Merry Christmas 2022!

Keith, Carolyn, Megan, and Aidan at Lion Rock, Piha, New Zealand, July 2022.

Hi everyone! We’re not doing Christmas cards this year – instead you will have got here by electronic means. Welcome!

It’s been a big year and very hard to summarise. As restrictions have relaxed we’ve been slowly rediscovering the ability to get around and spend time with folks, but we haven’t been able to do that as much as we would have liked – hopefully in 2023 there will be more of that.

The highlight of the year (illustrated above) was our trip to New Zealand over the northern summer. Despite it being winter in NZ the temperature was the same when we arrived in Auckland as when we left Scotland! We had a great time revisiting many places we’d been before, seeing a few new ones, but most especially catching up with many friends and family who we hadn’t seen for ages (we were already overdue a visit when the pandemic hit, and we booked this just as soon as the NZ border opened up). It was so good to remake connections and see what everyone has been up to. Like our children, so many others are growing up and leaving home which is a big change!

On that note – Aidan (2nd year uni, doing Geography and Computing Science) has moved out of home into a very nice flat not too far from the university! It was a bit fraught getting to that point given the extreme lack of accommodation, but he was able to move in in November. He’s very much enjoying the new freedom and settling in well.

Megan is in the final year of secondary school, doing sciences and music, and deciding what to study at uni next year – we had a busy autumn term visiting many of the universities in Scotland for their open days. She has also just got her first job!

Carolyn’s business is developing well and she is very much enjoying it. Keith’s work has been very intense and intellectually stretching, but he’s absolutely loved it. We’ve both done a new thing this year for us, joining a gym and getting a personal trainer. It’s been surprisingly good fun to get stronger and more balanced, though Keith in particular has painfully discovered many muscles he never knew he had!

This Christmas season we are enjoying being with some of our family, but we’re very aware of those who are far away or without those they love at this time. We pray for God’s comfort and blessing, and hope for a better world ahead.

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas, and all the best for the year ahead!

Lots of love,

Keith, Carolyn, Aidan, and Megan xo.

Our address and contact numbers remain the same – please get in touch if you need them. You can email us on

Playhouse Renovations

At the beginning of August this year, Megan and I had the idea to re-paint the interior of the “Playhouse” we have in the back garden. Unlike once a couple years ago, where we painted a couple walls, then left it, this time we wanted to paint it all – every surface of the building – and what a task that turned out to be! Megan and I spent 3 afternoons/evenings painting, but once we were done, the work wasn’t finished – we found out some friends had some spare carpet that would fit in perfectly downstairs and it all spiralled from there! We then decided to completely renovate it into something more comfortable and worth spending time in, so here is the story of what we’ve done, or at least part 1!


First up was clearing the playhouse of all the stuff inside, the old table, the bookshelf that was falling apart, and all the old cushions we had inside. This thankfully didn’t take too long, although we did have to work together to remove some things. Next on our list was laying out the newspaper, though as you can see – it all got a bit messed up after a pretty quickly!


Although we have in the past painted the playhouse, here you can see (in the white paint in both pictures) it was already starting to fade, so we began painting the feature wall with the “bathroom blue” colour, a much stronger colour that hopefully won’t fade as fast. We painted using some of the spare paint we had in the attic: “bathroom blue”, “apple green” (the leftovers from my bedroom), “bathroom white” and “light pink”. The bathroom colours are especially waterproof, so we used these for the ceilings, which were a NIGHTMARE to paint – all the paint just soaked in to the wood, which meant it took multiple thick coats – in often hard to reach places!

Once we were done – it turned out pretty nicely – although the place did look a little bare with just the painted walls and nothing else inside. This is partly what inspired us to do a complete renovation, not just painting. On the right, you can see the polka dot pattern Megan did on the bars to add extra detail to the playhouse – which turned out very nicely, and helped us choose the perfect fabric for the curtains.



Next up was carpeting the downstairs floor, which we had got a LOT of paint on, despite the newspaper we laid out! We rolled up the old rug which we had in there, as it no longer fitted in, and then set to work trying to work out the jigsaw puzzle that was laying the pieces out!

Then we cut three pieces to the right size size, and set to work hammering all the nails in, with some help from dad.

It was very rewarding to see the final product here, although instead of spending long to admire it – we immediately covered it in cushions and tools!


One important thing we realised was that it wasn’t worth painting the playhouse unless we could prevent it from getting soaked again which was responsible for the fading. So we then went on to do some roofing work, completely covering the roof again with a clean, new sheet of roofing felt, weighing 20kg for 10m – so rather heavy to move!

Again dad came to help us with the roofing, he showed us how to put in all the nails and paint tar on the edges. This job was quite fun, though it involve a little risk on my part (see image of me standing on the very top of the ladder somewhat precariously!) – although there was someone holding the ladder so I didn’t fall!

As the plastic that we had used last year to protect the playhouse from rain had shredded due to the sunlight, we decided, as part of the roofing process, we would redo the plastic too, this time with longer lasting, UV-resistant plastic. Finally, we decided to paint the outside of the playhouse, which involved painting all the green pieces separately, which Megan and I did, while Mum and Dad painted the two non-plastic covered sides of the playhouse. I will include a picture of the finished outside in the next post.

Thank you for reading this post about the playhouse, I hope that I will be able to upload part 2 in the next few weeks, although things are going to get quite busy in the lead-up to Christmas! 🙂🙂🙂🙂

Yes, I did get the “1” back-to-front, it was… it was… artistic design, that’s what it was… (totally not an accident in my drawing, honest!)

Our Canal Barge Holiday

Today once school was finished for the holidays we went down to England and visited Jill and Aaron. For dinner we ordered some delicious curry. Then we went up for bed.

Saturday – In the morning we got some breakfast and then Grandma and Grandpa took Aidan and I to Liverpool. First we went on the Liverpool Eye then we went to a lovely sweet shop. After that we went on a bit of a walk. Later on we drove to the boat marina and we went to a place near there for lunch. After lunch we un-packed our stuff into the boat.

Our boat Ava and Aidan and I’s room.


After we had un-packed we were off!!!

We sailed our boat for half an hour then we moored by a lovely loch. After we moored we had a barbeque for dinner. Which was very nice. Then we went on a walk around the loch. Then we went to bed.

Sunday – We had a very early start this morning because there was a tunnel that takes 45 minutes to get through. While we were going through the tunnel Mum, Grandma and I played quirkle which we really enjoyed. Once we had finally got through the tunnel we made quesadillas for lunch. Then we cruised for the rest of the afternoon.For dinner we had fajitas.

Monday – Today we cruised for most of the morning which has been very relaxing. Then we moored the boat and went out for lunch. I had a delicious pulled pork burger. After lunch we cruised a bit further along the canal. Then we discovered that the canal was being closed further ahead so we moored there for the night. For the rest of the afternoon we explored Macclesfield. For dinner we had some delicious gammon. Then we went to bed.

Tuesday – Today we explored Macclesfield a bit more. First we bought some pies for dinner and then we explored a very nice church. After that we went to a sweet shop. later on we went to a very interesting Silk Museum. Afterwards we had some lunch. After that we started going the other direction. Meanwhile Mum and I walked along the side of the canal doing some geo-caching. For dinner we had some delicious steak pie and chicken pie.

Wednesday – Today we did the 12 locks. The locks took us about 2 hours. Then we had lunch. After lunch we set off again and Grandma, Mum and I did some more geo-caching. Then we went out for dinner. I had a Hawaiian Chicken Burger and then I had a Brownie for dessert. Then after a while we went to bed.

Thursday – Today was a more relaxing day. We explored Congleton. First we went to Victoria Mill and I got some very nice buttons. After that we to a lovely park and got some lunch. I shared a pizza with Grandpa. Then we got some cake. After that we went back to the boat and set off to one end of the tunnel. Once we arrived we moored the boat and had another barbeque. Then we went to bed.

Friday – Today is Aidan’s Birthday!!!!!!!!!! This morning we had bacon and eggs for breakfast. After breakfast we went through the tunnel again. While we were going through the tunnel Mum, Grandma, Aidan and I played quirkle. After we got through the tunnel we had lunch. Then we stayed in the boat for a bit. Later on we went on a walk round the loch. We stopped at a lovely cafe for afternoon tea. Then we set off to the marina so we could get some packing done early. Then we went out for dinner. I had a delicious steak pie. Then we bought a giant eclair for pudding. When we got back to the boat we split the eclair. Then we had to go to bed.

Saturday – Sadly today we had to leave our boat. 🙁  So we had some breakfast. Then we packed the car. After that we said goodbye to our lovely boat and got in the car and went home.

Dancing Display

This year I had 5 dances to do. They were Ballet, Acrobatics, 2 tap preformances and jazz. All of which I love to do. I am currently in Grade 3 Ballet, Grade 2 tap, Silver Acro and Youth 1 jazz. I had many costumes this year. This is me and my friend Lyla in our costumes. I am on the left in one of my tap costumes. The next two pictures are of me and my friend Eildh. This is my ballet costume. I am on the right. This is my other tap costume. For my acro costume I wore white leggings with a blue leotard, orange wrist warmers, a white belt and pink ankle warmers. Finally for my Jazz costume I wore an orange crop top, a purple and yellow skirt, blue ankle warmers and pink fish net gloves. (Sadly I didn’t get a chance to take a picture of those two costumes). I really enjoyed the dancing display this year. : ) I hope that you enjoyed reading this post.

Model Railway – Rolling Stock Storage & Layout Laid Out!

A BIG problem!

It has been ages since I last wrote about my model railway, but I am definitely still working on it! One problem I’ve had on my railway is that I have a lot of wagons and carriages, and I’ve needed somewhere (other than on the track or stuffed into a box!) to store them all. I decided to glue some of the spare tracks I had for my railway onto some wooden boards and add some buffers to either side, in order to make it easy to store all of my rolling stock in a neat and efficient way. I squeezed 11 tracks onto each board, thankfully I had managed to find more than 22 tracks of the correct length in the piles of track I have been given – because cutting all those tracks to size would have been a nightmare! I also added some handles to either side, in order to make it easily stackable and easily moveable. It’s nearly finished – so in my next post I will post some images of the finished thing!After clearing the track, and a lot of the rubbish all around, I grabbed my pencil and began to sketch. I sketched out where the pond would be, the signal box, fences houses shops and roads, all around where the railway tracks were. I also painted the sheep and birds I bought for my railway so I could see how they would look on the model. I added one of my trees (post on this coming soon) to the layout, along with the signal box, some cars, some people and some reeds. This was all to illustrate some of how my railway will look when it’s finished, and it was fun seeing some of it come together. I now plan on working on building up the landscape for my railway, which will be my next big project.

The Layout (with computer sketch on top)

The final project I worked on recently was extracting the tea leaves from expired herbal teabags to be used on my layout. The reason I was using the teabags actually had nothing to do with my model railway, but was for science idea I saw online that involved lighting them on fire. If they are lit at the top with a lighter, after burning half the way down, they then fly up into the air, which I thought was pretty cool. I then realised, after removing the tea from the teabags that the ground up tea would work well as something to scatter on forested areas of my layout to add more realism, so nothing went to waste!

Thanks for reading my latest railway progress post, I hope you enjoyed and I should be back soon with more posts!

Banff Holiday!

This year, during our Easter holidays we stayed in a static caravan in Banff, a pretty little town situated on the south coast of the Moray Firth, about 30 miles west of Fraserburgh.

(The image to the left was our view of the town of Banff along the beach on the first evening)

The journey north was pretty long, due to the fact we chose to follow the coast, but it was beautifully sunny, and we had plenty to do, so it wasn’t that bad! I got some very pretty photos at the spot where we had lunch in Forfar, looking out across Forfar Loch at all the birds that were swimming in the water there. It was a very sunny day, which made traveling that little bit nicer!

Tufted Ducks. I didn’t realise they weren’t just mallards – so I didn’t get any closer up pictures 🙁

Swan on Forfar Loch

In addition, I was lucky enough to stumble upon two butterflies perched elegantly on a dandelion – this was probably the closest I’d ever been to a butterfly! The pictures I got with them really prove how powerful my new camera is. Looking closely at the picture, you can see just how “royal” they look, with the gold colourings, the vivid orange and black – I now know why it’s known as a monarch butterfly!I also got some pretty landscape shots with the trees and the sunshine, experimenting with various angles.

The sun was still shining as we arrived at the caravan, so we got to go to the park for a bit, before heading to bed. The caravan was a 12×35 ft model, so the rooms were a little narrow, but they were definitely comfy and cozy, so I got a good night’s sleep (except being woken by the sun at 6:45…)


On Monday we went on a walk along by the river Deveron, the river dividing Banff and its neighboring town MacDuff. Part of the reason we chose a walk down the river valley was because of the ridiculously high winds that day, causing weird effects in the breaking of the waves, and large sprays flying across the waves; not to mention the rivers of sand streaming across the beach!

But under tree cover by the river was a nice pretty walk, and was actually pretty calm and quiet despite the wind. We encountered many landmarks and old places of significance of our walk, including a mausoleum, an ice house and a large bridge towering at least 20 meters over the river, providing for a stunning view.


It was on Tuesday we decided to go and visit the cardinal point of Peterhead, the Eastern-most point in Scotland; thus completing our visits to the Northern-most Point, Dunnet Head (2014), the Western Point, the Ardnamurchan Peninsula (2012), and the Southern, the Mull of Galloway (2016). And, after the stunning views at all 3 other points, as well as them all bragging about being a famous landmark, as well as cliff-top geocaches, we weren’t expecting an industrialised oil port with just a road barrier to look at. Also, someone had the idea to call the Eastern-most publicly accessible point in Scotland, North Street… The geocache was on a bridge that had recently been dismantled, so we set off for Fraserburgh for geocaches. Fraserburgh had a cool museum about their history, and it also had the cool gold and white lighthouse design we’d seen at the other points around the country. But it was a very fun day, despite the slight disappointment in Peterhead, which did have a nice bay where we had lunch by.

Thank you for reading about our holiday in Banff, and I will be back soon with a post about Burgie House!!

Our holiday in Banff

Saturday: Today we went to Banff! We got ready in the morning and off we went. It was a beautiful sunny day too.☉ It was a very long journey there especially given we took the coastal route. It was very pretty though. When we arrived I went straight down to the beach and enjoy the sun.

It was really fun. Then Aidan and I un-packed. Later on Aidan and I went out on the beach to go check out the park. Then we came back and had a delicious dinner of steak pie. After dinner we played a fun game of Qwirkle and Mum won!!! After that we went to bed.

Sunday: Today we slept in. Then once we were all awake we had breakfast. We had poridge with brown sugar. After breakfast we played a game of Ticket to Ride. Dad won. Then we had lunch. For lunch we had steak pie remains and cheese and ham panini’s. After lunch we went on a lovely walk to Banff. There was lots of lovely views on our walk.

Once we got back from our walk we had afternoon tea. Then we had some time to relax. Later on we had dinner. It was absolutely delicious. Then we went on another lovely walk. After that we got back and had supper.

Monday: Today was lots of fun. We had normal breakfast. After breakfast we played a really fun game of Pandemic. 🙂 🙂 🙂 After that we had toasties for lunch. Later on we went to Banff to go on a woodland walk. On our walk we passed an Ice House.

It was very interesting. Further along the walk we came across a Mausoleum. After that we went on a very long walk to get back to the car. Once we got back from the walk we went to the co-operative for afternoon tea. Dad and I had an oreo doughnut and Mum and Aidan had a salted caramel doughnut. They were delicious. Then once we got back to the caravan we relaxed. After that Aidan and I made gnocchi and cheese for dinner. Then we got ready for bed.

Tuesday: Today was lots of fun. For Breakfast we had DOUGHNUTS!!!!!! They were delicious. We had the doughnuts with cinnamon sugar and golden syrup. After that Dad made us a picnic lunch for in Peterhead. After that we went to Peterhead. Once we arrived we looked for the Eastern most point of Scotland. Sadly we couldn’t go right up to the edge because it was private. 🙁 🙁 So after that we went to a nice view of the sea and had our lunch. Later on we went to Fraeserbrugh to do some geo-caching. We found all 5! By that time it was getting near to 5:00 so we headed back to the caravan. When we got back Dad made us Pork Stir Fry. It was delicious. Later on we played 3 games of Bananagrams. Then Aidan and I went to bed.

Wednesday: Today was AWESOME. 🙂 🙂 🙂 For breakfast we had eggs and bacon. After that Dad and I went out on a walk which was really nice. When we came back Dad made us toasties for lunch. Later on we went to the Marine Aquarium. 🙂 It was great when we arrived we saw lots of cool fish like: Rays, Sharks, Salmon and all kinds of others being fed. It was really fascinating watching the way they reacted to the food. Then we went and saw some other fish. Here are some pictures.

It was great fun. Afterwards we got ice cream and a drink. I had an original cornetto. Then we went back to Banff to go to a yarn shop. Aidan bought two lovely balls of yarn and I bought a purple, pink and white ball of yarn. After that we went back to the caravan. For dinner we had potato pie which was very nice. Then for pudding we had some pecan pie which Aidan made. It was absolutely delicious. Then we got ready for bed.

Thursday: Today was a bit sad because we were leaving Banff. 🙁 🙁 🙁 So this morning we finished packing and Dad packed the car. Meanwhile Aidan and I had a last walk on the beach. Later on we had lunch. Then we went to Burgie house. On our way there we stopped at a silk art and pottery shop. I got lots of excellent craft ideas. Then we went back on our travels to burgie house.

Our Holiday in Galloway…

SATURDAY: On Saturday we went to a very nice cottage where we were staying for a week. Once we arrived it was quite late so we went to chippy for dinner. I got a cheese burger with chips, Aidan got haddock and chips, Dad had haggis burger and Mum had a chicken burger. Then once we enjoyed a delicious dinner we went to bed.

SUNDAY: Today after we got up we had a lazy morning and we all played  some games and did some crafts. Later on we did go to a lovely beach in Garlieston. We went on a very nice long walk and Aidan and I touched some sea anenomies. They felt very wierd but really cool. Then once we got back we had a delicious dinner of fajitas. While we had dinner we were watching Strictly Come Dancing Results Show. After dinner we went to bed.

MONDAY: Today was my 11th Birthday and once we got up Aidan and I played a game of Quirkle and I won by 9 points! Then we went through to mum and dad’s room to open my birthday presents. Once we did that we went to a Chocolate Factory which was awesome. First we got lunch and then we actually got to make the chocolates. First we made these model chocolates of anything we liked out of Bunny, Frog, Train and Duck. Aidan and I both did trains and I did one half white chocolate and the other half milk chocolate. Then while we were letting them harden we decorated a chocolate bar. First we swirled the white chocolate together with the milk chocolate. Then we decorated  them sweets. After that we let them harden as well and we decorated some marshmallows and when we were doing that Aidan said it looked like I was making something for a fancy resteraunt! After that we got everything back and put them in our bags. Then once we did that we played outside for a while then we went back to the cottage. For dinner we had chicken curry. Then we played a game of cluedo. After that we went to bed.

TUESDAY: Today we went on a 16mile bike ride which was a lot of fun but very tiring. On the cycle we first went on a cycle through the forest. Then we cycled to the beach and had lunch. After that we continued on our cycle and we went to Sorbie Tower which was very interesting. It also looked very detailed. then we cycled back to the cottage and had a delicious dinner of pork and noodles. After dinner we then played a game of banana grams. Then we went to bed.

WEDNESDAY: Today once we got up we went to some book shops which was lots of fun. Aidan got a candlemaking book and I got a night sky postcard and a book called IceBound Summer. Then we went home for lunch and we had squash soup and delicious bread. Then we went back out to go South. First we went to the Harbour. While we werre in the Harbour we went to a White Tower and got a very nice view. After that we went to St Ninnians beach which was absolutely beautiful.While we were there we went to St Ninnians cave which was rather small but vey pretty. Later on we went home.

THURSDAY: Today we went to a Gem Rock Museum. It was loads of fun. Once we got there we saw a lot of different crystals and gems. It was all very interesting but my favourite was the Rainbow Obsidion from Mexico. It was very fascinating to see all the tiny crystals inside the Amethsyst and in the Agate. After that we went into the Proffeser’s study and watched a very interesting 10 minute film. Then we went into a crystal cave. While we were in there I saw a piece of Amethyst just 4cm short of my hieght! Then we went into the gift shop and I got 4 things. I got: A piece of beautiful Citrine ( yellow gem ) a small piece of Peacock Ore, a small piece of Rose Quartz from the USA and some regular Quartz also from the USA. Aidan got an incredible piece of Peacock Ore which had lots of beautiful colours in it like blues and greens and a gorgeous pink! Later on after lunch we went on a lovely walk through a beautiful forest. We saw so many beautiful views. Then we went home and had a delicious dinner.

FRIDAY: Today we went to the most southernly point in Scotland (we went to the hard to access one though – there were easier points claiming the title)! It was lots of fun and there were loads of incredible views. The reason why we went to the hard to access one is because we were going to the most southernly geocache in Scotland. We were walking along a cliff edge but there was a pretty big gap in between us and the cliffs edge, so we were quite safe. We saw a spectacular view though. Sadly we didn’t get the geocache because it was a bit too dangerous to get it. After we got back from that we went to the gift shop. Aidan got a model puffin with a sailor’s hat on, and I got a really pretty keyring which made it looked like it had a rainbow on it even though it didn’t. After that we went to a place called Stranraer. It was lots of fun seeing the town which looked beautiful. It was also right next to a beach which was really cool. Then we went back to Sorbie (the place we were staying in) and went out for dinner at a place called The Pheasant. It is an Italian resteraunt. It was absolutely delicious the food we had. Aidan had salmon for his starter Dad and I had a Faggatini which was a pastry box with sausage meat and broccoli inside. Mum had lots of cured meats. Then for the main Mum and I had flat gnocchi in a blue cheese sauce. Aidan had Taglatelli Carbonara and Dad had Pork Saltimbocca which is pork with salami on top which tasted incredible. After that we went back to the cottage.

SATURDAY: Today once we got up we packed the car and before we left the owner of the cottage came by and gave us some pancakes and tablet. After that we went back home.

Devilla Forest & Blaeberry Jam!

One weekend, back in late August, we went on a beautiful family walk in our nearby, Devilla Forest. The weather recently has been great, and we needed to get out on a walk, so we decided to visit again! (Previous trips – click here). img_6523-resizedWith the promise of afternoon tea at the end, and  an exciting walk, we set out – and began walking towards our first Geocache. As we searched, I began to notice something about our surrounding undergrowth – everywhere I looked – I saw blaeberries (aka billberries, essentially mini blueberries) growing in their hundreds or thousands – far more on each bush than I have normally seen! So we started collecting!! Very soon we noticed that one: we would hundreds of them to do anything, and two: they were staining our makeshift hankie-bag bright pink!


There are at least 20 blaeberries in this photo – the camera doesn’t make them obvious though – and they are easy to miss!

As well as our blaeberry collection, we were also after geocaches, and we found a lot of them – last year we found our 100th geocache on August —-, and we aimed to find a further hundred before then this year. After succeeding that challenge, we have set our target to 200 this year – approximately 4 a week! But the extra caches we collected, including the ones we found in Devilla – have brought our target down to 3.5 a week for the rest of the year.



On our way to Loch Moor, we really enjoyed the trees, the undergrowth, the bird calls in the distance – and this weird thing in a hole in the ground!! None of us are sure what it is, possibly an abandoned bee hive – or an insect mound? Along our walk we also ate some of the wild raspberries along the side of the path – it all felt very different to some other forests, because other than the path – it was just untouched wild forest. After around an hour of walking, we had reached the loch – but we didn’t feel like going all the way around – so after something to eat, we returned by a slightly different route. Then, after finally making it back after our 10km walk, we had some afternoon tea at the walled garden, before heading home.


300 berries – beginnings of the jam

Once we got home, we weighed our blaeberries – and we got the value of around 150 grams. We then weighed 10 berries, and calculated we had 300 berries (each one is about 5mm wide!) – and began our jam! And tasting the jam was (at least for me) a great end to our family day out!