Saturday, May 22, 2021

Families and friends

It's been an uneventful week, as far as I can remember. Well, it's featured a visit from a decorator to estimate for painting various rooms (that's going to be expensive, I fear), a visit to the dentist (ditto) and a mammogram (routine). So, not fun, though I've also had some friends round for coffee and a catch up, which was much better. One friend, much younger than me, is starting a new romance (while unhappily married) so that was rather startling. Rather her than me, but she's so happy!

Quite a few years ago I bought a book about childhood in Glasgow in the early years of last century. I read the beginning (on a train, maybe?) and then for some reason never got round to reading the rest until last week. It was written in 1987 and the writer interviewed lots of old people to get their memories. And when I got to the bit above, I was struck by the name Noble Boyd, because one of my father's many cousins was called Noble Boyd (actually Thomas Noble, but always called Noble to differentiate him from his father Thomas)  and he lived near the White Cart River in Glasgow. To translate the above: he was fishing for tadpoles, fell in, got very smelly and then was smacked when he got home. On the other occasion he went stealing apples (probably just the fallen ones) and got all wet again. 

Here he is near the bottom of my dad's carefully-compiled family tree. I never met him but now wish that I could ask him some of the questions that one wants to ask after there's no longer anyone there to answer them. It looks as if he had no children. 

Here he is again: 

He sounds quite a character. His father deaved him and his siblings about cribbage - there's no adequate English word for "deaved" but it means something like "pestered" - but with a real feeling of weariness. It's from the same root as "deafened" - but metaphorically. It hasn't anything to do with being loud. 

Here he is with various other cousins and their spouses at a golden wedding party. Luckily I know who most of them are because my dad left a key to the photo. My grandmother is on the far left in the second front row and my grandfather in the same row, but third from the right. I wonder why they didn't stand together. 

 This is Noble in the back row, middle, as a young man. 

We used to visit my aunt, my dad's sister, in Norfolk, and one year I got her to dictate her family memories. This is what she said about Noble's parents: 

Uncle Tom (Clarkston Tom) - (1872-1957) 

We thought of Uncle Tom as very posh – maybe he married above his station? He had a maid called Jean Ross. One time, when my mother was staying, they went to visit some friends who served dainty sandwiches and had finger bowls, which my sister Jean had never seen before. My mother very seldom made derogatory comments but this time she said that she thought they were showing off. Uncle Tom’s wife was called Ann(ie) McKendrick (1869-1936) . He worked as a traveller for suiting and gave my mother out-of-date books of pattern samples, out of which she made patchwork bedcovers [two of which I now have]. He came to Edinburgh in the course of his work and he had a car! He used to bring us a big box of chocolates. We children had Sunday clothes, including coats, made by Uncle Tom’s firm. They were beautifully cut. When we were older, Jean and I used to go to his house – which seemed posh - for holidays. It was right by the River Cart. We used to climb over the wall, scramble down the banks and explore the river.

 Uncle Tom was a Justice of the Peace, which increased our sense of his poshness!

And here are the quilts that my aunt gave me, made from Noble's father's out-of-date pattern samples about 100 years ago. Not fancy, but serviceable and warm. 

Daughter 2 and Littlest Granddaughter are coming on Monday to stay for almost two weeks. Won't that be lovely?

Monday, May 17, 2021


We're lucky to have peaceful places to walk in Edinburgh. We walked along the river with Son-in-Law 1 last week and even found somewhere to have a coffee indoors, which was almost exciting for these days. 

This is also quite exciting in an arrrggghhh way: we're about to spend quite large sums having our kitchen cabinets sprayed... possibly white. The kitchen is 25 years old but still perfectly good, though now somewhat old-fashioned. I disapprove of fashion, really - there's no shame in having an elderly kitchen - but one can't help feeling slightly influenced by knowing that this is very 1990s. We did get an estimate for replacement doors and drawer fronts but it would have cost £5,500 to replace solid oak with chipboard and plastic, so we didn't do it. So we're going to spend considerably less - but still quite a lot - to paint them ... well, what? We said we thought white and the chap sucked his teeth and shook his head slightly. He thinks white would be too stark. I myself feel that if one is paying a chap lots of money, he ought to let one have the colour one suggests, but teeth-sucking is undermining. The thinking behind our choosing white is that in a few years we'll probably be selling this house and we want something unobjectionable that the new owners could live with (and then probably put in a new kitchen). Anyway, it needs thought. 

Meanwhile the Edinburgh Two are not too big to play occasionally in the sand pit, 

and a "den" made from chairs and blankets. 

On Saturday we had our first meal out for - can't remember how long - to celebrate SIL 1's and Mr L's birthdays. After lunch we had a nice walk up the hill at Swanston and looked down at the city. 

And then we came home and the children invented this game with bubbles. The bubble wands were syringes and the bubbles, once blown, were Covid germs and needed to be popped by "injecting" them using the wands. I was intrigued - it's like what you hear about wartime children playing games about bombs and defeating the enemy. 

I never know why they like popping bubbles (when they're just being bubbles) anyway. I feel that as a child I liked watching them. They're so pretty. 

It's been a cool spring but the advantage has been that the spring flowers and the cherry blossom have lingered for a long time. Isn't this a wonderful pink?

This time next week, Daughter 2 and Littlest Grandchild should be here! I want this week to go quickly and then for time to slllllllllllow down. 


Wednesday, May 12, 2021

It's all about the flowers, really

It's all about flowers at this time of year - and in my garden, there's quite a lot of purple - which isn't my favourite colour in, say, clothes or furnishings, but it's the nearest that most flowers come to blue so it's acceptable. 

How about this stunning blue mecanopsis, though?  They grow well in Scotland - theoretically - but I tend to lose them after a couple of years. I think that this is because I've put them with other, more aggressive things and they've been swamped. So last year I got my garden labourer (Mr L) to cut out a new, special bed for them, and the three plants that I put in are still looking good. Granted, this is the only bloom so far, but plant 2 has a promising bud; and plant 3, while smaller and with no sign of flowers, looks pretty healthy. So I'm keeping my fingers crossed. 

In the Botanics, there's lots of pink. 

This view of the city skyline from the Botanics is so familiar and dear to me. 

More pink.

And some yellow. 

And even some very late daffodils. 

Back in my garden, I have to admit that the orange wallflowers, though I don't like them and would never have planted them if I'd known they were orange, do add a splash of brightness to this front garden bed. 

12 days till Daughter 2 and Smallest Granddaughter arrive. I can hardly wait. 


Thursday, May 06, 2021

So busy - as lockdown eases...

Life is full of ceaseless activity, though admittedly some of that consists of sitting watching "Location, Location, Location" while quilting butterflies on to the ice cream quilt. I've discovered, for what it's worth, that it's a bit of a waste of time quilting butterflies or anything particularly irregular on a (what's it called again?) piano keys (?) border, because it's too busy for the butterflies to show up much. We live and learn. Anyway, we went up to see Son and family again on Saturday with the Edinburgh Two and their parents. Considering they've seen so little of one another recently, the children get on very well. Here's Big Granddaughter (8) reading to Medium Granddaughter (4). So CUTE! 

Son lives in a scenic, if inconvenient (for us) area. 

We walked up to the burn

and the younger members ploutered about in it and made a dam. 

Home again, spring has definitely sprung but it's a very cold one. 

I planted this wallflower innocently, not realising that it was orange. I'll let it finish flowering but then pull it out. Sorry, but rules are rules. No orange. 

On Sunday we walked by the canal with the Edinburgh family,

saying hello to some fluffy cygnets

and enjoying the sunshine despite the chilly temperature. 

Cherry blossom time, with Big Grandson. 

On Tuesday - da DA DA! - I went up town to a real bookshop and bought some real books and had real coffee, made by someone else, in their cafe. It was so exciting. 

And then in the afternoon I went back into town and met Daughter 1 and the Edinburgh Two in the museum. Again, not something we've been able to do for ages. I love this pot and I also love the fact that it was made...

about 500 years ago and we can still look at it. I would very much like someone to give it to me for my birthday, and while they were at it they could also give me the duck-shaped foot rasp (purely for its decorative value. I have no desire to rasp my feet). Just think what a long time someone took to paint all those cranes and the twiddles in between them. I hope they enjoyed it and didn't immediately have to start on another one which was just the same. 

The children are 8 and nearly 10 now. I'm so happy that I can spend time with them before they get all grown up. 

Daughter 2 and Littlest Granddaughter should be here in 18 days. So excited. Fingers so crossed.