Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Granny fun

On Tuesdays I pick up Granddaughter the Elder from nursery at 11.30 am and we go on a trip - often, as today, to the museum.

In the downstairs playroom, she likes making the dragon move by turning these wheels.

In the upstairs playroom, she likes to dress up in - sometimes unusual - outfits - such as this: a deep sea diver with a furry hat.

There aren't all that many places for an elderly granny to sit, so today I had the brilliant idea of bringing into the playroom one of those folding stools provided in other parts of the museum for the less able members of the public. I thought I could sit on it while she did her thing.

That worked really well, as you can see.

Here, she relaxes while watching leafcutter ants.

And here she moves on to her next project, stool firmly clutched under her arm.

Then we went back to her house, where Grandson was home from school and, as usual, was drawing. Here he depicts chaps mending the road by filling in holes with small stones and then applying black tarmac. I like his multi-coloured cones.

And here's a street scene including (a newish feature for him) flats with balconies.

And then I came home and made some crazy squares for a quilt for him. Goodness, this is addictive and SUCH a waste of time - all to use up little bits of fabric which cost, oh, all of a pound. I've no idea if I'm doing it right. But it's fun! And one has to do something with one's old age.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The weekend

Yesterday we walked with friends, starting at Newbattle Abbey, which was originally a Cistercian monastery founded in 1140. Not much of the original building remains, however, after having been burned by English royal forces in 1385 and again in 1544. Some of the abbey still does exist within the building, which was largely rebuilt as a stately home in the 1650 and was further modified in the early to mid 19th century. It's now an adult education college.

It has a slightly mossy but still quite elegant formal garden at the back,

and also much woodland, with carpets of snowdrops (oh, the temptation - resisted - to dig a few up)

and walks by the river. The weather was much nicer than it looks here: mild, springlike, windless, exhilarating.

Now, enough of this leisure: I've started to make a quilt for Grandson using these bits - mainly leftover fabric from Mr Life's railway quilt. This is going to involve some crazy quilting, which I've never tried before. I don't think he'll be a severe critic as long as it has vehicles and road and train signs.

And here's Vaseline's 1925 advert. All you need to protect your skin from the sun, seemingly, is a thick layer of this. You'll be fine, Australia! And you'll smell spectacular.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Choo choo

I have at last finished the railway quilt I've been making (at his request) for Mr Life. He's a great railway buff. Again, it's very simple compared to anything that proper quilters would do but it still took me months. One thing I like about making a quilt is that it's unique: not necessarily uniquely good... but different in its combinations of colours and fabrics from any other quilt that anyone else has made.

He requested that I quilt railway lines, with sleepers, round the border. (Don't look too closely. Wood is a natural material and so a little unevenness is to be expected.)

I'm already planning my next four quilts. See what you've got me into, Thimbleanna!

It's quite springlike here at the moment. Yesterday we went for a walk along the Water of Leith in the sunshine.

There were crocuses blooming

and lots of snowdrops. Sorry, Australia, but we're starting to pull the sun back round this side.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Keeping busy

Nothing much has been happening here, or nothing of interest to the world, but Daughter 2 has pointed out that she hasn't had much to read recently in the blog, so here I go. On Saturday, we visited Son and DIL and beautiful Granddaughter-the-Younger up north. I'm not allowed to put pictures of her on the internet so you'll just have to imagine her big shiny eyes, huge smile (with, often, a sticky-out tongue), peachy skin and general loveliness. Here we are, taking her for a walk in Camperdown Park. It was somewhat chilly.

It's amaryllis season in Life Towers. They sit on the landing window sill looking rather boring all year and in January or February they have four days of glory and then go back on the landing window sill. I haven't the heart to throw them out. They do multiply somewhat, though.

Yesterday I took the little ones to the Scottish National Gallery. Grandson had seen this picture before and was keen to see it again (and have a cake in the cafĂ©). It's by Frederic Edwin Church and features Niagara Falls from the American side in 1867. It's rather fine. I'm not sure why he's a particular fan of waterfalls - they don't measure up to traffic lights, naturally (I'm not sure that Mr Church painted any traffic lights; he missed a trick there) but he really likes them and this is rather larger waterfall than any he's seen in real life. I was there in 1970, though on the Canadian side.

Today we took the little ones to the Glasgow Transport Museum. This is supposedly a fire engine. It's not very realistic but it has a steering wheel and flashy lights and is popular with small children.

The building is by Zaha Hadid and is frankly not very pretty (to my mind) - I'm sure it's very clever, though. However, the museum itself is very well done and imaginatively laid out. There's a tall ship moored outside on the river. We will perhaps visit it on our next trip. (She's drawing on a piece of paper, by the way, not the table.)

Outside, there are very large chairs covered in artificial grass. Obviously the children had to sit on these. I'm so aware that in the blink of an eye, they'll be much bigger and not that keen to spend time with Granny and Grandpa, so I have to take every opportunity to do things with them now.

I hope they'll visit us in our dotage... .

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Various unconnected ramblings

There's not a lot happening around here because Mr Life has been quite unwell for some time now. He's been getting tremendous pains in his head. We've both had coughs since Christmas ("Ah yes, the 90-day cough," said one of our friends encouragingly)  and whenever he coughs or bends down, he's in agony. He's on a lot of painkillers which seemed to be doing a bit of good and now seem not to be. So he's not a happy chap. He's had all sorts of scans and things and unless the latest one shows something dire, the problem seems to be neuralgia. Which doesn't sound too bad but clearly is.

So a propos of not very much apart from an attempt to cheer myself up, here's a picture of Granddaughter the Elder - not in the snow, which we haven't had any of - but playing with foam at the children's favourite Sunday afternoon venue, The Yard. It's amazing how much fun can be had from soap liquid bubbled up through water.

And the indoor area of The Yard is pretty good too, with a soft play area which incorporates several huge teddies.

I've been thinking recently about politeness, as taught to children. Our older two grandchildren are now pretty good at saying please and thank you when appropriate, but when you think about it, the social nuances aren't that easy. After all, when you ask a loved one to do you a minor favour - pass the fruit bowl, for example - you probably don't say, "Please could you pass me the fruit bowl?" I would probably just say, "Could you pass me the fruit bowl?" I might put "please" on the end of this. Or maybe (is this a Scottish expression? - not sure) "Go and pass me the fruit bowl." Either of these is perfectly polite in a family setting. And indeed "please" could be slightly aggressive, as in "Please shut the door" - depending on the context.

And how often do we actually say "please" to a child? Sometimes, but not always. I find myself saying "Put on your slippers" or "Can you help me put these back in the box?" Isn't it amazing how little ones learn the distinctions and end up being reasonably polite?

All the offspring, two of their spouses, and the grandoffspring were here last weekend, which was lovely (though Mr L was too ill to enjoy it properly). When it all ended, Grandson and I accompanied Daughter 2 - who is a very jolly and loving aunt - to the station to go back to London. On the bus back, I said to Grandson, "You're the light of my life," and he said very politely, "You're the light of my life too." Then he paused and said, "But I REALLY like Auntie [Daughter 2] as well!"

As do we all.

Thursday, January 26, 2017


This is another picture that I really like from the gallery we visited the other day. It's a trompe l'oeil painting of a pinboard by Thomas Warrender, a Scottish artist. He lived from about 1650-1713. Other artists before and after him have painted similar pinboards, notably Evert Collier, a Dutch artist who died in 1708.

As you might imagine, Warrender doesn't seem to have chosen the items on his pinboard at random. The date 1708 is the latest date on the printed material on the board, so presumably the painting was completed at some time after that. 1707 saw the union of the Scottish and English parliaments,

and the booklet at the top right says, "The Dangers of Popery Discovered", while the one in the middle at the top says, "A Solemn League and Covenant". The Covenanters belonged to a Presbyterian movement.

According to Wikipedia, the overlapping playing cards symbolise the union of the two countries. But the dividers (if that's what they are)? the white feathers? the medallion?

And I'm not sure who this chap is. Queen Anne was on the throne in 1708, so it's not her. He looks more like James the Second (and Seventh of Scotland) but that doesn't seem likely. I wonder if it's Thomas Warrender himself? Isn't it fascinating? - a little message from long ago. (Not that it's an entirely clear message nowadays.)

If you'd like to see a better photo than my phone's camera could manage, then Google-image Still Life - Thomas Warrender.

Monday, January 23, 2017


So - what's the weather like here in January?

Well, on Saturday we set off to meet up with the walking group. This is what it was like near us - foggy.

In 20 minutes' time, when we reached the promenade at Joppa, an eastern suburb of Edinburgh, it was like this.

We walked along the coastal path, past Fisherrow harbour.

These fishermen had been yarnbombed. They're bollards, preventing people from inadvertently (or otherwise) driving on to the prom.

It was a perfect day: blue as forget-me-nots and without a ripple on the water. You can faintly see Edinburgh's city hill, Arthur's Seat, on the horizon. It was obviously still misty there.

We kept on till we got through Prestonpans and then a little further,

to Cockenzie, where we had lunch. We'd walked for six and a bit miles and we briefly considered walking back again. But then we got the bus instead.