These dark Winter mornings have been keeping us in bed later each day. When the light begins to creep round the edges of the blinds, the morning is already well underway. Time to dig out the alarm clock and try to get a bit of an earlier start made to the day. James usually creeps through at some point in the night and is cosily snuggled between us, deeply asleep. I creep out from under the warm duvet and pad through to the dark kitchen.
I wait sleepily for the kettle to boil for that first magical restorative cup of tea- I have left the oats to soak overnight for our breakfast porridge, so they will cook quickly when we are ready.
Enjoying the warmth from the cup in my hands, I make my way to the living room, and nestle on the couch, drinking my tea and thinking about the day ahead. I make a list of tasks for the week, and decide which ones I will attempt to achieve today. I never get through these list, but I like to write them anyway. It does help bring some focus to the day.
The moon is still shining brightly in the Western sky. I stand at the door for a moment, feeling the frost creeping through my pyjamas and marvel once again at it's silver beauty.
Then the rest of the family awaken, and the house begins to come to life.
The dawn breaks at around 9.15 am, flooding the sky with a golden light.
In these short days, the sun stays close to the horizon, and the sea-loch reflects the pink of the sky, bathing everything in a rosy glow.
This morning, I have a ham to cure and some cooking to be done for later. James is at a Christmas party in a village some way up the coast with the Croileagan - they have gone in the local mini-bus. I have lots of time to myself then - what else can I cross off that list? As the morning wears on, though, and the dishes pile up in the sink, the call of the outdoors begins to whisper and then shout. It is a glorious blue Midwinter's day...
Abandoning the dirty dishes and the unswept floor, I head off to pick James up at the end of the party. A rainbow is reflected in the loch as I drive along.
James is having a good time at the party. I arrive just as he is receiving his gift from "Santa", who besides his traditional red suit also seems to be wearing some very dark sunglasses. James confides that it is not the real Santa, but only someone dressed up. (One of the fathers or grandfathers perhaps - hence the dark glasses?) I suggest a picnic lunch, instead of a trip home on the bus, and he readily agrees.
We stop on the way down at this wonderful little deli, based on one of the crofts. Real food can be found in some surprising places. We order sandwiches cut from a boule of onion seed bread. I have smoked venison and carmelised onion, and James opts for ham and roasted tomato relish. All home produced and local. A hot tea for me, water for J and a chocolate and raspberry cake and we are good to go.
We are heading....
...to the beach!
And - breathe.
This is one of James's favourite beaches, as he likes the shiny shells he sometimes finds here. No shells today, but lots of pebbles. After our delicious lunch, he starts off, looking for the most beautiful stones he can find - and he finds lots - each one more fabulous than the last, and all are exclaimed over and examined in great detail, before being carefully placed in the empty tea carton.
Time slips away and we stay for longer than we meant to. We are cold, but so happy and refreshed as we bundle back into the car and wend our way home.
Already the light is beginning to fade, as the sun slips lower.
And it is time to feed the pigs before dark and begin those evening chores. Oh, yes - and the washing up is still there. Well - it always is. xx