Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Thrilled and not so thrilled

Saturday was Edinburgh Doors Open Day and Daughter 1 and Son-in-Law 1 took Grandson to the bus garage. They saw around it  and got a ride on a vintage bus. Grandson was very happy. He was even happier that the bus company was selling off old bus stops - or at least the signs from the tops of bus stops. Son-in-Law 1 bought one for him without realising that Nanny and Gramps from Worcester, who were visiting, had also bought one. So Grandson now has two (different) bus stop tops and he is thrilled.

He made signs for himself, to transform himself into buses of various numbers, and now conducts bus rides round the house, ideally with passengers.

He also created other bus stop signs to go along his routes. In this case he seems to have written some of the information backwards.

 We had Daughter 2 for the weekend and Son, Daughter-in-Law and Baby Granddaughter M for Saturday overnight, so everyone else came over and Grandson and Granddaughter L met their new cousin, which was lovely.

Then on Sunday afternoon, Mr L, Daughter 2 and I went to the Botanics, where autumn appears to have started.

And since then I've been cutting out a steam train quilt for Mr L. (This isn't the final arrangement.) I'd been watching a video of Jenny from the Missouri Star Quilt company, in which she demonstrated a "really quick and easy" method of making four-patch squares, so decided to try this. Alas, Jenny's idea of speed and ease isn't exactly the same as mine. It's a very clever idea, which would never have occurred to me (though I'm sure proper quilters do it all the time). You sew two big squares together at the left and right edges, with the fronts of the fabrics facing each other; cut them down the middle vertically; and then open the bits out, sew them together sideways and cut them in half vertically again, resulting in your four-patch square. Easy. Hmm. Easy if you're Jenny. If you're me... well, let's say that it allows you to make quite big mistakes with something you've laboured over for quite a while, and thus to waste quite a bit of fabric. These four-patches look all right from a distance but two of them are mysteriously slightly too small and I think I'll have to recut them. I'll just do it the slow but safer way this time. We live and learn.

(Thank you, by the way, to the non-blog-owners who've been leaving nice comments. They are much appreciated. If you had a blog, I would visit it and say hello.)

Thursday, September 22, 2016

What one does in the retired life

I'm still trying to pretend it's not autumn, though today is the Autumn Equinox. But look: flowers in the garden. (Yes, all right, the one below is Sedum "Autumn Joy".)

The other day, Daughter 1, Son-in-Law 1 and I went with the children to the recently reopened Dalkeith Country Park. It was very enjoyable, though I wouldn't have liked to go there with fewer than three adults per two children: two to crawl after the children into the various tree houses and other structures into which they alarmingly disappear, and one to hold the bags and coats. This last person was generally me, I'm happy to report, though I did at one point have to scramble up this thing to get to the same level as everyone else:

As well as the alarming structures such as this tree house below - which actually had several storeys and the capacity to keep the children out of sight for a good ten minutes, argh,

there are also lots of smaller bits of play equipment such as this, below - much less stressful for the onlooker.

We were there for five hours (and it only costs £1 per child!) and the children were reluctant to leave, but then on the way out....

- well, to go back a bit, on the way in you have to cross this bridge and you can see this mesh tunnel affair that goes under the bridge and up the other side. The drop below, into the river, is about 30 feet. Grandson, who like his granny is a generally cautious soul, wisely decided that he wouldn't risk his life by crawling through it, as many other more foolhardy children were doing.

But then, as we crossed the bridge to go home...

he became braver. He went through it seven or eight times. Impressive, but bonkers. Granddaughter would have been game to have a go, but you had to be six years old to do it. (Grandson is actually five... .) It would be impossible, or at least very difficult, for an adult to go in to rescue a stuck child, though possibly the slender SIL 1 might have managed. However, this wouldn't be fun. Happily, no one got stuck and the tunnel seemed extremely popular among the children at the park (who clearly have no sense of self-preservation).

Then on Tuesday we went up to see Granddaughter M. I don't think Son wants me to show pictures of her so you'll have to take my word that she's beautiful. We took her for two walks and I got lots of cuddles. But then we had to leave her behind.

Yesterday Mr L and I went to see an exhibition, mainly of paintings by Charles Daubigny. I can't say I'd more than vaguely heard of Daubigny, but the exhibition was demonstrating his influence on Monet and Van Gogh, which does appear to be considerable. I'm not a huge Impressionist fan, but I thought Daubigny was jolly good. (I'm sure he'd be relieved to hear this.) His depictions of light are wonderful without being too blobby. (A career as an art critic was probably never going to be mine.) On the way in, we saw this girl in a white dress sitting on the grass in Princes Street Gardens, being photographed with her dress pooled around her. I thought at first that she was a bride, but if she was, none of the rest of the wedding party was anywhere near, so I suppose it must have been a fashion photo-shoot. (Why does there appear to be an advert for garden sheds at the right side of my photo????)

Afterwards we sat having coffee and looking out at the gardens and at this couple who were also admiring the view.

It must be admitted that some of the leaves were turning just a teeny bit yellow... .

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Midlothian walk

Today we went for another hike with our walking group in the most beautiful late-summer weather: sunny, warm (but not hot), with a gentle breeze. We started in Pathhead ...

and made our way through the woods, along narrow paths - which were really just trodden-down bits of grass...

and up steep steps and slopes...

with pleasant, verdant views of countryside...

till we got to Crichton Church, which was built between 1440 and 1449. It was stripped of its windows, paintings and much of the mediaeval stone tracery in the Reformation but was restored in 1825.

We then went to inspect Crichton Castle, which dates in part from the 1300s, though had bits added in 1450 and 1580. This hasn't been restored, but is conserved as a ruin.

And then we tramped on down again ...

along more narrow paths

and back into Pathhead.

This house was built in 1680. I don't much care for the colour but I think it's a traditional one for such buildings. The architecture is very much in the vernacular Scottish style.

A lovely day: lots of chat and six-plus fairly challenging miles, with quite a few scrambly bits. Our ages today ranged from 73 down to 7 months!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Time's moving along

This is the material with which I plan to make a quilt for Mr L. There are three steam train fabrics (and - you know - they're not Thomas The Tank Engine or anything like that; they had to be anatomically accurate) and some other manly designs. Oh, and hedgehogs, elephants and swallows may also form part of the quilt. Hedgehogs because we like them and the others for no particular reason except that they kind of called to me when I saw them in John Lewis the other day. I haven't decided on a design yet but it won't be anything tremendously complicated. I haven't graduated beyond beginnery stuff yet and anyway, Mr L wants to sit under it admiring the trains in their entirety, not little bits of trains. (Actually, I may mean engines, not trains.)

Talking of hedgehogs, Grandson saw this in a cookbook the other day and decided that we had to make it for Mummy's birthday.

So we did.

Much concentration (and a certain amount of chocolate-button-sampling) went into the decoration.

It came out looking slightly as if it had been murdered, but he's only just five. Even Michelangelo had to start somewhere. Mummy was summoned to admire it. She duly did. (Excuse the messy kitchen.)

The garden blooms on and it's still quite warm.

I'm not yet open to the idea that it might be autumn.

Let's call it "summer plus".

Look, it's still sandpit weather.

Does this look like autumn to you?

Well, quite.

Although... the shadows are getting longer, earlier in the day. Still, that's summer plus for you.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Quilt number 5

Granddaughter decided to dress up as a cowgirl. I have no idea what she thinks a cowgirl is, but possibly a girl who sits on a cow. With a sword.

Then she dressed her cow as a ... cowcow?

I've finished the quilt for Son and Daughter-in-Law that I was in the middle of making when I decided to make one for my piano teacher. This one has more bits than I've ever attempted before: 660 or so. Some unpicking took place during the making of the quilt top but I got there in the end, with the corners meeting fairly well. Son and DIL chose most of the patterned fabrics from my stash and then, since these didn't really go with each other, I chose the self-coloured ones to - or this was the hope - tie the whole thing together. The pink fabric in the middle is part of a napkin that my mother used a lot (or at least, this is an unused napkin from my mother's set. I was touched when Son said, "Oh, we've got to have that.") The general theme of the quilt is nature: cats, mushrooms, insects, sheep, flowers etc. Especially cats.

It's hand-quilted, in an amateurish way. I don't think I'll ever machine quilt. That would be a very fast way of getting it wrong and engendering lots of unpicking.

Don't look too closely, Thimbleanna, but do you see at least one fabric that you gave me?

Now Mr L wants a steam-engine-themed quilt. I have some fabrics but haven't really yet thought what to do. Such fun! Such a waste of time! Thanks, Anna, for getting me into this!

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

What we did at the weekend

Grandson decided to make a shop. He kept careful accounts of his takings. His shop was situated in the kitchen doorway, which was slightly inconvenient, but his parents didn't seem to mind.

We went away for the weekend with our walking group to Lagganlia, near Kingussie. The countryside is quite hilly, but we trudged uncomplainingly... well, fairly uncomplainingly... up and down the slopes.

The heather was nearly in full bloom.

We did occasionally pause to admire the views

or eat blaeberries, the Scottish wild blueberry. That's not blood on my hand; it's blaeberry juice.

Ever upwards. Well, and downwards.

George, our minor celebrity / plant expert, told us the name of this toadstool. I think it was Fly Agaric.

He also told us the names of these native heathers. One is Calluna Vulgaris and the other is Erica Something.

This cow was particularly friendly. (I don't know why Blogger won't allow me to enlarge the photos today.)

On the second day, the walk was even hillier and somewhat muddy. The more limber of our group climbed down to these rocks beside a waterfall. I decided that I valued my ankles.

We came to this rock near Newtonmore, which claims to be the centre of Scotland. This is very much debated (Scotland has many, many islands, which make the calculation difficult). However, it seemed worthy of a picture.

More heather.

Shortly after this photo, when we were all congratulating ourselves on the lovely weather we'd had - not too hot, not too much wind, no rain - it began to POUR. So for the last half hour we didn't take so many photos but just plodded on, dripping, along/up/down paths turned to mud. Then we got back into our cars and in about two minutes, drove out of the deluge into dry roads and sunshine. Scottish weather at its most varied.

It was a lovely weekend: good exercise, good company, lots of laughs and quite a lot of food.