Saturday, April 21, 2018

Packed with activity...

At last the winter has come to an end and it's been warm and sunny. Daughter 1 and I took her children to the new playpark at Newhailes House, which was a success except that it's one of those places with lots of little "houses", with interconnected walkways, into which the children can vanish, so that one loses track of where they are. Which is a bit stressful, though only for the adults. However, we ultimately retrieved them both.

Another day I collected Biggest Granddaughter from nursery and we went to the museum, which is always fun. I've only got another term of doing this because she starts school in August and won't have the afternoons free, so I'm taking full advantage now. Such precious times.

As usual, she spent a lot of time with the books.

On Thursday, Mr L and I went to the Borders on the train - it only takes half an hour or so - and walked through deserted countryside in the sunshine. It was really lovely.

We met a couple of dog walkers but apart from that we felt we owned the place.

You can see how wet it's been: the trees are growing out of the water of this little loch.

Then we came past Abbotsford, Sir Walter Scott's little place,

and the Gun Knowe Loch, and back to the station. 7 rather hilly miles. We enjoyed sitting down afterwards.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

All the grandbabies

We've had a lovely week. On Monday we went up north to visit Son, Daughter-in-Law and Middle Granddaughter. Here she is having a sleep on her father, while he multitasks by also stroking one of their cats. (The piled-up sofa cushions are to provide a toddler-free perch for the furry friends.)

Then on Wednesday, Daughter 2 and Littlest Granddaughter came to visit. Grandson and Biggest Granddaughter are very good with her. They're experienced big cousins, since they also have younger cousins on the other side of their family. Son and his family came down for the weekend too, so we had all three of our children and all four of the grandchildren together, which was wonderful.

I may be biased but I do think she's cute.

Son bonded with his niece,

while Middle Granddaughter (that's her hand and foot) at least tolerated her.

But then they all went away. We took Daughter 2 and Littlest Granddaughter to the station and walked back through Princes Street Gardens. At last, after a cold spring, the weather has improved and people were basking in the sunshine.

After some time and effort, we got the house tidy again. I'm not exactly saying that this makes up for them all being away, but it's some compensation.

Sunday, April 08, 2018

The sea, the sea

We did a recce yesterday for a walk we're leading in a couple of weeks. It's been a cold spring, but the weather was perfect - not a breath of wind, and warm enough without being hot. We started in Gullane and headed down towards the sea.

There was quite a bit of steepish dune walking, which is slightly hard work.

Then we walked along by the shore for a long way.

The beaches were mostly deserted.

This is called Hanging Rock on the map, so obviously we had our lunch beside it.

There was lots of coltsfoot blooming stalwartly away.

That pimple in the distance is Berwick Law, a 340-million-year-old conical volcanic plug in the mainly flat coastal landscape. Berwick Law, confusingly, is nowhere near Berwick (which is in England) but near North Berwick (which is 25 miles from Edinburgh).

Then, after much upping and downing of dunes and scrambling over rocks, we turned inland and made our way through Dirleton...

refraining from crossing this active runway

in either direction, and then, not before time, we were back to the car in Gullane. We were quite keen to sit down by then, having covered 8.23 miles according to Mr L's device.  It was a lovely walk, though, and in a fortnight's time I'm sure we'll be ready to do it again.

Thursday, April 05, 2018

The week

Last Saturday we went to the local flower show, where the spring colours were very nourishing to the soul,

especially since the weather was still unseasonably chilly.

Margaret, one of my bloggy friends, doesn't much care for daffodils. But I love them. Even though I don't like orange as a colour on anything but oranges, I make an exception for daffodils - as long as yellow predominates.

I bought a bunch of discarded show blooms. Look at the variety of flowers!

On Monday, we disregarded the cold and went for a walk along the river. There were daffodils there too, bravely flowering despite the weather.

At this point, there was a strong smell of wild garlic, even though it wasn't blooming yet. That's it there: most of the green you can see.

On Tuesday, Biggest Granddaugher got her glasses. It was so interesting: the minute she got them, she walked round the opticians examining closely all the stands of spectacles and cases and cleaning cloths, as if surprised at what they looked like. It's possible that she was just trying to get things into focus, since the optician said it'll take her eyes a few days to adjust to them. The little ones stayed the night with us and she solemnly took them off when she got into bed and said, "I'm just putting my glasses on my bedside table" - like a professional glasses-wearer.

But before that, she dressed up as Supergirl and played with her dollies

while Grandson and Grandpa made railways in the sitting room.

Then some serious work took place in the kitchen, in Grandson's case - a road map.

How I love these little people.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Doing quite well

It's spring, but frankly it's still quite chilly. Mr Life and I took a walk round the Botanics the other day and the crocuses and daffodils and rhododendrons are all blooming away, but brrr. At least it was sunny yesterday but not so today.

Today it was drizzly and windy and the tourists that the Edinburgh grandchildren and I saw today when we went to the Museum of Childhood didn't look too happy. Sorry, tourists, but you know - do your research. It's not usually this cold when April's nearly here but you know what T S Eliot said about April and he lived in England from the age of 25.

And this is Scotland: that much nearer the North Pole.

Anyway, we had a nice time at the museum and then came home and played very vigorously in our house, making it look like this by the time Mr L took them home after tea.

It's tidy now.

Grandson has been thinking a bit about death since my aunt died. He met her last summer when we all went down to Norfolk. I suppose she's the first person that he's known who's died.

Grandson [thoughtfully]: I hope you don't die before I'm an adult, Granny.
Me: I hope so too.
Grandson: It would be terrible if you died while I was still a teenager.
Me: Ok, I'll try my best not to.
Grandson [encouragingly]: You're doing quite well so far.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Endings and other things

We've been down in Norfolk, attending my aunt's funeral and sorting out her possessions. This is always a sad thing to do - and we've done it now as often as we care to. Mr Life's parents died when he was 34 and 43 - and he's an only child - and then my parents died 11 and 6 years ago, my other unmarried aunt having died 7 years ago. So I hope that's us done for a bit. On the other hand, maybe it's time to sift through our own stuff... .

This aunt was 93 and in full possession of her faculties, whereas my other aunt, her sister, had dementia. It's such a random illness, one which everyone dreads. Because this aunt was so mentally sharp and full of fun, it's hard to quite take in that she's gone. However, she was very religious and was quite happy to accept that her life had come to an end, so it's not such a sad thing. Her funeral was very suitable and lovely and attended by about 100 people, which isn't bad for a childless 93-year-old.

My brother and his wife stayed on to help with the clearing out of her things, which was great. These events are always better done together. My aunt lived simply - she didn't have a great many possessions apart from books.

I've written before about how she and some friends retired to this lovely house in a Norfolk village. One of the friends was married to a much younger husband - the key to the working of this splendid arrangement. The husband divided the house up informally into three flats upstairs and then the downstairs was used for visitors and communal purposes - often church or village meetings. They arranged that the house should end up belonging to the much-younger husband and he is now the only one left - and not so young now, at 76, though he looks much younger.

My aunt was a great gardener. The garden is enormous - several acres - and though she still gardened most days till her accident, the size of it was becoming a bit much for her, so that it's much weedier than it used to be - though still beautiful. They do have a gardener who comes in, I think, a couple of mornings a week and potters around, but it really needs someone full time. I walked round it and couldn't help being a bit sad at seeing the spring flowers that my aunt will never now see, the seats she used to rest on in between gardening sessions, and her spade leaning up against a wall.

The house is now up for sale. Unfortunately we can't afford it! - even if we wanted to take on such a huge property (which we don't) far away from home. We've had so many wonderful holidays there; we've been so lucky.

Then we went to London for a few days to see these people. We even babysat Littlest Granddaughter while her parents went to see "Hamilton" the musical.

It went remarkably well. Littlest didn't seem at all bothered by her parents' absence.

Today we've seen the Edinburgh family, whom we'd been missing. Grandson's teacher has told his class that every word in English has at least one of the vowels "a,e,i,o,u" in it. Grandson doesn't agree. "What about "my"?" he pointed out. Fortunately he didn't point this out to the teacher, who was no doubt aware that "y" can act as a vowel but thought she'd just state the general rule. Still, it's good that they're learning about such things. Long live the basics. But be careful what you say to small children.

Biggest Granddaughter, alas, has been diagnosed with long sight and is going to have to have glasses. She likes accessories and is quite pleased, which is good. Sigh.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Girls of various sizes

We've been spending time arranging my aunt's funeral - at long distance, not the easiest way - though my brother and sister-in-law in Surrey have been doing much of the liaising with the funeral director and so on. But so many emails have been whizzing to and fro! Meanwhile, Daughter 2 and Littlest Granddaughter have been staying with us, which has been so lovely. But you may know how much time for anything else there is with a little person who likes a lot of attention. And then the Edinburgh grandchildren have been here today.

It's very ... what do I mean? ... poignant? touching? reassuring? seeing this baby, this little girl, this young mother moving into their places in the world just as the old lady moves out.

Biggest Granddaughter decided to go camping with her dolly. It was apparently very hot so dolly took her clothes off to do a bit of sunbathing. Wisely, however, they stayed inside today. Spring? It's a chilly one so far.