Saturday, June 23, 2018


Grandson to Eldest Granddaughter [his sister]: What's that you're making out of Duplo?
Eldest Granddaughter: It's my seagull.
Grandson: I thought it could be a big barrier for my level crossing.
Eldest Granddaughter: No, it has to be a seagull, sorry.
Grandson: But it could be a barrier.
Eldest Granddaughter: I'm afraid it just IS my seagull. [Makes seagull noises.]
Grandson [as if struck by a sudden bright idea]: Maybe you could go and play with your dollies now!
Eldest Granddaughter: Not now, thanks.

[Reporting credits to their mother, Daughter 1.]

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Being Ganny

This week, Daughter 2 and Littlest Granddaughter are staying with us while actor Son-in-Law is in Canada. It's SO lovely!

Yesterday the four of us went up to visit Son and his family. The Unbloggable Toddler, Middle Granddaughter, now 22 months, is beginning to recognise us and call us by our names: Ganny, Gappa, Yoi and Asta. Well, an approximation of our names, which is good enough for us. She's a lovely child. We live just the wrong distance apart: quite a long car journey, but near enough that we can go for the day and thus see her only for a few hours every few weeks. We'll never know her as well as the others, but I hope we'll build a relationship in time.

We had a very nice day, anyway. We went to the park. 

Littlest Granddaughter enjoyed it too.

Today we spent the day with Daughter 1 and family - the children were at nursery or school, but we saw them afterwards. So that was nice.

Life would be more restful without them all, but oh, so much less interesting.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Various aspects of weather

Ah, it's bearded iris time. I do love an iris. The magenta...

and the pale blue...

and the white...

and the lilac. Pity they don't bloom for long.

The garden is looking generally flowery and June-like, but we've had no rain for weeks and I've been dotting around with my watering can. They keep promising us rain, but very little has so far arrived.

I was standing at a bus stop the other day when the annual taxi drivers' outing passed by - about fifty decorated taxis taking deprived (I think?) children to the seaside for the day. The children were armed with supersoakers. Fortunately I had a bus shelter to hide behind. The children were having a lovely time but I hope they'd been told not to aim at the rather more elderly than me!

Yesterday, Mr L and I visited the Victoria Crowe portrait exhibition at the Portrait Gallery. I would recommend it: she's painted all sorts of high-achieving (and admirable) people, including in the portraits objects and images relevant to their careers, and there was interesting information beside each one saying how she found the experience.

The building is an amazing Victorian neo-Gothic confection.

And it has an excellent cafe. We had walked to the gallery, so felt justified in having a cake. One doesn't want to become too healthy. 

And today we had the Edinburgh grandchildren, as we always do on Fridays - Edinburgh schoolchildren have Friday afternoons off - a good wheeze which, alas, never happened when I was a school teacher or, come to that, a pupil. Must be a bit of a nightmare for working parents with no family back-up, though.

They tore up tissue paper to make an avalanche, thus creating a blockage to add drama to this railway layout. "The snow," narrated Biggest Granddaughter, "coils lovingly round the engines."

Saturday, June 09, 2018

Meeting up

I've been in London, visiting Daughter 2 and Littlest Granddaughter - we had such a lovely time! Littlest is recovering from both chicken pox and an ear infection, poor little lamb, but in spite of all that, she was very jolly.

We puttered about, did the garden, cuddled the baby and had the occasional coffee out.

The weather was quite hot, but not excessively so - well, as long as one wasn't doing too much.

Look at her poor little poxed face.

She's growing so fast!

And now I'm home. Today I went to a school reunion to mark 50 - 50!!!- years since my classmates and I left school. Here we are - those who attended. It's a girls' school, as you may guess from the photo. Among us there were a chief accountant for a national firm, a university lecturer in engineering, a medical consultant, a professor of agriculture, an economist, another accountant, a writer, an editor, a few teachers, a homemaker and, as far as I could gather, a dilettante with a wealthy husband. We're mainly, though not all, retired now.

Surprisingly, the fourteen who attended (one arrived after the photo was taken), have so far produced, I think, only thirteen grandchildren, which isn't a lot, considering that we're all coming up for 68 years old and four of us had three children, others two. Of course the world has enough people already. But maybe not enough capable people, which I'm assuming that the grandchildren of these women would be. (I realise that clever people aren't necessarily good people - but I think my classmates' children would probably be good also.)

Four of them never married - one of whom is partnered, but gay. Three are divorced, though two of them remarried. Two married later in life to men who already had children.

I was in touch with quite a few of them already and saw all of them ten years ago at a previous reunion. I find it very interesting to see what's become of us all. We all started out from similar backgrounds and in the same city but our lives have been fairly varied. Five of us still live in Edinburgh and another four in other parts of Scotland. The rest live in England. The unmarried ones have had the most starry careers, which isn't terribly surprising since in our young days, women mainly stayed at home for some years to look after the children.

My London daughter would be happy to do this too, but sadly the world has changed, and for financial reasons she'll have to go back to work in September and dear little Littlest will go to a nursery. I suppose that she'll survive, like so many others. But I wish it were otherwise.

We've all decided that we need to meet again in five years' time, not ten, because... who knows whether we'll all survive for another ten? Already two of our class are dead - one at 23, one at 67 - and another has very bad dementia. But meanwhile, the rest of us survive, and it's been such a nice day.

Friday, June 01, 2018

And that was May

I'm sure it's fairly boring to anyone else when I rabbit on about the grandchildren, but this blog has become a record of our lives, or at least a partial record, so here I go again. The main news is chicken pox related: after Grandson and Biggest Granddaughter got it, fairly inevitably the two smaller granddaughters got it too. Big sigh. They're really not often all together, so it was such bad timing that the two bigger ones were invisibly infectious at the time of Mr Life's birthday. 

So they've all been spotty and a bit miserable. Get the vaccination, would be my advice to anyone whose children haven't yet caught the disease. It's available here but not as a standard thing that all children are given by the state. We were just thinking about it for the older two. Too late.

Anyway, the other day, Grandson incorporated into his wooden train layout this tunnel (or is it an engine shed?) that Mr L's cousin made, and then he decided that he needed a second one, so he made that, with help from his dad. Grandson took the above photo, complete with thumb.

Here he is painting his creation.

And here it is, incorporated into the layout.

Granddaughter is not particularly into trains, though she does play with them a bit, to join in with her brother: she's a practical sort. She prefers books, though, so she and I took a trip to the library and she tried out the reading nook.

She also likes flowers. I hope that the gardening gene, which seems to run mainly down the female side of our family (though our son gardens too) has passed down to her too. It's such a joy.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Only 24 hours per day

"I'm a master of disguise," said Biggest Granddaughter. I do love the things they say at this age.

Goodness, life is busy - there's not time to do everything I want to do. I'm always chasing my tail. How can this possibly be??? We're retired!!! But, for example, we go for a walk most days, looking over the rooftops to the Pentland Hills, above. We're lucky to live in a city between the hills and the sea.

Our normal walk is along by the golf course. There are never many people playing golf but I suppose that if it weren't a golf course, it would probably get built on.

Another day I (unusually not Mr Life, who was down in Wales with his railway group) went with the walking friends on a circular hike from Lasswade. It was a lovely day - the weather has been uncharacteristically fine for a few weeks now.


And gorse.

And the Royal Wedding, which some of the group watched via live streaming at lunch time. No escape! I saw the edited highlights later and thought it was a praiseworthy attempt to reach out to ordinary people. The dress was slightly boring, though, no?

We looked sadly at Mavisbank House, or what's left of it. It was built in the 1720s - designed by William Adam - but fell into neglect and then suffered a terrible fire in 1973. People keep making plans to get it at least partly restored, but it would cost millions. Anyone got some to spare?

This is its walled garden, which appears to belong now to the houses on the far side. They don't really seem to be gardeners, frustratingly, but on the other hand it's a BIG space.

And another day we took the little ones to Almondvale Country Park, where they patted guinea pigs

and climbed

and bounced. Such fun.

Daughter 1 has made a chart to attempt to make leaving the house for school in time slightly easier. I think it's sort of working. Can you see the two illustrations added by Grandson?

And now the garden's getting away from me, and I've only done a bit of cutting out of the next quilt, and as for writing that Booker-Prize-winning novel... .

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Cake etc

Ah yes, Delta Airlines. My cousin, or to be more accurate the daughter of my father's cousin, who is American, is married to a lovely chap with a dark chocolatey voice who does voiceovers, including for Delta Airlines. So he sometimes has the strange experience of hearing himself tell him that his flight has been delayed. If you've flown by Delta, you'll probably have heard him too. 

This weekend, Mr Life turned an astonishing 70. I can't quite believe that we're so old (mind you, I'm over two years younger, a fact I'm clinging to). The idea was that the whole lot of us, including my brother and his family, would come for the weekend to celebrate, and this sort of happened. My nephew didn't quite make it. He was willing to drive up from Essex one day and back down 36 hours later but we persuaded him that this would be too exhausting. 

Here are Son and his child's hand at the Botanics, where we all went on Saturday. 

And here he is reading to Littlest Granddaughter and his own child.

And here's Littlest playing with the family rattles. Isn't she cute? (totally unbiased opinion).

And here's the cake that Daughter 2 decorated for her dad.

On the same theme, the card that she made. He likes trains (understatement) and they're organising a trip to Hamburg for him to visit a model railway setup there (and other things).

Some of us went for a walk.

But others got chicken pox and weren't able to come to the party... though they did see Littlest the day before the spots appeared and breathed lovingly on her...

And gradually everyone departed, though my brother and sister-in-law kindly took us out for dinner last night before they too went back home. 

My niece has chosen some fabrics from my stash for a quilt that I'm going to make for her. I haven't yet decided on a design. Thinking about it won't quite console me for the departure of Middle and Littlest Granddaughters, but it'll help.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Past and present

I picked up Granddaughter from nursery last week and we went for lunch at the Brunton Bistro. As we were leaving, she spotted this amazing array of knitted tea things. She played with them for almost an hour, offering "tea" and "biscuits" to random passing ladies, almost all of who were very gracious in joining her game. 

 The knitted goods were to publicise a charity. 

Such attention to detail!

Then we went to the playpark,

which is down near the sea.

When Grandson got back from school, he played with his road signs and home-made traffic light.

He's now learned basic programming from his dad and can create his own computer road layouts.

And in a magazine, I read that Burleigh have made this jug and it's for sale for £31.

The pattern's very familiar to me from the Burleigh vase (above) that my grandmother's brother gave her as a present and I now possess. Actually there were two vases but one got broken years ago. She was very close to her brother but he died in 1920 from the effects of being gassed in World War One, so she really treasured the vases and they stood at either end of her mantelpiece till a visitor broke one. She would be so interested that, about 100 years after her brother bought them, the pattern has been used again. I wish I could tell her, but alas she died in 1980. She was such a lovely person. She was very small, and her brother once told her that she was "just the right size for dancing underneath the bed". I've told this to the older grandchildren and it fascinates me that they know something that their great-great-great uncle said to their great-great-grandmother. I know virtually nothing about my great-great-grandmothers apart from their names and where they lived.

And then we went down south to visit my brother and family, and some cousins, one of whom is the voice of Delta Airlines. But now I must go and remove a meringue from the oven.