Sunday, October 29, 2017

Autumn Road Trip

The thing about a road trip post is that it can either  turn into a primary school “what I did on my holiday” composition, or  it’s just an endless stream of photographs. A bit like when neighbours used to pop round with their Kodak paper envelopes filled with snaps from their fortnight in Blackpool. And - there’s no getting away from either here...

We started off in Inverness. Then there was 

Beautiful grandchildren 
A trip to a knitting festival 
Cool haircuts

Then we moved down to the Central Belt where there was

More beautiful grandchildren 

And I 

Visited Glasgow to try on mother of the groom outfits (didn’t get anything). 
Had long coffee stops and lunches. 
Went to Ikea
Visited a friend hadn’t seen in almost 20 years. (Was just as if I had seen her last week)

And then

We moved over to Edinburgh 
Saw an exhibition at the Potrait Gallery 
Enjoyed being in the city in Autumn 
Did more shopping- foody things mostly
Ate good food (not pictured)
Ate junk food (pictured)

We had a great time. Then we came home. Xx

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Ways of being

Sometimes I laugh a lot
Sometimes I trip along quite happily, with a slight uneasiness hovering around.
Sometimes grief sneaks up and catches me unawares. 
Sometimes I actively invite grief in.

Mostly I am fine 

All of the above are perfectly acceptable ways of being.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Random garden pickings

I love the bloom on red cabbage leaves - and those delicate veins tracing their way into every part of the surface - and how the water rolls around like silver glass beads. It's almost poetry.

These tomatoes are growing so abundantly. The branches are weighed down with fruits. I've never had such a good crop. They are just starting to show some colour too.

You know how you have a memorable meal - one that you conjure up in your mind when you are hungry? That "desert island dish" that sustains and nourishes you by just remembering it? Mine was about 15 years ago in the old cafeteria in the Louvre Museum, Paris. Chips, slices of ham and green beans turned in butter with garlic. There may have been a sauce, but those garlicky beans - oh yes...

Strawberries are where it all began. In my grandfather's garden. He had a vast strawberry patch - actually it probably wasn't that huge, but I remember it that way.  The taste of stolen sun warmed berries is my first garden memory. That and curly parsley.

I was very taken by the cheeky wee faces of these osteospermums nodding in the breeze. It's nice to grow things that make you smile. 

I have an ever expanding clump of elecampane down by the gate. I always forget about it until suddenly I see a thousand tiny suns glowing in the corner. The flower buds are so cool - they look as if they are about to spiral outwards into space and form galaxies and planetary systems, which I guess is essentially what happens. There is something very elemental about elecampane...

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Checking in

A quick hello from the home renovation trenches. I'm about to hit another peak in this roller-coaster ride I've been on since March. What looked on paper to be a few simple alterations and refurbishments, have totally taken over our lives, not to mention every room in the house. I think there could be the faintest pinpoint of light at the end of this tunnel, so I'm aiming for that. Meanwhile I have what seems to be about 5 miles of woodwork to finish glossing and a few acres of wallpaper to scrape before tomorrow, so better drink that tea and get moving. xx

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Oh Canada...

We went to Canada.

Exactly a year ago, we set off on our first inter-continental journey to visit my sister and her family. It was a daunting prospect - multiple stages, overnight stays, meetups with relatives in airport cafes in between flights - finding our way through the maze of terminals at Heathrow, but, miraculously, everything worked out and we arrived safely. It was wonderful and different, and yet so familiar. I hadn't seen my niece or nephews since they were teens, and here they were all grown up with jobs and partners and homes of their own - how I loved the adults they have become. It was good to spend time with my sister and brother-in law in their beautiful home in the woods. I spent many hours sitting outside chatting to my sister - catching up with where we are, and looking back at where we've been.

We did amazing things - sightseeing, eating, shopping, relaxing in stunning surroundings, and just celebrating being there. My daughter, son in law and grandchildren came over to join us half way through our trip. By then, I had screwed up my courage, hired a car and hit those freeways. That was a major achievement for me, I can tell you. The magical summer continued - picnics by the lake, flip-flops, barbecues, sitting out late on the back porch, and a never to be forgotten road trip to Niagara Falls. It was all so special - every moment.

It was the first big and really new thing we had done without John. And how he would have loved it.  It was sad to think that we were making memories that he wasn't going to be part of - but I guess that in itself brought him along. I wondered if I might have taken more of a back seat - literally - if he had been there. Would I have driven the 401 in my flip-flops? I don't know, but I did it, clinging on to that steering wheel in terror and desperately keeping track of all those traffic lanes!

It feels a bit like a betrayal somehow - this sense of enjoyment - this expansion of myself, when he is no longer here.  And I think that is the point - it is my Self that needs to expand into the space left by my husband, It is a place that contains him and the love we had for each other. Not moving on and leaving him behind, but using what we created in our life together to move forward - flip-flops and all.

But - Oh Canada - we loved you and we will be back. xx

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Feeling my way.


If the path before you is clear, you are probably on someone else's.

                                                                                                                        (J. Campbell)

So - where to start - what to say? I really don't know what I want to do with the blog this time around. Everything has changed and yet it all seems much the same. What made me log on, last week, type a few words and hit the publish button? Not a clue - and yet, here I am, sitting in front of this screen again. I guess I will just have to keep going and see where I end up. It might be a bit of a disjointed mish-mash (very like that metaphor), but I'm really just feeling my way right now, so thank you for bearing with me.

It's over two years since John died. I miss him.

James and I are still here, with no plans to move anywhere else. We are ok. We have been living in a kind of bubble really - just getting through the days as best we can. We now have a puppy, a rescue barn cat, and we are renovating the house. I had a lot of work done on the garden last year. We have been to Canada and Norway. I have a new grandson. My elder son and his fiancee are getting married in less than a year. I have so much to be thankful for  - so much to look forward to.

My first year as a widow was hard - but in a way, I was protected by the numbness that accompanied the grief. We faced all those first times, and were relieved to 'get them out of the way'. I felt the loss of his presence every single day, so I was surprised at how difficult it was when we faced the first big anniversary - a whole year without him. I thought it was just another day, like all the other 364, but it was different. Almost as if my body knew something had happened on that day and needed me to properly acknowledge it.

This year was equally hard, in a different way. It is harsher, somehow - more real. I've had more days when I have felt utterly alone. I think probably because I have been moving on with day to day life, dealing with the problems and decisions that come with that. I am more confined to home too, as I need to be around for James. Most of the time, I am fine - I've always liked my own company, and I'm not lonely. There is a difference.

Coming up to the two year anniversary was sad. It seemed as if I remembered the events of John's last few weeks with such clarity, almost reliving them, moment by moment in my mind. I recalled things I hadn't thought about before in amazing detail. The difference this time was that I knew what the ending was going to be...

So, that's in in a nutshell really, those last couple of years.  I'll keep drifting on for now, although I do feel stronger, and a bit more purposeful lately. I know I glossed over a few happenings there - new babies, puppies and kittens - I'll get back to those in a future post, once I get back into my stride. Meanwhile, thank you all so much for such a lovely welcome. It felt good to be back.

Sunday, June 4, 2017


What country, Friends, is this?

                                  (W. Shakespeare)

So - two years have passed. It's been a hard, intense and sad stage of my journey. I think I can just see the faintest shadow of a coastline out there on the horizon. I wasn't prepared for this voyage, so, obviously I have no map or compass to hand. I have no idea what the terrain of this unknown land is going to be - whether I will find smooth white sands, or jagged rocks. Will I rise serenely from the surf like Botticelli's Venus, or drag myself painfully over the shingle? What else will wash up beside me on the shore? I don't know. But, here I am. I feel the tide beginning to turn and it is pulling me back in.

Land Ahoy.... 

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Letting go

It's been about 6 weeks since I last posted. In truth, I don't quite know how to start, or what to say. I've been writing every day, in my journal, trying to navigate my way through this maze of grief. Sometimes the way is clear, but then I hit a wall, and have to stay still for a while. I haven't felt that I wanted to share this - it's very personal and too deep to explain, and not at all photogenic. 
What I will say is that I am ok. I am getting out and about, seeing friends and family, moving gently back into the community. I am looking after myself: living slowly, keeping fit, eating well, getting out in the fresh air, simple stuff, really.
Letting go - yes there has been a bit of that - limiting the "shoulds" and "have tos" as much as I can. I'm grateful that I have been able to take the time to be - and to become a widow. Oh, it's taken a while to use that word. It comes from a Sanskrit word, vidh, which means void, and I feel that void very deeply. I need to learn how to live with it.
James is well. Many of you have been wondering - thank you. I am so glad of him - pragmatic and clever, already with his father's dry sense of humour. He is indeed a blessing.
And that letting go? I'm afraid The Barefoot Crofter blog is one of the things I am surrendering. I've thought a lot about it, and I believe it has run its course. I began with such hopes and dreams, and many of them came true. I wouldn't have changed anything, except the last two years. 
But I am where I am now, and I need to find my new path, wherever it leads. I want to thank everyone who has taken time out of their lives to read my words, to comment and to send love and prayers. I have made many good friends, in this space - real life and online. My heart has been filled up with the love and blessings sent by you all. I am truly grateful for everything. 
I will be around on Instagram, and if you want to contact me by email, do drop me a line (although I may be quite slow to respond) - the links are on the sidebar. 
So - I wish you all every blessing and much love. And thank you xxx

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Daft Days

It's the end of the holidays. The decorations are put away, the greenery has been burned before it turns into goblins, and there is a just perceptible lengthening of the daylight.
Wehad a quiet New Year. It was harder than I thought. I remembered that this time last year, we thought John's cancer was stable, and we might even have another Christmas together. Sadly not to be...

But still, we had a cosy time, not moving far from the fireside. The Northern Lights put on a spectacular display for Hogmanay - better than any fireworks, and Kristine and Breagha came to visit for a couple of days. 
I've not made any specific resolutions - just a vague plan of things I might want to do - decorating, garden, that sort of thing. We have our big Canadian trip coming up in the summer, and the usual visits to family. James would like a puppy, and I'm a bit tempted, but I'm holding out for now. 

I'm really not up for planning too much. I still feel like I need to stay in my cave for a while. Sometimes I think that my body hasn't caught up with my head yet. I still rush around on automatic pilot, and I've had a couple of falls which were nearly serious. Luckily I escaped with only minor injuries, but I've got the message. I'm taking time this year to nurture myself - to feel grounded. 

I've been thinking too, that I'm running out of steam on the blog front. I don't want to stop blogging, but I'm finding it harder to keep going. I might take a wee step back - post a bit less - maybe just share some of my self nurturing ideas? Yes, I reckon that could work - at least it means that I will slow down and pay some attention to myself. 

Thank you all again for your loving support, and for staying with me as I try to work out this rhythm. James and I would like to wish you and your families every blessing for the New Year xxx

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Christmas postcards

Hope you are all appreciating these days of Christmas. We had a lovely time visiting a certain beautiful granddaughter.
A tiny fall of snow made for a magical Christmas Eve, and we enjoyed a quiet and relaxed few days. Stormy weather meant that the return ferry was cancelled, but that was fine - we didn't feel quite ready to go home at that point. 
Back on our own island now, my thoughts are turning slowly towards the new year, and all that means for me now.
Wishing you all the best for 2016. xxx


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