Wednesday, December 06, 2023

Not being quite organised for Christmas yet

We've been gradually getting ready for Christmas, partly by ordering a whole lot of things on Amazon, which one knows one shouldn't - but it's so much more convenient, isn't it, than trailing around the shops and finding nothing suitable? We did, however, go to the Christmas fair at Hopetoun House, which I always like doing. Hopetoun House is a 1750s grand edifice lived in by the Marquess of Linlithgow. Like most aristocrats these days, he has to keep the roof on by allowing people to visit, and, at Christmas, there's a very upmarket fair with lots of stalls full of lovely things, often made by the stallholders, none of which one actually needs. Still, it puts one in a Christmassy mood, as does queuing for coffee in the restaurant, which was once the stables for very lucky horses, but is now a lovely place to eat. 

You get to go round the house while visiting the stalls, and admire things like this pietra dura table top, 

and one of the Marquess's ancestors, 

who I think was sitting at this very window. 

And one can admire the extensive grounds

and the fancy ceilings and the silk-lined walls. We visited Hopetoun when I was a little girl, and I developed a fixed ambition to have two sitting rooms, one with crimson walls and the other (as in another Hopetoun room) with deep yellow. Hasn't happened yet, though I suppose it's still achievable. We probably wouldn't use silk, however, and we're a bit short of portraits of our ancestors. 

The weather here has been distinctly chilly, with quite a bit of frost. 

Last Saturday we went up north to visit a friend, and this was the view on the way. Brrr. 

We haven't had any snow here yet, and long may this last. Roll on, spring. 

Wednesday, November 29, 2023


I do find it fun to take some fabrics

and make something different with them. Of course, it's only marginally creative - someone else designed the fabrics and indeed the ways of putting them together. I just pick and choose the materials and mix up the different patchworky things I've seen on blogs. But it's interesting to see the effects you can get. 

The brief was for a baby boy's quilt in yellows and ochres with not too many patterned fabrics. I found myself slightly unsure what ochres are - sort of dull browny-yellows, I felt. So I looked at what I had and nothing shouted "ochre!" at me; and anyway, it didn't sound very interesting for a baby. 

So this is what I came up with. The bright yellow stars aren't really that bright - photos do sometimes lie. And I incorporated a bit of orange entirely against my better judgement because Thimbleanna had kindly given me some pretty fabrics with orange to make a future rainbowy quilt, and I had to admit they actually went quite well.  

And I made the back more interesting for a baby.

I put boy-friendly patterns on the back for the baby's big brother too, and he insists that the back is actually the front, because it's got better pictures. For that quilt, the brief was all solid blues, which I found hard. (I did sneak in tiny corners of patterned fabric even on the front. I mean, how many different blues are there?)

Ah, the happy ways of whiling one's life away and feeling a sense of kind-of-achievement. 

Wednesday, November 22, 2023


This has been a very unnewsworthy week because I haven't done much. Unlike my usual self, I've been feeling tired, whether as an after-effect of the operation or because I've had a cough and am a bit post-viral. Or possibly a combination. Son and family came down on Saturday and the Edinburgh gang came over too, so that was lovely. We got the Brio out for the Unbloggables, and Big Grandson had a happy time playing with it too. 

Since then there's been a bit of socialising, some organising to do with one of my choirs and the church magazine, of which I'm the editor, and a tiny amount of quilting, but also more slumping in front of the television than I usually do. I've been for shortish walks but am slightly nervous of walking far in case I damage the new hip, or just make it sore. This must change. Come back, oomph!

In connection with lack of oomph, I found myself urging myself on with one of my mum's sayings: "This and better might do, but this and worse will never do." I've just Googled it, but all I was offered were quotes from Much Ado About Nothing. Is this fine saying familiar to anyone else? In a similar vein, "This won't buy the baby a new bonnet". Other family saws include "Sausages for the boys" (no, no idea) and "Splash into the lake fell Margaret and stwuggled out, extwemely wet" (anyone?). These spring to my mind any time anyone mentions "sausages" or "splash".

My granny's Coop number was 4541 and her phone number was POR 5071. All this is in my brain and I've only just got the hang of my own mobile phone number. What year is it? Who's the Prime Minister? 

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Getting back to things

It's been an fairly static week with no major projects. I'm progressing, though, and have been out and about a little bit. At the weekend, lovely Daughter 2 came up from London without her little one to visit the (not actually very) sick, which was wonderful. Delightful as Littlest Granddaughter is, she's a bit interrupty. As it was, we had some great chats. Then on Saturday, the Edinburgh Two plus their parents plus the other granny (Nanny), who was visiting them, came over for lunch, and Big Grandson, now several inches taller than me, did some nostalgic Brioing with Daughter 2. Big Grandson enjoyed having his auntie to himself, as in the pre-Littlest days. So that was all very nice. 

On Sunday we drove along to one of the galleries and had coffee, which made a nice change of scene. Normally we would walk there along the river but... not for a while, alas. I went to choir on Sunday night and have been walking round to the nearby shop for the paper the last few mornings, and today I went up on the bus to have lunch with old schoolfriends. So life is slowly returning to normal, though I still feel as if someone has cut a large hole in my right side, and being in bed isn't very comfortable yet. Tomorrow I go to the practice nurse to get my dressing removed. I had it changed last week and that was surprisingly painful - the dressing is VERY sticky and ... well, I won't go into details. I'm just glad I'm not a man with a hairy body. 

My American second cousin heard the story about the needle in my leg and said, "You're a real needlewoman now!" How true.

It's been very wet here so even if I were able to garden, I wouldn't have actually been able to do so. The Great Autumn Cut Down will have to wait till spring, which is a bit frustrating but there we are. Our problems are nothing compared to the awful things going on in the world. It's all so sad and depressing. How can we still be doing these things to one another in this so-called civilised world? 

Meanwhile, onwards and upwards. I'm getting back to the quilting this evening after a period of laziness. 

Wednesday, November 08, 2023

Needles and stitches and so on

Well, I've had the hip replacement and am back home and doing ok, though I wouldn't describe the experience as the most tremendous fun... Many thanks to those who wished me well. Denice, who commented very encouragingly, must be made of stronger stuff than I am. It was, and is, just what you'd expect from having the top of your thigh sawn off and replaced by a bit of metal. It hurts somewhat and you feel a bit wobbly afterwards. But it's fine, and I look forward to the point at which it hurts less than it did before the op - which is not the case right now. And our children sent me lovely flowers. 

The surgeon phoned up last night, which I thought was impressively caring for a chap who does several of these things every day (I assume). He's a really nice chap and he asked how I was doing and I said that I was fine. And then he paused and said, "There was something a bit odd with your post-operative x-ray." And I thought - oh dear. He went on, "There seems to be a sewing needle embedded in your thigh. Does that sound possible?"

Since my mother died in 2012, I've made 25 quilts, hand-quilting them while sitting on the sofa watching tv. Every now and then, I drop a needle, and we search the sofa cushions for them and usually find them. Occasionally, I think, we've not found one and thought - oh well, it'll turn up.

It has now turned up.

He suggested that I should just leave it if it's not causing me any trouble. I'm hoping that the pain in my leg was caused by my needing a new hip, not just by my having a needle in my thigh... . 

He was polite enough not to laugh while on the phone, but I suspect that I've now become one of his funny stories. He's sent me the x-ray and... yup. Completely inside, at right-angles to the side of my leg. 

A few years ago, I was emptying the dishwasher and felt something sharp in my index finger. I couldn't see anything and there was nothing obviously broken in the dishwasher, but I thought it must be a sliver of glass. I went to the doctor and he said that it would probably come out by itself. A year passed and I still had a sore finger. Then one day I felt a sharp pain and there was a tiny bit of glass sticking out, so I pulled it out - problem solved. I don't really fancy the idea of finding just the tip of a needle protruding from my thigh. Hmm. Just stay there, needle. 

Life's never dull...

Thursday, November 02, 2023

Getting on with things while I have two working legs

It's been one of those let's-get-on-with-things weeks, during which various (if not enough) useful tasks have been done. Some of these have involved giving stuff to charity shops and having walks in their vicinities. The leaves are beginning to fall, but the colours are still pretty. 

It's been quite wet, but with bursts of sunshine. 

Don't swans grow amazingly quickly from little balls of fluff to these, still slightly brown, large birds? 

I don't like orange but do make an exception for autumn. 

In London, Daughter 2 decorated her windows with Daughter 1's tasteful hand-knitted ghosts,

and took Littlest Granddaughter, aka Very Scary Witch, out guising with some friends. 

Today I went to the station to buy a ticket to Dalmuir, the small town in the west of Scotland where - theoretically at least - I'm getting my hip replacement operation on Saturday. The routine is that you go  to the hotel attached to the big hospital the night before so that you can report for surgery at 7.30 the next morning. Argh. When I asked for a single (ie one-way) to Dalmuir, the ticket chap clearly guessed why I was going and said, "A single? Have you not got much faith in the NHS, then?" 

Mr L is collecting me in the car on Sunday. At least, let's hope. 

Friday, October 27, 2023

Activities for the young

This week, Daughter 2 and Littlest Granddaughter have been visiting from London. It's LG's October week's holiday from school and so Granny's (and sometimes Grandpa's) holiday club has been in action, while Daughter 2 works from (our) home. On the first day, we went to one of the art galleries near here, which has various art installations in the garden, including this sort of bus shelter affair. 

It has various mirrored surfaces, like this one, in which she's examining the new gap in her teeth. 

On the second day, we went to the museum, always a rich source of interest. Also (it was a wet day), "Edinburgh's umbrella", as a fellow granny called it. 

Yesterday we went to admire the autumn colours at Lauriston Castle, and to go to and fro and to and fro and to and fro (etc) over the stepping stones to the little island. 

And today we tried the climbing wall and the trampoline at the nearest bouncy place. We didn't think that Littlest would want to try the wall, but she surprised us. We had Big Granddaughter with us, who was a great help and encouragement. 

I hung up my Hallowe'en banner today and Daughter 2 found a photo showing that we've had the same one for at least 30 years. We Scots are a frugal people. Hallowe'en costumes were simpler then - you just bunged on some of your mother's old clothes and (apparently) some Christmas garlands, as Daughters 1 and 2 have done here, and off you went, guising. Guising (from "disguising"- nothing to do with Guy Fawkes, quite another occasion) is what Scots traditionally do, or at least did - not trick or treating. You (children) dress up and ring neighbours' doorbells, whereupon you sing a song or tell a joke, and they give you sweets or apples or maybe some money. I'm not sure that today's children would be so pleased with an apple... 


Saturday, October 21, 2023


Thank you to the kind commentators who wished us well in our medical procedures. 

So here's the thing. We were just leaving the house on Monday to take Mr Life to his hospital on the east side of Edinburgh for his angiogram and possible stent, when the phone rang and it was my hospital, through in the west of Scotland, cancelling my hip replacement operation because of "problems in the operating theatres". 

I had been going to drop Mr L off and then drive home and get the train through to Dalmuir to stay in the hotel attached to the hospital for the night before reporting to the hospital at 7.30 am on the Tuesday. And, because Mr L wasn't going to be able to drive for the next week, we had complicated arrangements involving our son's very kindly coming to collect me on the Wednesday from his home, quite far away, and then, if I wasn't let out on the Wednesday, a helpful friend's doing the needful. 

Anyway... it didn't happen. Which was, as it turned out, just as well, because it turns out that an angiogram is a bigger and nastier thing than we'd expected (Mr L thinks they got it slightly wrong when inserting... I'm very phobic about arteries and things, so let's draw a veil) and he's had a very bruised and sore arm all week, which he isn't allowed to do much with. So if I'd been hobbling about on two sticks, uttering low moans, we'd have been a pretty pair. Also, I wasn't exactly looking forward to having the top of my leg sawn off and now I can pretend once more that it's not happening. Win win. 

The further win is that Mr L didn't need a stent and his heart seems to be more or less ok. Which is good. 

So we didn't do much all week. I'd had to cancel two friends who were coming for coffee on the Tuesday - this was before I knew the date (ha!) of my op - so I uncancelled them and they came and made sympathetic noises. 

And I've been getting on with my cot quilt because Daughter 2's friends' baby's is due in December. So that's been quite fun. 

Edinburgh Son-in-Law has been away down in Worcester with the Edinburgh Two, visiting his parents, so Daughter 1, who sadly hadn't enough holidays left to go with them, has been on her own. So today we went out for lunch with her and had a nice wander through Dr Neil's Garden by Duddingston Loch. It's still beautiful even at this time of year. 

You wouldn't really think, would you, that this was in the middle (well the eastern middle) of a city? 

The garden was made about fifty years ago by two doctors in the grounds of Duddingston Kirk. 

When I first visited it as a girl, there wasn't much: mainly heathers and small conifers. 

But sadly, it's a while since I was a girl. 

While the years have given me wrinkles and arthritis, they've only added to the beauty of the garden - which is open to the public, though is never busy. And when I've been carried off by those years, the garden will still be here and still be beautiful. Which is a comforting thought. Will I have had the op by that point? Watch this space. 

Sunday, October 15, 2023


Littlest Granddaughter is now 6 - which is a bit alarming. She had an under-the-sea-themed party - largely so that she and her friends could, if they wished, dress up as mermaids or whatever. Her mum, Daughter 2, is an architect so obviously made a fancy cake and decorated the house appropriately. 

I did use to make fancyish cakes for my children's parties. 

But I didn't go so far as to decorate the house.

Anyway, we weren't there (she's in London) but a good time was had, apparently.

I've been getting on with the cot quilt. I think it needs sashing. It's just lying on a sheet here to test out white for this purpose. I don't know how soon I'll be able to get back to it: cutting out is quite physical. I mean, not like mountaineering; but you need to stand and lean over and so on. 

Talking of cutting, I've been reading the booklet the hospital gives you about the operation. It sounds extremely gruesome. I'm glad I'm not a surgeon, though equally glad that other people are. I hope they don't tell me about it as they go along (one gets an epidural, another thing I've never had, rather than a general anaesthetic). Other times I've been in hospital for unpleasant experiences, I've been given a nice baby at the end of it all. Sadly, I don't think this is going to happen this time.

I'm now going to go and read something more soothing, possibly about gardens. Much more my thing. 

Thursday, October 12, 2023

Sorting out

Goodness gracious, how is the world, or at least selected parts of the world, still at war in this day and age? It's scarcely believable: with all our so-called civilisation, some people are still behaving as if they were in Tudor times - kidnapping and killing one another in their quest for power. The minority, I'm sure, but their actions are so devastating.

It's all too sad and unfathomable. A lot of sorting out is needed. 

I'm making a cot quilt for one of Daughter 2's friends. She wants yellows and ochres, and not too much in the way of patterned fabric. Can't say ochre is my thing, or at least not the browny side of ochre, so I'm interpreting this as yellow with a bit of (reluctant) orange, and a few sneaked-in patterns. There are going to be quite a lot of solidish colours too. It's such fun, playing with fabric.

We went up on Saturday to visit Son and his little ones and had a lovely time. 

Back at the quilt assembly, I did this again! 

Talk about a slow learner... Even that attempt wasn't quite right because I then noticed that the top left hand square was a different way round from the other similar ones. It's now sorted! 

It's been quite wet here, which has shown us that the new skylights we've had put in the kitchen are not entirely satisfactory. One is fine. The other leaks. They were put in three weeks ago and since then, the chaps have been back five times to try to find where the water is getting in. The last time - at least, we're hoping it's the last time - was yesterday. It hasn't rained since, so it's impossible to tell whether it's worked at last. "I'm 95% certain that's it now," said the chap. So far, we've had Lee, Lee's three laddies who actually did the initial work, Lee's dad and then yesterday Lee's brother trying to sort it out. Sigh.

The garden has been neglected because we were away and then it rained, but I did a bit of autumn cutting-down today. I'm going to get a hip replacement operation on Tuesday (argh), after which I'm not allowed to garden for 12 weeks, so... it's just as well that it's going to be winter. Mr L is having an angiogram and possible stent on Monday - it's all go from the NHS for us. I suppose we must be getting old. Funny how soon that happens. We were young and vigorous the other month... or at least year. Still, let the NHS sort us out and then we'll be leaping around again. Let's hope.