Day 21/31 of The August Break, with Susannah Conway, posting a photograph every day in August according to a list of prompts. 'today is...
Today is... the day I started running again.
I wrote about my first experience of running here, and about fracturing my foot during a 10k here. Following the fracture, I encountered further problems when I tried to start running again, and was found to have an underlying foot problem. Initially I was advised not to run at again at all, which was exceptionally disappointing. However, I eventually persuaded my Podiatrist to allow me to start again providing various criteria were met: that I was very, very, very careful, and that I bought trainers specific to my needs, that I complied with my foot exercises, and wore my special insoles. 'I can do all that', thought I.
So, today is... the day I started running again, using the brilliant C25K app, in my new trainers from here. My aim is to complete the 9 week running course using the app, and then carry on as I did before, adding minutes every week. Perhaps I will even be able to run the Glasgow Womens' 10k next May.
Day 18/31 of the August Break photography project. Today's prompt is '5 years ago'
Every year in late August, when the first leaves are tipped with gold and brown, and the rowans berries are showing scarlet against the green, I start making bramble brandy (or plum brandy, red currant gin, or some other variation, but most often bramble brandy), for Christmas.
Though I never consciously choose to make it in the same week in August, I noticed today when I took the Kilner jars from the dresser cupboard, that the hand written sticky labels, though faded after going through the dishwasher, show dates within a few days of each other, going back some years. I couldn't actually find one dated 2011, however I am confident that I was making bramble brandy this week 5 years ago.
There is a pleasant sense of preparedness which is uniquely associated with making jams, chutneys, cordials and, I can happily report, bramble brandy. It is also very easy to make, and will provide you with beautiful gifts to give to family and friends at Christmas, as well as a gorgeous drink to enjoy as a Christmas treat to yourself.
I wrote about last year's home made brandy here, giving the recipe and method in full, so if you are already dreaming of cosy winter evenings sipping something delicious from a short glass, click on the link. One other note: I use cheap brandy for this (ditto cheap gin if I am making a gin based liqueur), the type that comes in plastic bottles, and at current prices is around £9 for a 70cl bottle. Don't be afraid, by Christmas it will taste like nectar.
Day 17 of the August Break, hosted by blogger Susannah Conway. Today's prompt is 'bedroom window'.
Our bedroom in this house was originally the front parlour, and has a small bay window. Our house was built in 1928, and had three public rooms, and only one bedroom, a fact which astonishes me. The public rooms comprised the front parlour, which would have been kept for visitors (or I believe, sometimes used when a family member was ill), the family sitting room, which is also a good size, but with a plainer window, and, I imagine, would have been cosy and comfortable. It is currently the boys' room (television, ps4 etc, I wrote about its transformation from dining room to boys' room here). The third public room was a dining room, and is currently Isaac's bedroom. To compensate for only having one bedroom, it appears that the loft space in the house was used as a bedroom of sorts, as there is a small built in cupboard up there, a green painted chest of drawers, and what appears to be a wooden partition, presumably dividing off bed spaces. I can only imagine how hot it must have been up there in the summer, and conversely, how cold in winter.
Back to today's photo prompt. The bay window in my bedroom is where I keep my sewing machine, on a small painted trolley. Underneath there are a couple of work boxes. The pale blue box holds fabrics, and was originally a gift box from here. The wicker bedroom chair pulls round when I want to sit at the sewing machine (which is from here). Perhaps one day I will have a bigger space, or even a whole room, but for the present this space in my bedroom window will do nicely.
Day 16/31 of the August Break, hosted by Susannah Conway, where bloggers post a photograph every day in August, according to a list of prompts. Today's prompt is 'breathe'.
Since returning from holiday on the Isle of Lewis late on Sunday night, I have been in perpetual motion. I have never operated a smoothly efficient system for the start of a new school year. The thought of having new, pristine uniforms lurking in the wardrobe all summer holidays, waiting to pounce, is just too depressing. I always leave things until the last possible minute to mentally delay the return to the school routine for the boys, and for myself. This results in a last minute flurry of activity, but even for me, the two days prior to school re-starting was close to the wire. Two prolonged trips into to town, and a scurry round the local Retail Park, all conducted in uncharacteristically hot temperatures, ensued. Great tolerance and patience were demonstrated by all concerned.
School uniforms needed topping up (what is it that teenage boys do to white shirts?).
School shoes needed bought (note to self: teenage boys do not appreciate maternal advice regarding footwear).
New school rucksacks were deemed an immediate necessity (the old ones having been judged 'Ok for next year' until closer examination revealed significant structural wear and tear).
Both boys like stationery, so there was slight compensation for all the trudging about in the heat with the purchase of a bundle of Pukka pads, Post It notes, and many packs of new pens and pencils.
Additionally, the hired kilts for the wedding we attended whilst on the Isle of Lewis needed returned to the kilt hire shop . An unexpected pang of sadness caught me as we handed them back in. The much anticipated celebrations and festivities were over. The new term was, inevitably, upon us.
Since the boys started secondary school, and have turned man-sized, school uniform has generally been easier to buy; black trousers, white shirts and black shoes are almost permanently available in the shops. Only the school blazer requires separate ordering and a bit of forethought, and I must here confess that I also delayed ordering new school blazers until the last possible moment, with the result that Isaac is returning to school tomorrow in his tatty old one, and Jacob will not actually have one at all until both new blazers are delivered next week, thanks to my over zealous clear out of his room during the summer holidays.
In all the running about, it was a pleasure to take five minutes in the garden, looking for a suitable image for today's photograph challenge. The hibiscus flowers I planted in early summer have been an elegant addition to the garden, steadily producing bloom after bloom. As I fiddled with the settings on the camera, the wind stilled for a moment, the bloom settled on the stem, and I could feel myself just breathe.
Day 16/31 of The August Break with Susannah Conway. Today's prompt; 'unicorn'. Some head scratching here (metaphorical only, I try never to scratch my head, it looks so off-putting). Unicorns are challenging to photograph in the wild; being elusive, secretive, proud creatures, who disappear at the mere whisper of the presence of us clumsy humans.
Their natural habitat being bluebell woods, little girls' day dreams and the pages of beautifully bound story books, I had to settle for this particular unicorn, spotted here, on a recent trip to Edinburgh.
Day 14/31 of The August Break, hosted by Susannah Conway. Today's photograph prompt is 'love is....'
All I can think about when I read these words is my boys. I remember a friend telling me, before I had any children, that the love you feel for your children is beyond anything you can ever feel for anyone else. At the time I didn't fully understand what she meant. Her words often echo in my head now, however, when I look at my boys. I adore them. 'Love' doesn't even come close. This is one of my favourite photographs, taken about 9 years ago.
Day 12/31 of The August Break, hosted by Susannah Conway. An annual project where bloggers post a photograph every day in August, according to a list of prompts. Today's prompt: a secret.
We are currently on the Isle of Lewis, in the Western Isles of Scotland, and driving round on our various expeditions, we have seen many abandoned houses like this. Who knows what secrets they hold?
Day 11/31 of The August Break, where bloggers are invited by Susannah Conway to post a photograph every day in August, according to a list of prompts.
Today's prompt; green.
Green grass (purple heather and yellow buttercups too) blow in the ever-present wind as we climb up the shallow stone steps towards Shawbost Norse Mill and Kiln, on the splendid Isle of Lewis.
Day 8/31 of The August Break, hosted annually by Susannah Conway. If you click on the link, you will find lots of blogs to visit, and there is also an Instagram hashtag #augustbreak16
Today's prompt is 'favourite taste' and I didn't have to consider my answer for a single second.
Day 7/31 of The August Break, hosted by Susannah Conway. Today's prompt: beneath my feet.
Beneath my feet today, and for the next seven days, is some of the oldest rock in the world; Lewisian Gneiss . We have travelled by road and sea to the Western Isles, for a family wedding. We are staying in Stornoway, where I was (briefly) at boarding school thirty four years ago. When I left a few days after finishing 6th year at school, it was with no desire ever to return.
Time, and circumstances, however, change our outlook, and I am happy and intrigued to be here, looking forward to exploring and re-discovering this beautiful place. The knowledge that the rock under my feet the rock is some three billion years old, makes our human squirmings and frailties seem very insignificant and temporary, which is rather comforting.
Summer reading is a different from autumn or winter reading. Lighter, perhaps a little more frivolous, always enjoyable. This is my current 'to read' bundle. Nina Stibbe's latest, Paradise Lodge. I read Love Nina, and Man at the Helm, and loved them. Her writing voice is funny, fresh, and original. Slightly Foxed is a quarterly literary review, charming, and a portal to all sorts of interesting literary discoveries. The summer edition of the Enid Blyton Society magazine (I am a member, of course). Uppercase is a quarterly magazine I have not read before, but it looks full of creative inspiration.
Day 5/31 of The August Break, posting a photograph every day according to a list of prompts provided by Susannah Conway. Today's prompt is 'midday', and it was causing me some mild consternation. In my head were images of cowboys in a dusty western town, blistering midday sun beating down overhead, trigger fingers itching, but that didn't seem applicable, nor was it actually happening. I was contemplating this minor creative crisis around 11.40 a.m., gazing speculatively at my late brunch of banana squashed on to toast (divinely delicious, but not photogenic...) when the postie came whistling up the path with a delivery. It was my self decorated dishes and baby mug from my recent visit to the Emma Bridgewater factory. 'Midday; Emma Bridgewater delivery. Yep, happy with that' I thought.
My image for day 3/31 of Susannah Conway's The August Break: a bundle of letters from my pen friend in America. We have never (yet) met in the flesh, we currently know each other solely through our handwritten letters.
Writing letters by hand is an excellent discipline for both mind and manners, and a delightful way to make friends. There is some effort involved in writing by hand. This is no hasty email dashed off between chores. There is a modest sense of occasion about writing a hand written letter; the gathering of paper, ink, and envelopes, the gathering of thoughts, and the physical sitting down to write. There is the requirement for concentration; if your letter is to be attractive to the eye as well as the mind of the recipient, there is less room for mistakes (unless you send a page full of scored out passages). There is a sense of conversation, of trying to make your letter interesting to read, of demonstrating, via the written word, that you have read carefully the letter to which you are replying, that you care about what is contained therein, that you are responding appropriately before sharing your own news, views, or opinions. There is the affectionate signing off, with 'Hope to hear from you soon!' or 'Sending love', before the letter is finished, carefully checked, and finally posted.
I still find it remarkable that a I can compose a letter at my desk or kitchen table, send it from our local Post Office, and a week or so later, my pen friend, in her American house, can be boiling the kettle in her kitchen for a cup of tea to drink whilst she reads it.
Do you still write letters by hand, or send postcards from holidays, or write thank you cards? Something that can be treasured, or at the very least, appreciated, by the recipient? Propped up on the mantelpiece, or on the kitchen window sill, to be savoured again when there's time, perhaps slipped between the pages of a favourite book for safe keeping, or kept in a bundle with other correspondence.
The Acer tree in our back garden. Even in August, the leaves are starting to subtly change colour. In Scotland, autumn is never far away.
Day 2/31 of The August Break, hosted by Susannah Conway, where bloggers are given a daily prompt throughout August to inspire a photograph every day, with or without accompanying text. Fun to do, and open to all, to join at any time. A good place to find lots of new blogs to read. There is an Instagram hashtag #theaugustbreak16 too.
Today's prompt is 'morning light'. I am a morning person; I love early mornings pottering round the kitchen when the rest of the family is still asleep. Meg, our sweet natured yellow Labrador, trots through from her cosy bed, and relentlessly nudges my arm with a wet nose until I pat her. I hear the wood pigeons in the garden softly cooing their distinctive song. I hear the clock ticking on the mantelpiece, a sound usually obliterated by the hurly burly of family life. The kettle boils for that welcome first cup of tea. The morning light shines through the slats in the kitchen blinds. All is well.
This is day 1/31 of The August Break, an annual project hosted by blogger Susannah Conway.
Susannah provides a prompt for each day in August, from which bloggers take inspiration to post a photograph, with or without accompanying text.
I have taken part in the August Break for the past two years (click The August Break category in the sidebar to see my previous efforts) Being a Completer Finisher I worry about finding suitable images for each prompt, or missing a day, but others probably take a more relaxed view.
The August Break is open to all, so if the idea appeals to you, do drop by Susannah's blog, where you will find many other participating bloggers. There is also an Instagram hashtag #augustbreak2016
Drawing to the end of the August Break photography challenge, which sees participating bloggers post a photograph every day in August, helped along by a list of prompts from project host Susannah Conway.
Today's prompt is 'smile'
Essential, I feel, to avoid a sugar-coated list of 'things that make me smile'. Instead, this story: last night whilst searching through old SD cards, I found a collection of photographs from a long ago holiday when the boys were small. We were all entranced by them; I could hardly believe that the two huge teenagers looming over my shoulder to look at the photographs were the same little boys in the photographs. However, they were, and are. One thing that has hardly changed strangely enough, is their smiles. I leave you with a few photographs from the rediscovered collection.
Day 29 of the August Break with Susannah Conway, and today's prompt is 'listening'
I am not much of a television woman. I lived without one for years before I met Derek, and even now am a far from avid viewer. However, I do listen to the radio every day, and would miss it terribly if I had to do without it.
Continuing with Susannah Conway's August Break, posting a photograph every day in August, aided by Susannah's list of prompts.
There was a similar prompt in last year's August Break. The contents of my bag have hardly changed since last year, I still have the same purse, make up bag, even the same notebook (now very shabby) so this year I am sharing the contents of a different bag.
This bag contains the fabrics I chose last week at my quilting class. Everyone in the 'Beginners' class is making the same thing; a quilted bag. Whilst making the bag, I am learning how to use a rotary cutter and rotary ruler, how to sandwich the fabrics together, and how to use a walking foot on the sewing machine. All very interesting and helpful, and once I have mastered these rudimentary skills, the world will, I hope, be my (quilted) oyster. (The 'stags' fabric will be the outside of the bag, the 'tiny hearts' will be the lining.)
Continuing with the August Break, posting a photograph every day in August, following host Susannah Conway's list of prompts.
The prompt for day 27 is 'favourite recipe'
I find it impossible to choose a single favourite recipe; I don't even think I could choose a favourite recipe book. This is my current selection in the kitchen. I have an informal sorting system; books that haven't been used for over a year or so are moved to another bookcase elsewhere in the house, then if they are not retrieved from there for another year they are quietly donated to the local charity shop. Thus the firm favourites remain, and others just pass through...
Day 25 of the August Break, hosted by Susannah Conway, who has supplied a list of photo prompts for the month, encouraging bloggers to post a photograph every day in August.
Today's prompt is 'green'
I keep things pretty simple in the garden in the summer: lots of shrub roses, lavender, and some pots of geraniums. All very pretty, and lots of green foliage.
Day 24 of the August Break hosted by Susannah Conway.
Today's prompt is 'in the distance'
Our village is surrounded by farmland. At harvest time the cylindrical bales of hay provide photogenic silhouettes, interesting shadows, and focal points in the foreground, middle ground, and in the distance.
Day 23 of the August Break photography challenge hosted by Susannah Conway, where bloggers post a photograph a day for the month of August, assisted by a list of prompts from Susannah.
The prompt for day 23 is 'water'
Water, evaporating from school shirts on the washing line in the sun and the wind.
Day 22 of the August Break, hosted by Susannah Conway, where bloggers post a photograph a day in August. There is also an Instagram account at #augustbreak2015 where you can see lots of interesting interpretations of Susannah's photography prompts. You can find me there at penny.homemadeheart.
Today's prompt is 'curves'
The retro curves of my hardworking Kitchenaid.
Much used, much loved.
Joining in with Susannah Conway's 'August Break' project this month, posting a photograph every day in August, following a list of prompts.
Today's prompt is 'real life'.
In real life I am 51.
In my head I am 35.
I remember a conversation I had with my mum a few years back; the gist being that I didn't want to 'turn out' in a particular way. 'Oh for God's sake' she exclaimed with asperity, 'You're a grown woman, how much more turning out are you expecting to do?' (Mum is a highland woman who doesn't mince her words.) She did have a point. I guess in real life we do reach an age that we more or less stay internally for ever, though always of course with room for improvement and the ripening of character.
Joining in with Susannah Conway's August Break project, posting a photograph every day in August. The prompt for today is 'two'
Two favourite serving bowls. These are in almost daily use, large enough to use as a mixing bowl for smallish cake mixtures; to whip up a quick pancake batter, or to serve vegetables or potatoes in at dinner time.
They are both Emma Bridgewater design, the pomegranate bowl being a particular favourite. It was made for Persephone Books and has 'One Hundred Persephone Books' stamped round the outside rim. I sometimes worry that I will break it if it is in constant use, but I enjoy the colours and pattern so much, as well as the shape, weight and size of the bowl, that it's a risk I am prepared to take.
Continuing with the August Break, hosted by Susannah Conway, posting a photograph every day in August using Susannah's list of prompts. The August Break can also be found on Instagram at hashtag #augustbreak2015. (You can find my Instagram account at penny.homemadeheart)
The prompt for the eighteenth day is 'look up'
So I did.
The prompt for day seventeen is 'reading'
Reading? Yes, always, though this summer I have been absorbed in other activities and my reading habit has slipped. I am not worried, I have a life long love of books; the occasional surface ripple does not disturb the deep waters below. I will return to reading again when summer slows into autumn, and the longer nights return.
The August Break continues, with bloggers posting a photograph every day in August, helped along by a list of prompts. Today's prompt is 'favourite smell'
Roses growing up the wall outside the kitchen window.
Day thirteen of the August Break, and today's prompt is 'last year'
Last year I turned 50, and had a party. Girls only. No husbands/partners to nurse through the evening or turn their manly noses up at Abba and Dexy's Midnight Runners. The only male was the DJ, who was suitably cowed by the presence of 40+ partying women. It was a brilliant night.
Continuing with the August Break hosted by Susannah Conway, where bloggers post a photo a day in August, helped along by Susannah's list of prompts.
Today's prompt is 'yellow'
I do love vintage china, though now try to be very discriminating in what I bring home. This pretty cup and saucer is a bit more delicate than my usual taste, but I like it very much. It lives on a small shelf in the kitchen. Lifting it down to photograph it, I found two memory pegs (boys'), a hair band (mine), and a broken brooch nestling inside.
The embroidered table cloth was given to me by my wee mum. She has a healthy charity-shop habit too.
Day eleven of the August Break, where bloggers post a photograph every day in August, following a list of prompts set by Susannah Conway, who hosts the project.
Today's prompt is 'edge'
I found this little eggshell in the garden this morning, under a tree. I imagine it fell from the nest after its tiny inhabitant pecked its way out, leaving a beautifully neat edge.
Joining with Susannah Conway's August Break, where bloggers post a photograph every day in August, following a list of prompts from Susannah. (You can also find the project on Instagram using hashtag #augustbreak15)
Today's prompt is 'talisman'
Despite my highland heritage, I am not particularly superstitious. I don't know if I believe in talismans, however I do like to keep certain small treasures always near me.
My keyring. On it I have a purple heart, given to me some years ago by my dear brother. Also on there is a little tag which was the first thing Isaac made in metal work at school. It has his initials engraved on it in wobbly capitals, and I absolutely love it.
In addition to these treasures/talismans, I have a brass number tag, from a miners lamp, given to me one day a few years ago.
These number tags were a vitally important feature of life in the mines: when a miner collected his lamp to go down underground, he left his number tag in its place. When he came back above ground at the end of his shift, he replaced the lamp and retrieved his tag. One can easily picture the significance of these humble brass number tags if something went wrong underground. A check of the number tags, and it would quickly be known exactly who was on duty, and in danger.
I was given this brass number tag on our first visit to Wales, three years ago. We visited 'Big Pit' museum in Blaenavon, South Wales, which was a working coal mine from 1860-1980. It was of particular interest to me as my Dad was a Bevan Boy during the war. To see the working environment first hand, and imagine the camaraderie and team work of the miners, not to mention the sheer bravery involved in working in such hazardous and cramped conditions, was extremely moving.
I started talking to one of the guides, a barrel chested giant of a man, who was an ex-miner. Talking about Dad's experiences in the mines during the war, to someone who had been a miner, and knew exactly what was involved, was quite an emotional experience. I wished Dad could have been there to talk to him too. At the conclusion of our conversation, the guide took his keyring out of his pocket, and removed the brass number tag from it. He explained its purpose, and gave it to me with the words 'There you are, you can have this. Think of me and your Dad when you look at it'. I was moved to tears. I immediately put it on my own keyring, and there it has stayed, and will stay, for ever.
Day nine of the August Break, which you can read about here, where bloggers post a photograph every day in August using a list of prompts. You can also search Instagram using the hashtag #augustbreak15.
Today's prompt is 'earth'
Planting up a new pot for the front doorstep.
Day eight of the August Break hosted by Susannah Conway, where bloggers post a photograph a day in August, aided by Susannah's list of prompts.
Today's prompt is 'smooth'
Smooth ceramic and stones.
Just before we moved to the far north of Scotland, when I was about eight, I attended a school where the grounds extended down to the shores of Loch Lomond. Every day I would gather pebbles and small stones that caught my eye. My pockets bulged. I kept them arranged in careful rows and groups on my dressing table.My mum despaired of ever cleaning my room properly. I guarded each stone like a dragon hoarding gold.
I have never outgrown the habit, and still love to collect stones and pebbles. They might catch my eye because they are stripy; have a hole worn in them, be heart shaped, or flat like a button.
I use them as paperweights, or as touchstones. They can be comforting to hold, or pretty to look at. To touch a stone or pebble is to hold the beginning of time.
Day 7 of this years August Break, hosted by Susannah Conway. Bloggers post a photograph every day in August, helped along by Susannah's prompts.
Today's prompt is 'five facts about me'
1. 30 years ago I spent August selling ice cream in France.
2. I wear an apron whilst doing my housework.
3. I met my husband on a blind date.
4. I have appeared in two shows in the Edinburgh Festival.
5. I prefer my singing voice to my speaking voice.
Day 6 of the August Break, hosted by Susannah Conway, where bloggers post a photograph every day in August, helped along by Susannah's list of prompts. You can also follow the project on Instagram using hashtag #augustbreak15.
Today's prompt is 'notebook'
I like to think I inherited my love of notebooks from Dad. He was a great notebook man. He always had a notebook tucked into the breast pocket of his Tattersall shirts, and used it for reminders, observations, scribbled musical ideas (he played the piano, saxophone, and accordion), and drafts of furious letters to politicians (never sent).
When he died, I kept a couple of his notebooks, as well as two or three of his distinctive spotty handkerchiefs (Dad was of the generation that always had a clean handkerchief in their pocket, a gentlemanly habit which needs revived). I sometimes take them out the drawer where I keep them, along with one of his old leather wallets, and gaze at his distinctive, spidery handwriting. It makes me miss him even more, but I do it anyway.
Day four of the August Break hosted by Susannah Conway; posting a photograph every day in August. You can also find the project on Instagram using hashtag #augustbreak15
Today's prompt is 'numbers'
Numbers on my Yarndale calendar. I like to have two calendars in my kitchen: one on the dresser, where I write school holidays, birthdays and anniversaries, and a small one beside my recipe books, showing scenes from my beloved Argyll, which my Nana gives me every Christmas.
Day three of the August Break, posting a photograph every day in August, where every day has a prompt. I am posting here, and also on Instagram, where you can find me at penny.homemadeheart .
Today's prompt is 'skin'.