Tuesday, May 26, 2015


We had a lovely day yesterday visiting friends who live in Kilbarchan, over in the west of the country. They took us to the Weavers' Cottage, which is now a National Trust property but which was originally lived in by - surprise, surprise - weavers.  Kilbarchan used to be a weaving village; the work was done on hand looms in people's houses but then mechanisation took over and their skills were no longer needed.

As you can see, the house was built, or indeed builded, by Andrew, John and Jenet Brydein in 1723. No one knows anything about these people now, so I'm glad that they carved their names above the door to prove their existence. I'm also glad that Andrew and John added their sister(?)'s name to theirs. I wonder if they did so because they valued her contribution or because she insisted? Maybe she was their mother, or one of their wives. You can just imagine the three of them standing there, admiring their house and the carving above the door and wondering if that was really how "Janet" should be spelt. Not to say "Bryden".

We then wandered through the village...

... and down this street, where my several-greats-grandfather, a weaver, was killed by a horse-drawn bread van. One wonders what he was doing at the time. Was he lying in the road, the worse for drink? Or did the horse bolt and send him flying when he was wearily crossing the road after chatting to a neighbour after a hard day at the loom?

It's tantalising to have so many incomplete stories... .

Sunday, May 24, 2015



What excitement!

 "I'm hiding!"

Followed by a moment or two...

... of contemplation.

Oh, the joy of being little. Oh, the joy of having little people around. Also, oh, the exhaustion... .

Monday, May 18, 2015

Little L

How I love this little person (well, and her mum also). She wasn't a very early speaker but now she chats non-stop and it's SO NICE. She greets us with such enthusiasm - "GLANNY!!! GWAMPA!!!" - indeed, she's enthusiastic about almost everything. And I know that this won't last for ever and that the woes of the world will dampen her as they dampen us all, but just now, she's such a joy. "Car!" she observes approvingly as she looks from her car seat. Then "Anudder car!" and "ANUDDER CAR!" (What a surprise! on a road!) One of her favourite sentences is "I LIKE it!" This is applied to books, biscuits, flowers, her cuddle blanket... .

Oh, may you continue to LIKE it for a long, long time, little L.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Flowers and books

On Tuesday we went up to Perth to have lunch with Son. Then we visited Branklyn Gardens, which are so colourful at this time of year, full of rhododendrons and azaleas...

... and mecanopsis, which are the colour of the sky on a sunny day.

And trilliums - so dainty and pretty.

This rhododendron is ridiculously pink. What a splash of colour.

I keep meaning to visit the garden at some other time of year; somehow we always go around this time but I imagine that it has other seasonal delights.

Son and his wife have sold their house and now need to find another one - still up north, alas. Daughter 1 and her husband are about to put their (Edinburgh) house on the market and look for another (Edinburgh) one too, so it's there's a lot of change on the horizon.

We haven't moved for 26 years and have accumulated a lot of stuff. Mr Life has just repainted the dining room, which involved (obviously) emptying it, including moving many, many books. We told each other that we'd get rid of some of them. Our ruthlessness isn't working very well so far: the charity shop pile currently contains about five books (and we have books in other places too). It's very difficult to part with lovely, interesting books. If I were going to live for another hundred years or so then I'd be able to reread all of mine, plus a reasonable number of new ones. As it is... .

Wednesday, May 13, 2015


We've been away visiting Daughter 2 in London. This is her living room...

... and this is the block where she and her husband have bought their flat. It's nice, but quite far out of central London; and yet very expensive compared to Edinburgh.

This is the apartment block that she's been refurbishing - in Kensington - much more central. The three-bedroom apartments are rented out, per month, for about six times my monthly salary when I left work. She showed us round one that's not taken yet.

They're admittedly rather grand...

... and set in a lovely square with beautiful gardens.

Then we went to the Victoria and Albert museum, where they had a notice up in lights: "All this belongs to you". In which case, I'd like these little wooden heads: a man's and a woman's, beautifully carved. They would fit nicely in my dining room.

Another day we went to Dulwich Picture Gallery, which has a very nice restaurant - see above - where we had lunch.

In the garden outside was this beautiful tree - according to its notice, a Judas tree.

Dulwich is really lovely and again very expensive: a fairly ordinary-looking house in a pleasant street would cost two million pounds or more. We know this because there are a lot of estate agents in the main street - and also an independent bookshop, posh clothes shops, shops with desirable decorative items and caf├ęs with tempting cakes. Maybe Daughter 2 can move there once her actor husband hits the big time.

The purpose for our visit to Dulwich was to see the exhibition of Eric Ravilious watercolours. He was a war artist who was killed in a plane crash in 1942 at the age of 39. He was a wonderful artist; Daughter 2 and I agreed that we'd be very happy to have almost any of his paintings on our walls. He left a wife and three children and, to add to the sad story, his wife died of cancer in 1952.

Dulwich Park is beautiful too. I imagine that this oak tree will still be there when we're all gone from this world. I always find this a comforting thought: we have our little troubles but trees just grow steadily on, dropping their leaves and growing new ones; as they must.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Kelpies again

After the rain last week, we did the rest of the recce for the walking group's hike to the Kelpies yesterday. Mr L and I have walked this canal route before, with another group, but thought we should do it again in case there'd been any changes. We paused a few times to watch this boat go through various locks - it didn't move fast so we got to the next lock as quickly as it did.

These pictures are probably much the same as the ones I posted last time. Here you can see first glimpse of the Kelpies in the distance - large horses' heads which have become a tourist attraction. Kelpies are supposed to be shape-shifting water spirits which often take the shape of horses - as here.

They're really very effective - as you approach them, you can almost persuade yourself that they're moving, especially when the separate scales glisten in Scotland's reliably bright sunlight. (Well, it was sunny yesterday.)

It was a clever plan to put them here because the countryside's flat and not particularly interesting and they're a striking feature, visible from quite far off (though also, I believe, distractingly visible from the nearby major road).

On the return leg of the walk we listened to our iPods, which we'd taken with us just in case we ran out of scintillating conversation. After all, we've been talking to each other for nearly 50 years and thought we might need extra distraction from our aching feet. I walked back through the whole of the Brahms German Requiem and a bit of the St Matthew Passion - I don't think I could have kept going through all of it, beautiful though it is. That would have been another five miles or so. As it was, we plodded nine and a bit miles and though we enjoyed it, we were fairly glad to get back to the car.

Mr L is painting the dining room, a splendid project of which I approve. But you know what it's like - somehow the sitting room, the hall and one spare bedroom all currently contain dining room stuff. I'm looking forward to a return to normal.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Ta da!

Gravel duly spread...

..and approved by the little old lady who was instrumental in getting Daughter 2 the garden. This lady is a long-term inhabitant of one of the blocks of flats and she keeps an eye on what goes on. She kindly brought out cranberry juice for the workers - a seal of approval. It went nicely with their cake.

Saturday, May 02, 2015


Nothing's happening to me so I thought I'd blog what's been happening to Daughter 2 in London. First she sent me this picture, yesterday, in an email with the subject "Bricks".

Then she sent me these pictures, today, in an email with the subject: "Eeek...

 .... Phew...
... Yippee!"

Now, what was all that about?

Well, she lives in London (alas) in a flat in a block next to the one pictured. But she does have a little garden. This was inherited from a neighbour who's lived in the flats for years; there are nice communal grounds but also some private fenced-off patches for some reason unknown to us... anyway, the chap, who is elderly, offered to pass on his garden to Daughter 2, who like her mother is a keen gardener. It was very neglected but she's rescued it and the first picture is of one of its flowerbeds. The beds and paths were very undefined so one day when she was passing a demolition site she noticed lots of bricks in a skip and asked if she could have some of them. The demolishers said yes, so she brought them home in a taxi. (As you do.) And then she bedded them in round her flowerbeds.

Next she ordered some gravel chips to make the paths into paths rather than earthy bits between the flowerbeds. She was a bit worried as to whether the lorry would be able to get in between the two blocks of flats to deposit them beside her garden; but it did. And she likes the gravel.

So tomorrow she's having various friends round for cake and gravel-spreading. I'm looking forward to seeing the result.

I've been singing in another concert: Haydn's Te Deum and Nelson Mass. It's wonderful music but we rehearsed the afternoon and performed this evening, which didn't give the voice much time to recover from some of those high Bs. Good fun, though.