Thursday, January 28, 2016


I have no idea why some of these photos have come out big. I exported them all in Picasa so they all ought to be small. Hmm. There was an unexpected big one in my last post too. Ah well.

We've just come back from a visit to Daughter 2 in London. There were daffodils blooming at the sides of the road, which seems wrong for January; but it's been very mild, especially down south where she is.

I always think that views through doorways are intriguing. You'll notice the quilt that I made for her; it's nice to see it in situ (and indeed being used).

There's something very soothing about being served food by one of one's children. It makes me feel that we've succeeded in raising a competent and caring person (which indeed we have. Three of them).

We visited the Geffrye Museum (very interesting), the Liotard exhibition (very impressive) and the Foundling Museum (very touching).

We went to Dr Johnson's house - very exciting to stand where the great man stood. It was only rented to him, but he wrote quite a lot of the dictionary there and it looks just as you might imagine: panelled, wooden-floored, slightly crooked as befits a 300-year-old house.

Here's a statue of his cat, Hodge. It doesn't look all that catlike to me, but maybe cats have mutated slightly in the last few centuries.

And we visited one of Dickens's houses, too. He lived there for only three years but again, it was a bit goose-bumpy to see his desk and so on. There were more of Dickens's possessions in that house than of Johnson's in his - people didn't think to keep Johnson's things on the whole - but the emptier Johnson house seemed more redolent of the man, somehow. The Dickens house was a bit more tricked out for tourists.

And we walked by the local pond...

And admired the sunrise from Daughter 2's windows.

So we had a nice time. But we didn't like leaving her behind. And yes, I realise that she could be in Australia or somewhere equally (lovely, no doubt, but) distant.

Thanks to all commenters - it's lovely to feel a connection with the world and I do try to respond, though some of you don't have blogs, eg Virginia (hello!)

Son has just sent us, via What's App, a sound file of his five-centimetre-long baby's heartbeat.  And of course we've already been sent his/her scan picture. Isn't technology amazing?

Friday, January 22, 2016


Playing is such a serious matter...

... when you're two, or four. The little ones don't do much sitting and staring into space. But then, neither do I, I suppose.

I'm glad we kept those toys from our children's childhood.

There's been a lot of publicity recently about a recent book on decluttering. I wouldn't say that we live with clutter, but on the other hand, we're not minimalist. For example, you can see a shelving unit behind Granddaughter that has completely useless items on it. But I like them, my bits and pieces of glass and china, and from what I gather, the decluttering lady guru says that's all right - if they give you joy, which they do. There are, however, items of clothing in my wardrobe that I seldom, if ever, wear (there's a bit of fantasy involving being able to fit into things that I haven't fitted into for some years). I should probably discard some of these.

Is it impressive or embarrassing? - I can't decide - that we're going to the wedding in May of a young man whose parents' wedding we went to 25 years ago, and I still have and occasionally wear the blouse and jacket that I bought for that occasion. The skirt acquired a tear some years ago and I did throw that out.

I think I might not bring these items back into service for the approaching wedding.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

How not to be bored

Life is busy but not, never, boring. The other day we took the little ones to the Botanics, always one of my favourite ways of spending time. The sun shone.

Grandson played with sticks and admired "his" tree.

It used to be no. 17 Tree, but since his family has moved house it's become no.21 Tree. It has (according to him) front and back doors, front and back gardens, stairs, a television and a bed. What more could a boy want?

Yesterday we had an outing with our walking group, passing Peffermill House (above). It's famous for the story of Half-Hangit Maggie, who, having been hanged in 1724 for giving birth illegitimately and concealing the birth (and possibly killing the baby) was brought here in her coffin. There was a tavern in the grounds of the house; and while the men who were transporting the coffin to the graveyard were having refreshments there, she woke up and banged on the coffin lid. She was let out and, judged to have paid the penalty of the law, was allowed to go free.

Then we tramped past the ruins of Craigmillar Castle, one of the residences of Mary Queen of Scots. She had ultimately less luck than Maggie, poor soul.

And today we had the family. We played Snakes and Ladders and Granddaughter played with a dice. Or, if you like, a die, but no one really calls it that any more. Son-in-Law 1 suggested that it should be a douse, by analogy with mouse, which does seem an attractive idea. And now I must go to choir.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016


It was a beautiful day yesterday and we went up town to see the Arthur Melville exhibition. It was excellent. Here's a photo of Princes Street Gardens, just beside the gallery, with the Castle lurking behind a tree. Very Edinburghish.

And here's the Scott Monument - Gothic and somewhat impractical, but ornamental in its way.

And here's the shadow cast by the said Scott Monument on a reasonably nice elderly building, which fits in quite well with the rest of Edinburgh's architecture.

But look at the building behind it, which is nearing completion.

Here it is from the opposite direction. In the background you can see the pleasantly wiggly, domey, spirey skyline of the Old Town. Now, call me an old fuddy-duddy but how on earth did anyone grant planning permission for that lump of glass in this context??? - just round the corner from Edinburgh's main street.

I tell you, when I rule the world there will be some changes. Granted, glass buildings in historic cities are not the world's biggest problem by a long way. But - hmm.

More pleasingly (and you have to concentrate on the pleasing things sometimes or you would despair) the hyacinths that Daughter 2 gave me at Christmas time are opening beautifully.

And I've cut out 430 pieces of fabric to make my next quilt top. Yes, a perfectly sensible thing to do. Or at least a harmless one.

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Ali and Ali

Nothing has been happening except that we've seen a lot of the grandchildren, which is wonderful but tiring and means that nothing else gets done.

It's so interesting to watch the little ones playing. I brought out a tin containing my penny collection; and Grandson immediately started using the coins for his road layouts. He's hardworking when he plays! I hope this continues once he starts school. (Not if he takes after his schoolgirl granny, it won't ... but more likely if he takes after his daddy.)

I started my (old) penny collection when I was about 10. I had read in Arthur Mee's Children's Encylopaedia (I think it was) that in 1933, only 6 or 7 pennies were minted - no one was sure exactly how many - and that it was possible that one was still in circulation. So I decided to look for it in my change; and at the same time to try to collect one penny from every year dating from the earliest one I had, which was 1850. Needless to say, I never came across a 1933 one and my collection is far from complete, though it came to include lots of halfpennies, old shillings (one from George IV) and so on. Why I still have the tin of these, it's hard to say, and I don't really know what to do with them. I'm sure they're worth all of about £3.

Was Grandson interested in this little insight into Granny's youth? Er, no. But he knew what to do with them, all right.

Meanwhile, Granddaughter made tea and toast using stacking cups and some toast-shaped pieces of paper for making notes on, which live with a plastic "toaster" given to me by my niece Ali some years ago (providing hours of happy imaginary toast-making by both grandchildren). The black and white mug coasters on the left were made by Ali of Quiltingorchardist and given to us when she and her husband visited on the very day that Grandson was born, 4 and a half years ago. These were used as various other types of food in this feast. They too have been well-used, both as mug coasters and as playthings. So thanks to both Alis!

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Fiction and stranger than that

Look: a little vase of polyanthus from the garden. It's spring! (A bit of wishful thinking, possibly.)

Something rather strange happened on Hogmanay (New Year's Eve). Well, firstly, the night before, Mr Life, Daughter 2 and I watched the film "Sunshine on Leith" on television. (That wasn't the strange thing.) It was slightly toe-curlingly Scottish - not sure why my toes should thus curl but they did a bit, probably just imagining what other, non-Scots people would think of the rather thick accents. However, there are lovely views of Edinburgh in the film and I loved the closing scene.

It's a story about a daughter appearing in her father's life - the product of a fling shortly after he got married. Predictably, this somewhat disrupts his current family life with his wife, son and daughter. It's interspersed with songs by The Proclaimers, a Scottish band. After the film, we briefly discussed how strange it would be if a similar daughter appeared out of the blue claiming that Mr L was her dad. (This didn't happen. That would have been strange. I've known Mr L for a long time.)

The next day, Daughter 2 met a schoolfriend for coffee and heard that something very similar had just happened to her: an unknown half-brother had been in touch, the product of a relationship that her (now dead) father had had before he met his wife. So - no element of faithlessness in this story - but it was a coincidence, right after our conversations of the night before. And it was a shock for the family.

Later that day, the three of us went to friends' to see in the New Year with lots of other friends. I got talking to someone I've known more or less all my life and she mentioned that her husband (whom I've known for almost as long) had discovered only when he was forty (he's now in his mid-sixties) that he was adopted. His adoptive father had died some years before and when his adoptive mother died, our friend was going through papers looking for the necessary paperwork to register her death, and found his adoption certificate. Not an unheard-of situation; but as you can imagine, he was hugely upset.

The very strange thing is that I knew, years before, that he was adopted. My mother had mentioned it in passing; I thought nothing particularly about it but did remember it. I - and he - must have been twentyish at the time. I never mentioned it to anyone else because I wasn't sure that it was common knowledge. But I had no idea that even he didn't know.

He has since met up with his birth mother's later daughter and her family, though his mother had died by that time.

How did my mother know? I haven't a clue. We all lived in the same suburb and knew lots of the same people. Some of our friend's extended family evidently knew but had been sworn to secrecy, but of them, my mother knew only one aunt and I can't imagine her telling my mother; they weren't close. And our friend didn't live in the district till he was nine, so Mum couldn't have observed the change from no-baby to baby.

Stranger than fiction, isn't it? In fiction, however, there would be an answer. Mum died three and a half years ago and there's no one to ask.

Heartwarmingly, in all cases (including the film) the new siblings were welcomed into the families after the initial consternation and the outcomes have been happy.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

The days are getting longer...

Earlier in December, Daughter 2 came for the weekend and we iced the cakes. I make two big ones: one for us (because usually there are a lot of people eating it) and then I cut the other into two halves, one half for Son (because Daughter-in-Law doesn't like fruit cake) and the other half for Daughter 1 and Son-in-Law 1 (I may have to rethink this half-cake policy since there are now four of them). Daughter 2, living in London and having to carry presents home on the train and having a diabetic husband, doesn't get one at all, which I think I should also rethink. Anyway. My icing is a slapdash affair: above, cut-out stars...

... and above, for cat-fans Son and DIL, rather messy cats.

But Daughter 2, the architect, spent rather more time on Daughter 1's cake, designing an alpine village for Grandson's benefit. It had chalets, trees, road sign poles, roads with white lines made out of sugar strands, a roundabout...

Then, after our sepulchrally-quiet Christmas, the family (and Son-in-Law 1's parents) were all here by New Year, which was lovely. The grandchildren opened their presents from us and were extremely excited but also very good.

Here, Daughter 1 holds up hexagonal cookie cutters, with which she was delighted because it means that you can cut out the biscuits without leaving any extra bits that you have to mash together and roll out again. Cunning.

And yesterday Mr L, Son, Daughter 2, DIL and I went out for a walk. Then the younger ones all went home. Sniff.

Now I must go and de-Christmas the house, a horrible task. Sulk.

Happy New Year, all bloggy friends.