Thursday, 30 April 2015

fascinated by Richard III

Have I mentioned before that I find Richard III really interesting? Oh, yes, I have, five times. The links are at the bottom of this piece.

Why am I so fascinated?

Well, first off, Richard was the last of the Yorkist Kings, and Yorkshire is where I'm from so Huzzah for Yorkshire.

Secondly, Richard was the youngest of three brothers, and triads are really interesting when it comes to creating characters. Richard and his brothers were of course, real people, so they weren't two dimensional, but they did fit broad brush strokes of character types.

First off there was the oldest brother. Edward was handsome, a hero (he took the throne from Henry VI, who was incapable due to insanity, after his own father and his older brother had been killed for plotting to do the same thing), with a beautiful wife (or two, which was problematic later) and family. He was the golden boy of the Yorkist Plantagenets and his little brother Richard was fiercely loyal to him. 

So loyal, that Richard probably helped Edward, along with their brother George, to murder King Henry VI, rather than risk another plot to put him back on the throne.

George, a power hungry hedonist, was not great at loyalty. He made at least two attempts to wrest the throne from his older brother, and as a consequence was drowned in a vat of Malmsey wine (his favourite).

George had been worried about Edward's beautiful queen, Elizabeth, and her massive family, and he had good cause. Unfortunately for Elizabeth, rumours that Edward had already been married would just not go away, and after Edward's death (hunting accident), despite Elizabeth and her family's attempts to hang on to power, evidence was provided which gave acting regent Richard little choice but to declare her marriage to his brother invalid, therefore rendering all her children by Edward, illegitimate, and not in line to the throne.

Richard III was crowned, and the now illegitimate sons of Elizabeth mysteriously vanished, providing us with the mystery of the Princes in the tower. They might have been killed by somebody. They might have been removed to safety. We do not know. Richard III was accused of their murder, by Thomas More, and by Shakespeare, but not at the time (which is hardly surprising, given that he was King at the time).

So Richard was loyal, dutiful (and also pious), and he believed in following the law (unless your brother asks you not to). He married Anne, and the evidence suggests he loved her deeply, and was in bits when their only child died, followed a while later by Anne. Richard ruled for six years, but brought in laws we still have - like being allowed out on bail, and all sorts of rules to ensure arrested people got fair treatment. He was definitely just, but it may have been this very desire to do the right thing that got him branded as a traitor to his brother's sons when he declared them illegitimate, and took the crown for himself.

Richard was not King for long. If he had reigned longer, he could have remarried (he seems to have been considering marrying his niece, Elizabeth, which is awfy creepy), and had another child to carry on the Plantaganet line. Unfortunately, he was challenged by Henry Tudor, who defeated him at Bosworth, killing him and taking the crown for himself, becoming Henry VII. Henry married the young Elizabeth, daughter of Edward and Elizabeth, and started the Tudor dynasty.

The York brothers have clearly inspired George RR Martin's Baratheon brothers - Robert the dashing hero with a beautiful wife and illegitimate children, who dies in a hunting 'accident'; Renly who enjoys the good things in life (although he is probably modelled more on Edward II than on George of Clarence), and the dutiful but stern Stannis.

I've got three brothers in the book I'm writing too, and my favourite is the one that's inspired by Richard.

The third thing that I like about Richard III was Aneurin Barnard's brilliant portrayal of him in The White Queen.

And the last thing is that we are still talking about what he was like, and still wondering what happened to the princes 530 years after Richard's death.

Are you a fan? If you just can't get enough of Richard III then there's a smashing song from Horrible Histories alongside some clips from The White Queen below, or check out this super edition of Great Lives on the man himself. Enjoy!





Here are the links to the other times I've mentioned Richard III:

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

taking stuff for granted

This week on the gratitude challenge I've got stuck. I'm supposed to be talking about something I take for granted, but the whole point of something I take for granted is that I'm not suitably grateful for it. To be grateful for it involves it becoming precarious, and I do not want that to happen. I know I don't want it to happen, because when it does it is absolutely devastating.

All those of us who are lucky enough to live settled lives have stuff we take for granted:

  • our homes
  • our work
  • our health
  • our family relationships
All this stuff can come crashing down around our ears, and I am not grateful that it doesn't, or hasn't yet. That sort of gratefulness you can keep for a nasty judgemental god whom you have to thank for everything which they gave on a whim.

I fear that stuff crashing down, and I feel for those who suffer living in interesting times. I hope that we can all get back to taking stuff for granted.

Which brings me on to the current situation in Nepal. The worst earthquake in 80 years has caused thousands of people in Nepal to lose all the stuff they were taking for granted. I'm grateful that we can help them come through their interesting times.

You can donate through the Disasters Emergency Committee here, and the UK government will match what UK citizens donate up to £5 million. Here's Humza Yousaf MSP on why and how to donate.


Thursday, 23 April 2015

in the garden

Hooray for sunshine and flowers. And if rain is around the corner, well, that helps them grow.

snake head fritillary
We have been enjoying picnics, and eating outside in the garden, and the kids have been playing with their friends in the street – racing up and down on their bikes, playing football, climbing fences (we've had words about that) and drawing with chalks on the pavement.

And the garden was a mess. 

I had some seedlings to go in, but not enough. The top of the garden is boggy and the bottom is dry, and there's lots I want to do, but where to start?

A friend of mine provided some suggestions the other day. She sent me a link to Artful Parent which has lots of ideas generally for crafty things to do with children, but in regards to the garden there are some awesome suggestions. I particularly like the garden wish flags (like buddhist prayer flags, but with pictures painted on of what we wish for), the bean pole teepee (although I'm not sure where I could put it, but I'm working it out), the hula hoop loom (which looks like a giant dream catcher), and the beaded garden ornaments. I'm so excited to do some of these things with the kids, or even by myself, while they get on with the important business of having fun, that it's made me pull my finger out about getting the seedlings in. 

balloon flower (also called Chinese bellflower)
On top of that, I've got an intensely bored boy at home recovering from his small op (he's been given the green flag for returning to school on Monday, thank goodness), so I decided to head to the garden centre this afternoon.

Our fritillaries are doing great this year, but I would like more small daffodils, the big ones are rather brazen beside the fritillaries (although that can wait until Autumn). The lavender and fuchsias are not doing well, but the roses are OK. We also had lots of annual bedding plants which are dead and gone. Generally everything needs more care, and we need lots more plants! 

I feel like I should have a plan, but if I do that then the plan could go awry. Instead, we'll just get a load of stuff we like and hope it works. I don't want to spend too much or have anything too perfect because our garden's primary purpose at the moment is a space for fun and laughter, although not climbing over fences. I'm going to have to do something to nip that in the bud!


helibore
So, we had a look at climbers, but nothing grabbed our attention. We got some petunias and pansies, nastertiums and lobelia for filling up space. We had some brachyscome already, my son chose a green cordyline (going in a pot on the patio with some lobelia and nasturtium) and a lime green fir tree (also going in a pot for now), and I found a couple of beautiful plants which I couldn't manage to leave the shop without (the balloon flower, and a helibore which I could gaze at in wonder all day but can't take a decent photo of). 

I have been weeding and planting and carrying around pots since we got home until now... and I am not done.

What does your garden grow?

Monday, 20 April 2015

grateful for the little things

We've been spending much more time than I'd like over my son's health worries in the last few days, happily now everything is settling down, but I thought I'd share this, that I wrote after drinking on Friday, after not enough sleep, two Manchester hospitals, and a long drive home. I was going to scrap it, and do something different about things I like, like raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens (although I'm not fussed about those personally), but I thought I'd use it after all, because the other idea felt trite in the face of it. Enjoy.

Today was a day. A day and a half.

Today was a day when I was glad that my mother in law likes to cook a big family meal on a Friday.

Today was a day when all those annoying little fears that you can keep a lid on most of the time come to the surface. Come to the surface and party.

Today I drank a bottle of wine (pretending it was Dornish Red) while watching Game of Thrones and The Good Wife, I stroked my cat who had missed me, and I cried because I'm scared that people I love will die, which is ridiculous, because people I love will die and there's nothing I can do about it.
"There is only one god, and his name is Death. And there is only one thing we say to Death: 'Not today.'" - Syrio Forel
Anyway, when I went up to bed today I found that my husband had charged my toothbrush for me, and I hadn't told him the light was flashing, he'd just done it just in case.

It's the simple things like that that show how lucky I am, and me gushing about them is why I shouldn't drink a bottle of wine.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

grateful for the Spring: 10 things I like

I've been busy over the Easter holidays, and now I'm playing catch up on the gratitude challenge. First up, week 15: 10 things I like about spring

  1. I like yellow daffodils, trumpeting the spring.
  2. I like patches of blue sky, and sun sneaking out to make rainbows.
  3. I like the greening of the world in tiny stages.
  4. I like putting away the winter woolies.
  5. I like practising songs at choir about the coming off summer.
  6. I like the nagging feeling (this might just be me) that perhaps a colour other than black might be good in my wardrobe.
  7. I like being able to go out without a coat on sometimes.
  8. I like the first picnics of the year.
  9. I like day trips.
  10. I like being warm.
See points 7-10

Saturday, 18 April 2015

sore! The tale of a painful testicle

We've just had a health scare with my boy, who's 9. He complained of pain in one testicle, and we gave him children's paracetamol and carried on with our day.

Curious, not au fait with testicles, and with heightened concern because my brother has had testicular cancer (although I'd stress that was not suspected here), I googled testicular pain while sitting in the park with a sad, sore boy.

The internet spoke with one voice. Get him to a doctor now, it said.

So we did.

We have spent a lot of time in hospitals over the last few days, much of it simultaneously boring and stressful.

The really bad thing that it could be if a boy gets testicular pain is torsion (this is a great webpage talking about it), this is where the testicle, or a bit of a tube connected to the testicle, gets twisted; restricting or cutting off the blood supply. If this happens doctors have to act very fast, or the boy will lose the testicle. For this reason we were told, boys should be advised to tell an adult straight away if they have testicular pain, and go straight to Accident and Emergency at the hospital. Do not waste time with a GP in this situation.

The doctors weren't sure if my boy had a torsion so he couldn't eat or drink just in case, and he got examined a lot, which wasn't comfortable, and then he had an ultrasound.

The glorious Doctor Tang, who did the ultrasound was very impressive. Friendly, efficient and gorgeous. She checked the blood flow which showed that there was no torsion, and checked for other scary stuff, and then looked for evidence of infection, which she found, but not of serious infection.

This is a brilliant result. It's also what most testicular pain turns out to be, however, it is always worth checking out. We're told that these things happen. Both torsion and random infections are most common in boys/men of 10-25 years.

So we got antibiotics and more importantly, food! And one very relieved family.

Unfortunately, those antibiotics didn't do the job. This morning the pain and swelling got a lot worse and we were advised to get him back to hospital. He had a small operation to let the doctor see what was going on. This showed that there is an infection, no torsion. The surgeon also found a fatty lump but this could be completely unrelated.

The boy is sore, bored, and fed up, but he's being really good, and we should get home tomorrow. 

Hopefully this will be a distant memory in no time.

On a related matter, as I mentioned, my brother has had experience of testicular cancer. Did you know that testicular cancer is more common in tall men? Anyway, please make sure that you, or the men in your life, check your balls on a regular basis. If you're unlucky you want to find out quick.


Friday, 17 April 2015

uninventing: if you could uninvent anything what would it be?


I made a list of inventions the world would be better off without and, one by one, I uninvented them all. - from And Weep, Like Alexander by Neil Gaiman (in the short story collection, Trigger Warnings 2015)
What would you uninvent?

It might be top of some people's lists but I love my phone and wouldn't uninvent it. 


My husband reckons he'd go for nuclear bombs. 

I think maybe ISIS, although I fear it's like the Hydra and every snake head you lop off has two grow in its place. 

Similarly with UKIP, if it wasn't them spouting their hateful nonsense it'd be Britain First or the BNP or some other hideous monstrosity.

Mind you, without nuclear bombs I think we'd have battled each other with anthrax or something.

We humans are amazing in our inventiveness when it comes to maintaining savagery.


So that's something to be proud of.

Have you got a good idea?

Thursday, 16 April 2015

using these apps: my 5 favourite Android apps right now - 2015

I did a post last year about my favourite apps, and noticed that they've changed, so thought I'd do an updated one for 2015.

What are your favourite apps at the moment? Here are my top 5:

1. Google Keep.


What my Google Keep looks like
So this is very similar to the Evernote app I was raving about last year. You can keep notes, photos, and lists together, and access them when you want. I use it for story ideas, blog post ideas, information that I want to keep hold of, all sorts. Why has it eclipsed Evernote in my fan list? It's more colourful. Sorry Evernote.

2. Remember the Milk

I used to love Astrid. Astrid was an amazing to do list app which worked absolutely brilliantly. It was so good that Yahoo bought it and moved all the staff to Yahoo's own projects, closing Astrid down. That is the main reason why I don't like Yahoo. I have never found a replacement app as good as Astrid, but Remember the Milk is pretty close. It does replicate tasks sometimes, but it is good for repeating tasks, and scheduling tasks. All the boring stuff which is much better done on an app than on paper (if you're me at least.

3. Out of Milk

This is a really useful app for sharing lists with my husband. He can add things to the shopping list as I'm on my way to the shops, and up they pop. We also share lists on things to do for holidays and the like. The folks at Out of Milk have changed things up recently, adding lots of categories, which would be fine, if the items actually went into the right categories, but mostly they end up under 'Other'. Still it's a good idea, which will reduce missing things when they get it sorted out. My other wish for this app is that you could copy and paste the whole shopping list into online shopping lists for Tesco, Asda and the like. But if they get too good Yahoo will buy them and they'll close down. Maybe.

4. Instagram


I was a latecomer to Instagram, but I love it. It feels like such a positive space on the internet, and I love jumping onto the photo prompt ideas. I also get to follow lots of inspirational people's photos, which is great. I love that you can't pinch other people's stuff (as easily) on Instagram as other platforms too.

If I don't want my photo to be square then I use No Crop to surround them with white (or patterned etc) space.

I like the photo editing you can do on Instagram, and don't tend to bother with other photo editing apps much. My favourite filters are Ludwig, Valencia, and Lo-Fi. There should be a blog post on Instagram coming your way soon.

5. Dock Clock

This app makes the phone display the time in big numerals on a black background. I use it while I'm in bed and the 'phone is charging, and it makes my 'phone into an alarm clock. To be honest, the 'phone displays the time anyway, but it is too small for me to see easily from a distance in the night, so this is great. Simple. Boring. And great. You can make the numberals red so they're not too bright too. Here's the time when I wrote this.


I am also looking forward to the Little Moment's App coming to Android.

So, over to you. What are your favourite apps at the moment?



Wednesday, 15 April 2015

enjoying Easter

Finally! Thank goodness for the weather gods who brought sunshine and warmth to our Easter holidays. Yay!

We have had a busy and fun time during Easter. We've had my sister to visit, and we've been down to Manchester to visit my brother and his family (and, of course, go to Legoland Discovery Centre, thanks to our Tesco Boost tickets).

We have also had days at home, filled with crafting and hordes of kids playing near the house and in the local park, and we've done day trips.

We have done lots of Easter crafts, and made an unholy mess rolling/chucking painted eggs down a hill (I tidied it up, but I'm told when they do it with nursery the seagulls eat it).
Kelburn

We had a fun day out Easter Egg hunting at Kelburn, where we met their new chicks, enjoyed wandering about, and playing in the Secret Forest and the fort, plus the playbarn which has had a wee makeover and is looking much tidier.


The Lighthouse - one viewing
platform from the other.
We went on the train to Glasgow, and coaxed my sister into a lift (and then concentrated on not letting the boy jump!), to go up to the viewing platform in The Lighthouse. We also climbed the 137 stairs to look out across Glasgow. Happily it was a beautiful day.

We travelled over to Falkirk to meet the awesome Kelpies, which made me think I want a proper camera (I just use my 'phone - a Nexus 4 for pictures you'll find at @ohwedo on Instagram). We paid for a tour, to go inside the Kelpies which gave us the
A view from The Lighthouse
opportunity for a quick science lesson (on why the metal panels were hot on the sunward side and cold on the shadow side), and to take more pictures. The Kelpies are magnificent, and I love the idea of shape-shifting water monsters. They may make an appearance in a story at some point.


Added to that, we've been to see Big Hero 6, which was fabulous, especially the bit where they go through a small window. None of the kids wanted to see Cinderella, so I was glad Big Hero 6 was still on for a rainy day.

We've eaten out at Nardini's and The Willow Tea Rooms in Glasgow - because my sister was visiting, and it was fun.

And we are knee deep in eggs from lots of generous people. Thank you!

So, what have you been up to?


Duke - one of The Kelpies



Tuesday, 14 April 2015

here for two years

I missed the two year anniversary of when I started this blog, back in February.

Now we're at two years and two months.

I keep thinking I should quit.

But then I think that I quite like blogging.

I like the immediacy of it. I like the scattered way that I blog (I know that some are more focused, and that's cool, but I'd go bonkers if I was just talking about clothes, or films, or some other thing). I like the communication that goes alongside it.

I like that my blog got me in to writing a column for the local paper, and sometimes I use blog posts for other articles.

I keep thinking that I should make more money out of it. There are bloggers who do this for a living, and I am definitely not one of them, but I'm not going to because:

  • I hate those blogs that you go to where there are things popping up all over the place trying to get you to buy stuff.
  • Blogging for me is a place where I can dump all the peripheral stuff. I want to focus on writing fiction as the thing that I do. I don't want to become an expert on my social media profile, scheduling blog posts and all that.
Don't get me wrong. There are professional bloggers who are totally brilliant: Fat Mum Slim is my favourite. But I am never going to be as good as she is, and that is totally fine.

Now, dear reader, having got that off my chest, I'm wondering if there's anything you'd like to see on the blog, or anything that just bores you rigid? Let me know.

Cheers!

Leaving you with a picture of my cat with a cuddly unicorn, because we have declared it cute.

Monday, 13 April 2015

eating quorn minestrone: syn free Slimming World vegetarian soup recipe

I'm loving Slimming World (that's me two stone down!), but it seems a bit meat focussed, so I've adapted* some recipes to make them more veggie friendly. Thought I'd share them with you so you don't have to do the same. 

If you're not veggie, you can substitute the quorn for ham or bacon. And a special message for my brother - this is a yummy soup for your flask, and you won't need to eat bread with it because of the pasta. 

Today it's:


Quorn Minestrone

Four servings, and good for freezing.

This is FREE on the current Slimming World regime, I'm afraid I don't know the syn figures for Green, Red, and Original.

Ingredients

2 onions - peeled and chopped up small
2 carrots - peeled and chopped up small
3 celery sticks - chopped up small
2 garlic cloves** - peeled and chopped up small
350g ish passata
900ml vegetable stock
150g quorn chicken pieces (frozen or fridge)
1 tin of Morrisons white bean salad (or similar) - drained
60g dried pasta shapes
4tbsp finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
salt and pepper

Method

Place the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, passata, stock, and quorn in a large pan and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and cook for about 15 minutes.

Add the beans and pasta and return to the boil. Cover, reduce heat, and cook gently for about 10 minutes.

Add the parsley, season, and remove from the heat. Now you can go ahead and eat it.





---------------------------------


*this is adapted from the ham minestrone recipe in the Extra Easy cookbook
** you can substitute this for 1tsp garlic granules, or 3tbsp finely chopped wild garlic leaves (add a couple of minutes before the end)

Sunday, 12 April 2015

eating quorn noodle soup: Syn free Slimming World vegetarian soup recipe

I'm loving Slimming World (that's me two stone down!), but it seems very meat focussed, so I've adapted* some recipes to make them more veggie friendly. Thought I'd share them with you so you don't have to do the same. 

If you're not veggie, you can substitute the quorn for chicken. And a special message for my brother - this is a yummy soup for your flask, and you won't need to eat bread with it because of the noodles. 

Today it's:

Quorn Noodle Soup

Four servings, and good for freezing.

This is FREE on the current Slimming World regime, I'm afraid I don't know the syn figures for Green, Red, and Original.

Ingredients

1 onion - peeled and chopped up small
1 carrot - peeled and chopped up small
2 celery sticks - chopped up small
1 garlic clove** - peeled and chopped up small
1.5 litres vegetable stock
300g quorn chicken pieces (frozen or fridge)
1 portion of noodles - broken into bits
4tbsp finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Method

Place the onion, celery, garlic, stock, and quorn in a large pan and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and cook for about 15 minutes.

Add the noodles and return to the boil. Cover, reduce heat, and cook gently for about 5 minutes.

Add the parsley** and cook for another couple of minutes, and then serve.

Yummy.

This is mine. Go make your own.



Do you have any recommendations for veggie Slimming World meals?

---------------------------------


*this is adapted from the chicken noodle soup recipe in the Extra Easy cookbook
** you can substitute this for 1tsp garlic granules, or 2tbsp finely chopped wild garlic leaves (add when you add the parsley)

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

creative: Today is going to be awesome. Colouring in.

My sister has been up for the Easter weekend, and it was awesome to see her. We ate out, went to the pub, went on day trips. She left with the impression I'm sure that we spend money like water.

In reality we needed to get out of the house because the darling children have been looking forward to a school holiday for so long that they were exploding with energy!

And chocolate, of course.

So now we've calmed down a bit, and we had a lovely day, catching up with friends and doing lots of crafty activities. My favourite of these was a bit of colouring in.

The very lovely Chantelle Elem of Fat Mum Slim had mentioned on her Facebook page that another blog: In the Playroom (a very busy website, which my computer is not fond of), has some awesome free printables.  Check it out here. We loved the page by Valentina Design which says 'Today is going to be awesome'.

Here's what we did with it... 

The boy's is at the top. He lost the will when his mate came 'round and so scribbled a face across it. I do like his text colours though.

Next is the big girl's which uses a lot of her favourite colours. I'm a fan. I especially like the purple flowers.

And then there's mine, which I'm madly in love with, and which uses the red, green, and white (RGW) colour scheme which I currently adore (although having seen my friend's new black kitchen I could think about ditching the RGW).


I am tempted to do another one which would just be a riot of colour. I may well, another day.

Meanwhile you could have a go, either with the free printable or you could buy one of the books. There's lots of fun to be had. I think these would make excellent presents.

If you do have a go, then give us a look at the result will you? You're welcome to share on my Facebook page (and Like me while you're at it), or tag me @ohwedo on Instagram, or #ohwedo.

Looking forward to it.


Monday, 6 April 2015

happy in March

March was not on the face of it a very happy month.

The weather, as they say here in (currently sunny) Scotland was mainly mince (that means bad).

We all seemed to get sick in one way or another at some time.

And Spring has not been coming in fast enough.

BUT! Summer IS a comin' in, and winter is away-o, and I am attempting to focus on the positive.

To do this, throughout March I have been doing the #100happydays challenge (you can see all the pics on Instagram). Taking a picture of something that makes me happy every day for 100 days... I'm not finished yet, but here is some of what has been making me happy so far.

27 March - the little girl is chuffed with her new ballet costume

22 March - the photo doesn't do this gorgeous blue crane justice

2 March - I finished making the Christmassy cushion!

13 March - the little girl's first attempt to write something other than her name. Thank you.

12 March - very happy about the new school getting the go ahead.

1st March - love shopping with my big girl (who knew I'd ever love shopping!)

28 March - fun with the kids

29 March - it's a conspiracy I tell you!

23 March - I got a new swimming costume, and it fits me! This is all the photographic evidence you are getting.

4 March - loving walks in the woods

25 March - I am scared of this bridge, but happy to walk in the woods

18 March - feeling very ill, but feeling ill outside, in the sunshine!

Care to join me for #100happydays?

talented

This week on the gratitude challenge I'm supposed to talk about a talent I have.

I spent a while thinking about it last night, and this is what I came up with:

  • sarcastic comments, and
  • not missing opportunities for a witty barb.
These are good talents, don't get me wrong, but I have a feeling that they don't really embody the spirit of the gratitude challenge. And maybe I was a bit grouchy. So, I turned to my family, in particular, my sister, husband, and kids. What did they think my talents were? This is what they came up with:
Photography: it's a talent ;-) took this yesterday in
sunny Glasgow
  • writing
  • photography
  • being a mum
  • herding cats (I feel that this is part of the previous point, but am over-ruled)
  • making lists
  • spending money (this from my sister - we are being unusually profligate to celebrate her visit)
  • singing
  • falling out of pubs (I was excellent at this back in the day, but am out of practice)
  • 'socialising' (see above)
  • gothing about (from my sister)
  • spelling
  • social organisation
  • general organising
  • French plaits
  • owning huge cats (I suspect the kudos for this should really go to Katsuma)
  • feeding guinea pigs 
  • dieting 
  • gardening (this is random from my daughter, and without any evidence)
  • washing (pots and laundry)
  • getting food ready
  • setting the table
  • poetry (this was added this morning when I won a poetry competition - go me!)
Looking at my list, vs the list of those who love me, I think that my greatest talent might be: delegation. My family are clearly a lot better at recognising my talents than me!

What are your talents?

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

at Portencross

Woods in Largs - we cut some wild garlic leaves to
make homemade garlic bread. Yum.
Thank goodness for that! Spring has sprung, the grass is ris. I know it's just a matter of the earth continuing its progress around the sun, but I can totally understand celebrating the re-emergence of the world from Winter.

Flowers are appearing, and so are we. We've been out enjoying the sunshine (when we get it), and we've got plans for lots of day trips over the Easter holidays. We are also thrilled that lots of things are opening back up again. Kelburn and Mount Stuart have got Easter egg hunts, and other fun things to do, which should be fun, if a little pricey.

However, our favourite family fun days tend to involve spending less money, and having picnics. A trip to Eglinton or Pollok parks is always good, and we also love a day at Portencross.

Portencross castle is re-opening for the season on Friday 3rd April, and will be open throughout the Easter holidays, and after that every weekend. You can visit for free, although donations help the volunteers who run the castle to keep it going. A castle like that needs maintenance!

The view from Portencross
We love to park up in Portencross' generous FREE car park (parking beside the road is not safe, and causes problems for local access), visit the castle, clamber on rocks, enjoy the beach (just a short walk up the road), and follow the coastal path up toward Hunterston. It's a brilliant spot for photography too, however good you are.

Do you remember that BBC personality test that came out the other day? The one that said that most of the people that live in Scotland are nice, easy going types, who don't like to do as they're told? There's an online quiz here which tells you where you're ideally suited to live. It reckons I should move to Greenock (I'll let you draw your own conclusions), but I'd rather live in Portencross, if anyone fancies swapping houses?

Portencross is lovely on a sunny day, but I like it best when it's quiet, and I can stand by the castle, looking out toward Arran and the wee Cumbrae, and imagine who else might have stood there in the hundreds of years before (or in the previous castle, up the hill).


If you've not been yet, now's your chance. Have fun.