Grow Your Blog Party 2014...and a GIVEAWAY!

Welcome to the Grow Your Blog Party!
For those of you that haven't heard about the brain child of Vicki over at 2 Bags Full she's offered to host a party for over 500 people. Now I call that generous and incredibly brave. 
If you click onto the logo below it will take you into all the other party people and their blogs, but hopefully you'll not go before staying awhile. 
Now anyone that knows me will understand what a huge task this post has been for me to create...I have difficulty being brief or to the point at the best of times and that's one of the reasons why my blogs name has 'Natter' in it! 
I love to natter...about everything!
Basically, I've been described as someone being able to talk even under water and I know that's true. 
Yes, I'm aware that even this opening paragraph is in serious jeopardy of running away with me. So with that in mind I'll move swiftly on...
Firstly, though I thought I should give a brief idea of what makes me tick...I'll give only give you a few things to keep it brief...I'm not over thinking these either...they're not in any particular order, I'm writing them as they come into my head. 
Yep I'm that dizzy...and blonde! hehe
I adore my family and friends (plus our dog obviously...I live with my hubby, son and soon my daughter will be moving back home too plus our pooch Muffin)
I love drawing/art - I seriously want to devote more time to this (My Etsy shop needs to reopen) Gardening, but like to involve others when the going gets tough
Drinking copious amounts of tea and virtually never refuse a cuppa
Blogging big time of course! 
Reading and books (I've been devouring them ever since I first started to read)
Cooking and baking (sharing recipes and getting used to using my Aga once again)
Wildlife and Nature 
Photography, I'm just about to purchase a new camera...how exciting is that?

I started blogging a few years back when living in Melbourne and my daughter who was living in Edinburgh Scotland, at the time suggested it might be good to have a diary in the form of a blog to record daily life on our travels. 
At that time I'd never even heard the word 'blog' or what it meant.
Well, it was a shaky start and I'm not sure I've improved as much as I would have wished but it's certainly something I love to do and can't imagine not doing. I have posts pop into my head randomly and I'm constantly taking photos of everything in my day and thinking how they would be added into a post or tweet. Yep...I'm an avid Twitter user too. 
Blogging has changed my life and opened doors that I never thought possible. It's also brought new friendships from all over the globe. It really never ceases to amaze me just how powerful and wide stretching it can be.

Here I am doing one of the things I love to do...drawing whilst having my trusty assistant nearby to help with all of the major decisions. 
You can see she's riveted! 
That's Muffin by the way . 
(She's a mini Shih Tzu but there's nothing mini about this poochs attitude. She also known as Muffy, Muffty, Mufftypup, McMuffy after our last move, to name but a few
Although she looks cute and puppylike...don't be fooled...she's just celebrated her 10th Birthday ...and she certainly knows how to work the system or more precisely us! 

We have finally given up the expatriate life after 24 years of travelling and living abroad. We've had lots of adventures and certainly seen life along the way! 
Some a little too close and personal for my liking, but you have to take the good with the bad. Embracing it all.
So we've returned home...but I've never been sure where home was when asked this reasonable question. Over the years I decided that 'home' was wherever our nest happened to be at the time and we were all together. You have to adapt to this concept in order to have some consistency to your life when you're away.
But we packed our expatriate bag for the last time and flew off...but to where I hear you ask? Well here's a clue where we've landed.... 

Hehe isn't he stunning...a Highland Cow! 
(Not sure if you can call a 'he' a cow but maybe that's the thought for the day?) 
Did you guess right? 
Yes, we are in Scotland...in Aberdeenshire to be more precise. 
We moved away from a house here and rented it out whilst we travelled but we're back to stay. 
If you'd like to see the landscape and join Muffy and I on one of our daily walks then click HERE
I'm not sure this is it...the final destination and we'll stay, but for now we've no plans to move for a while. But I've learnt to never say never! 
It's surreal to be here once again but I'm loving settling back in. 
There are major renovations on the 'to-do list' and I've mentioned them in previous posts. Two bathrooms are just about finished except for a little bling to be added. There is decking being crafted right before my eyes as I type here and next week we are replacing all the windows and doors in the house. 
Keep your fingers crossed that snow doesn't arrive!
If you like the TV programme 'Grand Designs' with Kevin McCloud then come and visit here regularly because it's all happening. I wouldn't be surprised if Kevin walked up our driveway any day now. 
But there are peaceful parts of the property...
Here's a view of the side garden and one of my main bird feeding stations. 

(obviously this photo was taken in the summer months...
it doesn't look like this at the moment) 
It's amazing just how many birds have started to regularly visit us now there's a five star restaurant opened up. I just love to see the birds and can seriously lose hours watching their antics and acrobatics. We used to have pheasants visit when we last lived here, but I've yet to see one in the garden since we returned, but I'm hopeful that the word will spread..."they're back, come on down"!
Here's a few photos that I snapped over the summer. 
There are so many things to capture on camera.
Since we've been back in Scotland, we've been lucky enough to share in a fairy tale wedding at a castle...click HERE if you'd like to take a peek and there's lots of plans ready for exploring the area once spring arrives. There's so much happening here, history, architecture and fantastic scenery to name but a few...so it's going to be tough deciding what to post but I'm sure I'll manage. 
I hope that you'll join me because it just won't be the same without you. 
(The city of Aberdeen and around and about)
But there's also lots to share still about our travels and no doubt they'll make an entrance too at various stages. 
We've lived in hot places, cold places and everything in between.

(In order from left to right...Qatar, Canada and Melbourne) 
Melbourne was our last port of call and I miss it terribly. I made so many wonderful friends (Little Wandering Wren is taking part in the GYB Party...so why not nip over to say 'Hi'. She'd love to see you plus you'll be able get a warm too because it's summer there at the moment).
We had a fantastic time in Melbourne and have fantastic memories and at one stage we very nearly stayed. It was a very close call.
Melbourne has been voted the best city in the world on numerous occasions and rightly so.

Before Melbourne we were in the Middle East and I seriously thought we were heading home from there but instead of turning left on takeoff to come back to the UK we turned right to Australia!
What a fantastic time we had whilst there and I couldn't possibly pick a previous post for you to see because there's just too much choice. I think it might be better if you'd like to see any details by heading into my sidebar to browse. 
Muffy was actually born in Qatar and we couldn't leave her behind so she made the journey...and Australian quarantine. 
Now here's the link but be assured no animal was hurt in the making of this post...click HERE 
It's way back in the early days of blogging for me so please be forgiving if you look back. 

Can you imagine what might go through her little brain? 
"What are they thinking? I'm from the desert and then they take me off to Australia which turns out to have winters and quarantine"! 
Not content with that they then decide to cool me down even further and take me to Scotland! It's really a good job that I have friends and connections out there that send me beautifully knitted jumpers in Aran that have made my life at least bearable!" 
I am very selective in my choice of location for snoozing...it's normally near the wood burner or Aga


If you're still with me at this stage I'm thinking you need a reward. I'm going to have a giveaway and if you leave a comment below then you will be entered into the draw. I did this at last years party and there's no show without 'Punch' so Muffy had to do the draw. 
If you want to see how we did it then click Sticky Draw Prize Draw
I think we'll do something similar this year but at the moment I'm not sure what I'll be giving away. But I know 'Hamish' will be in there...plus a few bits and pieces like the book marks from a craft market in Melbourne. 
I would like to include something that I've created too but at the moment it's looking unlikely, but as I said 'never say never eh'? You never know?
Here's just a snippet of some of my art...the first was my personal mandala and was so much fun to include lots of things relevant and special to me. 
I was thrilled to open my Etsy shop last year, but I decided to close it just before I moved from Melbourne. I'm hoping that I will be able to re-open it again soon.  
For our last big adventure last year we went to New Zealand...both the North Island and the South Island with a few thrills along the way. 
If you want to see these posts they are in my sidebar (October 2012)

We plan to explore Europe now that we are over this way...so as they say...watch this space! 
Before I go I want to share a recipe with you and it's quite relevant with it being Australia Day on Sunday plus this is one of my hubbies favourite recipes. I know I should perhaps have tipped my cap or should I say Tam O'Shanter (tartan hat...if I had one) to it being 'Burns Night' on Saturday night (25th January) but I haven't got to grips with haggis yet...but no doubt I will. Maybe that'll be for next years party? 
I would have liked to have a new recipe for my regular visitors because they've seen this one before but the days just keep running away with me and I don't accomplish half of what I'd like to before my energy runs out and it's time for bed! If only I didn't have to sleep?
If you like the look of this yummy lemon tart then click on Australia Day Classic Lemon Tart
The recipe is enclosed in that post and it's one of my most popular posts.
I promise I'll have a new recipe soon...my Aga needs to get busy! 
Phew...well I think it's time for another cuppa in my favourite Denby mug.

(There are obviously other brands available than the one shown here...hehe...in fact there's a whole plethora of flavours and other brands out there...all waiting to be tasted  ~ how perfect is that) 
I'll just thank you for popping into my place and taking the time to browse. If you manage to leave a comment to show that you've been here all the better (or if you decide to follow...I always find I do a little clap and dance when I see a new follower) you'll be entered into my giveaway and will feature in a future post when Muffy does her party piece! Plus I always try to answer everyone that leaves a comment. 
Just one more thank you...and that's to Vicki for hosting this incredible event. I can't imagine just how much time and effect has gone into organising it.
Vicki is a very special person...just pop over to see her wonderful blog to get to know more.
I'm away now to put on my glad rags, lippy and dancing shoes to party the weekend away!
Have fun whatever you have planned...enjoy! https://secure.quebles.com/content/hotmail/emoticons/1511763.gif