Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A visit to the boy

On Sunday we took my mum to visit our son, who's a junior doctor in Dumfries, in south-west Scotland. He and his junior doctor girlfriend have been living for the past year at Rockcliffe, where her parents have a house. After lunch, we went for a walk along the shore.

It was a warm day but a bit hazy.

Here we are: Mr Life, Son with my mum and in front of them, Son's girlfriend, Daughter 2's actor boyfriend and Daughter 2. You'll notice I'm quite happy to post pictures of people's bottoms as long as mine isn't included.

This is the sea front; quite the prettiest one I've ever seen.

This is the view to the left.

More bottoms.

I would like this house. Do you think if I wish hard enough, some good fairy will give it to me?

This is that house's view.

Along a bit, we sat on a bench while Daughter 2 and her actor boyfriend went for a paddle. The tide was far out.

Then Son and his girlfriend followed.

On our way back the sun came out, which improves any photo.

Back in the garden, we noticed swallows* building a nest in the apex of the roof. That blurry thing with a forked tail just above...................here............... is one of the swallows. My camera isn't really up to action shots.

Daughter 2 and Son were having a chat and posed for a photo.

"How about one without the discarded socks?" suggested Son. Ok then.

I wandered off round the garden to take photos of the view.

And again. As usual, I wondered why I live in a city.

Sigh. Yearn.

"Let's have a rolling race down the hill," suggested Son to his sister. He's never one to lie around for long.

So they did, giggling hysterically.

And raced back up again. Son went sideways by mistake because he was dizzy.

Later, we had dinner at Kippford, on the other side of the bay.

And then we got in the car and drove the two-and-a-half hours home again.
In August they move to Glasgow to work in hospitals there. When will I ever get used to him not being with us any more?
* My brother says he thinks they're house martins, not swallows. I could look this up on Google but it's TOO HOT!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Tennis and work and such like

First day of the holidays and I was at work till 2.45 pm. Didn't quite get finished last week.

However, cards like this one are a great compensation. How nice - not only that he felt like that but that he bothered to say so. (I don't get messages like this every week; hence my great appreciation when they do come.)

Can't stay around; Andy Murray isn't doing as well as he might against Stanislaw Wawrinka and though I can't bear to watch, I can't bear to stop watching either.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


I walked to and from work today – a total of 6 miles, which isn’t very far but which made it seem a good idea to go out into the garden and collapse on the grass for a while when I got home. And I started my usual round of worrying, about:

My mother being 87 and what the future might bring for her
Daughter 1 being about to start the dissertation for her second Master’s degree rather than being at the stage I was at when I was her age (not that this was particularly impressive either)
Climate change
Interest rates and banking and so on
Getting old, fat and wrinkly
World peace or the lack of it
Daughter 2 going out with a mostly-unemployed actor
Son being overworked as a junior doctor
My very small projected pension because of my having been an at-home mummy for nine years
Son having left home so that we hardly see him (because he's a very overworked junior doctor and has very little spare time)
What to do with the cats when we go away on holiday in the future
What we'll do without the cats because they won't live forever
The ivy on the back walls of the garden, which probably will live forever, getting bigger and bigger, alas
Whether I'll get done everything that I need to, by the end of my holiday from work
Whether I'll ever get the photos organised even if I live to 100
Possibly living to 100, when I would be a burden on my children

And so on

And then along came Sirius. He rubbed his warm, solid, fluffy tummy against my cheek as I lay on the grass and then he leaned companionably against me for a while, purring. He wandered round my recumbent form, looking at me curiously. Then he sat on my head: the very best kind of furry hat.

That’s why I like cats. They don’t worry. They just make the best of things.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Crieff again

We've been away for a long weekend to Crieff, in Perthshire, about an hour to the north of Edinburgh.

We stayed in a house in the grounds of Crieff Hydro, among the trees.

This is the view from the porch.

When we go to Crieff, we always walk up the little hill behind the house. It's called the Knock, from the Gaelic "cnoc", meaning "hill". Not a very inspired name...

but the views from the top are lovely.

You can see for miles...

in every direction.

Why do we live in a city when there are places like this? I would like to have that white house in the middle of this photo.

It was sunny but a bit hazy.

This is Crieff from the path downwards.

Another day we went to Drummond Castle, which has the most amazing topiary garden. We had it almost to ourselves. Do click to enlarge this - it just shows what can be done with very few actual flowers.

Distant cows. What a peaceful scene. I'm not so keen on close-up cows. They're a bit large for my liking.

I'm glad I don't have to trim that box hedging.

Or any of it, in fact. We kept waiting for the Red Queen or the White Rabbit to pop out from behind a tree.

My lovely son-in-law stopped this one from falling over.

And Mr Life, Daughter 1, my mum and son-in-law all got a bit silly.
Who was looking after the cats, you ask? Well, for the first and last nights, we abandoned them! Karen, our nice neighbour, popped in and out, adminstering cat biscuits and prawns, however, and shut them in overnight. And for the two nights in between, Daughter 2 and/or her actor boyfriend were here, having driven back since they had a wedding to go to. So our furry friends weren't totally neglected.
They seemed pleased to see us when we returned, however.
Back to work tomorrow. But not for long. Three and a half days and I'm free for seven weeks. Hooray for being a teacher. (Not gloating or anything...)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Dancing daughter

This morning I was singing away to myself: a choral bit of the St Matthew Passion. Daughter 2 wandered past. She’d been painting the inside of her bedroom cupboard, since we’ve recently had painters doing up her room but they didn’t go inside the cupboard. She was wearing her father’s dungarees. He’s 6’1 and a half and she’s 5’5. They were more than a little baggy on her.

“Do a dance,” I suggested. I began to sing my bit of the St Matthew Passion. She immediately put her hands in the dungaree pockets, pushing them out to accentuate the bagginess, and did a little clown dance, gravely hopping from one foot to the other and sticking the spare leg out to the side. I finished singing. She bowed. Then she proceeded on her way.

And I thought: 1) how wonderful to have a child who knows exactly how to react to such a ridiculous request, and 2) presumably all families have their own eccentricities which they understand perfectly but which no one else ever sees.

I love her so much.

Bach might have thought it a bit odd.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Totally irrelevant picture of Sirius and a box

Below is the agenda sent to me today for a meeting next week. The names have all been changed but you might be able to detect a touch of blarney. Which item do you think I'm looking forward to most?

Good Practice seminar


1. John Bloggs – welcome and rationale for Good Practice events
2. Sheila Smiggs – ‘Synergy in action (core skills)’
3. Harry Higgs – 'The College YouTube site’
4. Barry O’Potts – ‘Using communication delivery to prepare students for external exams in their vocational subjects or why I like to re-invent the wheel every time I get a new class and how that ages me prematurely’ *
5. General Good Practice discussion
6. Agenda for future meetings
7. AOB

* Let me assure you, I know exactly how he feels.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Father's Day is coming up

The other day Daughter 1, SIL and I passed this shop window in the Cameron Toll shopping centre. We rather liked the juxtaposition of t-shirts and sign. Not that any of this applies to any fathers living in this house. Or any house known to you, I'm sure. Unless you know Batman.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

All done

I'm finished!

And the cats and I are exhausted!

And now I'm off to have a bath and finish my book.

Tomorrow I'll catch up with your blogs. Once I've done a bit of dusting... and ironing... and planting... and tidying...

Oh, the relief!

Monday, June 08, 2009

Getting there

36 scripts to go.

Concentrating fiercely*, I might be able to do them in about 5 hours. I'm going to try to mark 9 more tonight. On Thursday, normal life should resume. Thank you for your kind comments. I have actually been sneaking peeks at your blogs at work and shall be back commenting myself once I've dealt with the remainder of the exams.

A lot of the students can't spell "opportunity", a word which quite a few of them use to answer one question. I've seen it written wrongly so much in the last week and a half that I'm beginning to doubt my own spelling of it.

* You might gather from my doodles that the concentration occasionally wanders.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Happy birthday to her

It was our darling Daughter 2's birthday this week. Here she is with her cake; her big sister gazes lovingly on. This weekend, Daughter 2 is down in Nottingham with her actor boyfriend at his parents' house. He hasn't worked for a while; or only the odd day. It's such a worry.

These were my piles of marking this morning. Left hand pile: done. Right hand pile: not done. However, I've done a lot more today. The effect of darkness outside is just because I used flash. The sun in Edinburgh rose at 4.31 am this morning and won't set till 9.53 pm and I'm certainly not keen enough on marking to rise at 4 am. I love the long light days, though, which make the dark days of winter worthwhile.

I cut this perfect rose and have it on the table as I mark, to remind me that after next Wednesday I can get back into the garden.
81 scripts to go. I'm off to do another 20 this evening. Don't do anything too exciting without me, bloggie friends.

Monday, June 01, 2009


It's been good weather for cats.


Our boy, who was home for a few days, went away again on Saturday morning.

We miss him.

Later I took Daughter 1 and my mum to the gardening show at Ingliston.

Pretty orchids.

And alstroemeria. And lots of other flowers and plants, which I restrained myself from buying.

On Sunday morning it was hot again. This was the main road when I went out to buy a newspaper.

We drove through the Meadows (a park) to get to church.

Our church is near the beach.

The Edinburgh Marathon route went along the promenade yesterday, though the runners had passed by the time we came out of church. It was, the papers said, 22 degrees Celsius - 71.6 Fahrenheit - which is hotter than I imagine one would chose for running such a distance. Or any distance at all, in my case. Scotland doesn't get much warmer than this, thank goodness.
In the afternoon, Daughters 1 and 2 and our son-in-law went to the beach at Gullane and swam in the sea. The sea here is always extremely cold, especially when one's body is warm from the sun. Rather them than me. But they had a lovely time with friends.
Today: the heatwave continues. 66 papers marked. 154 to go. Back to the kitchen table I go, to get on.