Friday, July 05, 2024

To and fro

Unusually, we've been up north three days running. On Wednesday we drove up to 
visit Son and the Unbloggables near Dundee, which was lovely. The Unb. grandchildren are very sweet. I just wish they lived nearer. 

Then yesterday was my birthday. (Happy Independence Day, Americans. Are you doing ok? - not sure we are on this side of the pond, but we've had an election so let's see if the new lot can improve things. As for your election, hmm). 

The family are a) visiting in-laws down south or b) in their usual places of residence, so we took ourselves up on the train to look at the new museum in Perth. It was very impressive. We saw the Stone of Destiny (very important for Scottish people, though admittedly just a lump of sandstone) and various other interesting and astonishingly old things. They had an exhibition on unicorns in folklore and art, with exhibits such as this - a bestiary made in the 1100s. It's amazing how well it's survived, don't you think? What of our age will survive that long, I wonder?  





And look at this ceramic cooking pot from 1000ish. 1000! William the Conqueror could have had his soup out of that. I mean, it might have been 66 by then, but it's 1024 now. So at a mere 66 it would probably have been in working order.  

Today we again got on the train and this time went to Dunblane, childhood home of Andy Murray. The purpose was to recce a walk for the walking gang. We're not leading it till September (well, Mr L leads it really; I have very little sense of direction) but we were trying to get ahead of ourselves. This walk featured in a newspaper some time ago and it looked promising. 


T

However, it wasn't. A lot of it was up this narrow path, with grasses sometimes above my head, and a rocky, muddy, slippery surface which made it hard to keep one's feet. There were many parts at which breaking an ankle seemed all too feasible, and it would have been very tedious for the ambulance men to have to struggle along this path with a stretcher, particularly if I'd been on it. And as well as that, single file isn't really good for walking in a group, when the whole point is to chat the miles away. 

There were nice open bits to the walk as well -

but on the whole - no. The plan had been to walk to Bridge of Allan and then, with minor variations, back along the path again to Dunblane, but by the time we got to Bridge of Allan we'd had enough and just got the train home from there. So though it wasn't an unenjoyable day, we're going to have to find a different walk for the group - which is a bit tedious, but hey ho, it was exercise and fresh air and a workout for the thighs, so it's all good. 

And tomorrow we're staying in Edinburgh. 

 

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Wanderings. And stuff.

Very clever and helpful Son-in-Law 1 has solved my photo problem by creating a Google Photo album for me, which allows me to add photos to my blog. So - sorry about that - here are lots! 

We got the bus on Friday to Haddington (above) - a small (but growing) town not far from Edinburgh - and had a nice walk through the town and then along the river to the Amisfield Walled Garden, where we'd never been before. 

My lovely granny lived in Haddington for the first five years of her life, so I always like to go there and say hello to her toddling shade. 

Here's a more-than-usually successful bit of meadow planting in the middle of some housing. 

The path along by the river was flat and quite easy to walk along, 

with views over fields of crops. 

And the garden, when we reached it, was lovely. I think it's mainly (entirely?) staffed by volunteers, who do a grand job. 

There weren't many visitors. It used to be part of the garden of a huge house which was built in the mid-1700s and demolished in 1928/9 because the family had other houses and the upkeep was too much. We will certainly return. 

On Sunday we had lunch with the Edinburgh family at Swanston and then climbed the hill to work off lunch and admire the views. Edinburgh is a fairly small city and it's not difficult to get out of it and up on the hills, down to the beach or out into the country. This photo looks down at the city. It seems very distant but in fact it's minutes away in a car. 

Hills: so soothing. I to the hills will lift mine eyes and all that. I do this a lot. 

Today we walked to Saughton Park, not far from where we live. It was a sunnier day than it looks in my photos, and rather warm. 

I do so love herbaceous perennials. 

But they're a lot of work, even in my small garden. Here... the cutting down in autumn and spring - goodness. 


Then at last this afternoon I forced myself to get back to the boxes of various family archives, to try to sort them out a bit and hopefully throw some out. I'm not doing very well so far. I keep creating categories of things: Mum, Dad, Mum and Dad, Grandparents - but then this has to be subdivided because I had four grandparents, like everyone else, and so did Mr L - not that his parents left very much paperwork, unlike mine. Then I have some things from my two childless aunts. And lots of lovely cards and things given to us by our children, and their drawings, and the grandchildren's cute drawings. And lots of letters and emails and various birth and death certificates - do I keep these with their owners' stuff, or in a separate category? Etc etc. And the other problems are that everything is a) interesting, so I have to read it again and b) rather sad, because the relevant person is dead, or even if just that part of our lives is over. 

There's a LOT to sort through. I can't see much to throw out, though. 


I'll keep this, though I wonder how interesting it will be for those who never met my grandfather Thomas, eg even our children, let alone anyone further down the line. This is his reference from the army at the end of WW1. It's accurate apart perhaps from the "tactful" bit. He was an interesting man - from a working class family, though his father was a printer, as Thomas also was, so they were literate chaps and I suppose reasonably well paid. He was, as it says, clever - would have liked to be a doctor, though of course never got the chance. He was interested in health and got his family to be vegetarian in the 1930s, which was pretty unusual in those days, though when WW2 came, people just had to eat what was available. 

But tactful... not so much. He wasn't slow to express his opinion of people who didn't share his views. I remember his saying of someone, "He couldn't run 100 yards to save his life" (can't remember the context) in a contemptuous tone - Grandpa himself was very fit and used to be a long-distance runner in his youth. I myself couldn't now run 100 yards either, except slowly and pursued only by, say, a murderous tortoise. 

Future generations, reading this testimonial, might picture some sort of gentle saint. Which he wasn't. He was a decent man, and meant well. But he could be a bit of an old grump. Mind you, as a young man he was at the awfulness of Gallipoli, where he was shot in the hand, so who am I, who have always lived a cushy life, to criticise him for being a bit of a misanthrope? 

Thursday, June 20, 2024

Technology...

Well, I still can't put photos on the old blog. A message does appear which tells me to do something incomprehensible (to me) - no idea if this would help. I'll maybe get clever young people to advise me. We haven't been doing anything particularly noteworthy anyway - most of my photos are floral. 

I've been polishing up my (faintly shiny) French and my (completely tarnished) German on Duolingo for the past year and it's been quite fun, but recently it's been going wonky on me, greying out the thing that you click on to submit your answer. Yesterday it worked for German but not French. How frustrating technology is; though also, I realise, how absolutely amazing that it (usually) works. 

Of course, I carefully write down in a notebook words and phrases that I don't know, or only half-know, but then do I look at them? Not a lot. Must Do Better. My knowledge of American is improving, though, as I've said before. I don't think I fully realised quite how many slightly different ways Americans have of saying things. Though - do you really talk about "tall" mountains, Americans?? I don't think I've ever heard of this. Maybe Duolingo has just got it wrong. Mountains are always high here, though now I think of it, buildings can be tall or high. 

Talking of Duolingo - I shall see how it's behaving tonight. It's free and so I shouldn't really complain. But ... 



Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Grrr

 For some reason, Blogger is refusing to find any photos from Google Photos, which is where I've been taking photos from for a while. I used to use Picasa but  - can't remember why - I can no longer save any photos on Picasa, so have no recent pictures there, though I can access those I already have. I wish technological young men would stop footering with things I like to use. Grr. 

I don't have any very interesting photos to show, anyway. I've been down in London visiting Daughter 2 and family. The idea was that she and her husband would go out on the Friday night while I babysat, and on the Saturday her husband was going to look after Littlest Granddaughter while D2 and I had a day out. 

However, Littlest was off school with tonsillitis last week, which meant that her parents had to take time off work to look after her, which in turn meant that they were very behind with their work. D2 had a deadline - 9 o'clock on Monday morning, Singapore time, thus 2am on Monday our time - to finish lots of drawings for a London hotel she's reconfiguring, so in fact they didn't go out on Friday and she and I didn't go out on Saturday. Indeed she had to work late into the night every night, poor crumb. I looked after Littlest - which was fine, though she would rather have had her parents and was aware that they were both working in their office in the loft bedroom. It was mostly ok, though. Then on Sunday, SIL2 took over and I tidied their rather large garden. So at least I felt useful, and D2 and I did manage the odd walk and chat. Well, quite a few chats! And she made her deadline, which was the important thing. 

Since I came home I've been working in my own garden, which, though not large, is time-consuming. I could show you lots of nice photos of foxgloves and irises and tall campanula if Blogger were co-operating, but I dare say you've seen flowers before. 

Wednesday, June 05, 2024

Boring post about flowers

Well, it's all about the flowers at this time of year. My own garden (it's Mr L's too, technically, but he'd probably just have grass. Or not even that) needed a lot of attention - all the bulb leftovers had to be removed, or not if they were still green; and the weeds engendered by all that rain followed by quite a lot of sun had to be discouraged; and also all the many, many pots that I plant up at this time of year had to be filled. Why is my smallish garden so labour-intensive? Well, of course because I made it so, when I was in my forties and fifties. And I like looking at it when it's finished, although of course it's a garden and is never finished. I do actually enjoy a bit of gentle weeding. But I'm definitely getting a bit old and achey. Still, use it or lose it, or so I tell myself. 

I saw one of those things on Facebook the other day. It featured a scientist walking along the road, saying that extensive research has shown that there are five words which, if you say to yourself, will improve your mood - whatever that mood is at the time. So of course I listened to the end, and it turned out that these words were, "These are the good times". Would that improve your mood? It surely means, "This is as good as it's going to get". Which, when you're nearly 74, isn't that encouraging. No doubt it's true, but what's the point of thinking that way? I mean, things are fine. But I'd prefer to be 24. Even at 24, I don't think I'd like to be told that that was the best time. It was good, though it was also extremely stressful at times, being a high school teacher in quite a tough school. But there were better things to come, like for example all our lovely babies and grandbabies, not to say a long career of teaching in further education - which had its difficulties, but not nearly so many. 


Anyway, back to the flowers. It's a lovely time of year, with many alliums

and irises
and more irises
and another,

and look at this thalictrum - I only bought it last year and it's wonderful - it's been blooming for weeks. I do have another, much less interesting variety of thalictrum and over the 35 years we've been in this house it's become a thug and is everywhere. However, I won't be here in another 35 years so if the big pink one has spread everywhere by then ... hey ho. 

Oh, another iris. 

Saughton Park, quite near us, is lovely at this time of year. 

It's very allium-ish.

and lupiny
Here are my lupins. 

And then, in the Botanics, lots of lovely mecanopsis. 

So. Flowers. Very cheering. 

I must not start another quilt till I've got back to the archives. And must not die till I've made some decisions about what to keep, and have actually disposed of some of it. My parents both had interesting lives, much more varied and worthy of note than mine (school, university, three different teaching jobs, retirement). So the archives are mainly theirs, which makes it difficult. And then also of course... we have too many photos. Haven't we all? 


 

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Drookit

We had friends for the weekend and took the train down to Galashiels to see the new(ish) building that was designed to house the Great Tapestry of Scotland. We'd seen the tapestry (actually, it's embroidery) before, but not for a while, and not in this building. We liked the building a lot - well done to the architects. 

The tapestry itself was the idea of the writer Alexander McColl Smith, who was inspired by an earlier one, the Prestonpans (not actually a) Tapestry (which was sort of inspired by the Bayeux Tapestry (not really a tapestry either)). The Prestonpans one depicts the events before, during and after the Battle of Prestonpans, which was when Bonnie Prince Charlie's troops (mainly Highlanders who supported the restoration of the Stuarts to the throne of Britain) defeated the English (plus mainly Lowland Scots). There are now various other similar tapestries in other parts of Scotland (and beyond, for all I know).


Anyway, this non-tapestry depicts the history of Scotland from the formation of the land - earthquakes etc - to the modern day, with lots of developments, battles, inventions and so on, in between. 

The embroidery was done by groups of mainly (but not exclusively) women volunteers, each group doing one of the 161 panels.  These are now joined together. One of them was stolen from Kirkcaldy Art Gallery in 2015 (I mean, who would?) and was never found, so the original stitchers painstakingly recreated it. 


The detail in the panels is amazing. Look at this kilt! 

And the herringbone tweed jacket.

And the socks. 

This is the whole panel, which shows traditional Scottish sports. 



This one shows the woollen industry in the Lowlands, famously in Paisley, where shawls were made. These were inspired by Indian or Persian patterns with the teardrop shape - known (here, anyway) as Paisley patterns to this day. 

The weather has been horrendously wet, but we went to the Botanics yesterday anyway, along with many drookit tourists. "Drookit" means "drenched" but is (in my opinion) much more expressive, like so many Scottish words. We went equipped with waterproofs and an umbrella but still had to change our lower halves when we got home. 


But these single peonies weren't too battered by the rain, 


and the blue poppies were just about hanging on. 

One has now, however, had enough of rain. We, our gardens and our spirits are more than sufficiently drookit. 
 

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Out and about

Things have been rather too busy since we got back from Norfolk, though with various pleasant activities including gardening. Remind me not to go away in May again: one week, and the forget-me-nots had become even more rampant, and the weeds that didn't exist when we left had somehow sprung up and were several inches tall. 

And I need to clear spaces for the summer bedding. 

Mr L had a birthday. So did Son-in-Law 1, and Big Grandson, the bus/train/tram enthusiast, made him a lovely card.  


Mr L is mainly a train enthusiast and some of his presents definitely took this into account. He got rather a good card too!

We went on a great walk (the one we did the recce for, a few weeks ago) with our walking buddies on Saturday, along the (Scottish) Avon, near Linlithgow. The weather was perfect: not too hot, not windy. 

Look: a train on a viaduct. 

Having walked in one direction along the river, we went back along the canal. Then, of course, we finished with coffee in a cafe, as we always do. 

Yesterday was a public holiday, so we took the Edinburgh Two to the Kelpies, two huge horses' heads (actually kelpies' heads, but they're much the same - kelpies are mythical water horses), which are public sculptures a bit north of here. You can see the children at the foot of a kelpie, for scale. The statues represent the heavy horses that pulled boats along the canal and celebrate the role of horses in the industry and agriculture of the area. 

Then we walked along the (a different) canal. Grandson was interested in the swing bridge. Isn't he getting tall? Mr L is over 6 feet.

You can see how the Kelpies loom over the landscape.

And after that we took them to the Japanese garden where Mr Life and I went for the first time only a few weeks ago. 

They enjoyed the paths and bridges. And the cafe.


And so did we. I also enjoyed the flowers, and pleasingly Middle Granddaughter has decided that she likes gardening. It's in the genes. I hope.