Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Easing of the restrictions...

So joy of joys, we went up on Sunday to visit Son and family, and the Edinburgh family came too. As luck would have it, the weather ceased being beautiful for that one day; however, it wasn't really cold so it didn't matter, though we're not allowed to go inside anyone's house. Middle Granddaughter, who with her little brother hadn't seen us since October, came rushing out shouting "Granny!" and flung herself into my arms, which was SO lovely! Little Grandson, who's not quite 2, was slightly shy for the first 30 seconds but was then fine. The children had a happy time playing in Daughter-in-Law's nice sister's garden at first - nice sister, who has no children, is a very doting auntie and has a huge trampoline in her garden for the children, so the Edinburgh Two had a lovely time playing on that with their cousins. 

We went to Son's for lunch and then took a walk up the hill a bit. 

where they all had a good time...

ploutering in the burn (ie messing about in the stream). 

So that was wonderful. Then yesterday we looked after the Edinburgh Two, not yet back at school after the Easter holidays. We walked by the river - 

- hello, swans - 

and the children scrambled on trees

and then we came home and played in the lovely sunshine (it came back) and had a game of Scrabble. They're getting so grown up! (sometimes). 

And yesterday we also got our second vaccines and then today we had our hair cut so - progress! 

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Beautiful weather for a funeral

We were checking Daughter 2's Edinburgh flat the other day and took a walk down to Newhaven. The weather has been so beautiful this week - unbroken sunshine and blue skies, though with a slight frost overnight. 

I would hate not to live near the sea. 

Today was the funeral of Prince Philip and we decided to watch it. We're not particular royalists, though by the time you've got to our age you realise that there's something to the argument about continuity. I've just checked: in my lifetime there have been fifteen Prime Ministers - they come and go with what seems like increasing speed - and only the one queen, who has been very faithful to the duties wished upon her. Well, there was a king for the first two years of my life but I don't remember him. So the Duke of Edinburgh has been visibly around for all of my life (and indeed for some time before it) and now he isn't. So it seemed significant. 

And I'm glad we did because it was so strange. The soldiers were socially distanced and looked like toys set out by a little boy.

Those carrying the coffin wore masks. I was so nervous that they might drop it, but thankfully they didn't. 

I felt sorry for those ordinary people, born to be unordinary but with very human problems - how dreadful to be them, despite their huge wealth. Imagine all that scrutiny when you were mourning the loss of your father or grandfather. 

And in the chapel, the little Queen, who looked for the first time quite doddery, sat alone, quite distant from her family - who in their turn were distanced from each other, and masked. They had to conform to the rules but it seemed so weird and cruel. It's happened to a lot of others, of course, but for those others it wasn't beamed round the world. 

The music at the service was beautiful. I particularly loved William Lovelady's setting of Psalm 104, which I've listened to several times since the funeral. It was sung by four, distanced singers with such wonderful voices. Do Google it if you like music.

Meanwhile, in my garden, spring continues. And tomorrow we're going up with the Edinburgh family to visit Son and his family in Angus. Our First Minister has given us permission - a week earlier than expected. There's an election coming up but only a cynic would suspect a connection... . I'm feeling excited but nervous, in case it doesn't go as well as I hope. It's six months since the children have seen any of us. 


Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Adventures in time of Covid

Outdoor facilities are open again and so, during the Easter holidays, we've been taking advantage of this and the amazingly good weather. On Saturday I took the Edinburgh grandchildren to Weehailes (the somewhat cringeworthy name of the adventure playground at Newhailes House) and they had fun playing in the house-type-things, 

swinging on the zip line

and walking along the walkways. 

On Sunday we all went to the gardens of Lauriston Castle, from where we were driven by a sudden shower of snow - which didn't last. 

(This was pre-snow.)

Yesterday we went to Conifox, where there was this bouncy thing,

go-karts and various other activities - all jolly fun -

and today Son-in-Law 1 and I took them to Dalkeith Country Park adventure playground. 

This all went well until the end, when for a short while we lost Big Granddaughter. It's one of those places with large wooden buildings with internal stairs and slides, wobbly bridges and more than one exit, and it's hard to keep track of the children without following them into these non-adult-friendly places, but the kids stuck together and there were no problems. Then we were sitting at a picnic table fifteen minutes before the park closed at lunchtime, and they went for a final play in this house that we could see from where we were sitting. And then Big Grandson came out and Big Granddaughter didn't. Anyway, we did find her, but not before the park officials had asked what she was wearing, and SIL 1 and I went...umm. (We are not clothes people.) Then I remembered that she had on a white t-shirt with Lego people on it and I was about to say that I thought she had black trousers, when SIL 1 opined that she was wearing rainbow striped leggings and I thought, oh well, maybe. 

Afterwards, I realised that we should have said that she had bunches with big yellow fluffy balls on them and wore glasses - this might have been more striking. (And actually she was wearing black trousers with coloured stripes down the side. The rainbow leggings were yesterday.) And later Daughter 1 pointed out that I'd taken photos of her so I could have just looked at them... . 

Anyway, that was a bit stressful and I have come to the conclusion that I'm not a quick thinker in a crisis and that I should pay more attention to what people are wearing. 


Thursday, April 08, 2021

Life is so full of a number of things, if not precisely the things one would choose

Life is full of activity, despite what you might expect from two pensioners in lockdown. This was the part of the study behind me as I type - after Mr L had cleared his desk and the filing cabinet, and then various things had got put on the desk because it was a convenient empty surface, the way that things do. Then we got someone to come and take away the cabinet and someone else claimed the desk but wasn't coming to get it yet, so Mr L disassembled the desk and put it into the sitting room so that he could assemble the new bunk beds. 

Then I started sifting through my dad's archives again and found this - Edinburgh University Student Handbook, 1946. Why did you keep this, Dad? As you can see above, hints for students may have changed slightly in tone since then, though the advice is sound enough in general. What did girls do in their spare time?

Oh, this. This is from the section on the Women's Union. Let's forget about being ambitious, girls, and rejoice in our womanliness. Well, why not? 

I rather like this, from the Congregational Students' Society. Inactive but varied. 

Our lives are fairly varied - within limits. For example, one can pick a nice little bunch of flowers from the garden

and go to the Botanics, which is full of rhododendron frilliness. 

Meanwhile, Mr L satisfied himself that his measuring was correct and he would indeed have to move the four (narrow) Billy bookcases one inch to the left. (This is one end of the new bunks.)

While in my own archives, I came across this newspaper photo of my friend Dorothy in a report of her death in Brussels at the age of 23. She was walking along a pavement and a car swerved and hit her. She was one of my best friends from the age of 5 and I often think about her, and about all that she's missed. Another friend had been killed in a car accident the previous year, also aged 23, so that was a grim period and a fairly early lesson about the frailty of life. 

Back in the study, Mr L - and to some extent, I - emptied the bookcases, which made the sitting room look like this for a while. Thankfully, someone collected the desk and now the contents of the bookcases are back again, some of them having been disposed of in the meantime. 

While Son-in-Law 1 helped with the final stages of putting the bunks together, I took Big Grandson on a tram ride - very exciting for this public-transport-addicted 9-year-old who's had to go cold turkey for the past year. We rode out to the airport, which was deserted. 

I bought him a packet of crisps from a vending machine. He read the slogan. "Come on, crisps," he said. "Impress me." Then we rode back into town and got a bus home. Woo hoo. 

And look - bunks in place of the desk and filing cabinet. Not so useful for doing one's paperwork, but more useful for storing grandchildren. 

One can dream. 

Sunday, April 04, 2021

Houses and gardens in times of Covid

Yesterday, on a warm and windless day, we went with the family to Jupiter Artland, an outdoor sculpture park just outside Edinburgh. It's in the grounds of a manor house. This is the owners'  swimming pool - not, sadly, open for visitors' use; indeed, we've only been allowed to see it on the last two occasions. As you can see, the pool is an artwork in itself. 

This is the very impressive house. The original house was built in 1622, added to over the years and completely remodelled in the Jacobean style in 1858, so most of it is not nearly as old as you'd think from this picture. All the turrets must be spoof. The current owners bought it and its estate in 1999 and made it into the sculpture park - they live in the house and have a private garden (and pool). 

The art is not what you'd choose to have on your walls - like this, which looks like a traditional cottage but is relatively modern. You step in the door and find that the walls are built directly on to an uneven outcrop of stone (or, a facsimile of one). 

This is a fishing net or similar, strung between trees. 

There are various artificial terraced hills, fun to run around. 

This is called The Lovebomb, and despite its rather eerie appearance it's actually made of hugely enlarged photos of various bits of orchids, attached to one another. I assume it's the seed-bearing parts, hence the name. 

It's all a bit odd but the children really like it. Mainly, it's just a lovely walk round a partly-wooded estate, with far-reaching views and strange things to look at in places. 

 As far as beauty is concerned, my garden is just as lovely at the moment, but a lot smaller and I don't think I could charge people to come and admire it. 

No one came forward to buy our items so I changed the £20 to Free and there was much more interest, which says something about human nature. However, it's fine. The filing cabinet and the corner cupboard have gone and the desk has a queue of three people wanting it - the first to ask for it can't collect it till Thursday so we'll wait and see if she does, and if not we'll ask the second in the queue and failing that the third. 

As we knew we would have to, we now have to empty four Billy bookcases and move them about an inch and a half to the left, to make room for the bunk beds we're putting on one side of the study for future small guests. It does seem slightly futile, to make our study much less useful as a study just to accommodate guests - will we ever have guests again? The bunks will only ever be used a handful of times, I suppose. But still, for those times, I hope they'll be useful. 

Thursday, April 01, 2021

Forever and forever and forever...

Not a lot is happening. The garden is blooming beautifully. 

Daughter 2 gave me this camellia for Mother's Day some years ago and it's so lovely. Some years it gets nipped by frost at just the wrong moment but this year seems to have been ideal for it. 

This is the study, the part of it behind me as I type. One of the major difficulties, as I've said before, of having children who've moved away is that when they come to stay (and of course, we want them to) there needs to be somewhere for them and their children to sleep. If they lived in Edinburgh, there wouldn't be a problem. People in our position can't downsize; in fact, really need to upsize: though we have three spare rooms, it's not enough for two visiting offspring, their spouses and their children. So I had this idea (I specialise in ideas - poor Mr L) that instead of having two desks and two desktop computers in the study, we could share one of each. If Mr L got rid of his desk (!) and also the filing cabinet, we could fit bunks in that space for visiting grandchildren. 

This all seems like fantasy since it's SO long since we had anyone to stay - particularly Son and his family, who don't often actually stay anyway. We more often go - went - there.

Anyway, Mr L nobly emptied the filing cabinet but we were waiting for charity shops to reopen so that we could donate the surplus furniture. Then we were browsing for bunks, phoned the company to ask a question and then found ourselves, somewhat rashly, ordering the bunks. In this need-it-tomorrow society, we actually got them tomorrow (or yesterday, in this case) - which we didn't want. So I hastily advertised the desk and cabinet on Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree - no takers so far. They're only £20 - I thought of making them free but wondered if that might somehow make them seem undesirable. Anyway, I'll change them to free tomorrow if there's no response earlier. 

Meanwhile I'm quilting the ice cream quilt and getting back to the archives. Why did my dad keep all his university notes?? - well, not all, but some. There are several thick, heavy notebooks with maths in them. I have no idea at all what it means and would throw them away except that they're in my dad's handwriting, which makes me hesitate. Also it's possible that my brother and his scientific family might be interested in them. But they're in Surrey and can't just pop in to express an opinion. 

So yes, nothing is happening but I feel a bit burdened with things. Still, for the third week in a row I went walking with some teaching friends on Wednesday, so that was nice. Onward and upward. 


Monday, March 29, 2021

Covid impatience

This is what our sitting room looks like when Big Grandson is visiting. We have far too much Brio and not enough cupboards to put it in, but he does love it. What will we do with it when he's grown out of it?? Give it away, you'd think, but he says we need to keep it for ever. Hmm. 

Going to the Botanics always makes me happy, and spring is probably the best season for it - there are so many rhododendrons. The spring bulbs are heart-lifting too, like these daffodils in front of the blow-up golden monkey, which was being buffeted about today in a stiff breeze as it clung to Inverleith House . 

But I mean...

who could fail to be cheered by

rhododendrons - even if, to my eye, these colours don't really go?

My photo doesn't nearly do justice to the huge flowers of this beautiful magnolia. 

So white. So perfect. So frilly. 

And the daffodils

and the, umm, can't quite think what these are, but pink. Primula of some sort? 

And more daffodils, certainly fluttering and dancing in today's wind. 

But it's now March 29 and when I think about this, I panic a bit because I feel we're just putting in the time and we don't have time to spare! The months fly past with nothing to show for them and no visits from our beloved distant young people - and frankly, the only consolation for getting old is seeing the young ones develop. Well, that and having time to go for nice walks, which is also a great good fortune. Count your blessings, count your blessings. 

So we came home and I put the final borders on the ridiculously pastel quilt, which at least gives me the illusion of achievement. Luckily I have just enough wadding and just enough backing fabric and material for the binding to do me until the next quilt - no idea what that will be. But I hope the shops will be open by then.