Friday, January 14, 2022

Walking, walking

We went for a walk along to the gallery the other day and treated ourselves to coffee in the cafe, where I was slightly pained by the nicely written, but not so nicely spelt, notice. Ah well. 

Then we walked home along the river. It's been very mild this winter, but recently rather dull. 

Choir is once again on Zoom. I'm in the top row, second from the left. 

Today we went to the Oxfam bookshop to take in some books that we won’t read again. The trouble of course is that we also bought books, so our cunning plan of making some space on the bookshelves didn’t work terribly well – as it never does. One of the books I bought is the first unexpurgated volume of the diaries of Chips Channon, which is over 1000 pages long.  This takes the diaries from 1918 up to 1938 so there’s a lot more to come - he lived till 1958. I hope the editor is making good progress with 1938-58 or I may not live to find out what happened next. It won’t be very good for reading in the bath (which I normally do) because it’s very heavy. Or even in bed, really for the same reason. So it’ll take me a while, I think.

Then we went for a bit of a walk. It occurred to me only on the way back that I should have bought the heavy books after the walk rather than carrying them around on the walk. However, they were in my rucksack, which made it easier, and Mr L kindly carried it on the way back.

We walked up a different part of the river this time, to Stockbridge, 

past this yellow house, which (as I've posted before) always intrigues me, because you can see that the original door is now blocked up, presumably because the road resurfacing eventually became higher than the bottom of the door. It has an inscription over the door, which seems to read, “God bless ?? of Edinbrugh hu built this house 16?5”.

On the way back we looked at one of the Anthony Gormley statues in the river. It was also being looked at by a heron – on the left. Not a very brilliant photo… .

Excitingly (for us), Littlest Granddaughter's nursery in London had a routine inspection by Environmental Health (or someone) on Wednesday, late afternoon. They found evidence of mice, so the nursery was immediately closed down - on Wednesday evening.

 This must have been a terrible pain for the staff, who had to arrange for alternative accommodation for the nursery children by the following day! Fortunately the nursery is part of a chain so there was some flexibility. Littlest’s class all had to go to Chingford, which is some distance from home, so this was slightly difficult – Daughter 2 cycled, with Littlest on the back of the bike. However, next week the nursery can find accommodation only for the children of key workers, so they're coming up here so that I can look after Littlest while Daughter 2 works at home. Good news for us, if not for the nursery! They arrive on Sunday, for a week, so I’m really looking forward to seeing them.

Thank you so much for the nice comments from people I don't know. So interesting. I wish you all had blogs! My lovely friend isn't doing terribly well, I don't think - she's been moved to the stroke ward and has started physiotherapy, but says that her left arm and leg are "useless", which must be so horrible and frightening. I feel so lucky in comparison. Hopefully she'll make progress, though. 

Sunday, January 09, 2022

The year so far. Could try much harder.

The weather's been sunny but nothing particular happened during the first few days of the new year, so we went for various walks, such as along the shore at Cramond. 

It was difficult to take good photos on the phone because it was so bright - hard to show the intense blue of the sky without everything in the foreground looking in deep shadow. 

It would be a good place to walk with the grandchildren were Big Grandson not absolutely phobic about dogs. There are a lot of dogs in Edinburgh, and people with particularly big ones often bring them here to gallop along the prom. It's not the dogs' faults, but really it makes it very hard for the little chap. 

And I've been piecing the other bunk quilt, though am still quilting the first one. This one was mindless but time-consuming because of all the little bits. There's satisfaction in using up scraps, but really, who am I kidding? - I don't need to use the scraps. I'll never run out of fabric even if I never buy any more. And let's face it, I will buy more from time to time. 

I'm still to sew most of it together and add a border. 

And then something awful happened: out of the blue, one of my very best friends had a stroke. Which puts one's minor grumbles into very clear perspective. I've known her since we were 23 and started teaching together, have always met up with her and, especially since our retirement, we've seen a lot of each other. In fact, she belongs to two of my groups of friends: one from the secondary school where we were beginner teachers and one from the further education college where we later both taught. She was a very healthy person, who, with her husband, did long hikes and generally looked after herself. 

She can still talk - in fact we talked on the phone just today - her husband phoned me from her hospital ward. Her speech is a bit slurred but not too bad. But she's currently paralysed down her left side. It happened only five days ago so it's probably early days and I hope that she'll recover a lot, but I'm so sad for her. She's newly 72, which I know isn't young, but is also not very old. Her friends can't even visit at the moment, I assume because of Covid - she can only have one visitor for one hour a day. 

So that was a horrible start to 2022. As I've said before - unoriginally - carpe diem, gather ye rosebuds, etc. 

"They are not long, the days of wine and roses:

Out of a misty dream

Our paths emerge for a while, then close

Within a dream."

I've always been astonished that Ernest Dowson wrote this, since he died at the age of 32. It was clearly true for him. But it doesn't seem like a young man's outlook, does it? The poor chap had a bit of a rubbish life, though,  even before getting TB - father died, mother committed suicide and Ernest himself couldn't be said to have exactly looked after himself. 

Well, well, it's so nice, when one faces the inevitable sadness involved in getting older, to watch the young ones growing and getting stronger and more capable. Thank goodness for grandchildren and young people in general. The world goes on. Which is very good. 


Sunday, January 02, 2022

Here we go again

Well, yes. I wish I were confident that 2022 was going to be better. But at least 2021 was better than 2020, so maybe that's going to be the trend. 

We brought the New Year in at Daughter 1's, with her family and lovely in-laws, so that was nice. The children stayed up, which was a first. Then the next morning we watched the concert from Vienna - wonderful, but Daniel Barenboim's getting old. As are we all....

(When I was a student, I worked one summer at the Festival Office, selling tickets for the Edinburgh Festival (the proper one, not the Fringe). Daniel Barenboim's wife, the amazing cellist Jacqueline Du Pre, was to play at some concerts, but they were cancelled. I remember a customer saying to me, "Do you think she's having a baby?" and I thought - oh yes, that would be nice. But sadly that was the end of her career because she'd developed multiple sclerosis - at 28 - and died at 42. So, so sad.)

Daughter 1, family and lovely in-laws came to us for dinner on the 1st, so that was very good too. 

There's a crocus blooming in the garden. It's a bit early, but encouraging. 

Today was mild and beautiful so we went for a walk along the river. 

We sat for a bit outside the gallery, admiring the sky and the landform and the pool.

And then we descended the steps to the river, 

and walked along in the sunshine. So lovely.

My brother sent me this, which is rather amusing. 

Daughter 2, her husband and little one have now all recovered and have tested negative for Covid, so were able to leave the flat today. Hooray! All the rest of their party got Covid too, but happily no one is terribly ill. So that's something - quite a lot. But they should be up here just now and aren't. O woe. Ah well. 

Happy New Year, all. 


Thursday, December 30, 2021

Goodbye, 2021

Well, this Christmas doesn't take its place among the most stellar ever, I have to say. On the day itself the Edinburgh family came, which was very nice. Here is Biggest Granddaughter wearing her Batman onesie and reading a book - her favourite activity. But neither Daughter 1 nor Big Grandson was very well (not Covid, just a bad fluey cold/cough) and Grandson is far from recovered even now. 

However, the real problem has been with Daughter 2 and family. Her parents-in-law live in a small house, so when they want to see the family for any length of time, everyone goes to Center Parcs, not far from where SIL2's parents live. Daughter 2 was dubious about this because of Covid, but both her parents-in-law are disabled and use mobility scooters, so Center Parcs is good for them.  They've had a pretty isolated time since the first lockdown. Also, Daughter 2's husband's sister and BIL moved to Norway with their children in the spring (BIL is Norwegian). So this was a big family reunion.

Everyone lateral-flowed themselves multiple times, Daughter 2 kept Littlest Granddaughter off nursery for ten days to avoid infection and they stayed mainly in their flat. Littlest is exceedingly motion sick, especially in a car, so SIL2 took a taxi, with all their stuff and Christmas presents, from their suburb to King's Cross Station, while Daughter 2 and Littlest went by tube. Then they travelled by train to the nearest station and got a lift to Center Parcs from SIL's sister. The Norwegian lot had flown over, spent two days in a hotel till they got their PCR results and finally they all met up at Center Parcs on Thursday, for a week. Then on Friday, SIL2 became ill and tested positive for Covid. And on Saturday, Christmas Day, Daughter 2 tested positive and on Boxing Day, Littlest did.

So obviously they had to go home. But now they couldn't go home by train because they had Covid. So they had to wait till things opened up on Sunday, hire a car (SIL2's s sister had to hire it because neither Daughter 2 nor her husband could go to the hire place) Daughter 2 was named as the other driver, and she had to drive them home in the dark (so that Littlest was asleep and thus not vomiting). Meanwhile the rest of the family had to go home on Monday before they came down with it. The timing of it all could hardly have been worse.

And by now they've almost all tested positive. 

And this is with all the adults triple-vaccinated. Though fortunately, so far none of them is particularly ill - just feeling very tired and as if they have a really bad cold. 

So that cast a blight - obviously over their Christmas but also over ours - we were so upset for them and so worried about them. I hate my beloved people travelling by car, especially ill and in the dark. However, everyone did get safely home and they're all now isolating. 

Which means, of course, that Daughter 2 isn't, as planned, coming up here for New Year for our family reunion - which isn't happening at all because Son feels he shouldn't come down either - we're again limited to three households meeting up and, being a doctor, he really doesn't want to complicate life by getting Covid. 

Ah well, ah well, there are much worse things happening to other people. But one is - everyone is - rather fed up with yet more restrictions to normal life. Presumably we'll all get Covid in the end, anyway. But it's as well not to get it while the NHS is overburdened by the non-vaccinated becoming ill and needing hospitalisation. I wish everyone would just get the jab - or, as we tend to say in Scotland, the jag.

At least the Botanics aren't shut (yet) so we went the other day and admired their wicker decorations. There are 12 of these, such as...

one for twelve drummers drumming,

one for ten lords a-leaping,

eight maids a-milking

and five gold rings. Aren't they lovely? 

And I've been trying to improve the not-so-shining hour by making two quilts at once for the new bunks in the study, bought for when we have the whole family here. Oh, the irony. 

But we do have the Edinburgh lot, which is lovely. We went for a walk yesterday in Inverleith Park. It was a trifle dreich but we had a nice time. 

There was a heron, whose stance suggested that he was a bit fed up too. 

Ah well, onwards and upwards to a new year. And if you sing "Auld Lang Syne" - this is becoming an annual reminder - don't pronounce it "Zyne"! Just sing it like "sign". It means "since" or "then" - "old times long since". Not zince. 

Happy New Year to all readers, whether lurkers or commenters. Let's hope that 2022 is a better one! Please!

Friday, December 24, 2021

Ding dong fairly merrily

Yesterday we went up to see Son and family, through thick mist and light rain - not ideal driving conditions. Here we are going over the Queensferry Crossing. 

And we went for a muddy walk (or, in the children's case, cycle) through woodland which had suffered considerably in Storm Arwen, a few weeks ago.

And it was lovely to be with them. With this Omicron Covid and impending restrictions, I'm not sure when we'll see them again. They're supposed to be coming down for New Year but ... hmm. 

Still, it's Christmas, and while it's not the best Christmas ever, we'll see the Edinburgh family tomorrow so we shouldn't really complain. Especially as something really tragic happened to one family in Son's tiny village, a few days ago. I won't go into details so as not to spoil your Christmas but let's say it's made me grateful for my blessings. 

So happy Christmas and (when have I written this before???) let's hope for better things in the New Year. Surely? 


Wednesday, December 22, 2021


It's 3.13am. I haven't been asleep and am wide awake. I've tried reading; I've tried getting up and having a cup of tea; I've been listening to the radio on headphones - why is there nothing soothing on during the night? - and now I've got up again. There's no particular reason for my sleeplessness. I've never been a good sleeper but can usually drop off eventually, though always have periods of wakefulness as well. 

So I'm in the study, doing this. I know that screens aren't supposed to induce sleep but one has to do something. 

It doesn't help that I have to get up fairly early to go to the supermarket and was lying thinking that I must get to sleep. But the mind churns on. 

The Edinburgh family have all had a terrible cold but we've all been PCRd and it's not Covid, just a bad cold. 

We did, however, go to the Botanics on Sunday for some fresh air where we couldn't infect anyone. 

But generally there's nothing much happening. We're all holding our breath to see where the pandemic is going this time. This is our dining room - the Christmas stained glass tree box is underneath the lamp, the penguins are sitting in a row in front of the television, cards from the grandchildren are on display and various Christmas preparations are going ahead. We've been assured that things aren't exactly going to be cancelled before Christmas but then after that... well, they're not saying. 

Daughter 2 and family are supposed to be going to Center Parcs on Thursday to spend Christmas with her in-laws. Her sister-in-law and family, who live in Norway, are now in Britain, have passed their PCR tests and are ready to join them. Will Center Parcs stay open for the full week? Will Daughter 2 and her little one get up to Edinburgh to spend New Year with us? Will Son and family be allowed to join us? Ho hum.

Daughter 2 and her husband, having sold their flat in London, have now had an offer tentatively accepted on a house. In Scotland, you offer to buy a house and if your offer is accepted, that's it. Surveys have already been done, the solicitor is instructed and things trundle ahead. But in England it's all much slower and things can easily go wrong. For example, the sellers aren't taking the house off the market until Daughter 2's buyer has done the search and survey. Which he's now started to do, but on the other hand it's Christmas so nothing will happen. Meanwhile someone else might offer for the house that Daughter 2 wants. So... Hmm. 

Meanwhile we had the Edinburgh family round and we played Ludo. I can remember playing Ludo with one of my grannies - the one I hardly knew because she went to Cheltenham, quite far south in England, when I was four or five. But on this occasion she was visiting us - a very rare occurrence - and my brother was ill in bed, and we sat on the bed and played Ludo. I don't really remember much else about that granny, which is quite sad. 

Now it's 3.35am and though I'm still not in the least sleepy, I've got to that stage of feeling stupid and am making lots of typing mistakes. Back to bed. I really must get some sleep.

Friday, December 17, 2021

It's not really beginning to feel a lot like Christmas

This isn't the worst thing that's happening in the world but it's slightly tedious. 

In May, we ordered loose covers for two sofas and a footstool. A chap came and measured up and then we waited a long time - till September - because the fabric we'd chosen was out of stock. But then a lady came and fitted it, and it was all fine except the footstool. She tugged the cover down and then she went away and it sprang up again and was like this. 

So we phoned up and she came back and agreed that it was too short, and she took it away - and that was still September. 

And today - 17 December - another cover or perhaps the altered cover arrived by post and it was like this. Much too long. Now, I could possibly shorten it myself but a) my sewing machine works pretty well on quilting cotton but I think it might have a hairy fit if asked to sew through two layers of this thick velvety fabric and b) I would have to find thread of exactly the right colour and c) we paid a lot of money to have a properly-fitting cover. 


Anyway and more importantly, we're also being overwhelmed by a tidal wave of the Omicron variant of Covid - or at least they're threatening that we're about to be - so everything's cancelled. My two choir concerts, tonight and tomorrow, and of course everyone else's stuff too. Which is also a bit tedious. We and all our family (the adults) are triple-jabbed so presumably fairly protected, but the Great Unjabbed are expected to be filling up the hospitals and infecting the rest of us, so... Sigh again. 

The governments probably don't dare shut things down before Christmas so that's going ahead, at least to some extent, though whether it'll be wise for Daughter 2 and Littlest to come up for New Year as planned, only the heavens know (and they're not telling). 

 Still, at least there's sewing. I've finished the bunk bed quilt top number 1. Now to spend some weeks happily quilting it while deciding what design to use on the second quilt. 

And we're very lucky compared to many people in the world so... hey ho. 

(Big Granddaughter, who has a terrible cold-that-definitely-isn't Covid: Can you pass me a tissue? My nose is PHENOMENALLY snotty.

Quite a good vocabulary for 8, though perhaps a little too much information.)