Saturday, October 31, 2015


What the well-dressed witch wears with her pyjamas. Happy Hallowe'en!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

In the steps of James V

It's been such beautiful weather that we set out yesterday for another river walk, this time along the Almond, which flows into the Forth Estuary at Cramond, about ten minutes' drive from where we live.

Come with me as we pass the weir, originally constructed for the mills that were built along here.

Then climb with us (puffing slightly) up to the paths along the rock cliffs which rise above the river.

Now, use your imagination: in this house, it's said, there once lived a chap called John Howieson, a bondsman farmer who heard someone being attacked on Cramond Bridge (below). He rushed to the man's aid and it turned out that the victim was James V (of Scotland, 1512-1542), who was travelling in disguise around his kingdom. The king rewarded John by giving him the farm where he worked as a serf. I do hope this is true and it all worked out well for John. James, however, seems to have continued not to be very good at looking after himself, dying at the age of 30, poor chap. He was the father of Mary, Queen of Scots.

 The bridge dates from the 1400s.

Further on, this is the Grotto Bridge, which is a mere youth - built in 1757 - but frankly feels as if it's been given less care and attention than the Cramond Bridge.

I hope you have a good head for heights: you can't really tell from my photo but it's a long way down, much higher than the previous bridge. I wouldn't have liked to be the builders, in 1757, wobbling about on wooden scaffolding (or however they did it then).

And then we plod back along the other side of the river, enjoying the autumn colours.

Though it's only half-past four, the sun's going down and it's quite dark among the trees.

Back at Cramond Village, the clouds are romantically pink-tinged...

... it's getting chilly...

and the red moon is taking over from the sun. Time to go home.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Autumn walk

It's been such a beautiful autumn: weeks of still, mild weather with all-day sunshine. I've kept meaning to take pictures of the autumn colours, which have been particularly good this year, but didn't get around to it till yesterday, which was suddenly blustery so that many of the leaves were blown off the trees (which is what usually happens, in windy Scotland, much earlier).

We went for a walk by the river in Stockbridge, which is about a mile from the city centre, though feels quite rural.

The nettles are still flourishing. Once the human race has been wiped out, nettles will take over. A world full of nettles; and slugs. I don't think I'd be too sorry to miss it.

I would quite like to see around this house, with its sunrooms overlooking the river - I suspect it's actually several houses.

Here's the evidence of how dry it's been this summer and autumn - the river level is very low. Where I was standing is usually underwater.


Red! (and blurred, because of the wind).

Then we went back up into the New (18th century) Town,

and I admired the way the owners of this posh flat have made a garden out of their front step.

Thursday, October 22, 2015


These pictures...

would not win...

a photography competition...

... but as a reminder of this afternoon of giggles, they're priceless to me.

He was "in a cage". She was trying to pull him out. It was all a great joke.

Saturday, October 17, 2015


When we visited Blickling Hall in Norfolk recently, I was rather taken with this huge door. I love thinking about someone making a good strong door and then dating it.

The house itself, according to the website, dates from 1624, but I dare say that it took (much) more than one year to complete and that they finished the middle bit, with this door, first. And I suppose it probably wasn't the door-maker who decided to add the date.

But whoever made the dating decision was clearly thinking of future generations, which is quite a difficult thing to do other than in the most general terms. Who could really imagine that a door would last nearly 400 years (and counting)? Who can think 400 years ahead?

I was listening to a radio programme the other day about technology, and they were discussing "Back to the Future", part of which was evidently set in 2015. We watched it with our children when they were small, and 2015 was a long way away. Why, our children would be grown up by then - amazing thought, and quite hard to imagine. Quite a few of the technological predictions made by the film have actually come true - a surprising number. And we are growing old - which used to be an unlikely scenario.

I predict that the door - never mind the Hall itself - will outlive us by quite a long time!

Thursday, October 15, 2015


Grandson stayed with us on Tuesday night. He was due to be taken home the following day at 2.30 but he phoned his mum to ask if he could stay on till nearly bedtime because he didn't want to go home yet. Permission was granted.

We went to the playpark. On the way in, we passed a snack van and he asked (nicely) if he could have an ice cream. However, I hadn't brought any money (and anyway, grannies are always nervous about buying their grandchildren unhealthy treats). He accepted this philosophically.

He had a lovely time playing in the park.

Then a lad passed us, carrying a bag of chips (French fries) from the snack van. Mmm, they smelt good.

Grandson: Granny?
Me: Yes?
Grandson: Please do you think you could buy me some chips?
Me: Sorry, but remember I didn't bring any money with me.
Grandson: Oh. You see, chips would cheer me up a bit.
Me: Well, I can't buy chips without money. Anyway, why do you need cheering up?
Grandson: Well... [He gazed round the park, searching for inspiration.] You see that lady over there, with long hair like Mummy?
Me: Yes.
Grandson: Well, when I saw her, I started missing Mummy and that made me sad and so I thought chips would make me feel better.

Oh the innocence of children. So fleeting... .

Monday, October 12, 2015

Various ways of spending time

This is one of our favourite places in Norfolk - Burnham Market. We always visit it when we're staying with my aunt. One of its attractions is the second-hand bookshop, which always has lots of the kind of books that I enjoy: memoirs and diaries and letters of the sort that never get into major bookshops. Then I have several happy weeks of reading musty volumes by people that no one's ever heard of.

It's also a pretty little place.

On a slightly different topic: colouring books for adults seem to be everywhere nowadays. I cannot imagine being so bored that I would want to spend time with one of these. And a friend at choir tonight was saying that she had a sore neck because she'd spent so long crouched over a difficult jigsaw. I've never seen the attraction of jigsaws.

But Mr L and I do spend part of most days doing cryptic crosswords. And cutting up perfectly good pieces of fabric to sew them together again can't exactly be described as a sensible use of time.

But then there are the grandchildren. It's not a waste of time to go to the playpark with them.

Even though they won't remember a thing about it in future years.  

Friday, October 09, 2015

Sandringham and being the Queen

We've just come back from visiting my 90-year-old aunt in Norfolk, and the first day we went (as we so often do) to Sandringham, one of the Queen's little places. I thought most of the flowers would be over, but I tell you, she's got good gardeners who make sure that she has plenty of autumn colour. This is a tiny sample of it. Colchicums, above.

And Michaelmas daisies.

And fuchsias.

And hydrangeas.

I do love flowers.

And she has lots of Big Trees.

And a little sitooterie, where one can sit...

... and look oot.

And her house is rather fine too, though we didn't go inside this time.

Though we've often visited this part of Norfolk, we've never gone in the autumn before and it suddenly occurred to me to wonder if the Queen ever sees this lovely garden at this time of year. Of course, she has various other equally lovely gardens. But she mainly comes here at Christmas, as far as I know.

I felt quite sorry for her. For a short while.