Monday, March 27, 2017

Very silly mother

Sunday was British Mother's Day. Daughter 2 visited the previous weekend and kindly brought flowers and chocolates. This weekend she was on holiday in Berlin, but being the sort of person she is, she also sent another little present. It was in a small, flat box. I didn't realise that it contained six little biscuits, and since I opened it upright, they fell out. I quickly replaced them in the box and we puzzled slightly at the message.

"You love you?" Seemed unlikely. I decided that it signified two horseshoes and a heart - "Good luck. I love you". (Was I in need of luck?) We didn't have much time to think about it because we were going out, and then the Edinburgh family came to lunch so again, we didn't give it much thought as we wrangled the grandchildren.

It wasn't till considerably later that Daughter 1, who is a more intelligent person than her mother, tried turning some of the biscuits over. Which achieved this result:

The plain white blobs of icing were on the back, simply to make the biscuits stick to the backing paper (which only two of them had).

How silly am I?

I suppose it could have been worse, ie

but then even I might have thought a bit harder about the situation.

By the way, Daughter 2:

Friday, March 24, 2017

Tossing their heads in sprightly dance

We took ourselves for a city walk yesterday. It was drizzling first thing but we looked at the weather forecast, which said it would dry up from 10am onwards, and decided to believe it. And it was correct: the triumph of science. We got the bus to London Road, the area where my father grew up. According to my aunt (his sister) the reason they moved away down to the seaside was that she fell off a wall just opposite here and the doctor prescribed swimming, to strengthen her arm. So they bought a house near Portobello baths, which led to my mother meeting my father, which eventually led to my brother and me. So thanks, wall.

We wiggled through some streets, including McDonald Road, where my dad was born 97 years ago - and I thought about him. And then we came to this path...

which led to the Botanics. It's definitely spring now. Edinburgh doesn't like to underdo daffodils.

A gushing, if entirely artificial, Highland burn (stream).

We stopped there for lunch, wincing at their punctuation. At least they can spell "inconvenience", unlike some.

Then we wandered through Inverleith Park. You can see the Castle on the horizon. In Edinburgh, you can probably either see the Castle or the sea, and if not, you're likely to be able to see some hills, all of which make it reasonably easy to know which direction you're pointing in. It was much brighter than it looks here; my camera was dazzled by the water.

We stopped to watch two swans building their nest (spring again, you see) in a reasonably equal-opportunities sort of way.

More daffodils.

On our way back we walked through the New Town, up Scotland Street. I don't know if anyone who reads this has also read Alexander McCall Smith's Scotland Street stories, but anyway, this is it.

And eventually we were back in London Road, to which I owe my existence. Upon these slender threads do all our existences hang.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Fun and games

I love how busy small children are. The offspring were all here at the weekend and when the grandchildren are busy, there's not a lot of relaxation for the rest of the family either (but who needs relaxation? Plenty of that in the grave...).

Grandson decided to write down all the numbers up to 100 in grid form. I provided the grid but he did all the rest. "That's the 1 column, that's the 2 column," (etc) he informed me.

Then he taught Daughter 2 how to draw traffic lights. She proved an apt pupil.

Granddaughter-the-Elder did her own thing...

but then added a face and stegosaurus spikes to the dinosaur that Daughter 2 drew at her request. Note the sticking-out tongue for added concentration.

We played hide-and-seek in the garden. Our garden is not large and doesn't offer many hiding places. You may be able to spot Son, hiding behind this bench.

But can you spot Granddaughter-the-Younger, who was also playing this game (with a little help)?

It was lovely to have them all. The house is now much tidier, but it takes me a while to recover from the sadness when they go away again.

Thursday, March 16, 2017


I hope that the people who made the Lego model of the museum realise how carefully it's studied by the clientele. It was worth the many, many hours of fiddly work that they put into it.

Granddaughter-the-Elder and I had another lovely afternoon there. Today she examined various stuffed (urgh) beasts. I must look more carefully next time to find out what an owl, a white rat (is it?), a turtle, a - what? - shellfish of some sort? and a red squirrel have in common, apart from sharing a glass case.

This is her favourite butterfly. Again, pinned to a board, so a bit urgh, but she's unbothered by this.

It was a beautiful sunny day, though windy.

This is a somewhat fiendishly difficult sort of jigsaw thing, aimed at teaching the food chain (ugh).

Happily, Granddaughter is currently unware of the redness in tooth and claw of nature. Not to say humankind.

Joy, o joy, Daughter 2 has been here this week from London to go to a meeting and then to work in the local office of her firm. She very kindly brought gifts.

 The box of chocolates is no longer completely full.

Maybe I am a real quilter after all if the evidence is that I keep seeing potential ideas in unrelated scenes, such as this shot of Jeremy Paxman on University Challenge. The colours weren't quite as they look here: the blue was royaler, the green was mintier and the beige was golder, and the whole picture made me think of a rather attractive quilt. Though Jeremy Paxman wouldn't, ideally, feature in this. (Urgh.)

Monday, March 13, 2017

We'll take some honey and plenty of money...

Because of the news (Scotland's going to have another referendum for independence AND I JUST CAN'T STAND IT) I shall concentrate on quilts for the moment. My aim was to make one for Grandson with the leftover bits from Mr Life's railway quilt, including the four-patches that I somehow made too small.

And here's the finished top, pre-quilting. I did buy some extra material - the fabric for the red sashing and the blue borders - and I'd previously bought the turquoise fabric with traffic lights, telephone boxes and lampposts with the vague idea of doing something for Grandson. But otherwise I used up scraps.  So thrifty. Ish.

Grandson's favourite colour is red - which is just as well as it turns out. It's actually not such a scarlet shade as it looks in the quilt top photo. Possibly the photo above gives a clearer impression.

I'm very much a beginner and I learn something with every (simple) quilt that I make. In this case, I've discovered that if you take a fairly, but not startlingly, bright fabric and make it into sashing, this intensifies the effect of the colour. I suppose I thought that it would diminish it - being cut into bits. Perhaps it's happened because the sashing is quite wide.

Anyway, Grandson isn't going to be particularly critical of the aesthetics so it doesn't really matter.

Meanwhile I'm considering decamping to a small island somewhere in the middle of the sea till elections, referenda, arguments and counter-arguments are all finished. This may take some time; meanwhile I shall sit and fiddle with bits of fabric and listen to the waves crashing on to the sand. Sounds like a good plan?

(Mr Life - thank you to those who have asked - is considerably better, though this may be because he's stopped coughing and is on painkillers. But his normal life has resumed for the moment.)

Saturday, March 11, 2017


It's been lovely weather, as evidenced by the blue sky. Mr Life and I had a little trip to a newish antique centre the other day but I didn't buy anything, despite temptation. I fear that I have too much stuff. I like stuff, or at least certain stuff, such as bits of glass and wooden boxes, but on the other hand someone will have to do something with it all if I fall down dead suddenly. And if I don't, then I'm going to have to do something with it all at the point when we have to downsize.

We had a nice walk through the New Town (begun in 1780, so not all that new).

 One can't help feeling that it probably looked handsomer before the advent of the motor car.

On the other hand, motor cars are useful.

And we parked ours...

... beside these ones.

It was Granddaughter-the-Elder's birthday yesterday, when she was (astonishingly) 4. Her parents gave her monster feet and her aunt gave her a wolf tail - both greatly appreciated. She likes accessories.

Daughter 1 made her this cake. I made the same design of cake for Daughter 2 when she was about 4. Roll-out icing hadn't been invented at that time so I think mine involved butter icing and coconut "fur". How thirty years do fly by... . 

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Pointy end up

The other day, the grandchildren were getting a bit wild and woolly so we went out into the garden and I set up an obstacle course. It wasn't a very difficult one - we are not, in our family, naturally athletic - but the children enjoyed it and it worked off some of their energy. My part consisted of sitting on a garden chair holding a skipping rope which was tied to a bench - jumping over the rope was part of the course.

I was congratulating myself on the success of this until Grandson said to me, "Now I'll sit on the chair and you run round the course, Granny." How could I refuse? I discovered, however, that this variant of the game wasn't quite as restful ... .

In other news... in what used to be our son's bedroom is this little door. It leads into the eaves, where the pump for the central heating is, and it only gets opened when the heating's being serviced. I was very surprised, the other day, to open it and find, lying on the floor inside: eight towels, one facecloth and some children's books.


We couldn't think how they had come there, but it explained why I had felt some time ago that we had surprisingly fewer towels than I had thought; and bought some more.

None of the family could think of an explanation. We wondered if the culprit could be a gas engineer, but... why would he seek out some perfectly good towels to lie on when he serviced the pump?

Then Mr Life remembered the family who came to stay in our house to catsit nearly three years ago. They had two children of about 7 and 9, and the boy slept in our son's bedroom. He must have made a little den for himself in there. Problem solved! (we assume).

That doesn't, however, explain this note, in my handwriting, which I found the other day under a pile of documents when I tidied my desk. But Daughter 2 says it's generally good advice, so I think we'll have to leave it at that.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

I'm busy doing nothing...

Granddaughter-the-Elder and I had another visit to the Botanics on Tuesday. We didn't get much past the café ("Let's have lunch, darling," she said) because she found a little friend to play with in the playhouse.

I love Edinburgh's skyline. You get the best view of it before all the leaves are on the trees.

Then today I visited my friend Joyce. These are the views of the Forth Bridges from her kitchen window. The one above is the rail bridge...

and this is the road bridge, with the as-yet-unfinished new (extra) road bridge behind it here.

She lives in South Queensferry, just outside the city. We wandered along the High Street,

which was built long before the days of cars...

and had coffee, looking out of the window of the café as we caught up with the news. Ah, the retired life.

And then we wandered back, watching a train crossing the bridge

and boats bobbing in the harbour.

(Meanwhile Granddaughter-the-Elder was at home singing a song, the chorus of which appeared to be, "Don't tie knots in my ears". An original piece, we think.)