Thursday, January 27, 2022

Ceaseless activity 2

And then later on Sunday evening, Daughter 2 arrived with Littlest Granddaughter. They had been going to come up soon anyway, but this was precipitated when LG's nursery had a spot inspection by Environmental Health, and evidence was found of mice - so the nursery was closed down. Daughter 2 has to work, so Granny and Grandpa's Nursery took over while Daughter 2 worked upstairs. LG enjoyed, for example, playing with Big Grandson's Brio - which he has, sadly, more or less grown out of. 

One day I took L:ittlest to the museum. We had a lovely time.

This was her learning about the sound a rattlesnake makes. Or possibly she was just enjoying pressing the buttons.

At the weekend, Son, Daughter-in-Law and their two came down. I'm not quite sure what this game was about. 

Here are Medium and Littlest Granddaughters having a chat. 

On the Sunday, we went to the Botanics with them all and the Edinburgh family - 12 of us. I pitied the people behind us in the queue at the cafe. Among us we ordered 19 items. Ooops. Then we went back to ours for tea. 

It was so lovely to see them all playing together. 

On Monday Mr L and I took Littlest to Lauriston Castle, where (I'm happy to report) she didn't fall into the pond.

She ran around the Japanese Garden. 

It was a beautiful day. 

But now, alas, they've gone. 

It took us a while but we've now changed the beds of the six visitors and put away most of the toys and books. 

I wish that they all lived nearer one another and us. These get-togethers are very worthwhile, but hard work, especially as we get older. And it's sad not to know some of our grandchildren as well as we know the Edinburgh ones. But there we are. We're lucky to have them at all. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Ceaseless activity 1.

Life has been more than a bit busy lately, hence the blog silence.

The last Saturday but one, we went for a walk with our walking friends from the centre of town down to the sea at Newhaven, which used to be a separate fishing village but is now part of the city. There are still quite a few of the original fishermen's cottages but many were demolished and replaced by less interesting buildings in the 1960s. 1960s town planners have a lot to answer for.

By the shore, these people - Newhaven born and bred and proud of it -  were raising money for a Newhaven museum by selling mugs, tea towels, postcards and so on. I'm not terribly confident that they'll succeed but we had a nice chat. Then they sang us a traditional fisherman's song - rather well, with harmonies and everything - and tried to persuade us to join their choir. I think they were trying to recruit younger members from among us mere 70ish people... . 

One of our party, who's nearly 91 but extremely fit, remembers the fishwives in their distinctive striped aprons and with their creels (big baskets) of fish, travelling on the buses. These creels could weigh over a hundredweight - over 100 pounds - and the women helped support the weight by having straps from the baskets on their backs which then went round their foreheads. These were so heavy that sometimes they caused brain damage. 

We walked up through Starbank Park, which Mr Life and I had always meant to do - we've seen it often enough from the road.

January's not a great month for gardens, but it was very pleasant. We must go back in the summer. We talked to some volunteer gardeners, who told us about a visit from Prince William and Kate. They were very nice, apparently - very natural and friendly. 

Starbank House was built in 1815 and lived in by Alexander Goalen, the uncle of William Gladstone the Prime Minister. After it was bought by the council and the garden was turned into a park, the house was the park keeper's home (rather nice!) but is now divided into two flats lived in by retired council employees (still rather nice, I'd think). 

More traditional cottages. Cars are never an improvement to a street. 

Further along the shore are these modern, but rather nice, statues of a family going to the beach. 

On the Sunday we visited Son and family, taking the Edinburgh Two. Here are the four children swinging in the park on a ... what is it? - a big rope hanging horizontally for children to climb on. 

And here's Son with Big Grandson (his nephew) and Medium Granddaughter (his daughter) sitting on his knees. 

And then, on Monday... (to be continued). 


Friday, January 14, 2022

Walking, walking

We went for a walk along to the gallery the other day and treated ourselves to coffee in the cafe, where I was slightly pained by the nicely written, but not so nicely spelt, notice. Ah well. 

Then we walked home along the river. It's been very mild this winter, but recently rather dull. 

Choir is once again on Zoom. I'm in the top row, second from the left. 

Today we went to the Oxfam bookshop to take in some books that we won’t read again. The trouble of course is that we also bought books, so our cunning plan of making some space on the bookshelves didn’t work terribly well – as it never does. One of the books I bought is the first unexpurgated volume of the diaries of Chips Channon, which is over 1000 pages long.  This takes the diaries from 1918 up to 1938 so there’s a lot more to come - he lived till 1958. I hope the editor is making good progress with 1938-58 or I may not live to find out what happened next. It won’t be very good for reading in the bath (which I normally do) because it’s very heavy. Or even in bed, really for the same reason. So it’ll take me a while, I think.

Then we went for a bit of a walk. It occurred to me only on the way back that I should have bought the heavy books after the walk rather than carrying them around on the walk. However, they were in my rucksack, which made it easier, and Mr L kindly carried it on the way back.

We walked up a different part of the river this time, to Stockbridge, 

past this yellow house, which (as I've posted before) always intrigues me, because you can see that the original door is now blocked up, presumably because the road resurfacing eventually became higher than the bottom of the door. It has an inscription over the door, which seems to read, “God bless ?? of Edinbrugh hu built this house 16?5”.

On the way back we looked at one of the Anthony Gormley statues in the river. It was also being looked at by a heron – on the left. Not a very brilliant photo… .

Excitingly (for us), Littlest Granddaughter's nursery in London had a routine inspection by Environmental Health (or someone) on Wednesday, late afternoon. They found evidence of mice, so the nursery was immediately closed down - on Wednesday evening.

 This must have been a terrible pain for the staff, who had to arrange for alternative accommodation for the nursery children by the following day! Fortunately the nursery is part of a chain so there was some flexibility. Littlest’s class all had to go to Chingford, which is some distance from home, so this was slightly difficult – Daughter 2 cycled, with Littlest on the back of the bike. However, next week the nursery can find accommodation only for the children of key workers, so they're coming up here so that I can look after Littlest while Daughter 2 works at home. Good news for us, if not for the nursery! They arrive on Sunday, for a week, so I’m really looking forward to seeing them.

Thank you so much for the nice comments from people I don't know. So interesting. I wish you all had blogs! My lovely friend isn't doing terribly well, I don't think - she's been moved to the stroke ward and has started physiotherapy, but says that her left arm and leg are "useless", which must be so horrible and frightening. I feel so lucky in comparison. Hopefully she'll make progress, though. 

Sunday, January 09, 2022

The year so far. Could try much harder.

The weather's been sunny but nothing particular happened during the first few days of the new year, so we went for various walks, such as along the shore at Cramond. 

It was difficult to take good photos on the phone because it was so bright - hard to show the intense blue of the sky without everything in the foreground looking in deep shadow. 

It would be a good place to walk with the grandchildren were Big Grandson not absolutely phobic about dogs. There are a lot of dogs in Edinburgh, and people with particularly big ones often bring them here to gallop along the prom. It's not the dogs' faults, but really it makes it very hard for the little chap. 

And I've been piecing the other bunk quilt, though am still quilting the first one. This one was mindless but time-consuming because of all the little bits. There's satisfaction in using up scraps, but really, who am I kidding? - I don't need to use the scraps. I'll never run out of fabric even if I never buy any more. And let's face it, I will buy more from time to time. 

I'm still to sew most of it together and add a border. 

And then something awful happened: out of the blue, one of my very best friends had a stroke. Which puts one's minor grumbles into very clear perspective. I've known her since we were 23 and started teaching together, have always met up with her and, especially since our retirement, we've seen a lot of each other. In fact, she belongs to two of my groups of friends: one from the secondary school where we were beginner teachers and one from the further education college where we later both taught. She was a very healthy person, who, with her husband, did long hikes and generally looked after herself. 

She can still talk - in fact we talked on the phone just today - her husband phoned me from her hospital ward. Her speech is a bit slurred but not too bad. But she's currently paralysed down her left side. It happened only five days ago so it's probably early days and I hope that she'll recover a lot, but I'm so sad for her. She's newly 72, which I know isn't young, but is also not very old. Her friends can't even visit at the moment, I assume because of Covid - she can only have one visitor for one hour a day. 

So that was a horrible start to 2022. As I've said before - unoriginally - carpe diem, gather ye rosebuds, etc. 

"They are not long, the days of wine and roses:

Out of a misty dream

Our paths emerge for a while, then close

Within a dream."

I've always been astonished that Ernest Dowson wrote this, since he died at the age of 32. It was clearly true for him. But it doesn't seem like a young man's outlook, does it? The poor chap had a bit of a rubbish life, though,  even before getting TB - father died, mother committed suicide and Ernest himself couldn't be said to have exactly looked after himself. 

Well, well, it's so nice, when one faces the inevitable sadness involved in getting older, to watch the young ones growing and getting stronger and more capable. Thank goodness for grandchildren and young people in general. The world goes on. Which is very good. 


Sunday, January 02, 2022

Here we go again

Well, yes. I wish I were confident that 2022 was going to be better. But at least 2021 was better than 2020, so maybe that's going to be the trend. 

We brought the New Year in at Daughter 1's, with her family and lovely in-laws, so that was nice. The children stayed up, which was a first. Then the next morning we watched the concert from Vienna - wonderful, but Daniel Barenboim's getting old. As are we all....

(When I was a student, I worked one summer at the Festival Office, selling tickets for the Edinburgh Festival (the proper one, not the Fringe). Daniel Barenboim's wife, the amazing cellist Jacqueline Du Pre, was to play at some concerts, but they were cancelled. I remember a customer saying to me, "Do you think she's having a baby?" and I thought - oh yes, that would be nice. But sadly that was the end of her career because she'd developed multiple sclerosis - at 28 - and died at 42. So, so sad.)

Daughter 1, family and lovely in-laws came to us for dinner on the 1st, so that was very good too. 

There's a crocus blooming in the garden. It's a bit early, but encouraging. 

Today was mild and beautiful so we went for a walk along the river. 

We sat for a bit outside the gallery, admiring the sky and the landform and the pool.

And then we descended the steps to the river, 

and walked along in the sunshine. So lovely.

My brother sent me this, which is rather amusing. 

Daughter 2, her husband and little one have now all recovered and have tested negative for Covid, so were able to leave the flat today. Hooray! All the rest of their party got Covid too, but happily no one is terribly ill. So that's something - quite a lot. But they should be up here just now and aren't. O woe. Ah well. 

Happy New Year, all.