Home away from home…

I love reading the visitor books in places. Whenever we stay in a holiday cottage or at an attraction it is so interesting flicking through and seeing who has been there before you, what they thought of it, where they came from…

We are just over halfway through our first week away from Rum. Ady will return back after just this week off, the rest of us are heading way down south for some time catching up with family and friends.

About three weeks ago I commented to Ady that I *almost* wished the holiday was already over so I could be looking back on it fondly and feeling refreshed rather than in that anticipatory state of fretting about details and anxiety about possible derailments to our plans. Life on Rum is always at the mercy of ferries, weather conditions, livestock and people. So any deviation from our day to day lives means even more vulnerability to outside factors out of our control. Ady corrected me that I could relax once we arrived at our booked holiday cottage on the Isle of Lewis because that would mean Croftsitter Jen had arrived safely on Rum (a trip from England for her which also involves public transport, an overnight stop and a ferry crossing), we had left the island (a ferry and car journey) and arrived on Harris (another ferry and another car journey). As it goes that first night we arrived in the cottage was not really that relaxing – the car had failed to start on the day we left Rum (easily remedied by starting one of our other cars, which doesn’t always start, rolling it close enough for the jump leads to work – scary when the brakes are unreliable and it’s a giant car rolling towards our tiny mainland car, all done with an audience of Croftsitter Jen and a random tourist who stopped to watch and chat to us), the ferry had been delayed and when we arrived at the cottage after a long day travelling, it was very cold, the oven was unfamiliar and we burned our pizzas and the wifi was patchy and slow.

I should have projected myself forward to last night as that was the point that relaxation kicked in fully. Two bubble baths, lots of stunning views and bracing walks on beaches, huge amounts of laughter and fun and in-jokes, quite a lot of crap TV, several good nights sleep, plenty of nice food and drink and all was well with the world.

We’ve been to the very bottom of Harris, bought some wool from the tweed shop, Ady surprised me with a bottle of Harris gin (he double backed in to get it for me after I’d fallen in love with the sample). We’ve been to the very top of Lewis – the Butt of Lewis lighthouse, the Callanish Standing Stones, Carloway Broch, to Stornoway. Our last full day is tomorrow and we’re planning a return to the stones to go to the visitor centre and a trip to the Blackhouse museum.












And that ‘home away from home’ title? It’s a much used phrase in visitor books. Here at our holiday cottage it has been used by visitors in the past to describe the fully stocked kitchen with touches such as a radio, utility room complete with washing machine, tumble dryer and dishwasher, the comfy sofas, cosy bedrooms. None of these things are what we have at home these days. What is making us feel at home away from home is wild and windy weather, either outside the window right now, or evidenced by everything being tied down in anticipation of it – wheelie bins are tethered, shed doors are very secured. The lack of shops – we called in to a petrol station / groceries store yesterday to buy tonic water to have with my Harris gin and were told ‘Not till next Tuesday…’ a very familiar tale back at Rum shop. The attitude of the people, used to their lives being fascinating because they live on a remote island, well versed in the usual questions, slightly tired at the end of what has no doubt been a busy tourist season here too.

We came here because it seems mad that we live so far from our previous lives in a wild and remote place yet there is relative civilisation further away from the mainland than us. Because we live in the Hebrides but there is an ‘Outer Hebrides’ and we wanted to know what was more extreme and outer than where we are. Because one day, when we no longer live where we do we will probably live somewhere more anonymous, less documented. But while we live here, we should explore more, take the opportunity to visit the places which are, relatively speaking, on our doorstep.


A busy week

In classic almost back to school style we have been super productive when we have a deadline looming. We are off for a holiday next week. When we moved here it was with an idea that the perfect life is one you don’t need a holiday from and I still firmly believe that.

However… it’s been a long season. A chaotic start to our year, a busy season with loads of sales in the shed shop, lots and lots of new livestock – bought in and bred here, some really hectic volunteer events, a lot of visitors, plenty of community events, lots of writing work, the launch of the bell tent camping… the list goes on. And we’re ready for a break. One of those simply stopping because actually there is nothing you should / could / can be getting on with. No firewood to chop or stack, no weeding, no animals to feed, no windows to clean. That sort of break. And despite loving our lives here very very much it will also be incredibly luxurious to have a washing machine and a fridge and a freezer inside the same building as we are in rather than a mile walk away. And a bath… and electricity and wifi all the time. In the old days we used to go camping three or four times a year and delight in *not* having all those things on tap, now we are looking forward to a few days with them!

Anyway, more on that when it is actually happening – there are ferries and travelling and croft sitters and all sorts of carefully planned but inevitably precarious until they are actually happening logistics before we can full breath a sigh of relief and be doing that.

For now, it’s been a busy week. The Escaping Sheep who were finding themselves outside of their pen about twice a day, playing chase the sheep with us around the outside of the pen for half an hour or so before taking pity on us and sauntering back in to their pen again have been tamed. I am not going to claim we have fixed their ability to escape because that would be foolishly tempting fate. I am however going to proudly announce that they have remained in their pen since Sunday when we did some work to it.

sheep pen

We have moved Barbara, Waddles and BenFogle the three girl pigs onto a new patch of grassy ground. They are nearer to the caravan for our croft sitter, have plenty of forage to keep them busy and a new house cunningly constructed from an IBC. The move itself was very smooth, we have moved pigs enough times now to have it down to quite an art. The gathering up of the posts and the rolling up of the electric fence was made slightly tougher by the very deep mud though…

muddy boots

Ady has been raking up all the grass and reeds he cut with a machine we have been borrowing. There are now multiple stacks of it scattered around the croft looking slightly menacing. Some are destined for mulch on the raised beds, some are destined for drying out to be animal bedding over the winter.

I have been weeding – five beds down, thirteen to go! The ones I have weeded have been covered with a layer of the chopped grass and rushes. There is a slight risk that there is grass seed in this cut stuff which may grow in the raised beds. I will aim to negate this risk by further mulching with seaweed and with other matter but the reality is that grass is a lot easier to weed out than some of the other weeds on the croft anyway and doesn’t do any real harm to the soil either.

raised beds

It’s been beautifully sunny and warm – short sleeves weather with the added bonus of midges already one so all of these tasks outside have been a joy rather than an endurance test. Hurrah for autumn!


A confession

I am sure I have written before about my short attention span. About how I flit from thing to thing, getting utterly absorbed in it before getting bored and moving on. In the pre-parenthood days my cv was filled with 12-18 month stints in jobs before I got fed up and started looking for the next challenge. When I am doing something I do give it my all – if I were on a TV talent show I would say 110%! – but it doesn’t always last.

The only things I have ever really stuck with are my relationship with Ady – and Home Educating Davies and Scarlett. I suspect that full time parenting and educating relates really well to that personality actually, an ever changing, constantly evolving day to day pattern with two individuals who offer new challenges and questions all the time has been a perfect fit for me.

I am great at passion and throwing myself at something for a finite time, giving my all and fully committing to things. Just not always so good at still being in that same headspace a few weeks, months or years later.

Years ago on an online forum I was on a group of us made new years resolutions. The usual things were on people’s lists – losing weight, eating healthier, getting more exercise. I knew myself well enough to realise that committing to something like that would be setting myself up for failure so instead I went for one small change each month for the duration of that month. At the end of the month I could give that up and take on the next challenge. The hope was that a month would be enough to become habit forming and over ten years on some of the habits I formed during that time are still with me. They were small changes such as drinking more water… for every cup of tea I made, I would drink a full glass of water while the kettle boiled and I would have another large glass of water before bed. I still do that before bed glass of water. Another month I pledged to eat more fruit and vegetables, including trying things I either thought I didn’t like or had never tried before. I knew by the end of that month that I really didn’t like cauliflower or broccoli but I discovered that I loved asparagus and it remains my favourite (seasonal) veg. I have a raised bed of it growing and hope to one day eat my own home grown and picked asparagus. Another month I aimed to try different forms of exercise. That led to going swimming myself while Davies and Scarlett had their weekly swimming lessons instead of sitting reading a book. That led to two sponsored swims and raising over £1000 for charity including swimming the equivalent of the channel over a set time frame.

So my confession? It’s this butterfly brain that leads to me picking up one project and dropping it and moving on to the next one. It is why I am great at picking brambles and making hundreds of jars of jam during a one month window, or spending two whole days baking for a customer order, or a six week chunk of time furiously crocheting a blanket, but less good at long term, sustained, day in day out stuff. There are many reasons why our growing of food here on the Croft doesn’t go so well. External factors such as poor soil, challenging climate, pests such as deer and our own chickens play a huge role but also in there is my own bad form in starting off well and then starting to lose interest.

So for this next growing season – and I’m considering autumn to be the start of the growing season rather than the spring as I have a whole load of prep to be getting on with right now – to be my chance to sort this out. And I’m applying that tried and tested knowledge of how my brain works to help try and make it a success.

So this month… I need to weed the raised beds and cover them with mulch. Some of them have perennial crops in, some have autumn sowings but all need clearing of grass or weeds and covering with something over winter. Today I finished off weeding two of the beds that I had almost completed and pretty much did all of a third one. The mulch material is already cut and ready for me waiting to be collected and spread on the beds. An hour or so a day will get me to achieving this target. And for now, until next month, in project making my garden grow that is all I need to focus on making happen.



It’s time for a livestock update. It’s been a big year for new Croft 3 creatures, both bought in and bred and reared here on the Croft and as we head towards the toughest part of the year we can think about how everything has settled in so far.

First the sheep. Three of this years lambs brought across from our neighbouring Isle of Muck. The four Small Isles – Rum, Eigg, Muck and Canna are geographically very close but are very different places in terms of geology, size, vegetation and even to a degree weather conditions. Rum is easily the harshest although I think Muck possibly has wilder winds. There is more livestock kept on the other three islands than here on Rum as there are established farms and crofts on the other islands where we are still quite newly established in keeping livestock and crofting here on Rum. Historically there have been sheep here but it was our fellow crofters on Croft 1 who brought the first sheep back to Rum since the clearances when they introduced Soay sheep back to the island a couple of years ago. Their initial stock of a few ewes and a ram bred successfully but struggled with last winter’s harsh conditions.

We have limited experience with sheep. Prior to leaving Sussex I signed up as volunteer Lookerer – part of a council run initiative to protect chalk grassland on the South Downs by grazing with sheep. The sheep were from a farmer, the land owned by Brighton Council and the flock who were grazed over various locations were tended by a team of volunteers who visited them twice daily to ensure they had water, their fence was intact and that all the sheep were fit, well and walking ok. We had a weekend of training in basic sheep handling, learned about the various ways that sheep die and I came away mostly with the message that keeping sheep is basically an ongoing battle with a sheep’s overwhelming suicidal tendencies! It seemed to be that a shepherd spends almost their whole time preventing a sheep from dying. It’s a wonder to me that sheep have not made themselves extinct. Foot rot, fly strike, liver fluke, getting tangled up and falling onto their backs… the list was endless. I had practical lessons in turning and handling a sheep, setting up and checking electric fencing.

We had quite a bit of sheep wrangling experience while WWOOFing – from the cossetted and named sheep we came across at two different hosts in Glastonbury – hand-sheared, hand fed, all named and kept as pets. We stayed at a farm during lambing with huge numbers of sheep, took lambs to a slaughterhouse and generally got involved in rounding up, herding, chasing and heading off large numbers of sheep who regularly don’t perform in quite such a sheep-like following the herd manner as common sayings would have you expect.

Keeping sheep on Croft 3 was always part of the plan and this year we finally made it a reality. As with everything we’ve done here we’re starting small. Three ewes, a hardy breed, good for meat and fleece, good grazers. They arrived safely, settled in well and after a couple of weeks became regular escapees! They seem to push under the mesh enclosure while eating and then look up and realise they are not inside their pen any more and seem really confused as to how that happened and how to get back in again. They are still on the croft, still penned in and secure within the croft fence and gates and showing no desire to roam any further, infact they seem visibly relieved when we manage to herd them back in their pen each time. But we have a pen to keep them in a set area so have today re-enforced the pen with a second layer of netting and pegged it down to the ground all the way around. This makes it at least four times harder to break out in my opinion. By no means sheep proof – if I’ve learnt anything in my brief period as a shepherd so far it is that sheep seem to enjoy proving you wrong – but certainly more secure than it was before.

In other livestock news the pigs have been pretty quiet this year and we’re hoping they remain that way for the duration – no surprise piglet litters until the spring please! We are aiming to keep everyone who might make that a reality apart until at least November but as pigs are also masters of escapology particularly when females are in season we don’t always manage that. So far I think we’re ok.

On the bird front we have five wee chicks still penned with their mother, a late surprise clutch of chicks who will just about have time to get big and be released before winter really settles in. This years older chicks all seem to be doing fine, growing well and mixing in with the flock. We will separate the cockerels from this year in the next month or so and pen them to fatten them. We will also do the same with any male ducklings from this years hatches. It’s still a little early to tell male and female ducks but early counting and educated guessing tells me it was a female heavy hatch which is good. The muscovy ducks are still penned as they seem to be the most vulnerable to crows, we could probably release them all now but we have a croft sitter here in 10 days for a week so may as well keep them penned and safe until after that. Particularly as they are captured in the fruit cage and are doing a fine job of eating any slugs and caterpillars and other wee beasties who might try and set up home on the fruit trees and bushes over winter and do harm.

The biggest challenge will always be taking animals through a Rum winter and it is fair to say that despite our care and attention only the strongest survive but certainly the born and raised creatures always seem to do the best. Fingers crossed we get through the coming season with as few casualties as possible.



It occurred to me recently that life on Rum is a bit like childhood. You sort of know it won’t last forever and you will eventually have to take on proper responsibilities and inhabit a wider world but why would you rush it? Why not enjoy the learning journey, the whole new world adventure, the living in a bubble knowing it will eventually burst and subject you to the bigger outside. There is a lot of den building, camp-making, gang forming, personality shaping stuff happening.

I know, I need to stop picking so many brambles and spending so much time inside my own head!

And I have. I reached my personal goal of 300 jars made today. It was a jar of bramble and rose which hit the 300th mark. The 299th was a bramble and chilli. I’ve also made 140 mini jars in a mix of flavours. I make that around 40kg of brambles picked, around 50kg of sugar bought and carried up the hill, along with those 440 glass jars. That’s a lot of pricked fingers, boiling pans, labels handwritten and stuck on. Tomorrow is Michaelmas – (from Wikipedia)

Folklore in the British Isles suggests that Michaelmas day is the last day that blackberries can be picked. It is said that when St. Michael expelled Lucifer, the devil, from heaven, he fell from the skies and landed in a prickly blackberry bush. Satan cursed the fruit, scorched them with his fiery breath, and stamped and spat on them, so that they would be unfit for eating. As it is considered ill-advised to eat them after 29 September, a Michaelmas pie is made from the last of the season.

I usually continue to pick after that date and tend to freeze any brambles for our own use in crumbles, pies and if I can face eating it – jam! So I am not quite done yet with the bramble picking but certainly the pressure is off. Today I picked a last few kilos and made the last few jars of jam.

The next challenge is working out a place to store 440 jars of jam. It will obviously be in the shed shop but we need to construct some sort of cupboard or concealed space for them. We’ll be overhauling the shop over the winter anyway, taking stock of what has sold and what has not, what are the best display locations, whether our pricing, labelling and general merchandising has worked on various lines. As experienced retailers from our past lives we are well versed in that side of our Croft 3 business. On my to do list over winter along with creating back up stock of various top selling craft lines (crochet midges!) is getting the croft 3 website properly up and running to maximise the potential for online and postal sales.

Returning to my childhood theme September of course is the start of the autumn term, back to school, college or university. It’s definitely a time of change and taking stock. Harvest is coming to an end, nights are drawing in, colours are changing and here on Rum the cast of characters is changing with folk leaving which will inevitably lead to new folk arriving. September is hurrying away, I wonder what October will bring.


Bramble Philosophy…

I love mindless, simple tasks. I love the head space that something occupying your physical self without the need to engage your mental self offers. The opportunity for your mind to wander, butterfly like all over the place. I relish the methodical, rhythmic pace of an activity your body can get stuck into and what that does to my state of mind. I have never meditated, or done exercise for the sake of it but I suspect this is what it would be like.

Being outside in nature makes the exercise so much easier to become creative in your thoughts, you have the sky to remind you how very small you are, the sounds of birds singing, insects buzzing, the river running to lull and soothe you and feel in good company with your busyness, the ever changing landscape, the sun on your back, wind in your hair, raindrops on your face to stay in tune with. The ground beneath your feet, the trees, the rocks all tell you that they were here before you existed, will remain long after you have walked away or left this life.

I have picked brambles this week alone. I have picked them with Scarlett, who chatters almost constantly – in a stream of consciousness style, sharing every thought as it enters her mind. I have picked with Ady, an experience which usually is about laughter, teasing, the odd rant and a bit of competitive seeing who fills the bag first. I have picked with a friend who happened to join us as we walked by and came along for the walk and chat for an hour or so. I have picked in the sunshine, I have picked in the rain, I have picked in the wind. I have picked listening to music and I have picked while singing. I have picked on my way to the village, on my way home, on the croft and around and about.

As I pick I compile blog posts, letters to friends, replies to emails, acceptance speeches, leaving announcements, closing words… all things I will likely never write or say or send. It’s an exercise in words which have always been my currency. I make my peace with things, reach conclusions, realise what I should do next.

Brambles are like pigs – you should never chase them.

Some brambles are not for you to pick, you need to let them go, they are for someone else to pick.

It is worth weighing up the risk of the out of reach or dangerous brambles. Sometimes I balance on precarious footings, tread on ground I am unsure of, stretch further than I can really reach. Sometimes the bag gets ripped on a thorn and I lose everything I had already picked just because I was being greedy and trying to get a bit more. I often leave the path that others have already taken and find an amazing patch of brambles just around the corner. More frequently I discover that if I look lower down under the leaves where I think I have already picked everything there is a huge amount of brambles just hidden but already easily in my reach.

It’s been a very Rum week. I’ve posted out jam and a bag, taken orders for bread, pies, cookies and cakes for the next few weeks. We learned that someone who was here before we arrived is leaving the island soon, waved off someone who left this week. Our resident numbers are in rapid decline this year. Ferries were cancelled, stranding people here who didn’t intend staying so long, preventing others from arriving at all. There was a potato shortage meaning amendments of menus and adaptations of food plans. Ady has been ghillying, leading a pony around parts of Rum he would probably not otherwise walk, I have done a castle tour and a post office shift. We had a community meal, a leaving party, heard the first roaring stags of the season, ate venison.

And jam. We are at 282 jars and 98 mini jars of jam made so far. While working out costings for jars and sugar I calculated that I have picked about half my own body weight in brambles this season so far. That’s a whole lot of brambles. And a whole lot of time philosophising!


September so far…

The weather has not been terribly kind. We seem to have either had high winds or midges. Our regular ferry is on it’s annual two weeks off so we have a sort of pot luck timetable running with a small boat sticking to the regular times for foot passengers and a larger one chugging around for vehicles and freight movement. The small one is more liable to disruption from bad weather than our usual ferry though so we have had cancelled boats, missed deliveries and supplies like milk, fresh fruit and vegetables have been in short supply.

Meanwhile on the croft we have celebrated an anniversary (17 years married for Ady and I), a birthday (16 years old for Davies) and had a visit from my parents. Mum & Dad brought with them a gift for us of a new car, suitable for our rather more regular than before trips to the mainland. It is a very compact little car, ideal for the very limited mileage we do, cheap to run and maintain. We are massively grateful and I’m really looking forward to zipping about in it next month when we are next off the island.


The sheep have settled in well, they are getting calmer and more used to us each day and we will be working on getting them used to eating sheep nuts alongside grazing over the next few weeks, getting them used to handling and ready for the regular dosing of various treatments to protect them from all the Rum nasties of fluke, ticks and blowfly. We thought we were done with new additions for this year but the surprise discovery of a broody chicken one day followed by her appearing at feed time with five newly hatched chicks the day after means one of the release pens has been re-erected to keep them all safe while they grow.

The high winds demonstrated to me that the cloches I proudly made and installed over the strawberry beds were not as Rum proof as they needed to be with two of the seven flying off and breaking. Mending the broken bits and re-enforcing the rest is on the job list for the week ahead.

It has been an amazing year for brambles, they are hanging heavy on branches all over the island but the rubbish weather has prevented as much picking as I would have liked. Then I ran out of jars in a Nic-failed-to-keep-up-with-herself error of ordering (this was after I ran out of sugar!). Orders of both jam and sugar are expected next week – random deliveries permitting and I have brambles in the freezer ready to get jamming with and grand plans to catch up with myself again on the picking front too. We’re already at well over 130 jars made though, with four new flavour additions so doing well.

bramble and rum jam



We’ve added a new shelf in the shed to accommodate the new wee sampler jars and have already had a few sales. A mail order jam sale and a commission for a batch of crochet midges ready for Christmas means the season continues well past the decent weather.

More bags are on sale – a pink vision already in the shop and a silver and grey number almost ready to go.


grey bag

Ady and I spent yesterday afternoon processing a large stag – our freezer is now filled with venison steaks, diced meat for stews and pies, a couple of roasting joints and a huge amount of meat ready for mincing and turning into sausages and burgers when we have time.

The nights are drawing in, it’s dark long before 8pm and suddenly it feels as though the race is on to get everything done in a day, before the end of the week, the end of the month, the end of the year.


Happy Birthday Davies

There are a few landmark birthdays in life. Your first birthday obviously although you never remember that yourself. My parents bought my brother and I our first watches for our fifth birthdays. Ten feels quite noteworthy as you reach double figures. Thirteen marks the start of the teens. America seems to have celebrated sixteen as a big birthday for years although we don’t tend to particularly in the UK although I recall wanting to try my first cigarette before it was legal in the weeks leading up to my 16th! 17 was about being able to drive, 18 about being an official adult and for me the landmarks ran out a little as we bought our house when I was just 20 so my 21st was certainly not any sort of milestone. From then on it’s been decades; so far Ady and I have both done 30 and 40 and Ady has also celebrated 50.

This week saw Davies’ 16th birthday. That still feels pretty landmark. At 16 in Scotland you can do all sorts of things (I know, I just checked on line!) many of which Davies appears to have no desire or need to do (skin piercings, alcohol, buy lottery tickets, enter a civil partnership, leave home…) but he is now on the electoral roll, has a national insurance number and if he follows in his parents footsteps is on the very cusp of adulthood and all that that entails.

I have tended to blog less about Davies and Scarlett as they have gotten older feeling that that it is not my place to tell their story but increasingly their own. I can however share what being Davies’ parent means to me. Motherhood has been a complete joy, a privilege and honour to share in the life of such amazing, interesting, creative, funny, curious and unique individuals.

From a very young age Davies demonstrated all encompassing passions, an interest for Davies has never been fleeting; always all consuming, entire and enduring. From a very early age it has been TV or films which have captured his imagination and interest. I can chart his birthdays by the character he was into at the time. Over the years this has determined birthday party themes, party cakes, gifts, dressing up outfits, trips out and more. Two year old Davies went everywhere dressed as Buzz Lightyear including a trip to see Disney on Ice. When he was four he wore a Peter Pan outfit and gifts included a handstitched Peter Pan toy (which still resides in his 16 year olds bedroom!) and a Neverland island toy. At six it was Wallace and Gromit with a themed party (we won a prize for our Gromit cupcakes and still use the bakeware and oven gloves to this day) and a visit to a local zoo park where costume characters were in attendance and trip to the Science museum in London for an Aardman exhibition. When Davies was seven it was Doctor Who with a party where the goody bags where mini Tardis, a lifesize papier mache dalek attended the party and guests included weeping angels and Oods.

The themes of 16 are (enduringly) Doctor Who, Sherlock and Lost with all gifts associated with one of the above. True to teenage form Davies got up at least three hours after he had planned to! Birthday food included bacon sandwiches, sweetie laden tiffin as birthday cake and pizza for dinner. His favourite dinner of venison steak and chips had to be delayed a few days until we had venison (having processed a beast today we enjoyed some very large steaks for dinner tonight!) and he was blessed by a visit from grandparents here for the big day.

Sixteen years have passed since I first gazed into the eyes of my newborn son. Back then his tiny hand grasped my fingers, he relied on me for his every need and I had all the answers. Now he stands taller than I, is very much his own person and relies on me less with every passing year. The intensity of the early parenting years has passed – this middle phase of cheerleading, supporting, nurturing and waiting, perhaps just out of sight and hearing range but poised nonetheless should you be needed calls on different skills. I have loved every stage so far and this is no exception.

Davies at 16 is a young man, a fledgling almost ready to spread his wings and fly. His emerging world view, ideas, opinions and take on life are a pleasure to witness and share. His funny, thought provoking, insightful and unfettered comments an education to be privy to. The footsteps during this part of our journey through life together are great strides rather than the tiny faltering hesitant baby steps of the past, I know that in the not too distant future he may well leave me behind for a while or walk a different path. I am confident we have many more side by side walks to take together in the future.





Happy 16th Birthday Davies, that loving, funny, intense, talented small boy may be growing up and becoming a man but it looks like you’ll be taking all those same traits with you into adulthood.


davies eyes


Every day should be a nice pants day…

A while ago we were chatting down in the village about the order you would eat a selection pack of chocolates in. My rationale for such occasions has always been to start with my least favourite and work back towards my most favourite, saving it for last. One of the people we were talking to disagreed with this and said ‘Oh no, you should always start with your favourite, then your next favourite and so on’. The reasoning being that you were always selecting the very best chocolate available.

I was reminded of this today when doing a tidy up of our wardrobe. The winter is coming and we know that it will be a daily battle against the damp once we can no longer have all the windows open every day so we took everything out of the wardrobes, cleaned all the surfaces with a bleach solution to kill any spores and then put everything back in again. I took the opportunity to go through the box which contains all my underwear. Despite having limited space and scant opportunity to acquire clutter we still seem to gather things we don’t use regularly here somehow, my underwear collection being a case in point. Despite sometimes going a week or more without the change to do laundry I still had at least 25 pairs of pants and 10 bras. Including a selection of greying, elastic given up pants and some uncomfortable, spend all your time tugging on the straps bras. So I chucked them all out! Now all I have are nice bras and nice pants. Which means every day I can choose my favourite underwear, every day can be a nice pants day.

I shared this on facebook where a friend said that she applies the same mentality to mugs – all her mugs are nice now. We have a limited number of mugs here – a couple of photo mugs featuring us with Ben Fogle and our favourite quotes from the New Lives in the Wild show which always make us smile, one lonely nicked from Starbucks about 14 years ago mug which has lasted countless house moves and travelling around the UK in Willow with us, a Wallace and Gromit mug from back when Davies was obsessed with W&G and we used to collect every single bit of W&G stuff we could find at car boot sales and charity shops and my birthday mug – handthrown and very special. All of them make me smile every time I make a drink or take a swig of my morning cup of tea.

We can’t always live every day as though it might be our last (although of course it might and one day it will) but neither should we always be cautious and hang back depriving ourselves of everything nice and saving the best til last or keeping it in reserve for a rainy day.

From now on I am always going to choose my very favourite chocolate first from selection packs. And whilst it’s not really any of your business you should probably know I am wearing nice pants.