Thursday, February 25, 2016

Filling in the time

I have NO idea why some of my photos are coming out large and some small. I'm just doing them through Picasa Export as usual. Anyway, moving on... it's been the usual week of pleasant but exhausting activity of a nothing-special variety. For example, a small dragon and I baked some cheese scones.

Mr L and I went to this exhibition. It was interesting, but slightly sad in that on the whole, the painters and sculptors were young women who were just getting into their stride when they got married. They then had children and didn't paint or sculpt much more. But at least they could tell themselves that they could have been world-famous if they hadn't been mired in domesticity. I rather liked this young woman, Dorothy Johnstone painted by Anne Finlay.

This is the view from the art gallery: very Edinburghish.

Our walking group did a city walk through parks: here, we're looking down from the Calton Hill, another very Edinburghish view with regrettably Edinburghish weather.

This is known as Edinburgh's Disgrace because reputedly, money ran out at this stage for a memorial to those who died in the Napoleonic Wars. Some say, however, that it was always supposed to look thus: like a ruined Greek temple.

This looks like the country but it isn't: it's Holyrood Park, which surrounds the hills in the middle of the city.

And here we're looking at those same hills from the Figgate Park. I can't express how much I love our hills. Coming back to Edinburgh from holiday, one sees them from a distance and thinks, aaaahhh, home. Wonderful.


And I've sewn these nine-patch squares into strips, getting all the many, many, many corners (what was I thinking of?) to fit together reasonably well, but only with much fiddling about. Now I have to sew the strips together: more corners to line up, with the added complication of the adjustments I've made for the previous stage. How likely is this to be trouble-free? Wish me luck.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

London places

The only good thing - and it's not nearly good enough, mutter mutter - about Daughter 2's living in London is that, when we visit her, we're working our way through the slightly less flying-visit-type things to see in London. Last month we went to the Geffrye Museum, which is a museum of the home and how people live. It's based in former almshouses and comprises a series of rooms furnished in period items from the seventeenth century through to modern times. It's very nicely done and definitely worth a visit, should you be in London and at a loose end.

I don't know why this photo is the only one I took.

The other place we went was the Foundling Museum. As their website says:

"The Foundling Hospital, which continues today as the children’s charity Coram, was established in 1739 by the philanthropist Thomas Coram to care for babies at risk of abandonment. Instrumental in helping Coram realise his vision were the artist William Hogarth and the composer George Frideric Handel. Their creative generosity set the template for the ways in which the arts can support philanthropy.

The Foundling Museum is a history and art museum, which through a dynamic programme of exhibitions and events, celebrates the ways in which artists of all disciplines have helped improve children’s lives for over 275 years. If you’re looking for unique things to do around King's Cross, or places to take children, this hidden London gem offers a wealth of activities."

I would also recommend this. Again, it's very interesting and beautifully laid out, though also extremely heart-wrenching. Thomas Coram returned from living in America, was shocked by the numbers of abandoned children he saw in London and was determined to do something about it, but it took him 17 years to raise the money needed to set up the Hospital. 

Parents who brought their babies to be looked after were asked to bring a token by which their children could be reclaimed if circumstances altered. Some of these tokens are on display and feature on the front of the booklet, below. They range from coins, keys, scraps of material, cheap rings and chains through to, in many cases, playing cards cut in half. They're absolutely fascinating but, oh dear, so sad. Some parents did come back for their children (though sometimes found that their little ones had died) but these are tokens of unclaimed children.

What a contrast to the lives of these little ones, surrounded by love.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Things people do

Today dawned raw and cold but I felt like doing something so I went up town to look at the museum without the grandchildren. Lovely as they are, their presence isn't conducive to long examination of artefacts. I jumped on a bus which should have taken me all the way, only it didn't because it slowed down and stopped. The driver then got out and returned after a moment to say that the road ahead was closed and we all had to leave the bus. So we did. There was a police car across the road, blocking it, and there were lots of policemen herding everyone to the other side of the road. We were all looking around to try to see what was happening, but there was nothing obvious. Then someone looked up, and then everyone looked up, and there was a girl in a white dressing gown, sitting on top of a dormer window in a roof, four floors above the road. She was hunched against the cold.

She must have been persuaded to go in because when I returned a couple of hours later, all seemed normal. However, it was rather sobering. I imagine that she wanted someone to pay attention to her. Who knows? Maybe she wasn't in a state to think rationally at all. I wonder how it felt to look down and see the traffic jam of buses and cars; and the people hurrying away; and the swarms of policemen in the streets. Attention was certainly being paid.

Since there were no buses to continue my journey, I walked the rest of the way, up past the Castle rock (above), which was looking particularly sombre and unclimbable (so as to repel invaders, which was the idea)...
and on up Castle Terrace. There were a lot of tourists. I can never really understand why tourists come here in winter. I mean, I like my city as much as the next person, but I really wouldn't recommend Scotland in February as a holiday destination, not if you could choose another time. Our winter days are sometimes sunny and mild but on the other hand are sometimes dreich, like today. So come in the spring, summer or autumn, people, that's my advice - when the days are long and the sun may be warm.

Anyway, the museum. I really like - would like to have in my house - this large "blue and white jar of a hundred cranes", Ming dynasty, late 16th to early 17th century. I wonder who painted the cranes in such an intricate pattern, almost like M C Escher, but all slightly different; and what he (I imagine it was a he) would have thought to see me looking at it in a glass case in such a different world from his own. And where has it been in the intervening 300 years?

And this wall tile with tulips, painted in the Netherlands in the 1630s - how did it survive and end up here? And isn't it quite like the tulip wall tile that I bought in the Netherlands in the late 1990s?

This coffin end is a lot older. What Egyptian painted it between the 8th and 4th century BC, and how amazed would he (I assume) be to see me in my waterproof  jacket admiring it 2000+ years later? It's an Apis bull (the incarnation of a god) who was thought to protect the dead on their way to the underworld. It really looks quite modern: bright and clear. Things last such a long time compared to people, who pop in for a few years and then depart.

(Oh, this is big. What is Blogger up to?) Here's Vishnu sleeping on the coils of Ananta, the World Snake, carved in the 14th century. He will awaken for the next cycle of creation which will herald the destruction of all things. Luckily he looked quite peaceful when I took his photo.

So many things, so many people; so impossible, really, to know what's been going on in anyone's head. I hope that girl is all right.

Thursday, February 11, 2016


Ooh look, the pictures have gone small again, at least they look so as I'm typing here. The week has been a bit flat, as it always is after Daughter 2 has gone back to London. Here she is at the weekend, taking an interest in her little brother - though I can't remember what they were looking at -

 and her nephew

and her niece. We're all missing her.

However, I've been getting on with my new quilt, which is nothing very fancy but weirdly addictive. This is going to be for Son and Daughter-in-Law, hence the cat fabrics (they have two newish cats), though I may have to abandon it temporarily to make a baby quilt.

Today we took the little ones to Lauriston Castle with their scooters. It was somewhat muddy underfoot and rather chilly but we enjoyed being outside. We hadn't been there for years, though it's only ten minutes from the house.

There's now a Japanese garden in the grounds to celebrate Edinburgh's twinning with Kyoto (of which I have to say I was unaware until today). It's lovely, though I feel that this is maybe not its best time of year. We will return in the season of less mud and more cherry blossom. I wonder if Kyoto has a Scottish garden and if so, what might it be like? Muddy... ?

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Being Granny

Goodness, these photos look big, at least as I'm typing ... .

Our lives are very uneventful but at the same time full of activity, such as on Thursday when I took the little ones to the Botanics. First we went to the cafĂ© (of course) and then wandered down the path and down through the Chinese Garden.

Then we looked at the Aeolian harp, which we have never heard making a sound, though you couldn't accuse Edinburgh of failing to produce the requisite wind. Still, it provides a handy step for photo opportunities. ("How would the wind make the harp play, Granny?" "Um... by moving over the strings." "But how would that make a noise, Granny?"). Yes, how? Wikipedia says: The motion of the wind across a string causes periodic vortices downstream, and this alternating vortex causes the string to vibrate. Ah. Now I know. Kind of.

Standing on a rock, you can pretend to be a statue.

And then we came home and drew and stuck and cut. Granddaughter discovered that you could make a stack of felt pens, as below.

(Blogger won't let me type anything underneath this picture. I wish it would stop adjusting itself.)

Perhaps I should be achieving something more permanent than playing with small people who won't remember a thing about it when they're bigger, but how they enrich my life with their soft little faces, their enthusiastic cuddles and their innocent giggles.

Monday, February 01, 2016

The effects of time

A study...



She'll be 3 next month.

Where does the time go?

Blogger is being peculiar, as happens from time to time. My previous post turned out a bit funny-looking.

Thank you for your new-grandchild congratulations. I can't quite believe that Son, our youngest, is old enough to be a father. However, he'll be nearly 32 when he becomes one, in July/August, so I suppose I'm wrong. How time flies. (This seems to be the highly-unoriginal theme of this post.) 

And Terry Wogan has died, which feels equally unlikely. I fear that David Bowie meant little to me personally - his music never really penetrated my consciousness and probably wasn't my sort of thing - and I'm sure Alan Rickman was splendid but his face was only vaguely familiar to me from "Sense and Sensibility". But Terry Wogan!  That's very sad. On the other hand, I suppose that having a wonderful time till you're 77 and dying before you get dottled (a fine Scottish (I think) word which means confused) is no bad thing really.

I shall now stop musing and start practising the piano. I'm sure that I'll get a lot better at my piece before my lesson tomorrow morning. You think?