Thursday, November 16, 2017

Out and about

It's been a very outdoorsy sort of week, with beautiful autumn weather. Somehow autumn sunshine is lovelier because you know winter is coming.

Granddaughter the Eldest and I had a trip to the Botanics and played in the leaves.

Then Mr Life and I had a day out on the bus to nearby Haddington, and walked along the river there.

It was a perfect day and we felt quite holidayish.

See how long the shadows are, and it was only mid-morning.

In the town, we said hello to Bridge Street, where my beloved Granny was born.

 and then we sat having lunch and looking out past a little lemon tree (with two lemons - so exotic) at the bridge.

Another day, we went with our walking friends to Penicuik (pronounced pennycook) and did a circular tour round Penicuik House, built in the 1760s and ruined by fire in 1899. The walls have been preserved so that you can see that it was once a beautiful Palladian mansion, and the estate is now open to the public.

This is still a vista from the house down an avenue of trees to a monument .

The walk was about seven miles and, despite the lovely weather, quite muddy in parts.

And then the other day Granddaughter the Eldest and I went to the museum and dressed up as explorers.

It's a surprisingly busy life. Which is very good.

Monday, November 06, 2017

Baby worship

Actor Son-in-Law 2 was away for a couple of days so I went down again to London to help with Granddaughter the Youngest. I had SUCH a lovely time with Daughter 2, talking endlessly and nibbling the baby. I do love tiny babies. They're such a lot of work - but - their soft skin! their silky hair! their dark blue, unfathomable eyes! their completely new hands and feet! We went for some nice walks, had tea in some teashops, cuddled the baby in the stilly watches of the night and decided that she was the finest baby we'd seen for some while. And Daughter 2 did a lot of feeding.

Granddaughter the Youngest looks very familiar - I think she's like her mother at that age but no early photos exist of her father, so who knows? Already she's lost that newborn look and is intermittently very alert. What's she thinking?

Her other grandparents - both of them - are skilled knitters, so she's not without cardigans, hats and shawls.

How amazing it is when a bump becomes a person - it's so utterly normal and everyday and yet endlessly astonishing.

I got back yesterday and am missing them tremendously.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017


Happy Hallowe'en.

When I was a little girl, Hallowe'en was certainly celebrated (I rather think it was a Scottish thing more than an English one?) but it was far, far simpler than now - when there are Hallowe'en decorations and elaborate costumes. Indeed it was still simple in my children's childhood. Costumes were just anything from the dressing up box. And children did go round the doors, but it wasn't trick-or-treating, it was guising (from disguising) and children sang a song or told a joke in exchange for sweets, apples or nuts or (by my children's time) small amounts of money. This guising is still what happens in Scotland, though I think it may be slightly more commercial now, and the costumes are certainly fancier - and bought.

And at home we dooked for apples (ducked our heads into bowls of water with apples and nuts floating in them) and tried for the jeely piece - a jam or treacle sandwich suspended on a string - you took it in turns to try to bite this with your hands behind your back. My brother and I used to go to my granny's to do the dooking and jeely piece. Our grandchildren did the same thing at a party just the other day.

I had lunch with school friends today - the five of us have known each other since we were five years old. We reminisced as usual. One of them, Kay, had quite a sad childhood - her mother died when Kay was born, her father remarried someone who wasn't very kind and then the stepmother left when my friend was eleven. Our teacher, Miss Rattray, asked Kay to stay behind after class one day and asked her gently how things were now that the stepmother was no longer around. (Kay was actually quite pleased that she'd left.) Then Miss Rattray gave her some household hints - presumably thinking that Kay would be doing more housework now - and the main one, or at least the one that Kay remembers, was how to iron lace. (On the wrong side, apparently.)

Was this in 1800, one wonders? No: 1962.

Changing times... .

Saturday, October 28, 2017


We were supposed to be going with the Edinburgh family to see Son, Daughter-in-Law and Granddaughter the Younger, but Grandson and Granddaughter the Younger were both a bit ill, so we didn't. Sigh. So Mr L and I walked down the river to the Botanics. The autumn colours aren't particularly good this year - too mild? too dry?  but it was still quite scenic.

You would never guess that there's a busy road going over that bridge.

It's peaceful down here. To the right you can see the backs of some New Town houses - made of cheaper stone, while the fronts are the more expensive stuff. Clearly Scots have been economical at least since 1760.

And we wandered through the Dean Village

 with flowers still blooming in pots,

past St Bernard's Well

and into Stockbridge (here's the expensive stone)

to the Botanics, where we admired this dahlia

and some more late flowers.

So we had a good day all the same. And the little ones don't seem too ill.

Thursday, October 26, 2017


Granddaughter the Youngest seems to be doing well and the London family is settling into familyhood.

 Daughter 2 wanted to be sent some family baby pictures to see whether Granddaughter the Youngest looked like her as a baby. This is what she herself looked when she was a week old. I think there's some resemblance.

This led to much reminiscence and comparison of other old photos, such as this one, of the children and me (making a very strange face) in my parents' garden.

And this in turn led us to compare Daughter 2 (above) with her niece, Granddaughter the Eldest, below. There is a definite family resemblance.

Granddaughter the Eldest and I had a trip to the museum the other day. It was a bit wet so she jumped in some small puddles.

And then - among other activities - she found out some things about animals...

... and once more dressed up as Mary Queen of Scots, or perhaps one of her contemporaries.

And then we went home on the bus. A most satisfactory day.

Friday, October 20, 2017


Well, Granddaughter the Youngest has arrived, 5 days early, and we've been down in London helping out a bit.

Obviously, she's a lovely baby.


In not quite such good news, she's got jaundice (as all our children and most of our grandchildren did, to a greater or lesser extent) which has caused problems with feeding and so on - not what any of us want. However, we hope she'll get better soon.

Daughter 2 and Son-in-Law 2 are rightly besotted with her.

And now we're back home while the other grandparents occupy the spare room. Can't wait to hear that things have improved; can't wait to see her again.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

That was the week

It's been a busy old week - not with anything unusual, but I feel the world's had enough of unusual things recently. On Sunday I took the older grandchildren to The Yard, where they had a fine time sploshing around.

How delighted I am that there's somewhere (that isn't my garden) where they can do this.

Then from Monday to Wednesday I had a lovely visit to Daughter 2, Son-in-Law 2 and the Bump. We mainly gardened and had lots of chats. Lots and LOTS of chats. I did manage to persuade her to have some rests as well. Six days to go now till the official due date. I'm not sure if I'll survive the stress. It's much easier on the nerves to have babies yourself than to wait for your daughters to do so. She seems fine, though.

Then Granddaughter 2 and I visited the museum on Thursday but fortunately for you, I forgot my phone, so no photos. Here, however, is Grandson on Friday, painting a big picture ("It's a wall painting, Granny. You need to put it on a wall." Ok then.) It shows the weather in the course of a day. It begins: The sun. Haray! [Hurray!] and goes on: The Rain. Uoh! [Uh-oh.] His spelling isn't perfect but he had a concept. The painting later acquired more grass, and trees.

Granddaugher-the-Elder dictated a story to me: "Once upon a time there was a bat. Along came a fox and the fox ate the bat! The bat was eaten! The End."

(She is made of sterner stuff than her mother, who once burst into inconsolable tears because the Pobble didn't have any toes. Then there was the time when she wanted me to put all the leaves back on the trees because they were falling off.)

And today Mr Life and I took ourselves to the museum to see their exhibition about Bonnie Prince Charlie (it was good) and whom should we unexpectedly meet but Daughter 1 and the children? While Daughter 1 and Grandson popped up to look at the trains, Granddaughter-the-Elder and I went, at her request, to one of the dressing-up places, where she put on a Mary-Queen-Of-Scots-like dress and headdress and solemnly danced to appropriate music selected from the buttons behind her.

What in the world would I do without them all?