I’ve got four birthdays to think about, all of them are this week.  It feels like Christmas has prematurely come round again, before I have had time to properly recover from it.  I like to give two or three small packages to the children, so they have fun going through the present bag.  Adults are simpler, more often than not, one piece of gift wrap for them covers all.

Ho hum….here I am again, only eight weeks after the last festive blast cutting up gift paper, wrapping up presents and raking through the cupboard for some bags to put them in.

Brown or white paper bags can be quite  good as gift bags, those you sometimes get in food shops with paper handles – they look like ears have been attached –  making sure, mind you, that there are no tell-tale signs of their original use.  The trouble is, it’s too early in the year to have any.  My alternative would be a plain bio-degradable plastic carrier bag, if I have one. These days, getting a carrier bag of any sort, let alone one that I can use as a gift bag, is rare.

Like lots of people I recycle the festive gift bags I have received at Christmas time.  Really, I can’t see any reason why I shouldn’t use them at anytime, even if they are glittery tree, Reindeer, snow-flake,  bauble and star adorned festive gift bags.  After all, they are bags; if it looks like a bag and acts like a bag, then it must be a bag……………………I cannot think of any good reason why I shouldn’t use them for all sorts of occasions, can you?

Gift Bag

Gift Bag



The weather forecast was almost, but, not quite as dire as some we have heard before a journey. Nevertheless, if we were going to make the journey we had to travel in daylight.  The forecaster warned. that with the temperatures being low, driving conditions could be icy and in addition, there was snow expected on high ground, which would move onto lower ground later on.  It was mid February, daylight hours had increased by four minutes a day since the Winter Solstice, so, that meant we now had a decent chunk of additional daylight time in our favour.

P1000006 A9-North-2-Wb

You Can See The Icy Road Ahead.

Being a Tuesday, we expected to encounter a fair amount of commercial traffic.  Most of the commercial vehicles and some streams of cars were all heading in the opposite direction.  In front here, there was a truck and a tanker.

The road, Scotland’s notorious A9, is currently governed by average speed cameras. Vehicles of 7.5 tons or more, are restricted to 50 miles per hour.  Overtaking opportunities were limited, unless you thrived on serious risk-taking.  There being no other road north, It meant that domestic and smaller vehicles were forced to slower speeds for a much of the time.  You see road signs that tell you ‘frustration kills’.

Here we are into the steady upward climb of  ‘higher ground’ as can be seen by the snow-capped hill on the left and the broken white slopes appearing on the right.  Just in case you are wondering, we are on one  of  the sections of dual carriageway on this road.   There are not many.


Still, onward and upwards…..

Climbing Higher

Climbing Higher still



Mucky Windscreen, then clarity…….

The snowy  marshmallow pillows were lovely


This is my way of climbing peaks, using four wheels,

Mucky Windscreen

The dual carriageway at this point is on two levels.  Here in the right corner, you can just see a bit of the upper level.

We caught a heavy bout of ‘lower ground weather’ as forecast, just after a quick, a very quick lunch stop:   me darting in to the cafe to buy two coffees to take away.  The rest of the journey, the last hundred miles or so, was punctuated by heavy wind-driven snow and sleet. But, it was still daylight when we reached journey’s end.  We’d done it!






This is a month for birthdays, the youngest being aged 6. I won’t embarrass the others at the upper end of the scale.

My sister-in-law is the first one of the month and is a Valentine’s baby; we focus on the birthday. I have a large book for her which will take some concentrated reading; that shouldn’t be a problem as she is a keen reader. I don’t normally buy books for people, but the one chosen is a big hitter and I thought I’d risk it. There are one or two other gift items to join the book.

A good friend has a birthday two days later; She’s into arts and craft, gardening and croft farming. I found a lovely large box of threads and universal sewing machine accessories. I had put by some delightful sets of chopsticks in raffia cases as well. However, I am going to look at a couple of pieces of handmade pottery tomorow from a range I know she likes, then decide if the chopsticks set off the pottery.

The youngest one was relatively easy, I found just the thing to annoy her parents when I was on my travels in December 2005 – a bubble blower and all the bubbles come out of a big box that requires a very strong bubbling solution. :>

Hubby is next: for the first time ever, I have been low on ideas. I have booked for us to go out for a meal with a couple of friends, but that is nearly a week before the birthday so I have to dream up something for the day itself. I have one or two token items and tonight I got some inspiration online and ordered a large road atlas to replace the tiddly little thing that he has in the car. The road atlas he has is one of those with a spiral spine which cuts through the very bit of road you want to travel through, every time, without fail. Even he has some expletive moments with it. It has got to go! Anyway, it is more than three years old. As a last resort, I think I shall have to consider one of the standard standby items – a thermal vest. Now how exciting is that… 🙄