Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Time goes by

So life continues. The family were all here at the weekend: Daughter 2 was up from London with her bump (8 weeks to go); Son, Daughter-in-Law and the Unbloggable-But-Beautiful Baby came down, the Edinburgh family were around and we all celebrated Son's birthday. They set up an obstacle course in the garden, we went to a playpark, we ate cake and it was all very nice. The Baby is now one and she's walking very confidently so maybe she's turned into The Toddler.

And then they went away and yesterday I took Granddaughter-the-Elder to the Botanics. She rested on a bench at one point. On the way home, we were listening to Mendelssohn's violin concerto on the car radio. "That's a nice tune," she said.

"It was written about 200 years ago," I told her.

"When you were a little baby, Granny?" she enquired.

Well, yes. More or less.

The Festival is now over and Edinburgh has mercifully emptied, at least a bit. One can walk along the pavements in town without being stopped by crowds watching jugglers and without being offered fliers for shows one is unlikely to go to. Don't get me wrong - Festival time is quite fun, but does somewhat impede getting from A to B . (More than somewhat.) There are still lots of tourists but on the whole they're just tourists rather than people who come for three or four weeks every year and know their way around - or think they do.

Anyway. I have recently acquired my 60th apparent follower. I'm afraid I officially follow only 2 bloggers, I think - mainly because I don't really know how this following thing works. I list the blogs that I visit under "Favourites" on my computer and many of them hardly post any more, alas. I wonder if these 60 people actually read my blog, or are they historical, pre-grandchild, ex-readers? I can see that some of them are people I know - in the bloggy sense - but who are the others? The ones I've clicked on often don't have blogs so are just names. Are you really there, 60 people? I know you aren't the millions who follow glamorous young vloggers with names beginning with Z but I'm still curious about you.

Thursday, August 24, 2017


Today was quite an ordinary day - Granddaughter-the-Elder and I went to the Botanics, as we often do - and yet I want to record it for myself because such normal activities are so precious and, I know, so fleeting. I'm very lucky to have two grandchildren living in Edinburgh. We had lunch outside and then she had a chocolate ice cream from the booth conveniently located just to the left of our table. There was a lavender bush, covered in bees, just beside us. "My ice cream," she said meditatively, "smells of bees. And tastes of wasps." Wasps appear to be delicious.

And then she spent a long time rolling down this slope and climbing up it again and rolling down it again... .

After that we strolled through the Chinese garden

and saw this heron sitting hopefully on a rock beside the very fast-flowing, man-made little waterfall. Not a good choice, heron.

And she walked through the grass among the autumn crocuses (but it's NOT autumn yet!).

And stood on stones.

And shuffled very slowly back to the car along this tiny wall, hand-over-hand on the railings. My parking ticket was just about to run out but I could see that there wasn't a parking warden hovering.

Such a golden day. Such a good companion.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Things we like to do

Granddaughter-the-Elder and I had a trip to the Botanics on Thursday. She seems quite interested in plants, unlike her brother. (Me: This plant is called a penstemon. Grandson: Were there street lights when you were a little girl?)

Granddaugher-the-Elder is also very, very keen on books. She can't read yet, but sits for a long time telling herself the stories from books that she's had read to her.

Grandson prefers doing things.

I fished out some of our children's old toys, and the little ones enjoyed playing with Sticklebricks

- Auntie Daughter 2 is good at building things -

and the Shuffly Castle.

Son-in-Law 2, the actor, is in Edinburgh performing in the Fringe, and he read "Flat Stanley" to the children. I don't think they quite realised how good his reading was - lots of different voices and accents - compared to the usual standard of performance around here, but they certainly seemed to enjoy it.

This morning, when I took this photo of the garden, I realised that the light had a slightly autumnal quality. But it's very mild and there are still lots of flowers. It'll be August for ages yet. (Won't it?)

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Gardens and more gardens with some antiques and general indulgence

We've just come back from house-swapping to York, which we've done before, with the same people. House-swapping is great in some ways. You get a free holiday - well, free if you don't count all the lunches out and entrance fees for stately homes and so on - and you know someone is looking after your house so that it's not being burgled, and you know they're watering your plants and so on. It's also good when you come home and find that all the cleaning and tidying you did before you went (because you don't want your swappees to think you're a slob) is still more or less as you left it.

The down side is actually achieving this state of total cleanliness and tidiness all at the same time, while getting ready to go away. Not that packing takes very long these days - a few clean pairs of underclothes and a couple of shirts, some books and away we go. It was much harder when we used to house-swap with three children in tow.

York is a lovely and interesting historic city, so we had fun wandering round and looking at antique shops (I didn't buy anything - go me) and also Goddards, the former home of the Terry family (very desirable indeed, now owned by the National Trust). Chocolate was clearly a very profitable product. Our holiday was enhanced by Daughter 2, who joined us for the weekend. Her baby is due in October, so we had fun buying some little things for Granddaughter 3.

We visited Harlow Carr, the RHS Yorkshire garden, which was slightly past its best but still pretty lovely.

It's built on sloping ground, which gives wonderful vistas.

Then yesterday, Mr L and I went  to Breezy Knees, which is a WONDERFUL garden near York: privately owned and attached to a garden centre. This is our third visit. The owners have a quirky sense of humour!

See below...

But the best thing about it is the planting - so many beds of herbaceous perennials, many of them still blooming even in late summer.

I took dozens of photos. Herbaceous plants are my very favourite kind and, if I had their acres, I'd plant them up just like this (only without the orange ones; I don't like orange). Alas, I have a little garden; but I pack it with plants.

Today we visited Alnwick Castle Gardens, where we've also been before, but it was slightly disappointing because it was definitely too late in the season. Our previous visits have been in, I think, June or July, when they're stunning.

And after a walk to Barter Books - where we bought only three books between us - yes, we were impressed - we came back.

It was a lovely little break - more restful than going away with all the extended family as we did to Norfolk, delightful as the extended family is. However, back to porridge and old clothes, as my mum used to say. (She died five years ago yesterday, as I'm only too aware. I wish she could see her great-grandbabies.)

Back to Zumba tomorrow to work off some of those holiday carbs!

Saturday, August 05, 2017

It's all go...

It's been very changeable weather here: lovely one moment and wet the next. The children and I went to the Gallery of Modern Art and had a cake and a look at the art (Granddaughter-the-Elder thinks surrealism is scary and I'm inclined to agree) and played in the garden.

This is an art installation but the children think it's like a bus shelter and again - it's hard to disagree. But it's fun to take silly pictures using its mirror glass.

Home for a rest and time with literature.

Yesterday a bloggy friend, J of Jee And Me, visited on her way north from the Midlands. It was lovely to meet her. And look what she brought for Grandson and Granddaughter-the-Elder! Washi tape with roads printed on it and a working traffic light, for Grandson...

and a bunny with a complete set of outfits - all made by Pixiemum - for Granddaughter-the-Elder!

So extremely kind and so extremely popular!

And today we all - including Daughter 2, who's up for the weekend - went up north for the (official - the real one is on Monday) first birthday of Grandddaughter-the-Younger, the Unbloggable But Very Beautiful Baby. She's starting to walk unaided - so talented!