Sunday, October 22, 2017

Autumn Colours in a Graveyard

Another weekend, another drive out to who knows where. We did actually have a destination in mind but when we reached it, it was closed due to a private event. Never mind, there's always somewhere else to explore.

Wonderfully we came across a graveyard, the Urray Burial Ground, and wandered around it for a while. The church is a lovely building, but like so many churches here in the highlands the interior is incredibly plain - we looked through the windows.

This young tree growing out of a tree stump made me think of the quote from Jurassic Park "Life will find a way".

Autumn colours make anything look beautiful, and I think this tree really adds to the atmosphere of the graveyard - it's stunning.

Found all across Scotland are beautiful celtic crosses - there are so many different designs in these crosses that they fascinate me.

It's really helpful to genealogists to find lots of information on headstones and the people commemorated on this headstone have the same surname as my Scottish ancestors, and the Katherine must have been a casualty of the Blitz on London. I love that someone has left a tankard on the grave for them.

This more recent headstone has a lovely wood carving of a puffin inlaid in it. Further down the headstone there was also a carving of a wood mallet - I love all these special little details that are subtle but obviously precious to someone.

A couple more shots of the glorious Autumn leaves.

Our next stop was of course for coffee and cake in Muir of Ord. Very scrummy carrot cake.

This was the sign outside the cafe we stopped at - the top half is one of my favourite quotes, but the bottom part just makes it even better.

We then stopped in Beauly so that Bramble Jelly could have a walk and I had a mooch around an art shop and a wonderful little deli with lots of lovely goodies.

It was a really nice start to a week off for the two of us - a week of relaxing and having lots of days of fun.

Until next time, be good, stay safe, and enjoy the Autumn/Spring weather wherever your are in the world.

Pamela & Ken

P.S: Princess Cookie Cat sleeping so cutely.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Friday's Friendly Ponderings

One of my favourite things to do, apart from reading, is writing, so I love this blog link up 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. If I was a ghost, I would haunt my beloved, but in a really nice way. Make sure he's kept safe, and watch over him always (until he joins me in my haunting). There are a few people in the world that I might be tempted to act like a poltergeist to, but I'd try and restrain myself.

2. I always look at my beloved when I turn out my bedside light so that he is the last thing I see before I go to sleep.

3. My favourite scary story is not in existence. I really don't like scary films and would never choose to watch them, especially if I was by myself. Sometimes we'll be watching a film or tv show at home which I didn't realise was going to be scary so from that point on I watch around the edges of a cushion, or wait until Ken says it's okay to look.

4. I will be so glad when we find another cat to adopt. It's a year in November since our little Muffin Monster died and we're both starting to look at cat rescue sites. We're not sure how Princess Cookie Cat would take to another brother or sister as she can be incredibly bossy, evidenced by her causing Bramble to whimper recently due to a well aimed swat. We'll just keep looking as the right cat will find it's way to us when the time is right.

Muffin Monster
There you have my fill ins - how would you have answered differently? Before you go, pop over to McGuffy's Reader to see what my fellow bloggers have come up with.

Until next time, be good, stay safe, and don't be scared of things that go bump in the night.

Pamela & Ken

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Top Ten Thursday - Pinterest

This weeks top ten gave me permission to spend time on the wonderful Pinterest - I could spend hours on this site looking at all sorts of things. Tamara at Part-time Working Hockey Mom has asked us to share the things we love but will never do, or maybe we will.

I've decided to split my list into two halves, those I haven't done and those I have.

1. I love the idea of putting together a rug out of pom poms - this one is in the hope to do category. If I do make it I'll have to put it in one of the bedrooms as I think Princess Cookie Cat would have a field day pulling at the threads.

Pom Pom Rug
2. I have a Pinterest board for recycled living and one of the ideas that really appeals to me is making things out of old tyres, and especially painting them bright colours and making them into seats.

Recycled Tyre seat
3. This one is a want to do but don't think I'll ever be able to. Make perfect sugar cookies and decorate them beautifully with icing.

Iced Sugar Cookies
4. This is just an example, but I would prefer to make a birthday calendar out of driftwood and wooden disks. This is a must do but I'm yet to find the perfect piece of driftwood for the project.

Birthday Calendar
5. This one is in the halfway done category - a ribbon wreath. I started one for Christmas last year and got it half done, so need to get it out of the Christmas box and finish it for this year. Mine has greens, reds, golds, tartan, and sparkly white.

Ribbon Wreath
Now we move into the second half of the list and these I have done.

6. Mini Grasshopper Pies. I took part in a bake off competition when I worked at Maggie's West London, and for the semi-final we had to make a pie, so mine were these green marshmallow delights, and they got me through to the final (unfortunately I came second). These are no bake with an oreo crust and a filling that consists of Fluff (marshmallow cream), mint flavouring, and green food colouring.

Grasshopper pies
7. This is an idea that I got from the Dating Divas - they have lots of lovely boards that are full of romantic ideas. This is a one week pill box but instead of pills I put sweets into each day's box along with a love note for my beloved.

8. I absolutely adore all the romance ideas that can be found within Pinterest and this is one I did a few years ago for my beloved - a letter with words replaced by sweets, chocolates, or crisps. 

9. 365 notes in a jar - I loved doing this one for my beloved, it gives him a note from me to open every day and hopefully help him never forget how special he is to me. 

365 Notes Jar
10. Another incredibly soppy romantic idea that I got from within the depths of Pinterest. It's a pack of cards with 52 things I love about Ken - one written on every card. It took me quite a while to get it completed, but Ken's reaction when I gave it to him was worth every moment.

Are you a Pinterest fan? Do you have lots of pins of things that you'd love to do if you had more time on your hands? Before you go, pop over to Tamara's blog and see what my fellow bloggers have come up with for their list - Click Here to Visit.

Until next time, be good, stay safe, and hoping things are good in your part of the world.

Pamela & Ken

P.S: Bonus pin shows what I would love to do if we had our own home - create lots of spaces for Princess Cookie (and any other cats we may adopt) to roam around the home.

Cat Friendly Home

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Pyjamas, Fungi, and Beachcombing

Sometimes I have a weekend when I want to just stay in my pyjamas, read romances, watch tv, and see what everyone is up to on Facebook, and that was definitely yesterday, until my beloved dragged me out with him for a walk (don't worry, he let me put on clothes first). What he failed to tell me was that the walk we were going on required me to climb over a farm gate to get to our destination - I'm not very good at climbing and thankfully Ken was too busy holding the gate still to take a photo of me in my ungainliness.

There were lots of lovely fungi lining our walk and here's a selection for you to enjoy.

The area we were walking was actually an army firing range which Ken and Bramble Jelly often go to, as long as the red flags aren't flying as that means there is shooting going on.

One of the places that the soldiers have to position themselves behind whilst aiming at targets further down the field.

Here's a row of the automated targets that run along the bottom of the field.

Our main destination was the beach at the bottom of the firing range. My beloved knows if anything will get me out of the house apart from cake, it's the chance to do some beachcombing.

We found this very large piece of driftwood, which is probably the length of me, with some really interesting patterns in the wood grain. We think it might be off a ship and would have loved to take it home but it was very firmly buried in the sand.

Looking out to sea.

Bramble in digging mode - it's really funny watching her dig as she goes a bit crazy.

Look at this lovely photo - my very gorgeous beloved and the very cute Bramble Jelly.

Bramble had a great time running all over the place flushing out birds and chasing the scent of other animals that she had no hope of catching.

An old armoured vehicle that sits near the firing range.

After I survived getting back over the gate I was quite glad that Ken had dragged me out of my comfortable spot on the sofa and on the plus side we found lots of lovely pieces of sea glass.

Until next time, be good, stay safe, and do something nice for yourself this week, even if it's staying in your pyjamas all day.

Pamela & Ken

Friday, October 13, 2017

Friday's Friendly Contemplations

One of my favourite things to do, apart from reading, is writing, so I love this blog link up 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. Keep calm and practice gratitude. It's such a simple thing to do, and only takes a moment but can make you feel better about your life. I often do this with my writing group, getting them to come up with at least three things that they're grateful for - my three this week were:

I am grateful for living in an area full of natural beauty,
For having the right to choose my own destiny, 
And for quiet moments spent with my beloved.

2. Politicians disappoint(s) me. It feels like everytime we turn the news on there are more and more stories of unrest and discrimination around the world that stems from governments that are not working for the people but rather for their own grandiose ideas. (Sorry, I try not to bring up politics in our blog as it is such a divisive subject).

3.My beloved's hug is my happy place.

4. In retrospect, I wish I had kept learning Arabic after my year in Saudi Arabia. I was never any good at languages at school, but being immersed in the culture and having to learn or not understand my patients was definitely the way to pick it up. I still remember a few words but I would need to do a lot of work to get back to the standard I was.

There you have my fill-ins - what would you have written? Before you go, pop over to McGuffy's Reader to see what my fellow bloggers have come up with.

Until next time, be good, stay safe, and take time now to think of three things you're grateful for today.

Pamela & Ken

P.S: Princess Cookie Cat in relaxed mode.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Top Ten Thursday - Jobs

It's Top Ten Thursday and today we're doing a top ten list of jobs we wouldn't mind doing, provided the necessary circumstances were right. The weekly theme is set by Tamara at the blog Part-time Working Hockey Mom.

1. Archeologist: discovering how people lived in the past has always fascinated and puzzled me in equal measure. I have been known to yell at the TV when the expert says something like; 'this object was used by the mistress to the king in the fifth century' - HOW DO THEY KNOW!! I would love to have a better understanding of the past as it definitely shapes our future.

On a similar theme;

2. Genealogist: I love doing family history research for similar reasons to above. I love finding out fascinating things like convicts, success stories, illegitimate children, and unusual deaths.

One of my ancestors
 3. Fortune Cookie Writer: someone must think up all of those things that are hidden inside the cookies and I would love to do that. I'd make sure they were positive sayings with a little bit of quirkiness thrown in. For example; You will live a long and happy life with twenty cats.

Speaking of cats.....

4. Cat Behaviourist: helping misunderstood felines have the pampered lives they deserve by helping their human servants understand them. Imagine, a job where you got to spend every day with lots of lovely cats.

5. Baker: I love baking for others so it would be great to be able to do this for money. It pleases me when people eat a cake I may have made and they enjoy it.

6. Anthropologist: in the past I have thought about doing my Masters in Anthropology as the behaviour of humans and how we have progressed (or not) through history is incredibly fascinating. I may still do something on this topic in the future.

7. Author: I love writing and would love to write a book one day. There are lots of quotes along a similar theme, but I like Jodi Picoult's the best; Everyone has a book inside of them - but it doesn't do any good until you pry it out. 

8. Professional Sleeper: yes, this is a job. Bed and mattress designers pay people to sleep on their products to check how comfortable they are. I think that Ken and I would both be good at this. Hotel owners will also pay people to sleep in their new rooms to make sure they are relaxing and comfortable.

9. Mystery Diner: this is where owners of restaurants pay you to go into their establishment as a customer and check on the quality of the food, the service, and the overall ambience of the restaurant. That would be a dream job.

10. Book Store/Cafe Owner: I would love a quirky little book store that also served tea and coffee and my home bakes. There would be mismatched comfy chairs dotted around the space, classical music playing, a resident cat or two, and lots of lovely books.

Are any of these jobs ones that you would consider doing? Before you go, pop over to Tamara's blog and see what my fellow bloggers have come up with in their lists - Click Here to Visit.

Until next time, be good, stay safe, and enjoy what ever you're doing with your life this week.

Pamela & Ken

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Travelling Through the Hodgepodge

It's Wednesday Hodgepodge time - answering a set of questions set by Joyce of the blog, From This Side of the Pond. This week there is a distinct travel theme.

1. On a scale of 1-10 how would you rate your sense of direction? 1=can't find my way out of a paper bag and 10=if I've been somewhere once I can find it blindfolded ten years later.
I'm going to say about 7. As I don't drive I'm always the navigator so have learnt to keep a close eye on where we going. I also try to take note of unusual things we pass if we're out walking as they're the things that help me find my way if we go back there again.

When was the last time you looked at/used a map you could hold in your hand? (phones don't count!) 

On Saturday just gone - it was a map of all the wood carvings in Carrbridge and I used it to direct my beloved to some of the out of the way ones. (see blog post World Porridge Championships)

back east, down south, out west, up north

Choose one of these directional expressions and tell us why you chose it.

Out west. It just makes me think of exploring undiscovered lands and finding new exciting places to visit. I think it comes from watching old movies when I was younger.

2. Did you do more talking or listening yesterday? Is that typical? Describe your yesterday in one word.

I was at work yesterday so I did more listening than talking as that is a big part of my job. Then in the evening we went and listened to the Woodsman and Bushcraft expert Ray Mears speak. Apart from the evening it was a very typical day and the word I would use to describe it is mixed.

3. Time, money, water-power-resources, opportunity...which one on the list are you most guilty of wasting? What might you do to change that?

I think I'm guilty of all of the above at different times but probably the worst is time. Procrastination is something I'm very guilty of, hopefully not at work, but in my personal life. Some things I'm very good at making decisions about and then acting on them but others will roll around in my brain for ages.

4. Did  your family take regular vacations when you were a kid? Tell us something you remember about a family roadtrip from your own childhood.

As a result of growing up on a dairy farm we could only go on holiday in winter due to the cows, so my childhood memories of holidays are usually involving cold and sometimes snow.

One year we flew to Melbourne and got the bus to Adelaide. It was a long journey and my brother and I were constantly bickering so I went down the back of the bus to get away from him. It sticks in my memory as there was an older gentleman at the back smoking a pipe - remember when people could smoke on public transport?

5. If you could grow anything you wanted, what would you grow? Why?

I would love to have a large garden with lots of flowers, fruit, and vegetables.I'd definitely have gladiolus as they always remind me of Australia as they're Dame Edna Everage's favourite flower and my nanna had lots of them growing in her garden.

6. Insert your own random thought here.

One of my favourite holidays that my beloved and I have taken was to the island of Hvar which is part of Croatia. It's a really beautiful country with friendly people. The town of Hvar is closed to cars within the central part so is perfect for lots of restaurants to have tables outside and people to wander around enjoying the ambience. We swam in crystal clear water, ate fabulous seafood, did walks in the hills through deserted villages, visited a lavender farm, and my favourite thing, went to a concert of traditional Croatian singing in a ruined monastery.

It's a really stunning part of the world and I would definitely recommend it for a holiday.

Hope you've enjoyed my answers to the Wednesday Hodgepodge, and before you go why don't you pop over to Joyce's blog to see what my fellow bloggers have come up with - Click Here to Visit.

Until next time, be good, stay safe, and take this week to do something for kind for someone else.

Pamela & Ken

Sunday, October 08, 2017

World Porridge Championships Scotland

This weekend we went to the World Championships of porridge making - yes, you read that correctly, a World championship. The town/village of Carrbridge where the competition is held has a population of less than one thousand and yet they have competitors from all around the world converge here to celebrate the humble bowl of porridge.

Before we entered the arena, we of course stopped to have breakfast (it was only 10:30am) and with my lovely latte I decided to have porridge as it seemed only right - Ken always has porridge at home so he went for something different.

The porridge makers all walked down the centre of the town with a pipe band, then stopped in front of the hall to have a toast (with whiskey of course) to porridge, before heading inside to start the competition.

The gentleman in the middle of the picture with the red vest and hat on is last years winner from America.

There were competitors from the UK and Ireland, but also Russia, Sweden, Holland, Switzerland, Iceland, and the USA.

This is what they were all competing for - the Golden Spurtle. A spurtle is basically a wooden stick for stirring porridge and has been in use since the 15th century.

This very cute little bear was on the trophy table so we presume it is given to one of the winners.

The room was set up like this, with tables around one half of the hall and the rest of the hall set up with seats so that people could sit and watch the cooking. The traditional porridge has to be made with three ingredients - untreated outmeal, water, and salt, and they are given half an hour to produce it in.

The eventual winner, after several heats, was Ellinor Persson from Sweden.

There is also a speciality porridge category where porridge must be the main ingredient in a sweet or savoury dish. There was tasting going on in the back room, which we didn't try as apparently one of them was porridge with haggis. The winner of the speciality porridge was Per Carlsson who was also from Sweden, and he did a sweet porridge with cloudberries, orange peel, and whipped cream.

Another competition that takes place in Carrbridge during the year is a wood carving one - we didn't make it this year but will go in the future. In the park there is this beautiful seat that was put in this year to commemorate the 300 year anniversary of the bridge in the town. It's absolutely incredible with so many different things carved into it.

Lots of different Scottish animals - the bird on top is an Osprey, and you can see a deer, a wildcat, and down the bottom is a very cute badger.

 There's even a carving of a man doing a chainsaw carving of an owl.

A steam engine - we think it might be the train we went on from Aviemore (Posh Afternoon Tea).

Cute little fairy door at the bottom of one of the columns.

The same little bear that we saw on the judges table - I love that the porridge championship is part of the carving. I also love that he is sitting in front of his door.

We went for a drive around the area to find some more of the carvings that are dotted around - there is even a map with the carvings on it so that you can find them all. Here's a selection for you to enjoy.

My beloved found another old vehicle to peruse - thankfully he declared this one beyond help.

This is the bridge that is 300 years old - it's not in use anymore.

On the way home we did a slight detour past a very picturesque loch, with all the heather fading into a pinky brown now.

It was a wonderful experience visiting the porridge championships, but Ken is most disgusted that a Scotsman didn't win. I've told him he'll have to practice and enter next year to try and claim back the pride of Scotland. I even bought him a spurtle from the championship to practice with.

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

Pamela & Ken

P.S: Princess Cookie Cat padding on her bed - she always looks a bit drugged when she does that.