Tuesday, July 30, 2019


At the local Arran museum, we found this. It mentions a Miss Currie, who I think was my great-great aunt. My mother's mother's mother was Isabella Currie. She was brought up in Brodick on Arran, and her sisters remained on the island when Isabella married and moved to Glasgow. I can't imagine why she did. If I lived on Arran I would never leave.

Isabella was a very pretty girl, as can be seen in photos we have of her, and she married my great-grandfather, who was a joiner. Her sisters had a certain status in the island and I imagine they weren't very pleased at the match. Presumably Isabella must have been very much in love with Alexander. Anyway (I've told different bits of this story before) Isabella, or Bella as she was known, contracted TB and died at the age of 35, when her children were 3, 5 (my future grandmother) and 6.

The sisters blamed Glasgow for her death - probably rightly, since Arran is a beautiful island with a few villages, whereas Glasgow was a densely-populated industrial city. It's even sadder that her youngest child also got TB and died at the age of 12.

But Granny always went to the island in the holidays, to stay with her aunts - one of whom was presumably this Miss Currie.

Where we were staying in Brodick was just round the corner from the main hotel, which has a swimming pool which we used. This is the view as you turn the corner to the leisure centre.

One of the aunts was lady companion to the Duchess of Hamilton, who lived in Brodick Castle. I imagine that this involved much running upstairs to fetch the Duchess's embroidery (or whatever) but she also went trips with the Duchess, some of them on the Duke's yacht. We didn't know about the yacht until we visited the Castle a couple of years ago and mentioned to a guide that there was a family story that my great-great aunt was once shipwrecked with the Duchess.This seemed a highly unlikely tale to me but the guide said, oh yes, the Duke wasn't a very good sailor and often got into scrapes in his yacht. And now we've seen a picture of it.

All over the island there are beautiful blue hydrangeas, as above. They're blue instead of pink because of the peaty soil. These are in the grounds of the Castle, which now belongs to the National Trust.

The gardens are lovely. I imagine that the view must have been even better in the Duchess's day, before the trees grew so tall, but you can still see the bay more or less at the bottom of the garden.

This is the view coming out of the little supermarket. Rather better than the view from my normal one!

In another life, I'd live on Arran. I love all islands but feel a particular affinity with this one because of our family connection. My lovely granny knew it so well and talked so tenderly of it, as did my mother, who also went there for holidays to stay with the aunts. All the names of the villages - Brodick, Corrie, Sannox, Lochranza, Pirnmill, Machrie, Shiskine, Blackwaterfoot, Lagg, Kildonan, Whiting Bay, Lamlash - are woven into my childhood memory from my granny's tales. 

I suppose it would be a long way to any fabric shops but let's be honest: I have enough fabric to last several lifetimes of quilting.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Away again

Grandson is now eight. Such a big boy. Excuse the scruffy cake. Daughter 1 made him an amazing one, featuring a level crossing.

We've been away with the family to the island of Arran. Daughter 1 and her husband and children and Daughter 2 with her little one came with us. It was good but somewhat exhausting. Little Granddaughter is so lovely and hilarious but frankly a bit of a menace! The house we rented wasn't exactly babyproof - lots of nice, smoothly-opening drawers in the kitchen filled with sharp things and tempting cupboards full of crockery; also a stairgate which kept her out for all of thirty seconds. She doesn't have a stair where she lives and was very keen to play on it. Constant vigilance was essential.

But it was lovely to have three of the grandchildren together and also our two daughters, who don't usually get to spend much time together. There was at least a bit of evening when the children were in bed.

The house owners had left us a message on a light box, which of course we spent the week rearranging, such as in this way -

- we also had "Ron's worm called on Dean". Son-in-Law created both of these.

Arran is a beautiful island. This is Lochranza Castle, dating from the 13th century.

This is a misleading family group, since it's Son-in-Law 1, Daughter 2 (who are in-laws) and Littlest and Mr L.

Daughter 2 is a very dedicated auntie - leapfrog in the garden.

My girls.

And another of them - aka Miss Trouble.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Flowers and buds

Summer is in full swing and the garden is bursting with colour.

I do love it, even though some of the major spreaders are going to have to be dealt with. The garden is not large and some things are determined to take over, such as these pink leucanthemums. They remind me of my youth, though - my girlhood garden had lots of these.

Lavender. I love lavender and this is a particularly bright one.

On the path by the golf course, ragwort and cow parsley are doing their thing too.

 And these oxeye daisies, which are a cousin of the pink ones in the garden.

We went up to visit The Unbloggables today, which was lovely. Here's Middle Granddaughter playing in the sand...

and on the slide, or chute (as we call it here) with Son.

Here's a rare photo of me, with Little Grandson. I have to crop him out so I could hardly crop me out too.

We walked up to the burn (stream) and paddled. Well, Middle Granddaughter and Son did. We didn't bring our boots.

She suits her hat.

This is one of their cats, who for some reason decided to sleep on the gravel. I suppose it was warm and fur must make good padding. She has a nice comfortable bed in the house, plus many blankets on high shelves away from little patting hands.

A lovely day.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Home and back again

I've had a last-minute visit to London - yes, one day at home and then back down again. Daughter 2 and Littlest Granddaughter were supposed to be coming here for a long weekend during which we were all going up north to visit The Unbloggables, but alas, she was unwell and couldn't come. So she hasn't yet met her new nephew and was very sad about it. However, I went down there to do a bit of baby-minding while she did some recovering.

Actually, Littlest Granddaughter isn't really a baby any more. She's 21 months now. Above, she prepares to change her dolly's nappy (so cute!).

Here she is, melting her granny's heart with those big blue eyes

and cheery grin.

She's not the world's best sleeper, except when it's inconvenient of course.

All by herself, she built this fine Duplo construction consisting of self-colour towers. She's not saying the  names of colours yet, but clearly understands the concept and isn't colour blind.

And now I'm home. Can't wait to see her again. And her mum. How I wish they weren't so far away.

Friday, July 05, 2019

Hampton Court flowers

We've been away for a few days visiting my brother and sister-in-law in the south of England, who kindly invited us to go to the Hampton Court Flower Show with them.

The show was wonderful. I love flowers and took far too many photos of them.

Such as this, which I didn't at first recognise as a gladiolus. I wonder if it would grow in my garden... in the space which I have in my mind but which doesn't exist. It might, though, if I ever got round to purging some of the more prolific thugs.

Ah, the pink-and-blueness. I realise that agapanthuses are weeds in Australia, and indeed the one outside my kitchen window has spread hugely and I could never dig it out even if I wanted to. But I don't.

Lavender. You can imagine the scent.

Poppies like little ladybirds.

Alliums, alliums, alliums.

Some of the show gardens had a tendency to make political points - which is fair enough, but they weren't terribly gardeny. Whereas this one is. So beautiful. Unrealistic - the plants would soon become overcrowded. This picture is approximately what I would like heaven to be like. It just needs a pile of books, a some grandchildren and associated family members (this would have to be heaven on earth since I'm not having them die), a few friends, tea and cake...