Monday, September 28, 2020

Plodding on through semi-lockdown

Nothing much has been happening except lots of quilting of my African fabrics quilt, some walks and some gardening. Oh, and in Son's case, a mouse. He was looking after the children (4 and 1) by himself while his wife was at work when he became aware that the cat was looking with interest at the radiator. This was because there was a mouse behind it (brought in, doubtless, by the cat). Son attempted to extract the mouse, which promptly ran up the inside of his sleeve. After a bit he managed to decant it into this empty jug. Meanwhile, however, his little son had taken the opportunity to remove a packet of cereal from the kitchen cupboard and empty it over the living room floor. Ah, the joys of parenthood. 

Landscapers are due to come on Wednesday to deal with the ex-hedge problem. The boss seemed confident that they could use their digger to hoick out the roots of lilac and leylandii and do various other things necessary to make the ex-hedge area into a beautiful... well, smooth ... area of lawn with no lilac suckers. I hope he's right. I decided to dig out some plants in the corner here, or to be more accurate I decided that it would be good if Mr L dug them out, in order to make the lawn wider in this funny triangular bit at the end of the garden. Mr L doesn't normally do any gardening but he's usually willing to help with my heavier destructive plans. 

I think I slightly broke him on this occasion, however. 

The whole thing doesn't look too bad from a distance.

Close too, however, it looks dire. See how the poor lilac hedge is desperately trying to grow again? It's doomed to failure, or at least I sincerely hope it is. 

I've been digging out the middle, inactive bits of clumps of irises (they resisted strongly) and doing general tidyings up. What with that and too-intensive hand-quilting through fleece, I'm a bit achey in hand and leg. It's not so easy to get up and down when weeding my way along flower beds as it used to be; though I have now acquired an old-lady-kneeler, with handles, which does help. Couldn't be getting old, could I?

It's getting quite autumnal now, which makes this new lockdown thing even more tedious than it did in spring - when it was new life, flowers, birds and so on. It's not so easy to entertain in the garden in autumn and winter, in Scotland. 

One has definitely had enough of 2020 and its shenanigans.

Still, autumn can certainly be pretty. And when autumn comes, can spring...? - as Shelley didn't quite say. 

Friday, September 25, 2020

London and back in the time of virus

Well, I've been down to London and back, and had a lovely time with Daughter 2 and Littlest Granddaughter. On the way down, my carriage was empty until Newcastle - quite a way down into England - which was splendid, but then lots people got on and it was relatively busy. You're given two seats each, which obviously makes for a certain amount of distancing, and everyone wore face masks, but the lady opposite me (with a table between us) decided to tell me her life story. This involved her marriage, her cheating husband, her divorce and her subsequent getting together with her childhood sweetheart - whom she was off to London to visit. Whenever she got to a juicy bit, she lowered her mask, leaned towards me and hissed the details in a loud stage whisper. I'm not sure she quite grasped the principle behind mask-wearing. She was a school dinner lady, so ... yes, possibly in contact with quite a lot of germs. 

Daughter 2 arranged a (garden) visit from my brother, sister-in-law and niece, which was lovely. Who knows when we'll meet again?

Daughter 2, Littlest Granddaughter and I visited one cafe (and were in a room all by ourselves), but otherwise spent the time at home or outside. It was hot. Littlest is perfectly at ease with me. She's such a dear little thing. 



Playing on a basketball court. 

Watering the plants. 

And then I came home again, from a fairly empty King's Cross station and on a fairly empty train, this time with non-speaking passengers. 

So I hope I haven't got Covid, but have been keeping away from people since I got back, just in case. 

Assuming that I haven't, I'm very glad I went because Britain (especially Scotland) has now gone further back into lockdown. In Scotland, we're no longer allowed to visit each other's houses - though grandparents are allowed to childmind and I think we're allowed to meet up with some people outside, though I must check the details of this. We are, however, allowed to meet with anybody in pubs, cafes and restaurants. I know that it's all done in broad brush strokes for simplicity, and the government is trying to keep the economy going, but it does seem slightly tapsalteerie - as we say here. 

I feel a great absence of Daughter 2 and Littlest. It could be a long time till we see them again. How very rubbish is that? 


Thursday, September 17, 2020

Pink. And Covid.

What a beautiful day it's been today - there's something special about a really, really lovely autumn day. It was as balmy as (a Scottish) summer, but the angle of the sun tells you that it's autumn, and that there won't be many other days like this this year. My autumn crocuses are particularly good now. 

And these dark pink Japanese anemones - so pretty in the sunlight. 

The hydrangeas are past their best but still give a splash of colour - the garden is very pink at the moment. 

And here's one of my many pots. 

I'm off to London tomorrow, possibly very rashly, because various parts of the country are being somewhat locked down again, though not to the extent of earlier in the year. But I can't wait to see Daughter 2 and Littlest Granddaughter again. 

It was Daughter and Son-in-Law 2's wedding anniversary today. Of course I'm happy that she's happy but it does mark the time when she left Edinburgh absolutely for ever. Ah well. No one can expect life to be perfect. 


Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Cats and other familial matters

We had a lovely visit yesterday to Son and his family, the UnBloggables. Normally I would crop a photo or two to prove their existence without showing much of them, but with the new excellent system of taking pictures straight from Google photos, I don't know how to. (This isn't to say that I haven't been shown. But if so, I can't remember.) Anyway, these are their cats, who were fairly unimpressed by us, but nice and furry.  (Goodness, Blogger has changed the way to enlarge photos again - just as I'd got used to their previous change.)

Here is Mr L getting to play with Son's ride-on mower. He liked that! Son and his family live in a pretty place, but it's quite a drive away and very much in the country - which no doubt has some advantages, but from our point of view has some major disadvantages, the main one being (in)accessibility. However, it's near our daughter-in-law's family, which is nice for them. We got a lovely welcome from Middle Granddaughter, which was very heart-warming, and though Little Grandson was somewhat suspicious at first, he relaxed quite quickly. I don't worry about him so much as I did about Middle Granddaughter, because she now remembers us and I assume he will too, eventually. Though of course it's doubtful if he'll remember us once he's a grown-up, unless we live for quite a long time. However, he's very delicious and I just try to enjoy him and his lovely big sister for the moment. Who knows what the future holds? 

Here's the tiny toad that Son rescued from being in the way of the ride-on mower. 

It was a very nice day. 

Today - excitement - we had a viewer for Daughter 2's flat. It was a girl with her mother, who came along for advice purposes. They took quite a while to look around - we waited outside after the initial showing round - and then went back again for another look, so I suppose they were serious viewers, but they didn't express any opinions, which doesn't seem a good sign. Anyway, we came home via the Botanics and enjoyed the autumn colour, such as these phloxes. 

The leaves are only just beginning to turn, but it was quite a lot chillier today than it's been recently. 

This viburnum's leaves are turning purple.


and this hydrangea gave a good show,  

 as did the Japanese anemones. 

My two choirs have both started up, on Zoom. It's not ideal, singing away with everyone else on mute. But it's all that can be done at the moment. 

Monday, September 14, 2020

Getting around in a lockdownish way

Yesterday we climbed up a bit of a Pentland hill to Swanston. It was a sunny day but very windy. 

It must be peaceful to live up here, apart from people taking your cottage's photo. 

There are two golf courses, though it must have been quite difficult to play accurate golf in the stiff wind.  

 And there's the city, suddenly stopping at the main road. It feels a long way away. On the horizon are Arthur's Seat and the sea. 

Since lockdown, we never seem to have any change to give to the grandchildren as pocket money, so today we walked along to the bank to get some. There was a queue of about ten people waiting outside, most of them fairly elderly, and it took about forty minutes before we reached the door. Not ideal, especially if it had been cold. However, the chap gave Mr L £50 in pound coins, which will last us for a while.

Then we walked home and Mr L washed the coins, to be on the safe side. This is presumably the nearest he'll come to walking into a bank wearing a mask and demanding money which he later launders. 

I'm having quite fun quilting my very bright quilt. 

Today, somewhat on an impulse, I decided to go to visit Daughter 2 and Littlest Granddaughter at the weekend. It involves taking a bus, a train, a tube and another bus, but on the other hand I have a nasty feeling that if I don't go soon, the opportunity to do so may not arise for a while. Mr L decided to stay at home. He's not the mad, reckless fool that I am. Also, Daughter 2's flat is quite small. I sleep on a sofa but he's a bit larger and needs a mattress on the sitting room floor, which is all a bit more of a faff. 

Her Edinburgh flat, by the way, is not selling. It's been on the market for, I think, six weeks now and has had two viewers, both in the first week. Sigh. There are just too many similar flats on the market at the moment and evidently mortgages for first-time buyers are hard to get. Still, we only need one buyer, and maybe Mr L will be showing him/her around this weekend. You never know. 

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Still in the virus phase, walking old haunts

Well, unsurprisingly we've now been restricted to having a maximum of 6 people from 2 households in our houses. Just to make it different from England, where children do count in this calculation, children aren't included in this 6 here. Wouldn't do to have all Britain the same, would it? Too simple. Wales and Northern Ireland are also slightly different, I think. (Edited to add: as Relatively Retiring pointed out, I got this wrong the first time, claiming that children do count here but don't in England. I rest my confused case.)

We went out for lunch today with the Edinburgh family to celebrate Daughter 1's birthday and afterwards took a walk up the River Esk. We passed the house where Mr L spent his teenage years. There's his father at the back window. Mr L and his parents lived in the lower part of the house, which was absolutely beautiful, and huge (and also cold in winter - no central heating). His father worked for the Coal Board and the Coal Board owned the house. 

Here are his mother (the little one standing on the step) and his Great-Aunt Chris (standing on the ground). Auntie Chris - Mr L's father's aunt - was very tall for a woman of her generation, as were her sisters. Tall genes, which I married into because my ancestors were all on the short side. (There were other reasons, too, why I went for him.) Look at the immaculate garden.

However, as we knew, the house was bought by a developer a few years ago and this is what's there now. The front garden has been built over. Only the gateposts and parts of the garden walls (but not the fence) remain. It's very sad and also very, very disorientating. 

This is where the back garden was. 

At least the river looks much the same. 


And we had a nice walk, just where we used to walk 50+ years ago holding hands and gazing into each other's eyes. 

Beautiful - but pernicious - Himalayan balsam. It grows by rivers, and the seeds float down and spread on to the banks downstream. There's a lot of it here. 

And the lovely reflections in the river in the middle of this photo are of Japanese knotweed, another awful pest which was imported, planted in gardens and has now spread widely. 

Still, these willows are lovely. We walked three and a half miles. Let's assume that this cancelled out our lunch intake. 

Daughter 2 and her husband put Littlest Granddaughter in her big girl's bed tonight for the first time. As you can see, she found this very exciting. She got to sleep eventually. 

I've posted this using the new, easy, whizzy, non-blurry system of Google photo-using worked out yesterday by SIL 1. He's a treasure, that lad. 


Wednesday, September 09, 2020

The distant chains are clanking... but we're still out and about

Well, I've returned to using Picasa because Google Photos makes some of my pictures very blurry. I Googled the problem and it's clearly a common one, but we couldn't find an easy explanation of what to do about it. Annoying. Anyway, we climbed Corstorphine Hill yesterday, looking longingly at the golf course... .

It was a beautiful day - almost like summer, except that the sun's getting low in the sky. Look at the length of those shadows, and it was still the morning. 

This oak tree was completely leafless at the beginning  of lockdown and look at it now. What happened to those months? - gone like a dream. We were so pleased that at least it was spring when everything was shutting down. It's not spring now. 

The willow herb is almost over now - just a faintly pink haze in the distance. 

But it has a silvery beauty in the sunlight. 

Today we walked in the Botanics. Autumn crocuses. Hmm. 

There's still colour in the herbaceous border, but look at those shadows again. It was only about 11.30.

Google seems to think these are tulbagia, which I'd never heard of. They seem to be a kind of allium. 

 And these viburnum berries are spectacular. 

I've bought quite a few bulbs and put them in pots, prior to planting them out in front of the proposed fence which is to go behind the ex-hedge. 

The virus figures are up again. England is having more stringent restrictions imposed on it from today - only six people are allowed to meet together either inside or outside - unless in a pub or restaurant... . I'm sure we'll follow suit soon - though our Great Leader will probably want to make it slightly different, just to show how independent she is (and incidentally, confuse us). 

Meanwhile I'm having fun quilting my very bright quilt. 

(The Lassie! You're still there! I do think of you from time to time. Your little ones must be quite big now. Lovely to hear from you!)