Friday, June 23, 2006

Mild panic on a Friday evening

Well. You know when you've had a bright idea and committed yourself to carrying it out, and then you hit snags and wish to goodness that you'd kept your mouth shut?

That's me.

The picture above, by the way, is Edinburgh again. It's a bit of a funny angle, but shows Arthur's Seat, which is a big hill, eccentrically in the middle - or at least slightly to the side of the middle - of Edinburgh. It's surrounded by parkland - just grass with a couple of man-made lochs (big ponds, really) - and I LOVE it.

Back to my brilliant plan. I thought it would be nice to have my parents' five grandchildren - who're all musical - singing something at the Diamond Wedding dinner that's happening in the New Club in Princes Street a week tomorrow. You may have spotted the flaw in the idea, or at least the execution of the idea: it's quite soon. Especially as the choosing of the songs is not entirely complete (understatement) and the grandchildren are currently situated in 1) Arran 2) Sheffield 3) Austria 4) Cambridge 5) Epsom, which is near London. They won't all be together till the day of the Do. Also my niece and my brother will have to accompany said songs on our rather rudimentary electronic keyboard: four octaves and no sustain pedal; there is no piano available.

I've rewritten a Gilbert and Sullivan song - well, the Gilbert bit - to be appropriate to my parents' lives (It's the "And now I am the ruler of the Queen's Navy" one, if anyone knows this) - that was the easy bit, and the grandchildren are going to sing it unison, with perhaps some bits girls and some bits boys or whatever. But then I thought it would be nice if Daughter 2's boyfriend, who, you may remember, has been studying musical theatre in New York for 2 years, could sing a solo, and then maybe he and Son could sing a duet.

I shall not detail the complications, but basically D's B had views about what he could appropriately sing and what he couldn't, my brother had views about the rubbishness of our keyboard and the unsuitability of the sheet music accompaniment for playing on this keyboard and also for playing at all with virtually no time to practise - all of these feelings being quite reasonable, I would have to admit, but not convenient - and there have been many phone calls, and I'm feeling that maybe I should just have kept my ideas to myself. Unfortunately I mentioned them to my mum, who was delighted at the idea. So it's got to happen. And I'm sure it will. Son, in Austria, knows nothing about the fact that he's going to sing Flanders and Swann's Hippopotamus Song with D2's B as a duet, some verses solo and some together. But he'll do it. He has a lovely voice and is an obliging lad. And D2's B is going to come up with something to sing which somebody's going to accompany, with hardly any practice, on the keyboard which, my brother says darkly, is going to "sound like a xylophone".

And of course I've agreed to make a speech - no, not a clue as to what I'm going to say, but I'll think of something. I made one at the Golden Wedding and have little memory what I said, so with luck neither will anyone else. Quite a lot of the 100 people who were at that are no longer with us, alas.

And now I must go and find lots of photos for the computer slide show that I've also promised to provide, and that my dear, good husband is going to scan in and organise. Deep breathing. In, out, in, out...

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Edinburgh Castle

I thought I would post a picture of Edinburgh, for anyone who reads this and doesn't know the city at all. This is Edinburgh Castle, which is in the middle of the city on an ancient volcanic rock. The photographer must be standing in the main shopping street, Princes Street, which has buildings on only one side, and between Princes Street and the Castle are Princes Street Gardens. These form quite a big park with trees and flowers - yes, that's right, just like most parks, I suppose. But it's all rather scenic. The weather, I would be forced to admit, isn't always quite this sunny.

All our children are away. This has hardly ever happened before, and certainly not for more than a day or two at a time. Daughter 1 and her husband are on Arran; Daughter 2 is still in Sheffield and her aspiring-actor boyfriend, now home from America, is with her for a few days; Son and his girlfriend left for Austria this morning. So it's just my husband and I till D1 and SIL return on Saturday, D2 on Monday and Son a week tomorrow. The house is alarmingly quiet.


Saturday, June 17, 2006

Home alone

Frilly columbines, or aquilegia - rather jolly and not appealing to slugs or snails - which I should perhaps drop as such a constant theme.

I'm in the house by myself: Husband is down in Sheffield, collecting Daughter 2's possessions from her student house (though D2 herself is staying down there for another week or two, so will retain some underwear and socks and so on). Daughter 1 and Son-in-Law departed this morning with his parents for a week's holiday to the (wonderful) island of Arran off the west coast of Scotland. Son is visiting his girlfriend and family in a town a bit north of here. And I'm here. Not for long: I spent this morning with my mother and will depart in an hour or so to my book group. But still, it's quite odd.

Quite heady, really, being alone in the house with no one to cook for and no one apart from myself to make a mess - though in fact I seem to have made quite a competent job of this task, repotting plants and stripping beds. I wouldn't like to live alone for ever but I'm quite enjoying the peace for the moment.

D1 and SIL got the keys for their house yesterday. Very exciting - but I'll be sad when they go. The first to leave the nest permanently (and yes, I know, she's nearly 27 so I don't really have anything to complain about. Do you think this'll stop me, though...?)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Pretty ceramics and a slug-free world

This is the design that I'm getting on a jug for my parents. I realise that this is a plate, but just imagine it round a jug. My mum really likes pink, so it's going to have a pink middle, and their names and "Diamond Wedding" and the date on the side, and all our initials on the bottom.

The potter phoned me up and we arranged it all. If you'd like to look at her website, it's at (This isn't an advert; I know nothing about her and just found her on Google.)

Zara and Wifemomchocoholic both commented on my previous blog AND THEIR GARDENS DON'T HAVE SLUGS. I thought slugs were a universal curse, brought on probably by Adam and Eve and that fruit problem. Actually snails are a worse trial, but slugs are bad too. But Wmc's deer sound even more dreadful. Ah, the heartaches and joys of gardening.

And the pain of trying to become less fat. I'm not getting any thinner. Or, I'm getting slightly thinner and then slightly fatter again. Why? I just can't quite get myself properly motivated. Oh, what a dolt. Tomorrow I will start again. I hope.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Cakes and jugs and plants

I've just come in from the garden because it was beginning to get dark. Not terribly dark - still light enough to read, if not perhaps tiny print, but twilightish, though the sky was still pale. It's six minutes past eleven now. When I came inside, the family had lights on and it suddenly looked much darker outside. I love these long light evenings in Scotland, though we pay for them in the winter with short days and long dark nights.

Above, you see some big pompoms of alliums. Below, hostas and heucheras. I love the contrast in leaf colour and shape. But can you see the snail holes on the hostas? And this is one of the less chewed ones...

It's been a bit of a frustrating day. In the morning, I took my mum out shopping - which was fine. I always take her out on Saturdays, partly to give her a bit of time away from my dad, who has always been rather irascible and is not any less so now that he's 86. Also it gives her a chance to chat to someone (me) who is a) interested and b) not deaf. (Yet.)

In the afternoon, however, I decided to start to get organised for their diamond (60th) wedding anniversary, which is on June 29th. (60 years of really not getting on very well, but still, it's an achievement of sorts. Well, it's a huge achievement, actually, putting up with my dad and not attacking him even once with a blunt intrument.) It's hard to know what to give people who don't need anything, but I'd decided on a commemorative jug with their names and so on. I'd established from their website that Bridgewater Pottery would do one with hearts on it and the requisite lettering - a pint and a half capacity, for £50. Seemed reasonable. They have a shop in Edinburgh, so off I went to order it. On the way, I went to the Cake and Chocolate Shop in Bruntsfield to discuss having a cake made. Its website said it was open till 5, so I arrived at 4.30. And guess what? It was shut. Sigh.

So I then went to the pottery shop (open till 6) and yes, it was open, but no, they no longer do that jug, only a six pint one for £70 plus £1 for every letter (and I wanted 45 letters) of the inscription. Six pints! Who wants a decorative souvenir-type jug holding six pints? Well, a pub celebrating its centenary, maybe, but not an 84-year-old lady who's going to display it on her dresser.

So I came home and, after spending a long time on the internet, I started to come to the conclusion that - though there are many many potters who'll do you a personalised plate - there was a definite gap in the market for personalised jugs. Which either meant that no one but me likes jugs or that I had a last found the way to make my fortune. Or at least, this could be the way if I knew how to make jugs and wasn't so averse to getting my hands all covered with clay. Yuck.

But then I at last found a site with what looked like just the right sort of thing. They'll take commissions. So I emailed them. Ah, the joys of modern technology. They didn't seem to mention prices, which was a bit ominous, but let's be optimistic.

Which I generally am, about most things, though possibly not about snails and hostas.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Will this work?

Blogger hasn't been working - at least for me - so this is an experiment to see if this post appears. It's also a picture of an iris in my back garden. I love irises and this is an interesting colour.

Monday, June 05, 2006

How to fail exams

1. Spell the name of your educational institution wrongly on the outside cover. This happens mostly when students attend Something College. Or in their case, Collage.

2. Put the date of your birth as 2006. (Actually, this is quite easy to do. I might do it myself. I don't hold it against students who don't also do the other things in this post.)

3a. Whenever you write the letter "i", put a cross instead of a dot. All the way through the exam. Wasting lots of time...


3b) Whenever you write the letter "i", put a circle instead of a dot. This happens only with girls...


3c) Whenever you write the letter "i", put a little flower instead of a dot- a circle surrounded by frilly petals. Serious attempt to put in the time. Also girls.

You think I'm joking, don't you?

41 scripts to go. Sigh.