Author: Lizzie Aitchison

It’s the in-between year and it’s not so easy to answer the question that keeps being asked. Every other year two of our three collective daughters and their offspring disappear to their in-laws for the main event. So, our numbers are way down from a boisterous 13 to 3. What to do? This comes up every time and we always leave it late to decide, keep putting it off. Part of me wishes we could put the whole festival off altogether, already jaded by jingles and tinsel by mid-December. Let’s do something different, we always say. One year we walked along...

I’m wandering the shiny streets of central Glasgow on a day in mid-November when, according to the barista who just served me coffee, the city has bagged the lowest temperature in the whole of Britain. Colder even than the far north though the highland glens are set for 10 below tonight. The city is bright, sunny, bitter. I thank all the stars, lucky and unlucky, that there is not a whisper of wind. Even on a still day, the cold is cutting. I have a few hours between trains and decide to walk the city centre and let it stun me....

I have to be honest - I’ve been putting it off for months. I was going to do a big spring clean in April as soon as the garden furniture was hauled out, having spent the winter in the shed. “Perfect time”, I thought to myself. “to pull everything out, chuck away things that I’ll never use, give it a thorough sweep, put everything back in an orderly way.” I could see it all in my head, the perfectly swept floor, the neat stack of boxes, the clean tools hanging from nails, the empty bags of potting compost that can...

Autumn and the trees outside the house, the ones that frothed powder-puff pink with blossom in spring and sparkled claret-copper in summer, fall dark and damply amethyst. Especially on windy days like today. Something about the angle of the trees and how it plays with the direction of the wind makes the spilt leaves collect in loose piles along the front path and on the pavement beyond the fence - much more, it seems to me, than on other paths in front of other houses along the road. I try not to take it personally. Sometimes a spent leaf leaves an...