Saturday, January 30, 2021

Spring is coming. Slowly

On Friday afternoons, there's no school and the children always come to us. Biggest Granddaughter wanted to paint with her hands. I hate getting dirty hands and so my instinct was to say it would be better to use brushes but... in fact there was no reason not to allow her so I did - even though she painted the backs of her hands too - hmm. Award me some Granny points, please! 

Though it's still January, just, there are definite signs of spring, such as the snowdrops in the garden and also the beginnings of colour in some crocuses. After the recent snow, it was quite mild today, and sunny, which was cheering. 

We walked along the river, which was still rather full and fast, presumably with snow still melting off the hills.  

We saw a cormorant (or possibly a shag, but Daughter 1's father-in-law thinks it's a cormorant and he knows these things) sitting drying its wings. We've never seen one here before - herons, yes, but not cormorants. People stopped and watched it and we had the cormorant/shag discussion. Human contact!

Up we climbed to the art gallery,

where, rather to our surprise, there was still ice on the pond. 

And then home, 

with the sun in our eyes. 

So it's all right really, but we do miss the absent family and, sadly, have no immediate prospect of seeing them. 

With the home-schooling and two evenings of choir Zoom and time spent emailing friends that I'm not seeing just now, I'm no longer making much progress with the photo cataloguing. I actually hit a bit of a wall when I got to the photos of my parents and their friends, in their oldish but still vigorous age, on lovely holidays in Crete and Tenerife and Madeira and so on. I know that they were very lucky with their friends and holidays and no one lives for ever, and I need to get a grip - but it did make me sad so... a break from that isn't a disaster. Except that the kitchen is rather full of piles of photos... which I'm not putting away because every evening I plan to get back to it. 

But possibly not tonight.


Wednesday, January 27, 2021

School and play (and the virus)

Home schooling continues. There's been a bit of school-directed Burns' Day stuff (it was Monday) and Scottishness in general. Here's Biggest Granddaughter drawing a Highland cow. 

Yesterday we went after school to Duddingston Golf Course, closed to golfing because of the weather. We managed to visit 6 of the 14 bridges over the burn (Big Grandson really likes bridges) before I decided that it was getting a bit dark, so we headed for home and got there just as rather cold rain started falling on us. 

They can run faster than I can but I caught them up before we got to the road. 

Today we went to the local park, climbed on rocks and played with a ball.

Then Big Grandson got to play on his computer before tea. He just loves this game: Stepford County Railway. It's about ... well, a railway. You get to "drive" a train. Grandpa introduced him to it. 

Maybe tomorrow I should get him to tidy his computer desk. 

I feel very fortunate getting to spend so much time with them and very glad that they're not secondary pupils doing complicated maths. I passed Higher Maths at school in 1967, but trigonometry, calculus and much of algebra and geometry have since floated out from my mind. I didn't try that hard to stop them. 

The virus figures are flattening a bit but are still high. Life won't be back to anything like normal any time soon. Sigh. 


Monday, January 25, 2021

Snow. And news!

Well, it's certainly not spring yet but one can buy a bunch of daffodils for £1 in the supermarket, so it would be foolish not to do so. They certainly look and smell like spring. 

We walked up on the high golf course again on Saturday. You can see that we weren't the first! 

The weather was beautiful, if chilly. We gazed over the sea to Fife. If only we could go over there to see Son and his family. 

So white and so blue.

And in the other direction, there's the lower golf course - the expanse of snow in the middle distance, far below. We were out for three hours - it's quite hard work walking uphill (and come to that, downhill) through snow and we needed a seat when we got back. 

Yesterday we went to the Botanics. Again, it was lovely. We walked round, in the permitted groups of two adults, with Daughter 1 and her husband and children. Social distancing wasn't a problem. 

Then the children came back to our house for some Brio railway construction and some drawing, such as Big Granddaughter's cheerful giraffe. 

And then today - great excitement! We didn't expect to get vaccinated nearly so soon - though our governments have decided on a twelve-week gap between jags so as to vaccinate more people sooner, so it'll be a while before we're fully protected. Still, it's progress. 


Friday, January 22, 2021

Snow and virus - double joy...

Nothing different is happening. There's home-schooling, which is rather fun, really. Some of it happens with pencil and paper,

and some of it on the computer. Everyone's doing their best: the school teachers are sending stuff and the home teachers and the children are doing at least some of it. The little ones are being amazingly cooperative, really, considering that they get no outings apart from a walk after school and see no one but their parents and us (mainly me), and it's been so cold recently that even our walks aren't lasting very long.  

In what seems like an unreasonable extra trial, the snow's back. This is quite stressful where we live, since it's a dead-end street, which never gets gritted, at the bottom of a hill. The only way out of our street - the street at right angles to ours, which is also on a hill - never gets gritted either. We don't normally get much snow so we tend to think - oh, it'll melt. And then if it doesn't, various people's cars have by that time squashed the snow into ice, which makes it much harder to shovel away and also much more slippery to drive on. At the moment it's passable, which is good, since on most weekdays I drive to get to Daughter 1's house to help with the children. I could get two buses there and two back, which would probably be perfectly safe, since buses have hardly any passengers at the moment, but it would take an hour each way and really one would prefer to keep off public transport at the moment. 

Still, Son-in-Law 1 brought the children round today and they enjoyed playing outside, so that was lovely. 

But we haven't seen Daughter 2 or Son, or their little ones, since September and October. And all our lives are ticking away.

The vaccine is slowly being administered, though - my brother and sister-in-law in the south of England have both had the first dose, for example. Here, however, it's much slower (why??) and lots of over-80s are still unvaccinated. As for us... I think it'll be a while. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Looking back in times of Covid

The days pass quickly enough - too quickly in some ways. I'm still going through old photos, such as these from when I was - how old? - eight, maybe? with my brother. I'm wearing my party dress, made by my mother. These were Polyphotos - the photographer took lots of photos quickly, printed them out small and then the customer had lots to choose from as bigger prints. It was a very modern idea and worked well, but maybe it wasn't profitable because I don't think it lasted many years. 

Here are both my grandmothers, the one grandfather whose life overlapped with mine, my parents and my infant older brother. I think it's the only one we have of both grandmothers together. This photo was colourised by Son-in-Law 2, and while I don't think my grandmother would have worn a pink jacket, it does bring the people to life. This grandmother moved down to the south of England with my aunt when I was five and we saw very little of her from then on - travel wasn't nearly so easy in those days and she developed dementia after a few years. So though I remember her, it was the other grandparents, who lived just up the road, who were important to me - particularly my lovely smiling granny on the left. I wonder if the southern granny missed my brother and me, as I miss my grandchildren? We were her only grandchildren and it now seems odd to me that she moved  so far away. But she'd been widowed a few months before I was born, the older daughter had moved abroad and the younger was now going down south. She made the choice to go with the younger daughter. My father (her son), mother, brother and I were still in Edinburgh, though. I wonder if she found it an agonising decision? I never thought about this until recent years - she was just fairly absent from our lives and I took this for granted. 

Look, snowdrops. Spring is coming, if not precisely round the corner. 

It's been very wet recently, though mainly at night. The river is very full and muddy - and I suppose there's also snow melt from the hills. 

There are supposedly otters and a kingfisher around here so we walked down to see them - but didn't, sadly. 

Here we are again, in the back garden of the house where we lived till I was nearly 13. We've each got a ball, giving the totally erroneous impression that we're interested in sport. I imagine my brother was actually working out the physics of inflatable balls. I walked past that house with the children today during our after-school outing for fresh air and exercise. It's a bit scruffy, though the other houses in the street are very neat. I imagine that this wall is still there. And at least these sunlit children are still around - one in Edinburgh but the other far away in Surrey. 

I must return to the photos, which I'm sorting into lots of different envelopes on the kitchen table. It's taking ages. I will get these and the other archives all organised by... let's say the end of February. (The schools are to remain shut, it's just been announced today, till at least the middle of February - and I'd bet it'll be longer - so I'm not at home as much as usual at the moment.) It's an interesting task, though inevitably a bit sad. I'm firmly resisting the lure of my fabric cupboard; well done me.

This is Donald Trump's last day as President. That's something. 

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Virus virus virus virus

This week has featured quite a lot of home-schooling at the Edinburgh grandchildren's house, which is permitted in the category of caring - which this is. Daughter 1 has cut her hours down a bit, which helps, and while she's working, Son-in-Law 1 and I supervise the children's work. This - compared to teaching whole classes, preparing work and marking it - is very easy. The children are on the whole compliant and cheerful and are pretty bright and I love them. So it's fine. The grid method that Big Grandson has been taught to do long multiplication is (to my thinking) fiendishly complicated, takes at least five minutes longer per sum than the method we used and is vulnerable to lots more errors because of the various different stages he has to go through - but he seems to be able to do it so I'm resisting the temptation just to say to him - come on, let me show you this much easier method. (So far.) And that's really the only problem we've come across (teaching Granny how to do it). 

After school we go to the park. 

This is the better of the two nearby parks because there aren't usually any dogs. Big Grandson is very dog-phobic. I'm not really a dog person myself. I mean, I'm sure they're lovely, and great companions and all that, but there are an awful lot of them around Edinburgh - far more than when I was young - and while many people pick up their dogs' mess, by no means all do. But it's really Big Grandson's reaction to dogs - perfectly friendly though I'm sure most of them are - that makes parks difficult. He is irrationally - but genuinely - terrified of them. In my ideal world, there would be at least some parks from which dogs were banned. And beaches. 

I realise that some people feel the same about children... .

On the other hand, he likes standing on railway bridges. 

Today was somewhat wet but we went out anyway - to the other park. This was a brief dog-free moment. 

As was this. 

Meanwhile, the Covid news gets worse and worse. There seems to be yet another strain, in South America, with the result that no one is allowed into Britain from there, or Portugal, or various other related countries. In Edinburgh - indeed in Scotland - it's not very good but a lot better than many areas of England, including London, where Daughter 2 and her husband and family live. How I wish they didn't. 

I begin to wonder whether this will ever get better. Will we see Daughter 2 and Son and their little ones  at all this year? Will there be a new virus every few years now, so that we see them briefly and then it's all swept away again? I think I've always felt - as the daughter and granddaughter of people who went through world wars - that life was too easy for us and we were possibly due a spanner in our complacent works. I suppose this is it. 

So, yes. Not feeling particularly jolly this evening. And you? 

Sunday, January 10, 2021

The virus and stuff

We walked around the city centre today, for a change. There were some other people around, but not many, and there were far, far fewer parked cars. Which was, frankly, an improvement. 

This, by the way, for anyone who reads Ian Rankin's Rebus books, is the Oxford Bar. It's closed, of course. 

It was rather dull, but at last the ice has all melted, which is good. 

In the little streets behind the main streets there are a great mixture of buildings of different ages. 

Quite a few buses were still trundling around with one or two passengers. 

Ho hum.

We went to the Botanics yesterday - it's still open, thank goodness, although our great leader is muttering about further restrictions. (The statistics are not encouraging - though hugely better than, say, London's.) She'd have been muttering more loudly if she'd been there yesterday. 

We're not supposed to meet even outside in groups of more than two people in total (excluding children under 12) from more than two households, but there were quite a few not adhering to this - though frankly I think it would be hard to pass on the virus outside, in a large, quite empty area. 

I've probably posted this before, but I came across this photo again in my bid to impose order on the archives. These ladies are our grandchildren's great great great great grandmother and great great great great great grandmother, which I do find quite mind-boggling. The older lady was born in 1829, in the reign (just) of George IV. 

I’ve got all my parents’ and also my Norfolk aunt’s photos (not to say ours) to deal with. I'm writing the names of the people on the back of every photo that I can, and there are a lot of them! - and sorting them into categories. I have an envelope full of photos of as-yet-unidentified Boyds - my granny was a Boyd and was the third youngest of 11 so my dad had 28 first cousins and they all looked much the same, or at least they look the same in small black and white photos - the men especially because they tended to go bald quite young. Quite a few of them are familiar to me from other photos, a few of which have been written on the back by earlier family members, so I'll eventually get them all together and try to match faces with names. Because my granny was the third youngest, most of  Dad's cousins were much older than him so I met very few of them, which doesn't help. The second youngest emigrated to the US and her descendants are almost the only ones we're still in touch with - those were the people we were planning to visit in April. The very youngest was killed in WW1, without issue.

 One question is, of course, whether my descendants will really care which of my dad's cousins was Tom and which Willy Boyd. Maybe it doesn't matter, but I feel I should try. 

This is a really good picture of one of them. They all look very like this and share names too: lots of Toms, Willys, Jameses. So helpful. 

The children are not hugely interested in their GGGGG Granny at the moment, but I'm sure they will be later. I would LOVE to see a photo of mine! Mind you, one has a lot of 5 x great grannies (32, is that right?) and I imagine the gene pool gets fairly diluted by the time it reaches this far down. Still, I think I have that particular GGG Granny (of mine)'s mouth - which isn't very good but at least it's better than her nose.

 So… just plodding onwards. Quilting was great therapy for my spirits so I’m missing it. But not as much as I’m missing the kids. And my friends. And... you know. Stuff. 


Wednesday, January 06, 2021

The call of the running tide

Today was beautiful - still cold, but with no wind. In the afternoon we went to check on Daughter 2's Edinburgh flat (still no interest from buyers - talk about terrible timing! - who could have predicted that giving her tenants notice last January might not be the best idea?) and then walked down to Newhaven. The sun was bright but low in the sky - the days are getting slightly longer, though. 

Boats. One came in with lobster pots. 

We walked out along the jetty

and round the corner to the shore, looking across to Fife (one of the many places we can't go)

and back along the coast to the Forth Bridges in the west. 

These flats are not typical of Edinburgh architecture. They have huge windows looking out over the sea. 

South of France, anyone? 

At the end of the walkway we saw this large tug boat

and watched as it started backing out of quite a narrow space. 

There's a job I wouldn't want. 

Backing is not my strongest point. 

And off it went. Shortly after this it turned and made its way out of the estuary and into the sea proper. I sort of envied it - I'm sure we all feel we'd like to go almost anywhere - but sunset wasn't far away and I didn't really fancy sailing into the cold night. 

So we walked back up the hill and went home to our warm house. 

And that was another day.