Sunday, 30 December 2012


We went back to the town I grew up in for a few days. My parents still live there. It's a small, unremarkable town to which I have very little attachment apart from my family home and my beloved parents.

We took the children to the local Rep
Panto in the theatre I used to work as an usher and scenery painter. It had hardly changed inside, it's a beautiful little theatre. The Panto was refreshingly low tech, traditional and even my two year old sat rapt, just a wee bit spellbound. It reminded me of the magic of theatre. I remembered working the whole run of Panto season and never tiring of the show. Even a Panto can become a world of its own, jokes changing, ad libbing and actors that were glad to bring the show alive. Sentimental and nostalgic I know -but it's what I do best here I think.

The next day D and I got a few hours to ourselves and had lunch in a sweet cafe, we could almost have been in Paris, it was that pretty. I tried to capture it in my picture.

Thanks for all your lovely wishes, I will reply to you when I have my laptop back. I won't be away from this space, I promise. It my day work I'm having an extended break from.

We are set to spend New Year with family we see so rarely and D and I are excited like children. If I'm not back before the bells, as we call them here, enjoy your celebrations everyone and once again thank you for reading my words. Jo xxx

Saturday, 29 December 2012

End of year days

I have actually come to like New Year. Safe to say in Scotland New Year is a huge 'big thing'. And anything with such weight of expectation can make a person feel anxious. But I have had some great revelations about life, about moving forward at New Year. We tend to relish the new start and getting the house back to normal, tidying and de-cluttering as we go.

I'm having an extended break this year to re-charge, spend precious time with my family, re-group and take some time to work on my writing.

I wish you all the very best for the coming year, I know 2013 will be a good one.

Jo xx

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Trees, Magic and Biscuits.

So time is accelerating, and preparations are very much underway. I have tried hard this year to keep it in perspective and buy or make presents with care and thought. Avoided the consumer nightmare where I can, with respect and thought we create our own celebrations. As the children grow (2 and 5) it is great to experience the magic of Christmas together! We are very excited!!

I know I am lucky to live in Glasgow and lucky to live in such a balanced area with green spaces and water available within minutes. Last weekend my wee boy and I took time out for a walk to a local park, passing some lovely Victorian windows on the way. We always make time to get to our woods but recently we neglected it a bit with the Christmas commitments. I can't tell you how much we loved our walk. This park looks over the city and is so urban but still can magic you away to the Magic Faraway Tree in seconds. We returned home refreshed and embarked on our annual Christmas biscuit making.

Happy continued preparations everyone!

Folk art angels and beautiful self portraits - check out my talented friend Wendy's Arty Advent. Leave her a wee note she would love to hear from you, Jo xx

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Winter Decathloners!

I have been slowed down by a horrible cold, but at last I got the turn today. My wee boy was ill so the three of us had a house day, watching Elf, Christmas decorating, snoozing and just taking time out. I think we all felt the better of it. It always seems like a marathon or some such extreme sport, life, at this time of year. Laurie Colwin called women 'winter decathloners' and I hear her through the years, indeed I do.

Love to you all and I have not commented much but I have really enjoyed all your own individual, thoughtful, stylish and heartfelt Christmas preparations and rituals. I know its going to be a magic Christmas! Jxx

{A few Instagrams of my morning frosted garden }

As ever check out the latest Arty Advent from Wendy Louise here.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

In my dreams I can fly

In my dreams I can fly.  I always have since as far back as I can remember.  I guess this is what you call a recurring dream but to me it feels like an extra skill! Well not one to put on the CV but its something I cherish.  I have flown across forests, lochs and mountains, round the room, the garden gate and beyond and always back home again.  I have on occasion flown to escape, never been caught and always, always woken happy that I can do this, I really can you know........

Well I haven't ever tried in real life, but in my dreams I just stand on my tippy toes, reach my hands to the sky and I lift, weightless, my will propelling me upwards.

I saw this beautiful illustration in a book I bought for the children at the weekend and it must have inspired my unconscious mind to take off.  I flew a wee bit last night but it was a bit hard, a bit laboured.  I hope that's not the end of it, I am hoping that its a bit like the magic of Father Christmas, you just need to believe......

{This post was inspired by Karen and her tales of Christmas books her family read - we have started the same tradition here so thank you so much Karen.}

{Thanks to Claire Fletcher for her kind permission to reproduce the image above from the book she illustrated for the author Angela McCallister 'The Snow Angel'.  It is sadly out of print but you can find a copy on Ebay or Amazon sellers if you look.  Go seek it out,  it is beautiful and check out Claire's website too, I am a little bit in love with her work.}

Please, please if you haven't already check out my friend Wendy's Arty Advent, an artwork a day through advent.  It is quite a special endeavour and she would love to hear from you if you fancy leaving her a wee comment! Find her here.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Art for Advent

Its been a while.... Christmas can overwhelm..... But as long as I keep it focused on family, friends and the real spirit of the season I shall be fine!

I wanted to share with you my friend Wendy's 'Arty Advent'.  She is posting a different artwork every day of the Advent season.  I can't tell you how happy this has made me already.  It's a genius idea from a very, very special person. Wendy and I worked together and although I miss her I am glad I lost her as a colleague for her to go off and seek out her true creative path.  She is only just beginning so watch this space, great things will surely follow.

I am going to keep her link on all my posts in December, so check back yourself to see what she is up to! Jo xx

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Making Christmas Cake

Every year I make a Christmas cake, in the same way my Mum did before me.  For as many cakes as I remember mine has been a variation on Nigella's.  This year I am trying something different and opting for Jane Grigson's  Country Christmas Cake - as interpreted by Laurie Colwin of course.

Today the children and I went shopping for the dried fruit and this evening I began the process by soaking it.  Given my busy week I don't expect I will get time to bake it until Friday so it will be very well soused by then!

I have always loved a dense, rich, moist fruit cake.  I never forget the huge square fruit cake sent with my best friend when she joined us on a holiday in the Lakes.  I must have been about 14, and no other fruit cake has ever compared to the taste of that one.  My friend's mother had made it for an occasion and it wasn't used so we were the lucky beneficiaries.  It was full of fruit and lots of glace cherries which I love unashamedly.  I have high hopes given Laurie's pronouncements - 'Country Christmas Cake has a rich, deep taste, as complicated as brocade or tapestry, and makes a person think of  those magnificent aged Sauternes. It is suave, intense and delicious down to the last crumb'. So wish me luck on my quest, hopefully I will find a way back to the taste of that fondly remembered cake sometime soon.....

Monday, 12 November 2012

Should I ever find that rare thing....

There was point a few days ago when a song came on the radio, Nik Kershaw's Wouldn't it Be Good to be precise, and I was instantly catapulted back in time.  It was an eye wateringly perfect rush of feeling, the feeling I had when I was 15,16.  That cusp of everything feeling.  Nothing has ever felt so perfect, so optimistic and so open to experience and possibility as it did then.  So much of my character, the novels I love, the music and art that defines me, my influences I guess, were discovered and anchored down in those formative years.  Those years formed me and although I won't ever get that shiny new, invincible feeling back again the realisation that I can still mainline back to it was a salve to my middle aged self.

That is me in 91' taken by talented friend and confidante from those early days, Jacqui McIntosh

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Sea Beams

I sit here in the quiet house waiting on David to return from his weekend away.  The heating has clicked off and the house starts to cool back down again - its very definitely verging on winter weather here in Glasgow. And I am thinking about the last day of our October holidays in Dysart.  We spent our first weekend away together 15  years ago in Fife and on the way home we visited Dysart to see where D's much loved granny lived.  I remember being touched that he shared that visit with me and I thought about how good it was to return with our precious wee family in tow.  I love the second picture of him and the boy, one looking out to sea and one looking into the past.

Sadly its not the most attractive environment these days, despite a lot of innovative regeneration Dysart  remains a deprived area - but there are still so many unexpected and beautiful reasons to drop in if you happen to be passing.  The blue poles at the harbour are stunning, Sea Beams by Donald Urquhart.  Nine 20 foot poles in an arresting range of blues meant to signify the breadth of blue in the ocean.  Here they are again if you missed them before.

And with that I wish you all a bright and happy week, Jo xx

Monday, 22 October 2012


So I wanted to say a heartfelt thank you to those that read and who comment, and to my new followers - it still amazes me everyday that you stick with me and turn up here to see where my life is going.  At the moment I think it is going forwards in a better direction.  Something about tackling an issue I should have done several years ago and about re-balancing what I am doing both work and domestic.  I don't mean to be oblique, and not to spill, its just that my problems will resolve and your kind support helps me get there - I just need to keep some of it to myself though.

Here are a few additional images from our break in Fife.  It was so easy to take beautiful images there, the East Neuk is heart stopping beautiful, well to me anyway. Maybe I just let myself see it.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Stones and Pebbles....

There is a sound I didn't think I knew but being near the beach I am reminded of it, and I love it so. It's the sound of pebbles and stones being drawn backwards and forwards by the ebb and flow of the tide. It's quite beautiful and very reassuring - you remember it now don't you?

Thank you for your kind words and comments. This break has been good for me and I'm making some decisions which I hope will stop the frowns a bit. Jo x

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Beautiful Light

It's been one of those days with every type of weather, high autumn sun, sun rays through cloud, warm showers and later biting, driving winter rain. But the light, the light has been spectacular and a world away from our city skies.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

I finally leave the office after the gentle giant of a security guard politely waiting outside my floor asks me to leave. Friday is a blur of loving my two wee souls company, sourcing warm jackets for the biting Fife coastal wind, packing cooking and making sure all precious cuddlies are on board. After dropping off our pooch at my folks finally, finally we are away. It takes until past Bridge of Earn and on the Cupar 913 till the frown constantly on my face mid week starts to smooth out and I begin to feel just a little bit light hearted. I guess I need help with my worries and I'm working on that but getting away, a change of scene with my precious wee family will do for now. Xxxxx

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Tropical blooms

Boundless energy and often it is mis-directed in squabbles and grumbles. Two and five can be a clash in ages sometimes.  Best to get them out somewhere safe they can run and run and run. Oh and an interlude in the tropical house (in the botanical gardens) to chill for a bit.  I have posted similar before but I won't apologise for doing it again as it is just so beautiful.

{a few Insta's and a 'normal' pic for you- I have just started properly on Instagram after having a login for ages - @bindsyoutome)

Monday, 1 October 2012

Autumn Magic

It is without a question of a doubt Autumn.  I have been holding it at bay for weeks now but even I,  well practised at avoidance cannot ignore what is right in front of my face and swamping my garden.  The children and I spent several hours yesterday clearing the leaves and debris from the garden.  I love how they are happy to potter outside, she collected snails, picking them off the wall one by one and dropping them into a bucket, he added to this with lots of worms.  Neither of them squeamish and both very gentle with their little friends.

We live with woods outside our back gate, so leaves fall and fall and fall in Autumn.  Less so than a few years ago as a lot of the leaf canopy disappeared when three trees rotten through their core were felled.  We missed them like friends but if we are honest we love the light their absence lets in.

We ended the afternoon with our usual walk through the woods.  It keeps me grounded to the seasons and re sets me if I am preoccupied, worried or sad.  I am often one or all of these things in this season of my life. Seeing the children peering into fairy pools or spotting fallow deer step across our path cannot be ignored as powerful everyday magic which blows away or at least proportions my stream of worries.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Green tomatoes, room re-jigs and more cake

Summer is well and truly gone.  Me and the kiddos picked every last green tom from our two sun starved plants.  Even the tiny wee hard green acorn sized ones! We then made some green tomato chutney- loosely based on Nigel Slater's recipe- which you can find here.  I added a teaspoon each of cumin, coriander, turmeric and 3 teaspoons of nigella seeds- oh and one of my Dads very hot red chillies that I have stowed away in the freezer.  It came out really well and as my beloved Laurie says chutney is 'practically foolproof, it is always good and hard to ruin'.  Mine yielded two and a half good sized jars and is more akin to mango chutney with the spicing I added.  It made us feel really good to make something out of our unripe and destined for the compost heap crop.

Change around up stairs with the single bed moved from its storage place in the wee ones room to the boys room- his small wooden bed put away until the bubba moves out her cot.  She is quite taken with having some room to play and there are a lot of tea parties both real and imaginary going on in this little space.

The final of four family birthdays that happen for us in September- my husband's and after a busy, busy week that raced by at break neck speed this amazingly easy but super tasty chocolate cake saved my life- find it below;

Karen Edward's version of Buttermilk Cocoa Cake

1. Preheat oven to 350f and butter and flour a 9 by 2 inch round cake pan (or a heart one is like me you bought one specifically to make Nigella's heart cake.....)
2. Mix together 1 3/4 cups of flour, 3/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 cup of sugar, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
3. To these dry ingredients add 1 cup of buttermilk, 1/2 cup rapeseed oil or melted butter and two teaspoons of vanilla. Mix together.
4. Turn batter into cake pan and bake in middle of oven for 30 mins until a tester comes out clean.

(this is take from the essay Three Chocolate Cakes' in More Home Cooking by Laurie Colwin. I used the American cup measure and it worked perfectly)