Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Still the virus time but no moaning today

It was a sunny day on Sunday - but in an Octobery sort of way, as you'd expect - 

so, since we're not allowed to see our adult family indoors, we went to the beach at Gullane - not far from Edinburgh. It may look balmy in this photo - 

but it wasn't. It was jacket weather. But you know what children are like: you set them down somewhere and they immediately begin to play. 

They had a lovely time. 

Meanwhile the adults took it in turns to go for walks along the beach (to keep warm.)

These people are not us. These people are definitely not me. Still, it's impressive, don't you think? I've swum in this, the North Sea, in the middle of summer, and it's pretty cold then. There's a lot in the news at the moment about how immersing yourself regularly in cold water is very good for you, possibly even warding off dementia. Hmm, well, I'm prepared to risk it. Actually, I shouldn't say this. My grandmother and aunt (her daughter) both developed dementia so it's certainly one of my fears, since there may well be a genetic element.

So that was a lovely day. And then, on Monday, there was an announcement in the paper of the sudden death of one of my friends. It was a huge shock. Nine of who were at school together have been meeting up for lunch for the past few years (it started out as three of us and then others were gradually invited) and this was one of them. Obviously we haven't met since the virus struck, but we've been exchanging emails over the months, and her last email, on September 30, was perfectly normal and cheerful, looking forward, like the rest of us, to better times. Then she died on October 17. I'm so sad for her. She had no children and was divorced - one brother, but none of us knows him. She had a dog, so I  hope the brother's taking him. Of course, 70 isn't a bad age, but she was slim and fit, still working as an editor... . Apart from being sad for her, I was reminded forcefully of the fragility of life for me, for any of us. 

Just last week, I discovered that a girl I was quite friendly with at school, but hadn't kept up with, died in 2012. That was also a shock - not that I knew at all what she'd been doing, but if I thought of her, it was as alive. 

So out of the twenty-eight or so of us in my school class, one died at 23 when she was knocked over by a car, two died of dementia, one died some years ago from cancer, one this year from cancer, and then there are these other two. A quarter of us, already. And that's only the ones I know about.

SO... altogether I think I won't moan today about being restricted by the Covid regulations. 

And here's another reason not to. I've been slowly going through my mother's papers and today read this letter from my (future) father, written from who knows where? but I think maybe Belgium, in February 1945. He was in the Royal Engineers, in bomb disposal and also involved in blowing up bridges when the Germans were coming and making sure they were undamaged if our allies were on the way. He writes: "Life here is so uncertain; one evening one may be sitting in comfort in a nicely furnished room; the next evening one may be crouching in a trench miles from anywhere being shelled and hating it; or one may be standing on a bridge in the dead of night, listening to the guns in the distance and the water gurgling past the pontoons and the cables creaking, carefully checking the vital parts every half-hour to make sure that the bridge is still sound, and then leaning against the girders and watching the moon. And all the time life is so uncertain; for no reason at all, the man one has known and liked for years is suddenly struck down, and is no more, and there's no sense to it... .There's an increased sensitivity to mortality caused by the realisation of how much one doesn't want to lose."

He was 25 and had been in the army since 1939, when he was 19. 

So - no, no complaining from me. Today at least. 


Saturday, October 24, 2020

Autumn autumn autumn in virusy times

At last the landscapers came and finished the job. Hurray! This was the hedge in August - a twenty-plus-foot long, five-foot wide collection of lilac and random other things, taking up a big space in my not-big garden. 

And here is the space now, taken from a rather different angle, but you get the idea.  It's a bit bare at the moment; give me time. I restrained myself from getting them to leave a big flower bed in front of the new fence because the rest of the garden is actually quite high-maintenance for a little plot (entirely through my own fault) and at my advancing age I don't want to add to the work. They've left enough space in front of it for some spring bulbs and bedding plants. And I might squeak in a small lilac because I do love the scent and I won't be around by the time it gets inconveniently big. 

Ah, autumn. We went to the Botanics today and I took pictures of Ravelston Dykes from the car because it's so pretty at the moment. 

It comes round every year but still makes the heart leap. 

And so does the Botanics. 

There are worse places than Edinburgh to be semi-locked-down - and at least the Botanics are open, unlike in the first strict lock-down phase. 

At last this year I've managed to get a few nerines to flower in the garden, unlike here, where there are lots. Give me a year or two... Maybe in front of that new fence? 

And there are still some dahlias flowering at the Botanics, 

and lilies

and this beautiful acer (I think)

and these pink tasselled things, which are still putting on a show. I can never remember what they're called. 

It still feels as if we're all putting in time, waiting for improvement, but it could all be a lot worse.

I need to start another quilt. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Ho hum

I am beginning to feel seriously fed up with this virus thing - even though I do know that a lot of people have much worse things to put up with. On Monday I took the Edinburgh grandchildren to the trampoline centre, and with the various necessary restrictions it was all a bit of a faff. The children had a good time, though. 

Then yesterday, Mr L and I had a long walk along the River Almond. It had been very wet overnight, the river was very fast-flowing and it was quite muddy underfoot. But it was good to go somewhere different from the usual walks - it's only a couple of miles from our house as the crow flies but we haven't been for a while because the council have put in traffic restrictions - among many supposedly to encourage us to get on our bikes - which make it more difficult to get parked near there. 

I wanted to see the autumn colours, which have been very good near us, but in fact by the river they were slightly disappointing. Still, we had a lovely walk. 

Here we are crossing Cramond Brig (Bridge), which was built around 1480. It's a long way down to the river at this point. I can't imagine how they built it, but it seems to have worked. 

The sun came out, 

it was mild, and we felt refreshed. 

And today we walked down to Saughton Park, which is past its summer best

but still has a reasonable amount of colour, as in these Michaelmas daisies

and this sedum

these schizostylis (I think),

very late-flowering lupins

and delphiniums. 

It was such a beautiful day, as warm as summer (here). 

Which would have made it a good day for our landscapers to come, but once more, they didn't - or, to be more accurate, they did, arousing our hopes, but they stayed about twenty minutes and then vanished without a word. They were supposed to be laying our turf today. Turf? What turf? I realise that, having been mucked around by our unhelpful new neighbour getting the road dug up (and then filled in again) when they were supposed to be doing the work at the beginning of the month, they're now fitting us in during odd moments, but we're getting very fed up with wondering every day if they're coming. First world problems, I know, but these don't add to the joy of life. 

I handed over the African fabrics quilt to my friend last night, at her door, and she seemed delighted. Which is good. 

I'm becoming more and more aware that we don't have very many more good years ahead of us, when we're healthy and reasonably fit to visit people and places - and here's one of those years, being frittered away. And three of our grandchildren are growing up without us. Ho hum. 


Thursday, October 15, 2020

Extreme brightness alert; a birthday; and yet more Covid

It was this little sweetheart's third birthday today. Thank goodness for video calls and a thoughtful daughter: we saw the little one opening her presents this morning. I wish we could have been there, but it's so much better than nothing. Thank you, clever technological inventors. Imagine lockdown before Skype etc. Imagine it even before any kind of phones. How awful that would have been. 

I've finished my Zambian fabrics quilt. I'm sure it's not at all what a Zambian would have done, but on the other hand it's for my half-Zambian, half-Scottish friend, so I'm telling myself it's a sort of meld. Fusion. Or something. It's TERRIBLY bright, but I've surprised myself by almost getting used to it. I hope my lovely young friend will like it. She gave me the patterned fabrics, which her mum had bought in Zambia, and I added the plain ones because I thought they would tone it down a bit, but I'm not sure that they did, much. She wanted stars in the design and also some big strips of fabric, so this is what I came up with. I wish now that I'd chosen a paler yellow for the stars. I thought it needed to be bright to compete with the other brightness but actually, I think that a cooler yellow might have been better. Too late now!

I'd never done a medallion thing in the middle of a quilt but it was fun, and easy - no pesky corners to match. 

I enjoyed quilting round all the different patterns. 

Even this one, which tended to make me feel motion-sick (and I really don't like orange).

As usual, I made it up and just did what seemed fun. I'm sure a proper quilter would have done it quite differently. 

The quilt's got thick fleece on the back, which my friend also wanted, but it was quite hard work to quilt through and impossible to do very dainty stitches (my excuse). 

Anyway: I have a Christmas stocking (for Small Grandson) and two cot quilts for impending babies (of friends) to make, so I'm not going to run out of projects any time soon. This is just as well, if this virus is going to keep us all pinned down in our separate houses for much longer. 

Which I suspect it is. 


Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Things continue to be rather virus-ridden

And so life trundles on. On Friday we tried to go to the designated drive-in flu clinic but... However, we went again on Sunday and got duly jabbed, so that's one thing achieved.  

We had the Edinburgh grandchildren on Friday under permitted child care rules, which was lovely, though we can't mix with their parents indoors. We also had the landscapers, who put up fence posts and then departed. 

On Saturday we went with Daughter 1 and family (two households of up to six people, outdoors, legal) to Jupiter Artland, which we always enjoy. 

I was slightly worried that the children would fall in, but they didn't. 

Grandson really likes this bridge, which is called "Only Connect". Shades of EM Forster there  - not my favourite author, ruined for me by a university tutor, Dr Sultana (such a good name) who pointed out that EMF's novels are full of "crude coincidence". Only, Dr Sultana couldn't pronounce his "r"s and so he called them "ccchhwood coincidences", which they've been for me ever since. I don't know why Grandson finds this lump of concrete so interesting but he likes all bridges so I suppose it's that. 

I'm missing this little person, helping (well...) with the London garden here

and reading (well...) a book on the sofa, with Epping Forest in the background. Look at her little feet!


On Sunday we went for a walk along the river, admiring the autumn colours. 

Very leafy

 and pink.

Then yesterday, when the landscapers were due to return, it poured.  So they didn't, reasonably enough. It didn't stop raining till this morning and even then everything was sodden, so they didn't come today either. I have hopes for tomorrow. Of course, if our turf had been laid already, all this rain would have been very convenient. 

Ah well, such is life. 

I'm just hand-sewing the back of the binding of my African fabrics quilt. I hope my friend likes it... . 

Thursday, October 08, 2020

More Covid days

On Tuesday, the digger was to arrive to remove all the lilac trunks and roots from the former hedge area. But we woke to this: the holes dug in our road the other day (which prevented our landscaper from coming on Wednesday) were being filled in today, thus blocking the tiny street once again. The filler-in chaps said they'd be finished in about half an hour but... needless to say, they weren't, and the digger couldn't get down the street. Again. We didn't know this, however, because we went up north to visit the UnBloggables, happily imagining the digger doing its stuff. 

We're not allowed to go in other people's houses so we went to the zoo, which is small but rather good. I'm not fond of things being in cages, but they're reasonably big cages and it was certainly interesting to see the animals at close quarters. Here's a lovely (not that you can see her loveliness) picture of Middle Granddaughter sitting on a wooden tortoise. 

And here is Son, holding her and her brother for another sweet photo on the tortoise. They're so cute!

This is a hornbill of some variety which I forget. It's an amazing-looking bird, almost more like a dinosaur. 

This is the meerkat which had been appointed sentinel, for that morning anyway. It was taking its duties very seriously. 

It was a beautiful day (fortunately, since we had to stay outside) with the trees beginning to show good autumn colour. 

Later we went to the playpark and then fed the ducks

and found some tactahs. Little Grandson is very fond of tactahs, as was his biggest cousin. We had a lovely day. 

Sadly the digger wasn't available yesterday but - tada! - today it was!

And it dug up the roots that looked as if they were there for ever. 

This is the current state of play. 

 And these are the roots, awaiting collection. 

Very exciting! I can't wait to see the finished effect - not that it'll be very interesting - just more grass - but it'll add quite a few square feet to my little town garden. 

More restrictions were announced yesterday for the Central Belt of Scotland, though they don't affect us hugely: we're not allowed to mix with other households indoors apart from for childcare purposes; pubs and restaurants are to close at 6pm and aren't allowed to sell alcohol; and we're not to travel outside our region unless for a very good reason. It's only supposed to be for a fortnight, so if this remains the case then we can go and see Son again before too long. I'm not counting my chickens, though. Sigh. And it's rubbish for the hospitality trade.