Thursday, October 31, 2013

Art. And cake.

The other day - being retired people with a bit of leisure - we walked along to the Gallery of Modern Art for coffee and cake. Things are getting quite autumnal now. We looked at this land sculpture, which I quite like from this angle but don't like at all from the road, where you see it from the back, from which angle it looks like a deformed hill. And after all, far more people do see it from the back as they go along the road than come into the gallery to admire the modern art (or in our case to visit the coffee shop).

Rowan berries make a beautiful splash of colour. I probably prefer them to most modern art. We say in Scotland that a rowan (or gean) keeps evil spirits away. Right enough, there didn't seem to be any of those at the gallery.

I wonder how long this fine piece will avoid being stolen by metal thieves. I wonder how much I would miss it. Maybe not all that much. (I would miss Mr L much more.)

Then we walked home along the river.

Sometimes retirement definitely beats working.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Thirty years on...

When looking for pictures of Daughter 2 in the made-over dress, I also found these and am posting them partly to remind myself that I did once make things. This picture is of the daughters when Daughter 1 was about to go to nursery, aged three. I bought this very boring overall as specified by the nursery, but then appliquéd the doll on to it. (It was usually on the back, not the front as here for photo purposes.) I also made the shoe bag and added the cat - there was another, different, cat on the reverse of the bag. Such artistry.

It seems no time ago.

Daughter 2 in the first picture is wearing a dress that's clearly too small for her. Sorry. Neglectful parent. That dress was also made by my mother-in-law but I didn't keep it so we'll never know how well it would have fitted Granddaughter.

I'm hand-quilting my quilt, instructed over the ether by Thimbleanna. I would have started earlier but she told me (correctly) that the thread I'd bought wasn't thick enough, so I had to send for DMC Perle thread, which is working well. Don't hold your breath, though. Fortunately there's some red in the pattern on the back, which should disguise the bloodstains caused by stabbing my finger.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Forty years on...

In 1973 (according to the back of this photo), which was during the early days of Laura Ashley, it was the fashion to go to parties dressed in sort of milkmaid garb. So I made this dress. It was long and made of Viyella. Here I am, gazing lovingly at my fiancé.
Time passed and the dress wasn't worn much any more. We didn't go to so many parties once we were parents; and fashion had moved on. So I asked my mother-in-law, who was a whizz with her needle, if she could make one of our daughters a dress out of the material. She bought some white Viyella to eke it out and made dresses for both daughters. And here they are: Christmas 1982.

At the time of the above photo, Daughter 2 was one and a half, in fact nearly one and seven months.

I don't know what happened to Daughter 1's dress but I kept Daughter 2's in my materials basket. Not really sure why. Here it is on Granddaughter. She only just fits it, at seven months. On the right, her auntie, a whole year older.

Truly she is a Giant Baby. But very cute!

(No, no, the Scots' reputation for ... err... thrift is totally unjustified.)

Friday, October 25, 2013

Pure joy

Probably like most people, I have various major worries in my life which are not really bloggable. However, on Thursdays I usually go and pick up Grandson and take him off for the day, and this is just pure, wonderful, incomparable joy. Granddaughter is very nice indeed too - see above - but she's still breastfed so not available to be borrowed for long stretches of time. I look forward to this next stage in her life too - and isn't being able to look forward to something nice such a comfort?

I loved being a mummy to young children but being a granny is in some ways even better. We often go to the Botanic Gardens. No doubt when he's twelve Grandson will not regard a walk in the Botanics with Granny as the highlight of his week so I appreciate so much this period of his life when he enjoys just trotting about freely.

I know I've said all this before but it's SO TRUE.

There are lots of things for a two-year-old to look at. Here he contemplates the little waterfall at the new alpine garden. One of his little jokes is to look at it and say "Waterfall. Ouch!"

The wonderful thing about retired grannyhood as opposed to motherhood is that you're not trying to do the dishes or the shopping or pick up various children from school and take them to ballet (why did I take my daughters to ballet? We are not a balletic family). You just indulge yourself by spending the day with the child and joining in his or her activities. It's so rewarding and it makes you one of his favourite people! - which is a very warming feeling.

Sometimes I feel guilty that I'm not working any more - I feel a bit useless now. I spent my life with young people, trying to educate them and help them to get qualifications (not necessarily the same thing, alas). But on a day like yesterday, I wander in the sunshine after this beautiful and intelligent little boy (grannies are allowed to boast; it's in the contract) and I realise that explaining sentence construction, while worthwhile, has somewhat lost its charm for me. How unbelievably lucky am I, to be able instead to follow him as he spots labels on plants, as above? Each label is greeted with surprised enthusiasm: "Another label!"

Or to watch him as he looks at those very big leaves on gunneras,

... admires this bigger waterfall ("Ouch!" again),

makes rustly noises with leaves,

examines a tractor,

sits on a wall for a little rest on the way back to the car.

Then we went back to our house and played and played and played.

Perfect happiness. I love you so much, little N.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Season of mists... and disapproval

This is really a one-cat bed.

But when there are very alarming chaps in the garden, trimming the cherry tree (an activity for which, by the way, we have NOT given our approval)...

... and it's also a bit cooler and the servants refuse to put the heating on... we like to snuggle together for security and warmth.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Compare and contrast

How assiduously small children play. Grandson enjoys lining cars up and rearranging them and talking them through imaginary traffic jams. Here he is at the church crèche this morning. (I'm not good at moving pictures around on a blog post. I don't know if this only shows in the draft version, but currently there's a tiny image of the picture below inside the one I'm trying to post... . I always have trouble if I try to change the order of my photos.)


 Granddaughter and Grandson, both at seven months. I don't think they really look like each other apart from - you know - being babies and a bit bald. And ravishingly beautiful, of course. And jolly.

I do love having the family. But when they've gone, you can tell that Grandson's been here.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Bye bye Brownie

Daughter 1 and Son-in-Law 1 had three guinea pigs: most tenderly cared-for. Alas, the ginger pig died some months ago and on Saturday, the brown pig also died.
Daughter 1 and Son-in-Law 1 are very sad. Guinea pigs are amiable animals with nice big woffly faces. The lower picture shows her a couple of weekends ago, when we were looking after them. She was very jolly then, enjoying life and eating heartily; her decline was rapid and peaceful, which is a comfort to us all. They were old, for guinea pigs. Pets wrap themselves round our hearts with their simplicity and innocence and they don't live long enough. But they give us a lot of pleasure too.


On a more cheerful note, Mr Life and I went for a walk the other day, popped into a charity shop to look at the books and came out with the above haul, all for £13.50. What a bargain! I really like the vase (not that I need any more vases... but I couldn't resist it at £3.50).

And today we went for a wet walk with Grandson in the Botanics. He wore his boots and splashed in lots...

... and lots...

... and lots...

... and lots...

... and lots...

...and lots...

... of puddles. The ducks seemed to be enjoying the rain too.
When Mr L put him in the car to go home from our house, Grandson called out, "Bye bye Gwanny. See you later." Aaaahhhh.

Monday, October 14, 2013


It's getting a bit chilly so this morning Sirius decided to snuggle up to Cassie.

Here they are six years ago, in the same bed (it's got a blanket in it now). They do actually have a bed apiece these days but they didn't need this back then.

But weren't they cute?

Nowadays, they somewhat overflow. Sirius decided to give Cassie a wash before settling down.

She decided to ignore this. (I'm asleep. No, really, I'm asleep. You do what you want. Within reason. I'll just lie here. Look at my languid paw.)

That's better, thinks Sirius. Now I'll have a nap.

Two cats. One tail.

(Edited to add: they actually do have a tail each, by the way.)

Saturday, October 12, 2013

A rose by any other name

It's so difficult to get a nice picture of Grandson these days, or at least it is if I use my phone, which has a crucial half-second delay between my pressing the button and its actually taking the photo. During this half second, Grandson, who has been flashing me a delightful smile, usually zooms off. Alternatively, I'm rushing so fast to capture the magic that the photo's blurry. In the above case, Grandson is still posing nicely but Granddaughter suddenly appears to be worrying about the rising cost of fuel. But I'm sure that Nanny and Gramps in Worcester will like to see this picture anyway. They read my blog for such photos, not for images of slightly wonky patchwork.

Tony the Painter, Michael 1 and Michael 2 (his principal assistants) and Cameron (his occasional assistant) have finished painting the outside of the house. They've made a lovely job of it. Now that they've gone we feel able to sit doing the crossword without worrying that a hardworking man may suddenly pop up at a window and make us feel like bloated plutocrats at our ease. Those who've heard about Tony previously may recollect that he suffers from name-blindness (is there such a syndrome?). He has a tendency to call me Mrs McDonald (not my name) or Mrs McMillan (no, still not). After a while he started to address Mr L as Bill (no). He addressed the invoice to Mr and Mrs Robson (no).

It's a whole different life: Mrs Bill Robson. The name isn't totally unlike that of Mr L's uncle and there are faint hints of Mr L's name in it but... .

(I wonder what his assistants' names really are. They may not be Michael, Michael and Cameron at all.)