the fire and settled down to a little sketching time...in fact I only sketched for one half of the match, but it did feel good to get back to it! 
I think I'll be using footy time for further art sessions.
Everyone's happy! 
I've been wanting to draw a Puffin since I saw a programme about them shortly after returning to Scotland. 
It was all about Pufflets and I was hooked as soon as I heard the word...'Pufflet'!
I'm sort of a Pufflet myself these days! 
Well winters coming so stock up I say ;D
Apologies for the photo below because it was quite late when I took it. 
As you can see the fire has died down because I'd been so engrossed. 

So there you have it...my desk this week. 
If you want to see lots of other desks from around the globe just nip over to Julia over at Stamping Ground.
Thanks for stopping by...it's always great to have visitors. 
Apologies because all of the Apple and Blackberry crumble has gone, but there maybe a slice of Treacle and Ginger Cake left if you hurry! 
Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone
Toodleloo for nowhttps://secure.quebles.com/content/hotmail/emoticons/1511763.gif

Monday, 16 September 2013

Ahh...remember those play days...

Muffin isn't amused this morning...she's even reluctant to go outside for a quick sortee because the temperature dropped last night to only 3 degrees!
It came as a sharp shock to us too, but Muffin has just curled up to stay cosy and isn't happy. I can relate to that because once the temperature dips below 16C degrees, I too want to shut down.
I think I may be in trouble this winter...what do you think? :(

Anyway two chimneys are now sending smoke signals out to the locals and we're slowly warming up, so all is not lost. We do have central heating for reinforcements plus the Aga but I don't want to rely on those just yet. At this time of year it can swing from warm to chilly and back again, extremely quickly. 
Hold the thermals but have them handy!

I was just watching Muffy snoozing and snoring like an old trouper with her legs and muzzle twitching away and thought "I wonder what she's dreaming about"? 
Then I thought maybe she was having fun playing with her bestie Zac once again! 
Ahh...remember the warm sun filled days...chicken filled tums...and a good tough and tumble on the carpet ^..^

Here's a little video clip that I took when we lived in Melbourne. 
Zac was staying with us at the time so there were lots of play-time. 
The video was taken on a Sunday just before lunch hence the dulcet tones of Louis Armstrong's 'What A Wonderful World' playing on the radio in the background. 
Very appropriate for these two. 
Gravy stirring music as I always like to think of these kinds of tunes. 
It's a must when I'm cooking a Sunday roast dinner to have this kind of music playing. 
I have so many lovely memories of helping make Sunday lunch as a child and one of my jobs would be to stir the gravy
There would always be a Swooner Crooner singing away in the background.  

They had such a special relationship. 

Thanks for stopping by...I really love to see and hear from you.
Have a great day and don't forget to have fun too!

Thursday, 12 September 2013

A recipe at last...Apple and Blackberry Crumble....yummy!

I've been away in Glasgow for a few days...did you miss me? 
Anyway moving on swiftly, it's been such a long time since I last posted a recipe, that I thought it was time I did...especially as I have 2.5 kilos of blackberry's to use up now that I've been foraging through the country lanes. 

Jamie Oliver  would be proud of me...although I have to say McMuffy wasn't.
She wasn't happy at all when I kept stopping constantly on HER walk. It's okay when she wants to stop and sniff everything within a 10 mile radius, but that's her calling the shots and not me! This time it was different and came as a shock to her. 
I mean it's not as if she was to get the spoils at the end of it...not like finding bones or doggy chews, but we compromised and had a successful forage! 

Therefore we can now bake an Apple and Blackberry crumble....yummeeeeeeeeeeey!
The apple in the photo below was just to keep me going whilst out foraging. 
I'd eaten enough blackberry's to feed a village, so I thought I'd end with an apple just to keep the balance and to accompany all those berries. 
I couldn't wait for the crumble ;D

Unfortunately at the moment I don't have apple trees in my garden, but I do plan to plant cordons at some stage. I'm quite excited about having my own fruit trees in the future. 
But for now it had to be a quick trip to the local supermarket to buy some Bramley apples. I always like to cook with Bramley's but over the years when I haven't been able to source any, I've had to improvise by using eating apples but omitted adding additional sugar. 
In fact that may well be a better option for some people watching their sugar intake. 
I have to remain strong and focused at this stage...not eating the whole pan full as they stew. 
If you look closely at the wooden spoon below you will see that it's from Melbourne Queen Victoria Market. Oh such memories...I think it's the first time that I've actually used it. 
I'm not even sure I wanted to use it, but I didn't notice which spoon it was until it was too late. 

Sprinkling the crumble on top of the wonderful smelling warm apple and blackberries...mmm...not long now!

The recipe is written below although it's such a simple thing to make, you probably all have your own recipes already. 
But maybe if you are new to baking or have just got the baking bug it might be of some help. 
When time is of the essence a crumble is a quick simple recipe to rustle up, it's easy and doesn't everyone love a crumble? 

I thought I'd use my retro apple dessert dishes to present it to you. 
I thought it would be fun for the photo.
And now here's the serious bit of todays post...(maybe it should come with a warning)...
...it's my potential veggie plot! 
I know...I know...it's going to be a lot of work but I'm not thinking about that right now, otherwise I'll never start. 
I do have a plan but I'll save that for another day ;D

And so finally to the recipe https://secure.quebles.com/content/hotmail/emoticons/1508618.gif

Fruit Crumble Serves 4-6
750g (1lb 10oz) fruit (in this instance I'm using apples and blackberries)
45g (1½oz) granulated sugar2tbsp water
For Topping
225g (8oz) plain flour
100g (3½oz) Butter (room temperature), cut into cubes
45g (1½oz) granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 180C (fan 160⁰C/350⁰F/Gas 4). Put the fruit in a baking dish measuring about 25 x 20cm (10x8in) and 5cm (2in) deep. Sprinkle the fruit with the sugar and water.
Make the crumble topping: Place the flour in a bowl and add the butter. Rub the butter into the flour, then stir in the sugar.
Scatter the crumble topping evenly over the fruit. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the topping is golden brown and fruit juices are bubbling.
Serve with cream, icecream or custard.

There are lots of variations for a fruit crumble...adding apples, sultana's and nuts, plums, or using half wholemeal and half white flour...the options are endless.

I hope you'll enjoy this perfect pudding for a winter's day after Sunday lunch perhaps or maybe just because?!?!!
Enjoy foraging if you're out and about. 
It is harvest time after all. 
Well in my part of the world it is! 
I hope to see you again soon 

Friday, 6 September 2013

Blackberry Picking

Blackberry Picking

Late August, given heavy rain and sun
For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.
At first, just one, a glossy purple clot
Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.
You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
Like thickened wine: summer's blood was in it
Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for
Picking. Then red ones inked up and that hunger
Sent us out with milk cans, pea tins, jam-pots
Where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots.
Round hayfields, cornfields and potato-drills
We trekked and picked until the cans were full
Until the tinkling bottom had been covered
With green ones, and on top big dark blobs burned
Like a plate of eyes. Our hands were peppered
With thorn pricks, our palms sticky as Bluebeard's.
We hoarded the fresh berries in the byre.
But when the bath was filled we found a fur,
A rat-grey fungus, glutting on our cache.
The juice was stinking too. Once off the bush
The fruit fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour.
I always felt like crying. It wasn't fair
That all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot.
Each year I hoped they'd keep, knew they would not.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Opportunities could be around the next corner....?

I had so much pleasure watching a robin bobbing and bouncing around the base of the bird feeder the other day. But then he flew onto a pot hanging on the house wall.
Nothing unusual there I hear you say, but then he dived down into the side of the outer pot! 
It was a tight squeeze. 
Most odd I thought...but then I realised he was going to get a drink from the surplus of water contained in the base of the pot. 
This made me realise that the water bath which was located at the rear of the house was totally in the wrong place! 
Cool fresh water was on hand but not just handy enough. 
All the birds were oblivious to its presence. 

The feeders are proving to be incredibly popular but like a good meal in a first class restaurant you need a nicely chilled drink to accompany it.
So the bird bath had to be moved nearer to the feed station...and oh how that has proved a big hit! 
There's virtually a constant queue. 

(Here's Robbie taking in the new spa...I hope you can see him as he's a little difficult to spot)

That got me thinking how life can be like that bird bath.
We might all be missing opportunities that are just out of sight or around a nearby corner.
Maybe we just have to look a little further or step out of our comfort zone to find all kinds of possibilities. 
There could be all sorts of wonderful things lying in wait for us. 

Opportunities don't always come right into our path...sometimes we have to go and look for it!
Just a quick post today...I'm working away in the studio (spare room... hehe)
I hope your Wednesday is wonderful and full of opportunity.

Oops I forgot to post the view outside my window on the 1st September...forgive me? 

Thanks for stopping by https://secure.quebles.com/content/hotmail/emoticons/1511763.gif

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Enjoying the last few days of Summer....

How do you hold back time? Does anyone know? 
No I didn't think so.
It's something that we've all wanted to do at some stage or other and yesterday was one of those days for me...It was the last day of summer :(
So I've decided to sit and reflect on what has been a wonderful few months of incredible weather for us here in Scotland. 

We couldn't have wished for a better introduction back into UK life, than to be able to experience all that a good British summer can give. 
I remember as a child growing up, when we would wake at first light and rush to meet up with friends, eager to spend the whole day outdoors. 
We'd only appear back home reluctanly for a much needed snack or sustenance of some sort, or when the light began to fade or worst of all when my name was called to come in because it was time for bed. The response would always be "ahhh....just five more minutes pleeeeeeeeeeeeeese?"
It's amazing what a beautiful summer day can do to promote a healthy appetite, as well as a healthy glow! 
I can remember summer started in May back then (although my Mother would always insist that we wore our vests quoting "Never cast a cloud until May's out". Meaning you couldn't possibly take off your vest until June began...no matter what, even if you were about to self-combust!  
Summer would carry on right through uninterrupted until September and sometimes even beyond if we were lucky to experience an 'Indian summer' as it would be called. 

But maybe I'm looking back with rose coloured glasses...because the reports I've heard about the summers over recent years have been mainly disappointing and sometimes just a complete washout! 
I'm so glad that this year wasn't https://secure.quebles.com/content/hotmail/emoticons/1508618.gif
Here's a photo of our garden to prove that the sun did shine! 

(Nearly at the close of the day...the busy bee is still active...can you see him?)

But I can't say that about this year. Since we arrived back in the UK from Australia, we've enjoyed many unexpected glorious days. Enjoying sun filled warm temperatures and even been lucky enough to eat our meals outdoors too. 
This is exceptional and so unprecedented because the weather can be quite extraordinarily changeable and so unpredictable, as you will know if you live in here. 
That's why it can be our main topic of conversation. 

This weather is not what we expected but we have been so grateful and appreciated every moment. I've been getting familiar with my garden once again...meeting some new and old friends. Some of the plants I actually planted way back, but some are new additions that have been introduced in our absence. 

(I love to pick flowers from the garden and bring them indoors...
...it's like a snap shot of the month and what's in bloom) 

Sunshine, blue skies and shadows cast....
The garden has matured (haven't we all?) whilst I've been gallivanting about the globe, so there was a serious need for pruning. 
Like a scissor crazy over enthusiastic hair-dresser, I set to work. 
Edward Scissorhands has nothing on me! 

Who knew that the Lady's mantle (Alchemilla vulgaris) would take over the whole border plus some of the lawn! A charming little plant with frothy lime-green flowers but not something that you want in your lawn...well I don't anyway so snip snip snip! 

But do not fear...I noticed yesterday its re-sprouted. 
I think we might well have a battle on our hands here. 

One morning the heavy dew caught on a leaf which just stopped me in my tracks. 
But there's work to be done here...no rest for the wicked as my Grandmother would say...and I have to say I must be wicked! 
Really wicked!!!

(This photo reminded me of that old tv programme years ago...called 3,2,1 I think with the 'Dusty Bin')

We are also hacking cutting back huge hedges which is producing wonderful amount of kindling for our wood burner. 

I have to say that the Leylandii makes an excellent hedge creating a fantastic windbreak, privacy screen etc but beware if not looked after or cut regularly...then you're in for trouble. These quiet attractive hedges are on a mission...to reach Mars as soon as possible. Growing straight up at a rate of knots! 
Turn your back for a few months and whoosh...up they go!
We spent days precariously perched on ladders but thankfully my 6 foot son was on hand to help. (I'm vertically challenged shall we say, so this was a great help) 
I was delegated to be the safety anchor man...having confer bits land on me covering me like next years Christmas panto tree. 
Now we have a nice reasonably high hedge...just don't get the spirit level out or look too closely please.

And so as any gardener will tell you...you have to take time out to sit and appreciate the work you have just done and to make plans for future assignments. 
It's funny I always remember this bit! 
And so another good day comes to a close..."ahh beer o-clock" (as my hubby calls it) 

What is it about this family and fire?

Here's a shot of a shed that was demolished and burnt in the old ruined barn, which we now call 'the folly'
There will possibly be a future post about this but for now I'm just remembering back once again to a fantastic Bonfire night party that we held here years ago. 
The children were quite small but with the bonfire contained within these walls there was less worry. It was perfect and I remember everyone having a great time. 
Red sparks floating up into the star filled sky and later we had a few fireworks and cooked jacket potatoes in the ashes...plus popcorn! 
A huge hit :D
The ashes were still glowing the next morning.

We have lots of ideas on what we should do with 'the folly' but it's very early days yet. I think it might call for an architect view to help us decide. I can see nothing past an art studio/gallery! 
What do you think? 
Granny flat, separate student apartment, holiday home?
Dog kennel?
I don't think so I hear 'McMuffy' say...Kennel? What's one of those? 

We've had some wonderful walks McMuffy and I, through the country-side, woods and along the river. I had forgotten just how beautiful the British countryside can be. 
There's always something to catch your eye and I know that I'm going to enjoy seeing all the different seasons putting on their show. 

Where we are located there's a huge expanse of sky that is just perfect for cloud spotting and sunsets. 
I just love space! 

We also met some of the neighbours. 
Once again some old and some new. 
And some surprises too. 
I remember having a deer come right into the garden when we were last here, right up to the door almost. I don't know which one of us was more surprised to see the other. 
I'm hoping that we may be as lucky in the future. There's something special about having wildlife come to call. 
I also remember one night taking a last peek out of the window to have a huge, what I thought was a ginger tom cat stop and look back at me. 
I thought wow that big boy needs to be put on a diet, but then a few days later upon speaking to someone, it was explained that it was probably a 'wild cat' and that I'd been very lucky to spot him. He was lurking around our wood shed. 

(photo courtesy of Google Images...click for more pics)

Apologies for this photo I know it's a little blurred but you have to be quick to capture these things sometimes...maybe next time I'll have more warning or hopefully she'll be a regular visitor and there won't be any urgency in capturing the shot. 

Hey, now does anyone remember these beauties...or should that say 'booties'?
The 70's Moon Boots! 
We found them in the loft. They've probably been home for any number of wee beasties over the years by the look of them. 
Sadly they are no more...it took a lot to say goodbye to them, but then they probably wouldn't have lasted even having a foot put in them...even if you wanted to (yuk) They would have probably disintegrated within seconds. 

Here's something else that is no more...the little wendy, summer or cubby house.
My son took great delight in demolishing this. 
But I had mixed feelings...there had been lots of play times, happy memories and it had even been home for our two rabbits. I was contemplating it becoming our chook (hen) house but decided it wasn't in the best of health, so off it went to the folly for cremation.  
There might well be a future post about this too.

I hope you are noticing all the sunshine radiating from these photos.
Okay, I just wanted to point it out in case you'd missed it. 
And look at that blue sky!

This photo is taken from the side of the folly. 
I love those huge nails and wonder if they could talk what tales they'd tell.  

Remember I'd mentioned in my Simple Woman's Daybook entry the butterfly that refuses to leave the house...well look...
He just loves to hang out and spend time with me.

It's most bizarre to have a flutterby butterfly suddenly appear and fly around the room. 
He appears almost every evening now when I'm cooking...I think he feels so much at home he's invited to dinner too.  

Ahh...summer comes to a close but all the wonderful memory will linger. 
What's this I see....
The first signs of autumn?
It's arrival brings a new look to the Scottish countryside, with reds, golds and browns replacing the greens of summer. I don't really mind because the palette is pleasing and they'll be lots more beautiful things to appreciate. 
Yes, I suppose even the rain but let's keep our fingers crossed and hope for an 'Indian Summer' first. 

But just in case it doesn't come...I'm organising my cosy things...I haven't quite got the 'Onesie' yet...I wouldn't wish that sight on anyone, but who knows I always say 'never say never'. If that North wind doth blow too hard, I might just indulge! 
Don't worry there won't be any photographic evidence. I'm not that cruel. ;D

Is there any particular time or event you wish you could stop time for?
I'd love to know.
Hopefully you're enjoying a super sun-filled Sunday.
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