I’m still here…

Hi there… I thought I’d better post to let you know that I haven’t vanished off the face of the Earth, or anything else untoward… life just got too busy.  Actually, it still is… but normal service will resume soon!  And I’ll be back with some update posts just as soon as I have time to write them.

Some beautiful things from today in the meantime:

1)  It’s been a beautiful autumn (until today, that is) – glorious sunshine, cold mornings disappearing into warm afternoons, clear views across the valley, the green around me becoming the vibrant reds, golds and russets of the autumn.

2) He’s tired this morning (he, being my friend’s little boy whom I have the pleasure of looking after for a few hours each week), so we sit on the sofa, and I read him some of A and M’s favourite stories.

3) The children are all playing happily in the next room.  We steal a few moments to go and sit down to chat, rather than hovering in the kitchen.

Climbing in the hills…

1) A glorious day spent climbing in the Ochils – we climbed Dumyat, a craggy 418m hill, situated at the western end of the Ochils, behind the Wallace Monument, Stirling.

 2) I started the day layered up against the predicted low temperatures. By the end I was down to two of my original six – the weather was just ideal :-).

3) We ended our hike with afternoon tea at the Coffee Bothy in Blairlogie, complete with delicious cakes. The whole day made pretty near perfect by the fact that we spent it with friends 🙂 .

Aidan, on the way up. 

Views across to the east, down the Forth Valley towards Edinburgh;

and to the north west, with the Highlands beckoning in the background. 
At the summit! 
Please click on any of the pics to see them in full size…

Christian Aid Forth Road Bridge Cross

From Saturday:

1) Despite the predictions, it wasn’t too cold, wasn’t too sunny and the wind wasn’t too strong – ideal walking conditions.

2) We participated in the 40th annual Forth Road Bridge Cross, for Christian Aid. We managed four crosses, and walked nearly 8 miles, in 2.5 hours. We are so proud of the kids, especially of Megan with her much shorter legs!

3) The views up and down Forth Valley were beautiful yesterday, and the sight of the steam train chuffing across the Rail Bridge at the beginning of our walk just capped it off…

Aidan and Megan, having completed the first of four crossings…

The Forth Road and Rail Bridges.

Work has begun on the new road bridge…

Steam train on the Forth Rail Bridge

Aidan, under the cables.

Us four, on crossing number three.

The end, Aidan and Megan with their medals. They’ve raised £135 for Christian Aid 🙂 .

NB: Thanks to K for taking most of these photos… (one day he’ll replace his camera and give me mine back again!) xx

Breakfast, walk, and view.

1) Porridge, maple syrup, and strawberries – a good hearty breakfast to start the day.

2) The promised freezing weather doesn’t materialise, and we have a beautiful drive along the south coast, and a lovely walk in the New Forest, enjoying the spring sunshine.

3) The view from a golden beach across the sparkling blue harbour, to the dramatic cliffs on the Isle of Wight.

Lengthening days, contrast, and moon

1) At 0740 we open the curtains, and I realise that it is actually light outside.

2) It was one of those clear days when the views of the Ochils along the whole length of the Forth Valley were crystal clear. At the foot of the snow-capped Ochils, however, in place of the river lay a sea of fog.

3) The moon shines, silvery-bright and huge, in an ever-darkening night sky.

Contrasts, surprise and baking.

1) The view across the Forth Valley was stunning today – on my way into town, the skies were clear blue, and the Ochils were bathed in sunlight. Coming home an hour later, it was pitch-black, and the valley was speckled with orange lights.

2) Her breath caught when she espied the surprise I made for her. Then she flung her arms around me and whispered “thank you very much, Mummy!”.

3) Today I have baked. And baked. It’s the school Christmas Fayre on Saturday, hence the baking. I was going to make Grandma Conway’s Sultana cake as the basis for some mini-Christmas cakes, but today I wanted to make it a little more seasonal, so I added a mixture of sultanas, raisins, mixed peel and cranberries. I’m really happy with the result!

Druim Glas, Ariundle and Falls of Dochart

1) Yesterday a group of us went for a walk beginning at the Ariundle Nature Reserve. We walked through the beautiful oakwood forest, then out past the Strontian lead mines, and up Druim Glas which, at only 435m is only a mere bump by normal Scottish standards, but still constituted a nearly six hour round trip. The views from the top were fantastic, and Aidan and Megan were wonderful – they barely grumbled at all during the entire walk. We’re really proud of them!

2) A (very) welcome afternoon tea at the Aruindle Nature Reserve tea room – lovely service, and yummy food – would definitely recommend it if you ever happen to be in the area!

3) We drove home today, thoroughly tired out, but we still managed a short walk this morning up to a waterfall near Corran, and then stopped to have lunch at the Falls of Dochart (which had considerably less water this time than the last time we were there). A perfect end to a wonderful holiday.

NB Sorry there are no pics up yet – minor technical problems just now, but I’ll get some up soon!

Ardnamurchan – a beautiful day out!

Today we visited the beautiful Ardnamurchan peninsula:

1) Beach-walking at lovely sandy Sanna, while the kids built sandcastles and dams and tunnels, practised turning cartwheels and played in the sunshine.

2) Driving through the Great Eucrite – visible from space, this huge ancient volcanic crater remains a dramatic and compelling place.

3) The incredible view from the top of the lighthouse at Ardnamurchan point – we could see the Isles of Mull, Treshnish, Coll, Rum, Muck, Eigg, the Cuillins on Skye, and further afield, we could even see all the way across to Barra and South Uist in the Outer Hebrides… glorious!

Stunning, rolling and running!

1) Happy Easter everyone! The day began at the joint churches service on the summit of Cockleroy. From Dumyat in the west, to Berwick Law in the east, the views were stunning.

2) The kids had so much fun rolling their eggs, after a beautiful hilltop service.

3) We sent the kids off on a treasure hunt when we got home. They loved running around the house and garden, looking for their eggs.

NB: Thanks very much to K who took all the photos I used in today’s blog!