Monday, February 27, 2023

Miss Crichton and other beautiful things

The decluttering continues, haltingly. Why did I ever keep this project on Mary Queen of Scots from my history class in 1962? 

The teacher who got us to do this project was one of the several eccentrics at my school - which was an all-girls, private one. She was called Miss Crichton and was known among us as Granny Crichton because she was so ancient - though I would be amazed if she were actually a granny. In those days, the retiral age for women teachers was 60, so this old, old lady was presumably about 55. She was always cold, and in winter and summer wore a tweed suit - often a cherry red one - with a scarf. In our school the teachers rather than the girls moved classrooms, and she would come into ours carrying a travel rug, climb on to the slightly raised platform at the front of the class, sit down at the desk, turn the chair towards the radiator, cover her legs with the rug and teach from that position, looking at us sideways. If the windows were open, she would direct us to close them. 

This would not have worked in the secondary school in which I taught. Fortunately we were very well-behaved.  

Her hair was suspiciously black and it was rumoured that it was a wig. It was certainly very shiny, though I think it probably looked wig-like mainly because she wore a hairnet over it, so it was bunched up at the ends. Her face was very round and flat and white - and, as I remember, wrinkled (though see above). 

In the two years that we had her, Miss Crichton gave us three projects that I can remember - the one above, one on the voyages of Christopher Columbus and one on the battle of Blenheim. I think I threw the others out some years ago but the M Q of S one somehow survived. It was long before the internet or even readily available photocopiers, so quite a lot of research went into these projects and we all travelled to museums and so on to acquire postcards as illustrations. There were about 15 handwritten pages in each and they took a long time. On the back of this one, Granny C has written VG+. That's all. Not a single comment anywhere else in the project. Which I now think is absolutely disgraceful! I wonder if she even read them. 

Ah well, this work of research has now been decluttered, along with all my school reports, a good number of my missionary aunt's photos of people unknown to us, all my school magazines and various other bits of paper which I don't want the children to feel that they need to keep once I'm no longer here.

At the Botanics, spring is in full gallop

And so it is, on a smaller scale, in our garden. 

Mr L, Big Grandson's other grandfather and Big Grandson had a grand day out in Glasgow at a model railway exhibition. I think this is an exhibit rather than the view from the train on the way there. 

And Daughter 2 has finished the stool she made at a stool-making class. It's lovely!


Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Like an arrow

Continuing - or really restarting - my attempts to sort out bits of historical paper - I came across some photos which weren't in the right place, such as this one, of our children in about 1987. I can't quite believe that they're not still like this. They're so cute.

But elderly life continues apace and Big Granddaughter and I went to the local park. She's lovely too. 

We went on a five mile, between-the-parks, winter walk with our walking friends. Here's our horticulturist friend telling us all about the life cycle of the hazel. 

Daughter 2 is doing a woodworking course, making a stool. 

Back to the archives, here's a postcard to my brother, from my parents (well, my dad really). It says, "In this picture you can see the kind of trams they have in Sheffield. Love from Mummy and Daddy." It's clear where Big Grandson's obsession with transport comes from - though it also comes from Mr L.

And here's something that epitomises time passing: part of the editorial from the 1974 edition of the magazine of the school where I started teaching at the beginning of that school year, August 1973. Clearly the writer shared my feeling (at the time) that 2024 was an impossibly distant date at which time (if it ever came) things would be entirely different. And so they are; and so they're not.

While I'm finding it interesting to look through all these (and many other) things, I regret to say that not many of them have got thrown out yet. But some will. Definitely. Maybe tomorrow. 


Thursday, February 16, 2023


Littlest Granddaughter has been visiting us with Daughter 2, and Son and family came down at the weekend. I have lots of cute photos, but none really bloggable. So here are our portraits, drawn by Littlest Granddaughter. She's really caught Mr L's beard and my elegant hair. 

Daughter 1's family have all had terrible colds, and sadly, Littlest Granddaughter also had a nasty bug, so we didn't see the Edinburgh cousins, in case of a germ exchange, and didn't really do anything exciting with Littlest, who really wasn't her usual self. 

So there's not a lot of news, other than that our lawn has had its first cut of the year - and I've done quite a bit of cutting down and leaf-raking in the garden - so there's a real feeling of spring in the air, with bulbs sprouting and in some cases flowering. 

As always when Daughter 2 goes away, I feel very down. But things will improve, though possibly not this weekend, when we have to clear a bedroom so that the floor can be treated against woodworm. We have - had - a cane flower pyramid which for years we've put outside the front door with lights on at Christmas. For the rest of the year, it lived in a cupboard in the eaves. And this year, when we took it out, it had definite woodworm holes. So we threw it out and got a chap to check for woodworm in the eaves, which he duly found - or at least he found a few holes. So we need to clear the bedroom and lift the carpet - such jolly fun - and spend a lot of money on dewoodworming. Ah well, such is life. 

Tuesday, February 07, 2023

The lone and level sands...

This is the street where I lived till I was 12. Strangely enough, Daughter 1 and family live just round the corner from it now. I like to walk up it occasionally (and did, on Sunday) looking disapprovingly at number 1, where we lived and which has looked scruffy for years, and number 14, where my lovely Granny and Grandpa lived (he wasn't quite so lovely but he meant well) and where Grandpa carefully tended his roses - now discarded in favour of paving slabs. I tell you: you leave a house for a mere 50 years and people don't look after it properly. 

Littlest Granddaughter did a science project and drew this portrait of Sir Isaac Newton. Well, she got the hair right. (She's only 5.) And he looks very pleased with his discoveries. 

This is still the nothingy period when I should have been in London (home today) so the calendar is empty. We walked along the river, encouraged by signs of spring. 

The water was absolutely still but then a dog jumped in, chasing ducks and making ripples. 


and more snowdrops. 

I really must do more to the archives. These photos are from my aunt and uncle's 1960s and 70s album. They had no children and were missionaries in Pakistan - my aunt was also a doctor, and these people are the hospital staff, I assume. My aunt (my dad's sister) is the third from the left. I should really throw this, and many similar photos, out.

 And this is when they came home on furlough (a word familiar in a different context these days). This is my parents' next house. My lovely Granny is on the left, the Granny I hardly knew on the right, my parents at the back, the not-quite-so lovely Grandpa, my aunts and one aunt's missionary husband also in the group, not to say my brother and myself. I wouldn't say that this is the best posed photo one has ever seen, not being helped by what looks like the intellectually-challenged, with one blind eye (not really) 13-year-old me. 

My mother made me that dress. It was made of green velvet. 

I still have the vase on top of the bookcase. And my brother. Nothing beside remains. 

So, to sum up: not a lot has happened. 

Saturday, February 04, 2023

Living things

Well, we've had a fairly nothingy week - thank you, Covid. Not that I was ever particularly unwell - just a lot of nose-blowing and coughing, and I'm now ok again - thank you very much, medical science. I had to postpone various social engagements, but none of them was particularly one-off, so will be just as good in a week or two. Except, that is, a visit to Daughter 2 in London. I had booked the train - I usually go on a Friday, but the train drivers were on strike on Friday so I opted for Thursday at 9am. And on Wednesday I was still faintly positive, so had to make the decision not to go. And of course, on Thursday morning I tested negative. I was so disappointed: I could have gone. With missing Daughter 2 so much, it's a bit like (as a teacher) pacing yourself to the end of term. When that comes, you feel as though you couldn't possibly manage another day; though you probably could have, if you'd always known there would be another week of term. So I felt that I couldn't possibly bear not seeing her and Littlest Granddaughter for another day - even though we've not seen them since the end of December, and they're coming up next weekend. The same, of course, applies to Son, but he's not so far away. 

One good thing about not seeing various friends that week was that I spent much of three days in the garden and got most of the late-winter tidying up done. My garden, though not large, is quite labour-intensive, which is entirely my fault because it's mainly planted in herbaceous perennials, which need to be cut down every year, thinned out from time to time and so on. When we come to sell the house, the garden will probably be marketed as "easily-maintained" because it's quite small. (Hollow laugh.) Anyway, my three-day marathon resulted in my being somewhat crippled - the arthritic hip really didn't appreciate all that kneeling down and standing up again. Still, it makes me feel much better to see it tidy, and there are snowdrops and crocuses blooming and lots of other bulbs showing through the soil. 

On Wednesday we had our first outing, to the Botanics, because it's outside (obviously) and I was in less pain by then. This was good for the soul. 


and rather more snowdrops than in my garden

and their first rhododendron to be flowering this year. 

At home, it's the time of year for the amaryllis forest. I took three pots of them to church a few weeks ago for other people to adopt, but the four remaining pots are still too many. I must do the same thing next year. The timing is crucial, I feel: there need to be flower spikes showing or no one would want them, but these mustn't be too tall or they're liable to break on the journey. I should really just throw the plants away after flowering and buy another one next year for £9.99 or whatever, but never have the heart. 

This sort of thing is also the reason why I keep more fabric scraps than I will ever use. 

We saw the Edinburgh Two yesterday. So that was lovely. Big Grandson is now taller than I am. A fortnight ago, pre-Covid, he wasn't!

Today, when I couldn't be with Daughter 2, we went up to visit Son and his family, which also consoled me. We had to cancel a visit to them last Saturday because of Covid. We went to the small zoo near them, where a couple of marmosets were extremely interested, for about ten minutes, in Middle Granddaughter's toy cheetah. They really stared at it and you could almost hear them saying: "What is that?" Middle Granddaughter was very intrigued. 

And they had a lovely time in the playpark. And then we went back to theirs and I handed over their quilts, which they seemed to like. So that was a good day. I'm grateful for all those lovely descendants. And not being dead. And living in a peaceful place.