New rhythms to life

For all sorts of reasons, I find I haven’t written a blog for weeks. The month of October slipped into November quietly… and Charlie and I have found ourselves in a new rhythm, that takes in both Dorset and Scotland – both are moving into deep Autumn. It’s strange looking at photos from only a few weeks ago, in the change season – and realising how much shifts so quickly. That’s one of the reasons I love the blog; it forms a sort of visual diary for me. You can compare this year to last, and last year to the ones before; the same themes repeat, now, again and again, threads that run quite long now… as you’ll see, right at the end.


October 25th

So, back in October, we made a trip north for a long weekend. The light, as always, was heavenly, the weather constantly shifting and changing.  Here was the first evening I arrived:

I find in Scotland that the eye focuses on the small, slow things – look at the birds in the centre of this picture… 

A walk up the hill, looking down to the bothy and the cottage.

And climbing a little higher – looking across to Jura. 

Family portrait:

Sunrise the following morning…  When we were first looking for a little house to buy in Scotland, I’d dreamed of a west coast facing house, to get the evening light sinking into the sea. Now I realise – not least in some of the freezing mornings we’ve had – how wonderful it is to have the east light, the first warmth of the sun at daybreak. I’m rather happy at how life worked out there. 

Here are the two little houses together:

This, too, is a useful photograph to explain the set up. The one on the left has our kitchen, which is very, very basic indeed. The one on the right has our sitting room and bedroom. There’s no running water, and no bathroom, just a compost loo, and it all works very, very well indeed. 

People often ask if we  are going to join the two houses together. For me that feels a funny suggestion, not least because of the trees and the all-important route up the hill, but also, wouldn’t it be a massive house then? Which completely defeats the object…!

It was a morning of flat stillness on the Crinan canal. 


October 27th

And then a week passes, and we are in Dorset, rich in autumn.

The last of the dahlias that week, really….

Charlie took his pumpkins out of the church, having finished their duty for the harvest supper a few weeks earlier.  The only way to get them out without 4 people lifting was to chop them up. 

The compost heap. 

Jewel tones….


November 2nd

Leaves are falling hard now, after powerful – indeed tragic – storms ripped through Dorset the night before.  We’d driven down to Dorset that evening – Charlie’s father, Gordon, and Sally, were with us from New Zealand, and on the Friday, we’d had a sad but moving day – my father’s memorial service, in the chapel, at Greenwich. A beautiful and emotional time, perfectly reflected in the season. 

Looking down the valley to the old farm. 

The elegy of old park railings:

That night, bonfire and fireworks with Jasper and Oisin at Bettiscombe. Bowls of soup and lots of laughter with many old friends. 


November 8th

And then, a few days later, to Scotland again. I met Gordon and Sally in Edinburgh, and we had the most serene drive through the Trossachs, totally still air, cold brilliant sunshine.  We drove through Inveraray as the sun was beginning to go down…

And arrived at our loch at sunset – the sea was mirror flat. 

The cottage had never looked warmer and more inviting than that evening – the dogs waiting for us at the gate. 

We had a brilliant time in Scotland, and I’ve had the busiest week since – I stopped in both County Durham and Yorkshire on the train journey down; Cornwall the next morning; back to London. Shall I sneak in mention of my birthday too? We said farewell to Gordon and Sally on Thursday night; on Friday morning, it was off to work early and with gentle relief I made my way to Waterloo for the train to Dorset on Friday afternoon. It was a social club night in the village hall – brilliant fun, but more importantly, good that for once we didn’t all go completely mental.

Charlie is putting the garden to bed now; the leaves are off the trees; autumn feels as if she is shifting into winter. The evenings draw in and the mornings are late. It’s one of my favourite times of year.

A frost this morning, but roses are still flowering.
First light. 

The dahlias are all to bed now. 

We had our friends Will and Brandon staying yesterday evening, and today we went for a beautiful walk on Eggardon Hill – the place that started it all, for this blog, on the 15th May, 2009.  Ten years ago. How much changes – but how much stays the same. 

And we came back down via Wynford Eagle, and the dreamiest Jacobean Manor House in the whole of Dorset….

And lunch in the pub, and the laziest afternoon at home, watching episode after episode of the Crown (did you?). And so a month passes by, but in a sense, a decade too. Old stories and new adventures.

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