Friday, June 30, 2023

Human life

Life trundles by. We've now passed the longest day, but so far the shortening of the daylight isn't noticeable and summer flourishes on, though the hot weather has blessedly cooled down a bit, even in London, where it's been extremely hot. 

I've finished the quilt top with dragons on as requested by Big Granddaughter. She chose all the fabrics, most of which were from my stash, though I had to buy the dragons and the purple and violet solid fabrics - which are not really to my taste. There was a big gap between my starting and finishing it, because I put it away when we had visitors and then somehow never got it out again till a week ago. I don't love it, but it's what she wanted and it was very easy. It's actually considerably brighter than it looks here. I was somewhat reluctant to do her a dragon quilt because I made her a rabbit one only five years ago and she now says that her tastes have changed - the difference between five and ten years old (which seems about a week to me). I can't really see her liking dragons for long either. Still, there it is - for now. I shall have to get on with quilting it.

Unbelievably, Big Grandson has now finished with primary school and will go on to secondary in August. He had three orientation days last week, which he enjoyed, so that was good. And now it's the Scottish school holidays. He celebrated this by going on a bus/tram trip round Edinburgh with his father yesterday, while I took Big Granddaughter and her friend to the local trampoline centre. They both went on this terrifying slide thing, though her friend dared to go further up than she did. 

Then we went back to Big Granddaughter's house and they did various crafting activities. Big Granddaughter made an abstract painting. "This is supposed to reflect human life," she said. "I'm trying to be philosophical."

Frances asked about the flowers in the night-time picture of the garden in my previous post. The yellow is yellow loosestrife, which is a bit of a thug. I like it, but dig most of it out at the end of every year, which keeps in more or less in control - though it's got away from me this year. The lilac coloured sprawly things on the right are penstemons - the one taken as a cutting from the other. There are dark red peonies at the back and a pink begonia semperflorens in a pot on the right. 

Monday, June 26, 2023


We're now past the longest day, which means that we're tilting over towards winter. But there's no perceptible difference yet. Above is the garden after 10 at night; 

and this is it after 11. It doesn't get dark here for very long at this time of year. 

In the Botanics, the last of the blue poppies blooms on, 

the trees are fully out

and some late rhododendrons provide lovely colour. 

I think this is a rogersia. I like it, though it's a bit spready for our garden. 

At the weekend we went up to see Son. The children showed us how fast they could run (really quite fast). 

Medium Granddaughter found a stripy snail. 

and went very high up in a crow's nest at the park. She's very agile, a trait she did not get from her granny. 

And we walked along the front at Dundee - or rather they scooted, Son and Daughter-in-Law trotted after them and we proceeded at a more leisurely pace. A lovely day, though a lot of driving to get there and back. I don't know what will happen once we're no longer able to make the journey by car. It's easy to get to Dundee by train, but they live some way out, in the country. 

Along our local path, summer is in full swing. 


Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Summer stuff

And so life drifts on, busily but unremarkably (which is all good). The garden takes up quite a lot of time, even though the front part is full of volunteer plants, such as this lupin and all the foxgloves.

I do love them -

and the Canterbury bells. It's all a case of weeding judiciously. 

And it's also bloom time for things that I did plant, such as these alliums

and these peonies. 

The garden is full of bees. 

Look at these clematis climbing up the fence. 

Isn't nature wonderful? - with considerable help from man, or in this case woman. 

On Saturday we walked with our friends from Dirleton to North Berwick, along the coast. It's been very warm, so we were happy that it was cloudy and not too hot for walking. 

We lunched on this rock. 

Here we are approaching North Berwick after a walk of about 5 miles. We got to Dirleton, in East Lothian, about 20 miles from Edinburgh, by bus - and back again - all free for over 60s, which is very satisfactory. 

Many of the cottages in East Lothian have red roofs, the tiles made from the very red earth of the countryside. 

We sat on the top deck of the bus, like teenagers. 

There was a lot of general teenage hilarity from us over-70s, which was fun.  It was a lovely day out.

And today I visited my very nice friend Joyce, and as always took a photo of the Forth Bridge out of her window. Much the same photo every time. Can't break with tradition. 

And that was another week. It beats working. 

Monday, June 12, 2023

Away. And back.

I've just come back from visiting Daughter 2 in London. One day, I met up with my best friend from school, who also went to London and never came back. (Cf my brother. What is it with London?) Anyway, look how much coffee costs in St Pancras Station! 

Later that day there was an impromptu mini-party in the garden with two of the members of Son-in-Law 2's improv troupe, the Showstoppers. This was very exciting for me: one of them is Ruth, who is amazing. (They're all pretty amazing.) If you have five minutes, Google "Showstoppers - And then he left" and you'll see why I think so. This song was genuinely improvised in front of an audience as part of one of their many, many improvised musicals. (The male actor isn't SIL 2.)

Littlest Granddaughter is getting big. 

Yesterday we went to a garden centre to choose plants for their currently somewhat featureless back garden. This was fun!

It's been horribly hot in London and the nasty clay of their garden is as hard as concrete. It'll be quite difficult to dig holes in it, to plant these. However, despite appearances, the soil must be quite fertile, since Daughter 2 has planted lots of things in the front garden which are thriving. 

And today I came home to find that my sweet peas are blooming. How things change in the garden in five days. 

My train journey was not the best. First I was in a crowded carriage and the girl sharing my double seat was HUGE. I mean, I’m by no means thin but she was massive, so that she (who was by the window) overlapped at least a third of my seat. Thus a third of me was sticking out into the corridor and my rear end was very conscious of the uncomfortable edge of my seat. She was also very hot, radiating her heat, and I kept inching away from her, upon which she immediately spread into the gap that I’d created. This probably sounds very unsympathetic and I was very sorry for her, but would have been even sorrier if she hadn’t been eating the most enormous sandwich I’ve ever seen. Maybe it was a special train treat. After a bit I went to investigate the unbooked carriage and found empty seats, so I moved. I expect she was pleased to get more space too.

But then I found myself opposite the chattiest woman in the world, who talked all the way to Edinburgh (from maybe twenty miles out of London). She has recently left her cheating husband in the Canary Islands (where they lived) and come home to Kent. Today she was going to Edinburgh to stay for ten days with a friend she knows from the Canary Islands. She was looking forward to it, and excited, but also a bit dubious because he’s a naturist (ie nudist) and is going to take her to a naturist B and B in south-west Scotland. "Well, I'm 63 now and I suppose I should be trying new things before it's too late," she said, without total conviction. The rest of her life story involved another husband, two sons, three grandsons, a father with dementia and her previous job - while living in Kent and before going abroad -  on Network Rail. She was very nice but I didn't have the peaceful time with my book and flask of coffee that I had in mind. I hope her naturist chap is nice and not too... naturist. 

So it's nice to be home in warm, but not desperately hot, Edinburgh. And it's peaceful. But as usual, visiting Daughter 2 just reminds me how nice she is and how much I miss her. 


Wednesday, June 07, 2023

It really is all about the flowers at the moment - not ours, this time, but in the local park, which is very good on its herbaceous borders, my favourite kind of plants. I don't love the colour of these poppies but they make a fine display. 

I'll always love lupins. As a little girl, I used to play with the "jewels" of raindrops on their leaves and make them run down into the centre of the leaves to make tiny shining pools. (There wasn't a lot to do when I was a child... .)

Though purple isn't my favourite colour in general terms, who doesn't love a purple bearded iris? 

Whereas I really love this shade of poppy. I wonder if I could gather a seed or two, later in the season...? 

An even more lurid purple iris. I wouldn't want to wear that colour but it's acceptable in flowers. Maybe not so good right beside that yellow day lily, though...

Ahh, I love peonies. And their subtle rose scent - when I was a child they were always called peony roses. 

And a long view over the rose garden - the roses aren't in bloom yet, but multiple alliums stand guard over the box-hedged beds. 

We're having a quietish few days: some friends over on Monday and lots of gardening, but yesterday the most exciting thing that happened was having a double-glazing panel replaced in a kitchen window, it having developed a steamy leak. And another one is being fitted next week in the upstairs bathroom. Now, that's not an interesting way to spend a lot of money. Still, compared to so many people in this troubled world, we have a very easy life. 


Friday, June 02, 2023

Blue blue blue

It's really all about the flowers at the moment. I've been toiling away in the garden, which isn't large but which I've foolishly made very time-consuming over the years. There are too many flower beds to be tended by an ageing person who needs to get on with her latest quilt, abandoned since we had Daughter 2 and Littlest Granddaughter and then our lovely American cousins. But look at those irises! 

I think the blue is my favourite but I also like this two-tone maroon one

and the white. Irises always remind me of my childhood garden, though those irises were purple. (I must get some purple ones.)

This one is interesting too, though not my favourite. What colour is it? Sort of browny red... there ought to be a more precise word but I can't think what it is.

I love the ceanothus - such a vivid blue. 

and the alliums, which come up faithfully ever year and are beloved by the bees. 

And I bought this thalictrum only last year; it's doing well so far. 

It's always a pleasure to go to the Botanics, especially as I have no responsibility for it. And things can be done on a rather larger scale there. 

I thought we might be too late for the mecanopsis. But no. 



Back in our garden, the Edinburgh Two play frisbee in the sun. We need rain, though; the ground is like dust.