Friday, October 15, 2021


On Tuesday we went up to visit Son and family. This was lovely, but I'm not allowed to post pictures of the children so you'll just have to imagine them: Medium Granddaughter is now 5 and at school, an enchanting little wiry fairy with blondish hair and hazel eyes. She's very loving towards us, which is unbelievably wonderful considering that she doesn't really see us very often. She gave me a red balloon which she blew up all by herself. Little Grandson, 2 and a half, is a beautiful, smiley little person with big blue eyes. He's a bit more wary of us - chats away but doesn't offer cuddles as his sister does.

Mr Life helped Son to put up monkey bars in the garden. I suppose it's partly genetic - Son and DIL are energetic types - and partly that the children are taken to playparks a lot, but both the children are very physically agile. They've both been able to jump high on trampolines for a long time, and Medium Granddaughter is very good at swinging herself hand-to-hand along the monkey bars. Her little brother tries his best to copy everything she does. 

It's so awful, really, just to see them every few weeks, as visitors. However I realise that we're also lucky to have them. I love them so much. I just hope that we live long enough to establish a real relationship with them that they'll remember when they're grown up. It's not very likely, though, since we're 71 and 73. Ah well. 

We're still in the toils of decorators - mainly just one, a nice Lithuanian chap called Egis. He's been working steadily and has now finished the hall and stairs and is working on our bedroom and the downstairs bathroom. The house is in chaos. Even in the hall/stairs/landing we normally have a chest of drawers, a set of shelves with various doo-dahs on them, a grandfather clock, four child's chairs, a dolls' house, a large bookcase and quite a lot of pictures and plates on the wall. All of this is now either in an upstairs bedroom or in the sitting room. (Fortunately we have a second, smaller, living room also.) But now all the contents of our bedroom are also in the sitting room, including all of our clothes (the fitted wardrobes are getting painted), as are various things from the bathroom - essentials such as bathrack (bookrack), pictures, a glass paperweight and duck... . 

Of course when we staggered through with all of our clothes, it was brought to our attention that there are lots of them that we no longer wear, even though they're quite wearable. These are mainly left over from our working days, which I have to admit are ten years ago now. I might wear these smartish skirts and blouses again but - let's face it - I've spent the last ten years not really doing so. So we swear that we're going to have a sort out and not just put them all back. But - argh - it's going to be so much work just getting the house back to rights again without making stern decisions as well. And then there are the books! It makes sense not to keep more books than will fit on the shelves (or than we'll ever have time to reread). But which to take to charity shops along with those redundant clothes? And which day to summon up the resolve to do so? I'm exhausted at the thought, but am trying to tell myself how much better we'll feel once we've done all this. 

In three weeks' time, I'm telling myself, we'll be in a tidy, slightly decluttered house, with pictures back up on walls and nice fresh paintwork. That will be very nice. At the moment, however: ARGH.


Thursday, October 07, 2021


What an uncommenty world Blogland is nowadays, and indeed how few of the blogs that I used to read still exist, alas. In several cases I'm now Facebook friends of these ex-bloggers, but I don't think that Facebook is the equal of blogging, though I do like FB as well. Ah well.  

I've uploaded these pictures from Google photos, unlike my usual habit, and I can't get them to go in the right order. I started at the bottom of the ones I wanted on Google photos, and they came backwards on to the blog, so I tried again by starting at the top and the same happened. Anyway, we've had our smaller living room sofas recovered and I've been looking at cushions, worthy of the new covers, in John Lewis, where I was horrified to find that they cost £40 or £45 each. The one above might match quite well but I'm not sure it's really my style. But hey, I thought, I can make cushions. 

For example, I like these fabrics. But it turns out that they're £35 a metre, which makes the £45 cushions seem not so bad. 

So I bought this one and will consider my options. 

We've got decorators in at the moment, which seemed like a good idea some months ago. Annoyingly, they came on Tuesday, said that they couldn't come for the next two days and then the boss left, leaving a Lithuanian chap to strip the paper as above. He worked hard and tidied up after himself but I hope they're going to be here from now on. They're doing the kitchen, a bathroom and, argh, our bedroom. 

Earlier in the year, when sorting out Stuff, I put all postcards, other cards and letters in a big box, unsorted. I am now doing the sorting and finding all sorts of things such as this card from my parents on my 40th birthday. I'm now 71. How I would love to look 40 now! - or indeed to be 40. Life is fleeting. 

That's my lovely mum's handwriting. Can't throw this away - indeed I can throw almost none of it away. It's all very nostalgic and a mixture of heartwarming and sad. 

There are lots of home-made cards, such as this from Daughter 2 when she was very small. She's mildly dyslexic but extremely nice! 

Before the decorators came (see, this is backwards) we took down all these blue plates from the back hall. I've had them more or less all our married life - they were originally acquired to hide a bumpy wall we had in the previous house, bought in 1976. Will I put them up again? Ironically, Daughter 2 (who knows such things) tells me that plates on the wall are fashionable again. 

And here's a more modern drawing, which I found around the place - Biggest Granddaughter doodled this. Rather sweet! 


Saturday, October 02, 2021

Not achieving very much

My brother and sister-in-law stayed for a week, which was very nice. He's my big brother and we're not at all alike in most ways but we've always got on well, and my sister-in-law is very nice. He hasn't lived in Edinburgh since, I think, 1972 - 7 years in the US plus 2 years later on, and the rest of the time in England. As a result my nephew and niece, splendid people both, are also pretty well English (though their mother is actually American so they have no English ancestry) and live down south. Which from my point of view is a pity but there we are. 

A member of one of my choirs very kindly remembered that I did patchwork and brought me these three curtain samples. They'd already decided on their curtains: the right hand design. These are... let's say,... not at all to my taste; also, they're velvet, beautiful quality and I can't imagine that they're washable. I can't see myself using them. But it was very nice of her. She's younger than me, a very stylish dresser and I suppose that I can just imagine her curtains looking - well, striking - in a modern house. If one liked orange. Which I don't. 

It struck me as an initial sketch for "The Scream". As Daughter 1 said, there appears to be a volcano behind her. 

Apart from that, we haven't been doing anything very interesting. Not quite sure what we have been doing, actually. A bit of gardening, which I would be doing at this moment had I not been discouraged by rain. It's the sort of rain which makes you think, oh well, it's not heavy; I'll just stay out a bit longer. And then you find you're slowly getting quite damp. 

Big Grandson and Biggest Granddaughter have been making masks. 

 Now I must go and look again at the box labelled "Correspondence, various" into which, during lockdown, I put cards, letter, postcards and email printouts from the past many, many years. It would be sensible to throw some of it away. But I probably won't. I might, however, sort it into categories. Would that be useful? Not sure.

I've just been reading Gyles Brandreth's latest memoir - very interesting and entertaining - and he keeps everything. He says that his wife claims that when he dies, she'll phone for a skip before she phones the undertaker. In many ways I would love to be like GB - his enterprise, his enthusiasm, his confidence - but I don't want to leave my family with quite those problems.

And now the sun's out but I've taken off my gardening trousers and everything outside is quite wet so I'll proceed to the archiving. And perhaps a cup of tea. 

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Out and about

On Monday we decided to take the children up north a bit, to see a couple of local things of interest, with Daughter 1. But on the motorway, a couple of hundred yards ahead of us, four cars crashed into one another. (No one was seriously hurt, as it turns out.) And we were stuck for three hours, as above. 

After about two hours, Biggest Granddaughter, who's only 8, really needed to go to the loo. We had no receptacles with us. The only choices were the road beside us or the bare, sloping grassy bank on the other side of this coach. So I went and asked the coach driver if she could possibly use the toilet on his coach, and he immediately said yes. What a nice man!

Once we eventually got going and could turn off the road, we decided just to go home again. We'll visit these places another day. We went round various roundabouts, got back on to the road in the opposite direction, and drove past  a good ten miles of stationary traffic - people who had no idea how long they'd be there and who didn't know that, further up the road, vehicles were actually filtering slowly past the accident scene. 

When we got home, Big Grandson wrote this ironic "To Do" list, with the first item as above. Tick.

My brother and sister-in-law came to visit on Tuesday for a week. I got my brother to go through with me some of our father's archives, such as these magazines from the late 40s and early 50s. Dad had articles published in them, which I never knew about. 

Son-in-Law 1, who's interested in electronics, read them with more attention than I had. 

Dad also had an article in The Scottish Schoolmaster ("Mathematics in Electrical Research") in 1949, with a letter from the editor asking for more. I wonder if he always meant to write more journalism and then got too busy? 

We've been having a nice time with Brother and his wife, having coffees, going for walks and so on. 

Today we all had lunch with the Edinburgh family at Swanston and then went for a walk, admiring the cottages of Swanston Village, built in the early 1700s and still occupied. Swanston comes from Sweinn's Town or farm. Sweinn appears in the records in 1214, agreeing to work this land. I expect he'd be pleased that his name has persisted down the centuries. 

He'd be surprised to see the cars, though. 

Sunday, September 19, 2021


Biggest Granddaughter was pleased with her cushion, examining her chosen fabrics and reminding herself why she chose them. So that was good, though it wasn't exactly a difficult sewing project

Also good: we went for a six-mile walk along the River Tweed from Tweedbank to Melrose and back yesterday, and my sore leg hardly hurt at all. 

When we got home and sat down, it was very stiff for a bit and was then fairly ok. 

It was beautiful weather. Melrose believes in bright bedding schemes. 

We had lunch there and then crossed the river and walked back to the station. It was so lovely meeting up with our friends and having exercise in picturesque surroundings. 

Princes Street Gardens were looking pretty too as we got the bus home. 

Today we met up with Son and his little ones in Dundee Botanic Gardens, 

where we had a very nice time. The children are (biased Granny opinion) so lovely.

After lunch we had quite a substantial walk along the river front, though the little ones on their bikes went rather faster, with athletic Son jogging along beside them. 

One day we must go and visit The Discovery, which is moored there, but today we just admired it. It carried Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton on their first expedition to the Antarctic in 1901. 

We did go through underneath the Dundee Victoria and Albert Museum,

which is not, to my mind, a beautiful building. It's supposed to look like a cliff. 

The Unbloggables climbed this lookout tower but I stayed at the bottom. I'm not great with heights. 

And my leg was fine! Seems unlikely that it's suddenly cured, but I'm hoping... .

So altogether it was a particularly lovely weekend. Hope you had one too.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Lonely as a cloud...

We've been away for the weekend to a big house in the Lake District (in England) with our walking friends and had such a good time. 

We go on the Friday and then we walk on the Saturday, Sunday and Monday. This year was a bit different for me because I've had an annoying sore leg recently - it's fine for the first mile or so and then really quite uncomfortable - so I felt I shouldn't try to do 7ish-mile walks during which I might either become seriously sore or find myself hobbling on, keeping everyone back. So I stayed in the house all alone (violins...), read my book and went for a 40-minute solitary walk both in the morning and in the afternoon, on both Saturday and Sunday. When I say solitary, I mean very solitary - see above and below. I was - ridiculously - slightly nervous that a Bad Man might leap out from behind a hedge where he'd been waiting on the off-chance that a plump, slightly sore-legged 71-year-old carrying nothing valuable might come along.

For example, I decided not to go down this lane with overhanging trees. Foiled you, Bad Man.

On the Saturday night, we watched, on tv and iPad, Emma Raducanu winning the US Open tennis. 

As you can see, we were quite pleased at the result, though actually since she was born in Canada of a Chinese mother and a Romanian father, she's not perhaps the very Britishest person one has ever met. She certainly sounds British though and plays jolly good tennis, so we're happy to claim the credit. 

On my Sunday walks, I met lots of sheep 

and a butterfly or two

but still no people. I was less nervous by then, though - for no actual reason. It's annoying and pretty irrational to feel a bit anxious in an empty lane. I wonder if a man would? 

On Sunday night we had a meal out. The weather was dull for most of the weekend but the sun obligingly came out to look pretty as we went into the hotel. 

And today I decided to walk with the group, since it was only 2 and a half miles, and my leg was pretty ok. 

Altogether it was a wonderful weekend. We've known most of these people since we were young, and it was such fun, with lots of laughs - good for the soul.


Thursday, September 09, 2021

Blowing in the wind

I recently made Big Grandson, at his request, a floor cushion, and then Biggest Granddaughter wanted one too. His cover was from a single fabric but she wanted a patchwork one with fabrics of her choosing from my stash. The first ones she choose were these red and mainly green ones. I do not like red and green together (well, apart from at Christmas) and said, "Ooh, these don't really go together." She looked at me severely.

"It's my cushion, Granny," she said. Quite right. Then she picked lots of others, with reasons every time ("I love reading so I have to have these book fabrics", "I've got to have bunnies", "Who doesn't like balloons?") and I thought, hmm. How do I make something tasteful from this lot? 

I considered putting banding between them or doing something a bit fancy and then I decided just to go for it with simple squares, to get the full effect of her chosen fabrics. And actually the combination of patterns wasn't as bad as I expected. 

The other day, we went to the museum (first time since lockdown) to see the Galloway Hoard, a large collection of items buried about 9000AD and discovered by a metal detector a few years ago, in southern Scotland. It was so interesting. 

This is one of the intricately-made brooches, but there were many others, with armlets and ingots - mainly in silver, but some in gold, both from far-off countries - buried in a silver pot made  in Central Asia possibly 300 years earlier still. They were clever and adventurous people, our ancestors. The pot was wrapped in various pieces of cloth, which has been partially preserved by being buried and is currently being analysed. So interesting to see weaving done by people over 1000 years ago. 

The most fascinating thing, of course, would be to know why the items were buried, and by whom, and why they never came back for them - and I don't suppose we'll ever know that. Was it for fear of marauding Vikings, who then duly marauded? Did some old chap bury them to keep them safe from his neighbours, and then die without mentioning the location to his family? Did they come and look and were they frustratingly unable to find them? 

Meanwhile - though flowers bloom on and it's still warm -

there are definite signs of autumn. Rose-bay-willowherb is spreading its fluffy seeds, 

while rowan berries 

and rose hips are brightening the hedgerows

and you can see why this is called thistledown. It's pretty, but don't blow near my garden, seeds.