Saturday, February 24, 2024

Flowers, flowers, flowers

It's definitely spring in the garden, which is full of crocuses. 

I think I like these pale yellow ones best, 

but really,

after the winter, any colour is welcome. Well, apart from orange - though the crocus stamens are acceptable. 

Compared to my life as a teacher, which was a whirlwind all day and a frantic round of marking and preparation all evening, our current lives are - I hesitate to say dull, because it's on the whole lovely to be able to potter around, drink coffee with friends and so on - but certainly much less eventful. However, the joy is that we can do things such as, the other day, going to Dawyck Botanic Gardens in the Borders to see their snowdrops. 

They have lots of different varieties, though really it's the huge numbers that are, to me, more impressive. 

They're beautiful individually, especially if you upturn their little faces, 

but in huge swathes,

which frankly don't come out particularly well in photographs,


they're stunning to stand and look at.

Wise of them to bloom in early spring, when there's not much competition and we're starving for flowers and beauty and hope. 

Mr L is off to Glasgow with Big Grandson to see the model railway exhibition, so I'm going to take myself off to our Botanic Gardens for a walk in the sunshine. 

Friday, February 16, 2024


We've been in London visiting Daughter 2 and family, taking with us Big Grandson so that he could ride around on London's transport. No accounting for tastes... . Anyway, he and Mr Life did this on Saturday, Monday and Tuesday. On Sunday, we all went to the Post Office Museum (which includes a post-train ride), and on Monday and Tuesday I looked after Littlest Granddaughter while her parents worked. 

We had a busy time. She tried five times to teach me how to assemble her toy aeroplane. I got better at it, but never entirely succeeded without help - there must be about fifteen bits. She's 6 and I'm 73. I'm not mechanically minded. I confess I wasn't really trying at the beginning, but started to concentrate once I realised that I was probably going to have to keep doing it till I succeeded. It turned out that even my full concentration wasn't enough. 

And now we're home and it's amaryllis time again, and today was beautiful and I got some gardening done, hurray. 

I'm learning things I didn't know about American English through Duolingo, which requires one to translate from the French and German which I'm brushing up. It marks one wrong when one doesn't guess what it wants one to say. For example, when I translated from its French, "I didn't wash before work because I got up late", it wanted me to say, "I didn't wash up before work because I woke up late." Do you really say this, Americans? Here, washing up refers to doing the dishes. And it doesn't allow you to say "football" when it wants "soccer" (I mean, "fussball", Duolingo!), and objects to your saying "in my break" when it wants "on my break". It's interesting, though, if a bit frustrating. 

I'd try some Scottish English on it (we say, for example, "amn't" as in "I'm right, amn't I?") but you only get five mistakes ("mistakes") and then you have to buy more credit, so I don't think I will... . English people would say "aren't I?", which sounds odd to me. We don't say, "I are", after all. How about Americans? Australians? New Zealanders? Are you of the "aren't I?" persuasion. 

Thursday, February 08, 2024


It was such a beautiful day yesterday, and one thought: Spring! But today was very chilly. Winter!

I was walking along the other day, mind idling, and suddenly thought about the verb "to spend". I suppose it's obvious, but I had never really realised how significant it is that we use this verb about both money and time. We spend our money and it's gone. We spend our time and it's even more gone - no possibility of earning more. 

We talk about spending time wisely - but when you're my age (73, with the time-purse getting rather empty), what is the wisest way of spending it? 

Answers on a postcard, please... 

(Maybe it's better just not to think about it.)

Saturday, February 03, 2024


The weather was beautiful, if somewhat chilly, today and we went up to visit the UnBloggables in their home territory, an hour and a quarter's drive away. 

We had a detour via a friend's house, and then cut through somewhat alarmingly narrow roads, up and down and round corners, to the park where we were meeting the UnBloggables. 

Would you like to live in this house? I would, in daylight and in summer. But in the dark, or in winter, I prefer to be nearer other people - being of a somewhat nervous disposition. 

This is the park where we spent the morning. It was lovely to see Son and the little ones - the first time this year. Medium Granddaughter is so chatty and affectionate. I wish we could see more of her and her (also lovely) little brother. But hey ho. 

This death announcement was in The Scotsman  (newspaper) this morning. Hmm. There's a story there, one feels. 

The light is returning and the spring flowers are coming out. But it's only February and winter could have a few things in store yet. I hope it hasn't!


Wednesday, January 24, 2024

The retired life

The weather has been somewhat revolting for the last couple of weeks - rainy and sometimes very windy - so we've sought indoor activities. For example, we went to an exhibition featuring the art of the printer over the centuries. I would very much have this Elizabeth Blackadder on my walls, thank you.

I love the cat's fed-up expression, all in the eyes. 

In complete contrast is this, by Claude Mellan (1598-1688). The entire picture is one line, starting on the tip of the nose and moving outwards, the darker areas being made when the line(s) get closer together.

The line is an estimated 150 metres long. I hope that M. Mellan would be pleased that, four-ish centuries after he slaved away on it, people are still finding it amazing. 

On Saturday, hooray, the sun shone for our walking group, so we took advantage of this. (I'm in the middle, with a black coat.) It was lovely to be outside, stretching the old legs. 

I'm getting on with quilting Big Granddaughter's dragon quilt (dragons not pictured). She's given me detailed instructions on how to quilt it. I might have chosen less labour-intensive ways, but she was firm. 

Another wet day we went to the museum, where there was an exhibition of wildlife photography. 

A mum and baby hippo by Mike Korostolev. 

A horseshoe crab, which is seemingly not a crab at all, with some fish which are hovering about, hoping  that the horseshoe non-crab will disturb something that they can then eat. This was taken by Laurent Ballesta and won the Wildlife Photographer of the Year. 

This is very impressive too, by Amit Eshel: two Nubian ibex having a fight. Kind of symbolises what's going on in the world, led by idiot males. At least the ibex are only endangering themselves. 

And today it wasn't raining so we walked along the river through Stockbridge. Look how wide the river is at the moment, after all that rain. 

It was peaceful, though. 

We took some stuff to charity shops - we do this so often that I can't understand why we still have so much stuff left - must try harder -

and enjoyed the sunshine and exercise. 

Monday, January 15, 2024

Photos of weather and things

We have nothing exciting to report - socialising and grandparenting, but nothing of note. We're upping our walking again, trying to get fitter after not walking so much post-hip-op. My hip is... fine. No pain to speak of, slight discomfort from the wound. I can't say, though, that the flexibility has improved much. I still can't put on my right sock or cut my right toenails! I'm hoping this may come. Ah, old age. 

Anyway, we went along the river to the gallery (where we naturally had coffee) and back. 

3 and a half miles or so, and everything was fine. So that was good. 

We've had a few nice sunny days for local walks

and it's sunny today too, but COLD! (by our standards). The Met Office says it's currently 0 degrees C and will drop to -2 tonight, which is 28.4F. Cold enough! I've just had coffee with friends and we're split between those who say they prefer it to be cold and sunny and those who don't mind a bit of murk and rain as long as it's mild. I think I'm the latter, but on the other hand, out of my study window the sky is a beautiful, cloudless blue so ... maybe. 

I have the Instagram app on my phone, mainly to see Daughter 2's occasional posts, and am astonished by the sad videos put up by people about their ill children or dead husbands. I can see absolutely why they're sad. But people - mainly young women - put up films of themselves (for example) weeping on a sad anniversary. Is it cathartic for them, I wonder? Do they not want the person forgotten? - but then, most of those who see the video never knew the deceased. It's an odd thing, social media (she writes, putting up photos of her walks and drivelling on about her toenails). 

Thursday, January 11, 2024

It's January - no one (in Britain)'s favourite month, I expect - but the days are getting longer. We went for our first walk in the Botanics since I had my hip operation and it went fine. What would life be without walking in the Botanics? In the first weeks after the op, my operated leg felt quite tired - a strange sensation, one leg being tired when the other wasn't. However, we've gradually been lengthening our walks and I feel fairly back to normal now, if not particularly fit because of not having walked enough over the Christmas/New Year/Golden Wedding shindig time. 

The sunshine did the heart good. 

And look - flowers.

On Sunday, Grandson and I went on another bus trip. It's his idea of a good way to spend an afternoon, and he's not going anywhere much by himself yet so it's a fine excuse to spend time with him. He's nearly 12 and a half, and who knows how much longer his Granny will be a desired companion? I'm making the most of it, anyway. We got a bus to the airport, another (Stagecoach 747, new to him and thus interesting) to near South Queensferry. 

We walked down to the village past an intriguing traffic light (not on, so what was it for on a very quiet, nay completely empty, road?) and had a fortifying snack (well, he did. I've eaten too much recently...). Look at him with his hand on his chin, looking mystified for my photo. 

Then we got another bus to Dalmeny Station, took the train back to Edinburgh and a bus to our house. Such a nice afternoon with a lovely boy! I shall remember these days when I'm decrepit and he doesn't need me any more. Meanwhile - I look forward to further such outings. It's SO nice to be a granny.