Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Two walks

I thought I'd show my walk yesterday from the bus stop to the dentist - for anyone who doesn't know Edinburgh. This is the New Town (begun 1780, so not exactly brand new), built in a neo-Classical style.

 As you can see, it was a lovely day - though somewhat chilly.

Ah, it's the start of the foreign-student-on-educational-trip-abroad season.  Lots of Italian giggling from this lot.

There are lots of little gardens - and some not so little - in the New Town.

This is my dentist's street.

And here's where he operates - bathed in angelic light. He has only the ground floor. Originally his premises and the storeys above and below would have been one house - the basement kitchen and so on and the attic bedrooms for the servants and the rest for the family. Nowadays, the whole house would cost one and a half million pounds at least.

There's cherry blossom everywhere. So pretty, if transient ... like life - no, let's not start thinking about death again.

Today Mr L and I decided to get the train to Falkirk and walk from there to the Kelpies. We'd been going to do it yesterday but the forecast said there was 80% chance of precipitation in Edinburgh (though in fact we had bright sunshine all day) so we postponed it to today (50% chance). Well, it wasn't precipitating much at first as we walked along the canal.

This is a swan on its nest. As you can see, it's using all of itself to keep its eggs warm - wisely - there was a cold wind.

Gorse. Looking at it, I was thinking about Meg, who said that gorse was a pest in Australia. It's sometimes controlled here by setting fire to it. But I don't suppose that this would be a good idea in Australia, where the earth isn't dampened so often by the gentle rain from heaven.

We got to the Falkirk Wheel (amazing feat of engineering - sort of giant lock) and decided to have an early lunch.

Then it began to hail - really quite hard - and the sky turned to a uniform dark grey as the hail became rain.

After consideration, we got a bus back to Falkirk - at which point the sun came out. We'll do the rest of the walk another day.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

A garden; and mortality

Grandson announced that he wanted me to take him to Dr Neill's Garden, down by the shores of Duddingston Loch.

As you can imagine, I was more than willing.

He's a lovely companion but does tend to chat on about traffic lights and road signs, of which there are mercifully few - none - in the garden.

Then we came home and made scones - after what I think was his third set of questions in the past couple of weeks about death. This time: why do I have to die? what will it be like when I die? will the days go on after I die? I'm not sure why the little soul is worrying about this; possibly because of the demise of our cats or maybe because he sees pictures of his great-grandparents around our house and his parents' departed guinea pigs around his house. I don't remember worrying about death when I was three. I didn't like my mother putting bows in my hair; I was frightened of big dogs; and I was rather shy - all of these would be about that age. But death? And yet I knew about my father's father, who had died a few months before I was born.

What can one say to him? I tried to reassure him that he didn't need to think about this for a long time and that it would just be like going to sleep. Death is indeed not a cheering prospect but I suppose that as adults we become reconciled to it and can see that if we all lived for ever, there wouldn't be room for the new little people. I do wish my mum were still around, though, at least for a bit longer. No one ever appreciates you as much as your mum... and she would have loved to see the little ones growing up.

Anyway, he enjoyed making the scones and we all enjoyed eating some of them. It's all you can do, really. Try to do a bit of good; look at flowers; eat the odd scone; tidy up; and hope for the best.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The difference between being 2 and being 3-and-three-quarters

When you're two, you just trot around the garden, naming things - "Snake!" (WHAT? - oh it's ok, she means "snail") -

and trying out chairs.
When you're 3 and three quarters, if your Granny buys chalk (at your request) this means...

... that you can use it to create road markings - sometimes with your right hand, sometimes with your left...

... in two colours, white and yellow (got to be realistic - "Some road markings are in yellow, Granny") ...

... and quite a bit of detail.

Life is serious when you're three-and-three-quarters.

Sunday, April 19, 2015


Well, that was another week. Grandson's current passion is arranging strips of white paper all round the room to make road markings. He labours on this, crawling around to make the patterns that he sees on the roads he travels on. Then he puts road signs in appropriate places and lastly makes selected vehicles drive around, observing the white lines, traffic lights and road signs.

He would prefer his little sister to keep off the rug on which he does this - ie the entire room - but on the whole she picks her way fairly carefully through his townscape.

He's taught her many traffic-related phrases. Today in the car we came to some traffic lights and she said, "Traffic lights up high!"

He tutted. "These aren't high ones, just normal ones." Little sisters, eh? They don't understand the finer points of signals.

They both have colds again. Poor old Grandson is as usual coughing and wheezing. This is a picture of Daughter 2, who visited this weekend, getting infected by her niece (I imagine).

Still, they're pretty cheerful and very cuddly - if snotty.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015


The family is back from down south and we went to the Botanics.

Some of us ran about.

Some of us pursued them. 

We looked at ducks.

It was so lovely to see them again.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

A couple of little outings to fill in the time...

Daughter 1 and family are still down south (with our car) so there seems to be a lot of spare time. The other day we took a walk up Corstorphine Hill, which is just along the road from where we live.  This is the rather fine view over one of the golf courses. You can see Arthur's Seat in the distance, our highest city hill. I love that skyline. It's so recognisably Edinburgh.

And this is the other side of Corstorphine Hill, with the Pentlands in the distance. 

Yesterday we took a trip across the river on a train.

 The weather was still warm.

We visited Kirkcaldy Art Gallery, which is not huge but which has some interesting pictures - mainly Scottish, but a few others including one Lowry. I can't say that I really get Lowry. Why is he good? - his little stick men? 

Kirkcaldy does very bright municipal planting, which I found very cheering, though not subtle.

We took a walk in the town, passing one of the houses that Mr L lived in when a boy, and paying homage (above) to 286 High Street, where my great-grandfather was apprenticed as a painter and paper hanger in 1867. I'm not sure that this building (now Murray Properties) is that old, though it might be. We waved vaguely to Great-Grandpa anyway. He died at 40 in 1900, poor chap, leaving a widow and seven children. That must have been tough.

I made Grandson a little pinafore (apron) out of the spare bit from his curtains. Can't wait to see him and Granddaughter again! - not to say their parents.

Thursday, April 09, 2015


Can you hear that? The sound of nothing much? That's what's happening around here. Daughter 1 and her husband and the grandchildren are down south visiting first the other grandparents and now Daughter 2, and it's v-e-r-y quiet in our house. Which is a bit ridiculous, since we don't see the grandchildren every day even when they're in town. Thursday is a day when we do see them, though, so I suppose I'm noticing their absence particularly.

I've been quilting my tumbler quilt - see above. Currently I'm just quilting round the insides of all the patterned tumblers, with the thought of putting motifs in some of the plain ones later. No doubt someone more ambitious would quilt wonderful feathers and flowers or beautiful trailing curves, but I think I'll be content with something simpler.

I've also been sewing this material into curtains for... guess who? Grandson has recently been bought a bed with a play space underneath, and Daughter 1 thought it would be nice for him to have it curtained off to make a little den... and to put things away at the end of the day. My niece gave me this material for Christmas so it's ideal for him.

And the weather's beautiful, the garden's looking good and shortly I'm going to drag Mr Life out for a walk up Corstorphine Hill to fill our lungs with air and refresh our souls with greenness and views of other hills.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Busting out all over

Daughter 2 has been here for a long weekend (but is now gone, alas) and Son and Daughter-in-Law came down today for lunch and the afternoon. The weather was very summery and we decided to walk in the Botanics, as we so often do. First we crossed Inverleith Park, from where there's a good view over the city skyline - Arthur's Seat to the left, the Castle to the right and lots of interesting spires and domes that you can't see because they're behind my family.

The sun was so bright that Mr L, who took the photo, couldn't see what he was taking, which is why he's chopped off the top of his son's head. But the daffodils were the main point of the picture anyway.

Daughter 2 took these daffodils...

 ... and the cherry blossom.

And Mr L took the rhododendron. 

Daughter 2 is going to be visited later in the week by Daughter 1, her husband and the children. Grandson's has said twice to Daughter 2 recently, "Auntie [Daughter 2], why do you only have some toys and some books?" She felt that criticism was implied and that she'd better up her game, so we got out some of Son's old toy cars for her to take with her to entertain her nephew. Look at the nostalgic expression on Dr Son's face as he arranges them into categories on his old bedspread.

Friday, April 03, 2015

Shoes and a hat

Daughter 2 is home for a long weekend and complains that I haven't been blogging much recently. Which is true; mainly because nothing much happens. But here are some truly terrible photos to demonstrate Granddaughter's love of shoes (in this case, her Grandpa's Crocs) -

- which are really quite hard...

... to walk in -

and her appreciation of a good hat.

She is also very very very keen on books. Long may it last.

We were all together briefly this morning but then Daughter 1, Son-in-Law 1 and the littles set off for Easter in Worcester with the other grandparents. Have fun!