Tuesday, 31 December 2013

So long old year

So the end of another year. I'm leaving it happier than I entered it, which is always a good thing. A few images from our Christmas. My life is by no means perfect, I don't ever want to give that false illusion here- but there have been some amazing, damn near perfect moments in amongst the usual squabbles and stress of a family Christmas. I saw them, lived them, recognised them and will hold them dear when times are hard. 

I wish each and every one of you the very best in 2014- for we all deserve the very best for ourselves and our loved ones. Jo xxxx

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Happy Weekend!

Wishing everyone a lovely weekend! Keep cosy and get some winter sun if you can.

Jo xx

Tuesday, 19 November 2013


Overgrown, fat red globes
Like lanterns with spiky flames escaping  
Barely able to sway in a late summer breeze.

Book of remedies, contained in hedgerows
Rosehips giving up dense packed centres
To a sour syrup banishing colds of the heart and the head.

Royal purple firewood flowers
Cotton thrifts of seeds, soft and feathery in the hand
Woven into blankets to stave winter chills.

A triangle of wilderness, stragglers and country interlopers
Ferns reach out gentle green arms to brush fingertips
Memories to bind and to cure.

(One of my poems from my writing course.  It's a meditation on the turn from late summer to Autumn and the simple hedgerow remedies used to medicate our health and our hearts.)

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Hallow's Eve

I hope you did what you do on Halloween, and you did it good.  Here it was a pumpkin carving, sugar eating day, with pin the wart on the witch games (see my Dad, his invention).

But I've changed my views on all Hallow's Eve as the years have passed.  I've been unequivocally gothic in years gone by - with Halloween almost an affirmation of that type of living.  But growth as a person, and some measure of youthful self destruction eradicated, I can still see a celebration of death in life and life in death as being a healthy acceptance and acknowledgement of the cycle of life - all encapsulated in Halloween. 

All the spooky get up in the world doesn't hide what the 31st of October is actually about.  I once read of the tradition of setting an extra place at your table on the 31st to honour those who are no longer here - that is a gentle kindness to those we miss and have lost.  That's my filter for All Hallow's Eve - what is yours? 

Monday, 21 October 2013

Time To Keep

As a child I holidayed in Dunoon - and I often go back with my family.  Where you made happy childhood memories is always bathed in nostalgia and well, rain if it is the west coast of Scotland!

We sidestepped the rain around the town, some of us with wings, and we went down spectacular roads banked with bright orange autumn ferns.  And then we came home, caught Roddy Woomble at the local folk club and the Good Food Show for some lovely artisan vinegars. 'Time to Keep' to paraphrase Roddy's new album ( 'Listen to Keep' - Roddy's evocative and beautiful new album title).

Friday, 4 October 2013

The perfect heart of morning.

I am resolutely not a 'morning person' however being a parent has necessitated that I am present from the very early morning whether I like it or not.  I have wished for most of my life that the very early hours of daybreak were my friend, with romantic notions peppering my head of writing before the house awakes, pottering with tea, or dew soaked dog walks in the woods.  Writers such as Laurie Colwin can capture these fresh, intensely personal morning activities as something sacred, but truth be told getting up repeatedly at 5 or 6am really just leaves me feeling a bit nauseous.

In saying that I do appreciate the promise in a morning - the optimum time between say 8-10am. Where it is still early enough to feel the whole day spread in front of you with all the magic and excitement that it could hold - the perfect heart of morning.

I keep coming back to that phrase and have been trying to capitalise on those precious hours when I am with the family.  Last weekend we careered down country lanes, crushing fallen crab apples under our feet, dappled with the strong autumn sun.  It was magical light, we could almost grasp the equidistant rays above our heads.  If you look carefully above you can see them framing the moments; nature's signal that every morning is perfect.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

And The Fairies Are Tired......

The wisdom of having our children's birthdays 90 minutes apart was questioned extensively last week and at the weekend! Two parties, two home made cakes on top of work and everything else felt like hard work. But their faces when they saw said cakes, the quiet seconds hush as candles are blown out, wishes are made and happy birthday sung in loud voices makes it all worthwhile.

My Mum always baked my brother and I's birthday cakes, from that very 70's chocolate button and mandarin cake (do you remember it?) to chocolate trains laden with sweeties and Hansel and Gretal houses - to the most magical, a fairy tale book complete with writing, from a Jane Asher book I think.

I treasure these memories, they made me feel special, secure and loved. I want to do the same for my two where I can. That's why I'm tired but happy this Sunday night - two wee children had really happy birthdays and that's worth any tiredness or stress in my book.

(My very talented friend made the sugar paste fairies, I just made their home! In my hand above is how they looked today - a little bit nibbled and very tired!)

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Small Things

My other half was away all weekend and the kids and I, well despite my worries we managed just fine. He was having the first time away with his own brother for over a decade seeing Roger Waters 'The Wall'.   

That rather lovely owl pendant was a small gift for me from Portobello Road Market - somewhere we loved in the past together.

 And those words well I'm trying to remember them, they make you think don't they? 

Wednesday, 11 September 2013


Look at these lovely teacup candles that my clever friend Nic made.  One is for me and the other a present - but they do look lovely together.  Nic first made these for her wedding and they looked beautiful at the evening reception, the light dancing through the fine bone china. 

I think it's just about time to start lighting candles again of an evening, what do you think? 

Monday, 9 September 2013

Loch Lomond

Grainy and dark, I know, I know - I won't ever win any competitions for the clarity of my images. But it's what they convey isn't it? A wet, warm late summer day by Loch Lomond. A family get together, last of the summer paddles, a whisper of a rainbow, a new dress and a house literally on the lochside.

A beautiful day to get you through the hard parts of the week.

(The dress is from Fritha at Tigerlilly Quinn. Her shop is full of lovely things take a look)

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

We are still here?

So we are still here, living life along with the changing seasons. The leaves are ever so quietly, dropping in stealth. I'm ok with that, Autumn is good - in fact it's brimful of my favourite colours, smells and tastes.

We have been in our woods a lot. Just 5 minutes can make all the difference. The children have now taken to saying 'Mummy we are soooooo lucky to have woods behind our house'. I like that, my parents garden was like a mini woods and I still can climb my own 'Magic Faraway Tree' and relive those memories (it seems much smaller now!).

Friends for lunch and some cooking - that fennel and orange salad is from The Simple Things magazine and is well worth seeking out and making. Beautiful to look at and to eat.

If you are in Glasgow visit Sparklehorse. A new bar restaurant in the old Dowanhill Bar premises. Super child friendly, lovely indie vibe, great artwork, food and beer. If the name alone didn't do it for me then the black walls and 'charity shop picture of the month' cemented it as a fave!

Monday, 12 August 2013

Wild Berries

Before we bought our house, when it was empty, we would park at the edge of the woods and walk along the path to peek in the open back door to the garden. I felt a prickle of magic then and don't think it has ever left me. Every day I'm thankful for that back door to the woods.

These last few days the children and I have been picking brambles and wild raspberries on every walk. I'm stowing away the brambles in bags in the freezer till I have enough for bramble jelly. 

Bramble jelly is the most wonderful of preserves, it's jewelled, almost black colour and amazing aromatic depth of flavour are like nothing else. Making my beloved jelly in the next few weeks will just about ease my sadness at Autumn's creeping fingers - I am not quite ready to give up summer yet!

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Jack Monroe

Sometimes you just have to believe the hype. I first read about Jack Monroe a few months ago as she cascaded around the media in a whirl of positive spin. Straight away I loved her - everything she stood for; her politics, her cooking, her smart mouth. She had budget cooking nailed.

My Mum always used to say that she knew a recipe would be good when she could taste it as she read it. That's how I felt when I read her 'Creamy Salmon Pasta'. I was even more determined to cook it when she blogged that some were 'sniffy' about her methods and recipes, particularly so of a recipe that's main constituents are a jar of value fish paste and plain yoghurt. Now snobbery aside I could see how the recipe would work and the fact that you can enjoy a delicious salmon pasta dish for 27p a serving is nothing short of genius. But the proof is in the cooking and I made it for the family last night and I can say without a doubt it is delicious. Light and creamy, with a chilli kick, it disappeared from all the plates pronto.

Do yourself a favour and cook it, also check out Jack's blog. As well as having a great stack of family friendly recipes, she is a really good writer, able to put into eloquent words my (and many others) anger at the way things are going in this country of ours today. There is life crushing poverty out there. The are families like you and I using food banks every week. But there is hope for a new way forward, the blog is full of compassion, anger and a will to change things for the better. And it is a start to begin and to end with kindness.

As she quotes so perfectly in a blog post today these words by Jackie Oates

“May the kindness, that starts with you
Turn full circle, when it’s due.
And the flame that burns your heart,
Burn with love that holds us now we part.”

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Time out

A precious morning alone was intensely needed. Two weeks of family holiday can be hard work with two young children. The squabbling, the shouting, the endless cleaning, entertaining, later bedtimes and very early mornings. We even felt this year we had very little by way of evenings as by the time they were sleeping we were shattered too. But, they are amazing wee people, as complex and trying as both their parents. And no one really ever says how hard but rewarding family holidays can be, do they? I remember my parents frustration as well, I'm sure we all can. 

So for an hour, thanks to D amusing the kiddos, I stayed in Reading Lasses, I caught up on emails, I browsed the shelves, sipped coffee and contemplated the next few days before we returned to 'real life'. Reading Lasses is a women's book shop in Wigtown, Scotland's book town. 

I have written about our love of Wigtown before. Taking time out in Galloway is a little like money in the bank for D and I. Just today in my minds eye I could see myself on the road to Cruggleton Church, the kids singing in the back of the car, green hedgerows and that expansive Galloway sky above, feeling belonging and a relationship to the landscape we have never felt so strongly anywhere else. Until the next time......

Wednesday, 17 July 2013


When I started this blog, it was to get what's in my head all the time, that voice down in print. To see what it all looked like. The photography element of it started off simply as images to illustrate what I wanted to say. Right from the start I didn't want to think about either element too much. There is so much amazing writing and photography out there that I didn't want to over analyse what I was doing. 

Photography for me is approached in much the same way as my writing. Like there's a voice in my head, there is an image or a set of circumstances that need to be captured. We have been away and I have captured a few scraps of inspiration. Like all attempts at art for me it's like chasing a fragment of light or a shadow out of the corner of my eye. With practice I will catch/capture more I'm sure.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Walking in clover

She walked over that carpet of wild clover 'just because it feels so lovely, Mummy'.  Her little light step left no indentation on that springy green carpet.

The yellow Irises were so spectacular, and sometimes I feel so overwhelmed by the beauty in nature I can't believe its all just there to take in. There is so much we can miss if we don't take time to look.

The country park we visit several times a month is glorious just now.  We want to be there as much as we can, they never seem to get bored by the woods, the wild adventure park, the river, or the formal walled gardens.

The sun lights their red hair making it look like fire, dancing around their faces.

I hope your summer has begun in earnest, Jo xx

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Folk Club

It was a typical West of Scotland summer evening, warm, close, but so, so wet.  Torrential at points. A good friend and I ventured to the local folk club for the first time.  We had kind of expected a raucous, smoke filled room, but then that is really just the images that my Dad's tales of youthful Humblebum's gigs (and other Scottish folk greats) have implanted on my mind.  It was BYOB, but I had never thought to check so it was steaming mugs of tea and diet coke for us!  As the night went on we saw beer, wine and cider produced from plastic bags on the floor- we will know for the next time!  The main attraction for us was the acts, Yvonne Lyon headlining and Andrew Howie as support.

These days Yvonne is rarely off my playlist having seen her play for the first time earlier this year. I have also seen Andrew before at a very special house gig.  To see them play on the same bill and together for a song was just perfect.  If you don't know either of them click on the links and check them out.  The picture above, captures perfectly, them playing a beautiful new song they have written together.

Roddy Woomble is playing the Folk Club in October, and he is another favourite of mine.  Then I will return with red wine, but I might still have a cup of tea at the break, served through the hatch by the organiser's mum (plain biscuits 3p, chocolate 20p!)!

{This post is for my Dad, a much, much better musician than he gives himself credit for.}