Sea and Sunshine

It’s been a glorious day today here in Northumberland. We headed to Howick for a dog walk and there was a parking space by the Coastal Path so K and Buddy headed off for a walk and I sat and knitted and watched the birds.

There were two pairs of eider ducks swimming close to the shore showing some breeding behaviour, throwing their heads up. The females are a nondescript brown (and fairly well camouflaged when they are on the nest) but the males are a striking black and while – you can’t miss them really. My favourite thing about eiders however is the sound they make – they don’t quack, they coo!

There were also lots of fulmars flying about. They nest on the cliffs here. Superficially they look like gulls, but whereas gulls have a “W” shaped outline, with bent wings, the fulmar has straight wings and glides over the water – it is more closely related to the petrels and shearwaters. If disturbed they spit a foul smelling oil. Not nice!

A few oystercatchers flew past emitting their piping call.

I was lucky enough to see a couple of dolphins swim past – all summer when there was loads of dolphin activity along the coast we saw nothing and here were a couple when we hadn’t;t particularly set our to find them. Typical!

Not long before we left, couple of canoes went by. – what a perfect day to be on the water.

A Trip Around the Christmas Tree

I was admiring my Mum’s Christmas tree when I called round for coffee (all above board – she’s in our bubble and we have enough space to socially distance). We talked about the tree decorations that she’s collected over the years. I remember some from my childhood, others were bought as souvenirs on her travels or were gifts from friends. I thought about my own tree and how some of our decorations are special, each with their own story.

This glass dolphin was bought on the first of my three visits to the USA. We flew to Atlanta, met up with family members, then drove to the South Carolina Coast for my cousin’s wedding. She had met her husband when they were working together in a beach resort. Our extended family rented a huge beach house for the week of the wedding and had a great time, both experiencing the wonderful southern hospitality and seeing fascinating wildlife we don’t see at home, especially the dolphins and pelicans we watched from our balcony every day. There were alligators too! The following week K and I, and the kids, both very young at the time, did a road trip south along the coast then back to Atlanta Towards the end of the week visited Stone Mountain, a theme park not far from the city which included a number of artisan workshops, where I bought the dolphin ornament. It was the perfect souvenir of an amazing trip

Edinburgh is one of our favourite cities in the UK. We visit regularly, though not this year, for the occasional weekend and have found a gorgeous boutique hotel that is a pleasure in itself. Whatever the weather, Edinburgh has many delights. In winter, the Christmas markets, the lights and other special events are quite magical. There are museums and galleries and shops to visit if the weather is poor, but if the sun shines, there are parks, and the Botanical Gardens to enjoy. In August, the city is packed out for the Edinburgh Festival. We travel up to spend a day packing in as many Festival Fringe shows as we can. We have also visited the Queen’s Gallery at the Palace of Holyrood House (The Queen’s official Edinburgh residence), The art collection is superb and parts of the Palace and Gardens are open to the public too , There is the obligatory gift shop and cafe, both excellent. I bought this embroidered lion decoration, which represents the lion on the royal coat of arms.

Some of the items on our tree originate much closer to home. Some weeks back I made this bauble with sea glass collected from a beach near to where we live. Living near the sea (we can see it from the window….just) is a big part of our lives really. it plays a major role in the culture and history of the area and we enjoy spending time on the beach and on the water. It’s only right that something from the sea has a presence on our tree.

Do you have a favourite Christmas tree ornament? – I’d love to hear about it