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

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

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

Saturday, August 25, 2018

A Brainstorming Top Ten and some Friendly Fill Ins

Today I'm catching up with Top Ten and the Friendly Fill Ins - enjoy.

This week for Top Ten Thursday (I know I'm very late) Tamara at Part-time Working Hockey Mom has asked us to brainstorm an upcoming project: top ten ideas on how to remodel your terrace, how to fit in more exercise into your days or how to pimp your blog,...?

My project is to make sure we're getting all our nutrients and and include more veggies that we've not had before in our pescatarian (fish eating vegetarians) diet.

1. I've recently bought a fabulous chart that outlines nutrients and the veggies they're found in, which I plan to stick to the wall where we do our food preparation.

2. Follow instagram accounts that share healthy vegetarian recipes. A great one that I've found is Vegetarian Eats.

3. Try new foods when out and about to see if it's something we'd want to experiment with at home. Something that I must try as I've seen it in several recipes, is Jackfruit.

4. Remember that a lot of vitamins and minerals can be found in seeds which are really easy to add to all sorts of things.

5. Lots of people always assume that we find it difficult to get enough protein as we don't eat meat anymore, but there are lots of other ways to get this very important nutrient, nuts being one of my favourites especially in the form of peanut or cashew butter.

6. The other important mineral that is a little harder to get is iron, though you'd be surprised how much iron is in vegetarian foods. This Website gives details of the different foods and how much iron is in them. The other factor with plant based iron is that it's important to try and optimise the absorption by eating vit C rich foods with your iron ones, and avoid tea or coffee at mealtimes.

7. Another thing I'd like to do to perk up our diet is to try some new vegetables in our meals. One of the supermarkets we were at recently had some veggies that I'd never seen before so I'm definitely going to google some recipes and try them. 

8. Explore more health food shops to find new and unusual things to eat. We've got some seaweed noodles in the cupboard that we need to try - they're black and full of healthiness.

9. In project eat better we need to not become too obsessed with what we're eating that we lose the joy of food.

10. Never forget that chocolate and coffee have lots of really important nutrients in them, especially the feel good nutrient that it would be silly to live without.

Have you got any projects that you need to undertake? Before you leave today, make sure you hop over to Tamara's Blog and see what my fellow bloggers have come up with.

Now it's onto Friday's Friendly Fill Ins which is hosted by 15andmeowing.com and Four-Legged Furballs, visit their blogs to see other bloggers answers. The bits in bold are provided for us and the rest is purely me.
1. My beloved brings out the best in me as he always has faith in my abilities even when I don't.

2. Animal cruelty and neglect makes me grumpier than Grumpy Cat and more morose than Eeyore. I'll never understand the mentality of people that can hurt an animal, especially cats as they are such beautiful creatures (but then I'm a bit biased).

Lord Rocky Horror - much chubbier than when we adopted him.
3. If money grew on trees, I would buy us a house and take in lots of animals that need a good home.

4. I have a fear of spiders and heights when I'm in a car which I know is a bit bizarre. Spiders is a sensible fear as lots of them in Australia are very poisonous, but the car thing is a bit odd as I'm fine with heights otherwise. 

That's it for today, if you've enjoyed this post why don't you join us next week on Thursday or Friday or both.

Until next time, have a really wonderful week.

Pamela & Ken

Friday, August 17, 2018

Top Ten Thursday - There's a New President in Town

This week's top ten is a political one (oh no I hear you cry). Tamara at Part-time Working Hockey Mom has given us the following guidelines:

"Today let's assume President Trump is out. Impeachment and removal from office, boom. For some reason Mr Pence doesn't automatically take over - it's you who's in charge now. List the top ten priorities you're tackling first."

Where to start...........

1. Healthcare: making healthcare available to everyone no matter their income or social status. I'm not sure how you would change the messed up system that exists now, but it's just so wrong that people in a low socioeconomic area who can't afford health insurance can't get medical care when needed without practically going bankrupt.

2. LGBTQ Rights: I would reinstate the guidance that included transgender people under the civil rights act and protected transgender children in schools. I would make sure that the LGBTQ community were very visible on the White House Website (my predecessor removed all mention of them), and during Pride month the White House would be lit up with a rainbow. Just like Justin Trudeau in Canada I would attend Pride events to show that my administration was a true ally and friend.

3. Education: work to improve education standards across the land, making sure that there is the same high standards no matter where a child goes to school. Included in this would be giving more money for the quality of school lunches as he who shall not be named has reduced this. Before and after school activities should also be in place for those children whose parents have to work long hours.

4. Environment: climate change does exist and I would make sure we joined back up with all the sensible countries who are trying to do something about this. Fuel efficiency standards would be implemented, along with a national campaign to help people think about how they can help the environment by reducing their carbon footprint. I would reinstate the bans on plastic bottles in national parks, lead bullets, and lead sinkers in fishing, and give back all the land that has been removed from national parks. I would definitely ban drilling for oil in the arctic and try and find some way that any future republicans couldn't reverse this. I could go on for ages on the environment as he who shall not be named obviously has no regard for mother nature and how we need this planet to survive if we want to keep living on it.

5. Hunting: this law broke my heart when it was brought in - hunters in Alaska are now allowed to hunt hibernating bears and wolves, kill their babies, and use much more aggressive hunting methods. This law will be one of the first to be corrected as any fair minded person must see how wrong this is.

6. HIV/AIDS: reinstate funding for research and support both nationally and internationally.

7. White House Staff: I would definitely want George Stephanopoulos as my communications director - he did a fantastic job for Bill Clinton at the start of his presidency and he has the charisma needed. I'd definitely have roles for Ellen and Oprah, incredibly strong women who so many people look up to.

8. Guns: I was watching a show about America recently and one of the people on it made the statement, "the only way to stop gun violence is to give more people guns". Is it just me or does that make no sense whatsoever. Under my administration gun ownership would not be allowed until 18, and there will be very strict rules involved. Handguns will be banned (except for policemen and military) as well as military grade weapons like some of the ones that have been used in mass shootings. There will be stringent checks which follow the UK's guidance; 'Gun owners ... must meet background checks, which involve a review of a person's criminal record, mental illness, alcoholism, drug addiction, and references regarding mental state, home life, and attitudes toward guns. Licenses must be renewed every five years, although they can be revoked earlier if police find that someone's gun ownership poses public safety risks or a person no longer has a good reason for the license.' (Vox).

9. Twitter: this will be banned from the White House unless my communications director is using it to promote the good we are doing as an administration.

10. Redecorate: we will need to remove any of the tackyness that has been put there by the family that must not be named, and introduce some comfort and colour to different parts of the house. I'll also have to make sure that it is very cat friendly, and apart from our three furbies, I'm sure it's time for a president of the United States to begin taking in abandoned cats.

There you have my priorities - what would be yours? Before you go, make sure you hop over to Tamara's Blog to see what my fellow bloggers have come up with for when they take office.

Until next time, enjoy the last few weeks of summer (or winter) wherever you are in this wonderful world.

Pamela & Ken

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Top Ten Thursday - Summer Time

This week, Tamara from Part-time Working Hockey Mom, has asked us to list the top ten things we did, enjoyed, read, ate, experienced,... this summer! It's been an amazing summer here in the Scottish Highlands with days and days of glorious sunshine - it would have been even nicer if I didn't have to work. Still, we managed to cram quite a few great things in over the past couple of months and I'm going to share a few of them with you now.

1. Not far from us is a lovely fruit farm and we, along with many other people, took advantage of their pick your own service, spending a lovely hour picking strawberries and raspberries. We ate some that night with cream and icing sugar, but the rest went in the freezer for use in smoothies.

2. On one of the very hot days we went to Carrbridge for lunch and then we watched some very brave lads jumping off the old stone bridge into the river below.

3. On visits to any beaches we did our bit for the planet and picked up any plastic we came across. We nearly always find shotgun cartridges no matter where we are.

4. Of course there were several visits to old graveyards and the overgrown ones look particularly lovely at this time of the year as they are very green and vibrant.

5. Like the big kids that we are we went to the circus when it came to town and sat in the front row. It was great fun and there were some very talented acrobats and strength performers.

6. For the first time ever we went camping for a night together. Yes we've done glamping but that's where everything is provided for you, so this was a little different. We quite enjoyed it except for the size of the tent - we couldn't stand up in it so maneuvering around was quite a challenge and we also had Bramble Jelly with us. I'd definitely do it again if we had a bigger tent.

7. We attended an art class together which was really interesting and fun.

8. Bramble Jelly Sassypants loves swimming so with the hot weather we've had she was even more eager to get in the water wherever we were. One day whilst I was at work even my beloved stripped down to his boxers and went in with her.

9. The brats, aka Lord Rocky Horror and Princess Cookie Cat, continue to provide us with lots of love and laughter no matter what time of the year it is.

10. The best thing about summer?? Being able to get out more in this beautiful part of the world with my wonderful husband - it's been a fabulous summer so far.

How's your summer been if you're in the northern hemisphere, and I hope those of you in the south aren't having too cold a winter. Before you go, make sure that you hop over to Tamara's Blog to see what my fellow bloggers have been up to this summer.

Until next time, be good, stay safe, and lets all pray that the farmers in Australia get some rain.

Pamela & Ken

Friday, July 27, 2018

Top Ten Thursday Scavenger Hunt on Friday

The last Thursday of the month is Photo Scavenger Hunt time. Here are the items we were supposed to take pictures of, which are chosen by our host for this blog hop, Tamara at Part-time Working Hockey Mom:
  1. Clouds
  2. Fly Amanita
  3. Sunflowers
  4. Peppers
  5. Native American
  6. Airplane
  7. Ice Cream
  8. Bridge
  9. Letters
  10. Bricks
1. Clouds - a beautiful sunset turned the clouds a variety of colours.

2. Fly Amanita - okay, who else just got a quizzical look on their face and wondered if it was an exotic airline company? After consulting Mr Google I discovered that it is the really pretty but very poisonous toadstool that looks like it's out of a fairytale. Thankfully I took a photo of some last year when we were in Glen Shee, and of course a friendly unicorn had to get in the picture.

3. Sunflowers - love these bright, beautiful flowers and they always make me smile.

4. Peppers - my first instinct was to take a picture of some capsicums, but then I decided that pepper jars was more original.

5. Native American - this gorgeously decorated motorbike was at last years Thunder in the Glens which is held every year in August in Aviemore.

6. Airplane - this is a really fun mailbox that is part of the novelty mailbox trail in Tasmania.

7. Ice Cream - blue icecream so I'm thinking it was probably bubblegum flavour or candyfloss flavour.

8. Bridge - there are so many old bridges dotted around the highlands that we are often pulling the car over so that we can take pictures and explore a little.

9. Letters - I love how the people who make snickers have put different words on them to make your enjoyment of chocolate a little humorous. This one makes me smile as miffed is such a great word. 

10. Bricks - when we visit really old places like this graveyard and the remains of a very old church, I always place my hand on the old bricks to see if I can feel any vibrations from the past. I also like to imagine all the things those walls have seen.

Hope you've enjoyed my interpretation of the photo scavenger hunt, and why don't you come and join us. Before you go, make sure you hop over to Tamara's blog to see what my fellow bloggers have come up with.

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

Pamela & Ken