A simple life is a happy one, learning to enjoy, explore and discover whatever your age :)

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Cairngorm writer’s retreat – a Newe experience

House of Newe

Friday 2nd – Sunday 4th November 2018

Do you want to put pen to paper but never find the time to make it happen?                    

Have you a longing to write but you’re not sure where or how to begin?                                

Maybe you’ve ideas swimming round your head and need the support and encouragement to launch into your own tale or novel?

If this is you, Kym and Grace invite you to come and stay in the beautiful surroundings of House of Newe, Strathdon.

Kym will be our hostess, providing delicious food to feed your body and soul… (apart from Saturday evening, where we’ll all bring food to share for a pot luck meal).

Over the weekend author and storyteller Grace Banks will share from her own experience, providing helpful and creative ways to stimulate your own writing.

You will also have opportunity to wander and be inspired outdoors, or relax in the Hardie’s fascinating home.

10 places

£150/£120 residential, £120 day visitor

No disabled access meantime

Over 18s

Any dietary requirements?

To book please email: or phone: 07833102055

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Be Fruitful and Multiply

Be fruitful and multiply

That’s a natural thing tae dee

But it’s hard fan empty, disused land

Is a that people see –

‘A block of flats is needed there’

‘A shop or office too’,

An the bonnie green an wild place

Becomes a thing that aince we knew.


If I could but show tae ye

The life in one square fit,

The variety o plants that graw

An sae easily tak root –

Far ever they are given room

An freedom for tae grow –

A world o life an colour that

Maist people niver know.


Hiv y ever seen the cities, streets

O the insects a aroon?

The leaves they are maternity wards,

O eggs, larvae, cocoons,

This hidden life we niver see

But the birds and beasties do.

For this their staple diet,

Alang wi seed and floor heids too



D’y ken far a yer veg comes fae?

And fa maks yer fruit sae fine?

Weel the birds an beasties tak the praise

– fertilisin a the time

As they flee aboot fae floor tae floor

Pollinatin a the wye

For centuries they’ve fermed wi sense

Wioot haein tae reason why!


O Aiberdeen sae clean, sae green

A wild field is oot –

Sae strimmers and cutters raze the grun

For the craturs it’s a rout.

A city wi a few trees left

But nae wild plants atween,

Is jist an empty barren land

Nae wildlife tae be seen.


So see the soil on fit you stand

Shared wi craturs, plants an a

Look tae plant fit’s good for them

An let some wild floors graw

An fan y see a mushroom

Ken yir deein a guid thing

Unnerneath the grun, a network’s there

– a fungi nutrient train J


Grace Banks © 2000



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The Cry

While volunteering with Nature Nurture whose pioneering work focuses on the support and nurture of vulnerable youngsters, I worked with one lad who ran away. The following account is an attempt at grasping a little of his pain.


The Boy

You’re following me and I want you to, but I don’t. I feel so bewildered by where my feet and senses are taking me and you’re there like an irritable but familiar fly.

I want you gone, but this world scares me, though I’ll never let on, I’ll just use my mouth as a weapon.

Yet I liked on the bus, I like what I made with you and you appreciate me, so I’ll test and see if you, like all the others are repelled by my flak, my cruel words, my rejection. GO ON! REJECT ME! Just like the whole world says it does.

But through the shouting in my head, gentle words, “It’s ok, you’re ok, we’re here for you.”

Yet the noise in my head shouts, “NO! NOONE IS! Not even mum….”

Alone, I have to survive. I will spit and hurt, yet I desperately want someone to understand, coz I don’t, and the fear inside is threatening to swamp me and I don’t know what to do, so I flail at this person who has chosen to just plod after me, wherever I go. I threaten you, I shout at you and you cry, you don’t say no, you don’t shout, you just say, “I’m with you. I just need to make sure you’re safe.”

I hit you with words, I try and make you react like all the others but you don’t… you respect my space…you don’t leave me…. you’re there to make sure I do get over that road safely…and I can’t tell you that I’m glad… but I eventually stop and I barricade myself into the park and you don’t interfere, you just wait and I feel tense, not knowing what now?

Then he comes, calm, reassuring and understanding me, letting me know I can be free to choose, but allowing me the option to get back in the bus if want it.

Then you withdraw and the door is open, I know it is not a trap, there is no anger here, only a calm certainty that this is safe. What I needed to do I have done and I feel relief that I can now be cocooned.

I take out my red pouch. I try it on my head again, She had laughed when I did that earlier. Will she laugh again? She still looks sad.

I get to the door. I hover, waiting to see what they do. No. It is still calm. Safe. No anger. I don’t have to be afraid. There’s no recrimination. Just peace. Calm.

I twiddle my pouch as he gets in to drive and she climbs in the back.

I hear as if from a distance, how much he has liked that I’ve come and how he wants me again. He wants me again. He wants me again.

He is sad I can’t come to the last week. I am too.

As I leave the bus, she says, it’s been good to have me. It’s been good to have me.

They mean it.

There is a rim of light in my darkness. I will hold on to it.


The Helper

I felt your fear today. I desperately wanted you to know, there was no blame attached. Just a longing to keep you safe and I’m for you. Not against you.

I have cried rivers for you, gentle lad. You are so full of true goodness and generosity but with so little affirmation and safety in your familiar ground.

You have much and you deserve much and as I felt your vulnerability today, I longed to hold you.

But I can’t, you are a fighter and it’s so lonely. You have had to learn about words and control and rejection and fear. And unconditional love is scary and will be tested for its endurance capacity. You will fight it, try to break it and tonight I feel so broken, but it is your brokenness that makes me ache so deeply.

The thought of you with no place to turn, no one to comfort you as a lad needs. Never knowing the warmth and security of loving arms that just accept you.

And trying hard to be the macho boy that you are not.

I see your skin, red raw, reacting to the stress that you so desperately try to contain and cope with.

You have managed to laugh today, to have such fun, to share, chat and be happy with other children. It’s great.

Come back laddie, we care deeply about you.

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Experimenting wi concoctions and play wi yer bairns


It is fun letting youngsters discover things for themselves, whether tree climbing or simply different textures, quantities and colours.

In the kitchen I well remember mum letting us go wild with our own creations – most failures, some successes, but we learned through it!

The key, dear adult, is learning to enjoy a home that’s a muddle and a mess with play-full happy people, where your own inner child is given free reign.


A very well-engineered cooker

You don’t have to go far to disappear into a different world……

Rose petal perfume: rose petals placed in water.

Sugarelly: place a liquorice stick in an empty bottle, add water and a little sugar. Tighten lid and place in a dark place and shake every day for a week! How does it taste?

Play dough: place 2 cups plain flour, 1 cup salt, 4 tablespoons cream o tartar in a saucepan, mix. Add 2 cups water, colouring, 2 tablespoons veg oil. Warm gently for 3-5 minutes over a low heat. Roll out onto a dry, smooth surface allow to cool until little hands will not be hurt. Then knead and flatten – wonderful. Once cool wrap in plastic to prevent the dough from drying out.

Mud pies: add water to a small mud area – collect a few spoons, plastic jug, bowls, saucepan, sieve, cups, a baking tray – hours of fun.


An outdoor shop: selling mud pies/soup/cakes paid for with dandelion/daisy pennies.

Sand miniature gardens on a tray: place sand on an old tray or cardboard box lined with a bin bag. Decorate with stone paths, sprigs of green as bushes/trees, little flowerbeds with daisies, speedwell etc, fencing with matchsticks/twigs. Add little animals or make a wee house or a farm.

A den: this can be outdoors or in – a few branches if outdoors, blankets or scarves over chairs indoors.


Indoor shop: create a box of cardboard empties, containers etc eg toothpaste, hot choc, tea, salt, juice cartons etc. Create sale tickets, receipts. Set up a corner with a cardboard box.

What about a library, hospital? Often the most fun is had in the setting up of these things. It is play in itself.

Mural wall: a long strip of old wallpaper, PVC glue – what’s a summer theme? Shells, waves, flower pictures (painted, created from junk, or cut out from old magazines).

Dressing up: create a box of discarded clothes or raid the 2nd hand shop for some colour and glitter, heels and jewellery. Or outdoors ferns and sticky wullie make wonderful headresses!


At Mucky Boots Kindergarten, Maryculter


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Enjoy the little things


Adventures in Wee Joyce

Pancakes wi strawbugs, choc sauce and yogurt while sat in the green wi ma dog Bertie snuggled up opposite me.

The sun is glowing on the trees, I’m watching the treecreepers, mouse-like, busily insect gathering as they wind their way up the trees, and then lightly swoop on to the next.

Where am I? Ootside ma door on a peaceful Sunday morning, sitting in ma wee campervan, Joyce. You dinna hiv tae go far tae be awa fae yer door


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Tales in your Pocket – now available


The wonder of wandering and discovering is such a joy and a privilege, for the child in all of us.

These last years have brought me to know that being in the green is no longer an option, it is essential. As nature draws me in I can breathe again.

This little booklet of tales, songs, games and activities has grown from my wanderings alone and with youngsters.

For those who feel the outdoors is important but are not sure where to begin this little resource can be a wee stepping stone to new adventures and joy whatever your age. I created it for families, groups and those specifically working in the outdoors and it complemnts the wee CD, ‘Songs from the woods’ which is also available from my website.

Enjoy 🙂