February

February

I’d intended to write a thoughtful post all about natural skincare and household products. On Friday I did a big clean-up throughout the house, and Jay started painting the landing white at the weekend as it’s currently pale green. Getting this place how we want it is going to take a lot of time and money, so for now we’re just freshening everything up by repainting. We’ve already changed the snug and the living room from a sort of dark mushroom and custard powder yellow respectively to white, and that includes the woodwork. It’s made them much brighter. After that we need to do four bedrooms, two bathrooms, the kitchen and the hallway.

So, a lot.

But the whole point of this particular tangent is that it feels as though we’re moving forward with the year in a small but significant way. Windows are being opened, snowdrops are blooming, tulip leaves have already pushed their way up above ground. And it seemed like a good time to talk household and wellbeing.

But last week we had snow. Not as much as some parts of the country - and nowhere near as much as The Beast from the East gifted us with last winter - but a good amount. Enough for school to close on Wednesday and again on Thursday morning. Because here on Skye many people live in small villages which are accessed by narrow roads, winding up and down steep hills and curving around the coast. Gritters don’t go to these places. Teachers get stuck. Many children travel in to school in taxis because they live up to, and sometimes over, ten miles away. Taxis get stuck too.

So Wednesday was officially a snow day. Yes, that put a stop to the plans I’d had. But it also meant we got a slow start and pancakes for breakfast, and a long walk. We went through the woods and down to the pier (Joe insists on the latter even though I’m not too keen - it’s a working pier with fishing boats and it’s not the most fragrant of places). We came home again and had hot baths and a carpet picnic, and tackled a huge jigsaw. We played snakes and ladders and Frustration (bought last year through sheer sentiment: it was a favourite in our house growing up).

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So by the time Joe went back to school late on Thursday morning I was a bit behind. Shop listings, banking, ordering workshop materials, phone calls etc. I had product photography to do and just didn’t get the chance to take those nice styled pictures of various #cornersofmyhome. In other words, the blog post I had in my head will have to remain there for now.

Other February things:

  • Reading (I’m still on Ali Smith’s Winter but also a few books I picked up in a charity shop - I’ll tell you more about those next time); we’ve just finished Roald Dahl’s Danny the Champion of the World with Joe and we’re now on Tales from the End Cottage by Eileen Bell (another charity shop find).

  • Watching mostly Netflix: The Sinner but also The Victorian House of Arts and Crafts on BBC 2 and for Joe, any number of wildlife documentaries as he’s still hugely into sea creatures. He does seem to go for ‘The World’s Most Dangerous’ type of stuff though - scorpions and sharks and so on, countdowns set to squealing electric guitars with seemingly the same gruff-voiced American man providing the narrative.

  • Eating banana bread, soup and other comfort foods, although I’m currently following a very restrictive regime. It’s known as the AIP and is supposed to help those of us unfortunate enough to have autoimmune conditions. I’ve done it before. It’s hard work and requires an awful lot of food preparation. It also means I get to sit and watch Joe and Jay indulging in pizza and pasta and the odd chocolate eclair. As I said, hard work.

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But life is still good up here. We’ve been getting outdoors as often as possible and we walk to school and back if the weather isn’t completely dreadful. At the weekend we went over to Colbost as there’s a bit of beach there with seals and Joe likes exploring. It was a bright day, not too cold considering the amount of snow still on the ground and the mountains - even the rockpools were frozen over.

We continued to Glendale which has the best village shop and post office; it looks tiny from outside but is actually Tardis-like once you go in. Joe approves because they have lots of sweets and chocolate and this time he requested an ice cream (and got one). They also sell a lot of good stuff for ingredients and more unusual things too as well as plenty of gluten and dairy-free items. And posh gin.

We headed down to Milovaig, one of those ‘edge of the world’ places here on Skye: you can look out across the sea towards the Outer Isles and watch the birds and - on this occasion - a lone seal. It’s supposed to be a good spot to see otters too but we’ve yet to see any…

It was good to be out in the sunshine, hat off and inhaling the salty air. And eating some fortifying ginger biscuits. This was, of course, before my latest attempt at the AIP.

So with Joe back at school later in the week, we had a good time getting there in the mornings. He’s fascinated by the snow and ice. He’s been taking a flask of hot soup in with his sandwiches, and wearing wellies and waterproofs in readiness for all the sliding and playing outdoors.

We’re really pleased with the school. The children had a lot of outside time in the snow, and were bringing in sledges and using animal feed sacks to whizz down the field. There was hot chocolate to warm them up too. I’m getting involved with the upcoming Eco Day and also the garden, and - very exciting - we’re lucky enough to have a headteacher who has just introduced a Forest School programme. There’s a real emphasis on outdoor learning and awareness of the natural world and it’s perfect for Joe.

In the spirit of all things nature, I’ve been making more journals. They’re monoprinted using pressed plants and flowers. It’s a bit of a process to make them, especially when I use two colours, but I’ve enjoyed using the etching press and then stitching the covers and pages together.

I was inspired to make them A5 size (rather than the usual A6) after someone bought two smaller ones and told me she was using them as nature journals. It made sense to make sure there was enough room for notes and sketches…

She also gave me some really interesting links to sites and books dedicated to nature journalling, and it’s sparked a few ideas for Joe-related activities. If you’re interested in my journals, just follow the ‘Shop’ link at the top of the page. And if you like the idea of nature journals, and use Instagram, just search perpetualjournal - you’ll find lots of inspiration.

Phew. A long post. And now it’s time to get on with other things… including buying milk. I thought today was Shrove Tuesday for some reason, and have made promises I need to honour. The snow may be melting but there’s a wind getting up out there so no escape from the woolly layers just yet. Which is fine by me - I love a jumper!