Sunday, September 26, 2021

Out and about

On Monday we decided to take the children up north a bit, to see a couple of local things of interest, with Daughter 1. But on the motorway, a couple of hundred yards ahead of us, four cars crashed into one another. (No one was seriously hurt, as it turns out.) And we were stuck for three hours, as above. 

After about two hours, Biggest Granddaughter, who's only 8, really needed to go to the loo. We had no receptacles with us. The only choices were the road beside us or the bare, sloping grassy bank on the other side of this coach. So I went and asked the coach driver if she could possibly use the toilet on his coach, and he immediately said yes. What a nice man!

Once we eventually got going and could turn off the road, we decided just to go home again. We'll visit these places another day. We went round various roundabouts, got back on to the road in the opposite direction, and drove past  a good ten miles of stationary traffic - people who had no idea how long they'd be there and who didn't know that, further up the road, vehicles were actually filtering slowly past the accident scene. 

When we got home, Big Grandson wrote this ironic "To Do" list, with the first item as above. Tick.

My brother and sister-in-law came to visit on Tuesday for a week. I got my brother to go through with me some of our father's archives, such as these magazines from the late 40s and early 50s. Dad had articles published in them, which I never knew about. 

Son-in-Law 1, who's interested in electronics, read them with more attention than I had. 

Dad also had an article in The Scottish Schoolmaster ("Mathematics in Electrical Research") in 1949, with a letter from the editor asking for more. I wonder if he always meant to write more journalism and then got too busy? 

We've been having a nice time with Brother and his wife, having coffees, going for walks and so on. 

Today we all had lunch with the Edinburgh family at Swanston and then went for a walk, admiring the cottages of Swanston Village, built in the early 1700s and still occupied. Swanston comes from Sweinn's Town or farm. Sweinn appears in the records in 1214, agreeing to work this land. I expect he'd be pleased that his name has persisted down the centuries. 

He'd be surprised to see the cars, though. 

Sunday, September 19, 2021


Biggest Granddaughter was pleased with her cushion, examining her chosen fabrics and reminding herself why she chose them. So that was good, though it wasn't exactly a difficult sewing project

Also good: we went for a six-mile walk along the River Tweed from Tweedbank to Melrose and back yesterday, and my sore leg hardly hurt at all. 

When we got home and sat down, it was very stiff for a bit and was then fairly ok. 

It was beautiful weather. Melrose believes in bright bedding schemes. 

We had lunch there and then crossed the river and walked back to the station. It was so lovely meeting up with our friends and having exercise in picturesque surroundings. 

Princes Street Gardens were looking pretty too as we got the bus home. 

Today we met up with Son and his little ones in Dundee Botanic Gardens, 

where we had a very nice time. The children are (biased Granny opinion) so lovely.

After lunch we had quite a substantial walk along the river front, though the little ones on their bikes went rather faster, with athletic Son jogging along beside them. 

One day we must go and visit The Discovery, which is moored there, but today we just admired it. It carried Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton on their first expedition to the Antarctic in 1901. 

We did go through underneath the Dundee Victoria and Albert Museum,

which is not, to my mind, a beautiful building. It's supposed to look like a cliff. 

The Unbloggables climbed this lookout tower but I stayed at the bottom. I'm not great with heights. 

And my leg was fine! Seems unlikely that it's suddenly cured, but I'm hoping... .

So altogether it was a particularly lovely weekend. Hope you had one too.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Lonely as a cloud...

We've been away for the weekend to a big house in the Lake District (in England) with our walking friends and had such a good time. 

We go on the Friday and then we walk on the Saturday, Sunday and Monday. This year was a bit different for me because I've had an annoying sore leg recently - it's fine for the first mile or so and then really quite uncomfortable - so I felt I shouldn't try to do 7ish-mile walks during which I might either become seriously sore or find myself hobbling on, keeping everyone back. So I stayed in the house all alone (violins...), read my book and went for a 40-minute solitary walk both in the morning and in the afternoon, on both Saturday and Sunday. When I say solitary, I mean very solitary - see above and below. I was - ridiculously - slightly nervous that a Bad Man might leap out from behind a hedge where he'd been waiting on the off-chance that a plump, slightly sore-legged 71-year-old carrying nothing valuable might come along.

For example, I decided not to go down this lane with overhanging trees. Foiled you, Bad Man.

On the Saturday night, we watched, on tv and iPad, Emma Raducanu winning the US Open tennis. 

As you can see, we were quite pleased at the result, though actually since she was born in Canada of a Chinese mother and a Romanian father, she's not perhaps the very Britishest person one has ever met. She certainly sounds British though and plays jolly good tennis, so we're happy to claim the credit. 

On my Sunday walks, I met lots of sheep 

and a butterfly or two

but still no people. I was less nervous by then, though - for no actual reason. It's annoying and pretty irrational to feel a bit anxious in an empty lane. I wonder if a man would? 

On Sunday night we had a meal out. The weather was dull for most of the weekend but the sun obligingly came out to look pretty as we went into the hotel. 

And today I decided to walk with the group, since it was only 2 and a half miles, and my leg was pretty ok. 

Altogether it was a wonderful weekend. We've known most of these people since we were young, and it was such fun, with lots of laughs - good for the soul.


Thursday, September 09, 2021

Blowing in the wind

I recently made Big Grandson, at his request, a floor cushion, and then Biggest Granddaughter wanted one too. His cover was from a single fabric but she wanted a patchwork one with fabrics of her choosing from my stash. The first ones she choose were these red and mainly green ones. I do not like red and green together (well, apart from at Christmas) and said, "Ooh, these don't really go together." She looked at me severely.

"It's my cushion, Granny," she said. Quite right. Then she picked lots of others, with reasons every time ("I love reading so I have to have these book fabrics", "I've got to have bunnies", "Who doesn't like balloons?") and I thought, hmm. How do I make something tasteful from this lot? 

I considered putting banding between them or doing something a bit fancy and then I decided just to go for it with simple squares, to get the full effect of her chosen fabrics. And actually the combination of patterns wasn't as bad as I expected. 

The other day, we went to the museum (first time since lockdown) to see the Galloway Hoard, a large collection of items buried about 9000AD and discovered by a metal detector a few years ago, in southern Scotland. It was so interesting. 

This is one of the intricately-made brooches, but there were many others, with armlets and ingots - mainly in silver, but some in gold, both from far-off countries - buried in a silver pot made  in Central Asia possibly 300 years earlier still. They were clever and adventurous people, our ancestors. The pot was wrapped in various pieces of cloth, which has been partially preserved by being buried and is currently being analysed. So interesting to see weaving done by people over 1000 years ago. 

The most fascinating thing, of course, would be to know why the items were buried, and by whom, and why they never came back for them - and I don't suppose we'll ever know that. Was it for fear of marauding Vikings, who then duly marauded? Did some old chap bury them to keep them safe from his neighbours, and then die without mentioning the location to his family? Did they come and look and were they frustratingly unable to find them? 

Meanwhile - though flowers bloom on and it's still warm -

there are definite signs of autumn. Rose-bay-willowherb is spreading its fluffy seeds, 

while rowan berries 

and rose hips are brightening the hedgerows

and you can see why this is called thistledown. It's pretty, but don't blow near my garden, seeds. 


Friday, September 03, 2021


I came across these the other day. They used to belong to my lovely grandmother and were made by her friend, Nell Wallace. Nell was from Shetland and was a wonderful knitter and crocheter. She was one of those people who always had some knitting or crochet on the go and would sit there, chatting away and barely looking at her work - never using a printed pattern, just making it up. She and her husband were a very sweet couple - very smiley and kind. 

The Wallaces, Nell and Bill, were my grandparents' best friends. They used to be neighbours when my grandparents first came to Edinburgh. Then, in the early 1930s, the Wallaces bought a newly-built house and urged my grandparents to buy one in the same street, so they did. My grandparents lived there all the rest of their lives. They had only had one child - my mother - and the Wallaces had two, both a bit younger than Mum: Margaret and young Bill. The families grew up together.

Years later, when my parents got married, the Wallaces moved across town to look after an elderly relative, and Mum and Dad rented, and later bought, the Wallaces' house. I grew up there till I was 12, with Granny and Grandpa living just over the road, which was great.  The Wallaces and my grandparents remained the best of friends, and visited often; and my mum stayed in touch with young Bill and Margaret too till the end. Young Bill was a keen mountaineer and died in his 70s,  of a heart attack as he reached the top of a mountain. Appropriate, if a bit early for someone so apparently fit. Margaret died in her eighties, a few years ago. I kept in touch with her after Mum died. 

There's a very sad aspect to this story. The Wallaces' son, young Bill, married and had two children, a son and a daughter. The daughter had multiple physical handicaps and also learning difficulties and died a few years ago, and the son tragically killed himself years before, as very young man, by stepping in front of a train. Margaret never married and had no children. So, alas, Nell and her husband have no living descendants. 

Nell made lots of these mats and my granny used these ones (there were more) on her dining table. The bigger ones are the size of dinner plates. When Granny died, my mum must have kept them and then they came down to me. I never use them. My children will never use them. And yet I cherish them because of the lovely Wallaces. I hope I'm not the only person who remembers them.

We've had beautiful weather this week, and I've spent some time sitting in the shade, reading

and looking down the garden at the new bit of lawn where there used to be a big hedge.