“Tulips From Amsterdam”…Well, My Garden…

Isn’t it funny how standards just gradually slide… away…. I say this because I have spent the last four days in my gardening trousers and dressing gown. I did get some funny looks when I ventured out, but..strange times.

We have been lucky with the weather so I have been out in the garden. I love renewing my acquaintance with the flowers of every season as they come through and at the moment it’s tulip time.

Ice cream anyone..these ones remind me of raspberry ripple!

I will spare you my rendition of “Tulips From Amsterdam” by the immortal Max Bygraves, but my grandad used to sing this song to me when I was a little girl, and it’s one of my earliest memories, walking round the gaden with him and admiring the silky petals and vibrant colours of these popular flowers.

These orange ones are fabulous, paired with the white…

Grandad had a fondness for the red tulips, I always thought the black stamens resembled spiders’ legs, but when I grew up and got my own garden I planted some tulips bulbs of my very own as a matter of course.

One for you Grandad…

Now. Although tulips are generally associated with Holland they actually originated from the Ottoman Empire – modern Turkey – where they were cultivated from a native wild flower for the pleasure of one particular sultan in the 16th century.

This year’s Suffragette Corner….

The word ‘tulip’ comes from the word for ‘turban’ or ‘material’, I think, but the shape of the petals and their silky texture always remind me of harem pants…the bulbs were imported from Turkey to Holland where they became so popular and sought after they created their own economic bubble.

I love the purity of white flowers…

They were even used as currency at one point, although I am pleased to say I buy my bulbs at a much more reasonable price, but you can see why they were – and still are – just so popular! Look…

These frilly edged ones are known as parrot tulips, the purple ones are as rich as velvet…

Gold And Goodbyes.


Strictly speaking, Gold is a mineral, not a crystal, but it still has its place in the world of healing and therapy. It is said to inspire knowledge, encourage spirituality and bring true understanding of the physical and spiritual self so they can be united and complete.


It is traditionally a symbol of wealth but is also said to encourage generosity and compassion, a mineral made for sharing and caring, not hoarding. Gold can also be associated with purity and development.


Gold can help with the balancing of the heart chakra and its purity is also credited with the ability to preserve thoughts and information which can be accessed at a later date. It clears negativity from the chakras and aura and is a lovely way to connect with higher energies.

Physical examples of gold’s ability to endure can be found in the jewellery and relics of Roman..Saxon… Egyptian times…however far you care to go back, and it is a wonderfully positive mineral to have about you, wear, or use. It has a lot of positive associations – a golden handshake, golden years and so on, and who isn’t happy with the gift of golden jewellery.


We recently had to say goodbye to Lucky the budgie and it actually upset me a lot more than I anticipated. You see, we’d had him for nearly ten years – my little dog Lulu found him when we were out walking the dogs (A Lucky Save), Walter, my beloved old cat knew him, he’d watched Charlie grow from kitten to princess and was distinctly unimpressed with Ting and Tooty – these animals were and are all part of a long golden chain linked by love.

Animals that I have known and loved and the privilege to share my life with, spanning forty and more years, from Walter to Tibby, his mother, to Mogwai, Ginger and Ming my Burmese, then Snoopy, my very first cat. Not forgetting the dogs… from Lulu to Rebel to Rowan to Rosie to Shadow and Wolf, then Nikki and Bruce… all the way back to my mother’s first dog Beauty and cat, Peppy…


A roll call of the faithful, their love still shining as bright as any gold in a chain of love that carries us through our days and helps us if we lose our way. So, although goodbyes can be sad, treasure them like gold as we forge a new link in our lives.


Love always xx

Gardening… With Cats…


1. Quietly ascertain the exact location of each cat (two younger ones on bed, small black cat lying on laptop, tabby asleep on chair.)

2. Stealthily open shed and collect trowel, seeds and clematis that really needs planting out.

3. Turn to shut shed door and jump in fright, dropping compost, as four pairs of eyes watch you… accusingly.


4. Sigh in resignation and walk to spot in garden where you intended planting clematis, first removing small black cat from shed and seeds from Siamese.


5. Observed by cats, dig hole for lovely new clematis plant.

6. Turn away to retrieve plant then shriek in horror as you see small tabby princess squatting elegantly over hole, preparing to… um… christen it.

7. Wait until tabby has finished and fetch watering can to rinse hole out, only to find Siamese using new, conveniently dug hole, while the two black cats look on, politely waiting their turn.


8. Comfort clematis – it is visibly shuddering in horror.

9. Find nice clean ceramic plant pot.

10. Abandon idea of planting clematis directly in garden, instead filling previously-mentioned pot with compost, placing clematis carefully within, watering and removing to an ideal location on the patio.


Blogs, Birthdays And Blues…

1 YEARRY (2)

Well! Who would have thought it! As an additional Mother’s Day gift, I received this notification last week – the header photo, saying that I have been blogging for a whole year… I also got perfume – I love perfume, crystals, of course, and cat-related objects, naturally…

My little blog that started at my son’s suggestion has survived a year… I’ve posted regularly (never thought I had so much to talk about really) and I have met some truly WONDERFUL people, real friends who would be welcome for a cup of tea at my house… not the sort of people where when you see them coming you switch the lights off, draw the curtains and lie on the floor behind the sofa… just me on that one then..?

I have enjoyed the reading of blogs, the new knowledge and shared experiences and talking, really talking. In “real time” I am actually quite shy… at your average socila gathering, I would be the person sitting in a corner by themselves, trying to look interesting and aloof but really dying inside…

All I had to do was talk, even if it was something totally banal, just to break the ice. I always feel bad for someone if they are giving a talk or a lecture , and ask at the end “Any questions?” usually to a deathly silence… I generally blurt out something completely stupid and unrelated like “Do you like ice cream?”

One of my Mother’s Day presents was this… blue Goldstone. A man-made crystal of glass with tiny flecks of copper suspended within that create the sparkle. Opinion is divided as to whether it has any actual metaphysical benefit, but it is reputed to be protective and uplifting, shielding psychics from empathetic residue and bringing vitality to speech. I like it… it’s pretty, and sparkly and I’ve been told it’s always good to work with colours.


And this is Angelite, a stone of awareness that links, as its name would suggest, to the higher realms, and enables you to speak freely and with love.


All blue crystals are generally associated with the throat chakra, and with that in mind, promote communication.


So then, as I think about my own blog’s birthday, I inevitably consider my own… notorious for being horrible occasions – I was homeless on my 21st. The actual day is not until July and I am now at that stage of my life where I have lived the Maiden years, nearly completed my Mother years and am approaching the Crone years… Silence at the back there!


This essentially means I should be able to look back on my decades of accumulated wisdom and share little gems of my own… I would start by saying talk more. I wish I’d talked more, shared worries and asked for help… My oldest son has made some life choices that I am diametrically opposed to… I do wish we could have talked more – they are his choices to make, granted, but at least I could have offered him an alternative opinion… so talk.

Even silences can be “speaking”… and sometimes that’s all it takes…

Hey! Hey! Do you like ice cream…?


My Nan’s Sewing Basket


My paternal grandmother was one of a generation brought up to believe a lady should have a well-equipped sewing basket and furthermore, be able to use its contents in the way in which they were intended.

Likewise, at my school, we were all expected to be able to sew a straight seam, replace a button, follow a pattern and know a reasonable amount of embroidery stitches.

I don’t think my grandmother and mother altogether approved of each other…

Shall I let the seams of those trousers out a bit, dear? They do look awfully tight…”

No thank you, Mrs. Murdoch, they’re supposed to be that way, it’s fashion…!”

My mother was more for the practical uses of sewing, like stitching up gashes in fetlocks, plaited manes, ready for showing… so it was left to my grandmother to teach me its gentler applications.


Now, I am not the world’s greatest needlewoman – I still can’t follow a pattern and the finer points of knitting escape me – but I remember very clearly the delight of being able to have a look through my Nan’s sewing basket, and marvel at its treasures…

Reels of sewing thread, neatly aligned and in a wonderful spectrum of colours from black to red to pearl grey. A little packet of real gold thread, purchased solely for the mending of a ball gown; strips of a white bendy substance, that I found out was real whale bone, frowned upon nowadays but which had in fact been salvaged from one of her own mother’s dresses.

Soft skeins of embroidery silks, heaped and shiny like material jewels, ready to be used on the squares of cambric, I think it was called, that came with useful little holes for me to practise my stitches.

I loved the wheels of glass headed pins, and liked to re-arrange them in the order of the rainbow colours, and fiddle with the needles, arranged in size order, in their cotton case, stabbing little holes in the cushion shaped like a tomato…

Don’t do that please dear, it will end up being more hole than cushion…”

I loved hearing the stories behind the scraps of fabric and lace:

Well, that came from your uncle’s christening gown that I made, your grandfather brought me the lace back from a trip to Brussels…”

I would listen, spellbound, stroking the soft velvet ribbons, lilac and white, neatly coiled and fastened with a tiny gold safety pin.


The button tin – well, that was a separate treasure all in itself. I think at one point it had been one of those tins handed out to soldiers in the First World War, and somehow, it had found its way back with the family member and been passed to my Nan as a keepsake tin. Most of its paint had been rubbed off and it was a little battered, but it did useful duty guarding Nan’s collection of buttons… Brasso-ed buttons dull with age that bore some indecipherable insignia on it, possibly from that same relative’s military uniform; tiny, dainty mother-of-pearl buttons, lost from evening gloves and never returned, horn toggles from my father’s childhood duffle coat, workaday buttons of plastic in shades of grey, black and white, jewelled buttons from various dresses that had long ago been cut up and re-purposed and my personal favourite, a menagerie of buttons shaped like animals, little ducks and giraffes and kittens of course, all of which at some time had been used on a dress or cardigan for me.

I was the only girl grandchild at that time, and Nan loved making the beautifully crafted frilly dresses, with smocked fronts and lacy hems, the delicately crocheted cardigans and jumpers…

She also taught me the value of having a decent pair of scissors in the house. She had several pairs, all for different jobs, all regularly sharpened and housed in their own protective cases. She never would have dreamed of using her dressmaking scissors for cutting hair, or her embroidery scissors for trimming nails…

I may not have been lucky enough to inherit my grandmother’s skills with a needle, but I was BLOODY annoyed the other day when I found my partner using my good sewing scissors to remove the fat from his bacon…


Summer of ’76


I yearn for the days of summer,
The red, the white and the gold.

When swifts flew high
In the summer sky
And the sun shone hot
And bold.

Solitary child, outdoors
And wild.
Barefoot and dusty,
Bike grew rusty.

I roamed the fields about
Our home.

I prodded toads
And frightened pheasants
And laughed at pigs in fields.

I yearn for the days of summer,
The red, the white and the gold.

When the days were long
And full of song,
And I never felt the cold.


Words Copyright © 2016 Samantha Murdoch

All photographs Copyright © 2016 Alex Marlowe




Real Neat Blog Award


I was nominated for this award a couple of weeks ago by the wonderful Alex of Brian And Lily, I must thank her for this and her kind words. She’s one of my earliest friends on WordPress, so please go and have a look at her blog and meet the adorable Lily and Brian, her dogs. Alex (great name!) writes a wonderful blog full of details about life with and caring for her dogs.

Questions… I nipped over to Whippet Wisdom (another of Alex’s nominations and a great blog too!) to borrow the logo and questions for this post.

Here are the rules for the Real Neat Blog Award:

  1. Post the Award logo on your blog.
  2. Answer 7 questions asked by the person who nominated you.
  3. Thank the people who nominated you and link to their blog.
  4. Nominate any number of bloggers you like and link to their blog.
  5. Let them know you nominated them by leaving a comment on their blog.


  1. Where do most visits to your blog come from?That’s hard to answer as it seems to vary from day to day… The UK, the States and Canada, but I’ve also had visits from Singapore, Israel, Finland, the Philippines, Cape Town… all over really and all wonderful places that I aspire to visiting one day
  2. What is your favourite sport or exercise?I do a lot of walking, myself, as I like to observe, take note, pass the time of day with whatever happens to be out and about. Not really one for sport. My games teacher at school once gave me this report: “If Samantha were to put as much effort into participating in games as she does in avoiding it, she’d probably get on quite well.” Apparently that won a prize in the staffroom for the most original report.
  3. What has been a special moment for you so far in 2016?Starting this blog and entering the wonderful world of WordPress. I have met some great people that I am truly pleased to call friends.
  4. What is your favourite quote?I’ve answered this question a few times… the answer is still the same: This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.’ 14th Dalai Lama. I love these words, a great philosophy to live your life by.
  5. What was your favourite class when still at school?English. I love the vagaries of the English language. From ‘through’ to ‘thorough’ to ‘rough’. It has been used to write some of the most beautiful and memorable pieces of literature, yet remains quirky and individualistic.
  6. Anything you had wished to have learned earlier?
    To ride a bike. Still haven’t learned – too afraid of falling off… and I have a feeling it would have been a useful skill…!
  7. What musical instrument have you tried to play?I always wanted to learn to play the piano, it struck me as an elegant sort of an instrument.


My questions:

  1. Sunshine or rain?
  2. If you were a herb, what would you be?
  3. First thing you ever cooked or baked?
  4. First pet?
  5. What country would you like to visit and why?
  6. What one piece of advice would you give to your 16 year old self?
  7. Favourite drink (alcoholic or otherwise)?

My nominations:

  1. Ella
  2. Chic-Soles
  3. Paperpuff
  4. Sasha’s Journey
  5. gillyflower
  6. Chloe Douglas Blog

As always, these nominations are a mark of appreciation. There is no pressure to accept of course, either.

And to everyone who’s been kind enough to stop and have a read, a like, or a subscribe –



Some lovely autumnal photos, taken by Alex Marlowe

Versatile Blogger Award


What a lovely surprise! Two nominations for the same award on the same day by two different blogs! Is that random… Consequently I must thank Xenia and her wonderful whippets Pearl and Eivor of Whippet Wisdom and Ella May of Testarossa for thinking of me and nominating me for this award. Please go and have a look at both of these blogs; Whippet Wisdom for beautiful photos and uplifting words and Testarossa for a wonderful combination of fashion, thoughts, travel and student advice!

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The Rules For This Award:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you.

  2. Share the Award on your blog.

  3. Share seven random facts about yourself.

  4. Tag up to ten bloggers with less than 1000 followers and let them know they have been nominated.

As I had a double nomination, I thought it only fair to provide not seven, but fourteen random facts about myself…! Likewise with my nominations… here goes with fourteen random facts about me… sometimes I wonder myself…

  1. I have a Kindle and a Nook, but still prefer a physical book.

  2. I can fold a table napkin in the shape of a water lily.

  3. Never been stung by a bee.

  4. I’ve lived in a haunted house.

  5. My sign of the zodiac is Cancer.

  6. I hate mushrooms.

  7. My grandfather was a metallurgist…

  8. When my son and I saw ‘Hachi’ at the cinema, we couldn’t leave for half an hour after it finished because I was still crying.

  9. I used to smoke Windsor Blue cigarettes.

  10. I always carry a notebook and pen in my handbag.

  11. I can make meringues.

  12. I played lacrosse at school (although to be honest I spent more time hiding behind the gym…)

  13. I have had four black cats since I was a little girl.

  14. My phone is really annoying me at the moment. It needs to be careful in light of the fact Christmas is now not far away…


Now. This is generally where I come unstuck… my own nominations for other blogs. I started my own blog on 26th March of this year and during that time, I have come across so many wonderful blogs and lovely people I am hard put to choose specific nominations… I have met so many people I am pleased to call friend, how do you choose?

So, here it is. Some blogs I would like to mention specially like Brian and Lily, PaperPuff, Lady Joyful, Garfield Hug’s Blog, gillyflower – oh dear it’s turning into a list, so many talented people in many different areas… yep. Can’t do it.


Thank you as well, as always to everyone who’s taken the time to stop and read, like and subscribe!



















I have stopped smoking! I have now been 16 days smoke-free and I’m not going to lie… it’s been difficult! I must thank everyone who has wished me well and good luck – I’ve certainly needed it – and I must also mention Hayley Lucas and thank her for her blog Quit Smoking full of useful facts, help and support.

I hope I stay stopped, since theoretically I stopped smoking every night when I went to sleep… However, as the nice lady at New Leaf pointed out, never mind a week, or a month at a time – just work towards the next hour of being without a cigarette.


It’s been a long and torrid love affair, Nicotine and I… I had my first drag when I was actually four, my parents both smoked, as did my older sister, so cigarettes were always readily available. At this point I must both excuse my parents and blame my sister… let us pause and consider the blessing of having an older sibling. I learned at an early age that cherished childhood figures were… myths and what went on in grown up bedrooms was a horror story to my unwary younger ears.

My sister thought it would be amusing to make me carry lit cigarettes from her to her boyfriend in my mouth… My parents were out, I coughed and inhaled and… threw up. That knocked that little party trick on the head. My next brush with cigarettes was at school. An all-girls’ school where I learnt to smoke, drink, and swear like a particularly foul mouthed T.V. chef, picking up a few exam results and more ladylike qualifications such as embroidery and napkin folding along the way… Peer pressure.

Somebody acquired a packet of ten from an older brother (there we are again) and we gathered furtively behind the gym to be daring and adult. Nobody really liked it apart from me.


And there was born a habit, an addiction that has ruled most of my adult life. It became part of me to such an extent that when some friends and I were playing an association game, and it was my turn to be defined, somebody said I smelled of cigarettes, vodka and perfume. I gave up drinking some years ago. Now cigarettes – I AM NOT GIVING UP MY PERFUME!

I am not romanticising smoking or condoning it – it’s awful, addictive and you will never have any spare money. Just don’t. Just don’t do it. Don’t start, and if you have, then please stop. I did.


Spiders: Part 4

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I am afraid. Very afraid…September is here. Three days old. And I’m waiting. I know something will happen…it’s my oldest son’s birthday, but that’s not what I’m talking about…Spider September is here…

This is the month when all the single male spiders come out to find a partner…and my house seems to be a particular focus of lonely male arachnid attention. I’m not sure why because I certainly don’t encourage them – I actively wish they’d go elsewhere in search of true love and the possibility of baby spiderlings…

I’m prepared. They’ve thrown little testers my way which I have met with equanimity and fortitude. The spider sitting in my favourite cup – an old one but a good one that never fails to raise a scream. The observing of the routes that I take in our garden whilst pottering about, digging up things to see if they’ve grown, then sighing and replacing them as I see that they haven’t…The stringing of silken lines across these paths that I take so I am left screaming and flailing, clawing desperately at my face and leaping up and down as I try to remove the clinging, sticky threads from my face and hair…

_MG_7427 (2).JPGIt’s enough to make a cat laugh!

Oo look! ‘Er at the corner’s off again…doing one of ‘em funny dances that she does..”

I had a particularly trying moment with a spider the other night. I’d gone to bed, and I was quite tired, so I’d fallen asleep quite quickly. A couple of hours later, I was awoken by a gentle tickling against my thigh. I shifted irritably, hoping that my partner would get the message that he had absolutely no chance…A minute’s peace and the tickling resumed, edging up underneath the hem of my pyjama top…I sighed and flung my arm out crossly, hoping to discourage him with a pretend sleep whack. His side of the bed was empty.

IMG_6932 (2).JPGFlowers are always good

In the split second I registered this my eyes pinged open and I was completely awake and alert. I have a bedside light and carefully-oh so carefully- I reached over and pressed the on switch. Then, with a little light on the situation, gently – oh so gently – I peeled back the sheet and duvet and looked down at my body. The edge of my pyjama top slipped aside, and out fell a spider. Not a very big one, admittedly, but a fair sized one, perhaps about the size of a raisin.

Everything’s fine, Miss Murdoch, nothing to worry about up there..”

With a friendly wave, the spider continued on his exploration of my bed, whereupon I leapt agilely out of my bed, catching my elbow painfully on the bedside unit and entangling my toe in the sheet so I fell, arms and legs akimbo to the floor…

Gasping breathlessly, I raised my head and the spider is WATCHING me, a faintly puzzled look on his hairy face:

Oh, come back…I won’t hog all the duvet and I don’t snore..we can have a little cuddle!”

With bones of water and lungs of lead I managed to lurch away and finally scream for my partner to come and rescue me from this over-friendly arachnid bed invader.

IMG_5286 (2).JPGBlue Lace Agate… good for overcoming suppressed fears and linked to the Throat Chakra, enabling good communication… could have done with a piece to help me scream properly… 

Perhaps you see my predicament…I won’t kill them any more, they don’t deserve that, but I do wish they didn’t feel so…compelled to make me part of their lives. If this is just the beginning, then I am more than a little apprehensive about what is in store for the rest of the month…