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.