Monday, September 18, 2023


I've been to the Botanics twice over the last three days - more than usually - and it's lovely as ever, but getting rather autumnal.

I used to love autumn - crisp mornings, the colours of the trees, the challenge of a new term.

But as I get older, it has its sad side too. The fading of the year; the fading of my friends and me. 

Various of my friends' husbands have quite serious illnesses and it's impossible not to think occasionally of one's own death - not in a particularly gloomy way, but more in a - really? - does this death thing genuinely apply to me? - way. 

It can be quite minor things, such as feeling that it's not worth buying new floor covering for the kitchen, because - how long are we going to be in this house (never mind on this earth)? 

I have a tendency, if I find a comfortable pair of shoes, to buy two pairs so that I have another when the first wears out. But now I wonder how sad it would make my children to find an unworn pair of shoes at the bottom of my wardrobe as they cleared the house. 

All very morbid - and I'm not really. I just think I'm realistic. At 73, I'm glad to be alive and I hope to be alive another few years; but one can never tell (for whom the bell tolls). It's lovely to see new babies born and the oldies have to make room. Meanwhile, retirement is very pleasant. 

Mostly I feel very much the same inside as I ever did. However, there's now a long perspective, looking back, anyway. Forward - possibly not... .  Is it wisdom? Maybe not, but it's experience. You know that everything will pass, the good and the bad, because most things have already done so. You remember what all the stages of life are like. When I was young, I thought that old people were almost a different species, who would have forgotten what it was like to be young. Not at all. 

When you're young yourself, old people tell you how short life is, but you don't really understand this till later, just as you didn't really understand what hard work it would be to look after small children. You feel that no one's told you. But they have. You just haven't taken it in. And you feel you'll be the parent of small children for ever, and then they're grown up and gone. People told you that too. 

Meanwhile I shall go to the Botanics and meet friends and tend my garden and make quilts - so many nice things to do, so little time. 


Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Doing things

I've been getting on with things: yesterday I dug up some irises that had spread beyond their allotted space, and planted a lupin (I love lupins; unfortunately so do the snails); and then transplanted a large self-sown foxglove (which surprisingly didn't seem to mind) and planted a verbena bonariensis in its place. I also love this plant but sadly it's not entirely hardy here, and last winter there was a brief cold snap that I think did for mine. However, a friend kindly gave me one that had seeded itself in her garden, only five or so miles away (but clearly in a warmer place). So - fingers crossed. And doing things is cheering. 

Today we did a couple of exhibitions. The first was in the Dovecot Gallery, which is also a weaving workshop. Their cafe has lovely panels of woven fabric (above) as decoration round the walls. 

The exhibition was of Scottish women artists. This is a woven picture (done at the Dovecot) of a painting by Elizabeth Blackadder, who often painted flowers and cats. I really like this one. 

This is by Dorothy Johnstone, of Cecile Walton, who was also a painter (and from a very artistic family). I think it's lovely, though I would have advised a different colour of stockings. Apart from being orange (always a mistake, in my view), they clash with her - is it a skirt or trousers? A bold choice of fabric, whatever. 

Now this is a self-portrait by Cecile. I think she may have flattered herself here. She was a good-looking woman but not quite as glamorous as this, I think. It's a bit chocolate boxy. Still, it appealed - many of us have tried to go on sleeping for a few more seconds while a wide-awake child tries to prod us into wakefulness, in this case apparently using my granny's hairbrush. 

This is "A Cellist" by Beatrice Huntington. It's a very strong face; a determined young lady. 

And this, "Lemons Dripping" by Helen Flockhart, is a bit eerie but interesting. 

And in this one, according to the label, Caroline Walker, in 2020, "turns her typically voyeuristic gaze upon her mother, Janet. Blurring the line between the public and private, she shows Janet carrying out everyday household chores in their family home. It is part of Walker's wider aim to diarise the domestic work traditionally carried out by women that often goes unrecognised. Built up from quick photographic snaps, these intimate moments become luminous paintings, often on a grand scale."

Yes, I approve of that and like the painting a lot. Quite an upmarket family home, mind you! You can't really see in my rubbish photo, but at the bottom of the painting is the top of a shiny black grand piano. 

You can walk round the gallery above the weaving workshop and look down at the weavers. They do amazing work, and on a grand scale. I didn't like to take more than a rapid photo, though. It seemed intrusive. The building used to be public swimming baths. Mr L has swum there, though not within the last fifty years.

Then, since we were up in that direction, we visited the Little Black Dress exhibition at the museum. We found that a lot less interesting - it was very well researched and laid out, but fashion, especially all-black fashion, doesn't interest either of us very much and I found so much blackness a bit depressing. 

Still, it was all quite fun. Then we walked a bit of the way home in the sunshine. Edinburgh was looking beautiful. Ideally I wouldn't live in a city, but since I have to, I'm glad it's this one.  


Saturday, September 09, 2023

Getting a grip

It's been unusually hot for September and I can't do energetic things in the heat, so there's been a bit of sitting in the garden, which still has a reasonable amount of colour. 

On Wednesday we had our longest-standing friends over from the west and we went to Lauriston Castle and wandered around, admiring the views through the gaps in the hedges.

And today was Daughter 1's birthday, so we went up to Swanston and had lunch with her and her family.

The sky is bright so the foreground looks dark, but it wasn't. It was warm and muggy. 

I really must do more next week but apart from the heat, I'm still suffering from post-Daughter-2's- departure blues. However, inactivity is not cheering. It's even been too hot to do much hand quilting - sitting with a quilt draped over one is not a cooling pastime. Still, this will not do. Stiffen the sinews, grit the teeth, get a grip. 


Sunday, September 03, 2023


We've had a quiet week: recovering from the visitors and from their departure; changing beds; doing some gentle local walks; putting away the toys; and tidying the garden. We had the Edinburgh family on Friday, which was lovely. Big Grandson is enjoying high school, which is very good.

One of my choirs started this week, which makes it feel like autumn, though the weather is still warm and summery. We walked to the local park, where most of the flowers are past their best but some are still blooming their hearts out. 

And then we walked home along the river. 

At this stretch of it, it's easy to imagine what it was like hundreds of years ago. There are still trees along the bank and lots of little pebbly beaches. Now there are also houses and traffic within a few hundred yards, though it's peaceful enough strolling along beside the water. Once - not all that long ago really - a hundred years or so or a bit more - it was all fields round here. I would love to be able to time-travel back and see it as it was. 

Today we went up to visit Son and family, which was nice. The children are so sweet. I wish they lived nearer, though.  

And Daughter 2 and family are on holiday in Tenerife. Now, that's a long way away. This is the view from their balcony. 

I still feel melancholy after Daughter 2 and her little one's departure, but next week will be busier with various events and I suppose I'll probably start to feel better. 


Tuesday, August 29, 2023


And just like that, they're gone. August passed pleasantly but busily, with child-minding and visiting family and cooking and so on. 

I took Littlest Granddaughter to a bubble show at the Festival Fringe - which was very good - and we bought some of the chap's excellent bubbles. 

On the way home, she found one of her dad's company's posters, and kissed the little picture of her dad. I'm sure this was totally hygienic.

One day we went to the Botanics. 

On Sunday the Edinburgh family came and played with the bubbles. 

And now Daughter 2 and family have gone back to London and we have our time to ourselves and can't think what to do because we're too sad. However, the garden has been neglected so I'll get back to that. 

Ah well. We'll recover a bit in due course. Countyourblessingscountyourblessingscountyourblessings. 


Saturday, August 19, 2023


The house has continued to be quite full - Littlest Granddaughter and Daughter 2 are still here, as are Nephew and his young lady, though the latter two go back down south tomorrow. Brother and SIL departed today. So it's all been very nice, though the house could not be said to have been its tidiest. 

Momentously, Big Grandson has started high school! - he who was a small baby about (it seems) two years ago. So far, three days in, he likes it very much, so this is good. He's a clever chap and I'm sure he'll do well; I just hope that Big Boys aren't nasty to him!

Littlest Granddaughter has been looked after two days a week by her dad, one day by her mum and two days by me (while they worked), so it's been fine. 

One day we went to the museum, where she contemplated the Whirlpool Galaxy which, according to this display, is between 13 and 30 million light years away. I think she mainly enjoyed turning the dials rather than contemplating the hugeness of space. But I thought about it for a bit, before my brain melted and we went for the bus. 

Today, my brother and his wife went home, my nephew and his fiancĂ©e were out and Daughter 2 and her little one went up to visit Son and family overnight, so Mr L and I went walking with our rambling chums in East Lothian, from East Linton and round Binning Wood. It was such a great day. 

The weather was pleasantly, but not too, warm.

It was a bit windy, but the trees broke up the gusts. 

And in Binning Wood, which is a green burial site, we thought about our mortality for a while and then went to have coffee in the local garden centre while we still could. My hip was rather sore. But it's much better now, after a sit-down. 

Up north, Daughter 2, Son and their children fished for tadpoles. 

Our house is currently and not unpleasantly quiet. And marginally tidier than it was earlier. 


Wednesday, August 09, 2023

Nothing to report

There is nothing particular to report: much providing of meals, much clutter, many shoes in the hall, various outings - it's been fun, and things have happened and photos have been taken, but mostly unbloggable ones. The grandchildren are currently out doing an art afternoon at the gallery and the house is quiet. (And untidy. But that doesn't matter.)

How I envy friends whose children and thus grandchildren have stayed near them. I love having them, but it would be so much easier if they visited, say, on a Sunday, saw one another all the time and we didn't have to worry about allocating beds, whether they would get to sleep (and to stay asleep) in an unusual location, and the intense excitement of seeing their cousins after a long gap. Still, life's not like that; and if offspring marry someone from a different place then they obviously can't live near both sets of grandparents. We're lucky to have one lot quite near. 

One can't have everything. And we have a lot.