Saturday, March 29, 2014


Why I like reading diaries and letters and biographies and autobiographies and memoirs - and of course blogs - is that I'm so interested in other people's lives. Nosey, you could say. Curious, I'd probably prefer. And you probably are too, or you wouldn't be reading this (unless you're Son-in-Law 1's relations, in which case you're hoping for pictures of the little ones). So while it's nice to see pictures of the daffodils in the Botanic Gardens, where we went yesterday with friends -

- and this blossom is very pretty too -

- I also took a picture of a bride arriving at her wedding and the piper playing as she got out of the car. It's a bit weird, I suppose, to think that she's featuring on the blog of a complete stranger; but unless you knew who she was (which I don't and I assume you don't) you'll never recognise her again. The sort of semi-permanent tent on the left of the photo was very full of guests and as we passed we could see the groom standing waiting inside for her to arrive and come up the non-aisle. So we looked for a few moments and I wondered who they were and how they'd met and whether the marriage would be a success. It's quite expensive to get married at the Botanics so they've started with the advantage of being reasonably well-off - unless of course they've spent too much on the wedding and that car and the flowers she was carrying and are starting in debt. We'll never know; but I hope it all goes well.

After walking round, we went to have coffee. What do you think of these people, then? The couple on the left look as if they've been married for a long time, don't you think? They were sitting looking out at the tables and benches and (though you can't see it in my photo) the interesting Edinburgh skyline. They were sensibly dressed for the rather chilly day and didn't appear to be making much attempt to impress one another. The other couple, though - she's leaning forward very attentively and he's showing her something on a piece of paper. An assignation? A business meeting? They're not young but they're both good-looking for their ages.

Actually, I know the woman slightly and we had a brief chat as she and her companion were leaving. She said that he was a friend and they were discussing a joint project. Which isn't quite as interesting as I was imagining... .

If anyone had been watching the four of us, what would they have thought? They'd probably have assumed (correctly) that we were two married couples. Would they have known which woman was married to which man? They wouldn't have known that B and I met on the first day of primary school, when we were five. Do B's husband and I look like the retired teachers that we are? I've no idea.

However, for the family in Worcester, here's Granddaughter escaping...

... and then playing peekaboo. Her story is very simple. So far.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Big smiles

Grandson and his dad have gone down south to visit the other grandparents while Daughter 1 has stayed behind with Granddaughter to tend to their elderly guinea pig. Today we looked after Granddaughter by herself for a while, which was a treat. Grandson is so chatty and entertaining that it's easy to pay less attention to his little sister. (I write this with feeling, being myself a second child - though actually less attention is sometimes a good thing.)

She is very jolly indeed.

She's standing though not yet walking.

She had fun playing with Grandson's toys. He is not very keen on this but, crucially, he wasn't there.

We went out for a walk. I put my hat on her, since we didn't have hers with us.

Later, I went out for a meal with some ex-colleagues. We talked about cancer and arthritis and living on a pension and how we felt about dying. "I almost didn't come tonight," said one friend as we parted, "because I'd had such a rotten week. But I feel better now."

Cheerful chat with chums. You can't beat it. Or it might have been the wine.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Fresh air and exercise

Lots of fresh air today. We walked home from my piano lesson in glorious sunshine - look at that sky.

Various ducks swam and waddled in and beside the Water of Leith. Some of them were a bit quarrelsome, I regret to say. (The chaps.)

Mind you, I'd be grumpy myself if I had to swim around in this water the whole time. It's pretty but I'm sure it's also rather cold.

Then in the afternoon (by which time the sun had gone behind a cloud - lots of clouds) Grandson and I went for a wander in Dr Neil's Garden by Duddingston Loch.

"The birds are cheeping," he remarked. They certainly were.

A little bit of idleness is so restful and he is such splendid company.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Spring and stuff

The garden is burgeoning. I love picking little bunches of spring to put in a vase. I do have a tendency to place this vase right in front of little controlly bit at the side of the tv so that Mr Life's remote controller doesn't work. No one's perfect.

Hyacinths! So lovely. I buy bulbs every year and plant them out afterwards so the garden is full of them.

Cassie Cat takes advantage of the sunshine.

We took Grandson to Glasgow (through in the west...) yesterday on the train. He liked this a lot.

He was intrigued by the tunnels. We saw lots of sheep, a few cows, many traffic lights, quite a few rivers and motorways and several tractors. He found this all very satisfactory. Another little boy's granny gave him a small box of raisins. "That lady has presents for me," he said approvingly.

We then went to the Kelvingrove Museum. I'm not sure that he drank in the culture but he liked walking round and round the corridors and up and down the stairs.

There's plenty of time for culture.

Friday, March 21, 2014

What to do (and not to do) in London

So what did we do in London when we were with Daughter 2? Well, we visited Linley Sambourne's house in Chelsea, which I've wanted to see ever since there was an article about him and it in the "Sunday Times" a few years ago. He was a cartoonist for "Punch" for forty years (he died in 1910). Since he wasn't trained as an artist, he took photographs of himself, family and friends to help him with drawing political figures in silly positions, and thus these photos are rather entertaining. He was also a collector of stuff - prints and Georgian furniture and objects of various kinds. When he died, the house passed to his unmarried son, who kept most of it unchanged, and when the son died it all went to the daughter, who also didn't change much but kept it as a pied-a-terre (excuse missing accent there). She had married money so didn't need to live there. The family continued to go up in the world - his great-grandson was the Earl of Snowdon, Princess Margaret's husband. Eventually the house was of historical interest rather than just old-fashioned, and now belongs to Kensington and Chelsea and is open to the public (though you have to book).

It's interesting how these time-capsule houses survive. Most of us have to sell up when our parents die rather than being able to keep it all as it was. I did suggest to Daughter 2 that when we pop off, she and her siblings could keep our house as a monument to us - my bits of glass and porcelain left in their places for the future to marvel at - but - well, maybe not.

Anyway, I would recommend a visit to the house. We were shown round by a rather posh little lady - very nice but slightly firm - who, it later turned out, had written a book on the Sambournes and has been showing people round the house for 30 years! Her boredom threshold must be lower than mine. I would enjoy doing this for about a fortnight, I think. Daughter 2 bought the book for a Mother's Day present for me, since I love that sort of thing.

Then we went to Kensington Palace, which we very much wouldn't recommend. These are the pretty - and also free - gardens - though in fact you have to look at this particular bit through a fence...

... which is why Mr L and Daughter 2 are leaning on the gate instead of wandering by the pond. The palace itself costs £16 (or was it £16.50?) each to get in; and the part you're allowed into consists of lots of large, mainly rather empty rooms with arty displays of not very much. There are some actual Royal possessions, such as clothes from the current family, and the Queen Victoria room has some displays of photos with a bit of information, but it mainly feels as if they've tried to justify the entrance fee with some stuff from the back of cupboards and a few photographs.

Much better was the William Morris house (above), which is in Walthamstow, where Daughter 2 now lives. This is full of interesting and aesthetically pleasing exhibits of the work of Morris and some of his chums. The house itself isn't as it was in Morris's time - he lived in various Walthamstow houses with his parents and, reasonably enough, they took their things with them when they moved on. Indeed it now feels much more like a museum than a house - walls have been knocked down and so on. But a lot of effort has gone into it and it's all very informative.

Back home, Grandson and I went to the park yesterday. He's still very keen on Dolly and his buggy. Look at him marching along.

I enjoyed the flowerbeds. He enjoyed bumping his buggy along the cobblestone edging. A good time was had by both of us.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Trying to be philosophical

We've been down in London visiting Daughter 2 in her new flat. It's very nice and of course we're glad to see her and her husband settled somewhere that they like, but now that they've bought property there, it reminds us that she's down south for good. We knew this anyway but we don't like facing up to it.

All of our children have painted their living room walls a light green. Could there be something genetic in this? Maybe I could get a PhD out of it.

Daughter 1 and the children came to tea today. Grandson - though told not to - dropped from his booster seat at table a napkin ring that used to belong to my grandparents. It's made of some early plastic and is of no value except sentimentally. I then, forgetting that it was on the floor, stupidly stepped on it.

Me: Oh, it's broken!
Grandson [philosophically]: These things happen.

And now I must do some piano practice. My lesson's tomorrow and because we didn't get back till today, I've not touched the piano since last Tuesday.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The world is so full of a number of things

Another afternoon at the Botanics with Grandson. We admired the spring bulbs.

He bounced on a branch. (I'm not sure that this is strictly encouraged by the authorities but I'll stop him once he gets heavier.)

The rhododendrons were lovely. I showed him how you can put a fallen blossom on your finger as a hat. He laughed.

The sun shone on him and his dolly.

He looked at the waterfall and made his favourite joke: "Waterfall. Ouch!" His trousers are actually red, not pink as they look here.

He stepped very carefully round the crocuses, one foot on either side of a clump. "These are crocuses," he told me. Then he circumnavigated a patch of daisies equally carefully. "These are daisies." I'm getting him indoctrinated into gardening - I hope.

He pushed his buggy up a hill, stopping every now and then to see if it would roll back when he let it go. Sometimes it did: gravity. Sometimes, on a rough piece of path, it didn't: friction.

And so he learns about the world.

Sunday, March 09, 2014


She's 1 today!

The other grandparents arrived with the grandchildren and their parents for lunch.

Everyone [to everyone else]: Hello, lovely to see you [etc].
Grandson [to me]: Cake?

Friday, March 07, 2014

Time's winged chariot

Poor Daughter 1 and Son-in-Law 1 spent Wednesday night throwing up, so we went and collected the children on Thursday morning and kept them for the day while Daughter 1 went to bed in our house and SIL stayed in bed in theirs. Grandson is post-viral and a bit pale, but we went for quite a long walk and he valiantly wheeled his dolly in its buggy almost all the way. I think the attraction may be the wheels rather than the actual dolly, but I love to see him trundling unselfconsciously along.

This morning I took the children to the museum. We shared a scone. Here's Granddaughter enjoying some tiny bits. Hasn't she got lovely blue eyes?

After the summer, Grandson will probably go to nursery part-time. He'll be three in July. Granddaughter will be 1 on Sunday. Whizz, whizz - there go the years.