Thursday, December 31, 2020

Goodbye, 2020

And so the year of the virus winds to its end. I would happily wish it goodbye except... there have been some good things and, apart from missing our family horribly, it's been pleasant enough in most ways. And we're still here, which isn't ever a given now we're both over three score years and ten. Daughter 2 sent us this calendar which she'd ordered, with pictures of everyone in it. So lovely. 

We're still allowed to meet the Edinburgh family outside so yesterday we went to Lauriston Castle, not far away. It's been snowing, as you can see. It doesn't really snow often here so the children were very excited. 

The slanting sun on the snow, the trees, the children, the sea and the island looked beautiful. 

We were careful not to fall in the water, 

which was frozen, though in fact the air temperature didn't feel particularly cold - there was no wind.

It was a golden outing - so precious to be with our lovely family.

Then the children came home with us for tea. We'd not thought to take sledges with us to Lauriston, so we fished our children's old ones out of the garage and the grandchildren had such fun sliding in our very gently sloping front garden. It was extremely tame really, but they're inventive: Big Grandson (9) was riding on "The Red Lines Train" and Biggest Granddaughter (7), who is (in my opinion) rather good at puns for her age, was playing in an adventure park called "Sledgendary Fun" which had a ride called "Snowlercoaster". 

Outside, the snowy garden. Inside, begonias rescued from the garden at the end of the summer, and the first hyacinths of the season. 

And I've finished the cot quilt for my friend's grandson, due in February. I actually finished the quilting a week or two ago and then - only then - checked the back to make sure that it was ok. Like not (for example) upside down in relation to the front. And it was upside down. After the first three seconds when I thought, oh well, who looks at the back and the front at the same time? - I started unpicking it. I couldn't present it like that. And what else have I to do with my life at the moment? (Well, lots of sorting out and so on, but nothing exciting.)

Here's the back. As you can see, it even has writing on it (thanks for the fabric, Thimbleanna!) just so that no one could fail to notice which way up it was. Well, no one except me. Sigh.

 Anyway, it's done now. Blue, vehicles and animals was the brief. That was my sixth quilt of the year, which shows how much extra spare time there's been.

And now I must not start another quilt until the archives are organised - properly organised, which must include some purging as well as some sorting other than chucking into different boxes. Purging is hard. Purging is emotional.

So that was the year. Like most people, I've found it quite hard at times and am pinning my hopes on next year's being a lot better. We'll see. What else could fate throw at us? (Don't answer that.)

I send my very best wishes to the kind commenters as well as the many unknown lurkers who appear to land on my blog every day from various places in the world, according to the statistics. Who are you?? Anyway, I'm sure we're all hoping for a brighter 2021. 

"Ring out the old, ring in the new:

Ring, happy bells across the snow.

The year is going, let him go;

Ring out the false, ring in the true."

(He knew a thing or two, Tennyson.)

Monday, December 28, 2020

Always look on the bright si-ide of life...

We went to the Botanics the other day with the Edinburgh family and there were signs of spring such as snowdrops and hellebores, 

though I'm kind of kidding myself here because of course hellebores are Christmas roses so... where am I getting this spring idea? 

The children came home with us because they're allowed to.

Biggest Granddaughter: Granny, I'm going to draw a picture of you.

Me: Can you make me look young and beautiful?

BG: No, sorry, I can only draw you as you are. I'll miss out some of the wrinkles, though. 

(In fact, I do look fairly young in her picture. I'll take that.)

Apart from that, there's nothing to report. We've been going for walks. 

The weather has been beautiful.

Yesterday we walked up through Ravelston Woods. 

Today we walked into Corstorphine along the cycle path, down towards the tram line, 

and along past the golf course.

Various trains and trams passed, all virtually empty, reminding us of the places that we can't go.

There was no one in the allotments. 

It's all fairly dreary. We ourselves are fine but the Covid figures - people infected and also people admitted to hospital - are now worse than in the previous high point in April. Presumably this is because of this new, highly infective strain and also maybe because things had opened up a bit. They're also expecting an even higher spike in a couple of weeks once people who infected each other on Christmas Day hit the statistics. O joy.

So we keep to ourselves - and I realise that we're lucky, having a warm and comfortable house, a television, lots of books and plenty to eat - talk to the  family on Zoom or the phone and, as Rabbie Burns said in his depressing poem "To a Mouse" - "An' forward, though I cannot see, I guess and fear".

Always end on a high note, that's the thing. 


Friday, December 25, 2020

And still the virus locks us in...

Daughter 2 sent us an Advent present-a-day box, and the one for Christmas Eve was this: a star for each grandchild. 

I hung them on my glass wreath. 

We walk every day, enjoying the fresh air and sunshine, though the sun is still very low in the sky. It's getting better, though - we're reclaiming the light from you, Australia and New Zealand. 

It was 3.24pm when we neared the end of our walk yesterday and the sun still hadn't set - it wasn't nearly as dark as it looks in the photo above. Still, you have some effort to make yet, sun. Work harder.

I had a low day on the 23rd, thinking how much of the little ones' lives we were missing. At my age, it's impossible not to wonder from time to time how much longer we'll have to live - a bit melodramatic, I know (my parents lived to 87 and 90 so with any luck I should manage a few more years). Normally I try to be grateful for still being here - every day's a bonus and all that. But in these times, it's easy to dwell on the gloomy side of things, what with the virus changing and becoming more infectious. 

Anyway, we were allowed for today to have another family in the house so Daughter 1, Son-in-Law 1 and the Edinburgh Two came to Christmas dinner, which was lovely. We're so lucky to have them here at least - even though only the children will be allowed inside the house in the next while. The children got the presents they wanted. And we had a nice Zoom with the members of the extended family, who should all have been here at the moment. 

Here's Biggest Granddaughter lost in a book about amazing women who changed the world. Little girls these days have a lot to live up to. At that age, my generation just thought they might bake a few cakes, have children and maybe also a job. (Or was that just me?) Julia Donaldson's "Zog and the Flying Doctors" was on tv when I was pottering round the kitchen this afternoon and at one point the princess heroine (who wanted to be a doctor) got shut up indoors by her misguided uncle and had to "sew pretty cushions and arrange pretty flowers" and I thought, I feel quite sorry for little girls who see these things being devalued. I know that those sorts of books are just trying to redress the balance of previous children's literature and that it's good to allow girls to have aspirations but... well. We can't all change the world. Someone has to wash the kitchen floor. 

I did in fact have a career as a teacher, working very long hours, as well as keeping house and mothering. But the job wasn't really an aspiration (though I enjoyed it and worked hard at it and it was very interesting) - more a sense of duty, really. By the time we were teenagers I suppose we knew that we would be career women, and from my school class of girls came a professor of agriculture, a lecturer in electrical engineering, several doctors, various administrators and teachers, at least two accountants and so on. And this is from children who'd been reared on "Janet and John" and Enid Blyton, featuring very stereotypical character roles. We seemed to work out that this was fiction and that there were other opportunities in life.

I do long to live long enough to find out what the grandchildren are interested in when they're bigger. Big Grandson is surely going to still like transport? but he also loves his computer so maybe he gets that interest from his father. Biggest Granddaughter is very keen on Lego and reading - an architect like her auntie? an archivist like her mum? The others are all still little, but possibly the two whose parents are doctors (and have scientist grandparents on one side and other scientist relatives on the other) might be likely to go into science. And Littlest Granddaughter - who knows? Daughter 2 is an architect and Son-in-Law 2 is an actor, so that's a mixed bag. It's so interesting. Must keep eating the broccoli. 

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Further Covid developments and lots of walks

Our mainly eventless days are always broken up by a walk. We're lucky in having a choice of pleasant places to go. Sometimes we just walk locally - 

for example, along the path by the golf course. 

On Thursday we walked down to the river

and along its banks

till we got to the (lots of) steps up to the Gallery of Modern Art, 

where we paused to catch our breath and take a photo of the Landform before heading home via the roads. 

Today we met the Edinburgh family in Leith, 

walked along the river in the other direction

admired swans and ducks

and this tree, whose lichen was actually shining green in the sunlight (not that it looks it here)

and back to the Shore area, where we were planning to visit Mimi's Bakehouse, but alas it was full. 

However, the day was saved when we tried an ice cream shop, which provided crepes, coffees and churros - which were deemed a satisfactory substitute. 

Daughter 1 and Big Grandson also had a nice cuddle. It was dark by then: sunset was at 3.40pm. Tomorrow is the shortest day and then - upward towards spring. 

Which is just as well in the circumstances. The virus has mutated or perhaps just changed a bit into something which seems to be much more readily transmitted, so the numbers have spiked dramatically and we're back into virtual lockdown apart from Christmas Day, when there's a slight amnesty. I'm not sure that the virus has agreed to this temporary cessation of hostilities. 

As you can see, The Sunday Times is taking the situation calmly. 

Poor Daughter 2 has had a particularly rotten year, both health-wise and lockdown-wise (trying to work with a toddler to entertain because the nursery was closed for months). She must have been in the vicinity of someone who tested positive a couple of weeks ago, because the Track and Trace app sent her a text to say that she had to self-isolate for ten days. Then, on the day of her release, the nursery let her know that Littlest Granddaughter's nursery teacher had tested positive, so LG has to isolate for ten days also (so her parents don't feel they can go anywhere either). Now there's lockdown anyway, which makes it even worse. But if the virus is now going round the nursery... it doesn't bode well for Daughter 2 and her husband being able to work at home (and that's if none of them comes down with it). LG is very sweet but not exactly able to amuse herself for hours on end. Or, she likes an audience. Not to say staff. 

Look at her, though. So thrilled by the arrival of a new book. How we miss her. 

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Covid outings

On Tuesday we felt like a change of scene, so we drove for ten minutes to the somewhat unlovely industrial estate near the college where I used to teach. Oh, the joy of freedom! I liked working there but it did take up so much of my life and my thoughts. The best thing about being retired from teaching, I always think, is that I now have evenings and weekends without worrying about preparation or marking. 

Mr L knew that there was a path down to the canal and suddenly we were in the countryside. First we had to go along the aqueduct, which made me a bit queasy - look at the traffic far below - but then we had a very peaceful walk. 

It was such a beautiful day. 

The canal was very calm and the reflections were splendid. 

Though it looks very pastoral, it's just on the edge of the city and there was a constant, quiet hum of traffic. Where is everyone going? 

I wonder how long it'll be before this gets built up? However, it's lovely just now.

This looks like a very nice house, but there's a big road not far to the left of it these days. 

More reflections - so pretty!

Yesterday we walked round the Queen's Park with Son-in-Law 1. This is the green space in the middle of the city which has our biggest city hill in it - and also Holyrood Palace, where Her Maj stays when she's in Edinburgh (which isn't often). We parked at Duddingston, walked half-way round the park and intended to have coffee in the Queen's Gallery, but it turns out that it's shut on Wednesdays, so we walked up the Royal Mile to a Starbucks. Not quite the same, but acceptable. 

Then we continued round the bottom of the hill

to St Margaret's Loch - which seemed very popular with swans.

I have fond memories of picnicking with my friend Dorothy in this park. We often sat beside the ruined St Anthony's Chapel that you can see on the skyline, to eat our sandwiches. The chapel probably dates from the thirteenth century but no one really knows too much about it. It got repaired in the 15th century, but clearly that was about it as far as repairs went. 

And then we climbed up this road, looking at views of the city and the sea

up a bit more

and reached Dunsapie Loch. There are otters living there but we didn't see them.

I do love this hill, which has the city all round it but is so quiet and peaceful. 

We then didn't climb to the top of the hill but went back down the steps of Jacob's Ladder (somewhat hard on the knees) to the car, having completed the circuit of the park. It was a lovely morning and our SIL is such good company.