Friday, October 29, 2021


This week started with a lovely illustrated "letter" from our northern granddaughter, Middle. I was so delighted!

Apart from that, it's been pleasant enough but rather dull, after some Monday socialising. I'm trying to declutter, so decided to get rid of the dress that I wore to my school dance in 1967 - the one that I invited the young Mr Life to. Look where that led. 

So I washed it - though it was really dry-clean-only, I suspect - prior to giving it to a charity shop. It's vintage, after all, so someone might buy it. (Why did I still have it??)  But then Daughter 2 said she wanted it. Not sure why!

So how about this? - a nightie that I bought for Daughter 1 before she was born and embroidered with a tiny hedgehog and flower. All the children wore it as babies. Well, how could I throw this out? It doesn't take up much space. 

Well, this, then? A charity shop wouldn't want my Guide uniform, with its many badges, including the Queen's Guide. Again, why do I still have it? I haven't been a Guide since 1966! So out it goes - but no, Daughter 1 said she wanted it. Again, not sure why!

However, Mr L produced this cardigan that I knitted for him in the 70s, which he'd sweetly kept ever since. I had no idea that he still had it. He never wears it (it's very heavy) so hurray! - I managed to get it to a charity shop, with quite a lot of other, less sentimental things. 

 And now it's Hallowe'en, so it's time to get out the knitted ghosts: the epitome of non-scariness. Even Biggest Granddaughter, who's a bit alarmed by some Hallowe'en appurtenances, is fond of these little chaps. Happy Hallowe'en!

Thursday, October 21, 2021


On Saturday we happily escaped our upside-down house and met up with our walking friends. We drove to Ormiston in East Lothian and parked in the main street and then we looked at Ormiston Cross and read the information about it. 

Ormiston is a very typical East Lothian village. 

As I so often do when I'm somewhere other than Edinburgh, I wondered what it would be like to live there. Quite nice, I'd think. 

And then we had a lovely five or six mile walk through the countryside. 

The weather was perfect for walking: not a breath of wind, mild and not sunny. At this time of year, the sun is so low in the sky that it's uncomfortably bright unless you've got your back to it. Which, in a circular walk, you often don't.  

We came across three sort of totem poles - one depicting the coal mining that used to take place here, one showing the market gardening that still does and the third - this one - with carvings of the local wildlife. These are relatively modern. I taught in East Lothian for the first six years of my working life, and most of the less academic lads planned either to go down the pits or to the fishing. It wasn't easy to persuade them of the importance of the correct use of the apostrophe.

It was such a lovely day in good company. 

The next day we went with the Edinburgh family to the Botanics, 

where autumn

is definitely beginning to assert itself. 

And on Monday, when the children began their October holiday, Son-in-Law 1 took Biggest Granddaughter - who is intrepid - to an indoor climbing wall, while I took Big Grandson - who isn't, but who is very interested in transport - to see how Edinburgh tram extension is going. Slowly and messily, that's how. 

And then we took a tram to the airport and back, because that's fun and interesting. Apparently. 

Another day we went to the local trampoline centre and they bounced. And then Nanny and Gramps arrived from England so we were off duty for a while. 

Our house was still in the throes of decorators, who by this time were in our bedroom, the downstairs bathroom and the kitchen, so we went for a walk along the river and had coffee at the gallery because the kitchen wasn't really accessible. 

It was nice to escape. One feels very lazy lounging around one's house while other people work in it. On the other hand, it's not that easy to get on with things when one's possessions are all in the wrong places. 

Yesterday the kitchen still looked like this.

But hooray, it was all finished today so we're gradually reassembling the rooms. And we're never doing anything to the house again. It's fine for the moment (or, it will be once we've got it all back to rights) and by the time it isn't, we'll either die or move. 

Or that's how we're currently feeling. 

Friday, October 15, 2021


On Tuesday we went up to visit Son and family. This was lovely, but I'm not allowed to post pictures of the children so you'll just have to imagine them: Medium Granddaughter is now 5 and at school, an enchanting little wiry fairy with blondish hair and hazel eyes. She's very loving towards us, which is unbelievably wonderful considering that she doesn't really see us very often. She gave me a red balloon which she blew up all by herself. Little Grandson, 2 and a half, is a beautiful, smiley little person with big blue eyes. He's a bit more wary of us - chats away but doesn't offer cuddles as his sister does.

Mr Life helped Son to put up monkey bars in the garden. I suppose it's partly genetic - Son and DIL are energetic types - and partly that the children are taken to playparks a lot, but both the children are very physically agile. They've both been able to jump high on trampolines for a long time, and Medium Granddaughter is very good at swinging herself hand-to-hand along the monkey bars. Her little brother tries his best to copy everything she does. 

It's so awful, really, just to see them every few weeks, as visitors. However I realise that we're also lucky to have them. I love them so much. I just hope that we live long enough to establish a real relationship with them that they'll remember when they're grown up. It's not very likely, though, since we're 71 and 73. Ah well. 

We're still in the toils of decorators - mainly just one, a nice Lithuanian chap called Egis. He's been working steadily and has now finished the hall and stairs and is working on our bedroom and the downstairs bathroom. The house is in chaos. Even in the hall/stairs/landing we normally have a chest of drawers, a set of shelves with various doo-dahs on them, a grandfather clock, four child's chairs, a dolls' house, a large bookcase and quite a lot of pictures and plates on the wall. All of this is now either in an upstairs bedroom or in the sitting room. (Fortunately we have a second, smaller, living room also.) But now all the contents of our bedroom are also in the sitting room, including all of our clothes (the fitted wardrobes are getting painted), as are various things from the bathroom - essentials such as bathrack (bookrack), pictures, a glass paperweight and duck... . 

Of course when we staggered through with all of our clothes, it was brought to our attention that there are lots of them that we no longer wear, even though they're quite wearable. These are mainly left over from our working days, which I have to admit are ten years ago now. I might wear these smartish skirts and blouses again but - let's face it - I've spent the last ten years not really doing so. So we swear that we're going to have a sort out and not just put them all back. But - argh - it's going to be so much work just getting the house back to rights again without making stern decisions as well. And then there are the books! It makes sense not to keep more books than will fit on the shelves (or than we'll ever have time to reread). But which to take to charity shops along with those redundant clothes? And which day to summon up the resolve to do so? I'm exhausted at the thought, but am trying to tell myself how much better we'll feel once we've done all this. 

In three weeks' time, I'm telling myself, we'll be in a tidy, slightly decluttered house, with pictures back up on walls and nice fresh paintwork. That will be very nice. At the moment, however: ARGH.


Thursday, October 07, 2021


What an uncommenty world Blogland is nowadays, and indeed how few of the blogs that I used to read still exist, alas. In several cases I'm now Facebook friends of these ex-bloggers, but I don't think that Facebook is the equal of blogging, though I do like FB as well. Ah well.  

I've uploaded these pictures from Google photos, unlike my usual habit, and I can't get them to go in the right order. I started at the bottom of the ones I wanted on Google photos, and they came backwards on to the blog, so I tried again by starting at the top and the same happened. Anyway, we've had our smaller living room sofas recovered and I've been looking at cushions, worthy of the new covers, in John Lewis, where I was horrified to find that they cost £40 or £45 each. The one above might match quite well but I'm not sure it's really my style. But hey, I thought, I can make cushions. 

For example, I like these fabrics. But it turns out that they're £35 a metre, which makes the £45 cushions seem not so bad. 

So I bought this one and will consider my options. 

We've got decorators in at the moment, which seemed like a good idea some months ago. Annoyingly, they came on Tuesday, said that they couldn't come for the next two days and then the boss left, leaving a Lithuanian chap to strip the paper as above. He worked hard and tidied up after himself but I hope they're going to be here from now on. They're doing the kitchen, a bathroom and, argh, our bedroom. 

Earlier in the year, when sorting out Stuff, I put all postcards, other cards and letters in a big box, unsorted. I am now doing the sorting and finding all sorts of things such as this card from my parents on my 40th birthday. I'm now 71. How I would love to look 40 now! - or indeed to be 40. Life is fleeting. 

That's my lovely mum's handwriting. Can't throw this away - indeed I can throw almost none of it away. It's all very nostalgic and a mixture of heartwarming and sad. 

There are lots of home-made cards, such as this from Daughter 2 when she was very small. She's mildly dyslexic but extremely nice! 

Before the decorators came (see, this is backwards) we took down all these blue plates from the back hall. I've had them more or less all our married life - they were originally acquired to hide a bumpy wall we had in the previous house, bought in 1976. Will I put them up again? Ironically, Daughter 2 (who knows such things) tells me that plates on the wall are fashionable again. 

And here's a more modern drawing, which I found around the place - Biggest Granddaughter doodled this. Rather sweet! 


Saturday, October 02, 2021

Not achieving very much

My brother and sister-in-law stayed for a week, which was very nice. He's my big brother and we're not at all alike in most ways but we've always got on well, and my sister-in-law is very nice. He hasn't lived in Edinburgh since, I think, 1972 - 7 years in the US plus 2 years later on, and the rest of the time in England. As a result my nephew and niece, splendid people both, are also pretty well English (though their mother is actually American so they have no English ancestry) and live down south. Which from my point of view is a pity but there we are. 

A member of one of my choirs very kindly remembered that I did patchwork and brought me these three curtain samples. They'd already decided on their curtains: the right hand design. These are... let's say,... not at all to my taste; also, they're velvet, beautiful quality and I can't imagine that they're washable. I can't see myself using them. But it was very nice of her. She's younger than me, a very stylish dresser and I suppose that I can just imagine her curtains looking - well, striking - in a modern house. If one liked orange. Which I don't. 

It struck me as an initial sketch for "The Scream". As Daughter 1 said, there appears to be a volcano behind her. 

Apart from that, we haven't been doing anything very interesting. Not quite sure what we have been doing, actually. A bit of gardening, which I would be doing at this moment had I not been discouraged by rain. It's the sort of rain which makes you think, oh well, it's not heavy; I'll just stay out a bit longer. And then you find you're slowly getting quite damp. 

Big Grandson and Biggest Granddaughter have been making masks. 

 Now I must go and look again at the box labelled "Correspondence, various" into which, during lockdown, I put cards, letter, postcards and email printouts from the past many, many years. It would be sensible to throw some of it away. But I probably won't. I might, however, sort it into categories. Would that be useful? Not sure.

I've just been reading Gyles Brandreth's latest memoir - very interesting and entertaining - and he keeps everything. He says that his wife claims that when he dies, she'll phone for a skip before she phones the undertaker. In many ways I would love to be like GB - his enterprise, his enthusiasm, his confidence - but I don't want to leave my family with quite those problems.

And now the sun's out but I've taken off my gardening trousers and everything outside is quite wet so I'll proceed to the archiving. And perhaps a cup of tea.