Monday, 27 December 2010

chicken sitting by the sea

Would you just look at that view!

I'd say that's worth the two and a half days we spent travelling, wouldn't you?

(yep, it really did take us two and a half days to get here. Enough time to get to the other side of the world and back!)

Well, we're not on the other side of the world, although it feels so far away from normal life here that we might as well be. We're actually in Orkney, just off the north coast of Scotland, 600 miles away from home, and house sitting for a friend. I'm seriously considering refusing to leave when she gets back.

We're also chicken sitting - a heavy responsibility for folk like us not used to looking after animals, and one we were a bit worried about.

But, it turns out, they mostly look after themselves, and don't need entertaining at all (did I really think they'd get bored??).

In fact, they're providing us with rather a lot of entertainment, with one escapee hen determined to hide in the most unlikely places, and a cockerel leading a breakaway faction of hens on little mini adventures to the furthest reaches of the garden. There he goes, with the hills of Hoy (the next island) in the background, and the sun lighting up his feathers.

I must say I'm enjoying the whole-lot-of-not-very-much that's going on here right now...

Friday, 24 December 2010

disappearing act

Oops, sorry about that, I didn't mean to disappear so unceremoniously without saying goodbye, but you know how things are at this time of year, events sometimes take over a little.

I'll be back in a couple of weeks with many festive photographs, plans for the new year, fingers crossed for a nearly-finished-phd, and no doubt a fair bit of wibbling over starting full time work (gosh, did I really agree to that??).

In the meantime, enjoy the snow if you have it, and I wish you all plenty of fun-filled festive frolics!

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

breathing deep

Oooh, look at the sun on the snow. How sparkly and lovely. And a nice reminder of cheery things on a gloomy day.

I took this a couple of weeks ago, everything's rather muddy and wet round here now, not half as picturesque.

And it's not just the weather that's gloomy! I was pulled up short in the middle of the last of the Christmas shopping to be told the garage can't fix our car. Yep, that's right, we're driving 600 miles away in less than a week, and we have a car that won't go faster than 15 miles an hour. By my calculations, that means it's going to take us 40 hours to get there, which is quite a long time.

Might be quicker to dust off the bicycles!

Anyway, all is not quite lost, because the nice men at the garage sent me to a nice man at another garage, who said he would fix it before Monday. I dread to think how much it'll cost - especially since he now knows I'm rather desperate! Fingers crossed hey?

For now though, cards to be written, presents to be wrapped, tea to be drunk, and packing to be done - I'm off to London tomorrow!

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Christmassy preparations

It's nearly Christmas, are you excited yet? I am, I love Christmas. Although this year, I'm feeling rather not-in-control of the preparations. Today I've had a minor breakthrough, and actually found the Christmas tree. I thought we'd thrown it away, so last year we had a 'mystic branch' instead. Today it just turned up in the cellar, must have been hiding all along. Pesky thing.

I haven't got a picture, because I also discovered that the fairy lights don't work. Eek! (should I tell you I managed to get a small electric shock trying to *make* them work while they were plugged in? Perhaps not...). So our poor tree looks rather dismal in the dark. I'm very much looking forward to putting lights on it tomorrow, I do love a tree with sparkly lights.

I've also been enjoying the festive baking in the bakery up the road. These enigmatic 'shortpaste shapes' have been given woolly hats and scarfs for the festive season, and rather jolly they look too.

The Christmas cards are nearly made, although I haven't written any of them yet. I've got some presents, but not all of them. I'm all prepared for travelling though, and on the Christmas party front, well, two down, three to go, and I'm currently in the middle of one that only three people turned up to (and they've now gone home). I'm glad of the rest!

The other thing I'm enjoying at the minute is our advent calendar. Look at the little animal pictures! We found this in a charity shop a few years ago, and it gets pulled out each year. Behind the windows are little animals, going about their Christmas preparations. It's all most cheerful.

Anyway, so here I am, with lots of leftover biscuits, and a large tasty cake, and two bottles of mulled wine, and only the two of us to finish it all off. What a job! But someone has to do it, I suppose. The candles are lit, and I'm listening to carols, and sewing linings for the living room curtains. A lovely and peaceful way to round off the weekend before a hectic week.

I hope your festive preparations are going well!

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

for today...

Outside my window... the snow is slowly thawing, and freezing, and thawing and freezing. It's dark, and the air is cold.
I am thinking... about hot chocolate, and blankets, and just *how many* things I have left to do
I am thankful for... a roof over my head, and central heating, and hot water. Very thankful.
From the learning rooms... the pile of 'nearly done' phd chapters is growing. I'm aiming for a full, decent draft (again!) before Christmas. And I might just make it.
From the kitchen... pancakes. again. Much as I'd love to be making biscuits, and mince pies, and festive cakes, the focus is all on the phd. I'll appreciate it in the end, I'm sure.
I am wearing... more clothes than is reasonable in a centrally-heated house. And a scarf. And a blanket. And a hot water bottle.
I am creating... plans, and following them through, in a feat of organisation I don't think I've ever witnessed in myself before. I wonder if it will last?
I am going... nowhere right now, if I can help it. I don't *need* to be anywhere until Wednesday (and then I need to be in London, which is pretty far away right now given all this snow...) But until then, small, walking-distance, local journeys only, to the cafe, the charity shop, the library, the fields for some fresh air...
I am reading... chapter drafts, over and over and over, and encouraging words about writing, from people who know better than me
I am hoping... that the snow melts enough for us to be able to go on holiday. I'm not sure I can bear not having a holiday *again*. So please, clear roads, or at the very least, a functional rail network... please...
I am hearing... the central heating, and an occasional plunk as a bit of snow melts from the roof
Around the house... piles of things that should be somewhere else. Things are getting a little free-and-easy in the tidying up department this week... but that will have to change, we're having friends round for festivities at the weekend!
One of my favorite things... hot chocolate, and a hot water bottle, and a blanket, and a sofa (oops, that's four things)
A few plans for the rest of the week: writing, and reading and rewriting. Maybe a little dancing. Tea and cake. A trip to the dentist (possibly connected to the cake...). The last of the Christmas preparations. A small and festive gathering of friends.
Here is picture for thought I am sharing...

Just to remind myself that the snow really is beautiful, and that there's exciting things waiting around the corner...

Join in with the simple woman's daybook here

Saturday, 4 December 2010


I popped out into the front garden yesterday to investigate the snow, and found this - a rose, entirely encased in ice. Absolutely beautiful, the photo doesn't do it justice at all. I was tempted to bring it in and put it in the freezer to save for the summer, is that silly?? I'm not sure what I'd do with it in the summer!

When I was out there, I noticed an ENORMOUS icicle hanging off the front of the house. Very excited, I dashed back inside to announce my find, only to be met with dismay - obviously an enormous icicle right there means a non-working gutter...

I waved a broom handle threateningly at it (couldn't *quite* reach!), and this morning when I popped out, it had fallen off - fortunately not *on* anybody...

Anyway, what with all this snow and ice, I've declared today Christmas Preparation day - so cards, presents, decorations, holiday plans, and general festivities. I was given 3 free mince pies earlier, so that started me off nicely!

Off to wrap up warm for the trek into town...

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

staying in

I opened the back door to put the rubbish out this afternoon, and was greeted by this. There's a bench under there somewhere! It usually looks like this...
So, much as I love the snow, I decided that today would be an 'inside day'... Plenty of PhD, plenty of tea, hot water bottles and scarves.

I am planning a little venture out in it later... but only once all my work for the day is done, so that when I can come back I can get straight into my pjs and snuggle up on the sofa. Not a day to be out if you don't have to!

(and I know those of you who regularly have far more snow than this are probably laughing at me now! But this is really quite unusual for us over here, so it's all rather a novelty!)

Fortunately I don't *have* to be anywhere until Tuesday, so hot chocolate and treats are the order of the day for the rest of the week I think! I'd love to be sewing first, but PhD is the priority (gosh, will I ever be able to stop saying that?? Soon!), so no sewing for the time being...

Maybe a little Christmas card crafting later though...