Tuesday, October 31, 2017


Happy Hallowe'en.

When I was a little girl, Hallowe'en was certainly celebrated (I rather think it was a Scottish thing more than an English one?) but it was far, far simpler than now - when there are Hallowe'en decorations and elaborate costumes. Indeed it was still simple in my children's childhood. Costumes were just anything from the dressing up box. And children did go round the doors, but it wasn't trick-or-treating, it was guising (from disguising) and children sang a song or told a joke in exchange for sweets, apples or nuts or (by my children's time) small amounts of money. This guising is still what happens in Scotland, though I think it may be slightly more commercial now, and the costumes are certainly fancier - and bought.

And at home we dooked for apples (ducked our heads into bowls of water with apples and nuts floating in them) and tried for the jeely piece - a jam or treacle sandwich suspended on a string - you took it in turns to try to bite this with your hands behind your back. My brother and I used to go to my granny's to do the dooking and jeely piece. Our grandchildren did the same thing at a party just the other day.

I had lunch with school friends today - the five of us have known each other since we were five years old. We reminisced as usual. One of them, Kay, had quite a sad childhood - her mother died when Kay was born, her father remarried someone who wasn't very kind and then the stepmother left when my friend was eleven. Our teacher, Miss Rattray, asked Kay to stay behind after class one day and asked her gently how things were now that the stepmother was no longer around. (Kay was actually quite pleased that she'd left.) Then Miss Rattray gave her some household hints - presumably thinking that Kay would be doing more housework now - and the main one, or at least the one that Kay remembers, was how to iron lace. (On the wrong side, apparently.)

Was this in 1800, one wonders? No: 1962.

Changing times... .

Saturday, October 28, 2017


We were supposed to be going with the Edinburgh family to see Son, Daughter-in-Law and Granddaughter the Younger, but Grandson and Granddaughter the Younger were both a bit ill, so we didn't. Sigh. So Mr L and I walked down the river to the Botanics. The autumn colours aren't particularly good this year - too mild? too dry?  but it was still quite scenic.

You would never guess that there's a busy road going over that bridge.

It's peaceful down here. To the right you can see the backs of some New Town houses - made of cheaper stone, while the fronts are the more expensive stuff. Clearly Scots have been economical at least since 1760.

And we wandered through the Dean Village

 with flowers still blooming in pots,

past St Bernard's Well

and into Stockbridge (here's the expensive stone)

to the Botanics, where we admired this dahlia

and some more late flowers.

So we had a good day all the same. And the little ones don't seem too ill.

Thursday, October 26, 2017


Granddaughter the Youngest seems to be doing well and the London family is settling into familyhood.

 Daughter 2 wanted to be sent some family baby pictures to see whether Granddaughter the Youngest looked like her as a baby. This is what she herself looked when she was a week old. I think there's some resemblance.

This led to much reminiscence and comparison of other old photos, such as this one, of the children and me (making a very strange face) in my parents' garden.

And this in turn led us to compare Daughter 2 (above) with her niece, Granddaughter the Eldest, below. There is a definite family resemblance.

Granddaughter the Eldest and I had a trip to the museum the other day. It was a bit wet so she jumped in some small puddles.

And then - among other activities - she found out some things about animals...

... and once more dressed up as Mary Queen of Scots, or perhaps one of her contemporaries.

And then we went home on the bus. A most satisfactory day.

Friday, October 20, 2017


Well, Granddaughter the Youngest has arrived, 5 days early, and we've been down in London helping out a bit.

Obviously, she's a lovely baby.


In not quite such good news, she's got jaundice (as all our children and most of our grandchildren did, to a greater or lesser extent) which has caused problems with feeding and so on - not what any of us want. However, we hope she'll get better soon.

Daughter 2 and Son-in-Law 2 are rightly besotted with her.

And now we're back home while the other grandparents occupy the spare room. Can't wait to hear that things have improved; can't wait to see her again.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

That was the week

It's been a busy old week - not with anything unusual, but I feel the world's had enough of unusual things recently. On Sunday I took the older grandchildren to The Yard, where they had a fine time sploshing around.

How delighted I am that there's somewhere (that isn't my garden) where they can do this.

Then from Monday to Wednesday I had a lovely visit to Daughter 2, Son-in-Law 2 and the Bump. We mainly gardened and had lots of chats. Lots and LOTS of chats. I did manage to persuade her to have some rests as well. Six days to go now till the official due date. I'm not sure if I'll survive the stress. It's much easier on the nerves to have babies yourself than to wait for your daughters to do so. She seems fine, though.

Then Granddaughter 2 and I visited the museum on Thursday but fortunately for you, I forgot my phone, so no photos. Here, however, is Grandson on Friday, painting a big picture ("It's a wall painting, Granny. You need to put it on a wall." Ok then.) It shows the weather in the course of a day. It begins: The sun. Haray! [Hurray!] and goes on: The Rain. Uoh! [Uh-oh.] His spelling isn't perfect but he had a concept. The painting later acquired more grass, and trees.

Granddaugher-the-Elder dictated a story to me: "Once upon a time there was a bat. Along came a fox and the fox ate the bat! The bat was eaten! The End."

(She is made of sterner stuff than her mother, who once burst into inconsolable tears because the Pobble didn't have any toes. Then there was the time when she wanted me to put all the leaves back on the trees because they were falling off.)

And today Mr Life and I took ourselves to the museum to see their exhibition about Bonnie Prince Charlie (it was good) and whom should we unexpectedly meet but Daughter 1 and the children? While Daughter 1 and Grandson popped up to look at the trains, Granddaughter-the-Elder and I went, at her request, to one of the dressing-up places, where she put on a Mary-Queen-Of-Scots-like dress and headdress and solemnly danced to appropriate music selected from the buttons behind her.

What in the world would I do without them all?

Sunday, October 08, 2017


We went to a wonderful exhibition on Saturday at the City Art Centre of various rather charmingly random objects from different city collections. This is part of an amazing painted panorama of  Edinburgh in the late 1700s: rather less built up than it is now.

And this is about 1870 - only ten years before my older grandfather was born, amazingly (to me), since all these fields are built over now and it's hard to believe that it all looked like this when he was a boy. This shows Craigleith Quarry, from which much of the stone for the New Town was taken. It's now completely filled in and there's a shopping centre there. We live not far away. It would be so nice if the city still looked so rural, though inconvenient if our house weren't there any more.

It was a lovely day as we walked home,

through the gardens,

watching people as they paid to climb the Scott Monument, which I did once in my energetic youth but don't plan to do again.

And along we went through another part of the gardens.

We admired the plants still flowering in Coates Crescent. (This is part of the New Town - begun in the 1760s  and built of that Craigleith sandstone.) Edinburgh Council has started giving us these beds of herbaceous flowers instead of bedding plants. I like them but they'll be quite labour intensive. I'm interested to see whether they're just dug up after the season or cut down and left for next year.

I'm off to London tomorrow for a flying visit to Daughter 2. I can't wait to see her. Probably this will be my last visit before the baby arrives. Changes, changes... .

Wednesday, October 04, 2017


When you're getting on a bit, you might (well, I might) have a tendency to think: Ah, autumn! The sere and yellow! Death isn't far behind! But then you go to the Botanic Gardens with Granddaughter 2 and she says,  "Look at the leaves, Granny! Can I kick them?"

And she does.

"I'm going to make a leafman, Granny. Here's his head. Here's his scarf. And his buttons. And look, this twig is his nose."

"And now I'll knock him down."

Who wouldn't enjoy autumn with such a companion? ("I'll just put my hood up in case it rains, Granny.")

Monday, October 02, 2017


On Saturday we drove up north to visit Son, Daughter-in-Law and Granddaughter-the-Younger. Daughter 1, Grandson and Granddaughter the Elder came too. Daughter 2, whose baby is due towards the end of October, isn't coming up again from London before the due date in case the baby arrives early, in the wrong city. It's a very strange thought that the next time Daughter 2 is here, she'll be a mum. But it may be quite a while before she can come. Train journeys with small babies can be fraught.

The baby will be Granddaughter-the-Youngest. All this nomenclature is a bit complicated. Maybe I should just use their ages: Grandson (6) - mind you, he's the only grandson; Granddaughter (4), Granddaughter (1) and Granddaughter (0). Or the initials of their surnames? That would make their relationship to each other clear, I suppose. Grandson and Granddaughter W; Granddaughter D; Granddaughter P. But it's not much clearer in any other way, unless I use the same initials for their parents.

I'm sure no one else really cares but I have to call them something and it doesn't seem a good idea to use their actual names. Frogdancer gives her four boys completely plausible names which nevertheless aren't theirs, which made it confusing (for me) when she and I met, since she naturally referred to them by their real names. And Stomper Girl gave hers nicknames, and then when we became Facebook friends and I learnt their actual names, it took me ages to get used to them.

Anyway. We spent a long time in the playpark on Saturday and while you couldn't exactly say that the siblings played with their cousin, we were all in approximately the same place.  Granddaughter-the-Younger can walk confidently now.

Afterwards we went back to Son's and the children all drew. Granddaughter-the-Younger can hold a crayon and make scribbles (so talented). I don't think it occurred to me to give my children crayons when they were newly one, but possibly I did. It's been a while.

Anyway, she's a beautiful child, as you can't tell from the photo. I wish we could be more part of her life. But we're so lucky to be quite a big part of the Edinburgh ones' lives. You can't have everything.