Orkney Hygge

Staycation Hygge!  I have not done a staycation in awhile and boy am I lucky as February this year is gorgeous!  Light winds between 8-11 C°!  Lambs in the green fields, which in certain areas are still holding mini ponds of the past rainy weather.  Geese honking and seas calm.  I still see a ridge of snow on top of Hoy.Hoy snow ridge Feb 2019

Magnificent eh!  So what will bring Hygge into this picture?  A warm delicious bath – outside!  Yes we got a hot tub!  We rented from Orkney Hot Tubs for 3 weeks!  It was delivered last night and we expect the water temperature to be perfect 41 degrees around lunchtime!  Additionally to this the Welshman has made a bone broth in the slow cooker for 24 hours for us to sip on outside.  So warm inside and out!  On a day like today this will be luxury at Langwell!

I love staycations and hygge concepts because its about self -care and family. I know I don’t do enough of the self care.  So this staycation will be about self-care.  My staycation began 2 days ago and of course I was focused on my personal to do list, that’s ok as long as I scheduled me time.   So creation of a staycation hygge checklist is what I created a week ago to make sure I had all I truly needed to create the space for rest and rejuvenation of my spirit, mind, and health.

Here is my Orkney staycation hygge checklist:

Spirit – daily meditation – M Word.  If you don’t know about the M Word you should.  MindValley.com has the course developed by Emily Fletcher.  She is not your typical meditation teacher – she is more relevant and brings meditation to a new level for me.  Every morning I start my day with the M Word.   Embedded in the M Word is daily gratification, which softens and warms my soul.

Mind – my books by my bedside and devouring at the moment – The 5am Club by Robin Sharma, The Enlightened Gardner by Sydney Banks and Becoming Michelle Obama by well yes Michelle Obama.  The 5 am Club is a twist on self help in its a story about a personal mastery methodology that Robin Sharma is on about.  He also wrote the book The Monk who Sold his Ferrari, if you have read this then you should know what you are in for.  This story is fantastical – Billionaire sweeps two beleaguered lost souls (in a private jet) to Mauritius and teaches them the 5 am daily philosophy on becoming legendary.  Sounds cool right!  The Enlighted Gardner  is a story about a group of 4 psychologists who learn from a soulful gardener while attending a psychology conference, somewhere in England.  And third, reading Becoming Michelle Obama has really created a new one-way connection with a woman I immensely admire.  Her story growing up in Chicago and her personal and career trajectory is fascinating.

Health – I have been on / off a programme called Naturally Slim.  I have a hard time funnily enough listening to the founder of Naturally Slim, an RN from Dallas.  Its more her tone then anything, but her theory of eating only when hungry really hungry and eating slowly (25 minutes!) makes sense to me.  I still have issues with wanting sugar, my cookies and dark chocolate cravings, so my weight loss has not been as extreme as I thought.  The Welshman has started water fasting, he has dropped 25 pounds in 12 days.  I know, I know sounds extreme and dangerous, but he has researched , has a coach, and seen a doctor.  He said first 2 days the most difficult but after that its a doddle.  Physically, I have scheduled daily walks with LouLou and classes at my community centre.  So far,  I did a spin class, Zumba, and today is yoga.  I love yoga but I have had issues with arthritis in my thumb joints and so any asanas with weight on my wrists is just painful.  I hope that my new wrist supports will help!

My staycation is 6 days and I am on day 3.  So far I am in bliss and feeling relaxed as if I was on a beach in Mauritius with a billionaire!  Even if its on my patio in a hot tub with the Welshman!  Love, Peace and Health from Living Well Always at Langwell!

 

LouLou’s Puppies

My gorgeous Golden has had her first litter.  Five puppies born on January 31st with the first drop  at 10:40pm.  The Welshman and I stayed up till the early morning as we lovingly helped to clean up and get the puppies airways cleared.  All in all 2 girls and 3 boys.  Unfortunately, we lost wee Max the next night, poor boy had a cleft palate and he would have suffered.  Now we have 4 furry bundles 2 girls and 2 boys.  Lexi and Lola, Luther and Sully, in order of birth.  The firLou soft Loust week was exhausting just watching making sure they were latching on and gaining weight, keeping a watchful eye on LouLou in case she suffered ‘postpartum depression’  It happens!  As grandpuppy parents we have settled into a routine, its just feeding and sleeping, that’s the Welshman, LouLou and me have busy days!

LouLou has been a wonderful momma and she practices ‘self care’ as in I am nursing them and getting out of the whelping box. (did you know a Rice University English professor and smartest man I ever met did not know this word!)  Anyhoo, LouLou knows when enough’s enough and lays down in living room until she hears their hungry squeaks.   The Welshman has spent the last couple of days rigging up a webcam so we can watch their movements.  I find this a bit over the top as I was not the kind of mom that had a camera on my daughters when they were little.  I had very acute hearing though!

The puppies are well loved by our youngest daughter who I find in mornings instead of on her ipad, in the whelping box holding and talking to the puppies.  She loves each one but favors Luther, which is probably a good sign as I think that is the one we will end up keeping.   But if I had my way I would keep them all! Our eldest is at university and so jealous she can’t be home to play with them.  She is making a special trip home so she can see them OR maybe that’s to see her boyfriend? hmmmm…

I started a private FaceBook group called LouLou’s puppies and invited friends and family to watch our live feeds, pictures and their growth charts.  They have all done very well.  The hardest,  hardest part will be giving the 3 up.  When we knew LouLou was preggers our friend sent out an announcement on her FB site and within hours we had  30 people interested.    That number has decreased to the very serious, and those who have been following the puppies are, I know, the ones we want her pups to go to forever homes.   I feel very blessed to have a home full of puppies right now.  Best Valentines Day Ever!

 

Langwell Fields – Dreaded Hogweed or Lovely Cow Parsley?

Reading the local paper yesterday scared me more than any other story out there, yes even more than the Trump/Russia fiasco!  The Orcadian warned us of the real dangers of coming into contact with hogweed.  The warning  I ask?   Severe blistering if you come into contact with any part of the plant.  The sap when it comes into contact with skin and is exposed to sunlight in minutes will cause 3rd degree burns!  Sounds awful I know!  What is this dreaded hogweed?  How do I know if I have it on my property? Should I mow the field?  Can I let my dog out?  What about my children running around in my picturesque Orkney fields?  It is the land version of Jaws!  Stay out of the water (fields), as Chief Brody warned the beach goers!  So armed with my iPhone I am out to determine if I have this horrible invader or is it an invader?  Maybe I need to do some research first?

Hogweed, according to Royal Horticulture Society website,  scientific name is Heracleum mantegazzianum, and common name is Giant Hogweed or Cartwheel Flower.  I like the sound of Cartwheel flower better myself.  Less scary than Hogweed that sounds like something out of a Harry Potter book!  Sadly there is no other information on the RHS unless I become a member…I thought I did that when I was last at Kew?  anyway…searching on Wildlife Trust pulled up ‘do you mean hawkweed?’ uh no I did not mean hawkweed, but ok lets see what hawkweed comes up with…ok a bit more frustration as search asks do you mean hawkwood?  mmmmm no you meant hawkweed and now you are saying hawkswood…more than one hawk…enough.  Get off Wildlife Trust site.  Now I think I have found a calmer source of knowledge.  The website called Wildfooduk.com.  They state that the Giant Hogweed can only be found near streams or rivers.  Its habitat is near a fresh water source.  I am getting less anxious as the plants on my property are no where near fresh water and where they are growing is very dry.

Enough of my independent research. I will trust my gardening friends on FB.  I posted my pictures and suggestions ranged from yarrow to Queen Ann’s Lace.  Which after careful viewing of pictures, I determine they are not.  Heracleum spondylium was the response from FB Plant Identification, thanks to my cousin in Georgia who posted my pictures.  Someone posted I was more ‘remote’ than they were!  So I guess it is the dreaded, blistering, burning horrible weed after all.

Ok so here are the photos…I was a bit distracted as its a beautiful day here in Orkney wandering around my garden noticing other jobs I need to do…

Now how do I get rid of it?  Why is it growing so rapidly this year?  Without having to resort to chemicals is there something else I can plant that inhibits its growth, or crowds it out?  The Department of Environmental Conservation in NY state, advises careful, and the picture here is of someone in a HazMat suit, cutting off the flower heads before the seeds have matured and carefully place in a trash bag.  Leave the trash bag in direct sunlight to complete seed solarisation then dispose in garbage.  Sounds sensible.   To crowd out hogweed a mixture of seed grasses will prevent them from growing.  I was successful this year crowding out dock and dandelion with a mixture of clover and grasses sowed 2 years ago.  So I will be trying this again.

So why is hogweed so prevalent this year?  I know from my almost 4 years here at Langwell that the vegetation tells me what the climate is doing.  Summer of 2015 was wet with lots of dock weed, I pulled tons out of the ground.  2016 was dry and more dandelions were about.  This year we have had a mixture of wet and very dry conditions with less dock and dandelion and more hogweed.  And yes scientifically I believe in climate change.  So next year we will have to wait till spring to forecast what summer will bring.  I hope not the strangling Japanese knotweed!

I will be out this weekend to cut the flower heads and helping to eradicate this weed from my beautiful Langwell fields.  I hope I don’t frighten the bus load of tourists passing by my property in my HazMat outfit!

Have a good weekend from Living well at Langwell!

Sheepfluence

It must be the weather!  I have sheep on the brain.  It started with a memory of a pillow my mother had that sat on the back of the sofa in our den.  It had 7 sheep in a row embroidered on it.  I would make up stories about those sheep while watching TV with my parents.  Asking my mother 50 years later if she still had this pillow she sent me this picture!  

Henrietta her cat, provides the scale.  When I met the Welshman he took me to Wales to meet his family.  This was in 1997.  We landed at Gatwick, rented a Merc and drove in comfort to Pembrokeshire.  We both love Led Zepplin, so while listening to Houses of the Holy driving through the Elan Valley, sheep dotted all over the hills, it was tranquil and picturesque.  However, I could not help it, in my best sheep baaing voice…I said Niiiiiiigel, Niiiiiigeeel, weeeeelllcome hooom Niiiiiigeeel…hitting the comedic timing perfectly…the Welshman of course said something crass.  We stopped at tiny Welsh towns and I found three ceramic sheep from a local artist that I purchased to seal in this memory.  Now living in Orkney we of course see sheep everyday and March /April is lambing season.  I have bought more sheep art from local artists here in Orkney too…the picture below is of my wee sheep collection.

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Land and Home

The Welshman and I spoke to a dear friend in Jackson Hole, Wyoming today.  She has been living there since 1996, where she has raised two lovely daughters.  I have admired Fi since we met and became fast friends while working out at sea, as doodlebuggers!  Our lives took different paths, but like two mismatched socks, we find our match when we get to see each other.  Fi also put us onto a piece of land in Alpine Wyoming.  We bought it in 2001 if I recall, to hold a small inheritance I received for my eldest daughter and her education.  I have always thought we would build on this land and retire in Wyoming!  I had ‘dream designed’ the look of the house and imagined our daughter visiting with friends.  The dream plays out after a day skiing, the Welshman would have a fire in my retro 60’s fireplace.  Check this Lancer Malm fireplace from Pintrest I just pinned.    

I love the shape and the wide wrap around effect of the heat.  I can see this in my head and heart.  We would be having wine and playing scrabble with these college kids, laughing and loving it! But wait we diverged!   I have a stove that radiates warmth, my teenager is not in Uni yet! But the dream house sits on some valuable land that we are now going to put on the market and help to finance the second phase of Langwell and yes I hope to have a Lancer in the new addition….but first Uni, then the build!  Thank you Fi for inspiring me to buy that land,  to dream of that home and fireplace even though it’s now in Scotland on a remote island and not in the beautiful mountains of Wyoming!  I took a picture as our call finished of the Langwell sunset…just for Fi!

Golden Rings of Brodgar

Langwell had another beautiful Sunday to wake up too.  After coffee and drop off at a birthday party, the Welshman (husband) and I took Lou Lou out to the Ring of Brodgar.  A Neolithic ring of stones, which recently have been described as the original Stonehenge.  In other words, the circle of stones found all over Britain originated here in Orkney!  I recommend watching the BBC series Britain’s Ancient Capital…Secrets of Orkney.  The archaeology here in Orkney is world class, and we have a full tourist season visiting the sites.  But now in the end of January we are pretty much alone around the stones.  We have a large population of swans on the lochs, but my camera lens does not quite capture the beauty of the ‘Queen’s bird’.    The golden is of course Lou Lou, who is getting muddy as possible and who won’t get in the water!  Not typical golden behavior.  We are in contact with a local breeder so we are on the way to breeding and having a second (well more like anywhere from 4-8puppies)  addition to our household.  Enjoy the pictures!

Blues and Greens

I love shades of blues and greens. Langwell inside can be described as mostly in blues and greens, and certainly reflects the blues and greens of our summers.  My new kitchen (2014) cabinets are dark charcoal blue. Most of my ceramics are the blue and green colours I favour. Last spring I was in Washington DC and visited The Phillips Collection The High Pasture by Julian Alden Weir with my mother.  The collection is magnificent and I can’t wait to go back.  I of course bought some books in the museum shop and one that took my fancy and was intended as a gift for my daughter called COLORSTROLOGY What Your Birthday Color Says about You.  My Birthday is December 15th and the color corresponding with this day is called BLUE HEAVEN!  The book even lists the PANTONE 17-4023.  I am tempted to paint a wall in Langwell this color, however I prefer white walls as Langwell is eclectic in nature with colour (mostly blues and greens)!  The photo of my open shelves in the kitchen de-cluttered during a rainy day one weekend.  The wine glasses are from Pier One and the blue grey cups and bowls are from a local artist here in Orkney.