Wednesday, December 21, 2022


The first of the (ten) visitors arrived yesterday: Daughter 2 and Littlest Granddaughter. The latter is very sweet (well, they both are) but something of a whirlwind. Daughter 2 is working from home, so we're Littlest-sitting. 

Here she is being relatively static. 

And here she's playing with the 1980s Shuffly Castle, which proved a big hit even though the princess and the queen don't shuffle as well as they did in 1980. Mind you, who does? 

Tonight, Daughters 1 and 2 and their children and I went to the light show at the Botanics. This is the photo that I took before my phone slipped from my hand and its screen smashed. Sigh. 

Now for a hot bath and bed with a good book. Tomorrow, the museum (if the whirlwind agrees). 


Monday, December 12, 2022

Santa stuff

We've now got round to decorating the house, some of which involves Mr L balancing on ladders. Then Saturday was the day we collected our Christmas tree from a charity for the homeless. 

And Saturday was also the day when we woke up to this. O joy. Our little street, a dead end on a hill, is always difficult to drive up when it's snowy, but fortunately we got out and reached the field where noble people were allocating the trees in the cold. 

And here is ours, with a suitably wintry background. The process involved Mr L lying around on the floor fitting the end of the trunk into a clamp and fixing the lights; also claiming that he's getting too old for this. It's a very small tree, to leave room for the 16 people who'll be in our house on Christmas Day - weather and various strikes permitting. Fortunately some of them are quite small. But messy. 

Meanwhile, also on Saturday, Daughter 2 took Littlest Granddaughter to Oxford. Here's Littlest standing outside Wadham College, where Daughter 1 went to study and (as it turned out) to meet Son-in-Law 1. 

Daughter 2 refrained from buying any merchandise like this.

She then met up with my brother, his wife and daughter, to see the pantomime for which my musician nephew is in the orchestra. This is his view of them, sitting in the front row of the circle. 

At that point, it hadn't snowed in London. But now it has. Littlest and the big boy next door built a snowman. 

This is Littlest, dragging an improvised sledge behind her. Daughter has now ordered a proper sledge, thus ensuring that it won't snow in London for another ten years. 

Despite our Edinburgh snow having more or less gone, it's jolly cold - something like minus 7C at night, which is most unusual here. Google tells me that this is 19.4F. I do tend to think in F still, despite our having adopted C in... just looked it up... 1962. Sixty years. I'm slow to adopt changes... Anyway, I know that 70F is getting a bit hot, 80F is much too hot and 90F is - well, that doesn't happen in Scotland, thank goodness. I'm also aware that 60F isn't very impressive for the summer, and thus grounds for complaint, but I don't really remember being aware of F temperatures in winter. I do remember my dad telling me, when we changed over to C, that 10 is cold, 20 is warm and 30 is much too hot and I still go by that. Living as we do in a temperate climate, we don't have to bother much with exact figures. It's normally cold, but not horrendously so, in winter; less cold or even mild in spring and autumn; and warm or occasionally hottish in summer. That's usually enough. 

Talking about the weather is an indication that nothing much is happening: walks, a bit of Christmas prep (not enough), singing, some socialising and a lot of quilting. 

Littlest Granddaughter: Daddy, Santa isn't real.

Son-in-Law 2: Oh, isn't he?

LG: No, the elves just made him up for fun. 

Well, it's one explanation. 

I've just noticed a comment from Willow Caroline - hello, lovely to hear from you! I'm delighted that you enjoyed your British soujourn but wish we could have met up for a coffee! I'm also intrigued by your comment about "hill walking that wasn't really hill walking" - do you mean that it was more scrambling than walking? We went up Cat Bells a few years ago and I remember bits of that being quite scrambly. But worth it, for the views!


Monday, December 05, 2022

Bits and pieces

It's been a very un-newsworthy ten days of coughing (but not Covid), during which we've done nothing much except (in my case) finish Medium Granddaughter's dragon quilt. It's very bright and a bit higgledy-piggledy and not at all adventurous in any technical way, but was nice and easy to make. 

I carefully used up more or less all the dragon fabric I'd bought - the big rainbow dragons, the much smaller but also multi-coloured ones and the dark blue - and had fun putting in some other favourite materials, quilting lots of hearts and such like. And then Big Granddaughter said she wanted a dragon quilt too so I had to get some more dragon fabric to make hers, next year. 

For the back, I used bits and pieces. So thrifty... .

And after we'd started coughing a lot less, we had a flying visit from Daughter 2 and a friend this weekend, and also Son and family. Here he is, having transmogrified from Dr D to Mr Criminalsson, a change which sees him pursued round the garden by Superwoman and Santa, ie his son and his nephew, who are policemen. They catch him; he escapes; they chase him again. It's a simple game but hey, Robert Louis Stevenson wrote a novel about something similar. 

I was intrigued by what Frances said in a comment about English "streets" being different from English "roads". I don't live in England, but I don't think they are. (Are they?) One can live on either. I suppose the big ones - motorways and such - are always roads rather than streets, but roads can also be small. I think both tend to be a bit bigger than those called Close, Gardens, View, Terrace, Avenue... but not necessarily. And you would probably talk about "the main road" in a town and "the main street" in a village, so I suppose that would be because of their size. But one could have houses on either. 


Saturday, November 26, 2022


We've been down to London to visit Daughter 2. The trip didn't start well, since we arrived at the station to be greeted by this notice: all trains down the east coast - our route - were cancelled. However, after a couple of hours we were able to get a train down the west coast instead, with a different train company, which was a good deal since we could use the same tickets. The journey was considerably longer, but we got there. 

The following day we all went to visit my brother and his wife in their new house in Cambridge. This is not their new house; it's a bit of King's College. The bit to the left was covered in scaffolding, so looked less than usually elegant. We also met up with my niece, who already lives in Cambridge. Her parents' move (from Epsom, which is really some distance away) is so that she can look after them in their dotage (they are, however, still in reasonable fettle). It was very sensible of them to downsize, and of course we ought to, too, but it does seem a considerable faff. However, their new, smaller house is very nice, and think of all the decluttering they've done, and we haven't. 

On the Monday, Daughter 2 was at work and Littlest Granddaughter at school (so inconvenient). Mr L and I were to have met up with my best friend from school for lunch, but once we were on our way we got a message to say that her husband had been ambulanced to hospital with suspected deep vein thrombosis. (False alarm, fortunately.) It was pouring rain, so we proceeded to the Victoria and Albert Museum and had a wander round, choosing items for the house. (This, above, is the cafe. I like the huge sparkly lights as objects, but don't really think they go with the High Victorian architecture. I don't think they're just there for Christmas; but maybe.)

So this is one of the things I'd like for Christmas, please. It hasn't photographed at all well - what look like metal bits round the sides are actually just light, caught in the thick sides. It gives the impression of a very elegant crystal glass hand-sanitiser bottle, but it's actually...

Can you imagine some poor chap, 2000 years ago, carving that out of rock crystal??? It must have taken days. 

This would also be very acceptable. The colour is perhaps slightly dull, but I love the detail of the carving. 

It's much the same age - and look...

it had a baby one inside! They're for the ashes of distinguished teachers, so I kind of qualify. 

The next day we had a wander round Chingford, where Daughter 2 and family now live. It's quite pleasant. 

The weather was much improved. 

The English do cuter street names than we do, on the whole. 

We decided to walk home over Pole Hill. The obelisk on the left was built in 1824 to mark the meridian and is visible from the Greenwich Observatory, though a few years later they decided that the meridian was actually nineteen feet to the right, and built the smaller one to mark this. You can see why they didn't bother to lug another huge lump of stone up the hill.

It was a pleasant walk, though a trifle muddy in parts from all that rain. 

There were good views down to the reservoir near Daughter 2's new house. 

 and though it's not discernible in my photo, we could see the Thames in the distance. 

And then we came home and now I have a STINKING cold and cough. Most annoying. I'm hoping to be better tomorrow. I did test for Covid the day before yesterday and it was negative, but maybe I'll do it again. 

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Damp chaps

How nice to hear from Virginia in (I think) New Zealand? Yes, the well was supposed in the 1700s to have healing properties, and St Bernard of Clairvaux, founder of the Cistercian order in the 12th century was rumoured to live in a cave nearby. Mind you, I don't think there are any caves nearby, and if there were, they would be very damp, down in the river valley. The current structure was built in 1788. 

On another topic... I have for some years been mildly irritated by an advert from a bathroom company featuring a naked chap (back view) having a shower in a forest. This appears frequently (and has done for years) in the Scotsman magazine, somewhat putting me off my breakfast. On a whim, on Saturday after breakfast I emailed the managing director, suggesting that perhaps they could run a different advert now, such as one with an actual bathroom. Here are some extracts from what happened next.

To my surprise, the managing director replied about half an hour later (remember that this was Saturday morning): Thank you for taking the time to express your feelings regarding our Hermitage Shoot.

 I am sorry that you feel this way about our model; we do not intend to offend. Advertising is only helpful if it catches one's attention; therefore, this advert is one of our most popular. We could show images of bathrooms and kitchens, but we prefer clients to visit our award-winning showrooms to enjoy our beautiful displays.

 Please be assured if you were thinking of a new room, our naked man appears in print only.

 So of course I had to write back: Thanks for your impressively prompt reply. I can’t claim to be offended by the advert; just somewhat put off my muesli (and it does seem to have been around for several years). Ah well, tastes vary. I’m reassured that the naked chap isn’t part of the actual package.

 And the next day he replied: Thank you for your reply; are you referring to the advert being around for a long time or your muesli? You have brought to our attention that we need to push on with a new photoshoot; would you like to offer any ideas?

 So I felt I had to email back: Ah, no, my muesli is renewed frequently.

 I was discussing our email exchange with some friends this afternoon – all retired English teachers, who were amused – so that’s good publicity. One of them did suggest that you should have a cardboard cut-out of your naked chap in the showroom window (like those cut-outs of policemen which are said to reduce crime) to remind people of the connection between the advert and your company. I myself wouldn’t recommend this.

 Another wondered if the naked chap was you, which hadn’t occurred to me.

 As for the photoshoot – I’m a simple soul who would go for a picture of a smart bathroom, preferably without nakedness of any variety; though a delicious baby wrapped decorously in a towel would attract my attention in a good way.

 And he wrote: Good morning Pamela,

 Thank you for discussing my proposal with your friends; some fantastic ideas, especially yours. I love the cardboard cut-out idea too!

 I wish it were me modelling in the shower; sadly, my days of defeating gravity are over.

 You should go to youtube and watch the photo shoot video: The scenery is terrific. Please ignore my pathetic attempt in front of the camera, it was last minute, and I had nothing prepared.

 It has been lovely communicating with you, and thank you for your kind words.

 At this point I felt he must have better things to do, so attempted to end the exchange: How fascinating! I hadn’t realised that the photo was taken outside; I’d assumed that it was photoshopped. I do beg its pardon – I’m not very technical. I shall forward the link to my friends, who I’m sure will be very interested. That poor model, though, having water thrown at him. I hope he was well rewarded.

 I thought your presentation was excellent, especially if unrehearsed. In my working days I taught presentation skills as part of my job teaching English and Communication and yours was definitely a pass.

 (If the photoshoot was nine years ago, I expect the model has also succumbed to gravity by now.)

 Have a nice week - undisturbed, I hope, by critical newspaper readers.

 But no – he replied once more: It was a fantastic day! What makes it worse is the shower water was cold, as our portable generator failed. The model was so courageous.

 It has been a pleasure communicating with you!

 But I felt that was enough, so didn’t reply.

 I now feel that if we were in the market for a new bathroom, I might well go there. The managing director is my friend…

And this, I feel, is a fine example of how to mollify a disgruntled customer. Or in my case, not even a customer. 


Saturday, November 12, 2022

Plodding about

Last Sunday we drove up to Angus to visit Son and his family. We went for a walk in a wood.

It was pretty. We had it more or less to ourselves. 

The children ploutered about, as children do. 

Son is rather more relaxed than I was as a parent about the possibility of their falling in the water. On this occasion I was fairly relaxed as a granny because I reckoned that it wouldn't be my job to jump in and pull them out if they fell in.  Which they didn't.

There was a bit further on where they could paddle. And they did. (They were wearing wellies.)

Another day we went to the Botanics, which is getting ready for its Christmas light show. 

The girls and I are taking all the children to see this nearer Christmas. 

The weather has been incredibly mild - very global warmingish but also very pleasant indeed. I never particularly like persicaria, but in bulk it does give a good show. Maybe I'll get some. 

These artificial lilies are quite striking. Not sure what the ducks made of them. I assume they'll light up. 

In our garden, this hyacinth thinks it's spring. It's wrong. 

And with no frosts, the cosmos

and the fuchsias and begonias in pots bloom on. I do like fuchsias. 

Today we took a load of books to the Oxfam book shop (and managed only to buy two, so that's a win) and then walked along the river from Stockbridge

past St Bernard's Well

- saying hello to the heron -

and then up into the New Town, round the streets a bit and back down to Stockbridge. 

And in the afternoon I made two Christmas cakes* to add to the two I made the other day. A sticky task, but now done. 

And I'm still making two quilts for the sweet little Unbloggables. Will these be finished by Christmas? Possibly. 

I like to keep busy. Too many things to do! Not enough time!

* Christmas cakes are rich fruit cakes, full of sultanas and raisins and cherries and almonds. They're supposed to be made early, to mature. They keep for ages. 


Saturday, November 05, 2022


I've spent quite a lot of time this week making quilts for the Unbloggable grandchildren, with the hope that these might be finished by Christmas. They did ask for quilts, though I wouldn't be surprised if they've forgotten! It's not a thing one can do quickly, or at least, I can't. One day we went for a walk by the river and (you'll have to take my word for it) a kingfisher darted under the bridge we were standing on and vanished with a streak of shining turquoise down river. And as we stood there, it flashed back again and up in the other direction. This is the river. Naturally I didn't manage to photograph the kingfisher. They're fast! Anyway, it was beautiful. 

The grandchildren have been guising, or as non-Scots call it, trick or treating. Daughter 2 made a broomstick for her little one. Unaccountably, it didn't fly, so had to go home by bike. 

We went to Glasgow to have lunch with friends in the original Charles Rennie Mackintosh Willow Tearooms, refurbished in recent years. I do love this Glasgow-style turn-of-the-century archiecture. 

Here's the restaurant

and here's one of its windows. 

Years ago, the daughters and I fell in love with George Walton, a contemporary of Rennie Mackintosh, who like him was an architect and designer who would design not only the building but the stained glass windows and the door handles and furniture and indeed everything he was allowed to. The above is a window in the coach house of The Leys, a Walton house in Elstree, near London. I hope the coachmen appreciated it. I liked it so much that Daughter 1 adapted the design and we got this made for our front door, below. I really love it. If we ever move, I shall have to take it with me or get it copied or something. Maybe if the new owners were to swear on their granny's ashes not to get a plastic door and throw away my (not actually) Walton panel, I might be persuaded to leave it. 

Sorry Walton, I hope you don't mind the plagiarism. 

And the garden blooms on because we've had no frost yet. 

It's full of cosmos - so much pink daisiness. 

And allysum and begonias and fuchsias. 

But on the walk past the golf course, autumn is definitely here. 

Mr L has just come back from a rugby match at Murrayfield. Look who was sitting quite near him. Yes, it's HRH. She's a patron of Scottish Rugby Union and attends most of their matches. Rather her than me, but she's very faithful. She's by quite a long way our hardest-working Royal in terms of number of official engagements.