Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Not Australia

Life is fairly full and I'm not complaining. There will be enough time to do nothing once we're old and doddery... not to say deceased. The little ones were here. I love to see them playing together - Grandson is the boss, or at any rate the leader. That nineteen month difference is important - at the moment.

On Monday we went to see friends over in the west of the country. This is Kilwinning Loch.

 As you can see, it was a typical Scottish summer day. We took umbrellas, just in case.

We rather liked these carved seats.

We thought of you, Thimbleanna, when we passed these sheep.

Then today we went to the Dundee Botanic Gardens with Son and Daughter-in-Law. This was in the Australian section. It looks like some sort of mallow to me, but it wasn't labelled. Anyone?

Their baby is due in about a month.

Back at their house, I looked over their garden wall. It's a nice view and presumably their little daughter will become very familiar with it. Sadly, it's a long way from here so we won't see her nearly as much as we do the other two. But, as people say, she could be in Australia.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

The good and the bad

It's been an eventful and not altogether wonderful week. However, on Wednesday we took the little ones to the beach. I don't know how many visitors to Edinburgh realise that we're a seaside city. We ourselves went to Barcelona for four days without ever seeing their seaside.

They had a lovely time. It's amazing what a difference 19 months makes to their artistic ability.

The face on the left represents Grandson's mum; he's on the right. She's sad because "it's not her birthday for a long time. I'm happy because my birthday is very soon". I think he wanted to make sure we weren't forgetting... .

The tide was quite far out, though coming in - Cramond Island, peeping out from behind the trees, is not an island only at low tide. You can see it at low tide in the first picture - it's on the horizon in the middle. From time to time, people walk out to it and then get stuck there when the tide comes in. I'd like to point out that the stout lady in white isn't me.

And then on Thursday, there was this. The Scotsman took a gamble on the result and got it wrong. There is much consternation among everyone we know. Most Scottish people voted to remain in the EU. Now the Scottish Parliament has decided on another referendum for Scottish independence because Scots are being forced out of the EU by the English vote. I can hardly bear this.

I really don't think that complicated things ought to be decided by referendums (referenda, I suppose). Most people, and I include myself, don't know enough to make a sensible decision. Goodness me, those who're supposedly experts disagreed about the right answers, so what hope do the rest of us have?

However, to return to trivialities, I've finished the quilt that I'm about to give to my piano teacher as a thank you present. She might prefer a bunch of flowers... .

After four and a half years of lessons, I've decided to give up - not playing, just lessons. I quite enjoy stumbling through the pieces in the privacy of my own sitting room and feel that I've used up my quota of saying "I can play this at home!" as I mess my latest tune up in front of her. Also, I keep having to miss lessons because we tend to go away in term time rather than the school holidays, which are also piano holidays.

She's absolutely lovely and very encouraging and I shall miss her. So I made her this quilt, which is very simple (like my piano playing) and yet required quite a lot of work (like my piano playing). I'm ashamed to say that the only fabric that I had to buy specially was the one with the treble clefs on it. All the rest was from my stash and it didn't make a noticeable dent in it. It's all your fault, Thimbleanna!

This was the quilt I made for Daughter 2 last year. You can see the resemblance - mainly because quite a few of the fabrics are the same.

And, for further comfort, the garden is looking very flowery.

Big sigh. Let's hope everything isn't going to be as bad as everyone predicts.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Herring Road

Yesterday saw us setting off again with the walking group to East Lothian to hike along part of the Herring Road. This is the route - 33 miles - taken in the 18th and 19th centuries by fishwives carrying baskets of salted herring weighing over a hundredweight (50 kilograms) from Dunbar to Lauder. Imagine doing this in the winter. Well, imagine doing it even yesterday. And this would be before these paths were laid down for the benefit of (sigh) those who come here to shoot grouse.

We covered only about eight of the thirty-three miles. It was, frankly, enough. According to George, who's our resident nature expert, we saw "Great Crested Grebe , Dabchick, Swallow, Sandmartin, House Martin, Snipe, Meadow Pipit, Skylark, Chaffinch, Tufted Duck, Mallard, Canada Geese, Greylag Geese, Pheasant, Red Grouse, Curlew, Oystercatcher, Redshank, Blackheaded Gull, Wheatear, Pied Wagtail and the highlight of the day, well spotted by Brian, a male Cuckoo." And we also met this fine Highland cow, various horses and those well-known Scottish natives, llamas.

This is George, communing with the cow (or possibly bull - it was hairy enough for this not be to entirely clear, at least to me). George  is a minor celebrity in Scotland. He's a presenter on the BBC Scottish gardening programme and everyone who gardens in Scotland is likely to recognise him. It's interesting, on our walks, to observe other walkers doing a bit of a double-take when they pass him - either surprised that it's him, or wondering when they've seen him before. He's a great walking companion because he knows all about botany (he used to be head of education at the Botanic Gardens) but also about birds and other wildlife.

We liked this notice, near the only house we passed.

Mainly it was just moorland, the sound of birds and quite a bit of baaing. Not a vehicle could be heard for most of the walk. Bliss.

There was also the gentle splashing of the burn (stream).

This was the only road sign.

Eventually we came to the Whiteadder Loch and a mile or two later, reached the small village of Gifford and the Lanterne Rouge café. The owner was startled to see thirteen of us in his little café so late in the afternoon and apologised that he didn't have much food left. However, he brought to our table everything that he had and, loaves-and-fishes-like, it was plenty: we all got a cake, thus replacing the calories that we'd spent some hours burning off.

I imagine the fishwives had to make do with some oatcakes - sort of hard oat biscuits, cooked on a griddle - and herring. What effete softies we are in comparison with our forebears.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Visiting Auntie E

We've been away visiting my 91-and-a-half-year-old aunt in Norfolk, as we do every year, each time wondering if it'll be the last... but so far it never has been. When the children were small, we went every two years. I've told before the rather strange story of why she lives in this beautiful house (basically, she and three friends retired there. Now only she and the much younger husband of her friend remain, in separate flats).

We went to our favourite places, though have never been to Norfolk in June before and so have never seen certain flowers blooming there. This was the year of the iris.

I love irises. We had some in my childhood garden at home.

They were rather like this purple one. Irises have an interesting smell - not exactly a lovely scent, but pleasant and, to me, redolent of my childhood.

I love the way...

... they now come in a variety of colours.

These are flag irises, growing wild(ish) by the side of the lake at Felbrigg.

And these are in my aunt's wonderful, enormous garden. When she retired, at 58, she did the garden all by herself. Now she has a gardener two mornings a week and her friend, the much younger chap, does the heavy work. My aunt still gardens most days, but isn't as able as she was and there are quite a lot of weeds. Still, you don't really notice them if you look at the flowers. I did do some weeding.

Bye bye, Auntie E, Norfolk, garden. See you again next year, I hope.

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Sunny weekend

It was Daughter 2's birthday yesterday. She was home for the weekend. Daughter 1 and family and also Son and Daughter-in-Law came down too. There was a certain amount of what my father used to call (when we were little) "noise and nonsense". Granddaughter, or as her grandfather tends to call her, Hattie McHat, was suitably behatted.

She is very fond of weeding books.

And also playing in the sand pit.

There was cake. (You can see the fairly imminent Granddaughter 2 inside her mother's pink shirt.)

This photo is a bit blurry but I like the expressions on Son's and Granddaughter's faces.

Then today, Grandson did various serious experiments with sand, water and stones. I think he was checking that Archimedes got that bath thing right.

Granddaughter did a bit more weeding of books.

And Grandson marched around the garden inside a tube. As you do.

It was a lovely weekend, the sort you remember for a long time.