Sunday, December 31, 2017

Farewell 2017, and Welcome 2018

It's only a few hours until we wave goodbye to the old year and welcome in the new, so time to be a little reflective on how the year has been. In January I wrote this post, My wishes for 2017, and I think all of these still apply for the coming year.

We've had lots of great Days of Fun and found some really unique things to see and do. There is so much incredible history to explore where we live and in January we visited a remote church which sheltered Highlanders during the clearances in 1847 and has words scratched into the glass by these long ago people - A Scottish Tragedy Preserved in Glass.

We attended a world championship in which the Swedish reigned supreme, ironic really as it was the World Porridge Championship and it's one of the dishes that Scotland is known for.

April saw me taking on the A to Z Blogging Challenge for the second year, this time I had a theme and it was all about the Scottish Highlands which made it much easier than 2016. Read my thoughts on the experience and some of the great blogs I found in Reflections on the A to Z.

I ticked two things off my bucket list this year. The first was Glamping in Glenshee - basically camping in a glamorous style. It was a beautiful tent with a low bed, a small wood burner for heat, and a fantastic view of the countryside. It was so lovely that we're going back in April to stay in an old train goods carriage.

The other bucket list item was eating a Deep Fried Mars Bar. I know this sounds like a really strange thing to have on my list, but it's one of those weird food items that I'd heard about for years and had really wanted to try. The verdict - yummy but I wouldn't want to have them very often.

We had a wonderful holiday home in Australia, three weeks of catching up with family and friends whilst still managing to find interesting things to visit and explore. In Tasmania we had a great day out visiting the Murals and Mailboxes of Northern Tasmania and during our brief stay in Melbourne we explored the laneways and Street Art of this fabulous city.

I continued to take part in Top Ten blogging which is hosted by Tamara at Part-time Working Hockey Mom and this year we've done a very diverse range of topics from movie quotes, favourite summer foods, rudeness, random photos, and this one, Favourite Place on Earth. It's a small town in Tasmania called Stanley which I absolutely adore. I love lists so this prompt based challenge is perfect for me.

During the year I found two more prompt based challenges which have been great fun to do. On Wednesdays there is the Hodgepodge which is hosted by Joyce From This Side of the Pond and one of my posts included Problematic Confetti.

The other prompt based challenge is hosted by Annie at McGuffy's Reader and is called Friday's Friendly Fill-Ins - here's one of my posts from October, Friday's Friendly Contemplations. Annie also hosts Sparks on a Monday which is a place for us all to share positive thoughts to spread out into the world - it's a really lovely idea and my first contribution in October was Sparks of Hope.

Throughout all this blogging my beloved is there being his wonderful supportive self, exploring our part of the world with me and making me coffee when I'm sitting at my laptop. I'm truly blessed to share my life with this gorgeous, thoughtful, adorably funny man.

As for our furbies, Princess Cookie Cat is nearly 14 and has started to show her age in small ways - the biggest being that I can catch her quite easily now which makes going to the vet much less stressful. She's sitting beside me as I type this, but of course she's got her back to me so I'll share a photo I took earlier.

Bramble Jelly Sassy Pants (our Cocker Spaniel) is as energetic as ever and still hasn't learnt that if she annoys Cookie too much she will get a whack on the nose. I love this picture as Bramble looks so innocent and Cookie has her paw in the air ready to strike.

With one hour to go until midnight, I wish 2017 a very fond farewell - we had ups and downs like anyone does, but along the way we shared lots of love and laughter.

In 2018 I'm sure I'll find lots of other challenges to take on and hopefully we'll tick a few more things off our bucket list. Starting tomorrow, on the first day of the year I'm going to start the 100 Happy Days Challenge which I was inspired to do by Tamara who did it earlier in the year. This involves taking a photo everyday for 100 days of something that makes you happy and sharing via your preferred social media - mine is going to be on my instagram account.

We wish all of you a year filled with peace, health, love, and lots of laughter.

Happy 2018

Pamela & Ken

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Our Family Christmas Pudding

Today I thought I would share with you the yummiest Christmas pudding recipe that I've been eating since I was a child. We simply call it mum's plum pudding (even thought it hasn't got plums in it). It's so simple to make and just takes a few hours to cook.

Here's the recipe for you.

And here's how it looks as you're making it. Just to say, the tea strength is up to you - I made my tea slightly stronger this year and it turned out really nice.

The easiest way to pour it into the cloth is to drape the cloth over another bowl and tie with a really strong string.

You need a large pot to boil it in for four hours, and make sure you check it every half hour or so to make sure there is still enough water in it. Boil the kettle and fill it up from that so that you don't cool the water down.

A really good tip for when you're tying the cloth closed with your string is to make sure you leave a long length so that you can hang it up afterwards. Once cooked they can be hung in a cool, dry place until ready to be eaten.

Here's my beloved on Christmas day removing the pudding from it's cloth - warning, it does tend to stick. If you dunk the cloth in hot water before cooking, wring it out and then line it with flour it doesn't stick quite as badly as it can.

It's not the prettiest looking pudding but I promise you, covered with lots of cream or custard, it tastes amazing.

My mum even made me a pudding for my birthday one year and there is a picture somewhere of me with a pudding with candles in it.

I hope you give this recipe a try one day and I know you will enjoy it. Until next time, be good, stay safe, and make yourself something you love to eat this week.

Pamela & Ken

Friday, December 29, 2017

Friday's Friendly Fill Ins

It's Friday so it's time for the friendly fill ins which are set by Annie at McGuffy's Reader and Ellen at The words in purple are the prompts that are provided and then the rest is me.

1. On New Year's Eve, I suspect that my beloved and I will be in bed watching the fireworks on our Kindle like we did last year. He's the only person I want to see in the new year with so in a way it's perfect.

2. One goal I have for 2018 is to do more walking and maybe even walk up a small hill or two.  

3. In 2017, I accomplished I'm not sure what. I just hope I was kind, that I made people smile, and that people felt they could rely on me.

4. I took on more blogging challenges in 2017, including taking part in this one. It gives me a chance to flex my writing brain and helps connect with people all around the world.

How about you, do you spend time reflecting on the year that is finishing and what you want for the year about to start? Before you go make sure you pop over to Annie or Ellen's blogs to see what my fellow bloggers have come up with.

Until next time, be good, stay safe, and take some time to think of all the things you're grateful for from 2017.

Pamela & Ken

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Top Ten Thursday - Unfinished Business

This week's top ten has Tamara at Part-time Working Hockey Mom  asking us "to list all the things that need to be said or done before we turn a new page. Missed opportunities, highlights, unfinished business, tell us about your top ten!"

Interesting theme and this has made me really exercise my brain cells, and after much rumination I believe I've come up with ten - I've gone with unfinished business, things that aren't going to get done before the end of the year but hopefully will next year.

1. Blog Views - considering that when I started our blog I had no idea that more than close friends and family would read it, and yet we're about to reach 100,000 views. I think this will be after new year now, but whenever it is it's amazing.

2. Blog posts - this is our 409th published post, so in 2018 I hope to publish our 500th.

3. Baking - I really need to learn to love our Aga so that I feel more confident doing baking. I love making cakes for people, but I keep putting it off due to the Aga in our rented accomodation - it's not very reliable. Need to bake more.

4. Walking - at the beginning of June I had a really bad fall and damaged the ligaments in my left leg which put a huge dampener on any walking plans we had this year. I'm now back to normal (or as normal as I can be) so we need to get out there and do some exploratory rambles.

5. Poetry - this year I did one poetry day at a local writing centre and it really encouraged me to write more, but I still didn't do as much as I'd like. In 2018 I've booked two days at the centre with experienced poets to keep my motivation going.

6. Competitions - one of the things that is really scary for me is letting other people read my poetry so I need to enter more of the poetry competitions that happen around the UK and send some in to writing magazines. Must do!!

7. Sugar - over the last few years I've been ever so slowly reducing the amount of sugar I have in my coffee and I'm down to one level teaspoon. I'm dreading reducing it more but I know I need to so maybe in 2018 I'll finally complete this task.

8. Steps - sort of links to #4 in that my average step count tends to be around 5,000 due to my job being in a very small building and I have to sit for everything I do. The only time I hit my 10,000 is when Ken and I go out at weekends. In 2018 I need to get nearer to 10,000 even on days that I'm at work.

9. Puffins - I know this sounds like a weird unfinished business, but when we moved to Scotland I thought I would tick this bucket list item off fairly easily, but no, we still haven't seen puffins in the wild. In 2018 we're going to make this happen.

10. Love - I have to have one really soppy item, and that's love because it never finishes and especially not for me and my beloved. 

Do you have any unfinished business lurking around from this year? Before you go, make sure you visit Tamara's Blog and see what my fellow bloggers have come up with for their top ten.

Until next time, be good, stay safe, and I hope you're safe and warm wherever you are in the world.

Pamela & Ken

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Snowy Antiques in the Highlands

This week we've had my beloved's big brother staying with us and today we went to explore Antiques and Salvage at Daviot which is just outside Inverness. When we awoke this morning it was to discover that quite a lot of the land was covered with snow - we weren't, but it was still snowing lightly. When we reached Daviot, less than twenty miles away, we entered a winter wonderland.

As we entered the yard for the antiques place we were met by this very majestic gentleman - I bet he's freezing under all that snow.

This treasure trove was established in 1973 and I think some of the things have been there since then.

There are several sheds full of antiques and outside there are all sorts of salvage goodies and totally bizarre things as well. As you can see the snow made everything look a little magical.

Nice archway leading to their garden, and an old red telephone box.

 Amongst all the 'stuff' there were quite a few metal eagles,

and pushbikes.

We found this bear in the shed that would look perfect in the corner of the living room - we only need a spare £5000!! The Phrenology head is actually something I would love to have somewhere in the house - maybe on the landing of the stairs for people to see as they go up and down.

Phrenology was popular in the mid 1800's and was developed by the physician Franz Joseph Gall. He believed that the brain was the same shape as our heads and that the bumps and indentations on our heads matched emotions and personality attributes. I just love how quirky they are.

 A shelf full of character jugs - some people would call these Toby jugs, but they haven't got bodies and that's what a Toby jug has.

Cute metal pig. If you had a big garden there are lots of things that you could buy to hide around your space.

Loved these two buddha heads.

Beautiful old cart wheels - I can think of loads of upcycle projects I could do with those.

We haven't done this for a while, put my beloved in a silly hat. Here he is looking very distinguished in his bowler hat.

Last two photos are the most bizarre thing I found and the prettiest thing. The bizarre, on the left, is an operating room light. I can't imagine who is going to buy that, but I know they also provide objects for tv/film sets so maybe that's where it will go. The pretty is the lovely colourful glass window - so beautiful.

By the time we finished looking around I couldn't feel my toes anymore so our next stop was a local garden centre for coffee and cake and to warm up. I had a very scrummy piece of banoffee indulgence.

Hope you've enjoyed this visit to the antiques and salvage place, and hope you're enjoying yourself whatever you're up to in this time between Christmas and the dawning of the new year.

Until next time, be good, stay safe, and we hope that you've had a really lovely Christmas.

Pamela & Ken

Monday, December 25, 2017

Happy Christmas Sparks

Sparks is hosted by Annie at McGuffy's Reader (visit to see everyone else's sparks) and her words are the best to use to explain:

"I believe we are meant to be lights in this world. If we allow our light to shine, we can see where we are going. It is then that we can begin to truly see each other clearly. Together, we can light up the entire world!"

The aim is to post a positive quote, thought, poem, or verse. Here's my Christmas themed spark.

Happy Christmas from our home
to yours

We want to wish all our family, and friends a really happy and peaceful Christmas spent with people that you love.

Plastic Dog that sits beside a busy road, so of course we have to pose with it

Pamela, Ken, Princess Cookie Cat, & Bramble Jelly Sassy Pants

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Winter in Aberdeen

We recently had a lovely weekend in Aberdeen for our anniversary - I wrote about the first part of our weekend in The Twelve Days of Christmas and Cats in Aberdeen. During our journey we stopped in Fochabers for coffee and cake and discovered that they have a window display competition for Christmas. This was our favourite, drink cans that have been turned into a church choir, complete with sheet music.

I loved this little reindeer French bulldog that was in the cafe window - very cute.

The day before we drove across to Aberdeen it decided to snow very heavily but thankfully we were on a main road the whole way so had no problems.

When we got to the hotel we discovered that a friend had managed to get us upgraded to a premium room which was such a nice surprise - I'd already arranged for chocolates and prosecco in the room to celebrate with so it was a great way to start the weekend.

There was a lovely lounge bar downstairs and as it was freezing outside we just stayed at the hotel in the evening and enjoyed some time together in a nice environment.

Here's some pictures of snowy Aberdeen for you to enjoy - the snow makes everything look a little magical.

Ken found a mate to pose next to - I should have got him a matching costume to show off all his muscles.

I loved how this statue looked with the snow - very regal.

The gold mailbox is for Katherine Grainger who won gold in the rowing at the London 2012 Olympics. Every British gold medal winner at the London games had a post box in their hometown painted gold for them.

This huge piece of street art on the side of a building is by the artist Add Fuel, who is a Portuguese Street Artist. 

Look at these boots of loveliness that I spotted in a shop window - I had to go in and hold them for a moment and imagine winning the lottery so that I could go back and buy them.

Beautiful war memorial with the winter sun on it.

We had a good wander round Union Square shopping centre, admiring the lovely Christmas decorations and the shops that we don't have in Inverness. Loved this waterfall of lights in the front of the centre.

One of the shops had all sorts of things made out of chocolate - they were amazing. Love the shoes and lipsticks in this photo.

Chocolate tools and nuts and bolts.

Chocolate 'cheese' and utensils. I was tempted to buy a piece of the 'cheese' as I'm sure it must mess with your head having something that looks so like cheese, but is solid chocolate.

This is looking down into part of the shopping centre from a balcony.

We stopped to have a coffee (of course) and I had this very cute little meringue snowman. He was very yummy.

On our journey home to Nairn we stopped part way for a break and took these photos that show the snow looking like icing on these picnic tables.

The cafe had a lovely wood burner for us to sit near - nice and toasty warm.

More snow shots.

Hope you enjoyed this visit to snowy Aberdeen. That was two weeks ago and now there is only snow left on the high mountains - the weather is being very bizarre.

Until next time, be good, stay safe, and I hope the weather is good wherever you are in the world.

Pamela & Ken