Life Within Four Corners – September 2017

Welcome to the September edition of Life Within Four Corners, where I share some of my favourite photos, and the stories that went along with them, from the previous month. True to form, I’m running late again, and I do have to question my judgement for deciding to run regular posts during invariably busy spells! So although we’re already several days into October, will you join me in winding back the clock for a cup of tea and a scroll through some September photos? I won’t tell anyone if you won’t – and now that we’ve got the excuses out of the way, here’s how the last month looked in stories, rectangles and squares.

Ah, Autumn – you’ve got to love the seasonal shift in the North of Scotland, haven’t you? – crunchy leaves, forest walks – and your local Lidls supermarket getting in photogenic seasonal squash. 🙂 Maybe not so much when you’re walking the dog in driving rain and 40-50mph winds like this week. But then again, where there is bad weather, there is always soup….

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Processed with VSCO with s1 presetAutumn Soup

We did also have some good weather in September, though, and overall I enjoyed taking the dog out for walks in what is generally a very quiet time of year. I love walking around the coastline, the open countryside and the river  – without too many people about to bump into, my misbehaving dog enjoys plenty of off-lead freedom too!

Caithness Coastline
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Oh, and all the heart eyes for September sunsets – I have to say that Autumn/Winter is my very favourite time of year for Caithness skies. I snapped this photo outside our house a couple of weeks ago. Thankfully my neighbours are used to me standing in the street in pyjama bottoms taking pics!

Autumn Sunset.JPG

We also had a day trip to Wick (which is about 20 miles away) last month – if you ever find yourself in the area, the Memorial Gardens there are really worth a look.

Wick Memorial Gardens

And don’t miss a trip to the lovely Fairy Glen in the woods at Latheronwheel if you’re ever passing. It is so exciting to discover where the tooth fairy actually, really, truly, has her home!

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And one from my day as a parent helper at my kids’ school rock pooling trip recently – it’s amazing how much there is under the surface if you take the time to look 🙂

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And, in a throwback to our summer holiday to the Outer Hebrides, I posted a photo of this lovely cottage we spotted on the Isle of Harris.  I think the phrase ‘house goals’ probably says it all, don’t you?  🙂

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And finally, there were lots of Sunday wanders and a lot of September tree-gazing. Look upwards and onwards, I say, Life Within Four Corners readers, and until the next time, have a wonderful October in the crunchy Autumn leaves 🙂

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Gx

Wonder, Holiday Preparations and Fish n’ Chip Nights #LittleLoves

We’re edging ever-closer to the school holidays here in the North of Scotland, and it’s been a busy old week of finishing off blog articles, doing end-of-month admin for my husband’s business, helping out at class trips and bag packing for the Parent Council at my kids’ school. Throw in holiday preparations, a few writing competition deadlines and the odd bit of car trouble and it would be safe to say I’ve been feeling just a little bit stressed-out! Despite my constant attempts to embrace slow living, events seem to conspire against it, and I’m sure like many parents out there I often feel I’m not fully in control of my own time. But then I remember that two weeks of relative peace and quiet are coming up and that the end of term is always busy (slash chaotic). In the meantime, I’m keeping this week free of too many commitments so that I can finally get myself caught up!

I’m also going to be taking a little break from Little Loves (and blogging in general) for the next two weeks while I have three of my favourite men in the world around. My husband is hoping to take the whole school holidays off for the first time in ages and I really want to have some dedicated family time so that I can come back after the holidays feeling revitalised and refreshed!

But before all that, onto what I’ve been liking and loving this week. Because no matter how busy life gets folks – there’s always got to be a few minutes to like, love, drink tea and enjoy! 🙂

READ

This week I’ve been absolutely loving Wonder by R.J Palacio, a beautiful story about a boy called August, who is very different from all the other kids. It’s actually a book aimed at children/young adults, and I got it completely by accident when someone from my local library added it onto my reservations list thinking it was something I might enjoy. When I brought it home my eldest son got all excited because it turns out it’s the novel his teacher is reading to his class this term – we’ve since been having a bit of a mini book club together on it, comparing notes about what we think. We also discovered the book is going to be coming out as a movie soon and loved watching the trailer together – I just can’t wait to watch the film with my boys when it comes out later in the year. Have a peek at the clip below to get a flavour for the story. You might want to grab some tissues though – so far, this is one novel that’s got me teary eyed on just about every single page.

WATCHED

Post-9pm kids bedtimes have been all about season 4 of Mad Men again this week, but I have managed to do a bit of catching up on the latest episodes of Dr Foster on iPlayer (how fantastic that I can tell my husband I have to watch it for ‘research’ for my blog). I have to say it’s all been going a bit crazy in the world of Dr Foster and the main characters have been behaving so badly that it’s hard to have much sympathy with anyone except their long-suffering teenage son. The acting and drama have been amazing though and I for one can’t wait for tonight’s finale. Did she or didn’t she do what it looked like she was planning in the final moments of last week’s episode? Tune in at 9pm tonight for the big reveal (or avoid the post-mortem spoilers and catch up on iPlayer when you have the odd 60 minutes to yourself).

HEARD

In anticipation of our first family holiday by aeroplane, I’ve spent a lot of time this week listening to a digital hypnosis track aimed at overcoming my fear of flying – you can read all about it in the article I wrote about it here. So far I am feeling a lot better about kicking the irrational fear that has bothered me since my twenties, and I hope that when the time comes to get on our flight in a few days I’ll be feeling in control. It’s important to me that my kids grow up with a healthier attitude towards flying than I’ve had. If all else fails, though, you’ll find me downing a gin and tonic (or three) in the airport before we leave.

WORE

On to what I’ve been wearing this week, and it’s been less a case of wearing and more a case of trying on. I’ve been digging out summery clothes for said holiday to Majorca – hopefully in keeping with the weather out there, sunshine yellow appears to be the order of the day!

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MADE

All my making seems to have been going on in the kitchen lately, I do enjoy cooking but not so much when it’s getting done against the clock. On Thursday we had a quiet evening, so I made gluten and dairy free fish n’ chips. I have to admit I’ve missed the odd trip to the chip shop since switching to a gluten and dairy free diet. The ‘free from’ version is still pretty good though – as you can see, I like to go heavy on the tartare sauce and peas!

Gluten Free Fish and Chips.JPG

AND LASTLY

Just to add to last week’s hectic schedule, I joined a new writers’ group that has started running locally. The timing might not have been great for me but the opportunity to learn from other writers was just too good to miss. Reading some of my own poetry aloud to everyone at the session certainly pushed me out of my comfort zone! Despite the nerves, though, everyone was lovely and I’m really glad I went along.

That’s it for my round up of what I’ve been liking and loving this week. I’ll see you again after the school holidays – until then, hope you find lots of things in life to read, watch, hear, wear, make and enjoy!

Gx

*This post contains an affiliate link which means that I will receive commission should you choose to purchase something via it. This enables me to earn a small income from the time I spend on blogging and does not in any way affect the price you pay.

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Learning to Fly with Hypnosis Ninja

For as long as I can remember, I have been afraid of flying. Growing up, we didn’t go on foreign holidays (except that ferry trip to France when I was sixteen and spent the whole time complaining about being away from my boyfriend – sorry Mum and Dad!). I didn’t actually get on a plane until I was in my early 20’s and needed to travel from my home in the north of Scotland to Oxfordshire for my work as a Training Officer. By that time I had developed a well-formed fear of flying and spent the whole time clutching the hand rest convinced I was going to die. At this time, flying from the tip of the Highlands southwards meant travelling on a very small plane that to me, resembled being in a flying biscuit tin. A fear of heights, combined with a tendency towards claustrophobia, made these now-frequent business trips an excruciating ordeal I came to dread.

But I ambled along not saying too much about it, partly because I was trying to get over my irrational fear and partly because I was afraid of embarrassing myself in front of my colleagues. Although they knew I was afraid of flying, no one really knew how much it affected me – and despite the hand-rest clutching, I kept any screaming to the inside of my head. But then one business trip happened to collide with 9/11, and I found myself getting off a plane in Edinburgh to screens filled with some of the most awful images imaginable. I basically fell to pieces and refused to go further with my onwards flight to London – thankfully I had a very understanding boss who calmed me down, told me not to worry, and promptly sent me back to the Highlands on the very next train home.

After that I avoided travelling by plane wherever possible, taking the sleeper train to London for work trips and side-stepping holidays abroad. I did manage one family trip to Menorca and our lovely honeymoon to Italy, but then a holiday to Florida with friends put the brakes on my flying days for good. My husband and I had a bumpy landing on a connecting flight into Chicago – I don’t remember much about it except that it felt like the plane was careering all over the place and a couple of people screamed. Once we had finally landed, I assured myself my flying days were over – pretty silly really, as I still had to cross the Atlantic to get back home. But that trip in 2004 did actually mark the end of my flying misadventures – we settled down, had kids and later got a camper van – and I breathed a sigh of relief that from now on, we could go anywhere we wanted over land.

Fast forward 13 years and the situation was a bit different, though – my ten year old had started asking questions about when we might be able to go on a holiday in a plane. My husband, too, was keen to go on a ‘proper’ holiday – and quick to assure me that out of the many flights he’s since taken on business, that fateful flight to Chicago was still the exception rather than the norm. I started to feel guilty that I was somehow limiting my family’s horizons, and before I knew it a holiday to Majorca had been booked. There were a few (child-free) outbursts of ‘I’m not going’, but for the most part I realised my fear was something – for my family’s sake at least – I really needed to try to overcome.

So imagine my surprise when just a couple of days later, an email popped into my inbox from a company called Hypnosis Ninja wondering if I’d like to review a digital hypnosis service aimed at making differences in lives through the power of the unconscious mind. I scrolled through the tracks available and spotted one called Fear of Flying. Could this be just what I needed, I wondered? I didn’t hesitate in emailing back to say, yes please, could I try this out?

Over the last few days I’ve been listening to this hypnosis session periodically – all that is required is a device to download it to and 20 minutes or so to listen to it in a quiet place. Hypnosis Ninja sessions use a combination of classical hypnosis techniques and New Code Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) – put simply, it helped me with focusing, visualising a positive experience and generating new choices and behaviour patterns to replace the unwanted ones from my past. It took me until the second listen to get the hang of what was happening – but one of the positives about Hypnosis Ninja is that after paying the £9.99 track fee, you can listen to the session as many times as you wish. Was I hypnotised? I don’t think it really matters. According to the website, it’s the results you see, rather than how you experience the sessions that really counts. I know I was very relaxed, and Rafe Beckley (the Clinical Hypnotherapist, NLP Practitioner and International Coach who delivers the sessions) has exactly the sort of soothing voice that makes you feel you’re comfortable. Coming away from my sessions I’m feeling more upbeat about a lot of things.  And I know I have a positive image to go back to and visualise if I start to feel my old anxieties creep in.

I can’t say yet that I’m completely ‘cured’ of my fear of flying, but I know I’ve taken a positive step in the right direction. The proof of the pudding will be in the eating (or the flying in this case), and I’ll certainly let you know after my holidays about any differences the hypnosis experience has made. For me the main issue is motivation – I really want to get over my fear of flying for my kids’ sake so I’m very much open to changing. And if you have a behaviour you’re also motivated to changing, then I think this type of session might really help you too. As well as fear of flying, Hypnosis Ninja offer a range of other sessions such as dealing with claustrophobia, fear of heights and compulsive handwashing. For the full range of therapy sessions, do pop over to their website and have a look.

As for me, I’m actually feeling quite excited about our holiday.

And after over 13 years without flying anywhere, that feels like a very good place to start.

Gx

What about you – do you have any fears or phobias? Would you consider hypnosis as a means of tackling them?  I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject in the comments. What other methods to tackle phobias have you used?

*For the purposes of this post I was provided with a free Hypnosis Ninja session. The post also contains affiliate links which mean that I will receive commission should you choose to purchase something via one of them. This enables me to earn a small income from the time I spend on blogging and does not in any way affect the amount you pay.  

Main Image: Canva

Reading Lately – September 2017

Welcome to my first reading update of the new season, and with Autumn upon us, I thought I would take the chance for a seasonal revamp! Those of you who know this post as Reading, Watching, Listening to Lately might have noticed that I’m also now joining in with the Little Loves link up, where you’ll find out a lot more about what I’m reading, watching and listening to every single week. Rather than boring regular followers with repetition, I’ve decided to go with a simple, more in-depth reading update on here at the end of every month. The upside of this for me is that a shorter update means I might actually get it done before one month runs into the next one. The downside is that someone might quote me on that when I don’t!

The first book I delved into this month was The Blackhouse by Peter May, part one of the bestselling ‘Lewis Man’ trilogy following Fin Macleod, a detective sent back to his home on the Outer Hebrides to investigate a murder. Crime isn’t normally my favoured genre when it comes to novels, but I was particularly keen to read this book after our holiday to the Outer Hebrides earlier in the year. It was lovely to be able to picture the locations while I was reading, and I’m pretty sure the boatshed where one of my holiday snaps was taken marks the exact spot a pretty murky incident happens at the very beginning of the book. Thankfully for my delicate nature, there isn’t too much other murkiness in the story (apart from a pretty lengthy post mortem scene in an early chapter). The rest is a fantastic story about past demons, lost love, and the harshness and beauty of island life. I’m really looking forward to reading the other books in the trilogy. Peter May is one writer who knows how to keep you turning those pages until the very end.

Peter May Book

The Blackhouse

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The scene of the novel’s opening at Port of Ness

My second book for September was The Power by Naomi Alderman, a hugely thought-provoking novel about how the world might look if the female of the species held all the cards. In the book, women develop powers that allow them to hurt others with electricity – powers that snowball to envelop the realms of religion, politics and the gender status quo. The book is framed as a sort of historical novel, re-telling events leading up to a global cataclysm which leaves women squarely at the top of society. And if you think that sort of change might lead to a kinder, more gentle world to live in, then think again. There are some horrific scenes of violence against men in the book and some scenes that might leave you questioning whether ‘history’ itself is an illusion. It was an unforgettable novel and one that will keep my mind ticking over for quite some time to come. Mostly the book was a reminder that the ownership of power, rather than the person wielding it, is our biggest problem. That people do bad things when they are in a position to abuse it, has never seemed quite so clear as here.

The Power Book

My final book for September was The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena, which tells the story of a couple who go to a dinner party at their neighbours, and return to find that their baby (whom they had left alone in the house), has disappeared. The rest of the book unravels the mystery of what happened to their baby, and along the way points the finger at just about everyone who could be involved. It’s a pacey, page turning thriller with a present tense narrative which took a bit of getting used to – but there’s no doubt that keeping pace with each character gives the novel a tense and urgent edge. The story winds through all sorts of issues around marriage, family relationships and post-natal depression. And as with all good thrillers – in The Couple Next Door, not everyone is what they seem.

The Couple Next Door Book

That’s it for my round up of what I’ve been reading this month. I do hope you’ll join me next month for more updates, reviews, and stories from my shelf!

Gx

* This post contains affiliate links which mean that I will receive commission should you choose to purchase something via one of them. This enables me to earn a small income from the time I spend on blogging and does not in any way affect the price you pay.

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A Writing Milestone, Mad Men and Autumn Faffing #LittleLoves

Welcome to this week’s edition of #LittleLoves where things seem to have taken a decidedly Autumnal turn! We’ve been enjoying walks in the forest (is there any better place to be in Autumn?), cosying up with books, enjoying board games and of course looking forward to our school holidays in just under a couple of weeks. I have a lot of packing to get on with for our first (exciting!) holiday abroad as a family – although it does feel a little odd to be looking out shorts and sun cream just as the temperatures start to drop. Before all that, let me round up what I’ve been liking and loving this week. Any excuse really –  I have to admit I’ve never liked packing all that very much.

READ

This week I’ve been finishing off The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena, another of those books I kept seeing people talking about on Instagram before hastily jumping onto the bandwagon myself. If nothing else, my ‘follower’ tendencies do just go to show how influencing social media and blog platforms are becoming. That insta-bandwagon is pretty good though – this was one page turner that kept me interested until the very end.

The Couple Next Door Book.jpg

WATCHED

It’s been all about Mad Men at home this week, with my husband and I binge watching our way through as many episodes as two children and our rock n’ roll bedtime of 10pm will allow. We’re currently in the middle of season 4 and it just gets better and better – the characters are all so well painted, so human, and so perfectly flawed. I’m torn between thinking Don Draper is the coolest guy ever and getting annoyed at him over his throwaway relationships with women. Whatever the outcome, I don’t know what we’re going to do with ourselves when we eventually reach the final show.

HEARD

I know I keep mentioning this one on here, but I really enjoyed the last Hashtag Authentic podcast about navigating the rules and regulations of sponsored content online. A dry subject, admittedly, but I found it really helpful to hear about all the legal bumpf. As someone quite new to writing reviews for the odd brand etc., I’m really keen to make sure I keep everything in this area transparent. One for the other bloggers out there most likely – if that’s not your thing, though, feel free to skip ahead.

WORE

It’s been all about the cosy knits lately, and I was delighted for the excuse to dig out one of my old fair isle jumpers from the back of the wardrobe the other day. This one was actually from the teen section in Boden a couple of years ago (being a bit of a tiddler does bring benefits, you know, much cheaper!) Excuse my windswept hair though – it’s almost impossible to get a photo up here just now when it doesn’t seem to be blowing a howling gale.

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MADE

There was a lot of Autumn faffing going on in our household at the weekend – as far as I’m concerned, enjoying faffing about in life is pretty much a must. We went for a lovely walk in the forest and then made flatlay displays with all our treasures. Thankfully, it seems, my kids like faffing about as much as me!

Autumn.JPG

Autumn Display

AND LASTLY

I achieved a little writing milestone this week, finally getting to 10,000 words on a book I’ve been writing now for a year or so – and after my last blog post on learning to go slowly I’m not going to berate myself for my tortoise-imitating technique. That said, if there’s a prize going for the slowest writer ever award, I think I might be in the running. You never know folks, at this rate, my novel might be done by 2022!

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That’s it for my round up of likes and loves for this week. Hope you have a fabulous week people – and hope to see you back here for more Little Loves very very soon!

Gx

*This post contains affiliate links which mean that I will receive commission should you choose to purchase something via one of them. This enables me to earn a small income from the time I spend on blogging and does not in any way affect the price you pay.

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Health, Happiness and Learning To Go a Little Slow

It would be easy to assume that living in the Highlands of Scotland, I’d be an expert at what people might call ‘slow living’. Surrounded by open countryside, big skies and beaches that go on forever, I should be that quintessential free-range Mummy staring out onto the horizon and holding steaming mugs of hot sweet tea. The truth is, that whatever my photographs and blog posts might indicate, I’m not really that good at slowed-down living. That photo of a sunrise you saw was probably me walking my dog at the crack of dawn because my kids were ill. That scenic view I posted? Could well have been snapped on a rush between the supermarket, the school run and the Wednesday afternoon swimming lesson dash. Living in a remote location doesn’t really mean you’re any better at taking things slowly – it just means you go about your business with less traffic and fewer people. Like many others, I push myself to do ALL THE THINGS before I let myself relax.

Coffee

Over the last few months I’ve realised this approach to life isn’t really working, brought mainly into focus by a steady deterioration in my health. About a year ago I became ill with bacterial pneumonia, followed by a worsening of the symptoms of autoimmune thyroiditis and a host of other issues that left me feeling in pain and exhausted. I went from climbing Munros at weekends, to feeling breathless taking my dog out for a walk. Feeling under the weather almost daily became normality, and over the last nine months I’ve looked back enviously at the way I used to be. I now smile knowingly at the quote that says good health is a crown seen only by unwell people. It’s very true that most people don’t appreciate what they’ve got until it’s gone.

Anyway, I’m not here to depress people. And if you saw me out and about you’d probably think that I was fine. I’ve taken lots of steps to try to improve things by making changes to my diet and taking supplements to bolster my immune system. In time I’ll get there.

But before all that, there is another step that has to come from me.

It’s something I touched on a few months ago in a post I wrote called Saying No To Perfect and what it boils down to I suppose, is being a little kinder to yourself. Taking time to read books, have a bath, ditch social media occasionally or have a nap if you really need one – these days I’ve realised that being set constantly to GO doesn’t do you any favours in the long term. It might sometimes mean you can’t keep up with all the other busy people, but at the end of the day, it’s okay to say ‘I can’t keep up’. The things that might have once seemed like indulgences become necessities. If reading books or taking baths isn’t your jam in life, it’s time to find something else that is.

Old Book

Find ways to be a little kinder to yourself – your body will thank you for it if you do. For now, I’ve decided my kids don’t need to go to 101 out-of-school clubs for their physical and emotional wellbeing – they need a Mum who doesn’t want to go to bed every Friday afternoon at 330pm. I’ve realised it doesn’t matter if the school bags get unpacked or the pile of notes get sorted as soon as they arrive home. As long as they are ready for the next day then that’s going to be good enough.

Do the things that really matter as well as you can do them – for most people I imagine that’s family, work or the things in life that bring them joy. For all the other stuff ‘good enough’ just has to be sufficient. And remember, kindness extends not just to others, but to yourself aswell.

In a few weeks we are going away on holiday, and rather than rushing around trying to see anything and everything, we plan to spend a lot of time just lazing around beside the pool. I’m learning, though, not just to keep these slowed-down moments for a far-off holiday at some point in the distance – I’m learning to build little pockets of rest into my daily life.

It’s called being kind to yourself, self care, and knowing that you are good enough – because of course, that’s exactly what you are.

Take my advice and try it out as soon as possible.

What will you do today to show yourself you care?

Gx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Free From Cooking, Victoria, Cosy Jumpers and Family Knits #LittleLoves

I loved joining in with my first ever #LittleLoves last week, but I can’t believe it’s already been a week since I wrote my inaugural post! The last week has been a strange one here, with everyone in the family (except me and the dog) falling victim to the latest round of bugs. Routine has gone out of the window somewhat and we’ve been living very quietly. Thankfully everyone seems to have gotten back to normal now, so I’m off nursemaid duties and ready to round up my highlights from the week!

READ

This week I’ve been really enjoying poring over my new favourite cookbook Easy. Tasty. Healthy. by Barbara Cousins, a book packed full of recipes for people who want to avoid gluten, dairy, refined sugar, soya, eggs and yeast (phew!). While that may sound like a long list of things to take out of your diet, this book makes it look quite easy, and there are so many recipes I’m looking forward to trying out. The book was recommended to me by a nutritional therapist I’ve been seeing due to a chronic illness, and as the author herself is a qualified nutritionist, you know that where food is concerned, she really knows her stuff. I know that people can sometimes think going ‘free from’ is a bit faddish, but in cases of chronic or autoimmune illness, it can often really help. And although I’ve *only* gone gluten and dairy free myself so far, the recipes in this book make me think the rest wouldn’t be too difficult. I’ve already made the sun-dried tomato and mackerel pate (pictured), and let me tell you, it’s divine!

Easy Tasty Healthy Cookbook and sundried tomato and mackerel pate.JPG

WATCHED

On to what I’ve been watching this week, and I loved snuggling up with the first couple of episodes of  Victoria on catch up at the weekend. I adore period dramas like Victoria, The Crown, and (my all-time favourite) The Tudors. It’s fascinating to get a peek behind the scenes of what life might have been like for some of our most famous royals.

HEARD

I tend to dip in and out of podcasts, but this week I really enjoyed listening to Sara Tasker’s Hashtag Authentic interview with Sas Petherick on How To Stop Caring About What Everyone Thinks. I’m a renowned people-pleaser, and often find myself worrying about what people might be thinking about my writing and my blog. Where I live in the far North of Scotland, blogging isn’t really a ‘thing’ yet and although a few businesses write blogs on their websites, the only dedicated family and lifestyle blogger I know of is – well, me. I often find myself wondering if people find it frivolous or ridiculous, and it’s certainly true that I worry more about the opinions of people I do know than those of people I’ve never even met.  I need to work on being a lot more confident about what I’m doing. After all, surely there’s no shame in doing something that you really enjoy!

WORE

Yay! I’ve actually got something to say this week – I’ve been loving wearing this cosy jumper I bought in Topshop on an annual shopping spree to Inverness earlier in the year. I love that Autumn brings the opportunity to pull on knits and layers – because let’s face it folks, the weather has been getting COLD! Excuse my sun bleached, frazzled barnet in the picture though – my hair gets really damaged over the summer spending so much time outside walking my dog. I think I need to invest in some Autumn/Winter deep conditioning treatments. Any excuse to spend an extra ten minutes in the bathroom has got to be incentive enough.

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MADE

My sister has got all of us (* well, apart from my husband) into knitting lately, and at the weekend the boys and I went to a ‘learn to knit’ session at our local library which we all really enjoyed. I’d love to say I made the beautiful blanket in this picture but I have to confess all credit is due to my clever MIL. Nope, the only thing I have produced so far is that rather shabby looking square – no zooming in, now, please! At the moment I’m not putting too much pressure on myself to make things, I’m just enjoying the relaxation – would you call it mindfulness? – of watching my moving needles and listening to them peacefully click-clack. If you need something to encourage you to take a breather for a few minutes I’d definitely recommend it. Kind of like yoga but with wool instead of downward dogs.

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And if you’re wondering how last week’s sauerkraut turned out, well, wait for it – it still looks pretty much like a pile of cabbage at the bottom of a jar. I think I’ll give it another week or two to work it’s fermenting magic and see if that makes a difference. In the meantime, if you’re eager to try some out for yourself, you can find a recipe for it here.

AND LASTLY

We’ve had a long weekend from school this week for in-service days – after only a month back in the normal routine I have to say it couldn’t come soon enough for me! Despite getting up most mornings at 6am, leaving the house by 0840 has never been my strong point. Roll on the October holidays I say, and until next time, hope you all have a lovely week!

Gx

*This post contains affiliate links which mean that I will receive commission should you choose to purchase something via one of them. This enables me to earn a small income from the time I spend on blogging and does not in any way affect the price you pay.

Little Loves Coffee Work Sleep Repeat

The 2017 Feed With Confidence Awards from Lansinoh

My kids may be getting a bit bigger these days, but I still have vivid memories of the many hours spent breastfeeding them when they were babies. The smell of their skin, their little fingers wrapped around my own – and easily getting through a whole episode of Desperate Housewives in the space of just one newborn feed. If this sounds like a blissful picture, in many ways it was – but those early weeks of feeding were also challenging and painful, particularly with my first son with whom I suffered badly with both mastitis and thrush within my breasts. Feeding became very difficult, sometimes leaving me wondering if I was going to be able to manage to carry on with it. I look back on that time with a mixture of fond memories and sadness, remembering how much I was struggling and also how desperate I was for the situation to improve. I’m glad to say that things did improve though, and after getting proper treatment and advice, I was able to enjoy breastfeeding my son (and subsequently his little brother) for a year.

There were a few key elements in making this happen – the support of family, visits from a breastfeeding buddy, joining a local breastfeeding group and of course access to the right medical care. Eventually breastfeeding became easy and when my children decided to ‘give me up’ rather than the other way around, I admit it, I felt a little lost!

One of the other elements in helping me get through the early months of breastfeeding, was being able to get out and about and meet people while I was feeding. If I hadn’t been able to do that I would most likely have spent a lot of time at home feeling miserable when things were at their worst. Being able to meet my Mum, my sister or a friend for coffee really helped take my mind off things – and later, when things were going better: well, it just brightened up my day. The fact that no one seemed to bat an eyelid while I discreetly breastfed my baby while out for a spot of lunch really helped my confidence. It’s these small everyday things that can really make a difference when someone is going through a difficult time.

And so I was delighted when the breastfeeding experts over at Lansinoh asked me to help promote their Feed With Confidence Awards 2017, the first UK award scheme to recognise cafes, shops and other public places where breastfeeding is encouraged. Attitudes towards breastfeeding can have a huge impact on how a mother feels about feeding her baby, and public perceptions may be one reason the UK has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world. Research carried out recently by Lansinoh showed that an average of 46% of people felt uncomfortable seeing a woman breastfeeding a baby in a restaurant, pub, or café, and also quashed general misconceptions about age or gender bias –  the groups more accepting of  breastfeeding in public were the over 65 age group and men. The results indicate we still have a long way to go in the UK in supporting breastfeeding women, and I’m happy to back Lansinoh in their quest to find businesses who are doing exactly that.

So do head over to their website and cast your vote for places that make breastfeeding mums more comfortable – the awards aren’t just limited to cafes and restaurants: you can also vote for places like libraries and cinemas that make breastfeeding mums feel welcome too. When you vote you’ll also be entered into a prize draw to win a family friendly mini break. And let’s face it, at this time of year, who couldn’t do with a prize like that?

Gx

FWC Awards 2017 Logo

Main Image: Canva

*In return for writing this post, I received some Lansinoh goodies to be used in a Facebook giveway during September 2017. Do pop over to my Facebook page if you’d like to find out more!

Dr Foster, The Power, Sauerkraut and Getting Arty #LittleLoves

I’ve been enjoying other bloggers’ weekly #LittleLoves for a while now – the linky from Morgana at Coffee Work Sleep Repeat with a round up of the things you’ve liked and loved in the categories of read, watched, heard, wore and made within the week. My own natural nosiness curiosity about people means I love finding out all about what other bloggers are enjoying, and I get a lot of inspiration and ideas from my regular Little Loves peeks. I’d like to think that other people might also find my likes and loves helpful, and so for the first time ever I thought I’d give it a go! If you enjoy this, please let me know and encourage me to keep participating more regularly. As a needy writer type, I can’t tell you how much it means when someone gives a little ‘like’ on my blog posts or drops me a quick comment to say hello.

READ

This week I’ve been reading The Power by Naomi Alderman, a cleverly written novel based around the idea of girls developing powers that allow them to start taking over the world. I’d seen so many people talking about it on Instagram that I couldn’t resist trying it (yes, I admit it, I’m a total Insta-sheep!) I’m not too far into it yet but so far it’s looking fantastic. I’ll do a full review of the book in my Reading, Watching, Listening to post later in the month.

The Power Book.JPG

The kids and I also read a fantastic book called The Journey by Francesca Sanna, a lovely story about a refugee family escaping a war torn country in search of a better life. One of the things I love about reading is it’s ability to foster empathy and kindness. My children were really touched by this book and it prompted a lot of discussion about what life for refugee families must be like.

The Journey Book.JPG

WATCHED

We had a very quiet time last weekend, allowing me the chance to pop onto the BBC iPlayer and catch up on episode 1 of the new series of Dr Foster. With all sorts of tension between the protagonist and her newly returned ex husband, it made for a fantastic – and sometimes cringe inducing – watch (that bit where she was poking around her ex’s supposedly empty house, oh dear!). And as for that final scene – what drama! I can’t wait to see what my favourite wronged doctor has in store tonight.

HEARD

I’ve got back into listening to The Worried Writer podcast this week, but some of the best things I’ve heard lately have been out of the mouths of babes. After being a bit grumpy recently, I apologised profusely to my littlest, who took my face in his hands and said ‘it doesn’t matter if you’re grumpy, because you’re still my beautiful Mum.’ If we all ended disagreements this gracefully, wouldn’t relationships be wonderful? With charm like his I think my son is going to make someone a very lovely partner one day (one day very far into the future. I’ve decided I’m never going to let go of my little boys).

WORE

One of the reasons I’ve held back from joining in with Little Loves for so long is the ‘wore’ thing – my blog name Wellies on the School Run probably says it all. I spend a lot of my time in outdoor gear and the rest in standard skinny jeans/stripy top Mummy uniform. I really need to up my game in the fashionista stakes.

MADE

At the weekend the boys and I did some art stuff, I love pottering about with pencils, paper and paint. The kids did some stencilling while I did some faffing around and drawing. I’m not great at drawing from imagination but if I have a photo or something to copy it’s a pastime I really enjoy.

A surge of wintry weather has also prompted me to get some soup going, one of the things I love doing when the weather gets colder is using our Sunday chicken to make bone broth and then using that to make a lovely warming soup. When life gives you lemons make lemonade I say. And when life gives you torrential rain and wind rapping at the windows make bone broth, soup, and lots of cups of tea.

Arty Afternoon.JPG

Bone Broth and Soup.JPG

I’m also trying my hand at making Sauerkraut this week, a fermented cabbage concoction recommended by a nutrionist I’ve been seeing since a bout of pneumonia left me with a list of autoimmune complaints. I’ve yet to see how it turns out as you have to leave it fermenting for a few days. If it’s a success, I’ll tell you about it next week. If not, let’s never speak of it again.

AND LASTLY…

We’re having a quiet week here this week as my littles have both had the latest tummy bug doing the rounds at school. I’m keeping my fingers crossed neither myself or my husband get it and we can continue to mop the brows of our littlest loves of all.

G x

*This post contains affiliate links which mean that I will receive commission should you choose to purchase something via one of them. This enables me to earn a small income from the time I spend on blogging and does not in any way affect the price you pay.

Little Loves Coffee Work Sleep Repeat

Reading, Watching Listening to Lately – August 2017

Summer may be coming to an end here in the Scottish Highlands, but earlier sunsets and dark evenings do have a few upsides, and the excuse to curl up with a book, movie or a box set have to be pretty much at the top of my Autumn-ready list. I’ve had a fantastic run of books and entertainment over the summer, and last month I even managed to smash my three-books-a-month post-children record (insert nerdy bookworm fist pump wherever you like).

Technically, though, that’s not really true, as I actually started my first book for August, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert, back in July – I just didn’t finish it in time for the last update. And how glad I am I didn’t rush it, because it’s one to savour folks, particularly if you’re the dreamy creative type (and the dreamy creative type is my favourite type to be). If you follow these updates regularly you’ll know that I’m a big fan of Gilbert’s Magic Lessons podcast, in which she encourages people from all walks of life to follow their creative dreams. This book is more of the same (but different), as Gilbert leads readers to discover their own ‘Big Magic’, through sections on courage, enchantment, permission, persistence and trust. Along the way she shares lots of anecdotes about her own creative life and the lives of others – I particularly liked her thoughts on ideas and how they might exist as entities hopping on and off humans in the universe (thereby explaining why two people might come up with the same idea for say a book). Although some might scoff at such assertions, a world where ideas hop around the universe is exactly the kind of world I want to live in (see dreamy creative type). And if, like me, you’re a dreamer, I think you’ll find yourself giving Big Magic two very big thumbs up.

Big Magic Book.JPG

Reading wise, the middle of the month was something of a Jane Austen fest, when I refreshed myself on the classic that is Pride and Prejudice, before moving on to Curtis Sittenfeld’s modern reimagining of the story in Eligible, a millennial revamp which sees journalist Liz having an affair with a married man, single yoga teacher Jane undergoing artificial insemination and the rest of the Bennet family behaving pretty much true to form – with a little bit more rude talk. Throw in sweet doctor-turned-reality-tv-star Chip Bingley and haughty neurosurgeon Fitzwilliam Darcy and you have all the ingredients for a fantastic retelling of the classic (which, it goes without saying, I adored). Even if you haven’t read the original I’m quite sure you could enjoy Eligible as a stand alone novel. But for the full experience read both – and then resist the urge to re-watch the BBC adaption and THAT lake scene while pondering all the while where on earth the last 20 + years have gone.

Pride and Prejudice and Eligible.JPG

My final read for August was Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell, a book I’d heard about so often on podcasts and recommended reading lists I felt I really ought to give a whirl. And I’m glad I did – Gladwell’s dissection of what makes people successful is truly enlightening, revealing that everything from a person’s date of birth to the era in which they live are big factors towards an ‘accumulative social advantage’ which brings success to only a chosen few. This extremely well researched book blows apart any notion that success is based solely on talent, and really brings home that if everyone was offered the same opportunities there would be much more chance of people reaching their potential to succeed. From a parental point of view it certainly provides food for thought on areas like school entry dates. And on the social front it certainly reiterates the assertion that opportunity should be for the many, not the few.

Outliers Book.JPG

On to what I’ve been watching over the last month, and it would be fair to say it amounts to pretty much one thing: Mad Men. How my husband and I have managed to miss this gem of a TV show, for what, the last ten years or so, I cannot account for. I’m playing the baby/young children card, but all I can say is thankyou to my parents who recommended we catch up on the series on Netflix over coffee not so long ago. How we have managed to survive till this point without Don, Betty, Pete, Peggy and co in our lives I do not know. Thankfully we have another five seasons or so before we have to return to that Sterling Cooper-free desolate place.

I haven’t been doing much listening lately but I have caught up on a few of the Hashtag Authentic podcasts and the new Alison Perry podcast. I’ll try to do better next month – but until then,  I’d love to hear in the comments what you’ve been reading, watching and listening to aswell!

G x

* This post contains affiliate links which mean that I will receive commission should you choose to purchase something via one of them. This enables me to earn a small income from the time I spend on blogging and does not in any way affect the price you pay.

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