Friday, October 19, 2018

Away, away

Daughter 2 and her husband have had scarlet fever, so I've been down in London helping to look after the baby. Such a sacrifice! We went to playgroup,

walked by the pond to look at the ducks,

had the odd snooze,

ate some snacks,

wore a sunhat (well, she did - it was warm),

had a birthday (hers) and enjoyed some cake,

and went for more walks.

She is such a sweetie (biased? me?) and it was so nice spending time with her and Daughter 2 (who is now better, as is her husband). I was away for nine days, though, and have had to spend lots of time with the Edinburgh grandchildren since my return, because I missed them (and Mr L) so much. And now I miss Littlest Granddaughter - not to say Middle Granddaughter. Ah me, eheu.

Monday, October 08, 2018

Autumn activities

On Sunday, Daughter 1 and I took the children to The Yard. It's such a great place and such a privilege to be there with those lovely little people.

And then the other day, Mr Life and I went to the exhibition of some of Her Majesty's Canalettos at The Queen's Gallery at Holyrood Palace. Lucky Queen, is what I say. I hadn't ever seen so many Canalettos so close up and I have to report that they're amazing. So much detail. I didn't like to enquire if HM would allow her subjects to take photos, so I took one of this advert when we went to have a coffee afterwards.

We went to Florence and Venice two years ago and the only problem is that it's kind of spoiled the rest of the world for me. Edinburgh is also beautiful as far as cities go, and if you're brought up here you have a tendency to feel slightly meh about other cities, but Venice!!!

Even in this photo under perspex taken by my phone in the cafe (imagine the accent) you can see the beauty of Venice and the detail in the painting. Though of course Canaletto messed around with the position of the buildings to get more of the best ones in each painting.

This is the view from the cafe, with Salisbury Crags behind the trees.

Venice, you don't have a lovely hill in the middle of your city or a very peculiar parliament building opposite one of your many palaces, do you? Still, you do win the most beautiful city (that I've been to) prize, though you're probably not a very convenient city to live in.

I don't want to boast, but look. A border of half-square triangles! And they have points. And reasonably sensible corners. They did take me a long time and quite  a bit of arithmetic... .

Thursday, October 04, 2018

The Elixir of Life

Last weekend it was Doors Open Weekend in Edinburgh, so on Saturday we visited a few places. One of them was a pharmaceuticals firm in an interesting old building. They had some of their archives available for inspection, including this one.

This is highly encouraging.

I eat natural yogurt every day.

No premature senility for me. Now I come to think of it, I suppose I'm a bit old for premature senility. Point proved.

We visited a couple of other places, including South Leith Church, which has this amazing ceiling.

And on Sunday, Daughter 1 and I took Grandson and Eldest Granddaughter to The Yard, where they had a lovely time as usual.

It's still quite mild and the garden has lots of colour at the moment. Winter? Months away.

Mr L and I went to the Botanics yesterday, where the foliage is colouring up fpr autumn,

though these poppies bloom bravely on.

Thursday, September 27, 2018


We've had a few days in Hamburg, which has the biggest miniature railway layout in the world. It was Son's fine idea that a visit to this should be Mr Life's 70th birthday present (in May, but somehow this was the soonest that we could fit it into our packed schedule) and Mr Life was A VERY HAPPY CHAP.

When I tell you that we arrived at 9.30am and didn't leave till 5pm, this may give you an idea of how big it is.

There were nice little touches for the lesser-railway-enthusiast of the species. These people were taking a risk! There was a sheer drop to their right.

And look at this Venice bag snatching incident! The poor old chap with the plaster clearly fell down while crossing a bridge; easy to do (she said with feeling).

And we did other things too. This is Hamburg's new concert hall, built at a cost of 789 million Euros. Let's hope that roof doesn't spring a leak any time soon.

We visited the Hamburg history museum and, wonder of wonders, they too have a working model train layout. Not so enormous as the other one, but still pretty substantial and this one is 1-gauge, which is very exciting and unusual (evidently). So that was a very nice surprise for Mr L.

Their Botanic Gardens aren't (sorry, Hamburg) a patch on ours, and I wouldn't have given planning permission for that Radisson Blu looming over it.

I shall go to my grave not understanding modern art. Here, from the Hamburg Art Gallery, we have a whole lot of Woolmarks. "This becomes a critique of the modern world trapped in itself, appearing to repeat and reaffirm itself perpetually." That's what the notice said, so it must be right. 

This is much more my sort of thing: Frederick the Wise, John the Steadfast and John Frederick the Magnanimous, Electors of Saxony, painted by Lucas Cranach, 1472-1553. I love those faces, though I'm not sure that Cranach has quite captured the essence of magnanimity. Maybe he didn't intend to. Possibly John Frederick was a bit mean with his commission money.

And look at this! It makes the eyes go a bit funny but it's certainly got a vanishing point. Well done, Wilhelm Schubert von Ehrenberg, 1637-1676. He died young, poor chap.

And this silver jug! Willem Claez. Heda, 1594-1680 or 1682 (he lived a long time) - very good indeed, sir.

And this still life - sorry, painter, I neglected to note down your name, but I salute you.

Look at these stones! You can almost feel their hard shininess.

And then we came home again and went up to visit Son and The Unbloggable Toddler, who is so lovely, so chatty and very good at bouncing.

And because of all this visiting and being visited and so on, I haven't done any patchworking since June, when I decided to do a border of half-square triangles to add to the middle bit of the quilt for my niece. This now seems a very rash and ambitious decision and I'm not sure I can do it. But enough of these feeble procrastinations: off I go to try. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Lakes again

David has been carrying around an emergency shelter in his rucksack for the past four years . (He's in the group that does serious hillwalks quite often.) But he'd never tried it out. So on Saturday evening, he decided to do so. Imagine a sort of large shower cap that pulls down to your feet. Then imagine six people - it claims to shelter six - standing together, putting this shower cap over all their heads and pulling it down. Then imagine them all falling over in a big heap.

They tried this several times, becoming more and more hysterical. They were not helped by the onlookers, who were also helpless with laughter while offering unsympathetic suggestions.

The six then decided that four would be more likely to be successful.

They weren't.

As someone pointed out, trying to put this over oneself in a force 9 gale wouldn't be any easier.

Then David put the shelter back into its bag and we played Donkey with it.

This is the view from the back garden of the house we rented. Rather good.

On Monday we had a lovely flattish walk round Buttermere.

Six miles again, but it seemed like nothing - we must be getting so fit, we told ourselves smugly.

Towards the end of the walk we could see rain approaching through a gap between the hills, so we all put on our waterproof trousers - no mean feat when you're struggling them over muddy boots and trying not to get the insides of the trousers muddy.

Then it didn't rain.

It was such a lovely weekend, with good company, lots of laughs, beautiful scenery, plentiful food, comfortable accommodation and a certain amount - surely - of acquired fitness.

PS - unlike some commenters, I don't find the lack of facilities a problem. I just don't drink much. Even when not wearing waterproof over-trousers, the whole thing would be far too difficult.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018


We've just come back from a long weekend in the (English) Lake District with our walking friends. On the first day, our friend Brian suggested that we climb Catbells. The internet tells you that it's an easy climb, suitable for the whole family from grannies to infants.


It kind of depends on the grannies. And an infant who was destined to become an Olympic athlete might have coped well.

Catbells isn't that high - 1480 feet - but it's often steep, and at the top there are quite a few scrambly bits that require somewhat longer legs than some of us possess. You know when you have to put one leg up at full stretch, and then you have to push off with the lower leg, with no handholds on the smooth, slippery rock face? Hmm, yes. Fortunately, there were some helpful chaps in the party who did a bit of pushing and pulling and we all got there. It was not always dignified. True enough, we almost all were actually grannies (and grandpas) and we all made it, but it wasn't exactly a gentle stroll.

This bit was fine, though we'd been climbing for quite a while at this point (puff puff) and yes, that's the false summit of Catbells in the middle of the picture. The actual summit was cruelly hiding behind it.

(Puff puff).

You get some idea from this how far we'd come from the fields down below. I don't have photos of the hardest bits which come next, since I was too busy trying not to fall backwards on to rock at that point.

At the top were lots of other people, mostly at least thirty years younger than us. There was a sudden cheer from another group - a chap had just proposed to his girlfriend and she'd accepted! They then produced champagne. It was just as well that she said yes: it would have been a dismal walk down if she hadn't.

And talking about the downward journey - in some ways it was harder. We descended on the other side, which was much less steep - but still quite steep. After an hour of bending your knees to go down and down you're aware that they're not as young as they used to be.

But the views were lovely and we all enjoyed it, especially in retrospect.

The following day we decided on a less hilly walk, round Loweswater. In fact it again turned out to be slightly more climby than we'd thought - though nothing in comparison to Catbells.

You can see that we've ascended quite a bit here, but it was much easier walking.

Again, the views were spectacular.

Both walks were about six miles on the map, but some of them were considerably less horizontal than others so it felt a lot further.

And then, the next day...