Thursday, February 28, 2019

Old and new

We've been in London, visiting Daughter 2, her husband and Littlest Granddaughter. I love the baby's interested little face here.

She discovered to her great amusement that she could fit a raspberry on to the plastic straw of her drinking cup.

She's a very smiley little thing. (Apart from when she isn't. But she mostly is.)

We went to a playpark. The weather was amazing: it's been the hottest February since ever, which is worrying really but at the time, pleasanter than normal winter. It was 21C degrees that day, which is 69.8 F - not at all right.

We also went to Greenwich, on the other side of the river from the Isle of Dogs (which isn't an island). All I knew about Greenwich, apart from the time signal aspect of it, derived from a passage we used to do with students. Greenwich was described as "the long low wedding cake" and the Isle of Dogs as a slum, "where tramps slept out their days in doorways and empty warehouses", the latter acrid with smoke and smelling dimly of the spices that used to arrive there from the docks. As you can see from the photo above, which looks across to the Isle of Dogs, there have been major developments since this passage was written - in, I suppose, the seventies. We went through the Isle of Dogs (kings used to keep their hunting dogs there) on the DLR (Docklands Light Railway) - Mr L likes trains and the DLR is quite new and therefore interesting (it seems). The architecture was quite alarmingly modern - lots of space-agey skyscrapers full of offices, all crammed together with very little sense of comfort for humans in the outside environment. No gardens to speak of, or little shops. Certainly no warehouses, spices, tramps.

Greenwich itself was the site of a royal palace from the fifteenth century but was rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren in the late 1600s as the Royal Naval Hospital (for retired sailors) and later became a naval college. Much more my idea of elegant living (though of course much MUCH too expensive to replicate nowadays).

It's now the site of a music college and from every window we could hear students practising. Littlest insisted on dancing her way along the windows. She was very hard to move on. I don't know whether this means she's musical or just likes dancing. Her father is an actor and singer so she's maybe following in his footsteps - but it's a bit early to tell.

 At one point she decided that it was time for a sit-down and snack so that's what happened.

Ah, spring.

The next day I tidied Daughter 2's garden and was absolutely ROASTED. In February! Look at this cloudless sky. Her garden is very sheltered and I kept having to go and sit down in the shade. In contrast, today I'm tidying our garden and it's really quite chilly - much more normal but rather too much the other extreme. Moderation is what we need, O Weather.

On the way home on the train yesterday I saw this birth announcement in the Times. Could it be a joke? Would anyone actually call their children those names? I very much fear that they might. Poor little crumbs.

And now I'm missing my girls.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Old and young

I forgot to record that we visited Son and family last week. Here's one of their cats coming for a walk with us. She gave up eventually. This road is a dead-end, so she was reasonably safe walking in the middle of it; as were we.

We went to the nearby burn and some of us paddled

and stirred the mud with a stick.

And then to a playpark, where some of us swung.

But then, alas, we had to leave them again.

On Saturday we got a bus from Melville Street, with its typical Georgian New Town architecture,

 to Haddington, where we walked with our friends, admiring the signs of spring,

 along a disused railway line to Longniddry.

This seat was donated by Headway, a head injuries charity. You can see the typical Lowland landscape with the sea not far behind it.

And on Sunday, I introduced Biggest Granddaughter to my mum's teddy. She's nearly 6. He's nearly 97. I don't think she was terribly impressed - he's a bit threadbare and scratchy, filled with straw -  but I like him, particularly because my granny's mending is clearly evident on him. She embroidered these eyes because she was worried about a baby chewing his original button eyes. He's seen a lot of changes since 1922, that teddy, but he's not telling.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Long ago and not quite so long

We took ourselves on the train to Glasgow today. I had wanted to visit the Willow Tearooms for a while - the restaurant designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and recently restored. (Is CRM famous elsewhere, or just in Scotland?) Anyway, when we got there, it seemed surprisingly spoof (Mockintosh, as rip-off versions of the Mackintosh style are known). A little Googling revealed that it was indeed spoof, since the real recreation of the real Willow Tearooms was round the corner, and our one had been subject to litigation for appropriation of the name. However, their cheese scones and coffee were very nice so we forgave them and will go to the proper place (or, properly recreated - let's hope) another time.

Then we visited the Kelvingrove Art Gallery, where Dippy the Dipoldocus is visiting for a while. Dippy is a plaster cast of a diplodocus found in Wyoming in 1898 and bought by Andrew Carnegie (another famous Scot) for his museum in Pittsburgh. Carnegie gifted lots of plaster casts of this skeleton to various cities including London, where this one was on display, latterly in the entrance hall of the Natural History Museum, till 2017, when it was displaced by the skeleton of a blue whale. (We saw a tv programme about this change of skeletons. It was much more interesting than I've made it sound.) Anyway, Dippy is now on a tour of the country and Glasgow is the only Scottish museum where he'll be. (Only one in Wales, too, and one in Ulster - all the others are in England. Hmm.) Anyway, he's BIG. There's Mr L standing under his throat and Mr L is a tall chap.

The Kelvingrove has a wonderful organ and there are daily recitals. Today the organist played tunes suitable for Valentine's Day - by Cole Porter, Richard Rogers and so on - including "My Funny Valentine". I do love that era of popular music. I think the pink lighting was specially for today too. There are big screens on which you can see the organist's feet on the pedals (he was wearing pink socks - clearly an effort had been made) and his hands on the keys.

We also looked at the exhibition of Glasgow Boys paintings (again, do people outside Scotland know about the Glasgow Boys?) I think I've possibly featured this chap before, but I do love him. He's Old Willie, a village worthy in Kirkcudbright, painted in 1886. (Kirkcudbright is pronounced Kircoobri, should you ever need to know this.) My photo is a bit blurred, but you can see his strong features and (I fancy) resignation at being made to stand still while this painter chappie does his thing. I imagine he wasn't actually all that old, but he must have been born in the 1820s or so. I do like these links with the past.

And we also saw an exhibition of twelve Michelangelo drawings, which were predictably amazing. I didn't have the nerve to take any photos in case the flash went off by error so I bought a postcard and photographed that instead.  The picture shows a Roman being accosted by gypsies, though the chap on the left is clearly Prince Philip.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Appearance and reality

At Christmas, Mr L's (childless) cousin gave us this gingerbread construction kit, thinking that it would be a fun thing to do with the children on Christmas Day. Somehow - unaccountably - it didn't seem to fit in with the day of feeding 15 people with widely differing nutritional needs and wrangling 7, 5, 2 and 1-year-olds. However, the other day we got round to doing it. I had always assumed that Thimbleanna, who has a family gingerbread-house-making day, had created the whole thing from scratch. Now, having tried this feat using a kit, I realise that this would be taking family togetherness WAY too far.  Suffice to say it didn't end up looking like the example on the packet - and that was with Mr L doing most of the construction and the children mainly adding the sweeties. I think the one on the packet must have been made with concrete and Polyfilla. 

Anyway, the little ones enjoyed it and I'm told it tasted nice too. It went home with them. I had had enough of it by the time it got to this stage... .

On Saturday I took them on the bus to a stage production of "The Cat In The Hat". They like sitting upstairs at the front of buses. I can't say that I'm a great fan of Dr Seuss - you couldn't call his plots exactly intricate and I find his use of language somewhat tedious - but it was well done and the children enjoyed it. It's such fun having them to myself! They were very good.

A few hours ago they left to visit their other grandparents down south but before they did, they were with us, and Grandson drew various road layouts ("I've drawn a traffic light attached to a tree") while Biggest Granddaughter coloured a pirate granny (she said) on to a cut-out shape. I'm not sure why this granny (who isn't me, I'm told) has only one eye (though I suppose this is a bit traditional for pirates - after all she has only one hand and leg) but she does have a fancy necklace (it's not a collar). I also like the heart on her boot.

Blogger now says this (below) on the Dashboard page. I wonder whether the young people who post these messages have the faintest idea how little this means to elderly users like me. It might as well say "Colourless green ideas sleep furiously". This would be just as helpful. Maybe it's important; I hope not. Anyway, we'll see if I ever manage to post again. 

In regard to which - since various commenters were kind enough to say that they'd miss my blog - I've realised that I could continue doing it, while at the same time copying and pasting it on to a Word document for myself with more meaningful pictures of the grandchildren. At least, I think I could, unless the widget thing means anything vital. 

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+1 buttons: The +1/G+ buttons and Google+ share links below blog posts and in the navigation bar will be removed. 

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Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Just another day

I'm still slowly sorting through my mother's things and came across this photo of me aged about 5. Most unusually that day I was playing with a little girl from up the street - she was slightly older and we didn't often play together. We were in her garden and her father, who was a press photographer, came out and took pictures of us. In those days (1955) we didn't have many clothes - it was still post-war austerity. So when we went out to play, we tended to wear things that didn't matter - in this case, a brown, hand-knitted jumper of rather rough wool that was slightly too small for me and had one broken button, and that blouse, which was striped - I think it was yellow and white. And I think my bow was yellow to match. It's funny how I remember these things, while I have difficulty remembering what I wore yesterday. The photographer gave my parents a print of this photo, and my mum - who was a smart person - was sorry that I'd been dressed in those rather scruffy clothes, with my hair uncombed. And now that I look at it, I do look rather urchin-like.

I always hated those bows. I thought I looked silly. I was a very shy child.

Today we went to Stockbridge to give things to a charity shop. On the way, the mist suddenly came down.

This is Stewart's Melville School, which looks very ethereal here, though the traffic lights rather spoil the effect. 

Then we walked through the Dean Village for a bit

and along the river.

These high buildings high up at the back are part of the New Town. Edinburgh is a hilly city.

And we walked back into Stockbridge and came home.

I've just calculated that my latest quilt, which I'm just cutting out, has 1280 corners to match, plus stars to add on, plus borders (which I'm considering making strippy). This is madness. But fun.