Sunday, March 31, 2019


On Friday, Grandson stayed the night and on Saturday we went up to visit Son and family. (Oldest Granddaughter has ballet on Saturday mornings so she didn't come.) Grandson got us up at 6.30 and we played "Heads, Bodies and Legs", which he thinks most amusing. We also had a go at playing Consequences with words - he can write well now - which was also fun.

Son lives in the country. This is the track near his house. Here he is with Grandson and Middle Granddaughter, walking up to the burn.

And here are Grandson and Middle Granddaughter paddling in the burn.

I like the country and in a different life would live in a small town by the sea, with lots of varied walks from the house. However, generally speaking this doesn't really exist - small towns and villages don't have a large variety of easily accessible walks. Son and family have to go in the car to get more or less anywhere. However, Grandson enjoyed his morning paddling in the water, which is quite near the house.

Our three children live in such different surroundings, far apart from each other. Daughter 1 is in Edinburgh, a smallish city but with lots to do. Daughter 2 is in London, a huge, busy and cosmopolitan city. Son is in the country. They were brought up the same way and get on well, but their choices of spouse has made so much difference. Daughter 2 is married to an actor so will never move back here. He needs to be in London. And Son is married to a country girl so that's where they live. And because house prices are so wildly different in the three places, they live in very different houses.

Stupidly, I don't think it ever occurred to me, when they were children or teenagers, that any of them would move away. I knew some people's children did, of course. I just never factored it into my thinking for ours.

Anyway, we had a good day, Grandson got to spend some time with his little cousin and they enjoyed playing in a playpark in the afternoon. He's getting tall. He'll be 8 in the summer. In another 8 years he'll be 16 and who knows where he'll decide to go a few years after that? I hope he sticks around... though whether I'll manage to do so is another question.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Days off

On Saturday we took ourselves on a little train trip to Berwick, just three miles over the border into England. Berwick was fiercely contested between Scotland and England for many years. It's been English since 1482, when Richard of Gloucester (the rotter) captured it from us. It has fairly intact medieval city walls - built to keep the Scots out. We had a pleasant walk around these.

I like the way the town has been built haphazardly, with things at different angles to one another.

The walls had rooms built into them but I think it must have been fairly chilly in there as they kept guard.

Berwick has a harbour, which I suppose is what made it desirable to both sides. I like the name of the boat. (Leith is in Edinburgh.)

Then today, back home, we went to the museum - without children (for once) - and were able to look about more than usual. These scent bottles are displayed at the cafe and I took time to read that they're part of a collection of 300 belonging to Ida Pappenheim, who was born in 1867 and lived in Vienna. She died in 1938. Her bottles were stored in a cellar during the war and most of them survived. Her daughter Marianne came to Edinburgh in 1945 as a translator and donated the bottles to the museum in 1971. I wonder why. Did she have no children, or did she have children who weren't interested in them?

I think they're very pretty, but 1971 was before the revival in the fashion for eighteenth and nineteenth century things - which are now unfashionable again, though I still like them. (But then, I'm no longer young.)

We inspected the two recently-opened galleries, from which I would like this plate, please. It claims to have been made about 1430 and is in stonkingly good condition - not a chip. Personally I would have estimated 1985, which is why I wouldn't get a job as a museum curator with my current knowledge about ceramics. But it would look lovely in my sitting room anyway.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Bustin' out all over

The weeks are flying past, mainly because I'm spending long hours making patchwork stars. You'd think this was very easy - well, it's not exactly intellectual, but it's a tremendous fiddle, requiring frequent adjustments. Each 16-patch with added star takes 2-3 hours (yes, I realise my proper sewing friends could do them much quicker) and there are 20 of them. And I'm now wondering if I need an extra row, which would be another 4. I must be mad... .

Anyway, I visited a friend for coffee the other day. Her flat overlooks the sea and the Forth Bridge - above. She's such a lovely person. Her much-older husband has fairly suddenly become very frail indeed; he's so lucky to have her to look after him.

And it's spring! I slaved away on the garden a couple of weeks ago and got it all tidied up, so it's looking good - showing off all the lovely flowering bulbs. I do love hyacinths. The scent is wonderful, even outside.

There are lots of daffodils, though as ever, some are being nibbled by pesky slugs and snails. Still, I suppose they have to eat too (I try to tell myself).

Luckily they don't eat hyacinths. My we're-all-God's-creatures attitude might not stretch that far.

The trouble with taking photos of the garden is that it makes me notice that the fence looks a bit scruffy.

Grandson: Oh good, we're having Nutella on our pancakes!
Daughter 1: Well, it's chocolate spread. There aren't any nuts in it.
Grandson: Just Ella, then. 

(I thought this was quite a good joke for a 7-year-old.)

Saturday, March 16, 2019


In answer to your question, Toffeeapple, yes, our Edinburgh little ones are tall, especially Biggest Granddaughter. They have tall grandfathers and a tall father, though we're extremely medium-to-short in my ancestral family.

The other day we set out to recce a walk for our group to do today. The weather was lovely. Here, I pushed my phone through the fence to take a photo of a small part of the extensive private gardens in Queen Street - you can get a key only if you live or work in one of the streets looking on to them. The houses are all very expensive, so it's a pretty exclusive place to walk your rich dog.

When I rule the country, these gardens will be opened up to the public - though only those who don't drop litter or spray graffiti.

Anyway, we plunged down to Stockbridge and walked along the river,

 along the back of the lower New Town

through Inverleith

to Leith. It was splendid. Sun, blue skies, balmy breezes. 

On Thursday we walked in the Botanics. Spring was everywhere.

Fluttering and dancing and all that.

And then today - the day of the walk for which we'd done the recce for the group - this happened. After much emailing to and fro, we decided to cancel the outing. Thanks, weather.

But it's not important compared to other things that happen in this problematical world.

At one of my choirs, we're singing John Ireland's setting of part of a poem by  J Addington Symonds. Depressingly, though Symonds was born in 1840, his vision is still very far from coming to pass (though I'm not so sure about the "man's lordship" bit - maybe that has, at least for the moment, and it's not entirely a good thing). I'm not saying it's deathless poetry but because we've been practising it, it's fixed fairly firmly in my head. And whenever we sing it, I feel his vision seems so desirable (though with some women around and a bit of patchwork).

So. Roll on that loftier race.

From A Vista

Say, heart, what will the future bring
To happier men when we are gone?
What golden days shall dawn for them,
Transcending all we gaze upon?

These things shall be! A loftier race
Than e'er the world hath known shall rise
With flame of freedom in their souls,
And light of science in their eyes.

They shall be gentle, brave and strong
Not to shed human blood, but dare
All that may plant man's lordship firm
O'er earth and fire and sea and air.

Nation with nation, land with land
Unarmed shall live as comrades free;
In every heart and brain shall throb
The pulse of one fraternity.

They shall be simple in their homes,
And splendid in their public ways,
Filling the mansions of the state
With music and with hymns of praise.

In aisles majestic, halls of pride,
In gardens, groves and galleries,
Manhood and age and youth shall meet
To grow by converse inly wise.

New arts shall bloom of loftier mould,
And mightier music thrill the skies,
And every life shall be a song
When all the earth is Paradise.

These things - they are no dream - shall be
For happier men when we are gone:
Those golden days for them shall dawn
Transcending all we gaze upon.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019


Our grandson loves his Brio train set. It was actually Son's Brio train set, but it's been added to over the past few years and even more so over the last couple of weeks, when I found some second-hand for sale in Edinburgh on Gumtree and couldn't resist buying it. He was extremely pleased. We may now have rather too much of it for the size of our sitting room. Biggest Granddaughter was also quite interested for a while after the extra stuff arrived, especially in the trees and the people that came with it, but after a while she decided to decorate one of the boxes that it came in. They're definitely a girl and a boy.

Presently the Brio started escaping from the room and invaded the hall. Grandson had an ambition to make it go up the stairs, but he didn't have enough boosting bits. This may be just as well.

Daughter 2 and Littlest Granddaughter were supposed to arrive for a long weekend on Friday evening, but, alas, there was a fatality on the line somewhere between York and Newcastle and the trains were very disrupted. Daughter and Littlest ended up staying Friday night in a hotel in York, the alternative being to transfer on to a replacement bus to Newcastle and then get another train, which would have meant a very late arrival indeed. Of course it's absolutely awful that anyone should want to end his/her life this way, but it must be almost equally awful for the train driver and those who have to deal with the aftermath. And it causes huge disruption for thousands of people. It's hard to imagine being quite so blind to all the consequences for others as to commit suicide under a train; unless maybe the person actually wants to make an impact on as many people as possible? I suppose they're in such a state that they're incapable of thinking straight. How very terrible.

Anyway, Daughter 2 and Littlest arrived on Saturday and it was lovely to see them, though not so lovely to say goodbye again on Monday.

Yesterday we went up to see Son and Medium Granddaughter, the Unbloggable Small Person. She's such a sweetie and very chatty and interesting, and she knows us and seems to be happy to see us. But we only see her for a few hours every few weeks so it's pleasure mixed with sadness. (Yes, I do know that we're lucky to have these lovely grandchildren and I shouldn't complain. But still.)

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Edinburgh in the spring

I went to the dentist for a check-up today and took some photos on the way back to the bus stop.

This is the New Town. It must have all looked better when it was first built (from 1760 onwards) because cars and street furniture don't exactly add to the aesthetic, but I imagine there were a lot of carriages and horse droppings then.

It's all rather handsome, though.

I do like living here, especially now that spring's well on its way.

I've just got back to patchwork after a bit of a break, what with visiting London and various other social and other events. I'm making stars in the middle (well, not actually the middle) of 16-patches, which isn't easy for a person whose spatial awareness isn't her best skill. I keep having to think about which way the points of the stars should go. Fortunately the squares are only 3 and a half inches, so mistakes are fairly quick to rip out. (Ask me how I know this... .) I've only done one 16-patch (out of twenty) so far (well, apart from the one I did a while ago and then decided that the white star didn't show up enough so I'd do yellow stars instead). Most of the fabrics in the one I've completed didn't have an up and a down, but some of the other fabrics do, so this will be an extra feature to bear in mind (and then get wrong anyway). Maybe I'll get quicker as I go along?

Hey ho. It's madness but also satisfying. (Eventually.)