Thursday, August 15, 2019

Family family family. And a quilt.

Life has been a bit of a whirl recently, though in a good way. We had my brother and sister-in-law to stay for a few days and I rushed to finish the quilt I've been making (since January) for my nephew and his young lady, who're currently visiting. Above, Mr Life holds it up and below, he recovers from holding his arms out while I ask him to stretch out just slightly further.

I enjoyed making it. The fiddliest bits were the stars, and though much of the rest was just squares, there were a lot of them and thus a lot of corners to get right. Ish. The most fun was the strippy border, which I've never done before, though seen in other people's quilts. This went together really quickly - no corners to match!! yah!! - and made me feel smug because I used up lots of bits from my scrap box. Of course, I could have just cut up some of my stash, which would have scarcely dented said stash, but it was satisfying to use little remaining pieces of some of my favourite fabrics - at least one of which came from Thimbleanna, years ago now. I'll definitely do strippy borders again. They were very soothing to do and look pretty (I think) and much more impressive than they really are.

In similar pseudo-thrifty vein, I decided to use strips from two of Mr L's discarded shirts for the binding. This was not a good idea, as I realised quite soon after starting. The shirts were quite similar colours - too similar, really, since they tend to look rather like a mistake rather than a contrast. Also, one of them was horribly apt to fray. But mainly, because there were lots of joins, this meant it was much more footery to do, since I had to avoid getting any of these joins at the corners, which are bulky enough without anything extra.

But it was fun anyway, and I like the colours, though I discovered that the yellow of the stars looks much more intense against the dark fabrics than the light ones. Of course I've read about colour values in quilting books but it was interesting to find that the experts were right... .

I wonder how long it'll take them to notice the homage to their cat in the quilting. 

On the last day of the school holidays, Son-in-Law 1 and I took the children to Jupiter Artland. We had a lovely time. Here, Grandson the Elder communes with one of the Weeping Girls.

Biggest Granddaughter climbs a ladder in the ladder orchard.

I admire them and some flowers.

And they play on the Landforms.

We had rather a long wait for lunch, during which Grandson did a technical bus drawing on a napkin. 

We were contacted recently by some distant cousins from America who were visiting Edinburgh and they came down for lunch the other day. When I say distant - the great-great-great-great-grandmother of the young lady visiting was the sister of my great-great-great-grandmother. So I doubt if we share too many genes.

I dug out this photo of this girl's - let's think now - great-great-great aunt Tina, on the extreme left, who was a cousin of my granny's mother (or something. I may have got the greats a bit wrong).

Anyway, here we all are in my grandparents' house in 1954. Next from the left is my lovely young Mum, in front of her my lovely smiling Granny, two visiting Americans in the blue cardigan and the grey jacket, my Grandpa standing on the right at the back and my Dad at the front with me and my brother. I remember the occasion. I was four. It was the first ever colour photo we'd seen - so advanced, those Americans. (We can't work out who actually took the photo, since we all seem to be in it.)

My brother and I are the only ones left alive, but I still have the blue and white vase on the mantelpiece.

Anyway, it was lovely, if a bit surprising, to meet up with these family members from Ohio.

Friday, August 09, 2019


We went to visit Son on Tuesday because it was the day before Middle Granddaughter's birthday (and Tuesday is Son's day off). She's now 3! How did that happen? Above, you can't quite see her at the Dundee Science Centre, where we had fun with them.

And here you can't quite see Little Grandson, being held by his father and admired by his grandpa.

 I brought a cake and Middle blew out the candle like a pro. She also ate a slice. She likes cake.

 Looking through an old album belonging to my parents, I was reminded of this occasion, in 1951, when my dad hit the (Scottish) headlines for making and demonstrating a computer. The newspaper didn't have a name for such a strange device - "reasoning machine" was the best it could come up with. I remember Dad saying way back in the sixties, when computers were regarded by many as efficient adding machines, that they could in fact do far more than that and, in the future, would do so.

How young he was: 31, in fact. He was a very brilliant chap and also extremely hardworking, and though my brother and I did fine, I suppose we were probably a bit of a disappointment to him, though he never said so. 

He died 12 years ago. He would have been so interested in the technological developments that have happened since then. Not to say his great-grandchildren, none of whom he ever saw.

I'm missing this little person but at least I have her photos on the fridge.

Sunday, August 04, 2019

Cousins and gardens

Daughter 1 and I took the Edinburgh grandchildren to the Gallery of Modern Art the other day (can you see Grandson on the Landform above?) where there were various activities laid on for children.

They had fun.

And on Friday I took them to the Botanics. We haven't been there as a threesome for ages, and they really enjoyed it. As did I. They were a delight to be with. I thought they might find it boring now that they're older, but they found lots to do.

We were there for ages and they needed a little rest towards the end. (It lasted about two minutes.)

It seems no time since I was going there with this little chap. Where did he go??

I was contacted the other day by a distant American cousin on my mum's side. We haven't been in touch for a few years but our families visited to and fro a bit in the past (1970 in my case). The great-niece of the cousin I was vaguely in touch with is coming to visit with her father. This prompted me to look up our exact connection, and in fact our common direct ancestors were born about 1800! Her great-great-great-great-grandparents are my great-great-great-grandparents. So not exactly a close relationship, then. It's strange that we're still in touch, however infrequently. My granny used to visit her mother's cousin Tina, who lived in Edinburgh (though had lived in America for some years) and the girl who's coming is descended from Tina's sister.

I'm sure I have hundreds of much closer relations whom I never see! I have no first cousins but my father had something like 25, only two of whom we're in touch with (or at least, they're dead but we're in touch with their children). They're in America too. I'm sure I also have lots of Scottish-resident second cousins, but where they are I have no idea. Dad's mother was the second-youngest of 11, so a lot of Dad's cousins were much older than he was, almost of a different generation, and only one of them lived in Edinburgh.

Maybe I ought to make an effort to search for some of them...

Hello, by the way, DL. How nice that you're going to Arran. I wonder who you are??

Tuesday, July 30, 2019


At the local Arran museum, we found this. It mentions a Miss Currie, who I think was my great-great aunt. My mother's mother's mother was Isabella Currie. She was brought up in Brodick on Arran, and her sisters remained on the island when Isabella married and moved to Glasgow. I can't imagine why she did. If I lived on Arran I would never leave.

Isabella was a very pretty girl, as can be seen in photos we have of her, and she married my great-grandfather, who was a joiner. Her sisters had a certain status in the island and I imagine they weren't very pleased at the match. Presumably Isabella must have been very much in love with Alexander. Anyway (I've told different bits of this story before) Isabella, or Bella as she was known, contracted TB and died at the age of 35, when her children were 3, 5 (my future grandmother) and 6.

The sisters blamed Glasgow for her death - probably rightly, since Arran is a beautiful island with a few villages, whereas Glasgow was a densely-populated industrial city. It's even sadder that her youngest child also got TB and died at the age of 12.

But Granny always went to the island in the holidays, to stay with her aunts - one of whom was presumably this Miss Currie.

Where we were staying in Brodick was just round the corner from the main hotel, which has a swimming pool which we used. This is the view as you turn the corner to the leisure centre.

One of the aunts was lady companion to the Duchess of Hamilton, who lived in Brodick Castle. I imagine that this involved much running upstairs to fetch the Duchess's embroidery (or whatever) but she also went trips with the Duchess, some of them on the Duke's yacht. We didn't know about the yacht until we visited the Castle a couple of years ago and mentioned to a guide that there was a family story that my great-great aunt was once shipwrecked with the Duchess.This seemed a highly unlikely tale to me but the guide said, oh yes, the Duke wasn't a very good sailor and often got into scrapes in his yacht. And now we've seen a picture of it.

All over the island there are beautiful blue hydrangeas, as above. They're blue instead of pink because of the peaty soil. These are in the grounds of the Castle, which now belongs to the National Trust.

The gardens are lovely. I imagine that the view must have been even better in the Duchess's day, before the trees grew so tall, but you can still see the bay more or less at the bottom of the garden.

This is the view coming out of the little supermarket. Rather better than the view from my normal one!

In another life, I'd live on Arran. I love all islands but feel a particular affinity with this one because of our family connection. My lovely granny knew it so well and talked so tenderly of it, as did my mother, who also went there for holidays to stay with the aunts. All the names of the villages - Brodick, Corrie, Sannox, Lochranza, Pirnmill, Machrie, Shiskine, Blackwaterfoot, Lagg, Kildonan, Whiting Bay, Lamlash - are woven into my childhood memory from my granny's tales. 

I suppose it would be a long way to any fabric shops but let's be honest: I have enough fabric to last several lifetimes of quilting.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Away again

Grandson is now eight. Such a big boy. Excuse the scruffy cake. Daughter 1 made him an amazing one, featuring a level crossing.

We've been away with the family to the island of Arran. Daughter 1 and her husband and children and Daughter 2 with her little one came with us. It was good but somewhat exhausting. Little Granddaughter is so lovely and hilarious but frankly a bit of a menace! The house we rented wasn't exactly babyproof - lots of nice, smoothly-opening drawers in the kitchen filled with sharp things and tempting cupboards full of crockery; also a stairgate which kept her out for all of thirty seconds. She doesn't have a stair where she lives and was very keen to play on it. Constant vigilance was essential.

But it was lovely to have three of the grandchildren together and also our two daughters, who don't usually get to spend much time together. There was at least a bit of evening when the children were in bed.

The house owners had left us a message on a light box, which of course we spent the week rearranging, such as in this way -

- we also had "Ron's worm called on Dean". Son-in-Law created both of these.

Arran is a beautiful island. This is Lochranza Castle, dating from the 13th century.

This is a misleading family group, since it's Son-in-Law 1, Daughter 2 (who are in-laws) and Littlest and Mr L.

Daughter 2 is a very dedicated auntie - leapfrog in the garden.

My girls.

And another of them - aka Miss Trouble.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Flowers and buds

Summer is in full swing and the garden is bursting with colour.

I do love it, even though some of the major spreaders are going to have to be dealt with. The garden is not large and some things are determined to take over, such as these pink leucanthemums. They remind me of my youth, though - my girlhood garden had lots of these.

Lavender. I love lavender and this is a particularly bright one.

On the path by the golf course, ragwort and cow parsley are doing their thing too.

 And these oxeye daisies, which are a cousin of the pink ones in the garden.

We went up to visit The Unbloggables today, which was lovely. Here's Middle Granddaughter playing in the sand...

and on the slide, or chute (as we call it here) with Son.

Here's a rare photo of me, with Little Grandson. I have to crop him out so I could hardly crop me out too.

We walked up to the burn (stream) and paddled. Well, Middle Granddaughter and Son did. We didn't bring our boots.

She suits her hat.

This is one of their cats, who for some reason decided to sleep on the gravel. I suppose it was warm and fur must make good padding. She has a nice comfortable bed in the house, plus many blankets on high shelves away from little patting hands.

A lovely day.