Tuesday, May 28, 2024


We had friends for the weekend and took the train down to Galashiels to see the new(ish) building that was designed to house the Great Tapestry of Scotland. We'd seen the tapestry (actually, it's embroidery) before, but not for a while, and not in this building. We liked the building a lot - well done to the architects. 

The tapestry itself was the idea of the writer Alexander McColl Smith, who was inspired by an earlier one, the Prestonpans (not actually a) Tapestry (which was sort of inspired by the Bayeux Tapestry (not really a tapestry either)). The Prestonpans one depicts the events before, during and after the Battle of Prestonpans, which was when Bonnie Prince Charlie's troops (mainly Highlanders who supported the restoration of the Stuarts to the throne of Britain) defeated the English (plus mainly Lowland Scots). There are now various other similar tapestries in other parts of Scotland (and beyond, for all I know).

Anyway, this non-tapestry depicts the history of Scotland from the formation of the land - earthquakes etc - to the modern day, with lots of developments, battles, inventions and so on, in between. 

The embroidery was done by groups of mainly (but not exclusively) women volunteers, each group doing one of the 161 panels.  These are now joined together. One of them was stolen from Kirkcaldy Art Gallery in 2015 (I mean, who would?) and was never found, so the original stitchers painstakingly recreated it. 

The detail in the panels is amazing. Look at this kilt! 

And the herringbone tweed jacket.

And the socks. 

This is the whole panel, which shows traditional Scottish sports. 

This one shows the woollen industry in the Lowlands, famously in Paisley, where shawls were made. These were inspired by Indian or Persian patterns with the teardrop shape - known (here, anyway) as Paisley patterns to this day. 

The weather has been horrendously wet, but we went to the Botanics yesterday anyway, along with many drookit tourists. "Drookit" means "drenched" but is (in my opinion) much more expressive, like so many Scottish words. We went equipped with waterproofs and an umbrella but still had to change our lower halves when we got home. 

But these single peonies weren't too battered by the rain, 

and the blue poppies were just about hanging on. 

One has now, however, had enough of rain. We, our gardens and our spirits are more than sufficiently drookit. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Out and about

Things have been rather too busy since we got back from Norfolk, though with various pleasant activities including gardening. Remind me not to go away in May again: one week, and the forget-me-nots had become even more rampant, and the weeds that didn't exist when we left had somehow sprung up and were several inches tall. 

And I need to clear spaces for the summer bedding. 

Mr L had a birthday. So did Son-in-Law 1, and Big Grandson, the bus/train/tram enthusiast, made him a lovely card.  

Mr L is mainly a train enthusiast and some of his presents definitely took this into account. He got rather a good card too!

We went on a great walk (the one we did the recce for, a few weeks ago) with our walking buddies on Saturday, along the (Scottish) Avon, near Linlithgow. The weather was perfect: not too hot, not windy. 

Look: a train on a viaduct. 

Having walked in one direction along the river, we went back along the canal. Then, of course, we finished with coffee in a cafe, as we always do. 

Yesterday was a public holiday, so we took the Edinburgh Two to the Kelpies, two huge horses' heads (actually kelpies' heads, but they're much the same - kelpies are mythical water horses), which are public sculptures a bit north of here. You can see the children at the foot of a kelpie, for scale. The statues represent the heavy horses that pulled boats along the canal and celebrate the role of horses in the industry and agriculture of the area. 

Then we walked along the (a different) canal. Grandson was interested in the swing bridge. Isn't he getting tall? Mr L is over 6 feet.

You can see how the Kelpies loom over the landscape.

And after that we took them to the Japanese garden where Mr Life and I went for the first time only a few weeks ago. 

They enjoyed the paths and bridges. And the cafe.

And so did we. I also enjoyed the flowers, and pleasingly Middle Granddaughter has decided that she likes gardening. It's in the genes. I hope. 


Monday, May 13, 2024

Lovely Norfolk

We're back from a week in Norfolk, where we visited old haunts and some new ones. This garden, at Stody Lodge, was new to us, and only three miles from where we were staying in Holt. The owners have gone all out for a riot of colour at this particular time of year - colours which don't necessarily go with one another (you probably wouldn't want to have this scheme in your living room) but were pretty amazing en masse. 

It's presumably mainly green at other times of year. 

They also had a separate, and more pastel-coloured, water garden. 

On the Sunday we had lunch with my aunt's friend. For many years we used to visit my aunt in Norfolk - every year or two since 1987, I think - but she sadly died in 2018, and we haven't been back since. My brother and his wife and daughter came too, and afterwards we had a walk along Hunstanton beach. It was such a lovely day. 

We did go on two heritage railways for my brother and Mr L (both train buffs - easy to see where Big Grandson gets his transport interests, since his other grandfather likes trains too). But strangely I didn't take any photos of those...

We always go to Sandringham, the Queen's - now the King's - little place in Norfolk. It was interesting to see the changes that the King's making to the gardens - topiary and a maze. Mind you, the cafe no longer sells cheese scones! - a black mark, Charles. 

This is a seventeenth century quilt at Blickling Hall. It was found a few years ago in an attic there. That's what I call a quilt - not the easy stuff I do. I don't imagine mine will survive for 400 years! 

The Hall itself dates from 1616, so is quite contemporary with the quilt. Anne Boleyn is said to have been born somewhere in the estate, though of course this house hadn't been built when she was around. She'd have done well to have stayed there in lovely Norfolk, instead of getting mixed up with Henry VIII. 

Friday, May 03, 2024


Only the other day I was mourning the fact that the camassias I planted last autumn hadn't appeared. And then today, I found them, blooming away. How unobservant! But oh good!

Last year we planted a cercis chinensis in the garden. The garden isn't large and it's very full. However, tonight we were watching the Scottish gardening programme on tv and our friend George, who's one of the presenters (and a highly knowledgeable plantsman) recommended cercis as a tree for small gardens. Good again!

And tulips are also good. And pansies.

And this stunning little azalea that a friend gave me when we moved into this house, 35 years ago. 

All very very good. 


Wednesday, May 01, 2024


 We've meant for ages to go to the Japanese Garden, which is less than an hour north of here, and one day last week we got round to doing so. It was created at the turn of the 20th century by a wealthy woman who'd visited Japan. I don't know how much physical work she did on it, but she commissioned a Japanese woman garden designer, so it's presumably fairly authentic. 

However, she died in 1949 and left the garden to her nephew, who didn't have the money for its upkeep and it gradually reverted to nature. Then in the 1960s, two schoolboys broke in (wearing their school uniforms!), burnt the pavilions and threw stone lanterns into the lake. So it wasn't till 2014 that the garden began to be restored, and it's now lovely and well worth a visit. 

Some of the plants aren't yet mature, so I imagine that in another 20 years it'll be even nicer. We may not be around to see it...

Mr L takes a photo. 

There was a group of very excited Japanese (I think) people there, who seemed to be enjoying themselves, with many shrieky giggles. The current chap in charge is also an eminent Japanese gardener, so I assume the shrieks of laughter were joy, not hilarity. 

We drove home past the Kelpies, huge horses' heads which almost loom over the motorway. I would think they'd be a bit distracting if you didn't know to expect them. 

Back in Edinburgh, it's cherry blossom time.

On Sunday we went to the Botanics, where Big Grandson had fun pretending to "hide" behind things. 

I'm a bit concerned about their camassias, which are blooming, while mine aren't. I only planted them last year and currently can't think where I put them; probably lurking under the masses of forget-me-nots. 

I'm hoping mine are a later-flowering variety.

Today's walk featured this wonderful rhododendron, on the road side of a rather neglected garden. The pinkness!

And these surprisingly large potentilla blossoms. 

Ah, it's all about the flowers at this time of year.