Friday, January 18, 2019


Daughter 1 and I went to an interesting exhibition of 19th century Scottish samplers. My photos are fairly terrible, presumably in a poetic-justice sort of way because, as the attendant pointed out after a while, one wasn't supposed to be taking photos. Oops. So we stopped. The samplers were pretty amazing. Should you happen to be in Edinburgh (you're not, though, are you?) then I would recommend a visit.

They're from the collection of an American lady, who's done research on the (mainly) girls who sewed them and the context in which they were sewn.

The same patterns recur a lot, such as this hound chasing rabbits (though we felt it was a bit more like a cat).

Letters, names, maps, houses, all amazingly neatly done by girls of between 8 (8!) and 16 years of age.

I've been going through my mum's photos and WhatsApping them to the family by photographing the photos with my phone. Again, this doesn't lead to high quality images. Look at my (blurry) girls, though! Where did the time go?

And here are my parents and myself at my grandparents' house, presumably at Christmas, since there's their scrappy little Christmas tree in the background. My brother must have been taking the photo. I look 10 or 11. Sadly, the only survivors from this photo are the tablecloth and me. My granny was so lovely. Why is no one looking at the camera or indeed looking cheerful, apart from me? Maybe my brother hadn't warned us he was about to take the picture.

These are photos I'm managing to throw away. My parents went on lots of lovely holidays to Europe and America, all documented with lots of pictures, and I'm trying to be firm, keeping only the best ones. It's not easy. And there are lots of other archives apart from that.

And here's one of my amaryllises, reminding me of why I give them windowsill space for 360 days of the year while they look exceedinly boring: to enjoy their bright trumpetiness for the other 5.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Home again, jiggety jig

I've just come back from a long weekend with Daughter 2, SIL 2 and Littlest Granddaughter, the latter seen here removing the money from my purse. Littlest is such a sweetie but not a good sleeper. They've tried everything - the method that I thought infallible wasn't, in her case. Currently they're trying the soft approach, which involves (among other things) having slow Mozart playing on a loop - quite restful (for the adult) as one sits with a lightly dozing baby in one's arms in the stilly watches of the night. As Daughter 2 says, when Littlest's grown up she might inexplicably find herself dropping off when she hears this particular piece of music. Or, on current evidence, she might not.

We went out for coffee. You know that piece of film when you're asked to count the number of yellow balls (or something) and this causes you not to see the man in the gorilla suit walking through the ball players? Well, that was me with this photo. It's only now that I see the couple at the table behind Littlest. What were they talking about? Littlest appears to be finding it interesting, judging from her expression.

I took her to a playgroup. I've been to this one before and was shocked, both times, at the behaviour of some of the child-minders, who sat in a row chatting and looking at their phones, more or less ignoring their charges while other mums/carers kept an eye on them, helped them down slides and stopped them bashing other children (or other children bashing them). I'm sure there are lots of good child-minders out there too, but these ones certainly don't do their job properly. It's not that I can't see the temptation to view playgroup as a little break in their hard days, but I wonder what the parents would think if they saw this behaviour. And it's just wrong.

We went for a walk at Chingford. Do you see that white, three-storey building directly to the right of Daughter 2's head? Henry the Eighth built it in 1543 as a viewing stand from which to watch deer-hunting. It was restored for Elizabeth 1 in 1589 but she seems to have gone there only once (bit of a waste of money, then). We didn't see any royalty though, or deer. We would have visited the lodge but it's shut on Mondays. (Our family does rather specialise in visiting places on the one day of the week that they're not open. You'd think we'd never heard of the internet.)

And now I'm home and rather in the dumps because I'm missing my girls, but I'll probably feel better tomorrow.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Fun with short people

On Monday, suffering from grandchild-withdrawal-symptoms, I kidnapped the Edinburgh pair and we went to Jump In, a trampoline (etc) centre, where they had a jolly time.

Like this.

Then we came back to our house for the rest of the day and the night. They played with Brio.

Eldest Granddaughter took a break to draw a picture. It's of a bedside table with: a lamp, a cheese sandwich, a book and a cup of tea. What more could anyone want, really? And on the other side, a sleeping bag with matching pillow.

The tables were part of the layout.

As I sat watching them, I noticed the one Christmas item that failed to get put away with the other Christmas decorations several days before. There's always something, isn't there? No prizes for the first correct answer, I'm afraid.

Sunday, January 06, 2019

Doing things in January

Goodness, it's been quiet since they all went away. We haven't even seen the Edinburgh family for a few days because the other grandparents have been staying and we like to allow them their turn in peace. But Daughter 2's hyacinths are blooming beautifully (thank you) - I so love the scent of hyacinths.

Mr L and I took ourselves for a walk along the river. It was pretty wintry-looking, though not cold.

We visited the Modern Art Gallery, where we didn't look at the art but did have a coffee in the cafe

and then walked out again, past the Landform, where no children were playing.

We've chatted to Littlest on the phone.

How amazing we people of last century would have found it to be able to see people we were phoning! I remember that in discussions of the outlandish future possibilities of this, people used to say: what if you were phoned up and you were still in your pyjamas? or the house was a mess? We were envisioning a huge tv on the wall, like Big Brother, I think.

And while going through my mum's stuff (yes, this is the year, 6 years after her death, when I'm going to sort it out) I found this photo of my father's mother, whom I never really knew, since she moved to the south of England when I was about five. Here she is at 71, only three years older than I am now. She looks older than me, to my eyes, but possibly I'm fooling myself. (Maybe it's the hat.) Sadly she developed dementia a few years later. We did see her a few times after she moved south, but travelling was more difficult then and she didn't really have much of a part of our lives. Which is sad.

And I've spent two sessions in the garden, cutting things down and admiring the snowdrops which are bravely pushing through with their promise of spring.

Thursday, January 03, 2019

And then...

On Christmas Day, Son, Daughter-in-Law and The Unbloggable Toddler came down - Son was working on Christmas Eve and again on the 27th, so they could only stay one night. We all went to the playpark. Here's The Unbloggable Toddler swinging...

... and here's Son with his niece, Littlest.

The house was quite full with us all in it. Just for that one night, there were 11 of us sleeping in the house - and with four bedrooms and two bathrooms, that's quite a lot, especially as TUT needs a room to herself because she's only recently become a good(ish) sleeper. It was fine, though. At the fullest point, we had Niece in the sitting room on a sofa, Daughter 2 and SIL 2 in the dining room on a blow-up bed and Littlest in the study... well, at least for the part of the night when she slept... .

And there were 15 to dinner, which would be easy enough if there weren't six vegetarians among us, some of us rather fussy. (Or - looking at it another way - if the other nine weren't carnivores... .) Also, one son-in-law is diabetic and the other has a nut allergy. But we all got fed.

It would have been even easier if I hadn't had a rotten cold and sore throat (which I later passed on to my sister-in-law - so sorry!) and Littlest hadn't been keeping some of us from sleeping rather a lot.

Look at her - she has a completely clear conscience as she prepares to empty my recycling bin

and, for the umpteenth time, takes all the Elastoplast and micropore tape and antiseptic ointment out of the drawer.

Then, on various days, all the young ones went away, alas, and then my brother and his wife and the pair of us went to the BP Portrait Exhibition in the rather impressive Portrait Gallery. The portraits were amazing.

This one won first prize. I love it.You can't see it very well on this postcard, but some of the items on the table look as if they're magically spinning.  

We walked home afterwards. I would hate to live somewhere so big that you couldn't walk home if you really wanted to.

Then on Hogmanay (New Year's Eve) we brought in the New Year at Daughter 1's, which was lovely,

and later she and her family, including her lovely parents-in-law, came to dinner with us and Mr L's cousin.

And that's what happened in the last couple of weeks - except that today we heard that Son and Daughter-in-Law's new baby, due in May, is a boy. Grandson is very happy. "Yay!" he said. "It's not usually a boy." ("It" being a new baby in the family - though actually he does have a baby boy cousin on his dad's side.) He is the patriarch of the cousins.

And we're all excited and looking forward to meeting the New Unbloggable Baby. Or NUB.

Wednesday, January 02, 2019


Well, Happy New Year! There's a bit of me that can't quite bear to think of another year starting with none of last year's sorrows alleviated; but that's not the attitude, is it? - so onward and upward, counting all blessings. Such as the little person above and below, Littlest Granddaughter, who's a home wrecker and DOESN'T SLEEP DURING THE NIGHT but we love her so much anyway.

Thanks so much to Thicket House, who noticed my longer-than-usual absence. I'm touched. It was just due to having family to stay - I didn't want to lose time with them. Daughter 2 and Littlest were here from the 18th till the 30th, my brother and sister-in-law were here from the 22nd till today, with various others arriving and departing at various times in between.

Littlest (what am I going to call her if Son and DIL have another girl? - we'll discover whether it's a girl or boy tomorrow) is at the stage of tottering fairly efficiently but often preferring to hold a hand or some piece of furniture for extra safety.

Daughter 2 iced the cake, as usual. She's not getting much sleep, poor soul (see above) so it wasn't quite as elaborate as often, but it's rather elegant all the same. Or should I say, it was rather elegant before much of it got eaten.

Not very long before Christmas I finished the quilt for my niece: my tenth. The middle bit is quite simple but I was pleased to succeed (more or less) in making a half-square triangle border. I do like making quilts: it's not really difficult (at my level), just a bit fiddly, and I enjoy making something that's unique. I mean, I'm sure that my design is far from original but no one's done it in those exact fabrics.

The observant among you will notice that the bottom cream border is broader than the side and top cream borders, in order to make the triangles fit the sides. A proper quilter would possibly have planned ahead and made sure that the middle bit was slightly shorter, but I am not that person.

Here's my niece trying it out.

Next time I feel I need to try something that at least looks more complicated. I need to challenge myself. You think? Not that I'm a great one for challenges... .

Wednesday, December 19, 2018


Daughter 2 went to work and so it was this sort of day.

So lovely!