Wednesday, October 29, 2008

More holiday pictures

Here's another view of our North Wales house. Actually, it's been divided into two: the owners, reasonably enough, live in the left hand bit, which has a lovely view over the bay, and the right hand bit is let out to holidayers. No view, alas.

Interestingly - or at least I found it interesting - the house once belonged to the uncle of Mrs Gaskell (who wrote "Cranford" and so on) and she visited it a lot, even honeymooning there. So that was a bit of a thrill for a nineteenth-century-novel fan like me. I suspect she may have spent more time in the more scenic side, but anyway, here's Mrs Gaskell's uncle's extremely small living room (claimed to be suitable for 9 people - just as well that there weren't as many of us as that and that one of us was an elf).
Here's his kitchen - do you think Mrs G might have popped in here to make a cup of tea? I don't think it's been updated much since her day. (Note the notice on the dresser.)

And here's the stair. Can you imagine her swishing up here in her crinoline, or whatever she wore? A bit narrow, maybe.

North Wales is beautiful; a bit like the Scottish Highlands.

We went to Bodnant Gardens, which are wonderful even in autumn. Here's Daughter 2 amid vegetation.

Spectacular views over the garden.

Mr and Miss Life rest under a tree.

We also visited Llandudno, which was very elegant. A touch on the bracing side, but beautiful.

Looking in the other direction.

We have five legs and only one arm, it would seem.

A different narrow gauge railway train. It was very wet that day, but Mr Life is a happy man on a train.

Portmeirion - a spoof Italianate village built by a very rich and somewhat eccentric architect last century.

It has a wonderful setting.

Pretty, isn't it?
We had a lovely time. But it's quite nice to be home, really.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Chuff chuff

We’ve been away for a week with the family in Wales , so that Mr Life could drive a narrow gauge railway train for a day. Here he is in his boiler suit.

That was his exciting present from the offspring, for his 60th birthday (which was in May). He was a very happy chap. They made him a cake with a train on it too.

We were staying in a holiday cottage.

Apart from Mr Life's train-driving, we also did other things, some in the sun... (I'd rather have stayed in the house above than our cottage, frankly)...

and some in the rain.

Our cottage featured quite a lot of stern notices.

(The elf we bought in a Christmas shop was a bit naughty.)
Some of the notices had PSs added to them – even though they were printed on a computer and the PSs could easily have been incorporated. For example, one notice gave a big list of what not to put down the toilet (we didn’t) and then added, as an extra little dire warning:

PS – using too much paper may block the pipes. (We didn’t do that either.)

Our catlets were looked after by some very very nice visitors. I’ll tell you about these some other time.

I’m looking forward to catching up on all your doings. Meanwhile I must go and fill the washing machine.
Back to porridge and auld claes (old clothes), as my Granny used to say.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Tell Laura I love her

Do you know the song "Tell Laura I love her"?

Daughter 2's name is Laura and she works as an architect with a medium sized firm and therefore sometimes spends time on building sites with lots of joiners and plumbers. Her current project is the conversion of an old building into a hotel. She's a sweetheart. Yes, I know I'm her mother; but she is.

The other week she was on site, and saw that someone had chalked up on a wall, "Tell Laura I love her".

Yesterday she went past the wall again, and there, in two different handwritings, was: "Me too" "Me too".

Your father and me too. We love you, Laura. (More!)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Guest post from Fifi: "Rockcliffe" - Episode 2

I thought Fifi's comment on my previous post deserved more prominence (hope this is all right, Fifi):

fifi said... On "Rockcliffe" this week, young Dr D finds that making soup is almost as hard as convincing wee auld Mrs McLatchey to take her heart medication. In his usual endearing manner he ineptly stirs pieces of vegetable forlornly around in his broth.Luckily for him, it's Isabelle to the rescue: turning up just in the nick of time with a big bunch of dahlias, a cauldron of hot soup and a package of....Gorgonzola!As usual the beautiful landscape is the real star of the show, though,luckily for Mrs Mclatchey, Dr D is a far better physician than chef.

Above, a pot at our front door, still blooming away in October - though the first frost will cut down the flowers.
Below, having enjoyed a nice combing session, Sirius relaxes on Mr Life's legs.

In our college we teach towards exams in English language and literature but we also teach vocationally-appropriate, practical English, to people doing all sorts of courses such as beauty therapy, preparation for nursing, business studies, computing and so on. My preparation for nursing students - all young and jolly but not necessarily academic giants - were doing an assessment. ("Hollyoaks", by the way, mentioned below, is a soap opera, which I myself don't watch.)
Student 1 [looking up from the article she was reading]: What's schizophrenia?
Me: Well, it's a psychiatric mental condition -
Student 2: It's what Newt's got in "Hollyoaks".
Student 1 [completely satisfied]: Oh, right.
Student 2 [nodding conspiratorially to me]: Talk to them at their own level.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Mother and son emails

Hello my boy,

I wrote a blog post about our visit to Rockcliffe and this was Fifi's comment:

It's almost like a TV series, you know, handsome young doctor arrives in wee village, gets up to all manner of capers. His mother moves there to become a writer and keep a vast garden of flowers, writes a vast novel. It'll be epic!

Well, it's an idea...

Lots of love,


PS Less of the capers.

Dear Mum,

Hmmm, certainly an idea.

Unfortunately I don't really get up to much in the way of capers (except for crashing my car, but I'm not sure that this counts).

It's kind of hard to imagine Rockcliffe as 'epic'.

I'm not up to a huge amount today. [Girlfriend] is at work, and I'm sitting in the kitchen. Yesterday was just the most horrible weather - driving rain non-stop all day. However, today is beautiful sunshine and very still, so I'll probably go outside in a bit.

I made some soup yesterday, it being soupy kind of weather. The day before, I looked at a food processor in Tesco and wondered about buying it (that's the exciting sort of caper I get up to), but decided I probably wouldn't use it all that much (it was the blending kind, rather than a proper Kenwood-style thing).

My soup was nice, but really more like soggy vegetables in water than Mum-soup, despite my best attempts at mashing. Ah well, it still has much-needed vitamin C.

Hope all is well at home. I'll probably phone in a bit, so this email may be a bit superfluous, but there we go.

Missing you all and the lovely cats.


Saturday, October 04, 2008

Some barely connected musings

When I was 17, our A level French teacher, Mrs Walsh, was speaking to us about current affairs. She mentioned Twiggy, the famous model of about our age who was being mobbed by adoring fans, much like the Beatles were at that time. "Girls," said Mrs Walsh, "in a few years, Twiggy will be forgotten, but YOU, girls, YOU will have careers!"

Well, yes, we do have careers.

Twiggy, on the other hand is still beautiful, rich and famous (at least in Britain); one of those "national treasure" people. I wonder if she sits up late at night marking papers and preparing classes.

Never believe what a teacher says.

I know it's a ridiculous cliché and I despise myself for my lack of originality, but at this time of year I can't help thinking of the garden as being like a lovely woman whose beauty is fading. It’s still got some colour but you can see it used to be much prettier.

I must try to think up a better simile before next year.

How about this for an action photo? Unimpressed by the flowers, Cassie was trying to catch an insect.

This is Dr Son in the garden at Rockcliffe. Not really like home, is it? (He's looking a bit brooding and Heathcliffish, but I think he was just about to smile. He had also taken the opportunity of a non-working day not to shave. )

Back in our garden, I picked some sweet peas for a reminder of what the summer is like.
Today is damp and chilly. Autumn is on the way.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


We got the bus down to Dumfries on Saturday to collect our other car from our son – he needed it till he bought a new one to replace the one in which he skidded into the wall.

There were two women of a certain age sitting beside us in the waiting area at the bus station in Edinburgh, chatting as they read a less upmarket type of woman’s magazine, complete with lots of photos of lissom or hunky celebs.

I started listening to them without actually looking. (I’m subtle like that.) One of them said to the other, “I like them bearded.”

Her friend replied, “Oh yes, and especially if they’re blue.”

I thought, “?” and glanced covertly at the magazine. It was open at an article about irises.

My mind wandered. Later, I started listening again. They were looking at a feature on kitchen gadgets.

One said, “Do you have difficulty opening jar lids now?”

“Yes,” said the other. “My hands are getting quite stiff.”

“Well,” the first one said, “my mother gave me a good tip. She said it really works. It’s made all the difference.”

“What does she do, then?”

“I can’t remember, but she said it helps a lot.”

Unfortunately they didn’t sit near us on the bus.

We went for a walk with our son and his girlfriend in beautiful sunshine at Rockcliffe, where they’re living.
We saw pretty houses, sparkly water, bobbing boats.

It was lovely to see our boy.

Children are so precious and when they’re little, we long for someone to take them away for a few hours. And then life comes along and takes them away for what feels like forever.