Friday, 10 November 2017

Redecoration, Cold Spells and Scarves... Little Loves

I have to admit to being a little gobsmacked to realise that my last Little Loves post was on the 20th October.  I know I sound like something of a broken record but I honestly don't know where this half of the year is disappearing to.  I think between house renovations, new jobs and just trying to keep trucking away until Christmas, I have blinked and lost entire weeks!

This week, as it goes, has been a pretty darn good one.  Although we've struggled with getting up and out in the morning after the half term break (doesn't it suck to be getting ready in the dark?!) we've been really on top of things and the kids bedrooms have finally started to come together.  I am feeling very confident that this weekend we will be fully unpacked and have them in their own spaces which will just feel miraculous.

But anyway, more of what I've been loving this week:-

I finished Dark Matter this week and picked up Peace Like A RiverDark Matter is a soft science fiction book about quantum physics which has been doing the rounds over the last year and I thought I'd give it a go as it's meant to be a good read for people who don't get all the 'sciencey' parts of normal sci-fi books.  I'll admit, there were still entire paragraphs which had me scratching my head but overall it was a good read.

I caught up with the latest episodes of The Good Place on Netflix this week as well as the new series of Modern Family.  I don't know what I'll do with myself when Modern Family closes its doors as it's just one of those staple programs which we know we will love when the each series airs.

I know I mentioned it above but I'm going to tout it here too; REAL - LIFE - HOUSE - PROGRESS.  I don't think you can understand how stressful it is to live out of boxes for months on end unless you've actually done it.  It's a great lesson in living with what you actually need but it's also a whole lot of chaos and brain-ache.  To actually be able to finish unpacking boxes is going to feel like a small miracle indeed.  It doesn't look like much from the photo but believe me, it's a real step forward.

I'm also really thrilled that we are giving Meg and Eli their own unique spaces.  We've never really been able to do that before as we were living in rented houses and there's only so much you can do.  So it has felt like something really special to be able to design and create a space that they will love.  Now onto finishing the kitchen and starting on the play room (and ignoring the other 5 or so rooms we haven't touched yet...)

I don't know whether it arrived with the beginning of November but up here in the North West the weather has turned.  I've had to scrape ice off my windscreen for the school run more times than I'd like but it has been the perfect opportunity to bring out my favourite tartan scarves.  Scarves are my absolute favourite and I love that I've got the excuse to wear them out now.

I popped into school for an open morning this week and got to hear how the kids have been doing over the last half term.  It's always nice to hear that your children are doing well; obviously there are area in which they need to work (Eli and good, quiet behaviour is just something which doesn't go hand in hand!) but overall they got a pretty good report.

And Lastly...
I shared this week about our trip to Scotland over half term and I'd love it if you could hop over and take a read.  I'm currently wading through hours of footage but I will have a vlog up shortly too so if you're interested to see it then do keep your eyes peeled for that.

Have a great week all.

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Tuesday, 7 November 2017

A Trip to the Scottish Highlands... ǀ Travel

I think it started when I found myself standing on a heathery hillside, blisteringly cold wind whipping my hair, trying to keep one of my two children in check so they weren't inadvertently trampled, hand-feeding a wild reindeer who looked as though they'd like nothing more than to give me a swift one-two with their antlers.  I think it started then...that feeling that maybe this trip was going to be a little bit more than I'd been expecting it to be.  

From the stunning view of the misty mountains as we drove down the windy A9 to the first morning we woke to find frost glistening on the fields outside our lodge.  The flush of success when we climbed a particularly steep section of hill and looked out across the vast autumnal landscape and the satisfaction of hunting for the Loch Ness monster.  The local cafe which stayed open 20 minutes past closing time just so we could enjoy a hot chocolate out of the cold to the kindly gentleman who stood on the shores of Loch Lomond with me talking about the beauty of the scenery...we definitely had a trip to remember.

We took the opportunity during Meg and Eli's half term to head up to the Cairngorms National Park in North-East Scotland.  It took us (without counting the numerous stops we made to empty tiny bladders) around six and a half hours to drive from our home up to the lodge where we were staying.

The Cairngorms National Park is twice the size of the Lake District and home to an array of mountains, rivers, lochs, villages and wildlife.  Neither James nor the kids had ever been to Scotland before and I have to say that this was probably the best way to experience the country for the first time.  We stayed in the town of Aviemore which is well known for being a tourist spot, although we landed out of season so found that it was pretty quiet.

When I say 'short break' we were there from Saturday to Wednesday and we really tried to hit the ground running.  We broke up travelling on both the Saturday and the Wednesday with a long stopover at two different spots: the Drumpellier Country Park and Loch Lomond and this really helped with any travelling fatigue.

The weather was brisk; some days it was mild by midday but others it was just bitterly cold and as you might have expected, the higher we climbed, the more vicious the wind and the lower the temperature dropped.

I've mentioned before that we are a family who love to be outdoors so for us, this was the perfect break.  We would get up and have a semi-leisurely morning before heading out for the day.  Autumn was the best time of year to visit too as everywhere we looked there was just a riot of golden colour.  It took my breath away more than once to look out across at the landscape and see the trees in all their orange, yellow, red and gold glory.

We paid for two main experiences whilst we were there; the hand-feeding of the herd of wild reindeer and to get into Urquhart Castle which offered some stunning views of Loch Ness.

Going Nessie hunting had been Eli's only request for the trip and although he is convinced the monster lives on beneath the water, we can report that we spotted no hint of the legend!

For the most part we went out and explored the local area, climbing hills and walking around local lakes such as Loch Morlich.  James tried out a local brewery tour and I took the kids book shopping and hot chocolate drinking in Aviemore.  We did the 'tourist' thing with a day spent at Loch Ness and watched the sun set over glistening waters and we ate out and cooked in our lodge when it suited.  I can confirm that the local food was as good as the local brew (or so James assures me...) and a trip to The Winking Owl is a must if you happen to be staying near to Aviemore.

We had wanted to ride on the Funicular whilst we were in the area, as this is recommended as one of the top ways to see the views across the National Park but unfortunately it was closed for yearly maintenance on our main sightseeing days so we didn't get the opportunity to do this.

I have to admit however, that despite everything we got up to the real highlight for me was that first day when we trekked up into the hills and got up close with a herd of wild reindeer.  It isn't something I had ever imagined doing but it 100% felt like a true bucket list moment and I am so pleased we did it.

If you've ever wanted to visit the Highlands then I would definitely recommend it.  Just be prepared for things to close early in the winter season and for it to be cold.  I am not a person who can handle even the slightest chill in the air without running for a scarf and the central heating button but it was so worth being cold for the scenery we got to experience.  The views of the area are amazing.  The Cairngorms are the highest, coldest and snowiest place in Britain and although we only got to see a dusting of snow I can certainly attest to the remaining two claims.

You might think you've seen beauty but I can honestly say that the Highlands stole a part of my heart and we will certainly be returning.