A highland fling

our wee adventure on the Black Isle


Two months of heaven

Well, we went and did it. Bought a house, moved North, enjoying ‘multi-generational living’, as they call it these days!

This is why we left our mountain home in Spain, to live together as a group, sharing the ups and downs of life. We are really enjoying seeing the girls every day as they pop through to help us with work, mess around with the dogs, and so on. And, of course, it’s great to get to know our daughter again, as an adult rather than ‘just’ our child! 

We’re living on the Black Isle in a very rural area, yet only 15 minutes from Inverness. It’s sooooo gorgeous here, trees, wildlife, a big garden — all the things Kenton and I hold dear.

There is a lot to do to make our end of the house a real home. We’ve put in separating door, and soon will be turning one of the rooms into a kitchen. We love doing that type of work! That will be followed by outdoor work come spring, adding a greenhouse, BBQ, bread oven, raised beds, and so on.

We can’t wait, and I’m sure our little helpers will make the workload lighter!


What’s everlasting life?

What a question, eh? Great minds have wrestled with this through the ages — but great mind or not, Here I go.

This post has come about because my dear friend Duncan Paton has died. Born with brittle bone disease, he was never expected to reach his 20’s, but he fooled them all! Not only did he live into his 50’s, he lived life fast and hard. He traveled everywhere. Commuted to London. Married, and divorced. Most importantly, he made friends wherever he went. IMG_1367

He wasn’t a sweet-natured man, and had quite a temper — often challenging guys to fights (with brittle bones? really?), with the result that his great friend Chris often had to wheel him to safety, at speed.

We started our very first jobs in IT together, killing ourselves at how clueless we were. We teased each other relentlessly. We went on cricket trips together, and tales of his sunburnt nostrils live on. No one could make me laugh as hard as he dI’d, or cry as quickly. IMG_1366

He called me when he found out I had breast cancer, and once again made me laugh despite myself. He called me in tears to tell me he couldn’t take the job I got him — the powers that be would take away all his aid if he earned too much money.

I’ve seen comments on Facebook about him enjoying himself next to the Big Guy. Somehow I don’t think Dunc would think much of that, but he would enjoy the joke if he’d been wrong.

My own opinion is that I think that ‘life after death’ means living on in the hearts of those who love us. Memories, taken out and enjoyed from time to time. Laughter and tears in equal measure. That’ll do me. Love ya’ Dunc.




Culture shock

So we’re back. And it’s been quite the hard landing. Yes, we decided to come back, for some very good reasons. Yes, we expected an adjustment period.

But oh my god, we didn’t expect it to be quite so hard! A month later, and we are still at loose ends, feeling like we don’t fit in. You don’t expect to feel quite so odd being back in a country you lived in for over 20 years, do you?

But odd we do feel, good readers. And lonely for our friends in Spain. And missing our glorious home on the mountain. Every Sunday, it seems, I shed tears, and if you know me well, you know how much I hate to cry.

Suffolk is a beautiful county, for sure. But there are too many people. Too many cars. It’s too expensive. And too muddy. With too many rules.

It’s our fault, I know. We’ve changed, maybe too much. Family and friends have moved on with their lives, and there’s little room for us in there.

But we won’t give up just yet. Stay we will, and we will work towards adjusting and accepting, and one day we will feel like us again.

But for today, we reserve the right to be sad.


As one era ends, another begins…

It is with much sadness, some surprise, and great expectation that I tell you that we are leaving Spain.

We made this momentous decision about a year ago. The impetus? Breast cancer. It makes you think long and hard about your life, where it is going, and what you want out of it. Kenton and I discussed this long into many nights, and decided that we really did want to be closer to family. Our granddaughters are very small, and this is the time to really get to know them. Wait till later? We will be considered a couple of friendly faces they see on FaceTime occasionally. And that’s not what we wanted.

So upping sticks we are. It’s hard. So hard. We have made such wonderful friends here, both English friends and Spanish. They all understand (Spanish truly understand that family comes first), but (knowing how much we love it here) they are shocked that we are leaving. We have one weekend left here, and there have already been so, so many tears. bye-bye

We can always change our minds, of course, as we aren’t selling the farm. We are renting out our beautiful home, farm and business to a really lovely young couple, who I expect will carry on and expand operations beyond recognition. They have the same enthusiasm as we’ve had, but … are much younger! 🙂

But truly, honestly, that is not the way we live our lives, so it’s unlikely to happen. We are looking forward to a new life, with new challenges…but oh my, if only we didn’t have to leave these wonderful people…




We always, but always, have had had 2 boxers. One dog seems to get quite lonely, and has an over reliance on the People Dogs to provide all their entertainment. Of course, 2 big boxer boys can be quite a handful, but generally, they sleep together, play together, and mostly mind their manners. Gus 1

When our dog Milo died recently, we resolved to get a puppy as soon as we felt able. We made the mistaking of waiting too long the last time, and the surviving dog went into a total grief spiral. So never again.

It’s not easy to get a puppy when your beloved dog dies. You feel disloyal, your heart hurts too much, you feel you will never again want to risk that poor, damaged heart. But you do. You do it for yourself, but mostly, you do it for the dog left behind.

So to cut a long story short, we found a lovely group of puppies, hand reared by a lovely couple. They had both the mother and the father, which was nice. It was hard to pick a puppy (why not take 2, says Kenton – ah….no, says I) but pick we did, and, 3 short weeks later, he owns us good and proper!

As the world turns…

I just noticed my last post was February, naughty me!

To be honest, I just haven’t had the heart for it. It seems to have been another one of those difficult times at Casa Tyr — is it just a getting older thing, and we can expect shitty circumstances from here on in? Or is it just another one of those things, a run of bad luck? My optimistic head says it’s the latter.

imageWe’ve had a bit of a bad run lately, for sure. Cancer still seems to be everywhere. A good friend has had his cancer return, and that felt like a punch to the gut. I feel strongly that we need to be there to help them through he difficult treatment times ahead, but here we are in Spain. A friend’s 39 year old wife recently died, leaving a husband and small daughter behind.

Our oldest dog, Milo, had a brain tumour which took him very quickly, after a couple weeks of mysterious symptoms. Our dogs are so much a part of the family that this is always hard, but Milo was something else. Smart as a whip, he joined us the year my mother and Kenton’s dad died — it truly felt like the only bright spot in a very black year. So he was special.

And yet. We have beautiful granddaughters to cherish and love. A friend’s son has a new baby. We have a new puppy for Freddie to play with. Our beloved nephew is coming to visit. Our summer garden is looking very well (gardening always makes me feel better). So bright spots that show, as Manuel always says, that everything, good and bad, is part of life.

The title of this blog? A reminder of my childhood days, when my mother would listen to her “soapies” as she cleaned. I particularly remember “As the world turns”, for its constant round of horrible events in its characters’ lives. I found it funny then, less funny when it happens to me and mine!



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It’s tater time!

They’re here, sitting in my greenhouse, gently sprouting. But they know something up, because I go in there every day, to check on progress!

Their big day is coming up soon, the day they (along with lettuces, onions, garlic and most brassicas) are planted in the garden. But not yet, little fellows, first the ground must be prepared for you, so you will have a nice home for a few months.

potatoes 2014

last June’s harvest

Then, come June, it will be time for me to get really excited, as it will be time to dig the harvest, ready for winter!

Friends, if you like to grow vegetables, but think growing prosaic items such as potatoes just isn’t worth it, think again. Once you’ve tasted the depth of flavour in home-grown, you’ll never go back.