Having moved to Inverurie we’re now much closer to Bennachie, a set of forests and hills managed by the Forestry Commission. Rather enthusiastically, we’ve visited Bennachie Centre two weekends in a row now.

The visitor centre has plenty of information, kids’ activities, a great wildlife viewing section, and a stunning tapestry at the entrance.
2017-05-28 Bennachie

The first weekend Gareth and I went up the main hill, Mither Tap, following the ‘Mither Tap Timeline Trail’. We’ve been up this way a few years ago, and I found it pretty arduous – there were tears. I can handle a steep incline, but I’m not great with steps or ‘steppy’ rock paths, particularly when it’s above the treeline. Other people seem to whizz up and down like they’re on a flat road, and don’t even get me started on the runners who were literally running and hopping down the high, uneven trail…I felt very nervous for them, but they didn’t seem bothered as they went on their merry way.

2017-05-21 Bennachie

This time though, I was armed with walking poles, which I highly recommend! What a difference it makes, having those extra points of contact, and that little bit more confidence going from one step to the next.

2017-05-21 Bennachie
Gareth using a compass app to work out where our house was

2017-05-21 Bennachie

Finally, we got almost to the very top, but not quite the summit – the final bit is a little too much of a climb for us, and it gets really windy up there, so this is as far as we got. Not even walking poles can help with this. Perhaps with a little more ‘practice’ we’ll eventually work our way up there.
2017-05-21 Bennachie

Then, last weekend our friends Sam and Joules came to stay, and we went for a walk around the Colony Trail – no walking poles required for this one.

2017-05-28 Bennachie
View of Mither Tap

There was plenty to see, on a pleasant Spring day.

2017-05-28 Bennachie

2017-05-28 Bennachie
Wood anemone Arctic starflower / chickweed wintergreen

2017-05-28 Bennachie

2017-05-28 Bennachie
Ultra yellow broom

2017-05-28 Bennachie
A pretty weed of some sort

2017-05-28 Bennachie
Mossy walls

There are many more trails around the hills and forests of Bennachie, and no doubt Gareth and I will become more familiar with these ‘neighbours’.

Happy New Year (better later than never)

What a funny old year 2016 has been…I’m not even going to talk about what’s been going on in the rest of the world, but in my little world it felt like a very long year indeed; many other friends and family seem to have felt the same way too. Nothing bad has happened, in fact there have been many opportunities, particularly at work – they’ve just been quite challenging. One thing in particular is that in September I started a part-time course through work. It’s a certificate course at undergraduate level, in Petroleum Data Management – which is what I do, but after this I’ll have something official that says so ūüôā It’s been going well, but of course it does take up quite a bit of time in the evenings and weekends. It finishes in May, so more regular blogging and knitting will resume soon.

In the meantime we did get up to other things through the year:

An amazing honeymoon in Japan – did I mention there were cherry blossoms…?
2016-04-15 Nikko Continue reading

Meanwhile, back in the UK…

So things happened, and have been happening, and the UK is a fragile place at the moment. I was very much for remaining in the EU, and even after a few days the Brexit outcome is no less sad, painful, and worrying. Mostly because of the circumstances leading up to the vote – lies, nastiness, xenophobia and outright racism. What’s really sad is the people who voted against the EU were really voting against a UK government who has marginalised them for years. Meanwhile, just hours after the result was announced, key figures in the Leave camp were dismissing their major promises, one by one. I can’t help but feel they never really wanted to leave the EU, it was all about manipulating people in desperate situations to advance their own careers. Isn’t it astounding that product advertising is held to more accountability than election campaigning?

So now we have a new buzzword – Regrexit. We have a Prime Minister who’s washed his hands of this mess, government leaders focused on vying for power, an opposition party doing nothing but tear itself apart, cracks across the UK nations getting wider, and EU leaders calling for us to hurry up and get out already. Meanwhile, the council in Cornwall, an area that voted strongly to leave, has made statements about their funding fears, asking for assurance that the EU subsidies they receive will be matched by the UK government in the brave, new future. Irony really is a sick joke.

So what happens now? Keep Calm And Carry On? The next few weeks and months will certainly bring a lot to consider; technically the referendum result is not legally binding, so if there is any way the government can wriggle out of this and keep a few shreds of dignity they probably will. And if not, well, the one good thing about being out of the EU is that there is absolutely no one else to blame this country’s problems on, so how’s that for accountability?! All we can do for now is hope for the best, and when the time comes, engage with the whole process as much as possible. And then, que sera, sera.

I’ll end with a happy look at the garden, which has been coming along slowly but surely, now that the battering rains have given way to sunshine. Back to Japan next time!

Pink lupins

Purple lupins

Pink and yellow aquilegia

2016-06-26 Cut flowers
First garden bouquet of the year – lupins, daisies, and day lilies

Goodbye Old Year, Hello New Year!

It’s certainly been an eventful year, but yet again it feels like it’s all come and gone in no time at all!

2015 was the year of weddings. My eldest brother got married in January, Gareth and I got married in Aberdeen in July, and then the September extravaganza in Kuala Lumpur: my second brother got married, and a week later Gareth and I had our Hindu wedding. My parents were very busy.
2016-01-03 Weddings of 2015 Continue reading


Young and Flag
Image by muhd amirull / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Happy Independence Day, Malaysia!

There is so much that is wonderful about my homeland, but¬†there is so much that’s¬†wrong with¬†its governance.¬†At the weekend hundreds of thousands of Malaysians came together across Malaysia, and overseas, to do something about it.

The 4th Bersih¬†rally went ahead as planned, calling for free and fair elections, reinstatement of¬†the independence of public institutions, and an end to political corruption – and this year was dominated by calls for the Prime Minister to step down. I don’t think a simple change of PM will change much, as¬†it’s just replacing the name of the problem, not dealing with the actual issues. But I do believe that being able to say so, and calling for a change like this sends a strong message to the entire government that the people will not be taken for fools.

It was a sight to behold¬†–¬†a beautiful act of civil disobedience (among other things, large public gatherings¬†are highly restricted), with the police acting truly as peacekeepers and not just government pawns as in previous years.¬†This is¬†muhibah (harmony, goodwill, respect for others)¬†in Malaysia¬†at its finest.
Bersih 4.0 (10)
Image by Pocket News / CC BY 2.0

The rally in Kuala Lumpur started on Saturday, and ended peacefully on Sunday night as the clock struck midnight, signalling the start of our 58th Independence Day. I was unable to participate in any events here in Aberdeen, but seeing the images of masses of people in yellow, I was proud of my friends and family and fellow Malaysians, and with them in spirit.

Selamat Hari Merdeka!
Happy Independence Day!