John and Catherine's Engagement Photos

John and Catherine had some official engagement photos taken recently. They were taken by Graham, of Graham Braid Photography, at Nairn beach, and I reckoned I'd be as well showing them off before the actual wedding photos are taken. Nothing like being on time and organised, eh?

I love the natural-ness of these photos, and how relaxed the two of them are together. Considering that Catherine isn't overly comfortable in front of a camera, I reckon some credit must go to Graham for making for a relaxed photo shoot.

Apart from a couple of photos on which I wish to comment (you'll see my comments when you reach the photos), I'll simply leave you to enjoy the photos.

Even though the photos weren't taken on one of our Ness beaches, it would seem that the urge to jump dunes is never too far away from Catherine...

It is, however, rather clear that only one person in this pair grew up dune-jumping!


Twenty-four Years since we said I Do ...

And so, the Builder and I have now been married twenty-four years. We celebrated our anniversary last week. He was in Aviemore. I was in Ness. But still .... we celebrated twenty-four years of God's goodness.

Here's a bit of a run down on these years:


We became Mr & Mrs. It had been a long time coming, in some ways. After all, we'd known each other for at least ten years, but I'm slow on the uptake, and I'd only realised the previous year that this guy was a keeper. He would be better as more than 'just good friends', and I'd do well to grab him as a husband and friend.

I can't remember much that happened in this year. Our first full year of marriage must have been really exciting, eh?

I graduated from Glasgow University at week 40+5. 

Thankfully, DR decided to begin a good old Morrison tradition of being late, and stayed safely tucked up until week 40+ 10. 

He's always been a considerate child.

Pictured here a couple of years later, at my brother's wedding. I loved a man in a kilt then, and I still have that love affair going.

We had our car, a Vauxhall Cavalier, stolen from outside church one Friday evening, and the car was written off by the Glasgow neds who stole it.

The silver lining was that we were forced into getting a car that was actually reliable :)

Our first daughter was born on Mothering Sunday of this year. 

Yep, she's a girl. Honest.

I'm drawing a blank on 1996. Life was busy with my 1 year old daughter and 3 year old son, and another baby on her way. Apart from the general fun and games that go along with life in the fast lane as a mother, I cannot think of anything out of the ordinary.

Never mind that he had his own bed, DR as often as not would end up in the cot with Catherine.
Such precious memories

Our second daughter was born on Mothering Sunday of this year. No kidding. Two years apart. Two daughters. Two Mothering Sundays. 

Beat that for Mother's Day gifts!

1998, 1999
There is nothing of significance that I can remember in 1998, nor in 1999. DR would have begun school in Glasgow, and I do remember how I felt about that (in the days when we'd never heard of such a thing as homeschooling! Remember the days before internet? Aye, it's hard to imagine life now without the good ol' World Wide Web!)

This was when the homeschooling journey began for me. I began with trepidation, convinced of my inability, yet knowing this is what God meant for the children He'd given us. This journey is still ongoing. I am still convinced of my inability, and yet God's goodness has been, and still is, overwhelming.

Mum and I visited Canada. Mum wanted to visit some relatives in London, Ontario and in Vancouver. My dad will not fly, so I was landed with the hardship of accompanying Mum to CANADA (sorry, but I love, love, love that country, and it's kinda hard for me just to say the name without squealing excitedly. Very unnerving for those around me.)

Have y'all read the story behind this photo, taken in Stanley Park, Vancouver? No? Oh you must! Read about it here.

Amazing, eh?!

My sister, Marina, married in the Autumn of this year, 

and we all got spruced up for the day. Just one thing to say here: Isn't Katie so cuh-UTE!

We were blessed with our precious Wee Guy.

(ignore the date on the photo: it's wrong!)

We first met our dear friends, Alex and Elsie in the summer of this year. If you haven't read the story of our first meeting, you can read it here.

We moved into our new house in the summer of this year, on the eve of DR's 13th birthday.

We had a wonderfully cold and sunny spell in winter. The kids loved having snow - real snow!

The vegetable growing bug bit. Big style. Do y'all remember my love affair with The Plot? It all began this year, and I hope to resurrect it in the not-too-distant future.

We visited the USA for the first time. It was our first 'real' family holiday, and one we will never forget.

Our adventure began in Ontario. It really was an adventure, and one we will never forget, nor regret.

It was strange for us to realise that people actually knew what Homeschoolers were, far less to have them welcome us!

It was such an amazing experience, creating memories we will never regret making.

We carried on our November 5th tradition of a family bonfire.

This kind of sums up how the cousins felt about the night, and how they feel about each other.


Our garage went on fire, so what could one do but send Calum with some cakes to our lovely, helpful firefighters.

That event resulted in D.R. joining our local Fire Service. As you can see from the photo, it's about slightly more than just cake-eating ...

The difference between my other four kids and Jackson is that with the first four, labour came first and then the babies came. With Jackson .... he came first, and then the labour (of love) began. And continued.

Big Brother celebrated a significant birthday, surrounded by his adoring fan club.

and I visited London for the first time ever and fell completely in love with the city.

D.R. and Catherine also visited Canada and America in 2012, and stayed with this wonderful family in Toronto. Once again, this blog has resulted in us meeting such lovely people.

West Coast Americans visited, and shared the warmest week of our year with us.

Catherine got engaged to 'her John'. This one act, taking place on the last day of 2014, has been what has governed so much of what has happened in our lives this year.


Well, where can I begin with 2015?! 

The Builder began his new work on the mainland.

...and the bike was the most-cared-for item to be packed.

We put our house up for sale, and have recently accepted an offer for the house.

And wedding plans .... are going full pelt.

Here we were, waiting for Catherine to appear in a wedding dress. 

Oh, the anticipation!

And then the delight!

It sure hasn't been a year to dawdle!

~      ~      ~

Thank you, my darling, for saying 'I do', and for being more to me than you'll ever know..... even though I tell you. Frequently.


Fantastic Fun, Food, and Family

Last week, I had the pleasure of going to lunch with these two lovely ladies. I posted a photo of them on the Homeschool on the Croft Facebook page on the morning of the lunch, but as I couldn't find this photo ....

... I posted this one, taken at a wedding a couple of years ago.

I realised after I posted it, that Her Majesty takes her inspiration from these ladies.


She actually trawls my blog and facebook page, looking for photos of Mum and Auntie Jessie and then she copies their mode of dress. I like your thinking, Your Majesty: they are worth emulating.

Well, seeing we enjoyed our meal so much, and seeing I love to talk about food, and because I assume everyone in the world thinks like I think, I'm going to talk you through my lunch date, from the food point of view.

Here was the selection of starters:

My Mum had the fruit platter, and I didn't photograph it. I know it was lovely, and it looked gorgeous, but I can't get my head around going out to lunch and having a plate of fruit. Please don't get me wrong, I have nothing against fruit. I love it in its own place. But when I go out for a meal, I like to feel the calories on my fork, in my mouth, and sliding onto whichever of my spare tyres they decide to make their home.

It's all part of the experience. 

This is the starter Auntie Jessie and I had, and I have to say that it was simply perfection on a plate.

Oatmeal coated black pudding and apple bon bons, with maple pulled pork spring roll, and grain mustard sauce. 

It was a delight to eat. The mixtures of flavours and of textures = starter perfection.

The main course menu:

I never have chicken when eating out (I'm normally a fish person, unless a lamb dish tempts away from the fruit of the sea), but I really was tempted by the first choice on the menu.

In the end, I didn't have it, but Mum did. I did steal a couple of forkfuls, simply for research purposes and it was all scrumptious.

Auntie Jessie went for the deep fried haddock with home made chips.

She has had this before at Digby Chicks, and she always loves it when she has it.

I had this plateful of deliciousness: it's a fillet of hake on a bed of crushed new potatoes. Yes, fish is almost always my choice, and I was certainly not disappointed at my choice that day. The fish was delectable, and the combination of flavours and textures, especially the prawn toast, was amazing!


When we'd finished these courses, the waitress asked whether we wished to see the Dessert Menu.

She had to ask??

All three of us were in agreement: we all went for the iced dime bar gateau.

A refreshing and tasty end to our meal. 

There was enough depth in the sweet to make me feel like I'd really had a pudding. Yet it was light and so didn't make us feel like we were uncomfortably full. Dime bar ice cream + meringue + fruitiness ... what was there not to love?

After lunch, we wandered in town, met folks on various street corners, had blethers and yarns with friends we hadn't seen for quite some time. We popped into various shops and bought bits and bobs that were needed. When all that was done, we headed to Marina's (my sister) for laughter and tea (neither were in short supply), and then onto Donna's (my sister in law (relatives are so useful ...) ) for more tea and more blethering. 

What a blessing these days are. Food, friends, family, unexpected meetings, laughter, and more food, family and friends: all these are such undeserved gifts that God in His providence has seen fit to give us. I hope, having been ready to enjoy the day so much, I was equally ready to give thanks for the day.
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