Equinox

Equinox

equinox

frog

frogspawn

Since my last post we are no longer looking for signs of Spring, instead we’ve been admiring the yellow daffodils for a couple of weeks, plenty of wild garlic, though not big enough to pick, yet, and too many shoots to name.

We celebrated the equinox by planting seeds, made wax egg candles, dyed some eggs and attempted to reach the top of Conic Hill, but only got to about a third. The day before Easter I made a wee willow basket to serve as a nest, you tube is amazing!

half way Conic Hill

a nice friendly Giant

gorse

 

After New Years eve we felt a shift, well,  me and Paul did. Before December 31st, whenever people asked me “when are you going?”, the answer would be: next year! But after Hogmanay I realized, it IS this year! In nine, eight, seven months… not that I’m counting!

Sometimes it’s so hard to explain, I’m mean, IT IS hard to explain, this yearning, desire, but mostly, need for a simpler life, more connected to the outdoors, to nature… so much to be said, one day I will write it all down, for now it’s all bubbling inside.

Anyway, so after that realization that it is happening this year, we have been getting ready; giving away or selling things we no longer use or need, and things that we are kind of essential but we don’t really need, like drawers for example. the children’s clothes are now stored in plastic tubs and next it’ll be ours. It is still a few months away but the idea is to get us all used to this system, so that this will become the familiar to make for a easier transition, or so I hope that it’ll help.

Before I was just excited, now I’m a bit scared too, which curiously I think is a good thing! I think it means I’m not just being a romantic, but more realistic.

 

 

 

Signs of Spring

Today is Imbolc day, and so we left the house with a mission: to find signs of Spring.

Sure enough we found some, but also made me realize if we do decide to stay in Portugal or somewhere else, this might just be the last time we experience Spring this way! And of course, when you live in a place for ten years, raised a family and connected with the natural world in a deep way, there is something magical, definite and sad about it!

After the park we went to the shops, hail stones fell, my hands were freezing from being exposed to the elements, the wind was bitterly; and at that moment I didn’t feel that sad anymore… But that is Scotland.

 

First shoots of Daffodils

signs of spring

Daffodils and Jack-by-hedge

signs of spring

Elder

signs of spring

It always impresses me the way daffodils use their mighty strength lift the dead leaves to make it throw

signs of spring

 

Snow drops and I think ground elder

signs of spring

Wherever my daughter goes, she finds something wild to eat, and it was her who first spotted this first shoots of wild garlic; before we know it we’ll be eating wild garlic pesto!

signs of spring

Playing “don’t step on the snow drops”

signs of spring

signs of spring

Joining in the wonder!

signs of spring

I think this might be blue bells; the flowers come in around May but this is a spot where we’ve seen them in previous years

signs of spring

Coll

Coll is this small island in the Inner Hebrides, and it’s amazing! Nine hours of travel totally worth it!

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Those tiny silver spots near the middle rock are seals, they were so close!

A big Thank you to the weather for giving us beautiful days to explore the islands and the sea around it, and, of course, to dear friends for taking us in the first place!

The West Highland Way

WHW

WHW

WHW

WHW

WHW

WHW

WHW

About four weeks ago I was talking with a friend about her experience on long distance walking. A few days after that conversation, I realized that was exactly what I needed to do! And this being Scotland what better walk than the West Highland Way?

After doing some research, I decided to do it in seven days and sleep in Hostels or bunk houses. I would recommend booking accommodation a few weeks before you go, unlike me, as you might not get to stay exactly where you want. One day I had to take the bus from Kingshouse to Glen Coe Village because there was no accommodation at Kingshouse stage, and another day had to book a four person cabin because the others were all taken. I bought this book, but to be honest you can get all the information you need online.  The book however, has little extras, like plants and detailed maps that were useful, and I enjoyed reading about each stage without giving to much away. I also had this map on hand because I didn’t really liked the maps on the book and I tucked it on the waist straps, so I didn’t need to stop to look at it.

Something that I really appreciate about this walk, besides the scenery, is that its very well  signposted, making it very easy for someone like me, a novice or stranger to navigation, possible to complete it. Additionally I think that it has enough challenges to really feel like an achievement, but never felt impossible to complete it, even without any training before hand. I wouldn’t recommend that thou, because my knee suffered a little, after the long stretch from Rowardennan to Crianlarich, but it’s possible, even for someone who is not that fit…

I did it alone, but never felt alone or scared for tackling something like this on my own. Of course I did it this way because I was looking for the solitude , but at the same time was grateful for it to be a busy walk, both with day walkers or people walking the 154 km. On the whole I found myself alone for long periods of time, but felt safe enough that if something had happen to me, someone would pass at some point.

Another of the most asked questions is about midges… to which I don’t have much to say. If you do it at this time of the year, you either have rain or midges, there is no way around it. I had a homemade spray (and oil, but I gave that away to someone who had nothing and was camping) to keep those annoying critters away, which helped a little… You just have to keep moving, get the food out of the bag as soon as possible and keep walking, or sit in a windy spot, that helps too.

I loved it! It was an amazing experience and miss it every single day…

Lochwinnoch

Lochwinnoch is an RSPB nature reserve of wetland, with a bird-watching visitor center, and nature trails. They also have the best children’s play park I’ve seen and you can request equipment for pond dipping.  It’s only 20 minutes from Glasgow Central station, but it feels worlds away.

We go often and in any season, but the best time to visit, is probably in Spring and Summer because there are so many birds and plants to see! Having said that, I remember being there in Winter, with the children and we still enjoyed. We spent less time walking and more time inside the visitor center, but the view is beautiful and we saw some amazing birds we migrated from Iceland, with the binoculars, which is very exciting for them!

Last Wednesday, we were there once more. It was a very nice Spring day, mu older children stayed mainly in the play park with friends, while I went for a walk. We saw a swan on a nest and I loved seeing the primroses in flowers, so many plants  growing and a lot of bird activity! On the way to the train they got very excited about the flowering strawberries…

lochwinnoch

lochwinnoch

lochwinnoch

lochwinnoch

lochwinnoch

lochwinnoch

lochwinnoch

lochwinnoch

lochwinnoch

lochwinnoch

lochwinnoch

lochwinnoch

lochwinnoch

Lochwinnoch

Lochwinnoch

Lochwinnoch

lochwinnoch

warm Spring

beach day

beach day

This Spring has been unusually warm and dry; we are enjoying it immensely really, with high doses of vitamin D, beach goings, gardening and even short sleeves (for short periods of time, but still)!

At the same time, in the garden,  there are patterns that are repeated, no matter how warm it is, some years later, some earlier, but Spring nonetheless.

My windows are once more turned into a green house. I start seedlings at home, where I can water them more frequently than in the allotment, then plant them into bigger pots and take them to the communal polytunnel in the allotment, this year I won’t have a space (something that I want to write more about later).

seedling

seedling

seedling

Sowing peas (thank you to Paul for these pictures)

peas

peas

and potatoes,

planting potatoes

planting potatoes

and of course, we can’t speak of Spring and not mention a flowering cherry tree.

cherry tree

bumble bee