Sunday, January 20, 2019

Finding Warmth in a Scottish Winter

It's minus one degree celsius so what better thing to do than sit down and write a blog post. We had our first snow this week, though just a dusting - the garden at work looks like someone's been liberal with the icing sugar.


To combat the cold, today we went to the Inverness Botanic Gardens which are known by locals as the floral hall as that was its name until 2014. There's two large greenhouses and a outdoor area that's still being developed. The tropical greenhouse was so warm that our glasses fogged up as soon as we walked in. It was lovely to walk around amongst so much greenery and beautiful flowers and nice and cosy even though there is snow on the ground outside.






As we wandered aimlessly we came across the fabulous site of a pineapple growing in the highlands of Scotland.


I really loved this pitcher plant and thanks to the informative information boards we discovered that this is also known as the monkey cup plant as monkeys often drink the water that is collected in them.


The pond contained normal sized fish and what my beloved described as a whale - he also thinks that the 'whale' has been eating the other fish.


There wasn't much to see outside due to it being the middle of winter, though it was nice to see some of the wooden sculptures like the happy mole and toadstools below.



My favourite area is the cactus and succulent house. There are some beautiful specimens here and I definitely have cacti envy.


 Ken has kindly put his hand next to these cacti to show you how big they are. I love these big ball shaped ones, and the one I have is about the size of a small apple - just a little bit more to grow to match these.


Selfie in the succulents house.


When I was young I had some sundew plants which are carniverous, and really fascinated me. At the gardens they have a whole table of different carnivorous plants, with these beautiful pitcher plants being the ones that are currently in season.


Another rare site in the highlands, an orange tree.


The gardens have a resident cat called Shadow, who chose the gardens over his original owners, and he even featured in the local paper in 2016 when that happened. Whenever we go we always keep an eye out for him as he obviously is a very sensible feline and loves the warmth of the greenhouses. We spotted him lying under some plants that were directly above one of the heaters.


When we moved the leaves to get a better picture of him he deigned to open one eye and then just went back to sleep. It's such a hard life being a cat.


Now we wouldn't want to disappoint anyone, so we did stop for coffee and cake. We drove to Drumnadrochit which is on the banks of Loch Ness for a scrummy banoffee pie for me and a decadent sticky toffee pudding for Ken (and yes I did steal a mouthful).



Hope you've enjoyed this day out in the Highlands.

Until next time,

Pamela & Ken
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Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Happy New Year

The first day of a brand new year where all sorts of adventures may await us. Goodbye to 2018, you were interesting and at times challenging, but we have lots of things to be grateful for as we move forward into 2019. I realise I haven't written a blog post for several months - lots of reasons why, but it feels good to be back at my laptop.

A brief summary of the last part of our year. In October we went to Sunny Dundee on the east coast of Scotland for a few days. It's a lovely city and has lots of really interesting statues around along with great art galleries and museums. We stayed in a fabulous bed and breakfast where Bramble was made very welcome as the owners had several dogs of their own.

 Ken with Desperate Dan

 Me with the penguins outside the cathedral.

We continue to explore this beautiful part of the world whenever we get the chance, and we find some very interesting things in our travels. One of my favourite things this year was when we went to Ballater in Aberdeenshire and we watched a game of musical chairs for dogs!! The chairs were replaced by boxes and when the music stopped the owners had to get their dogs into the box - needless to say it was incredibly funny.

I continue to annoy any cats we come across, stopping to have a chat with them and a cuddle if they'll let me. This gorgeous fluffball was in the churchyard in Braemar.


Our three furbies are the real bosses in this family, as they have us wrapped around their little paws. Princess Cookie Cat turns 15 at the end of this month, and loves curling up in front of the fire. She barely tolerates the two youngsters and her favourite time is when they're sleeping.


Bramble Jelly Sassy Pants will be three in March, and keeps Ken very fit with all her walks. She's such a cuddly dog, and slightly crazy as well, and loves playing with her brother.


Lord Rocky Horror has totally wormed his way into every part of our life and we're so lucky that he chose us when we went to the rescue centre. We think he was about one when we adopted him, so his birthday is probably sometime in the next few months, but we're going to use his adoption day as his birthday. He's a total little monkey at times, chasing Cookie until she retaliates, trying to open our bedroom door at night, chasing Bramble, and once he managed to chew through the side of the dog food bag.


We continually check out nice cafes and coffee is of course my drink of choice. Sometimes it's important to just stop and focus on each other, enjoying each others company and sitting in a cafe is a really good way to do that.


For Guy Fawkes in November we went to a bonfire and fireworks in Burghead - a little town east of us on the coast. It was a lovely evening with food, live music, and a pumpkin carving competition.


In November a fabulous new cafe opened in Elgin, further east than us, it's called Cafe Kombucha and is a vegan cafe. No, we haven't become vegans, at the moment we're still pescatarians (fish eating vegetarians) for now, but I'm always keen to explore new healthy eateries.

The food was amazing, the picture shows the sharing plate we had - in the middle is a bowl of soup and we also had flat breads with it. If you're ever in the area I would definitely recommend it.


In December we celebrated our 19th anniversary with afternoon tea at the beautiful Coul House with a glass of prosecco for me and tea for my beloved, all in front of an open fire. It was a perfect afternoon. We love this hotel as they are dog friendly and they have a fairy trail in the woods.




Just before Christmas we went to Grantown on Spey to see Santa before he headed off on his round the world trip. His reindeers were with him and I got very excited - a bit like a little kid.


I hope that this year you discover new things about yourself, get to meet some lovely animals and people, and remember to acknowledge the things you have to be grateful for, even on the most difficult of days.

Until next time,

Pamela & Ken
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Sunday, September 09, 2018

Ten Things about Ten Years Ago

This week for the top ten, Tamara at Part-time Working Hockey Mom has asked us to think about what we were doing ten years ago in 2008. I've really had to rack my brains for this one and look back at photos to see a bit of what we were up to.

1. I began a new job in January 2008 as a Palliative Care Lecturer Practitioner. Big title for a specialist nurse who also did education. Loved this job but I never got over the nerves when I was presenting.

2. Our brats, Princess Cookie Cat and Muffin Monster were only four years old and still liked each other enough to sit together.


3. Mum and Aunty Chris came to the UK for a holiday and we had a wonderful time with them, including taking them to Scotland for a week. (We were living in greater London at the time.)

4. I joined Facebook in 2008, finally getting on board with the Social Media trend. This was my profile picture in 2008 which was taken at the wedding of a doctor I worked with.


5. A really historic moment took place in this year - Barack Obama became the first black president of the United States.

6. We discovered a fabulous Bed & Breakfast in Deddington Oxfordshire, The Old Post House. It was dog friendly and the lovely hostess had dogs as well. We stayed there a few times over the years as it was perfectly situated for exploring the Cotswolds or just relaxing in the local area. Down the street there was the fantastic Crown & Tuns which basically serves pies - big, scrummy pies.

7. Even though it was season 7, this was the year that I got hooked on American Idol. The eventual winner this year was David Cook, which was totally the right choice. Here's his audition that started his journey through the show.


8. The film Cloverfield was in the cinemas and there were reports that it was making people feel sick because of how it was filmed. My beloved decided to go and see it with his youngest, and not that long into the film he rang me from the car as he'd had to leave due to feeling sick - Jamie was fine and stayed for the whole film.

9. We visited the Rollright Stones in Oxfordshire which consists of several features but the one I liked the best was the Kings Men, which is thought to have been erected in 2,500bc. The really interesting legend around this circle of stones is that you can never count the same number of stones, and this proved true as I counted them at least three time, getting a different number each time.




10. We took our gorgeous Bertie Boo to the beach for the first time and it took us a little while to convince him to go in the water - he didn't know what to do with the waves.


There you have a snapshot of our 2008 - it feels like forever ago. Before you go make sure that you hop over to Tamara's Blog to see what my fellow bloggers have come up with for their list.

Until next time have a really wonderful week.

Pamela & Ken
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Monday, September 03, 2018

Top Ten Scavenger Hunt

I'm very, very late for Thursday's top ten and this week it's time for another photo scavenger hunt. Here's the list of subjects to take pictures of this month:
  1. Cupcakes
  2. Blue Sky
  3. Berries
  4. Five
  5. Fountain
  6. Boat
  7. Tuk-Tuk
  8. Laundry
  9. Palm Tree
  10. Straw Hat
This blog hop is hosted by Tamara at Part-time Working Hockey Mom and it would be great if you wanted to join us - hop over to Tamara's blog to see what my fellow bloggers have come up with for their pictures.

1. Cupcakes - this gorgeous looking cupcake with pink and purple hearts decorating it was made by a ten year old who brought them into my work for us all to enjoy. It was a lovely surprise.


2. Blue Sky - no matter the temperature here in the highlands, when the skies are clear it is such a beautiful place to be.


3. Berries - strawberries grown on raised stands so that it's easier to pick them at a local fruit farm.


4. Five - I couldn't think what to do for this one so here is a picture of a five pound note.


5. Fountain - the stream of water coming out of our heads is a fountain in Wynyard Tasmania, and we had a lot of our wedding photos taken in these gardens. This photo was taken last year when we were home.


6. Boat - I've realised that I have lots of photos of boats so for this post I'm sharing a boat that's in need of some love and attention. This was on the Isle of Skye.


7. Tuk-Tuk - for a moment I thought I would fail with this object, but then I remembered that we saw this Tuk-Tuk in Krakow Poland and of course I took a photo at the time as we thought it was a very nice Tuk-Tuk.


8. Laundry - When we went camping in the far north of Scotland earlier this year we saw this washing line strung up between two motorbikes which I thought was a very ingenious idea.


9. Palm Tree - on the west coast of Scotland is the village of Plockton (My A to Z post from 2017) and  there are lots of palm trees along the loch front.


10. Straw Hat - my beloved in full music festival mode including straw hat and blue necklace. 


Here's a bonus photo as I just have to share this momentous occasion - all three of our brats lying fairly close together. It only lasted about five minutes, but it's progress.


Until next time, be good, stay safe, and have a wonderful week.

Pamela & Ken
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