Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Visiting Baby M

I've been up staying with Son and Daughter-in-Law, assisting with the baby so that they could catch up on some sleep. She is, naturally, very adorable. Here she is with the cot quilt that I made two years ago in the hope that one day, a suitable recipient would come along.

Daughter 2 came to visit and presented Baby M with the blanket she's been working on.

Isn't it nice?

Baby M's big sisters seem remarkably unperturbed.

The sun shone on us.

Then I came home and Grandson drew a picture of me. "I need white chalk for your hair, Granny." Gee, thanks, Grandson. I like to think that my hair is grey with brown bits, but I suppose chalk doesn't come in that colour. "One of your hands is rubbing your tummy." Yes, I can see that.

How I miss Baby M, with her so-soft little cheeks, big puzzled dark blue eyes, quiet snuffles and questing mouth. I'm so sad that she's far away. But I missed the others when I was up there with her. And yes, I do know that I'm lucky to have grandchildren at all.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Grandchild the third

Here is Son with his daughter, now two days old.

He is very besotted.

She is indeed lovely, if wearing rather a silly hat.

They have given her my mother's name, which is very sweet but also makes me very emotional. Mum died on 14 August 2012. If only I could tell her.

Still, welcome to the world, Baby M.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

We were up town yesterday. Princes Street has lately taken to having little video adverts on the bus stops - not a huge improvement to the joy of life, in my opinion, but anyway. And all the way along the street, we saw Keira Knightley advertising Chanel perfume. "It's funny," mused Mr L. "Her mum would never have expected her daughter to appear on every bus shelter in Princes Street."

By which he meant that the girl we knew when we were young - the pretty girl who was part of the local crowd at the badminton club (and who grew up to be Keira Knightley's mum) presumably never expected to have such a famous - and exceedingly rich -  daughter.

Keira's mum was nice enough, though not one of our particular friends. She was very pretty, but in a slightly broad-hipped, thick-legged way. I assume that Keira takes after her dad in body shape.

It's odd how things turn out. The family who lived across the road from us when our children were small were extremely nice but utterly normal. You would have put money on their never doing anything particularly unusual. The parents were very devoted to each other and the children; and the son and daughter were really lovely young people: sweet and slightly shy but very charming. Yet within a few years the daughter of the house had become a tv presenter, appeared scantily clad in lads' mags, had her naked image projected on to the Houses of Parliament, married and divorced a famous pop singer, become bald and bipolar and had more or less (though not totally) sunk from sight. Meanwhile the parents split up, the father became alcoholic (possibly the former as a result of the latter) and the mother had died of cancer.

And it's interesting to see what the girls who were in my class at school have done with their lives. It was a selective girls' school, so most of us were together for 13 years and I'm still in touch with quite a few of them. We were all in the top stream, so all reasonably clever. One became a professor of agriculture and advisor to the government. One, a good friend of mine, had a very important job in the museum world, sadly developed dementia in her 50s and has recently died. One achieved great success in business. (None of these successful women had children; two didn't marry at all and one married late in life. I imagine that this is relevant to their achievements in the wider world.)

One, another of my particular friends, was knocked down and killed in Brussels as she walked along the pavement, at the age of 23. Unbelievably, another member of the class also developed dementia some years ago, though is still alive - just.

And, as you would expect, a lot of us have been teachers and librarians and accountants and mothers, never making a big splash in the world. Some really bright girls never worked at all after having children.

But back in the 60s, you wouldn't really have been able to predict with certainty which of us would be the high-fliers. Nor had Mr Life and I any idea that we were sharing a badminton court with the mother of a famous film star or allowing our children to play with someone who would become a slightly infamous ladette.

Strange thing, life.

Monday, August 01, 2016


So I went down to London to help Daughter 2, who hasn't been well. I did some weeding and cutting down in the garden,

while she, once she was feeling somewhat better, did some work from home.

One day her friend came to visit with her enormous dog. I don't entirely understand why anyone would choose a large and frankly somewhat gassy dog when they could have a small furry cat. But he's a good natured chap and I guess many people feel the opposite way.

Then Daughter 1, who was in Worcester visiting her in-laws, came down for the day and stayed overnight. So that was nice.

We went for a walk in Epping Forest.

And now I'm back and must, tomorrow, do some weeding in my own garden as we await the news from Son that things are happening: Granddaughter-in-waiting is currently a day late and it would seem to be time that she might appear. But he was on the phone just now, and so far, nothing.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Complicated stuff

It's been an eventful week, with various visits from the grandchildren. On Fridays, above, Granddaughter is dressed by her father, though I think that she herself directs proceedings. The combinations of garments aren't always entirely expected, but you can get away with anything when you're three.

Grandson, whose preferred subject for drawing is road layouts with complicated junctions and traffic lights, surprised me the other day with this. I have labelled it for posterity. It shows the (rather embellished) route of waste water from the loo to a water treatment plant and thence to the sea at the bottom. The original design of the pipes comprised just the blue lines but then he added a few more purely decorative ones. He explained the coloured oblong bit very seriously: this is where the water gets cleaned. The green bits clean it for the fish, the blue bits clean it for the seals and the red bits clean it for the sharks. The yellow bit is just general cleaning and then the process is (more or less) repeated. (He didn't actually call it a water treatment plant.)

Yes, he may be mildly eccentric.

I'm off down to London for a week to look after Daughter 2, who's not been well. Mr L is having to fend for himself. Don't get up to mischief, R...

Monday, July 18, 2016

The weekend

Another jolly walk with the group on Saturday, in West Lothian, from Almondell, along the aqueduct and the River Almond.

We passed Illieston House, built around the end of the 16th century. Previously there had been a hunting lodge for James II and IV on this site. Evidently James III was more interested in unmanly pursuits such as music than he was in hunting and leading his country into war. That's my kind of king.

Walking along the aqueduct was fine until...

you looked down. Argh.

A bridge over the canal was much better for the nerves.
This is the sign for Lin's Mill. William Lin died there in 1645, thus achieving the unenviable distinction of being the last person in Scotland to die of plague. He'd have been surprised, I imagine, to find out that his house was for sale recently for offers over £795,000.

The walk was about six and a half miles.

Then yesterday was Grandson's fifth birthday. The other grandparents, Nanny and Gramps, were here to celebrate, as were Son and Daughter-in-Law. Grandson looked at his cake, which had five candles plus a 5 (which was also a candle) and enquired, "Why are there six candles on my cake?" (Pedant.)

This was the cake. Grandson decorated it himself.

This was the cake that Daughter 1 made - on request - for his party with his friends. You may be able to perceive a theme.

That was a quick five years. How we love him.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016


The children and I went to the Botanics today and, among other things, admired the wild flower meadow.

Even though there were no traffic lights or road signs in sight, Grandson seemed quite taken with it.

Granddaughter was wearing a matching headband. It didn't actually match her outfit but it certainly matched the flowers.

After a while, they decided to roll uphill towards the way out.

It turned out that this was more difficult than rolling downhill. It's all education.

Then we came home and Granddaughter immersed herself in books, as usual.

Last week, Mr Life's cousin's son and his wife (for whom the grandchildren were page boy and flower girl at their recent wedding) were coming home from a delayed honeymoon on the island of Skye. Rather surprisingly (to me) they decided to drive by the house where Mr Life's grandparents (and thus the young man's great-grandparents) used to live. They could see people inside so rang the doorbell to ask if it was all right to take a photo of the house. They were asked in and given a cup of tea. Amazingly, these were the people to whom Granny had sold the house in the late 1970s. Even more amazingly, on renovating the house, the new owners had removed the mantelpiece and found this photo, which had slipped down the back. And they'd kept it. And now produced it. You have to admire their filing system.

We had never seen a copy before. It's of Mr Life's granny and her four sisters. Granny is second from the right. She was not, it must be said, a great beauty. But she was a jolly soul, lived to 99 and enjoyed her life. I don't think that any of her descendants look like her.

Never throw anything away, in case the great-grandson of the owner should happen by forty years later... .