Thursday, November 14, 2019


So... not much has happened, though I've spent a long time at my computer Getting Things Organised. Biggest Granddaughter (6) drew this splendid picture of a cat teapot and cup, which is large and very cheering. I don't know where she got the idea but I like its boldness.

We've been on walks.

It's getting chilly - we've had a few frosts.

On Tuesday, I had coffee with a school friend. I waited for her in the street and tried to remember why this pillar box (postbox) had been painted gold. I decided (rightly) that it was for Chris Hoy, when he won a gold medal in some cycling event in the Olympics. Cycling round a velodrome doesn't seem to me the most interesting of activities, nor yet the most useful to society, but - each to his/her own.

This friend and I had both been very friendly with Mary, who sadly died of dementia a few years ago in her early sixties. Mary was a lovely person, very clever and sociable and successful and talented in many ways, but she married, in her forties, an older chap who was controlling and not interested in her friends. So we didn't see much of her after that. He was twelve years older and I always thought (somewhat uncharitably) that when he died, we would get Mary back.

And today, his death announcement was in the paper. He also died of dementia. Too late for Mary to join us, though. There are now up to 10 of us who started at the same school at the age of 5 and who now meet up every three months for lunch. I'm sure Mary would have loved to come.

Talking of activities that aren't particularly useful to society, I've finished a cot quilt for the baby of a friend of Daughter 2. She asked for it to be bright, in blues, and in solids. (She's an architect and doesn't do fancy. I'm lucky she didn't ask for grey and black.) This isn't my usual sort of thing and though I quite like it, it's not my favourite of the quilts I've made so far. I used some colours that aren't precisely blue and sneaked in little corners of pattern - I'm not sure why and I kind of wish I hadn't - but I think it's fine.

I did go slightly rogue on the back, though. He's got to have something interesting to look at. And if his first words are house, carousel, flag, bunny, elephant, bird, birdhouse, cat, teapot, butterfly, seagull and book, then I shall take full credit.

PS it was so nice to have comments from people I'd hardly heard of. Thank you! And also I do appreciate comments from people I have heard of but who don't have blogs for me to visit and reciprocate. Hello to you all.

Saturday, November 09, 2019

Pictures and such like

My brother and sister-in-law have been staying with us for a few days. On Thursday, we went to an exhibition of the paintings of Mary Cameron (1865-1921), of whom none of us had ever heard. She was an Edinburgh artist and was rather good - good enough not to be forgotten. we felt. Above, she painted a picture of a French soldier being shot - an unusual choice for a lady. I think she's captured the movement very well. Not that I've ever seen someone being shot, I'm thankful to say.

She also worked a lot in Spain, notably painting bullfights - also quite surprising.

This is Segovia. I like the way she's rendered the light.

Then today, Brother and Mrs Brother were at an event, so Mr L and I took ourselves to an exhibition at the museum about Scotland - Wild and Majestic - Romantic Visions of Scotland. It was very interesting - dealing with the emergence of Scotland as a place with a romantic image. Above are two members of the household of the Chief of Clan Grant, painted in 1714. At that point, Highlanders were seen by some southerners and wild and uncivilised, but these portraits were designed to impress visitors with the Laird of Grant's authority as a traditional leader.

After the Battle of Culloden in 1746, in which the Jacobites led by Bonnie Prince Charlie were defeated by the army of King George II, Scots were forbidden to wear Highland dress, including the kilt and tartan. Above is a translation of a Gaelic poem expressing what this veto of their traditional dress meant.

When the ban was lifted in 1782, tartan became very fashionable. This dress was worn by Mary Jane MacDougall when she was presented to George IV on his visit to Edinburgh in 1822. It's decorated, would you believe, with beetles' wings. Imagine having to sew these on!

It seems very hard on the dressmaker, not to say the beetles - but on the other hand their wings are still beautiful, which is more than one can say for Mary Jane, or come to that George IV.

We then walked down into Princes Street, where the gardens were also looking lovely in the sunshine. This is a statue of Wojtek, a bear adopted by a Polish regiment in World War II. He helped carry ammunition, was promoted to colonel and ended his life in Edinburgh Zoo.

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Ring a ring

This weekend, Daughter 2 and Littlest Granddaughter came up from London for a visit, which was lovely. Littlest is getting quite good at speaking now and she's certainly a character.

Look, Thimbleanna, here she is playing with the train that you brought for Bigger Grandson when he was a tiny chap.

On Sunday, which was especially lovely, Son and Daughter-in-Law came down from their northern home with Middle Granddaughter and Small Grandson so we had all three of our offspring plus two spouses and all five grandchildren. And here are all the little ones sitting on the sofa together! Such an AWWW photo for a granny.

And almost as good, here's Son reading to them all - well, except the baby. Son is the youngest of our children (and is 35, and a doctor) and of course to me he'll always be my baby. But he did look quite grownup here, covered with children. The oldest two are competent readers but they seemed to enjoy being part of the listening heap.

After Son and family departed, Littlest, who has what one might call leadership qualities, started to organise us all. We were spread over two rooms and - a room at a time - she called us all to the bottom of the stairs by beckoning us individually and saying, "Here!" When she'd got us all there, she herded us up the stairs ("Up!"), following on behind. We stood obediently on the landing and she shepherded us into a bedroom. We stood there, hostages, while she stayed in the doorway. Then Daughter 2 said, "Will we sing Ring-a-ring-a-roses?" and Littlest said "Yeah" so we all joined hands and went round in a circle, singing and falling down appropriately for several rounds of the song. Then someone said, "How about a different song?" and Littlest said, "Ba ba sheep," so we had a few performances of that. If ever anyone suggested something else, she said firmly, "Ba ba sheep".

It was all very hilarious and if the chap next door had happened to glance across from his bedroom window, he'd have been puzzled to see us - Daughters 1 and 2, Son-in-Law 1, Biggest Grandson, Middle Granddaughter, Mr L and me - solemnly going round in a circle. Littlest would have been invisible to him, being so small.

Eventually she relented and allowed us to go downstairs again.

It's such a ridiculous, but at the same time wonderful, family memory. She's small and peachy but she knows her mind.

Friday, November 01, 2019

Flowers and leaves

The weather's been lovely recently. I took a walk down to the recently-replanted Saughton Park to see what it's like in autumn. Many of the plants are herbaceous so the flowers were mainly over, but in the entrance conservatory the thyme (I think that's thyme?) was still full of colour and the scent was glorious.

I admired the bandstand, set among grasses. I don't hugely like them but they do provide lines of yellow.

And this bed, though there were few flowers, still showed colour in the foliage.

There were some late blooms, such as this poppy - splendidly red.

Verbena was still flowering - I really must try to get it established in my garden if it flowers as late as this. I love its movement in the wind.

Penstemon still soldiered on.

And by the river, golden leaves (can't quite think what that tree is, but it's pretty) and holly berries.

Autumn isn't my favourite season, but it certainly has its beauties.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Crazy passions

It was still the school holidays last Tuesday, so Daughter 1 and I took her children to the Glasgow Science Centre. They watched balls whizzing about on an energy machine,

investigated the power of air currents and did all sorts of other things.

It was fun. I wonder if they'll grow up to be scientists? I didn't, but some members of the family are certainly scientifically orientated.

 Brio trains retain their popularity.

Today, Mr L and I went to the exhibition "Royalty and the Romanovs" at The Queen's Gallery. This comprised various portraits of the royal families of Europe - mostly those married to one of the many offspring of Queen Victoria - but concentrating on the Russian royals. There were also some Faberge eggs and other exquisite ornaments. It was interesting and of course, when one got on to Nicholas II, sad. Amazing to think that those murders happened only thirty years before Mr L was born. History certainly telescopes as one gets older.

We then had a cup of tea in the Queen's cafe and looked out on the hill and the autumn trees.

It was slightly frosty this morning for the first time.

Brr. But the weather's been beautiful. There's certainly something to be said for autumn at its best. 

Daughter 1 to Biggest Granddaughter: Come and let me brush your hair - it's gone a bit mad.
Granddaughter: But that's right, Mummy, because I have a good heart but crazy passions. 

(As Daughter 1 says - who writes her scripts?)

Monday, October 21, 2019


On Saturday, we were to have gone for a walk with our walking friends but on Friday it poured and the forecast wasn't good, so the walk was cancelled. And then, of course, it didn't rain at all. So Mr L and I went to the Botanics and admired autumn. Daughter 1 and I had been there a couple of days before (it's the school autumn holiday week) but we'd spent a lot of time in the glasshouses with the little ones and hadn't really had a chance to look at the plants outside.

Autumn used to be my favourite season, briefly, when I was a student, and confident of lots of summers to come.

It's less so, now that I'm autumnal (if not wintry) myself.

But there are beautiful colours with which to fortify oneself against the winter.

And then the next day, Son-in-Law 1 and I took the children to the play park. (That's not SIL 1 on the left of the picture.)

Such jocund company.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Let's just ignore what's happening in the world...

And so life meanders on. We walked along to the art gallery, fortified ourselves with coffee and admired the verbena in the garden there. I do like verbena - the way it sways in the wind - but haven't yet managed to get it to survive in my garden.

Then we walked home along the river.

It's not an exciting life; but who wants excitement?

The garden still shows lots of colour, though there's so much to cut down now that autumn's here. Why did I make my small garden so labour-intensive?

Sedum is always reliable.

and this clematis flowers bravely on,

as do my many fuchsias. I love fuchsias.

On Tuesday, we went up to visit the Unbloggables. Here's bearded Son with his daughter on his back and his son on the mat in front of him. Middle Granddaughter is a dear little thing and greets us with cuddles and enthusiasm. Small Grandson is very cute.

Daughter 2 and I took the Edinburgh grandchildren to the Botanics on a lovely day.

And Littlest Granddaughter became two - TWO! - and I cobbled together a quilt for her doll's new pushchair. 

I'm still using some patches of that flag fabric that you gave me when encouraging me to start quilting, Anna!

And now I must get back to piecing the cot quilt for Daughter 2's best friend's new baby. See what you started, Anna... (How did I make that beach hut patch so crooked?)