Friday, November 29, 2019

Salvador Dali lives again

Last Sunday, Big Grandson (8) drew this - for him - unusual picture. Most of his drawings at the moment are of buses or trains. But this surreal offering is of the trophies won, in some parallel universe, by his bed-cuddle polar bear, whose name is for some reason spelt Poalee. Poalee seems to have won an amazing selection of trophies, starting long before Grandson himself was born. The explanation of the dates is that Poalee predates Grandson by some years. The explanation of the trophies is more obscure, particularly the one for wine dricking. The others are for running, high jump, long jump, ice skating, snowman making, stair climing, fish gobbling, question answering, veggie diet and pizza eating. A rare combination of accomplishments, you'll agree.

The weather earlier in the week was like this - somewhat dreich, as we say in Scotland.

I was sorry for the tourists, but on the other hand,

Scotland isn't renowned for excellent weather in November and I can't think why anyone would choose to come now. However, the last couple of days have been sunny and beautiful.

We gave the Edinburgh grandchildren some Christmas jumpers today. Mr Life couldn't resist buying Grandson's, which features buses and tube trains.

I'm off down to London tomorrow to get some cuddles from Littlest Granddaughter and her mum. Which will be very nice.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Five little ducks

On a recent holiday to York, Daughter 1 and her husband took the children to Pizza Hut. This is a rare event - indeed I think the first time they'd been - and the children thought it was wonderful. Pizza! Chips! Salad. Unlimited drinks! Unlimited ice cream! So Big Grandson has been suggesting that we might try the Edinburgh Pizza Hut and we did this on Friday. Big success. Pizza! Chips! Salad. Unlimited drinks! Unlimited ice cream! (Fortunately they were quite full by the time it came to the ice cream.)

"We could do this every Friday," suggested Big Grandson, optimistically.

Yesterday we went up north to see Son and family. The children have been unwell with colds and coughs but Medium Granddaughter was quite lively. We had a game of Connect 4 and I decided to try hard for a while - and then to let her win. (She's three and three months.) I did try, and before I could stop trying - she won. Hmm. I wouldn't say that games like that are my strength, but she's three! Must try harder. Our niece was a huge Connect 4 addict when she was about five, and the family spent many collective hours playing it with her one Christmas, so I sent her a photo of Medium Granddaughter playing it and to our amazement, our niece didn't remember anything about her addiction, which was presumably only a temporary, seasonal thing. That was time we'll never get back... .

Some painting also happened.

Also some admiration of her little brother, who is now 6 months, sitting up and chatting volubly if not comprehensibly.

We also went to Dundee Science Centre, where Medium Granddaughter examined a dinosaur with that orange magnifying glass that you can't quite see.

This morning, we chatted with Small Granddaughter over the phone, and watched her pretending to have a nap in her cot, with her quilt pulled over her. She sang us a whole verse of "Twinkle, twinkle, little star". I don't want to overemphasise her genius - it wasn't pronounced precisely right all the time, nor was it exactly in tune - but it was quite recognisable. You know, if you knew it in the first place. Which we do.

 And this afternoon we went to The Yard with the Edinburgh grandchildren, where you see Big Grandson playing with bubbles and Big Granddaughter dressing up as a pirate. "A good one."

I was just wondering what on earth I did with myself Before Grandchildren but then I remembered: I worked. I worked very hard. That seems like a different life now. This one's probably better, but the snag is that we're getting rather old - Mr L is 71 and I'm 69. We must try to survive, so that we can see these lovely children grow up a bit.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Bouncing and walking

On Friday afternoon we took the children to the local trampoline / soft play centre. It was lovely to see them having such fun. I do feel lucky.

Then on Saturday, we went for a walk with our friends in the Borders. It was rather a damp day, though not actually raining to any extent. The autumn leaves had mainly fallen, but they made a pretty path.

 It was a very varied walk, through woodland and open country,

 through fields

and more woods

and past more fields

such as this one, with kale grown for the sheep - which were tucking in just out of sight of this photo. I'm glad I'm not a sheep.

After ten fairly muddy miles - we got back to the Barony Castle Hotel.

We weren't discouraged by the motto above the door. It would have taken more than that to stop us from sitting down and enjoying our coffee and scones.

It was a lovely day, though as George, our minor celebrity, remarked later, "Interesting how it became a good walk some hours after we'd finished it."

Thursday, November 14, 2019


So... not much has happened, though I've spent a long time at my computer Getting Things Organised. Biggest Granddaughter (6) drew this splendid picture of a cat teapot and cup, which is large and very cheering. I don't know where she got the idea but I like its boldness.

We've been on walks.

It's getting chilly - we've had a few frosts.

On Tuesday, I had coffee with a school friend. I waited for her in the street and tried to remember why this pillar box (postbox) had been painted gold. I decided (rightly) that it was for Chris Hoy, when he won a gold medal in some cycling event in the Olympics. Cycling round a velodrome doesn't seem to me the most interesting of activities, nor yet the most useful to society, but - each to his/her own.

This friend and I had both been very friendly with Mary, who sadly died of dementia a few years ago in her early sixties. Mary was a lovely person, very clever and sociable and successful and talented in many ways, but she married, in her forties, an older chap who was controlling and not interested in her friends. So we didn't see much of her after that. He was twelve years older and I always thought (somewhat uncharitably) that when he died, we would get Mary back.

And today, his death announcement was in the paper. He also died of dementia. Too late for Mary to join us, though. There are now up to 10 of us who started at the same school at the age of 5 and who now meet up every three months for lunch. I'm sure Mary would have loved to come.

Talking of activities that aren't particularly useful to society, I've finished a cot quilt for the baby of a friend of Daughter 2. She asked for it to be bright, in blues, and in solids. (She's an architect and doesn't do fancy. I'm lucky she didn't ask for grey and black.) This isn't my usual sort of thing and though I quite like it, it's not my favourite of the quilts I've made so far. I used some colours that aren't precisely blue and sneaked in little corners of pattern - I'm not sure why and I kind of wish I hadn't - but I think it's fine.

I did go slightly rogue on the back, though. He's got to have something interesting to look at. And if his first words are house, carousel, flag, bunny, elephant, bird, birdhouse, cat, teapot, butterfly, seagull and book, then I shall take full credit.

PS it was so nice to have comments from people I'd hardly heard of. Thank you! And also I do appreciate comments from people I have heard of but who don't have blogs for me to visit and reciprocate. Hello to you all.

Saturday, November 09, 2019

Pictures and such like

My brother and sister-in-law have been staying with us for a few days. On Thursday, we went to an exhibition of the paintings of Mary Cameron (1865-1921), of whom none of us had ever heard. She was an Edinburgh artist and was rather good - good enough not to be forgotten. we felt. Above, she painted a picture of a French soldier being shot - an unusual choice for a lady. I think she's captured the movement very well. Not that I've ever seen someone being shot, I'm thankful to say.

She also worked a lot in Spain, notably painting bullfights - also quite surprising.

This is Segovia. I like the way she's rendered the light.

Then today, Brother and Mrs Brother were at an event, so Mr L and I took ourselves to an exhibition at the museum about Scotland - Wild and Majestic - Romantic Visions of Scotland. It was very interesting - dealing with the emergence of Scotland as a place with a romantic image. Above are two members of the household of the Chief of Clan Grant, painted in 1714. At that point, Highlanders were seen by some southerners and wild and uncivilised, but these portraits were designed to impress visitors with the Laird of Grant's authority as a traditional leader.

After the Battle of Culloden in 1746, in which the Jacobites led by Bonnie Prince Charlie were defeated by the army of King George II, Scots were forbidden to wear Highland dress, including the kilt and tartan. Above is a translation of a Gaelic poem expressing what this veto of their traditional dress meant.

When the ban was lifted in 1782, tartan became very fashionable. This dress was worn by Mary Jane MacDougall when she was presented to George IV on his visit to Edinburgh in 1822. It's decorated, would you believe, with beetles' wings. Imagine having to sew these on!

It seems very hard on the dressmaker, not to say the beetles - but on the other hand their wings are still beautiful, which is more than one can say for Mary Jane, or come to that George IV.

We then walked down into Princes Street, where the gardens were also looking lovely in the sunshine. This is a statue of Wojtek, a bear adopted by a Polish regiment in World War II. He helped carry ammunition, was promoted to colonel and ended his life in Edinburgh Zoo.

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Ring a ring

This weekend, Daughter 2 and Littlest Granddaughter came up from London for a visit, which was lovely. Littlest is getting quite good at speaking now and she's certainly a character.

Look, Thimbleanna, here she is playing with the train that you brought for Bigger Grandson when he was a tiny chap.

On Sunday, which was especially lovely, Son and Daughter-in-Law came down from their northern home with Middle Granddaughter and Small Grandson so we had all three of our offspring plus two spouses and all five grandchildren. And here are all the little ones sitting on the sofa together! Such an AWWW photo for a granny.

And almost as good, here's Son reading to them all - well, except the baby. Son is the youngest of our children (and is 35, and a doctor) and of course to me he'll always be my baby. But he did look quite grownup here, covered with children. The oldest two are competent readers but they seemed to enjoy being part of the listening heap.

After Son and family departed, Littlest, who has what one might call leadership qualities, started to organise us all. We were spread over two rooms and - a room at a time - she called us all to the bottom of the stairs by beckoning us individually and saying, "Here!" When she'd got us all there, she herded us up the stairs ("Up!"), following on behind. We stood obediently on the landing and she shepherded us into a bedroom. We stood there, hostages, while she stayed in the doorway. Then Daughter 2 said, "Will we sing Ring-a-ring-a-roses?" and Littlest said "Yeah" so we all joined hands and went round in a circle, singing and falling down appropriately for several rounds of the song. Then someone said, "How about a different song?" and Littlest said, "Ba ba sheep," so we had a few performances of that. If ever anyone suggested something else, she said firmly, "Ba ba sheep".

It was all very hilarious and if the chap next door had happened to glance across from his bedroom window, he'd have been puzzled to see us - Daughters 1 and 2, Son-in-Law 1, Biggest Grandson, Middle Granddaughter, Mr L and me - solemnly going round in a circle. Littlest would have been invisible to him, being so small.

Eventually she relented and allowed us to go downstairs again.

It's such a ridiculous, but at the same time wonderful, family memory. She's small and peachy but she knows her mind.

Friday, November 01, 2019

Flowers and leaves

The weather's been lovely recently. I took a walk down to the recently-replanted Saughton Park to see what it's like in autumn. Many of the plants are herbaceous so the flowers were mainly over, but in the entrance conservatory the thyme (I think that's thyme?) was still full of colour and the scent was glorious.

I admired the bandstand, set among grasses. I don't hugely like them but they do provide lines of yellow.

And this bed, though there were few flowers, still showed colour in the foliage.

There were some late blooms, such as this poppy - splendidly red.

Verbena was still flowering - I really must try to get it established in my garden if it flowers as late as this. I love its movement in the wind.

Penstemon still soldiered on.

And by the river, golden leaves (can't quite think what that tree is, but it's pretty) and holly berries.

Autumn isn't my favourite season, but it certainly has its beauties.