A highland fling

our wee adventure on the Black Isle


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.



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!


Another year, another Christmas

Isn’t it scary how fast time passes? I remember my mother saying

the older you get, the faster time goes

which, of course, I thought was absolutely mad!

It turns out (unsurprisingly) that she was right. Don’t you remember those childhood days, laying on the floor and staring up at your family Christmas tree, just aching to have those days until the Big Day pass more quickly? How slowly the days of school went, yet how quickly the summer holidays passed?

And now, time seems to go so quickly. The days, weeks and months whiz by. All of a sudden, I’m a year older, and it’s almost the end of 2015. Last year this time, I was pretty miserable, as I had 2 chemo sessions during the holidays – and wasn’t sure what state I’d be in come the next Christmas.

xmas 2015

Way-hey, it’s Christmas!

But here I am, ticking along, doing well. We have our friends’ goodie bags all ready to delivery this evening, and all the gifts are under the tree.

I feel so thankful to be here, to be healthy, and to have my darling husband and funny boxer dogs here to hug and cuddle me. I have a great daughter, a fantastic son-in-law and 2 perfect granddaughters to give me purpose. Hopefully in the future we’ll be spending every Christmas together, which is about as good as it gets.

Merry Christmas!

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Getting ready for Christmas

We have made a list and checked it twice! The tree is up, the Lujos gifties are made for friends, the presents are mostly wrapped and under the tree.

We have plans to go to Malaga Christmas Eve for a bit of light retail therapy, then some food shopping and lunch, then see the lights. Malaga’s lights are absolutely fabulous – I’ll try to remember to take photos!

Anyway, my friends, one of the jobs today was to do my usual Christmas newsletter, but somehow a video just seemed more appropriate.


Want great skin? Use soap!

Today I bring to you shocking news – soap is great for your skin, including the tender skin on your face!

Ladies, I know that many of you tell me you never let soap touch your skin, as it makes it feel tight and dry. Yes, that’s right, I’d reply – most commercial soap will do that.

Glycerin has always been a natural by-product of the soap-making process. In the late 19th century, it became commercially viable to draw the glycerin from the soap, using a somewhat complicated procedure usually involving salt. Most commercial manufacturers since then have taken the glycerin out of their soap, and used it in their other, more profitable products, such as lotions and creams. Why? Well, because then they don’t have to buy in the glycerin!

Small manufacturers of hand-crafted soap don’t do this. We leave the glycerin in each and every bar of our soap. Check out the information on the Lujos website for more information on the goodness of our soap ingredients.

Lujos soap curing  - Lavender & Bits (photo by Kenton Smith)

Lujos soap curing – lavender & Bits (photo by Kenton Smith)

Why should you care? Well, glycerin is a humectant, meaning that it draws moisture to your skin. If you use a hand-crafted bar on soap, your skin won’t feel tight and dry after washing – it will feel cleansed and soft.

So don’t be afraid to use soap, even on your face. Do make sure you use a high-quality, hand-crafted bar of soap, however – and as always, check out the ingredients for yourself!


What does it mean to be ‘raised Christian’ ??

I admit, my mind works in mysterious ways! I have no idea why I am thinking of such a controversial subject today – just am! I guess after reading about the varied fights between Christians/Muslims/Jews in various combinations, in various parts of the world, it made me think about the big R – Religion.

Shortly after I’d been to my mother’s funeral, I was sitting having a meal with an extended member of the family. We were chatting away, when all of a sudden s/he said

I just don’t know how someone can live with themselves if they don’t raise their child in a Christian household

Well, gee – as I was the only one there, who was s/he referring to with that comment? I was gob-smacked. Not only did his/her timing suck (Right after my mother died? Really?), what right does anyone have to say that to me?

You’d be proud of me. I didn’t explode. I didn’t rant and rage. I was cool and calm.

Well, I said, I agree. But what does ‘Christian’ mean? Can it not mean raising a child with proper values and love, setting a good example, trying to do the right thing?

As for the other part, the God part, no, I didn’t do that. Personally, I think serious decisions like that should be made by adults, when you can decide for  yourself. If it’s a true story, then you shouldn’t have to promise to indoctrinate your children. But that’s just me. No hate mail, please.

Religion is something (I believe) that we have to decide for ourselves. If someone does not believe, who are we to criticise? Doesn’t it say something in the Bible about not casting the first stone?

Intolerance, and the ‘one true story’ idea fits with the modern trend of ‘if you’re not like me, you’re wrong’.

If there is a God, I don’t think he’d like that very much.