This post will be exactly as the title says!  Autumn seems to be the favourite season of many and the number of people enthusing about it on Twitter, Instagram et al. backs this up.  Naturally, this makes it a very popular thing to blog about, and why not I say! As it’s such a popular theme, it makes sense that people will be interested in reading posts about it!

This year we seem to have had an unusually colourful Autumn up here in the islands.  Often, unfortunately for us, the leaves just begin to change into their glorious Autumn colours when along comes an almighty gale which blows the lot off!  However, recently, despite a couple of pretty wild days, the trees are hanging on to their leaves, giving us the most gorgeous show of Autumnal colour.  The leaves are gradually falling of course, and watching them drifting down as you walk by is surely one of the best things about this time of year! Not forgetting kicking your way through piles of leaves of course!  When will I ever grow out of this?! Probably never!

I get out and about at every time of year of course due to being a dog owner, but there is something undoubtedly special about being out walking in Autumn.  Crunchy leaves, shades of gold everywhere you look and the joy of finally looking out your woolly hats and uggs again!  It’s getting colder, and on the rare, still mornings there may even be the tiniest hint of frost.  I always find it faintly surprising when I actually think about it, that what is essentially a time of death and decay in nature, shows it at its most beautiful.  I suppose it’s Mother Nature’s last dance before she curls up for her Winter rest.

Before that, we still have Halloween, Bonfire night and the return of the Northern Lights to look forward to, as well as making the most of the last of those Autumn leaves.  Which season is your favourite?

I recently heard or read this time of year described as the in-between days; the best of summer over and the Autumn not yet begun.  I love this description as it captures this time of year perfectly.  It doesn’t truly feel like summer any more, at least not where I live.  Some of the leaves have begun to take on an unmistakeable yellowish tinge, others are browning and curling at the edges.  The evenings are darkening and last night I found myself lighting a candle – something I never do in late Spring or Summer, it just doesn’t feel right!

Seeing Stars

 

Something I love about late August is we start to see stars again! It may sound ridiculous, but where I live in the Hebrides, it barely gets dark at the height of the Summer.  The sky darkens in the wee small hours but never to true darkness.  Almost as soon as it sets it seems you see the sun beginning to creep up towards the horizon again.  The stars become strangers over those days of Summer and it never fails to lift my spirits when I see them again, barely at first and then becoming brighter and more abundant in the sky.  By late August, it truly feels like a time of transition, where we have all the delights of Autumn to come and of course then the long days of Winter.

 

Looking Ahead

 

I’m looking forward to the colder months as I always do to any change in the seasons.  My new found interest in mindfulness means I’m not focusing too much on what’s to come though.  There’s so much to see and appreciate in the present moment rather than missing it thinking about an imagined future.  So for now I’m going to take in the ever shortening days and embrace the remaining time that I can go jacket-less before the colder days come! I do think it’s time to start planning my Autumn/Winter wardrobe though!  What do you think of this time of year?

Well, at the beginning of the year when I dreamt up Crofts and Cocktails, I envisaged myself blogging regularly and quickly establishing a beautiful blog full of well written, interesting posts.  Things of course, often don’t work out as expected!  I really enjoyed blogging and engaging with fellow bloggers for the first few months.  Unfortunately life then got in the way, most notably with a very sick pooch who I had to devote ever increasing amounts of time and energy to.  Add working full time in a demanding job and it’s not surprising that my blog fell to the wayside!

On a sunny Friday afternoon, after a fraught few months of frequent vet visits, ever-increasing doses of medication and 4am wake-ups we lost our beloved Archie.  Losing him was heartbreaking and although I now had far more time on my hands, restarting my blog was the last thing I felt like doing.

 

Onwards and Upwards!

 

Fast forward two months though and things are looking up!  Although I’m of the opinion that you can never replace a furry friend, my house just wasn’t the same without a dog.  One road (and ferry!) trip later, I brought Bob home!  He’s a 13 month old Boston terrier who was needing a new home and he’s fitted in perfectly!  We’ve had our challenging moments, mainly as he’s not yet house trained and likes to chew and eat inedible things, but we’re getting there!  I still miss Archie every day, but Bob has definitely helped fill the void that he left and I hope we have many happy years ahead!


So as for my blog, I’m now aiming to post more regularly.  My ultimate aim is to blog at least weekly about all the things I love – reading, my rickety old house (which I’m still working on!), music, and of course, life here on my wee island.  Oh, and maybe the occasional Game of Thrones post!  I’m also going to give my blog a revamp so watch this space!

 

Everyone has their down days at times, it’s just a part of life.  There are so many ways you can make yourself feel better though.  Here are my pick-me-ups that I always find help if I’m feeling fed up!

Get outside!

It’s amazing the difference getting out in the fresh air can make.  I can be sitting inside feeling fed up but once I throw on my jacket and head out, I feel so much better.  Whether it’s a walk with the dog or just tidying up the garden, it doesn’t seem to matter, just being outdoors is a tonic.

Read, read, read

Reading is a form of mindfulness, which has been proven time and time again to help with stress and anxiety.  When you get stuck into a good book your mind is focusing on conjuring up lots of lovely images in your head and therefore forgets about anything else, if only for a short time.

Be mindful

I’ve already mentioned mindfulness of course but it’s worth a mention in its own right.  Most people are aware now of what mindfulness is – focusing on the present and stilling the mind rather than chewing over your thoughts constantly.  It’s been proven time and time again to improve mental health and is something we should all try to do a little more of.  There are a huge number of books, apps and videos available to get you started.

Get a film on

We all have our favourite films and tv programmes and they are a perfect tonic to feeling down.  My go-to films are usually The Lord of the Rings films or Disney Classics, I can watch them time and time again!  Watching something funny (I love French and Saunders and Friends!) is also highly recommended.

Communicate!

Meet up with someone for a cup of tea, phone your best friend, take part in a Twitter chat – whatever you enjoy!  It’s easy to wallow by yourself but even a quick phone call or a friendly tweet can make your day so much better!

Retail therapy

Now this is one to be careful with!  Going on a spending spree might not be the best plan if you’re stressed about money or on a tight budget!  However a magazine or nail varnish won’t break the bank and a wee treat for yourself is a great pick-me-up.

Listen to music

Or play it yourself if you can!  Music is fabulous therapy and listening to your favourite songs is something you can do (almost) anywhere.  I find getting my accordion out (such an uncool instrument haha) and playing it for a wee while is a great way to chill out.

There are so many other things I could add to this list! Do you have any other ways you cheer yourself up if you’re feeling down?

 

I am lucky enough to live in a beautiful part of the world, namely the Scottish Hebrides.  It’s the kind of place you’re desperate to leave as a teenager but learn to appreciate as an adult.  At least that’s how it was for me anyway!

The Hebrides are everything they are described to be in tourist adverts – rugged, remote and beautiful.  They can also be an extremely trying place to live, mostly because of the weather!  The wind is one of the most distinguishing features as it never really seems to go away for very long.   As I write I’m looking out on blue skies and sunshine, the sheep are ambling around the croft across the road and the daffodils are in full bloom.  From here it looks like a perfect April day but step outside and it’s a slightly different story!  The wind chill today means the temperature is only about 6 degrees according to the met office.  Having just walked my dog I think it’s more like minus 6!!

The rain is another frequent feature here but of course this is the UK so you wouldn’t expect much else would you!?  Sometimes it’s as if we have our own weather system up here though.  Very often if the rest of the country has good weather our weather is rubbish and vice versa! Weird!

I’ve just realised what a very British post this is, rambling on about the weather!

 

Enough About the Weather!

 

There is far more to where I live than just the weather of course.  The Hebrides are well known for their beautiful beaches especially.  A few years ago a photograph of a beach in the Uists was pinched by the Thai authorities and used to promote their beaches! The cheek!

 

There are also plenty of hills which are easy for any intrepid day-tripper to tackle.  If hills aren’t your thing, there is any number of scenic walks, not that I make the most of them, shame on me!    And for the less active there are plenty of sites of historical interest, some with very handy visitor centres (and cafes!) on site.  On Lewis we have the beautiful Lews Castle which has been recently renovated and currently houses a museum and cafe.  The views over Stornoway from the castle are stunning and I can’t help but imagine Lady Matheson, the wife of the first owner, strolling through the corridors and looking out over the town back in the 1800s!

One of the main draws of the Hebrides has to be the big skies and the light.  As a remote and rural area we have spectacular sunrises and sunsets in any season and if you’re lucky you might even glimpse the Northern Lights.  It is incredibly peaceful to see the Sun’s rays falling on the moor between showers or to watch the sunset on a perfectly still Summer’s evening.

There are so many more things I can say about the Hebrides but I’ll save them for future posts.  Suffice to say, in my opinion it is a fabulous place both to live and to visit!