Monday, November 29, 2021

The best laid plans...

This is my suitcase, packed to go down to London on the train last Saturday for my visit to Daughter 2 and Littlest Granddaughter.

Then Friday night was very stormy; and power cables came down between here and further south. All trains were cancelled and indeed remain so today. So I couldn't go - a small problem compared with other events in the world, but disappointing. 

The particularly trying thing is that I usually go down on a Friday, but didn't this time, for reasons which seemed more important then than they do now. If I had, I'd be there at the moment. 

And then, which didn't improve matters, it snowed - as had been forecast. Not much, and most of it has gone now, but it's jolly cold. Of course, it's winter, so this is reasonable enough. 

In addition to which, Daughter 2 and her husband have sold their London flat (or, as much as the strange English system allows them to consider it sold - it could still fall through) and are looking for a house. It's astonishing, and very depressing, how much house you don't get in London for your ridiculously large sum of money. So that's very stressful. I think I'm more stressed about it than they are, in fact. 

First world problems, I know. But I'm feeling somewhat bah humbug right now. I shall go and do something useful to try to cheer myself up. 


Thursday, November 25, 2021


On Saturday we went walking. My sore leg hurt but it's amazing how this doesn't matter too much when you're tramping through lovely countryside with lovely friends. And after 5 miles, it didn't hurt appreciably more than it does pottering round the house, which is good. 


On Sunday we took the Edinburgh Two up to see the Angus Two. They are adorable. 

Here are Biggest and Medium Granddaughters, crafting on the floor. Though they don't see each other  often, they get on very well. 

Here are the three oldest ones walking up the hill. Little Grandson was there too, but he was holding his daddy's hand. 

Son decided to climb a tree, causing his mother some anxiety. 

Home again, I picked a little bunch of flowers from the garden. We've had very mild weather with no frost but I think it's due to get colder. 

On Saturday I'm going down to London to visit Daughter 2 and her husband and little one. I'm looking forward to it, but hope that I don't sit beside someone Covidy on the train. In Scotland we have to wear masks on public transport, but once we cross the border, the masks could come off. Hmm. Fingers crosssed!


Friday, November 19, 2021


I've been having a happy time choosing fabrics from my stash. I have quite a lot of fat quarters and other material but it does all fit in one smallish cupboard. Nevertheless I have no chance, at my age, of ever using it all up.

I've been doing this. It's very simple but soothing. 

Occasionally, of course, the mind wanders and this happens. Oops. 

It'll probably become less easy when I start joining the blocks together and find that they don't meet at exactly the right places. Still, I'll get them to meet. And very few people will ever see the quilt, anyway. 

I should really try something more challenging but don't at the moment feel like being challenged. The quilt is just for one of the bunks that we put in the study for the rare occasions when all of our distant grandchildren visit at the same time. Then after this I'll make a quilt for the other bunk. In the same fabrics, I think, but a different design, as yet to be decided. 

Mr L brings me a cup of tea in the mornings (lucky me) and I've developed a habit, as I drink it, of looking at my phone, which often offers me, on Facebook, an extract from an American programme about extreme hoarders. I watch this with horrified pity. I had always imagined that hoarders kept piles of newspapers or shoes or something, but these poor souls keep everything: household items in huge quantities, more clothes than anyone could ever wear but also unwashed dinner plates, half-eaten takeaway meals, fridges full of out-of-date food... . Often the men have multiple decrepit vehicles in their gardens that they plan to (but never will) renovate and sell. 

Then teams come in and help them sort their stuff, throw away the junk and clean and redecorate their houses. But it's obviously deeply painful for the hoarders to discard things, even obviously ruined items. And will they be able to keep themselves from filling their houses all over again? 

I'm so sorry for them - living in crowded and dirty houses and unable to stop accumulating more and more stuff. I like pictures and glass, but it's all arranged tidily. And dusted. Though of course there's the fabric stash... .

Isn't the human mind remarkable? - in both a good and a bad way. 


Monday, November 15, 2021

The maturing sun

I am absolutely not saying that global warming is a good thing, but its effects on Scotland are not altogether unpleasant. The weather is still mild (unlike the cold Novembers of my youth) and there's been some lovely sunshine. On Saturday we went up the hill, 

looking across at the golfers on the course where we had such wonderful rambles during lockdown.

The sunshine makes the colours zing.

And having panted up, we rewarded ourselves with a sit on the convenient bench at the top, looking down over the golf course and the city. 

And then we proceeded down the other side

and further down to the road.

There was a rugby match on at Murrayfield, and many buses, some from surprisingly distant places, were parked along the main road . This one, from Friockheim, not too far away from where Son lives, has the pronunciation of its village (Free-come) helpfully printed on the side. 

I've started a quilt for one of the bunks that we've installed in our study for the few occasions when we'll have all the family together. 

The other morning I was sitting having an early breakfast and happened to glance over my shoulder out of the kitchen window. This is what I saw. A minute or two later I went to the front door to get a better photo but the sun had moved slightly and the sight wasn't quite so striking. 

Complete tangent - this (above) was in the Sunday Times yesterday. I definitely don't have any of the ingredients in my fridge. Does anyone? And what are those orange things that look like tinned peaches? 

Yesterday it was still mild but less sunny and we walked with the Edinburgh family in Leith, along the river. 

We're lucky to see so much of these small people - not actually so small nowadays. Big Grandson only has a few inches to go before he's taller than me - and I can already wear his shoes. Stop growing, little N!

Today it was glorious again. But it's already the middle of November, oh dear.


Friday, November 12, 2021

Mellow fruitfulness

We often go to Edinburgh Botanic Gardens but for some reason had never been to Dawyck (Daw-ick) Botanics, even though they're only an hour away. So on Tuesday, we did. I thought it would be a bit late for the autumn colours, but in fact, though they might have been better a couple of weeks ago, they were still pretty spectacular. It was a lovely drive down. 

And the gardens were very lovely too. 

I know we all have autumn colours, and they happen every year,

but I couldn't help taking too many pictures. Look at the lichen growing on this rowan tree! Such beauty! 

More lichen. It grows so well only where the air is very pure. 

I don't like orange -  but even I have to make an exception for autumn. Trees are so soothing, don't you find? These big chaps were there long before we were and will remain there, unperturbed, long after we're gone. 


We had such a lovely day and then we drove home, 

stopping for a wander round Peebles

and a brief commune with the River Tweed. 

I felt so much better for a day away, drenched in those colours. 

In other news, we've finally got all the pictures, plates, embroideries, painted tiles etc back on the walls. I counted: there were 37 separate items to hang in the four spaces - hall/stairway/upper landing, our bedroom, the bathroom and the kitchen. Yes, I know: too many. But I do like my things. Fortunately I have a tolerant husband. When we move to the retirement flat (who knows when?) a lot is going to have to go. But till then... .

Monday, November 08, 2021

No news from any foreign coast

Yesterday we went up north to visit Son and family. We took with us the kilt that Mr L's mother made for Son when he was 6 and we were invited to Mr L's cousin's wedding. Kilts, made properly (and this one was - my MIL was a very good seamstress) take a lot of material and kilt-making is a skill. Medium Granddaughter is only 5, so it was a bit big for her, but having tried it on, she wore it for quite a long time. Notice also the sporran that used to belong to my brother when he was a little boy. He's going to be 74 tomorrow (happy birthday, P) so the sporran must be almost 70 years old. I'm not sure that either Medium or her little brother will get a lot of use out of the kilt but there might be the occasional school ceilidh or something. Or maybe not - she goes to a very small village school - but anyway, the kilt has been handed on. 

It was so lovely to see the family. I miss them. 

We've gradually been putting pictures back up on the walls that were recently redecorated. One of my excellent ideas (how my husband loves my ideas...) was to move the paintings that were on the staircase (that I was a bit worried would get faded by the sun) into the darker back part of the hall, and to move the blue plates in the back hall on to the staircase, since the sun wouldn't damage them. 

We've had these plates since shortly after we moved into the previous house - so, about 45 years - and I bought them in bits and pieces at antique fairs because I liked them and I wanted to distract attention from a rather bumpy wall in the dining room. Also they were quite fashionable - it being the era of Laura Ashley, Victoriana and so on. Over the years I'm sure they became unfashionable but I still liked them, and now I'm told that they've become quite trendy again. Having taken them down for the redecoration, I considered not putting them up again but am quite fond of them - though did manage to cull my three least favourite.

We've been putting off hanging them again because of course it's much more difficult to hang plates of different shapes and sizes on a slanting wall than a straight one, in any planned and sensible-looking arrangement. However, today was the day. Here's Mr L considering the situation.

We tried various configurations. 

The piece of string that you can faintly see on the floor is supposed to represent the slope of the wall. 

We did it in the end. Mr L was very patient. They will never move again till we downsize, by which time they may go to a charity shop because I don't think I can do this to the poor man again. 

In other words, nothing much has been happening. I haven't quite been able to justify starting another quilt (there are a few pictures still to go up) and I feel rather glum what with one thing and another. But one must count one's blessings. 

Tuesday, November 02, 2021

Other lives

In Walthamstow, Littlest Granddaughter and a friend (and their mums) went out on Sunday doing what I refuse to call "trick or treating" because Scottish people have always called it "guising". English people didn't use to call it anything, I don't think, because I don't think they did it. Guising - short for disguising - is when you dress up and go round the neighbours to get treats for singing a song, telling a joke or something. You have to earn it; not get it by threatening a trick. I'm not sure if these little ones did actually earn it thus, being only just four and maybe not quite able to tell a great joke yet; and anyway they were in England (see above). But they had a lovely time. 

Today I had coffee with my friend Joyce, who's on a quick trip home from Italy, where she's taken up residence for the foreseeable future, somewhat to my regret. It's a longish story, but anyway she's being a part-time live-in childminder for 8-year-old twins in Italy. They clearly love her (but so do I!) and she loves them and she's having a wonderful time. I admire her for taking this opportunity but couldn't possibly do it myself (even if we discount Mr Life - as if I would. But Joyce is a widow). I like my home, my garden, my stuff, my familiar surroundings far too much. I can stay away for about 10 days before I feel it's about time to go home, while she's been there a year already, and sees herself remaining till the children don't need her any more. I tell her she may change her mind if she becomes a granny, but her son - her only child - is in London anyway so she says she can visit just as well from Italy. She's not nearly such a clingy mother as I am. She likes her son living in London because she likes visiting. I, on the other hand... . Sigh. 

She lives, when she's here, in South Queensferry, just outside Edinburgh. It's a pretty little place. 

And in the afternoon Mr L and I went for a walk and enjoyed the autumn colours.

And now I'm contemplating a new quilt. I haven't made one for ages because of the archives. Are they finished? Well, no, but I think the need to fiddle around with fabrics is getting too hard to resist; and making a quilt does cheer me up.

Frances left a comment in which she said that she sometimes feels that reading my blog is like eavesdropping. It's certainly an odd thing to recount one's mundane doings and put them on the internet. I never really think of people reading them; though of course they do. I just like writing, recording, communicating (if only into the ether). I suppose I assume that if you're mildly diverted by reading about someone's walks and domestic activities, you're an elderly housewife with much the same life so are unlikely to come and seek me out and murder me. I certainly like seeing other people's gardens and neighbourhoods and quilts and collections of whatever - the feeling of connecting with other lives.