Completing the circle

I did it.

31 days.

31 posts.

Down through the alphabet and then some.

Some I was pleased with, some not so much. Sometimes there was no inspiration.

But I got here.


Today is Hallowe’en, All Hallows Eve. A day signifying different things around the world.

Perhaps it’s dressing up and partying, children visiting neighbours to “Trick or Treat?”, in Scotland it’s called “Guising”.

It might mean church and prayer, visiting graves, remembering the dead.

It may be just another day.

Here in Scotland the trees still have their beautiful Autumn colours but soon they’ll be falling and we’ll slip into Winter.


The days are already shortening, we put our clocks back at the weekend.

There’s been a birth, a wedding and too many deaths.

The cycle continues the year goes around


I’ll be back next month.

Just not every day

Marina x





Dancing* and dogs

But dancing dogs not so much.

Anyway, last night I did a lot of dancing. My feet are complaining today, always the sign of a good party I’d say. We whirled and shimmied and stamped the night away.

With the result that today, despite our “extra” hour in bed, I’m rather tired. And nearing the end of #Blogtober I’m flagging a bit.

So. Today I bring you:

Dog pictures*.


*don’t complain they could have been me dancing pictures

Most are of DogStarke, some of the dogs we’ve met.





If you want more of DogStarke you can find her on Twitter @southfieldchat.

An excellent resource for dog owners

Until tomorrow.

Marina x

*don’t complain they could have been pictures of me dancing




When I was a little girl I loved watching weddings. We lived just along the street from the church so had a good view of any that took place. It was the custom to stand and watch the bridal party arrive, sometimes there would be a “scramble” for pennies. I wasn’t too bothered about these; I wanted to be the bridesmaid. These days there’s lots of talk about brides and how it’s the dream of so many little girls. To be honest I either didn’t look that far ahead or wasn’t particularly bothered. It was the bridesmaid I identified with. They wore full, shiny frocks. We  had one in the house, yellow satin with a matching hairband from when my big sister had been a bridesmaid. I don’t think it ever fitted me, not after the time I become aware of it anyway. My sister had only been five when she wore it;  she was a dainty child, I’ve always been…sturdy.

The problem was we didn’t have any relatives of the right age. My sister had been bridesmaid for our youngest cousin on our Dad’s side (and she was a good 20+ years older than us) and on our Mum’s side we were all fairly close in age, so no one was old enough to get married.

And so I waited..

At last, happy days, our eldest cousin’s son got engaged and I was asked to be bridesmaid.  But still no shiny frock, I wore a floral cotton.

Jump forward eight years and I’m a bridesmaid again. This time for my sister. And this time I’m delighted to be wearing a cotton frock, blue/white stripes, Laura Ashley, see a snippet above. I still have it but there’s no chance of fitting into it now. It has some 80s features, full skirt, puffy sleeves but I think it would still look pretty on a bridesmaid. The Glamourpuss (sister) with her impeccable  taste eschewed all vestiges of 80s meringue and wore a gorgeous Edwardian inspired, lacy David Fielden dress which would look equally timeless today.

For my own wedding two years later I wore a deep cream Venetian lace and silk dress. I still have that dress too, but not the husband.

Eleven years ago we became Mr&MrsStarke, and I wore a black, silk MaxMara dress which has had several subsequent outings. Finally, my lovely shiny frock, with its swooshy full skirt.

And lovely MrS too.

I’ve realised I was meant to be writing about weddings and it’s turned out to be all about the frocks. But I like the parties too.

I’ve been to some lovely ones. A village hall in November, decorated with berries and autumn foliage;  the electricity failed and we danced by candlelight. The party where the bride played along with the band, the time in  the Philippines when we danced under the stars.


Why am I thinking about weddings today?

Recently MasterS was Best Man for his friend*



Last weekend MrS and I celebrated our eleventh anniversary


One of those couples mentioned welcomed their beautiful baby this week.

And tonight we have another couple to toast.**

So now it’s time to go and get ready.

Marina x



*I didn’t take this photo myself

**I stood outside to watch the bride arrive today.

Lunch with MrS

Yesterday was all about me and DogStarke as MrS was busy working. Today we enjoyed some nice time together.

Fridays are lunch in town days, we go to the fishmonger, florist and deli., then on to our chosen cafe or restaurant.

This is the view from one of our favourite Friday spots.


Today it was mostly working boats and ferries, sometimes there are yachts. There was one particularly fancy one in the summer that led to all sorts of rumours*.

Not too many photos from today’s meal;  phones were banished in favour of chat.



We were fairly abstemious with salad washed down with water for lunch,  but now MrS is busy cooking up that fish.

And I think it might just be time for a nice glass of wine.



Marina x


*that it was Beyonce’s. It wasn’t.



Flowers from:

Thistle and Rose


Fun Makes Good


Days out with DogStarke

Not just something I like, one of my favourite things. Even better when MrS comes too, but today he was busy.

So off we set for culture,  lunch and walkies. As it turned out we didn’t do things quite in that order.  I had a few work thing sort before we could leave and it’s only fair to do a let Dogstarke stretch her legs before getting in the car,so we had local walkies first.  Then I was just a tad peckish so lunch topped culture.

We drove north to my “K” place heading for the Holly Tree hotel. Dogstarke got her usual warm welcome and a bowl of water before settling down for a sleep.


I was more hungry than sleepy so tucked into this.



After lunch we took a turn along the cycle path/walkway before heading for my cultural fix.

The Glencoe Folk museum* is a group of thatched cottages on the main street of Glencoe village. Jacobite memorabilia, slate mining artefacts and a fascinating cabinet of curiosities are just a few of the exhibits. I even found out how shinty balls are made.**

I’d planned a longer circular drive but my fuel gauge was blinking at me and it was a bit too wet for even DogStarke to enjoy another walk,  so we headed towards home,  stopping  for a quick cup of tea and a browse in the shop at The View overlooking Castle Stalker.

The beautiful, bright weather we’ve been enjoying have disappeared for now, but the view and autumnal colours are still gorgeous.

Until tomorrow.

Marina x

Featured places:

The Holly Tree Hotel

Glencoe Folk Museum

The View, Castle Stalker ***

* museum closes for the season on 31st October. Dogs are not allowed inside

**cork derived from a fungus which I’m annoyed I didn’t note the name of, string/wool, leather. Shinty is a popular team  game in the Highlands.

***cafe and shop are dog friendly





Zebra crossings

You know, the non automated crossings, heralded by Belisha beacons (as seen above but with a usually less watery setting). Often staffed by cheery men and women in Hi-Vis raincoats. Perhaps you don’t have them where you live?  I like them because they give back power to the pedestrian. If someone is waiting, the car is obliged to stop.

But…. This should have been a travel post. About Zambia, or Zanzibar, or maybe Zaragoza. The only problem is, I’ve not been there. I don’t even know very much about them. Perhaps they should be on my “wish” NOT “bucket” list (I absolutely hate that term).

And there’s another problem, where to next? The alphabet has 26 letters and this is the last but #Blogtober has another 6 days to run.

I had hoped that I could use the extra letters from the Welsh alphabet. And then I checked. There are eight of them: Ch, Dd, Ff, Ll, Ng, Ph, Rh and Th. And not being a Welsh speaker I was struggling to find things I liked*. It was all a bit too contrived.

I’m still working on it. There will be a post tomorrow. Perhaps not a theme though.

And I’ve just remembered a Z  place I’ve visited and liked.


Only problem is, my trip wasn’t even this century. I did find some photos though, old style non digital ones in albums, so I’ve taken photos of them.

And like so many of my photos, there is cake.**


Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.

Marina x


*Lyfrau – books

**and a very young MasterS.





I’m new to this. I started not long after I moved here permanently. A new class was starting up and I decided to  give it a try.

I went to a couple of classes years ago but didn’t really like it, the class was too big, I couldn’t remember the poses and it seemed as if everyone else had been going forever.

My class here  is totally different. It’s not tiny but it’s small enough that our teacher can watch and adjust our poses (if we are happy with that). And most of all it’s not just exercising my body, it’s stretching my mind too.

I know I’ve become calmer.

I’m late writing this post tonight, I’ve been out at another activity. I came away slightly buzzing and also a little unhappy, disappointed; and then along came an email, probably well intentioned,  which just compounded things and made me angry too.

I couldn’t focus on this post.

Then I started to breathe. And to notice my breathing. And work with my breathing. And I calmed down. Became a little more balanced.

Balance. Not just the standing on one leg sort, though we do that too, but balancing movements and breath, and self.

Learning  to let my breath take me where I can go and accept that,  instead of forcing my lax joints.

Hearing the midnight bells chime and realising I’ve missed my  deadline.

But somewhere it’s still


Marina x



Well, I have to admit it,  X has me beaten. I did have the idea of using “Xenophilia” as the  title of this post, thinking of it only as a positive thing. The opposite of xenophobia.

Then I did a little research….

While xenophobia is a wholly negative thing, its opposite can have pejorative connotations too. It can be liking the different just for difference sake, rather than the openness to new people and  things that  I’d imagined.

Rather more disturbingly, prefix it with a couple of more XXs and it becomes a porn site. Now I’m all for new things and connecting via this blog, but some things are a step too far. And while I love seeing likes and follows I was worried that xenophile might be misconstrued and I’d be hit with hate mail.

I don’t particularly like xylophones and didn’t want to be Xcited, or talk about Xcellence; I’m not  a fan of the X-Factor or X-Files, didn’t want  blog about Xmas.

Maybe I should have stuck with my first thought, Xylem.

Xylem and phloem, the vascular system of plants, their arteries and veins if you like. Phloem conducts nutrients, and xylem takes water from the roots to the tips of the shoots. It’s way keeps a tree both rooted and growing. No xylem, no trees.

And we all need trees.


So a good thing to like.

#Blogtober24   Xylem

Marina x*

*of course X = kisses too.



My “Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau”, and it is dear to me. It’s where I was born and spent my childhood, and it’s where most of my family still live.

I don’t get back as often as I’d like, but when I do I have a great time.  As well as family visits I try to tour about. Sometimes revisiting childhood favourites, other times searching out places we never got around to visiting  back then.

It’s curious when you go back. Memories are tricksy and places can be not quite how they live in your mind. Then there’s the size conundrum, places which seemed huge to a child have now shrunk.

And then some places simply are different.

The village I grew up in was an industrial one, though surrounded by wooded hills. At the base of the valley were the coal mines. They closed in the 1990s , and you have to look hard to find any trace of them today. The “red”river,  now runs clear and is home to fish.

One thing which hasn’t changed is the coastline. It’s as beautiful and enticing as it was back then. Those days , when we jostled over who would be first to shout,  “I can see the sea!!!”.

It’s even better these days as you can walk all along it on the Wales Coast Path.


I learned to swim in the seas off that coast, Porthcawl, Mumbles, Langland Bay, and my favourite Rhossili.  I swam every chance I had. Summer, Easter, it didn’t matter. I braved the waves; my family sat on deckchairs wrapped in layers.I had my own layers, of fat to keep me warm. but also I didn’t care. I had to be in that sea.

Lately I’ve just paddled or walk along those beaches. But never say never.

Ah. One other thing has changed. We weren’t so good at football back then.


Things that change, things that stay the same.


A welcome in the valleys. When I go home to Wales.

Marina x





Not the 1980 song , though I did like that very much back in the day. (And still do if I’m honest). No, the city.  But once again this post will be dredging up memories, if not from my teens, but from my thirties. Eek!

Actually I was only *just* still in my thirties, I think I celebrated my 40th birthday right after we returned.

And a disclaimer, that coffee  above was enjoyed much closer to home.  I have no photos of that trip. I know I must that some momentos but I think they must be in the trunk which is currently in the inaccessible part of the house. But I thought some coffee would be appropriate.

So I  will have to try and paint a picture with words.

I can’t remember the name of the hotel we stayed in  but do remember it was out near the UN building. A quick search suggests it what is now the NH Danube City. All I can remember is that it was near the UN and the Danube. The Danube, which was certainly  a mighty river,  but equally certainly not blue; it was green.

It was a work trip for MrS* and he had been in the city a few days ahead of me. The night I arrived the cultural programme included an organ recital at St Stephen’s Cathedral. We headed out to this but dismayed by the length of the queue opted out and enjoyed a sociable evening with some lovely colleagues in a bierkellar.

The other thing I remember of that evening was that I wore a beautiful pair of Moschino mules. They were back and cream leather with a punched out design (like on brogues), a cute little bow and kitten heels. They were also  a half size too small for me. They hurt even when sitting down. I think that was the only time I wore them, although they only found their way to a charity shop three years ago. Maybe I thought my feet would shrink if I washed them enough?

MrS was busy every day and probably would struggle to describe Vienna apart from the inside of the congress centre.  Me?  I had a combined transport and museum card and had a  super time.

I rode the tram right around the Ringstrasse, ate bratwurst, drank more coffee and cake than you would think humanly possible and gorged on galleries. I visited Sissi’s flower strewn tomb in the Kaisergruft, marvelled at the modernity of the Frankfurt kitchen in the   MAK and discovered those Klein blues at Mumok.


I paid my respects at the  Silent Library


The finale of the congress was a ball at the Rathaus. The Vienna Opera dancers delighted us with their carefully choreographed Viennese Waltzes. And then MrS and I tore up the floor  with our rather more improvised moves.

I swam in the Danube and saw but failed to ride the Reisenrad.

Still it’s always nice to leave something for the next visit.

And maybe then I’ll take some photos too.


the only bit of Vienna memorabilia I could lay my hands on

Marina x


*He was strictly speaking not MrS until the following year