Monday, March 29, 2021

Covid impatience

This is what our sitting room looks like when Big Grandson is visiting. We have far too much Brio and not enough cupboards to put it in, but he does love it. What will we do with it when he's grown out of it?? Give it away, you'd think, but he says we need to keep it for ever. Hmm. 

Going to the Botanics always makes me happy, and spring is probably the best season for it - there are so many rhododendrons. The spring bulbs are heart-lifting too, like these daffodils in front of the blow-up golden monkey, which was being buffeted about today in a stiff breeze as it clung to Inverleith House . 

But I mean...

who could fail to be cheered by

rhododendrons - even if, to my eye, these colours don't really go?

My photo doesn't nearly do justice to the huge flowers of this beautiful magnolia. 

So white. So perfect. So frilly. 

And the daffodils

and the, umm, can't quite think what these are, but pink. Primula of some sort? 

And more daffodils, certainly fluttering and dancing in today's wind. 

But it's now March 29 and when I think about this, I panic a bit because I feel we're just putting in the time and we don't have time to spare! The months fly past with nothing to show for them and no visits from our beloved distant young people - and frankly, the only consolation for getting old is seeing the young ones develop. Well, that and having time to go for nice walks, which is also a great good fortune. Count your blessings, count your blessings. 

So we came home and I put the final borders on the ridiculously pastel quilt, which at least gives me the illusion of achievement. Luckily I have just enough wadding and just enough backing fabric and material for the binding to do me until the next quilt - no idea what that will be. But I hope the shops will be open by then. 


Saturday, March 27, 2021

Time passing

And so life continues, perfectly pleasantly if it weren't for the frustration of not being able to meet up with our non-Edinburgh children and grandchildren. If things go to plan, we're allowed to travel within Scotland at the end of April and outside Scotland mid-May. If things don't... . And this already seems ages. So we go for walks along the river, like the other day...

and admire the daffodils on the way up to the Art Gallery

and in the gallery grounds. And then we walk home. All perfectly pleasant and so enviable compared to the many poor people in horrible war zones, so one shouldn't complain. But meanwhile these beautiful children are growing up and we'll never get that time with them again. 

I've been adding borders to my ice cream quilt. It's not for anyone in particular so I've just been indulging myself with scraps of favourite fabrics. Included in it are various patches cut from spare bits of curtain material from the house, some scraps of our old napkins, some strips of my mother's napkins (the dark pink) and various fabrics that remind me of other quilts in which they've featured. It's riotously pastel and a bit silly but I'm having a happy time just improvising. 

At least we're seeing the Edinburgh Two. Yesterday they were playing with Playdoh. "This," said Big Grandson, "is Beary Queen of Scots". In case you're not versed in Scottish history, Mary Queen of Scots was beheaded, poor soul, by Elizabeth of England, her cousin. Grandson's class are learning about her in school. "It's a bit gruesome for children our age," said Grandson. "Well, we did her last year," said Biggest Granddaughter, "and we were only seven. You'd think they'd find more cheerful things to teach us about." 

Today we walked round Cammo, an estate given to the city after its last owners died. 

The big house is mainly demolished. Today the place was blessedly dog-free (ish). I quite like individual dogs but there are so many in Edinburgh; and Big Grandson doesn't like to go to places where people walk their dogs (which is more or less everywhere) because he's so scared of them - not that he was with us today. I don't think that (some) dog owners realise that not everyone is enchanted with their furry friends. On the other hand, I can't imagine why some people don't like cats (and they're so furry!), not to say children. So - hey ho. 

The flowering currant smells rather strong but it's so pretty. 

There are remnants everywhere of the grand house of yore. 

The city is gradually encroaching on the countryside. 

These are the remains of a cottage dating from 1780. From excavations, it's thought that this was once a wright's workshop, where wooden and metal things from the estate were mended. 

And this is the long pond which formed part of the vista from the house. 

It's beautiful but rather melancholy. The grounds are maintained enough to make them safe, but nature's trying to reclaim the land, and time overtakes everything in the end. Which is possibly a good thing. 

I passed through the living room tonight when Mr L was watching "The Gadget Show". A teenager was saying sympathetically that in the old days, people had to use typewriters to send their emails. 

Well, sort of. 


Monday, March 22, 2021

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow...

The weather's been beautiful this week. The other day we climbed Corstorphine Hill. This lane is much more uphill than it looks.  

As ever, we paused at the top to admire the view - and catch our breath. The golf course is now closed to the likes of us, and full - well, not very full - of happy golfers.

On the way down I looked at this oak tree, which looked like this at the beginning of lockdown last March. I only know that it's an oak because I had plenty of opportunities to watch its leaves unfurling, fully opening and then withering and falling off over the course of last year. I would quite like not to have so many visits to it in the course of this year - there are other places it would be good to go, as a change. 

But though we're theoretically on course to loosen things up, there are serious spikes of Covid on the continent and I'm not at all confident that this won't have an effect on Britain. 

Meanwhile, it's spring in the garden, 

and at the Botanics, where we were yesterday with the Edinburgh family. 

There's lots of rhododendron loveliness. 

And grandchild loveliness too. 

Back in our garden, the new grass is coming on, though you couldn't say that it's a seamless match with the old grass yet. The bench is sitting at the back of where a five-foot deep hedge once was. I'm enjoying the extra space we now have, though there are fewer birds around, presumably because they liked sitting in the hedge. Guilt... . Our garden is a very odd shape and we used to have an arbour in the apex of that far triangle of grass. Now, however, I've found a place for the blue pottery ball that I've had for years. 

But in possibly good news, Daughter 2 has had an offer for her Edinburgh flat! It's not a fantastic offer - worth far less than flats in her block were going for before the pandemic. On the other hand, the potential buyer is a very nice young man (and we want someone nice and sensible for the sake of the lovely older lady through the wall) and since the flat's been on the market since July 31, Daughter 2's probably going to accept it - there are one or two details to settle. Even better, the nice young man wants the furniture too, since this is his first property (we told him that the buyer could have it) and we'll offer him the other contents (vacuum cleaner, mops, stepladder, iron, ironing board, crockery, cutlery etc). It would be nice and easy just to walk out and leave everything. Fingers crossed!

Monday, March 15, 2021

Life is various

I've never understood people who get bored - well, unless they were forced to sit still doing something tedious. There are always lots of things that I want to do. I've been going through some of my father's archives and came across this - a newspaper list of his prizes in his final year, 1937-38 - at this famous Edinburgh boys' school, which he was able to attend only because he won a bursary to go to the senior school. As you see, he was dux (ie, top of his year) by being first or first equal in maths, physics, German, English Literature and Russian. And this was an academic school.

He was also very musical, playing the piano and organ well, and could make up stories and draw funny pictures. 

My brother and I grew up being told by everyone how clever he was. I've never discussed this with my brother, I don't think, but I anyway just assumed (correctly) that there was no point in comparing myself to Dad so it wasn't worth really thinking about. He was, by the way, very hard-working as well, which to my shame I never was, as a child. 

There's also a lot of war stuff, such as this notebook full of information about German bombs - he was in bomb disposal in Egypt - after one year at university. He went back to his studies when the war ended.

Here he is, the smaller chap on the right. 

And there are many photos of bridging the Rhine, which he also did. He notes that they were under heavy enemy fire all the time. 

I think possibly some of this ought to be in a museum. 

Some of us live littler lives (thank goodness). Littlest Granddaughter painted me some yellow flowers for Mother's Day yesterday. Her mother carved "Granny" in the card. Lovely.

And thus the archives grow... .

Yesterday we went for a Mother's Day walk by the river with the Edinburgh family and bought ice creams to celebrate Biggest Granddaughter's 8th birthday.

At home, I did some spring garden tidying and put grass seed down on the balder patches on the new bit of lawn. The pigeons were very appreciative. 

The amaryllises continue to flower. 

And I sewed together the extremely crazy patches I made from scraps at the end of 2019 (remember then?) and added a border. 

And then another one. It looks like it's going to be the world's ice-creamiest ever quilt. I have no idea what I'm doing, really, but it's fun. No fabric shops are open so I'm just playing around with the bits I have. 

All primary school children went back today so my home schooling duties are over for the moment. Thus the quilt.

Goodness me, there haven't been many comments recently, though according to Blogger there a quite a few silent readers. Hello. I wonder who you are. 


Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Flowers and the virus

The weather is definitely getting spring-like. Mr L was inspired to put the slabs back under the garden bench which used to sit in front of the hedge which we got removed last autumn. I feel rather guilty about removing the hedge, which probably supported lots of insects and thus birds, but on the other hand we allowed it to remain for over 30 years and I'm now enjoying the extra space in the garden. We have lots of other insects on other plants. Not to say slugs and snails - come and eat them, birds. The new fence looks a bit bald just now, but I'll plant things against it. 

My amaryllis is flowering rather spectacularly. Every year I think I'll split it up because it's horribly overcrowded in the pot and then every year, after it stops flowering, I don't bother. However, what's my excuse this year? Mind you, does it need splitting up? It could hardly be more floriferous.

And in Saughton Park, the heathers and hellebores are going their dingers too.

But, if one thinks about things too much, life is rather drear. The trick is probably not to think. I had my (Zoom) book group last night, and one of my friends has both of her children in Australia - permanently - and now her husband has developed cancer. So obviously her life is drearer - as are many people's, of course. This does make me feel that I ought to be appreciating my comparative luck. Which I do. But there are considerable improvements that could still be made, thanks, world. 

Still, things are gradually loosening - Big Grandson goes back to school on Monday and we're about to be allowed to meet up in fours outside. So... there's some hope. 


Saturday, March 06, 2021

Covid and Rosslyn

Today was so beautiful that we decided to go slightly further away and visit Roslin, not far outside Edinburgh. 

This is the notice outside what was once the Rosslyn Inn but is now a private house (below). It was built about 1660 and was visited, according to the notice, by Samuel Johnson and Edward VIII - though not at the same time. The plaque says it was given by an Australian lady whose father had been curator of Rosslyn Chapel. I wonder if she missed her home land. 

Rosslyn Chapel was built in the 1400s as a family chapel and is very intricately carved inside - well worth visiting, though currently closed because of Covid. The last time we were there must have been pre-The Da Vinci code, so probably 15 years ago or more. At that point, the chapel was surrounded by scaffolding and had a plastic roof over its original roof because it was slowly being repaired. The Da Vinci Code featured the Chapel (I haven't read it, though Mr L did and thought it was somewhat piffly) and since then it's been a fairly major tourist attraction - hence the building of this entrance way or perhaps exit way/exhibition hall - not sure. So the Chapel's now all mended. Which is good.

We walked past it and 

I stuck my camera through the fence. It doesn't look all that special from outside but it's very fancy indeed inside. 

It was refreshing to look into the distance - these are the Pentland Hills, which we can see from near our house, but from a different angle. 

And then we went down and walked along the river. Water babbled. Birds sang.

It was very peaceful. 

It did the soul good.