Sunday, December 29, 2013

Next stop, the Golden?

Thank you very much, kind commenters, for your anniversary wishes. We are fortunate to have found each other and to enjoy each other's company still. Considering that I was only 16 when I first thought seriously about Mr L, I'm glad that I had such good taste... or maybe it was just luck. It's now just over 46 years since our first date. (Amazing, since we're only about 30 now - aren't we???). There was a pretty cake.

There were beautiful flowers - red roses as in my wedding bouquet.

And relevant confetti on the tables.

And a lovely room with a view over the city. And, more importantly, our extremely nice extended family, some of whom got there by trying journeys in much delayed trains, or a car battling through driving rain. Thank you all so much for laying it on and then coming!

Friday, December 27, 2013

And it don't seem a day too much...

Well, that was a quick forty years, I must say.

My Granny's wedding ring, with added ruby. Thanks, Mr L! (He got a watch. Not so interesting, in my view, but he likes it.)

John Anderson*, my jo, John,
When we were first acquent;
Your locks were like the raven,
Your bonny brow was brent;
But now your brow is beld**, John,
Your locks are like the snaw***;
But blessings on your frosty pow,
John Anderson, my jo.

John Anderson, my jo, John,
We clamb the hill thegither;
And mony a cantie day, John,
We've had wi' ane anither:
Now we maun totter down, John,
And hand in hand we'll go,
And sleep thegither at the foot****,
John Anderson, my jo.

Robert Burns

*This is not actually his name
** Only a bit
*** Not completely. Mine are also a touch snawy
**** Not yet, however, I hope. 

Love you, old chap! And here's to a few more cantie days before we're finished.

And happy anniversary also to Thimbleanna and her chap!

Also - good luck to our various family members attempting to get to Edinburgh this afternoon for our celebration dinner tonight - by train and car, through flood, wind, fallen trees, downed power lines... . Hope to see you all soonish!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas 2013

The Edinburgh family arrived, Granddaughter seasonally attired.

Presents were opened.

Wrapping was played with.

The quilt was used. Later, alas, Grandson threw up (as he had the previous evening). But not on the quilt. Get better soon, little N!

We haven't had the bad weather suffered by southern England. We're very sorry for all who've had a bad time because of winds and flooding.

(This was forecast in the usual London-centric BBC way: "Bad weather is sweeping over the United Kingdom! Wind and rain are forecast for areas from Cornwall to Kent!" In case you're not familiar with the geography of Britain, that's the small - though densely populated - slice of our island which is south of London.)

Happy Boxing Day!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013


Well, Granddaughter slept all last night till 9 in the morning!

Hurray! Let's hope it continues.

Happy Christmas to all my bloggy friends from 60-year-old Santa (above) and me.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Letter to Santa

Dear Santa,

Last night (night 4 of the Bad Granny Treatment) I slept all night till 10 minutes to 7 in the morning and then had a brief nap till 7, at which point Good Mummy took pity on me, which was only reasonable.

I hope that this will dispel any doubts as to whether I've been a good girl this year? Ok, not all this year, but for the last three nights. Surely that's enough? I'm only little.

Love, Granddaughter

PS I'll try to be good again tonight even though Granny will be in her own bed in her own house.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Bad Granny

I mustn't take time to blog but I thought Nanny and Gramps in Worcester might like to see some pictures of the littlies instead of pictures of my quilt.

However, I am very behind in various Christmas-related activities.

One (small) reason for my behindness is this cheery bundle of fun. (Another is my choir carol concert, which was last night.) Granddaughter has been waking her poor parents during the night a LOT; and a few days ago they accepted my offer to come over and be firm with her overnight. (I know how hard it is to be firm with your own offspring when they wake and cry. Looking at you, Daughter 2, thirty years ago... .)

So for the past three nights, Granddaughter's cot has been in the sitting room at Daughter 1's house and I've been sleeping on the sofa to take the role of  Bad Granny. She looks traumatised, doesn't she?

Night 1: she woke at midnight, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 6.30 and then (hurray) just before 8 - at which point we started the day. Up till then, I patted her on the tummy and told her to go to sleep and, after a short period of making a noise like a rusty hinge, she did each time.

Night 2: she woke at 3, 5, 6.30 and 8. Much better.

Night 3 (last night): she slept through till 6ish, then till 7.20 and then till 8.15. Real progress!

Tonight we're going to try her back in her own bedroom (which she shares with her brother, so I hope she doesn't decide to yell in earnest). Wish us luck!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

J'ai fini! Enfin!

Sit down, Thimbleanna. No, your eyes do not deceive you. Yes, as I warned you by email - I've finished my quilt!!!!! I know it's the simplest quilt in the world and it is slightly inaccurate in bits but hey: it's done. Thank you so much for giving me the cutting mat, the big ruler thing, the rotary cutter and lots of material - thus coercing me into doing it - and thank you, too, for the online tutorials. It's prettier (in my opinion) than it looks here, where the colours are dimmed by the flash of my phone camera.

This is the back. (It doesn't have a missing corner; the corner just flopped down at the vital moment.) Can you see the two joins? I thought not. (Bows.) Mr L assisted with the pattern matching of the back, one sideways and one longways. He also assisted in the interpretation of the little video showing the use of the binding tool to join the two ends of binding. It worked well.

I bought a walking foot for the binding, by the way - thanks to Gina and others who recommended this.

 Daughter 2 emerged from being the holder-upper to test it out with her dad.

This is more like the actual colour, though it's not quite as bright as it looks here. I don't know why I don't get Mr L, who has good cameras, to take a decent photo of it. I meant to take one outside today but didn't get round to it.

Anyway - I feel a bit ridiculous being so pleased at having achieved something that you proper quilters could do in a weekend while knitting a pair of socks and crocheting some Granny squares but... now I can go and ice my Christmas cakes.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Advice for the incompetent

Oh how jolly small children are - when they are.

Look - she stands (with support).

And sits, waving her arms around. And beams, though crucially, not always when put her cot at night. Alas.

The subjects of these photos are a couple of reasons why I haven't yet finished my quilt.

The other is that I've been procrastinating: practising putting binding on tiny "quilts" that I've stuck together for the purpose; and it's not quite as easy as it looks on the videos.

In fact, there are various pieces of advice that I might put in my forthcoming publication: "Quilting for those who would like to emulate the beautiful creations they've seen in blogs but are a bit slapdash". For example:

1. Measuring is important - even more important than you think. If you find yourself cutting something slightly too big, don't just think, oh, it's late; that'll do. You will regret this later on.

2. Cutting with a rotary cutter is easy - ish. It's not as easy as you expect. The cutter has an ambition, which you must curb with all your might, to stray from the line of the ruler and meander into the next bit that you plan to cut. Stand up, lean hard and concentrate. Frowning helps.

3. If you're thinking about something else while sewing pieces together and find yourself making some of the seams just slightly big/small - unpick them. Not doing so will be a source of grief later on. (See no 1, above.)

3. Do not have a cat.

4. If you live in Britain, get your husband to dig out a basement. Then claim this as your sewing room. Otherwise you have to clear the kitchen table every time you have to produce a meal.

5. Do not have a deadline, eg Christmas. This might make you yet more slapdash (see nos 1 and 3 above). Or alternatively, do. It might make you get on with it.

6. Don't just assume that you can work out how to do things. Watch videos. Become puzzled that they tend to contradict each other. Then ask Thimbleanna how she does it.

I failed to follow my own advice in every respect apart from number 6. Still, the end is in sight. Kind of.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

It's beginning to look a lot like...

Daughter 2 is home for a few days.

The house is becoming Christmassy.

Oh dear, I must tidy those books. We need more bookshelves or perhaps fewer books.

Santa, the Christmas Elves and a gingerbread man.

The tree.

Still quite a lot of shopping to do, though.

I've cut the binding for my quilt but decorating took precedence after that. I hope my sewing machine is going to cooperate. It doesn't really like sewing through several layers, which may well be a slight problem. Listen out for howls of anguish in the next day or two.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


Yesterday Grandson and I went to the park. Shortly after we arrived, a young mum got into conversation with us. She seemed keen to talk. She commented that it was cold (which it wasn't particularly but she was wearing a thin jacket) and said she had to be there for two hours because she was too early to visit someone in prison. (It was almost as if she was pleased - proud? - to tell me this.) The prison is a couple of miles away from the park - I don't think it's a high security establishment but I don't know much about it, not even exactly where it is. She said that she lived in East Lothian, which is a county just to the east of Edinburgh, and that her father had told her that the journey would take her much longer than it had actually done.

She was in the park to put off time and to let her little girl play. The child was three and a bit; nine months or so older than Grandson. She seemed a nice child. Grandson and she started playing in the same area, looking at each other and following each other about. Grandson chatted to me about her and what she was doing. The other child didn't say much but smiled and accepted her mum's suggestions as to what she should do next.

The mum told me that her little girl hadn't seen the man she was going to visit for some time because he'd been in prison, but the mum thought that he and her daughter should get to know each other again because he was hoping to be released on Friday. It turned out that the man was the mum's partner though not actually the child's father "but he's been like her father". She said that she hoped that the little girl wouldn't remember when she was older that she'd visited the prison. The child had also been there "when she was a baby, visiting my brother" but didn't remember this.

At this point I mentioned the East Lothian school where I taught from 1973-1979 and it turned out that this was the school that the mum had been to (not long ago, I'd guess). We chatted a bit about the school. She said that her father had been a pupil. I recognised his name though I don't think I actually taught him. It was, I fear, one of those names that was not greeted with joy when one saw them on one's register. I can't now remember whether he was a challenging boy or just a bit of a poor soul (I rather think the former). Then she said that her mother was also a pupil. Her name was familiar to me in the same way. I remembered quite well another girl with the same surname; sure enough, this was the young mum's aunt. The aunt had been quite a forceful character and not academic. In those days I was very aware that schools didn't on the whole cope very well with the full range of needs. I doubt if things are much better now. It's very hard to teach children who are not keen to be there for whatever reasons.

And I looked at the two children and their innocent, hopeful faces. Who knows how anyone's life will turn out? -  but I feel worried for the little girl, though her mum obviously loves her and wants to do the best for her. I felt that I ought to do something but... what? And then quite soon the mum decided that she was too cold and she would just make her way to the prison anyway, so off she went.

She left me feeling very thoughtful.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


I had coffee yesterday with my dear friend J, who lives in South Queensferry. It was lovely to catch up with her. She still works part-time at the college and I felt only a tiny yearning to be back there. I quickly suppressed this. It wasn't hard.

South Queensferry is a pretty and historic little town, though not exactly built for cars.

This church...

 ... appears to have been built in 1633. It's up a lane on the way to J's house. I hadn't noticed it before.

One of the main things you notice about South Queensferry is the Forth (Rail) Bridge - which is famous and also pink. This is the view from J's kitchen window. There's also a road bridge, which you can see on the left, and they're in the process of building a second one. When I was a girl there was only the rail bridge; and cars and their passengers had to cross the estuary by ferry, which took quite a long time compared to the five minutes across the road bridge.

From all along the main street you get glimpses of the bridge.

I've now written quite a lot of cards and bought some presents and we have fairy lights in the hall. Grandson saw these today and was transfixed. I wish I'd had a camera handy to capture his fascinated little face.

No tree yet, no further decorations, no wrapping but I don't want to get too ahead of myself. That would be showing off.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Winter flowers

We had a walk through the Botanics yesterday. It'll soon be the shortest day and it's cheering to see some flowers even at this time of year, such as this periwinkle.

I'm not a great fan of pampas grass but it was good to see the green leaves and creamy plumes brightening up the herbaceous border.

This viburnum has delicate pink blossoms against bare branches.

And -  cheating somewhat because these are alpines, in a covered, open-ended greenhouse -

(but still very lovely on a dull day) early-flowering daffodils and crocuses.

And then my phone ran out of battery.

Home again, this is the best that my garden could offer: the last two roses. But there are spears of spring bulbs beginning to appear through the soil. Enjoy summer while you have it, Australia. We'll be starting to drag it north again before too long.

Mind you, we do have a bit of winter to deal with first. Sigh.