Friday, September 29, 2017

Friday's friendly musings

One of my favourite things to do, apart from reading, is writing, so I love this blog link up that I've found at McGuffy's Reader. In the Friendly Fill-ins we're given written prompts (the words in purple bold) and then complete them how we wish.


1. I am far too Australian to ever get a British passport. In December I will have lived in the UK for 21 years and yet the thought of having a British passport still feels wrong. People here just assume I've changed passports and some even react as if I've insulted them personally by not wanting one.

2. To save money, I take a coffee to work with me in a travel mug to save myself the cost of twenty coffees a month. I know I could save even more if I didn't buy a coffee at lunch time but I'm a bit of a latte lover and it's a comfort thing - my little indulgence each day that helps me get to the end of the working day. I also do my little bit for the planet by getting my lovely latte in my even lovelier reusable mug which is made out of bamboo.

3. Love matter(s). I don't just mean romantic love (though that is pretty fantastic especially when it comes to my beloved) but more the love for our fellow inhabitants of this little planet called earth. I say inhabitants because of course I would include animals in the love fest. 

Ken & Bramble Jelly last year (she's bigger now)
Princess Cookie Cat looking particularly cute
4. Cold mornings make(s) me think that winter isn't very far away and I need to assess my winter wardrobe and see if there's anything new I need before the temperatures drop too much. I've got plenty of scarves and hats but I think I may need a new pair of gloves - what do you think, nice pink fluffy ones?

I'm not the biggest fan of winter but I actually prefer them here in the north of Scotland to the winters in London when I had to get the Underground to work - miserable way to spend a cold, dismal morning. I'd much rather spend cold mornings like our little black cat Muffin used to like to, wrapped up in the duvet.

Muffin Monster (miss her)
Hope you've enjoyed my responses to the prompts - I wonder what you would have come up with. Until next time, be good, stay safe, and doing something nice for yourself this week.

Pamela & Ken

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Top Ten Thursday - Life Swap

This week's top ten Thursday is slightly different in that we're imagining that we're swapping our lives with someone who doesn't know us and need to tell them things about our lives that will help them get along. Thanks to Tamara at Part-time Working Hockey Mom for such an interesting and challenging theme this week.

My list is basically going to let you know how to look after the brats and my beloved - the list isn't in any particular order.

1. Cookie can be a bit of a madam so don't expect to be able to pick her up and cuddle her. She will tolerate being held for a very short while before extending her claws and escaping out of your arms.

2. When Cookie has her vaccinations (due soon) it will be you that needs to hold her at the vets as my beloved doesn't hold cats. He's more scared of a little bitty cat scratch or bite than he is of a dog bite - very weird if you ask me.

3. In the morning when Ken gives Bramble her treat she will bring it to you. Your job is to take it off her and pretend you're going to eat it before getting her to lie down and then give it back to her. It's our little game we play everyday.

4. Bramble is a little bit of a coffee addict so do not leave your drink where she can get it. She will even jump up on your knee pretending that she just wants some love, but is really after your precious caffeine.

5. Bramble loves Cookie and wants to play whereas Cookie barely tolerates Bramble and will often bash her on the nose to warn her off. Your job, just ignore them when they're running around after each other as they will sort themselves out.

The next five things to know are about my beloved - make sure you remember these or he may be like Gizmo in the film Gremlins and turn into a one of the scary ones.

5. Do not feed Ken ginger! He really, really dislikes it and can taste it even if you try and disguise it.

6. If you want Ken to do anything for you then feed him white chocolate - it's his favourite and he'll become your willing servant.

7. Never feed Ken any cake that has vegetables in it except for carrot cake. He has a very bad opinion of vegetable flavoured cake and thinks anyone that does this is totally crazy.

8. If Ken is looking at all like he might start to turn into a gremlin, then put on some soothing music such as Classic FM, or Karl Jenkins. Music really does soothe the soul.

9. Ken likes his tea really weak and very milky - get it wrong and he will try and be really nice and drink it but he will not be happy.

10. Whilst I'm not there your most important role is to keep a smile on my beloved's face by doing all the above, and leaving him notes in unusual places. He's a very special man and you need to make sure he remembers that.

There you have it, hopefully enough information to keep the brats and my beloved semi happy whilst they're missing me. Before you go, pop over to Tamara's blog, Part-time working Hockey Mom and see what my fellow bloggers have come up with.

Until next time, be good, stay safe, and I wonder what you would tell people if they are taking over your life.

Pamela & Ken

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Wednesday Hodgepodge: Remembering lovely cats

Wednesday is here so of course that means time for another hodgepodge with the questions set by Joyce at the blog, From This Side of the Pond

1. What pets did you have while growing up? Tell us a little something about them.

My first pet was our farm cat Keiran, a lovely tabby cat, who adopted us when I was about two years old and disappeared when I was about eight. The picture shows her in the middle with three of my brothers and me on the left (I'm the youngest by a few years).

Our next cat was my cat Tiddles whom we got when I was nine - can you tell that I named her? Technically our next cat was Tiddles sister Fluffles (yes, I know my names are very original) but we'd only had her about a week when dad accidentally trod on her with disastrous results. Luckily the people we got Fluffles from still had Tiddles left to find a home.

We had Tiddles until she was 16, and the below photo was taken in her last year - I can tell by how scruffy she looks. Tiddles was so lovely, she used to tell us off if we'd been away and when she was happy she used to drool all over us.

2. What is one thing you absolutely must accomplish today?

Finish this post - I'm struggling to come up with a random thought this week. Hopefully by the time you get to the end there will be words that magically appear before your eyes.

3. Where were you ten years ago? What were you doing there?

Ten years ago I was living in outer London with my beloved, Bertie Boo (our Springer Spaniel), and the Brats, Princess Cookie Cat and Muffin Monster. I was the Senior Sister in a Hospice but was in the process of applying for my next job which was Palliative Care Lecturer Practitioner (fancy title for a nurse who also does education).

4. September 26th is National Dumpling Day. Did you celebrate? Apple dumpling, xiao long bao (steamed Chinese dumpling), chicken and dumplings, pirogi, matzoh balls, or gnocchi...which dumpling on this list would be your dumpling of choice? Have you ever made homemade dumplings of any kind?

Another weird national day that I might have to put in my diary for next year - who doesn't love a day that gives you permission to eat food. I do love Chinese dumplings in the form of Dim Sum and I've eaten gnocchi, but I'm not sure I've ever had any of the others.

Dumplings that we had growing up were Golden Syrup Dumplings (Click here for the recipe) which are lovely smothered in runny cream. I've never made them but writing this post has made me think I should give them a try, especially as Ken has never had them.

5. 'There are two kinds of adventurers: those who go truly hoping to find an adventure and those who go secretly hoping they don't.' William Trogdon

So which kind are you?

I think we're the first. When we go to other countries we try to immerse ourselves in local things such as avoiding the restaurants that have all the tourists in them and instead find the ones that the locals are eating in. We love exploring off the main tourist route as you always find really wonderful things that most people on holiday miss.

One local restaurant we ate at in Turkey really showed this - the owner dragged us into the kitchen to choose our fish, stood at the end of our table watching us eat, and at the end sat down with us and we carried on a disjointed conversation with our small amounts of each others languages.

We've gotten lost in the hills on a Greek island, stumbled across a taverna with a family party going on and been given free drinks whilst we regrouped. In Turkey we stopped to ask someone directions and a total stranger jumped in the car to show us where we needed to go as he didn't know how to tell us in English. I could go on, loads of little moments that we would have missed out on if we'd stuck to the normal tourist attractions.

6. Insert your own random thought here.

Tomorrow September 28th is National Poetry Day here in the UK so I thought I would share with you a really short piece that I wrote when I was either late teens or early 20's - I'm not sure. It's about my blonde brother in the picture above, who died when he was 16 and I was 9. He grew sunflowers in the garden and there is a lovely picture of him standing next to them.

I saw a sunflower the other day
and instantly thought of you.
God must have made you chief
sunflower carer, as your smile
is in every flower I see.

I wonder what your answers to the questions would be, especially thinking about pets you may have had growing up. Before you go, pop over to Joyce's Blog to see what my fellow bloggers have come up with.

Until next time, be good, stay safe, and read or write some poetry tomorrow.

Pamela & Ken

Sunday, September 24, 2017

A Disused Railway Station & Childhood Memories in Strathpeffer

Yesterday's day of fun found us heading to Strathpeffer which is 34 miles northwest of us. It's a lovely little town which used to be a spa town popular with health tourists. The train station, which used to bring people seeking the health benefits of the local waters, closed in 1951 and is now home to shops and the Highlands Museum of Childhood.

The museum started with the doll and toy collection of a former resident of the town and since then has acquired more toys, games, and memorabilia for display. Below is the Punch and Judy collection that they have with the hangman (on the right) looking particularly scary.

It was a really interesting place to look around and both of us found things we used to play with as children, or things we wished we had. I didn't wish I had this doll, as her face is a bit scary.

There was a small display about women's lives in the highlands and I really liked this photo of nurses with their patients as it has a real touch of innocence about it. It also makes me glad that I started nursing after they'd got rid of caps as I'm sure I would have been hopeless at putting them on neatly with my curly hair - they stopped wearing them at my training hospital about two years before I began my career.

This is a display that brought back very unpleasant memories for my beloved. The tawse was the weapon of choice for teachers dealing out corporal punishment in Scotland and the north of England. Shockingly corporal punishment in schools didn't get phased out until the 1980s. My beloved describes how the teachers would make them pull their sleeves up and put their arms together to give a good base to aim at and he would have long red welts along his arms (makes me want to go back in time and give those teachers a dose of their own medicine).

Look how cute he is at his school desk - how could anyone ever want to punish him.

A list of rules for teachers in the early 1900's, fancy not being able to wear bright colours or spend time in ice-cream stores - outrageous.

A lovely old rocking horse - it's so elegant and I bet lots of children had fun on this.

Here's a few shots taken of the train station platform where there is also a lovely cafe and of course we stopped for coffee and cake (well it would have been rude not to).

Here's a fabulous wood carving that sits in the entrance to the station with scenes through history of  Scotland (and my beloved taking photos).

A couple of the scenes on the pole, the one on the left showing monks and the one on the right is the vikings.

Pretty display with fairy lights outside one of the shops.

We then drove further on into the town to take Bramble Jelly for a walk. There's some lovely paths through trees near the town pavilion. We came across these interesting mushrooms and when I asked Mr Google what they were I discovered they're called Shaggy Inkcaps.

There were a few hardy white tailed bumble bees still out and about - I hope they get inside somewhere warm before the frosts hit (I know only the queen survives through winter so maybe this was a queen stocking up on pollen to see her through).

Colourful Autumn foliage is starting to appear, and I love how at this time of the year you just catch splashes of orange in amongst the green. This tree is just about to turn, with these leaves ahead of the rest.

Beautiful water droplets on a leaf.

These drops of water caught in a spiders web look like precious jewels.

In recent posts we've been in traffic jams that involved sheep and pheasants, but yesterdays was lots and lots of vintage tractors. There was a vintage tractor festival going on nearby and we just happened to be passing whilst they were all on the road - luckily they took a turn not too long after we took this picture. What you can't see is that there was a really bright yellow tractor in front of this one - it looked like a fergie that someone had painted.

Our final stop before heading home was Chanonry Point where people go to spot the Moray Firth dolphins. We didn't see any sea life but we did find quite a bit of sea glass for my collection, including a very rare piece of white sea glass.

Helicopter flying over.

Bramble Jelly had a lovely swim and played with several other dogs who were all much bigger than her - I did try to get a photo of them together but they were moving too quick for me.

Hope you've enjoyed a glimpse of our day out and hope you have some fun days out yourself. Until next time, be good, stay safe, and take some time to think about what your favourite toys as a child were.

Pamela & Ken

P.S: Princess Cookie Cat actually decided to face us this evening, though she does look like she's only going to put up with being sociable for a short while.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Coffee & Creativity in Grantown on Spey

Sometimes we need to have a day that is all about fun and self care - our solution, to go and do something creative. We headed to Grantown on Spey and of course before we could do anything else we had to have a coffee and cake break at the lovely Elephants in the Pantry. It's such a nice shop with lots of lovely food related things to buy, and coffee served in beautiful cups.

The reason we chose Grantown is that they have a ceramic painting studio called Smarty Art where we could spend some time getting lost in painting.

The staff are so helpful and on the wall are these great ceramic paint splatters to help you see what the colours you choose will look like once they are glazed and fired in the kiln.

As you can see from above, there was a huge selection of colours and each table had a carousel of paints on it like this one with different sized brushes.

Here's my beloved getting very engrossed in his painting and then showing off his pretty plate - if you're wondering why he's so red in the face it's because he's got a thermal top on and the studio was lovely and warm.

I can't wait to see what our creations look like once they're glazed and fired - we pick them up next weekend. Here's what they looked like once we'd finished painting them.

One of the ladies that run the studio said that she was really impressed that we'd come in as most adults think it's just for children, and we were the only table without children at it. I'm hoping they get Christmas themed things in to paint soon as I'd love to do some personal decorations.

We spent nearly two hours doing our creative bit so when we finished it was time to go for another coffee, this time in a cafe we hadn't tried before and it was really lovely. Great decor and perfect ambience to enjoy our drinks and some icecream.

The two of us - love this man so much (sorry, I couldn't help myself).

So there you have our creative day out. Have you ever tried ceramic painting? If not, give it a go some time as it's really therapeutic.

Until next time, be good, stay safe, and do something creative this week.

Pamela & Ken

P.S: This is how Cookie Cat often sits in the evening - on her bed with her back to the room, staring at the wall. I suggested to Ken that maybe we should get a picture to put on the wall of some fish so that she has something interesting to look at.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Top Ten Thursday - Quotes & Memes

It's Thursday which means another top ten - and a chance to share some inspirational quotes alongside some silly memes that always make me smile. Thanks Tamara at Part-time Working Hockey Mom for setting the theme.

My list definitely has a split personality, one the thoughtful, introspective girl, and the other side is a coffee and cat obsessed fairy. Enjoy my top ten and I wonder what quotes or memes you would have in yours.



3. I read this quote in a book when I was in my teens and remember thinking that to have that sort of love was just a dream - that was until I met my beloved, and then I fully understood what it meant.


5. I think I need to growl a bit more as my beloved hasn't thrown any chocolate at me lately.

6. I love this and it always makes me chuckle.


The next two are both about fairy tales and I believe in both of them.



10. I'd love it if this arrived on my doorstep, but perhaps Bramble and Ken wouldn't be quite so enamored.

So there you have it, do you think you understand me a bit better now? Before you go, pop over to Tamara's blog and see what my fellow bloggers have come up with for their top ten - Click Here to Visit.

Until next time, be good, stay safe, and do something that makes you laugh this week.

Pamela & Ken