Just about bordering on odd, I see things through different eyes.The heading says it all - I live, I love, I craft, I am me...


Before I set off ...

Yesterday (Monday) was a delightfully quiet one after the last few weeks and weekends shenanigans.

Work has been busy both physically and mentally. As part of grant awarding bodies criteria, we have to achieve certain 'tick box' requirements to fulfil our part of the agreement. So, there have been sessions of teaching both volunteers and public as well as our apprentice alongside the normal gardening sessions. This will alter slightly as the weather turns and there is less gardening on offer. Over the autumn months and leading up to December (can't bring myself to say the festive c word), I'll be running crafting workshops where we'll be making decorations, wreaths as well as wintery garden advice. (find me a dark corner please - I need to hibernate)...

So, to sit quietly with a crochet hook in hand............. working on my latest hat was bliss. A double strand of Alpaca DK, it is thick and weighs 'a tonne' so there better be at least a week of really cold weather to wear this one! I tried it on this morning and it was like wearing a close fitting duvet.

Last week was our wedding anniversary and as is 'tradition' I completely forgot and when Himself presented a beautiful bouquet of Gerbera daisies, yellow and orange roses, yellow lilies and Hypericum berries with a card - it brought me to tears. He is a keeper🧡💖💚. Now a week later the flowers are just beginning to fade, but not enough to throw, so I have tidied them and freshened their water. I want to get a few more days from them.

In between the heavy showers I tried to garden - my own - but was chased by the rain into my greenhouse where I potted up some of the smaller succulents and cacti from my collection. They are such quiet little fellows, not screaming for attention or needing constant cossetting and I do love their stoic determined growth - I use them at work with those folk who don't see gardening as 'their thing' but do seem to be drawn to the simple honesty of these plants.
Eventually I ran out of greenhouse jobs and when the rain eased off a little, I escaped back to the house and switched the oven on and baked a pile of oak leaf shortbread biscuits. As usual, they did not last long.
Pan seamlessly appeared whilst I was in the garden and vanished as secretively and then reappeared when I returned to the house. Her now ever present company albeit on her terms is still something we are getting used to. It still feels special.

I am off to work shortly, however, looking through the window it is looking far from appetising, but as long as the rain holds off, I'll be fine, so if you'll excuse me, I better get ready.

What are you up to today?
Are you also working around the weather or are you safely ensconced somewhere indoors with mugs of tea keeping warm and dry?

Have a lovely Tuesday xxxxx

Edited to add: it rained............. all day, I got wet and had to change fully twice - sigh.



 Random moments typed whilst listening to rain hammering down on the window.

A cranky cat, one who has just recently learnt that we humans are not as awful as she once thought. It has taken over seven long years for her to come to this point.  Her once sparse and wispy purr has grown into a deep fast rumble and it seems she has found her voice too - it has been a long wait and we still all delight in her sea-change.
The bumble bees seem to be working over time as the season rolls over - they hurtle from one late summer flowering plant to another with a sense of urgency. Last week I counted over 20 bumbles on a sedum while they slowly woke up as the early morning sunlight warmed them up. 
The cutting garden at work did us proud last week - we had an 'end of harvest' garden party with crafts and teas and we sold honey, vegetables, crafts and flowers - all from the kitchen garden. It was amazingly successful with everything selling out. There is a hunger out there for good honest produce at decent prices - something the charity I work for strives to achieve. 
The mesmerising Fibonacci arrangement of sunflower seeds never ceases to delight - the spiralling patterns can contain between 800 to 2000 seeds per head - mind blown! 
Borlotti beans come out of the pod in a luscious pink with a few sparse purply stripes then over the course of a few hours darken and the stripes increase.  
We were sitting in the park a week or so ago - myself, staff and volunteers - for our lunch when we could hear a bird sound that I could not identify. We listened for a while and various suggestions ranged from ... it is a child to .... may be a whining dog .... and could it be a car alarm? Not content with those ideas I went, with head tipped back, up to a tree where I traced the source - A juvenile crow quietly peeping to itself. I've not heard that sound emanating from them before so I wondered if this was it's first foray into the big wild scary world when it noticed me and gave the biggest most raucous caw which seemed to surprise itself as much as it did me. 
It is still raining although not as hard. I am very grateful that I am not working outdoors today - after several busy weeks and weekends - a quiet day pootling around at home, mug of tea in hand,  doing things that need doing sounds rather good!

Hope your Monday is being the day you want it to be 😊 


Raiders' Road Revisited

Our intention had been to stop the night at the Clatteringshaws Reservoir carpark - they allow (for a fee) overnight 'wild camping' for vans. We landed and were initially rather disappointed as the trees had grown so much the view we'd anticipated was completely screened off. Then we discovered their parking machine only took coins. We scrabbled around looking for the right sort of change, we had notes and we had plastic but not six loose pound coins.  So we sat in the van for a moment and stared at what should have been a lovely view of the reservoir and sacked off the idea of staying there the night.

We drove off towards the Raiders' Road and took one of the lovely treed parking sites and after checking that we could stay discovered two other vans quietly tucked in the trees, so we found a space and stayed the night. We could hear the black Waters of Dee as it burbled and splashed over the rocks and as before - the trees had grown so much we could not see the river, but the site was so pleasant and as it was getting late - we settled in. The midgies tried to put us off but we have learnt that if you light an incense stick or two it keeps all but the most determined away. The other vanners (well, they were in mobile homes) must have thought that weird dope smoking hippies had landed and very quickly put up the shutters - or may be they too were hiding from the midgies (I prefer the first option - who wants to be boring haha).

We ate as we listened to the river, watched the stars, smelt the bracken and sipped tea to the sounds of the night as they filled the air. We slept well.
In the morning, after our mug of tea, instead of breakfast, we tidied everything away and drove off to 'Otter Pools' a favourite place of ours along the Raiders' Road. I love this road - it's ridged and rutted stony surface reminds me of the gravelly roads at home - driving through the hills of South Africa where it is just you and the trees. We chatted as we went along, reminding ourselves of previous visits - with the boys when they were 'ickum-bickum' (small). The land is forestry land so it is understandable that trees grow and are harvested and we were interested to see how much it had altered since our last visit.
We landed at Otter Pools - and were the only ones. We made breakfast and went down to the water's edge, chose a lovely large boulder and sat munching as Moss played and swam.
That time was so precious, again we reminisced over previous visits, boys swimming, BBQ's while battling with the midges, picnics and playing - and we wondered why we'd taken so long to return.
Moss was in seventh heaven and could not believe such a wonderful place existed, she really did not want to leave but when the rain that had been threatening most of the morning decided to actually tipple down, we ran back to the van, she was most put out. A brisk towelling down, wrapping her up then placating with a biscuit did go a little way to help matters but she still stared and stared towards the pools where she had just spent a very happy half hour.
We carried on the road, rattling along happily and all too soon the 10 miles of gravel road had finished, we then turned right towards Kircudbright - one of my all time favouritistststst towns in the world. One day when I grow up I will live there (in my dreams!)
We had a wander around, bought ourselves some provisions for lunch then set off for Kircudbright Bay (also known as Dhoon Bay) where in the sands is a wreck with just it's ribs sticking up looking like a whale carcase.
To help Moss get over the dashed holiday romance she'd had with Otter Pools, we let her play on the sands - she soon recovered and had a lovely run around. The tide was a long way out, too far really for a dog dip so we returned to the grassy picnic field and set ourselves up for lunch.
While we ate, we watched the tide creep in as it filled in the bay. We lingered as long as we could - not wanting our micro-adventure to end, but we had to drive home - the next day was a 'back to work day'.
Did we enjoy ourselves? Oh beyond our expectations - we know and love the area and having not been for a few years it was so refreshing to revisit memories and places and find new ones too.

I know that we will return (and I'll let you know GZ when that is) sometime soon. I need to top up my sea and sky levels, they have been sorely neglected💙



Wotta lump

After our early start on Sunday morning, we packed a morning picnic of tea and Sunny Street flapjacks and drove to the nearby hill of Criffel
It is a bit of an upside down 'pudding bowl' shaped hill and I did express my misgivings to Himself - not so much the going up but the coming down with my dodgy knee...... he avoided eye contact and cheerfully pronounced that 'it would be fine' as he'd found a route that was not too steep (famous last words ...) As an almost afterthought, I dug out my old walking poles lurking at the back of the van and shoved them into my haversac.

Any hoo - our walk started near a rather pretty but empty farm house and we did our usual 'wouldn't that be lovely when restored to it's former glory', we often 'do up' houses in our heads while we are walking and this little hoos and garden were certainly worth fantasising about (it was only afterwards I realised I'd not taken any photographs which is a shame).
We left the farmlands and turned up into the woodland and followed the forestry track. It was a lovely wide stony path with glimpses of far distant views between the stands of trees. After a little while we found a cheerful babbling stream that tumbled down over the rocks towards the valley bottom. By this time we'd all warmed up a little and Moss threw herself into the chilly water with such enthusiasm it was hard not to laugh at her.

We continued along, the track becoming a single width path which became increasingly steep. The path was in excellent condition having had lots of work done on it. However there were many 'flights' of stone steps and my knees soon made it known that they were getting tired. However, while we were in the trees it was impossible to see how much further/higher we had to go until we burst out on to the moorland and I realised we'd not even got half way up yet...... (at this point I was beginning to have little spiky thoughts about divorcing husbands and throwing my walking boots in his direction) Himself noticed and quickly cracked open the flask and made me a small mug of tea - this went some way to calm some of those murderous thoughts!
We reached the crest of the hill finally and found a little rocky outcrop where we unwrapped the flapjacks and quietly sipped on tea. The view was spectacular, Criffel hill is a bit of a lump ( ok ok a bit of a large lump) with 360 degree views and we spent a little while appreciating them.
Initially the return path was gentle and the views rewarding, Moss happily rolled in the moorland grasses and we were delighted when we could see the tidal slip and ravines play out on the mudflats. 

Then..... after being deceived by the gentleness of the col between Criffel and the next hill, the descent just dropped away below us and there was no other way of getting down than by just gritting teeth and getting on with it. It was then I pulled out my poles - I was so glad I had remembered them. 

The above photo was the last I took from the hill and no more were taken until we'd reached the valley bottom - and as I hung myself over a gate to recover - this rather large and curious cow wandered over to say hello.  She had such beautiful brown eyes it made me reach for my cellphone to take her picture.
Having 'broken the photo drought' I reverted back to my camera and took the below view towards to two hills we'd just come down off. We stumbled (well I did) our way towards the barn, into the trees and rejoined the track towards the van, five hours after we'd left it.
Himself did the best thing he could have in the situation - sat me down, put the kettle on and found some ibuprofens for my knee ..... I have since forgiven him, but I did vow and will certainly keep my promise that hills are no longer on my 'can do' list. It's not the going up, it is the coming back down.

The next thing he did - which certainly made up for it all (I do love him - I promise) - he drove us down to the coastal village of Carsethorn and there Moss and I (and probably Himself) soaked up the salty air and gently lazy lapping of the sea and felt a whole lot better.
Then we hopped back into Zeb and trundled off to our second evening stop, travelling through rolling hills and farmland until we reached Clatteringshaws Reservoir.

To be continued ....


Saturday was for adventure

When we woke up on Saturday morning to a purring cat, little did I think that by lunch time I would be looking at this view......

Zeb in the sunshine at the top of the Shap Pass on the way to Southern Scotland. We stopped for a brew, a leg stretch and a piddle stop for Moss. Nursing almost unbearably too hot to hold mugs of tea, we noisily slurped as we let our eyes rest on the distant horizons. Then once drunk and Moss had played happily in the moorland grass, we all climbed back into the cab and headed for our first stop for the night. Drumburn Viewpoint. 

Himself reversed the van up into our parking spot and we threw the back doors open - to this!

A sea that went on forever, meeting the sky then vanishing to a point my eye could not reach. I filled my head and heart with heartbreakingly beautiful shades of blue and gold, pinks and silvers. I could just about taste the tang of the salt on the air.

The tide was on the turn and quietly filled the bay with colours of quick silver and metallic blues just as the sun was going down behind us, deepening the shades with blacks and magentas. It was a feast for the senses. 

We sat in silence as we ate, taking in the spectacle, listening to the coastal birds, watching the unfolding scene before us. If we spoke it was almost in hushed tones. We stayed mesmerised until it was too dark and even then we could not close the door, choosing to go to bed with it open for as long as we could stay awake.

In the morning we were awoken by a golden sunrise and as we did not want to miss one second of the beauty, we quickly put the kettle on and still wrapped in the duvet we gazed at the increasingly golden bands of sky and deep blue cloud.
Eventually hunger drove us to make breakfast and refill our mugs and continue to absorb the morning light.

We had to drag ourselves away from our snug viewing spot - there was a walk on Himself's to-list waiting for us and both he and Moss were getting fidgety. Time to fill the flask and pack a picnic for the day ......

to be continued ......