Friday, October 28, 2022

Autumn and things

Daughter 2 and Littlest Granddaughter went away on Wednesday. It always takes me a few days to become less sad when they go. Yesterday we went to the Botanics, which as always made me feel slightly better. 

It's been a very mild autumn. I know that this is global warming and thus a bad thing, but actually the effects so far on the Scottish climate have on the whole been very pleasant. One feels guilty at enjoying it, but all the same, one does, a bit.

The colours are still lovely, though the leaves are beginning to fall. 

I've been worried all week because Big Grandson has been away on his first school trip at an adventure centre. He was a bit anxious about going. The centre has things like climbing walls and treetop rope walks and waterfall-climbing, and though he likes cycling and swimming and running about, he's not physically adventurous when it comes to being high up. (Nor am I.) And he doesn't need much sleep, so I've been thinking about him wide awake while the other boys in the dorm were asleep. I was always the one at Guide camps who couldn't get to sleep, lying in the dark on the cold, hard ground amid steadily-breathing fellow Guides. (He wasn't camping, though; he got a bed.) However, he got home today and though we haven't seen him as we usually do on Fridays, he appears to be cheerful. His Dad's brother and family are visiting at the moment, so we'll see him later in the weekend.

At 5 o'clock this afternoon I wondered what the date was - oh, the 28th. That's our engagement anniversary. When did we get engaged? 1972. So that meant that it was, so to speak, our golden engagement anniversary. 50 years. That went past alarmingly fast. It was a bit late to do anything to celebrate, so we didn't. And I actually felt quite nostalgic - 50 years ago we were young, with our lives before us, and our parents were alive, and various sad things that happened later were still undreamt of. But really I shouldn't feel sad because we've had lucky lives compared to many people. And Big Grandson is home, safe and sound. 

Monday, October 24, 2022

Bookworms and the like

Another week has whooshed past. The Edinburgh grandchildren have been on holiday, so one day Son-In-Law 1 took Big Grandson on a bus adventure while we went with Biggest Granddaughter to Saughton Park. We had a snack and she read her book outside the cafe, but inside the footprint of this house, which was built in 16-something and demolished in 1954 (well done, Edinburgh). 

Red letter day for Mr L - he eventually got the bigger tv for our smaller living room that he's been wanting for some time and I've been resisting. He says that he finds it difficult to read text messages on the phones of the characters in the detective things he watches.  I do not find it ornamental, but eventually took pity on him. The lamp that stood to the side no longer fits on the table. Since I consider the main point of this piece of furniture to be a display area for about seven pieces of coloured glass and probably a little vase of flowers, all illuminated nicely by the lamplight, this causes a problem, but we'll probably acquire a more elegant standard lamp than this one, to alleviate the situation. 

Daughter 2 brought Littlest Granddaughter up by train, after work/school on Friday. Littlest wore her unicorn onesie so that she could go to sleep on the train. You can see how well that worked. 

The next morning she peopled Big Grandson's Brio layout with dollies. 

At the weekend, Son and family came down and we all went to the Botanics. Some of us splashed in puddles, 

while others of us admired the autumn colours, 

which are very pretty. 

Further Brioing took place. 

Today, Littlest and I went to the museum. 

We had a lot of fun. 

Another bookworm. 

Monday, October 17, 2022

Getting older

It's so lovely having at least one set of grandchildren near, though I can see that as they get older we won't see so much of them. Of course we want them to develop interests and have friends, and they're good company as they grow up, but on the other hand, they were cute as tiny people! I do love babies and squashy toddlers. 

Still, we do other stuff - life's full of activities, which we're lucky still to be able to take part in. On Saturday we went on a wonderful 6-mile walk around Gifford in East Lothian with our walking chums. 

It was a perfect day - mild and sunny - and miles just melt away when you're chatting. 

This is Bolton Parish Church. There's been a church here since 1240, but this one has only been around since 1809, built to accommodate 250 people. Bolton itself is a tiny village, but presumably the congregation was made up of lots of people from the surrounding rural area. Now the church is joined with a neighbouring parish and I'm sure far fewer than 250 people will be regular worshippers. Things change... .

The route was fairly flat but quite muddy in parts and in other parts it led through stubble fields, so it wasn't always terribly easy walking, so we were all ready for a sit down and a coffee once we got back to Gifford. It's a pretty little place. I imagine it's very nice to live there, though not if one wanted a lot of the facilities of a city. I don't imagine there's much public transport at night, for example. The above house dates from 1732, according to the inscription above the window in the middle of the photo. 

If you can avoid looking at the parked cars, it's easy to imagine what it was like hundreds of years ago. 

Littlest Granddaughter in London has had her fifth birthday. She wanted a science-themed party, so Daughter 2 made a science cake complete with flask, and set up various "experiments" for the children to do. Creative people don't do things by halves! 

Big Grandson, now 11, continues to spend lots of time drawing street scenes. This one is populated by polar bears modelled on his (very unrealistic) cushion/polar bear cuddly toy. In contrast, the vehicles are detailed and accurate. 

Grandchildren are so interesting. I mean, so are one's own children, but one has more time to appreciate grandchildren. 

Monday, October 10, 2022


It's been funny weather recently: either beautiful sunshine or rain, often alternating in quick succession or indeed both happening at the same time. I suppose perhaps it's just that it's autumn. 

We walked down to the local park one day recently and saw a display of different apple varieties. It was surprisingly interesting. They all had notices saying when they were developed and by whom. One of these said that its apple had been around since 1200. Really? I can't remember what it was called, but don't recall anything in, say, Chaucer, about any named varieties of apple. I'm intrigued to know where the records for this apple are, but I suppose the information must have come from somewhere. Or maybe it was a typo. The others tended to be from the 1800s or in some cases, the 16- or 1700s. Anyway, the room smelt wonderful - I'd never before thought of apples as being particularly fragrant. 

I'm making two quilts at once - quilting a dragon one for Medium Granddaughter and just beginning to sew together a dinosaur/vehicle one for Small Grandson (both at their request). I decided just to do simple squares for him because he's only 3, and won't care, but having cut out the nine-patches in a variety of fabrics, decided that it was all too busy and recut them in self-colours, or solids, as it turns out that Americans call them. So I have a lot of four and a half inch squares left over. 

I think I've fiddled with it since this picture, but I like it much better. 

Talking of liking things better, I had a little revelation recently. When Son went to New Zealand about 15 years ago, he kindly brought me a bit of blue glass, which has sat in the sitting room since then. I was dusting it the other day and noticed that it had a little signature on the top. Funny, I thought - such things are usually signed on the bottom. Experimentally, I turned it over. 


Biggest Granddaughter (9) painted my portrait the other day. I like my cheery smile and slim figure (if only). At the top, she drew some objects that she associates with me, which I thought rather sweet. These include a rainbow, many cups of hot beverages, my handbag, patchwork, biscuits (they don't get biscuits at home, oops), flowers, a watering can, and the magic pot. This last is a little wooden canister that sometimes has chocolate in it for visiting grandchildren. They call it "the magic pot" and fantasise that the magic pot fairy fills it up. You can also see this fairy illustrated. 

Autumn is happening at the Botanics too. Such yellow rudbeckia.

Such pink nerines. 

Such pretty foliage. 

Sunday, October 02, 2022

Faster than fairies

Last week we took the train over the bridge to Kirkcaldy (pronounced Kir-coddy) to see the Jack Vettriano exhibition at the art gallery there. I don't know if Vettriano is famous abroad, or even in England, but he's quite famous in Scotland, being from Kirkcaldy. He's self-taught, and the art establishment tends to look down on him (one gathers) - maybe because of that but also because it doesn't consider his paintings as having artistic merit. Also, the subjects are a little bit sinister sometimes, and very much suggest a rather shady story behind the pictures. He always paints from photos, never from life, and sells his paintings for lots of money. Anyway, it was very interesting. 

He taught himself to paint by copying postcards and also prints from auction catalogues. Above is the real Monet; below is his version. 

Sometimes he changed them a bit. 

After a while he developed his own style and sold two paintings at the Summer Exhibition, after which he applied to Edinburgh Art College and was rejected because his "portfolio does not meet the standard". So he just went on painting. 

This is a very famous one of his - "The Singing Butler" - though it's not clear to me that the butler actually is singing. A lot of his paintings are of people in formal clothes - though sometimes he paints women who're more scantily clothed.

This one is "A Date with Fate". 

This one is "Live Art Show". 

I wouldn't actually want any of his paintings on my walls - they make me feel uneasy - but they seem good to me. Though what would I know? 

There was a little film about him, in which he says that for him, narrative is essential in painting. You can definitely see that in his work.

And then we had a little walk around Kirkcaldy, past this old milestone, saying that Dysart is 2 and three-eights miles from there. Very precise! My great-great-grandparents lived in Dysart, and their son, my great-grandfather, was apprenticed to a house-painter in Kirkcaldy. We have Great-Grandpa's indentures from 1869. Sadly, he died at 40, but not before fathering 8 children, 7 of whom survived him. I can't imagine how his widow managed. 

Then we walked down George Street, where Mr L lived for a while as a boy. 

And yesterday we were back across the bridge, this time by car, to visit Son and family. 

Which was lovely. The children are adorable; I wish we saw more of them but... it is what it is - as people tend to say these days. 


And so the days rush relentlessly on.