Haiku-sday: He said

It was not that he

felt sad. But something true in

the song made him cry.



Three things: Fowlsheugh, walking with my kids, and nature meet-ups

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A month ago I had never heard of Fowlsheugh. But I am glad that three weeks ago I overheard a conversation about it at a party and followed up with some questions. Like what does Fowlsheugh mean? High birds. Like birds on cliffs. Not intoxicated birds. And can I take my kids? Yes. If you hold onto them. Or don’t mind them climbing down 70 metre cliffs. I don’t know why it has taken 6 years for this information to reach my family, but seriously, this is one of the coolest places I have been to in the shire. You gotta go. You might see puffins. We did! Make sure you go when the ratio of adult to kid is at least 3:2. It is a seasonal thing too, so it is best to visit between April and July. The cliffs are there all year round (in case you were wondering), it’s just the birds that are not. We’ve been admiring these taxidermied ones in the university’s zoology building for ages, but they are not a patch on the real thing.

To kick off the school holidays we returned to the glamping spot we visited last month. This time, though, it was the four of us. One of my favourite things is to go walking with the kids. But I am learning to market walks (to my older one, in particular) as quests, or with an end goal to them, rather than ‘nice walks’. Nobody seems convinced that they will enjoy a nice walk. Not even me, half the time. This time we took a bag we needed to fill with dry wood for a fire. It helped that they knew that the fire was eventually going to be used for toasting marshmallows. I suspect this carved guardian of the woods helped guide us to a bonus patch of ripe raspberries, and then onto a carpet of blaeberries. Just what we needed on the way there… and the way back.

The other things that helps me muster the energy to stay outside with the kids are regular meetups in natural spaces. Last year I sent messages to anyone and everyone (and their friends) inviting them to join us at the beach, at the woods, at the river–wherever I would usually like to go but feel like it requires just a tad more energy than, say, a trip to the playground. (Does anyone else find that the more energy an outing requires the more likely it is to turn sour and the chance of someone ending up at the emergency room increases?) I find it so much easier to hang out with my kids when there are other kids around. Even heading off on a walk together just goes better… except for the one time last summer my friends and I decided to forge ahead even though it was bucketing down and we were all drenched before we walked off the carpark. Fortunately it was the last get-together of the holidays and the last time L. bought it up with me I told he must have been walking with someone else. I don’t remember that day.

Three things: My garden, galium aparine, and das Baumhaus an der Mauer

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We are housesitting for the rest of the year. In Aberdeen still, but my visits to my garden are far fewer. I took a few photos this week. My rear garden still is nicer to be in than to look at from a window. When I take photos that give a sense of the whole thing, they are a bit disappointing. But I hope you can get an idea of it here. All my fruits are starting to ripen and every time I’m out I am able to have a little nibble on something nice. Not pictured is my lettuce plantation which has had a growth spurt in the warmth we’ve had. Now my lunches are basically a whole lettuce topped with another grated veg, a sprinkling of seeds, and–if I am lucky and/or energetic enough–some stale bread transformed into croutons. I love a crouton (not a specific crouton. Any one of them has my love).

I had a relaxing morning with a friend in her garden recently. She managed to catch a rare photo of me as I was extolling the virtues of stickyweed (galium aparine). On our recent glamping trip I recalled reading that this edible plant (like stringy spinach once cooked), with its sticky hook-like hairs, was used to strain fresh milk. Useful information when it seems that every beastie in a five mile radius drowns in one’s tea cup.

My dad sent me a link to this story about a Turkish man who developed an awkward off-cut of land (caused by the Berlin wall) in the Kreuzberg neighbourhood in Berlin. It became Das Baumhaus an der Mauer (the treehouse on the wall). I love stories like this for so many reasons. 1. It draws attention to the fact that there are often really awkward pieces left when new developments or city divisions (think  also of by-passes and new-build communities) are constructed without respect for what already exists.  2. That it is often an outsider or immigrant who can see potential for this strange situtation.  3. That simply acting out of a desire to have ‘somewhere to grow some vegetables’ can bring about a very creative and community building project.

Three things: Escape, escapism, and… poetry



In the middle of a two-week period of my partner being abroad for work stuff, I took my kids camping for a few nights. Glamping, to be more specific. The above picture shows the burn that ran a few metres away from our wigwam. It supplied the most calming burble for me to prepare meals by. It also supplied the dread that the fearless younger child would float away or be carried off by a heron. I occasionally receive the odd email from a friend or reader about how idyllic my life appears to be on this blog. And it is true–I do not write much about the difficult things of my life, or at least not until well after it is has passed. And then, it is only really in short. This is for many reasons, not least of which is that difficult things are often not just my own story to tell. Right now my family is going through a very stressful time and retreating from regular life for a few days like this was almost a necessity. In fact, it was only by escaping from the situation that I realised that we are on the right track with one big decision that we are trying to work through. I’m sorry I’m being cryptic. I guess I just want to add that this blog is a chance for me to find and acknowledge love and beauty even when life feels like it is squeezing the… well… life out of me. And I want you to know that if you are going through a hard time, you are not alone… and we will get through.

The other kind of escaping I am doing right now is watching TV. Oh, how many hours can one waste in front of the boob tube? I am working my way through The Detectorists. Have you seen it? It’s lovely. And good escapism. I also really like the theme song.

I happened to catch this ‘Only Artists‘ episode in the car the other day with spoken word poet, Hollie McNish (and actor Paapa Essiedu). I first heard her poetry in 2014 when this piece, Embarrassed, went viral. Mathematics is another powerful poem.