Monday, September 23, 2019

More walking

And then the following day, we had a peaceful flat walk round Buttermere (a lake) - 5 and a half miles.

It was very peaceful.

We had lunch by a stream.

Later that day, two different people managed to a) set off the fire alarm by having a very steamy shower, and b) set off the fire alarm again by burning the toast. Neither of these two people was one of us. This was all rather more eventful than we expected. The owner was probably quite glad to see us go...

And on the last day, we had a flattish, but muddy 6-mile walk up the River Cocker at Cockermouth.

It was such a lovely weekend, with friends whom we've known for many years.

Then they all went home, but Mr L and I had a couple of days in Galloway, in south-western Scotland.  We visited Logan Botanic Gardens, where we've never been before.

Because this part of Scotland is very near the Gulf Stream, it has a very mild climate and can grow sub-tropical plants.

I've never been a great lover of tree ferns, but they look good en masse here.

There was still lots of colour despite its being nearly autumn.

And in the afternoon we visited the gardens of the 14th century Castle Kennedy.

They were also very lovely and very extensive, at 75 acres.

There's a big house there too but it's not open to the public. I think the Earl of Stair likes his privacy.

And then the next day...

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Fun, fear and flood

Last week we drove down to the Lake District

and stayed in a house with this view from the back garden, with our walking friends.

On the first morning, we walked up from Rosthwaite. It was a lovely day and the views were spectacular.

Naturally we had to stop now and then to admire them.


and up

 and up

and up.

Then we started going down again

and we thought:

 this is a comparative doddle.

But it wasn't. It then it became impossible to take photos because we were descending on rock... well, you might call them steps, but they were very steep and slanting and unevenly spaced, so that some of them were quite far apart, and you had to keep your eyes firmly on your feet because the risk of falling was quite considerable. We were all seventyish and it wouldn't have been at all convenient to break a leg. This went on for a good half hour. It seemed more.

However, none of us did break anything, mercifully, and we got down safely. After quite a long further walk, we returned to the car park.

The house is very nice - we were there last year too - but sadly, there was something wrong with the hot water - there had been none the night before or that morning. But hurray, hurray, the owners of the house managed to persuade a plumber to come out, and the hot water had been restored by the time we got back. Someone who shall be nameless managed to cause a minor flood by not noticing that the drain to his shower cubicle was (invisibly) blocked, but after a lot of mopping, the water had stopped dripping out of the downstairs light fitting and all was well.

And that was the first day.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Nothing much happening here...

There's a nip in the air in the evenings now and the days are shortening. We walked along to the Gallery of Modern Art the other day. The equipment for the children's summer activities is still there, but deserted.

No one was running about on the Landform, because the children are all in school. (And I'm not. O joy.)

We walked back along the river, which was flowing slowly.

I've been cutting out the quilt for Daughter 2's friend's baby, which is due very soon. She wants it to be blue, in self-colours. (Anna asks what self-colours are, and I couldn't think of what Americans call this, so had to consult Mr Google. Solids. Aha.) I did sneak in some patterns on the corners of the squares: the baby needs something interesting to look at, I feel. (Actually, I'm going to put some more patterned fabrics on the back, but the mum doesn't need to look at this. Architects (eg D2 and her friends) do sometimes go for minimalism - I'm lucky she didn't ask for a grey and black quilt.)

I'm going to fiddle around with the arrangement and add a border, but this is the rough idea. 

Monday, September 09, 2019

Why the days aren't long enough

The children came as usual on Friday and played a very complicated sort of obstacle course of their own devising. It involved various stations around the garden at which: their backs were killing them and they had to have a massage; their feet were hot so they had to bathe them; they were bored so they had to go and look at flowers in the park; they needed to build a tunnel (in the sandpit); and... I forget, but this amused them for ages.

On Saturday I met up with ex-colleague friends for coffee-merging-with-lunch at South Queensferry.

I arrived slightly early and wandered around in the sunshine. Our venue was that white building to the right of the middle of the picture.

 South Queensferry is a quaint little place, not designed for the motor car.

D had to go before we got round to taking photos. One of our number, R, is considerably younger than the rest of us and is sadly still working. This is one of the worst times of year at college, when one's desperately trying to learn several hundred names and also trying to be entertaining so as to make the students optimistic that it's going to be a fun-filled year.

J took us to see the amazing Queensferry mural which has recently been erected.

There's the Burry Man on the left (a chap goes around the town covered in burrs - don't ask why).

Daughter 1 has become 40. I would like to be 40 myself.

I've started on a cot quilt for Daughter 2's friend, inspired by something I saw in a blurry picture on the internet. The friend suggested I do it in self-colour blues but I'm cheating slightly, with small cornery bits (not the technical term) of faint pattern. Once I'd started, I found, as usual, that it was rather more complicated than I'd imagined, and realised that if I'd simply gone for fabric in two shades of blue, it would have simplified things considerably. But by then I had the idea in my head and somehow felt I had to continue. One must pursue one's Vision.

It's going to be something like this, though I've now rearranged the crosses.

And so life goes on.

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Searching for Hugh MacDiarmid

Oh, I do love bloggy meet-ups! Margaret, who's a retired French teacher from Washington State, came to stay for a couple of days before going up north on a group tour. It was such fun and she's so lovely - just as I was sure she would be, from her blog. Her grandfather was a first cousin to Christopher Murray Grieve, pen name Hugh MacDiarmid, who's a huge name among fans of Scottish poetry. He was born in Langholm, in the Border country, so Mr L kindly drove us down there on a pilgrimage. Firstly, we tracked down Hugh MacD's memorial - which wasn't quite where it was marked on the map. We drove up a single-track road for some distance - I hope Margaret didn't think this was an elaborate plan to kidnap her - until we spotted it. It's quite large once you get there!

Personally, I'd have put it in the village for ease of visiting - on the other hand, there are lovely views once you've found it.

Langholm itself is set among the hills.

We almost found his birth house - it's number 17 in a road which has numbers 15 and 19 and then in between, a sort of muddly building which appears to have a house at the front and another in the back. However, we paid homage to the general area.

We also followed signs to the library, having discovered that the family moved to a flat above this, where CMG/HMacD grew up. Having failed to locate the library, we then later happened to pass The Old Library, which was clearly the right vintage. So we waved to his shade in the windows above.

At that point we decided to have a cup of tea, and entered the only cafe open in the village. It's called Truly Scrumptious. It wasn't. The woman in charge somewhat grudgingly allowed us to sit down, saying, "You can have coffee, but not tea. I've switched the urn off. We close at 4." At that point, it was about 20 to 4. You'd have thought she might have managed to boil a kettle, even if it was too much bother to keep the urn on. However, coffee was all right. She didn't offer anything to eat, but luckily we weren't hungry.  Scottish hospitality at its best (though she did have a southern English accent... ). They probably don't get a huge number of tourists.

Which will be why the tourist office was shut (on a Saturday afternoon). But the cleaner was there, and when I asked her for directions to the cemetery, where CMG/HMacD is buried, she told us how to get there. "Is it walkable?" I asked, and she assured me that it was.

Well, she was right. It was quite a long walk, the kind where you go, "Do you think we're nearly there, or will we go back for the car?" and then you decide that it can't be much further. And it is. And then it's up quite a big hill.

But we got there. We knew that he was in plot F17 (or something - can't quite remember) but sadly none of the plots was marked, and there were a lot of gravestones. After we'd all searched for a considerable time and were about to give up, Margaret found it - hurray!

So that was a lovely, if slightly hilarious, day.

The countryside is very pretty.

After that we drove home, vaguely trying to find the cottage he lived in for much of his adult life, but this time we failed. But we got the general idea.

The next day, Margaret and I went to Holyrood Palace. The palace is nice enough but I really covet the garden. You wouldn't think it was in the middle of a city. That's our city hill in the background. The ruins to the left of the picture date from the abbey's founding in 1128, though the abbey church is in slightly better condition (though still ruined. It was plundered by English troops in the 16th century. But we forgive them. I'm sure the Scots did some plundering in England also).

The following day we went to the Botanics, where Margaret bravely sampled the iconic Scottish soft drink of Irn Bru (pronounced Iron Brew). I warned her that it wasn't my favourite. You can see what she thought of it. I couldn't quite think of how to describe it in advance but she identified the taste as like cough medicine, and I couldn't disagree. But she'd read about it in Rebus books and now she knows not to have it again.

And now she's off on her tour and I've started to think about my next quilt. A friend of Daughter 2 is having a long-awaited baby and she wants a cot quilt all in blue and all self-colour, which I shall find an interesting challenge.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Visitors of various sizes

I'm still here. Life has just been very busy. Daughter 2 and Littlest Granddaughter have been here and while this has been absolutely lovely, it hasn't left much time for other things since, obviously, I haven't wanted to waste a single second of time that I could be spending with them.

One of the days, Son, Daughter-in-Law, Middle Granddaughter and Baby Grandson came down and it was so wonderful to have them all together. Daughter 1, Son-in-Law 1 and their two came along as well, of course. We lined them all up on the garden bench, above - obviously I had to crop the photo because of the Unbloggability of the Unbloggables. You'll have to take my word for it that Son (third set of legs from the right) is carrying Baby Grandson.

Here you can see him better - all five grandchildren on the sofa. Aaaah.

It made my heart melt, though actually it was fairly energetic day, with little ones aged 8, 6, 3, 22 months and 3 months (and lots of people to feed). Everyone was amazingly tolerant of the cousins younger than them - it was especially amazing as they're not really together all that much. So it went very well but it wasn't exactly quiet.

Middle and Littlest Granddaughters were bathed together and took it in their stride.

Daughter 2 was working on three of the days she was here, so we looked after Littlest. She's delightful but exhausting: reaches for everything, especially (of course) the things she's not allowed to have, such as knives, phones, my reading glasses, pieces of art glass, the sticking plaster drawer, the knobs on the dishwasher, washing machine and tumble drier... you know the sort of thing.

We went to the park a couple of times,

watered the garden quite a bit

and cuddled Daughter 2's childhood teddies.

And now they're gone and I am, as ever, very sad. Mr L is quite enjoying the peace (and so am I, in a way. But I'd rather have my little peach. And my lovely daughter).

Oh, this was fun - Alison (on the right) came from Australia with her friend Megan. Alison and I have been blog friends for... 12 years or so? They were here for the Book Festival and also to tour Scotland. They didn't stay with us but we met up for a coffee. I'm the older, less glamorous one... It's so interesting: I think I've now met 12 bloggy people and they're always just as they sound in their writing. She was lovely.

And yes, the Festival - Son-in-Law 2 has been in Edinburgh for the month of August with his company, Showstopper the Improvised Musical (and thus Daughter 2 has been a single parent for that time). He didn't stay with us; the members of the company are provided with accommodation nearer their venue. However my nephew and his girlfriend have been staying with us (and he still is, till tomorrow) since he's a musician and has been playing in various Fringe shows. They're the easiest guests we've ever had! - just getting up, sometimes having breakfast, and then going out till (very) late. There was one occasion when Nephew came in at 4am and then Littlest started the day at 5.20am. Of the two, Nephew made far less noise about it than Littlest.

And now I'm looking forward to the arrival of the 13th bloggy friend, Margaret from Washington State - if British Airways haven't messed up her holiday completely with their inefficiency. See you soon, Margaret! (I hope).