It’s mid-February, and just as I’ve been getting my home ready with more springtime-like décor, and putting away the last of the remnants of the winter season, guess what? It has started to snow!
Yes, the snow that didn’t fall here over Christmas time is beginning to fall now in not-so-sunny Scotland. We had expected storms, rain and lashing wind, all of which we got, but for me at least, the snow was a surprise. It’s lovely to watch from indoors, especially as just now it’s quite calm with no wind, so I guess we just may as well make the most of the prettiness before having to step into the great outdoors once again, and before the weekend’s forecast storm sets in!
Life births, buds, blossoms and blooms, and eventually withers and fades, with the hope (if you should so choose) of resurrection and new life once again.
In all the seasons of our lives we spend much time thinking of ‘what’s next’, or looking back either regretfully or with fond nostalgia. How often though, do we simply enjoy and live the life we are living? Not often enough, I would say.
Let me tell you an interesting fact. One of this year’s winners of The Grammy Awards, Nicola Benedetti, the now world famous violinist, is someone who I went to the same youth orchestra as when I was quite young, and in high school. I didn’t know her personally but I saw her and her sister around from time to time, but our paths never crossed on a personal level. It’s wonderful that she has accomplished her dreams. Before you get any wrong ideas about me or my skill levels with music, I admit, like many other of the youngsters there I was perhaps painfully average at the violin and that was fine by me. It was never such a passion of mine, nor did I have any particular natural talent. My passion back then was writing, literature and anything creative.
Alas, I digress. The point is, some people do ‘make it big’. They have a talent, and work relentlessly hard to hone and perfect their craft and turn it into a skill, and doors open for them some way or another, to be able to share their gifts with the world. That’s really quite special and perhaps rare for most of us ‘pilgrims, poets and dreamers’ (c) who live comparatively average lives.
Some people become stars, and others gaze up at the stars, longingly, and either way that is ok, because each individual is special and each life, however humble, is of immense worth whether or not we feel we have any talents or gifts to share, since simply being is enough. You are a person of worth. That means you are a person of worth whether you are playing on a world stage or sleeping rough on the streets, nothing can erase that Truth.
So, where was I? Yes, daydreaming. 🙂 Whether you have or have had dreams of something or another, or whether you feel you don’t have anything particularly exceptional to offer, remember to stay interested in the things that interest you.
You might be working hard like Nicola Benedetti to hone your talents and do remarkable things, or you might simply enjoy creating an occasional sketch, doodling, colouring in, cross-stitch, model making, creating music of your own, writing poems, reading literature. If it is a more humble path, that is perfectly ok, and it is a gift in itself. Don’t get so caught up in the ‘never’ or the ‘not yet’ or the ‘then’ that you miss the little gifts of life right now.
Most people who become famous by default, and not for the sake of fame, have been pursuing a passion, something they intrinsically enjoy, and working and training to become even more highly skilled at it.
In a world of goals and achievements and accomplishments and ‘fame’, don’t forget the simple joys of being absorbed in the simple pursuits of happiness that you love.
Stay interested in your life, it is pretty remarkable too, y’know? 🙂 . x
This morning, Monday 18th November 2019, I awoke to what feels like the first day of winter this year. I have been enjoying the beauty of the autumn season, and anticipating winter, and it seems to have arrived on my doorstep all of a sudden!
Last night I was blessed to watch a glorious sunset over the city, as the sky exploded into a golden orange, a sight I rarely see most days, and the buildings across the skyline stood as stark black silhouettes against the backdrop of colour.
At 5pm, I remarked to my parents as I spoke to them on the phone how suddenly the evening had fallen into black, almost as if a switch had been turned off, and it was night.
This morning I awoke to a beautiful sun rising in the east over the city, on the opposite side of my view from last night. I very rarely see such vibrant sunrises and sunsets, perhaps because of my location, when I’m at work, or the timings that I am able to look out the window, but the evening and the morning brought me a vibrant treat.
I could see the hills and mountains in the far distance. I got my camera, opened my window slightly and took a picture of the sunrise. The air was colder, icy, and so fresh and clean. Perhaps you think that is unusual for a city, but I live quite high up where the air may be clearer.
I shut the window, as much as the air was fresh, it was very cold, and as I looked down through the glass I noticed the first real frost of the season. Not snow, but a drizzling of soft white powder upon the tops of cars, and dustings of it upon the grass, the roads had iced a little too and all of a sudden the once beautifully arrayed with golden autumn leaved trees had turned to sparse twigged statues.
Winter had arrived! There would be snow on the tops of the mountains in the far distance. You could see the air from people’s breath. The tops of fir trees looked like Christmas trees.
As I walked to work, I noticed the sudden chill. In the breath of a morning, winter had arrived, so suddenly, not unexpected, but without any doubt that autumn had passed and a new season begun.
I couldn’t help but smile to myself as I walked to work. The pavement was patterned by icy leaves, embedded onto its surface. Such simple beauty, but ordinarily spectacular! The trees around me were also twig like and as I walked, leaves fluttered continuously to the ground, drizzling themselves upon the golden heap of leaves that had fallen before them. Now the roads and pavements were more beautiful and mesmerising than the trees themselves!
As I arrived in my office room at work, encased with tall glass windows on two sides, I stepped into an ice-box. But what a beautiful ice box to step into! Sun shone gently in as I pulled up the blinds and the glass greeted me with an enchanting lacy picture of snowflake patterns that glinted in the sunlight. The tall fir trees across the road are dusted with white, which will soon melt in the snow, but they reach up in praise to their Creator, and already sing of Christmas as they stand tall, deep dark green and authoritative against a gentle pale blue winter sky.
Sun shines through gaps in the trees lower down, a smaller, pretty, more delicate little tree, and its golden leaves flutter and fall continuously like glitter to the ground.
I pray for those for whom the crisp, fresh, cold air and these beautiful wintery scenes are not so much of a delight to them as a threat to their survival. Those for whom the cold is painful, and those who may not make it through the night. I hope you will pray for and reach out to them too, for together we can do far more than any of us can do alone.
This is a beautiful, sensitive yet stark season, filled with contrasts, filled with wonder. The leaves are falling all around us, creating beautiful piles of gold dust on the ground, and yet for some the mid-winter will be bleak, as frosty wind makes moan.
Winter heralds in a greater Light, a Warmth, Comfort and Joy – the Promise Hope and Peace of the Saviour, the Messiah Jesus Christ – the One Who came to the poor, the homeless, the cold, hungry, needy, downtrodden, hopeless and downcast. He came to the rich, the self sufficient, the spiritually blind and proud as well. He came for us all, to bring Forgiveness and New Life to any and all who will turn to Him, no matter who we are, where we are from or what we have or have not done. So no matter whether this winter is beautiful or bleak for you and yours, there is a certain Hope, for us all – if we would but humble our hearts and receive Him.
Some small Christmas markets and stalls have popped up early in my city; I went for a wander down to see them this afternoon, it was fairly busy, a bit cold, buy boy did the food smell good – I didn’t buy anything, just browsing, but still it is quite special to take in the atmosphere.
For me, most years I’ll stay at home during this time of year after I finish up at work for the year. I’ll visit family and friends as many of us do. Sometimes I’ll take a couple of days to go on a ‘mini adventure’ to maybe see some friends in the same country, or perhaps take a mini break to somewhere in mainland Europe. This year I have a six day trip (including all of the travel time) to somewhere in Europe….I’ll leave that as a surprise so that you can enjoy my ‘photo diary’ and travel adventures later on.
I didn’t get a summer holiday this year because certain plans fell through, however it left me with 9 days annual leave to use up before the end of the year, and it wasn’t looking likely that I’d get the chance to go somewhere sunny (maybe next year I’ll get some sunshine – it is in short supply here in Scotland ! 😉 ), so instead I’m off for a wee festive adventure to somewhere equally cold, I presume….I’ll blog about that towards the middle of December after I’ve returned.
Some people, however, like to leave the Christmas postcard scenes behind and jet off to sunnier climes. I know a woman who has family in Australia and she will go and visit them there. My boss and his wife this year are going to Hong Kong and Thailand later in November, to be back in time for Christmas. I can’t quite afford to do that at the moment, but even just going somewhere not too far, whether to visit friends and family in a neighbouring town or city, to take a weekend away in a hotel, to go on a city break or a theatre break, to take a few days abroad but not too far away, or to head off further afield – it can be nice to have a bit of an adventure before settling in for the cosier ‘at home’ days as the year draws to a close.
Or maybe you are a full time traveller? What will you be doing? Do you have any winter adventures planned, and what will they look like?
For those of you who stay closer to home, do you like the idea of a few days off to go on a mini adventure before doing all the ‘homely’ stuff, or does the thought of planning and organising that add to your stress?
Although I didn’t get much of a break this summer, other than going for a couple of long weekend trips to visit friends and family, it is kind of nice to have a Christmas adventure planned, as I just love this season.
I have always wondered whether Christmas in New York would be as lovely as it seems on the movies, and I think I might just add that to my ‘bucket list’ of adventures to go on in the future. What about those of you who live there or who have experienced Christmas in New York as a holiday? Would you recommend it, and if so what would be your highlights? It does make me think of ‘Home Alone’ which is one of those great Christmas holiday films full of nostalgia and fun.
I hope whatever adventures you go on, or whether you stay closer to home, that you get the rest, refreshing and new perspective that you need this year. x
It’s mid-November, and already the Christmas markets have gone up in my city. There are food stalls representing a variety of countries, chocolate stalls, crafts, clothes and woodwork for sale. You can hear uplifting and fun music, and feel the warmth from the freshly cooked food, and smell delicious sweet treats like chocolate covered churros, waffles and crepes.
No doubt it will get a lot busier as we near Christmas, so why not visit a Christmas market a little earlier and beat the crowds (although where there is yummy smelling food and desserts, the crowds will be there anyway, but hopefully a little less busy).
Even if you do go when it’s busiest, still there is something really nostalgic, cosy and festive about including a visit to some Christmas markets into your diary.
Try to remember those on the fringes of society as you walk past, enjoying the atmosphere with your friends. Maybe you could buy a homeless person a hot drink or something warm to eat and give it to them as you pass by, I am sure it will be a welcome offering.
Do you have Christmas markets near where you live, or do you have to travel to a nearby town or city to visit them? Have you ever gone abroad to visit some Christmas markets? If so, which are your favourites and recommendations? Do you enjoy including a visit to a Christmas market to your holiday festivities, or do you prefer to avoid them altogether?
I have some exciting adventures planned that may involve Christmas markets, but not any of them nearby, so keep a look out for my posts on that later on in December! 🙂 x
These are some pictures from Christmas markets I visited in 2016 in Scotland:
At this time of the year, the days are growing shorter and darkness sets in a lot earlier. It can be oh so tempting to spend most of our days inside, however, our bodies still need whatever sunlight we can get and while the days are still light, and reasonably temperate, my encouragement is to make the most of that by stepping outside whenever we can. It’s early November, and here although we have rainy and windy days, they are also interspersed with days like today where it is calm, still, and reasonably bright, albeit a little cold.
The ‘Brits’ are probably well known for talking about the weather a lot, but it’s probably because things are so changeable over here. We can’t be guaranteed sun in the summer, and when it comes, we all get very excited about it. In Scotland, like Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’, these can often occur in one day!
At the moment, we are blessed with some crisp, cold, sometimes even bright autumnal days. I need to remind myself to make the most of these, to not spend an entire Saturday indoors, but to go for a walk while I still can, to wander down to the park and to enjoy the wildlife. It is beautiful, and so good for us to take in a bit of nature and breathe in some fresh air. Bearing in mind the winter seasons here often bring with them wilder weather, lashing rain and wind, and even snow, I really ought to enjoy as much ‘outside time’, even if that means a simple short walk, while I can.
It is good not only for the body, but also for those of us who have to work at our mental health, whether that may be depression, anxiety or some other condition, it is good also for the mind. So let’s make the most of the brighter and more temperate days while we can….for we know that they are very likely set to change very soon!
One of the most fascinating things about blogging on Word Press, is the amazing insight into the variety of countries that you, my lovely readers, represent. I’m sometimes amazed at the countries and flags that pop up to show me where people are viewing my blog from. It makes me really excited, and I welcome you all. If you want to introduce yourself or post a comment on which country you are from and what November and December is like for you where you are, then that would be splendid! 🙂
That being said, and knowing that some of you live in places where the sun is still shining at this time of the year, I’ll let you in on a little ‘secret’. If you haven’t guessed it already, I’m writing from not-so-sunny Scotland! Your colder temperatures would probably be what we consider to be ‘summer’ weather 🙂
And so, some of the things I write about on ‘surviving winter’ may seem a little odd depending on where you are from, but that’s part of the adventure of learning more about life in different parts of the world.
My advice from this post is a short and simple one to begin with, now that the introductions have taken place, and that is to wrap up, stay warm, and cosy.
Living in Scotland, I had the opportunity last week to go on a one day guided tour of some of the most iconic film locations featured in the television series, ‘Outlander’. If you haven’t heard of Outlander, where have you been? 😉
Hopefully some of you are fans, and will enjoy coming along with me on this journey as I take you through a series of posts of the places I visited and of the fascinating facts I learned and interesting people I met along the way.
The tour was by a Scottish company named ‘Discover Scotland’, and the key highlights included:
A visit to Doune Castle, which featured as Castle Leoch in Outlander.
A photo stop at Midhope Castle (Lallybroch).
A visit to Blackness Castle.
A few hours spent in Falkland and Culross, which featured Geillis Duncan’s House, the town square where Jamie was flogged, and where a little boy had his ear nailed to a wooden post, Claire’s herb gardens, and some other iconic scenes which you can see as we go along 🙂
I hope that you are ready to step back in time with me to visit these places, and to share your experiences of any similar travels that you have been on. More to follow soon …stay tuned, Outlander fans!! 🙂