Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Things you see when you're walking

On Saturday, Mr L and I did the recce for our walking group's next walk, which we're leading. The weather was very nothingy - not cold, not bright, not windy, not wet. It was pleasant enough walking - from the Water of Leith Centre at Slateford - yet it's the time of year when things are a bit grey and one is pleased to see some colour in the ivy and the dead beech leaves.

When we got nearer town we saw this plaque, which we'd never noticed before. We were impressed that someone had remembered from 1848 to 1948 where Chopin had stayed for (maybe?) only one night. I myself have difficulty remembering where I went on holiday last year... .

See how still the water is.

After seven and a half miles we got to Leith. This area has been very much gentrified in the past twenty years or so, with lots of cafés and restaurants. We identified the all-important café big enough to take 15-ish people for coffee and cake at the end of next week's walk. Then we got the bus home.

When we walk locally, as we often do, along a former railway line - now a cycle/walking path on the embankment - we often look down at a garden in which a chap has built himself a model tram, complete with lots of signs, labels, bus stops, a Belisha beacon and so on. One day a few weeks ago we got into conversation with the man and when I said how much Grandson appreciated his efforts, he invited us to bring Grandson to see it. So on Sunday, Son-in-Law 1 and I did. Grandson was VERY HAPPY. The man, John (who's a bus driver) also gave him photos of his tram, some timetables of the sort that go into bus stops, a model tram and two bus magazines. He was such a kind chap. I think he was very pleased to find a kindred spirit in Grandson, who was very appreciative of all the detailed lights and buttons and so on with which the place was equipped.

John has also built himself a Tardis (that you can't see from the cycle path), with a K9 and a Cyberman and a control panel with buttons and a television that plays old "Dr Who" episodes. Grandson doesn't know a lot about Dr Who but he really liked the set-up all the same.

Then SIL 1 and I took Grandson on a real tram into town and got the bus home again - all of which amounted to a very satisfactory afternoon for Grandson.

And so life goes on. I do love being a granny.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018


It's been a busy but lovely time in the last week or so. On Friday, Son-in-Law 1 and I took the Edinburgh grandchildren to the museum. Here you see them admiring some train (I think) traffic signals. Look at how long-legged Grandson is getting. I thought back on the first time I took him there - below. Now he's six and a half.

Then, hooray hooray, later that day, Daughter 2 and Littlest Granddaughter arrived for a five-day visit. Littlest Granddaughter is so lovely (totally unbiased opinion). She's now looking round a lot and smiling, which is so nice.

I do love babies: their soft skin and round eyes and bouncy faces. She's very wakeful during the day (mostly) but does sleep at night, so Daughter 2 is finding motherhood very fulfilling and much less hard work than architecture. I found that myself: one tiny person to look after instead of 100+ potentially stroppy teenagers who needed to have their writing marked. Babies are extremely hard work - I'm not denying that - but their needs aren't complicated and they're very cuddly.

However, alas, they went home this afternoon and I'm missing them a lot.

Son, Daughter-In-Law and Middle Granddaughter came to stay at the weekend and the Edinburgh family were here too, so that was exceedingly good. Middle Granddaughter was very dubious last time about her parents paying attention to Littlest  Granddaughter, but this time she was absolutely fine. They even had a bath together, with Son washing his niece, and Middle Granddaughter didn't object at all: in fact, she "helped" to bath the baby.

We warned Grandson that Middle Granddaughter (17 months) would probably play with (ie rearrange) his elaborate rail layout (which is always constructed on the sitting room floor) and he was very good about this. However, when Son and DIL had packed to go home on the Sunday - but Middle Granddaughter was still picking up bits of the railway - Grandson said to DIL, "Did you say you were leaving?"

She laughed and said, "Would you like her to stop playing with your railway?"

He hesitated, clearly wondering how truthful to be. Then he said cautiously, "Yes." Pause. "But she's very cute."

Tactful. Ish.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Snow, no snow

And so it's 2018. Since my last post, we had some snow which lay a couple of days. Grandson, down south with his other grandparents (where there was no snow), mourned, "It always doesn't snow where we are."

The ice froze on Inverleith Pond, which must have been annoying for the ducks. When I was at school we had to play hockey near here (I was never fond of team games; why would one care who won?) and once, when the ground was too frozen to play, we were taken here to slide on the ice. Granted, this was when the world was a colder place but all the same it's fairly unbelievable now. I'm not sure what would have happened if the ice had cracked. It's not a deep pond but we'd have got very wet and muddy.

And then the grandchildren returned and enjoyed playing with their new toys - and I enjoyed watching them. Grandson has remote control trains for his Brio and REALLY likes them.

Happy 2018, everyone. Let's hope for a more sensible year.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

The turning of the year

It transpires that when the family isn't here... nothing happens. Well, Christmas happened, and that was perfectly pleasant even with just Mr Life and me - or it was for most of the day. By the evening I was feeling rather unwell and spent the next day intermittently throwing up. I can't imagine that it was anything I ate - we had the same, except that when he had turkey and the trimmings, I had marinated tofu and a few of the previous day's baked beans. Yes, fine dining. I was just cooking the vegetables in the final run-up to dishing up his meal when it occurred to me that I hadn't done anything for myself, so I looked in the freezer and there were the marinated tofu pieces, which I microwaved with the beans. Should you ever come to a meal, please be assured that I'll try harder for you.  I'm not very interested in food; I mean, I quite like eating (as you can see when you look at me, alas) but never feel it a subject worth giving much thought to when it comes to my own food. People often ask vegetarians what they eat and I try to think of an interesting answer, when the truth is often an omelette. And lots of vegetables.

So possibly someone had sneezed on the tofu pieces in the factory - I threw out the rest of the packet, just in case - but I suspect it was just a bug, which I'm happy to say I didn't pass on to the old chap. Or not yet... .

We blame this for what happened last night. I sat down at the computer about 9.30 pm to write a letter to my aunt, glanced at the date on the screen and realised that it was our wedding anniversary. Oops. Forty-four years married and we both forgot (for the first time ever, I'd like to point out). To do him justice, Mr L was able to produce both a previously-written card and a wrapped little gift, whereas I ... um... I did look at cards a few weeks ago and none of them seemed right. Plenty of time, I thought. Sorry dear!

So we walked up town today and had a coffee to celebrate. He even had a brownie but I'm still feeling very slightly delicate.

We watched the passing throng, many of them wheeling suitcases, and wondered again why people come here in December. I mean, it was a nice day, if a trifle chilly. But June, people! Long, long days! The chance to take your jacket off! The opportunity to let the warm breeze riffle your hair, the sun kiss your upturned, unfrozen face! Just saying.

I'm writing to my aunt a lot because, sad to say, someone knocked her over with their shopping trolley in the supermarket at the end of November and broke her hip. This is the 93-year-old (or, she will be on January 1) who lives in Norfolk and who was up till that point in very good nick. Now, alas, though she's had a partial hip replacement, she can walk only a few steps, with considerable pain, and the painkillers are making her sick so that she's not keeping food down. We went to see her while we were at Daughter 2's before Christmas but Norfolk is a long way from Edinburgh. Fortunately my niece and my brother and sister-in-law are much nearer, and visit, and she has a very good friend who visits her more or less daily. But still, it's not at all good.

I've been uncheering myself up by going through my millions of photos and deleting many of them. Why did I take so many pictures of our beloved cats, most of them very similar? I've kept quite a few nice ones but no one needs hundreds of identical photos of much-mourned furry friends who died very young of genetic lung disease. Nor so many of my garden, which is still there, outside the house, should I need to look at it - though it's also somewhat depressing to see plants which mysteriously disappeared some years ago. And then there are pictures of my parents... can't delete any of them.

And I've still some years to go before I reach the birth of the first of the grandchildren, where I'll again find lots of more or less identical photos. However, I don't expect to find that so dejecting - just difficult to choose between them. So that'll be all right.

Anyway, I've also started cutting out a quilt for Biggest Granddaughter, which is more cheerful, isn't it? Lots of happy timewasting lies ahead of me while I do that. And we've passed the shortest day, so summer is on its way here - sorry, Australia and New Zealand. And the Edinburgh grandchildren come home on Saturday, hurray hurray, bringing their other, delightful, grandparents with them. So if we don't meet again this year, O bloggy friends, I hope you have a lovely New Year celebration and a wonderful 2018.

Saturday, December 23, 2017


Our Edinburgh grandchildren came for a sleepover last night before going down to Worcester to their other grandparents for Christmas. Here they are having a lovely time bursting the bubbles in bubble wrap. I love their intent concentration on this important task.

They departed this morning and have arrived safely. They've now met their newest cousin - cousins are arriving thick and fast at the moment - on their daddy's side. This baby, born at the end of November, has now supplanted Littlest Granddaughter as their youngest cousin! (though he's not Littlest Granddaughter's cousin, if you follow.) Grandson was delighted to acquire his first boy cousin.

So today we went up north to visit Son and DIL and sweet Middle Granddaughter, the unbloggable one. As you can't see here, she has huge hazely-green eyes and is very pretty and perfectly adorable. We hadn't seen her for an unusually long time (mainly because we've been up and down to London to see Littlest Granddaughter; also because of my two choirs' carol concerts) and I thought she'd be very shy of us, but in fact she wasn't. Which was lovely. We should see her again in a couple of weeks so I hope she keeps remembering us.

Here she is having a walk in the park with her parents and us. Her hat had a red bobble.

Meanwhile, Littlest Granddaughter is with her parents and Nottingham grandparents for Christmas. These grandparents are both great knitters; here she is modelling the lastest creations. Now, that's a hat.

And our house is quiet, which is how it will remain till the first wanderers return on the 30th. Mr Life, who enjoys a bit of peace, is quite happy about this. I'm ... ok. Of course the children should see their other grandparents. We'll survive. In my ideal world, all grandchildren should live round the corner from all their grandparents and should see them every day. It would be a lot easier for their parents, too, I would think. Alas, the modern world isn't arranged like that.

Pathetically, I also miss my parents, somehow especially at Christmas. Dad died 10 years ago and Mum 5 years. How they would have loved to see the little ones.

And, as I've said before, it's so strange how fast the house empties - from the days not very long ago when it bulged at Christmas with parents and aunts and uncles (actually only one uncle) and their foreign friends - now all gone - and our children - now scattered. Next year it'll be full again at Christmas, I hope, with our descendants and also my brother and his family. It's like in Philip Larkin's "An Arundel Tomb" (such a good poem) - "the endless altered people came". Life goes on. We eventually don't.

However, grandchildren are such a joy, and WhatsApp photos keep us in touch with their doings when we can't see them so it could be A LOT WORSE!

Have a happy Christmas, everyone, particularly those who make the effort to comment  - and an especial hello to Avus - lovely to hear from you again!

Monday, December 18, 2017

And it don't seem a day too much...

Fifty years ago today - 18 December, 1967 - when I was 17 and the future Mr Life was 19 - we went to my school dance. I was at a girls' school, so we had to ask boys as partners who (obviously) didn't go to the school. I knew and rather liked Mr L - but didn't at that point have it in mind to marry him. You don't think that far ahead when you're 17. Or at least, I didn't. However, he then asked me out and... fifty years later, here we are. I can't believe it's been that long. I don't feel nearly old enough.

So today we went out for lunch in South Queensferry. That black house is for some reason known as Black Castle and was built in 1626. Oh, I've just looked it up and it has horrible associations with witchcraft - the sister-in-law of the owner of it confessed to being a witch and was burned at the stake in 1643. How dreadful. And her husband had to pay for her burning and that of her supposed accomplice, which made him bankrupt. The owner's sister suffered the same fate. Goodness me. Anyway, this may be why it's black. Also it was once owned by a coal merchant - a rather more ordinary possible explanation.

South Queensferry is a pretty little town, as I've mentioned before.

It's built beside the famous (in Britain, anyway) Forth Rail Bridge (above)

and the road bridge (above) and more or less brand new other road bridge, which you can vaguely see behind it.

We sat looking out at these (from inside; this is December) as we had our lunch and compared our memories of that significant (as it turned out) evening in 1967.

Then we came home to find a beautiful bouquet and chocolates from our children. Indeed, if I hadn't asked him to my school dance... who knows? - they might never have been born.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Ten days to Christmas

We've been in London, visiting Daughter 2 and Youngest Granddaughter. We didn't do anything particular except cuddling the baby and going for walks, but it was lovely. I have lots of pictures like the one above and the one below (shawl beautifully crocheted by the other grandmother)

and this one - my lovely girls!! - (two of them, anyway) -

and here's the baby beneath the quilt I made - obligatory photo. Despite the evidence of these photos, she didn't spend much of the time asleep - though she does sleep reasonably well at night on the whole.

But, as I have said boringly often before, I hate leaving them in London. I do not like London. It's far too big, far too busy and far too far away. I'm so sad that the baby is going to grow up there. Why can't I be one of those mothers who say that they brought up their children to fly? I thought I brought ours up to live round the corner. Failure.

However, how lovely to hear from Besomom in the comments that her husband enjoyed his trip to Edinburgh (a much superior place, in my admittedly biased opinion). Thanks for telling me about his trip! I wonder why you're called Besomom? A besom in Scotland is a broom, like a witch's broom, or it can be a girl with a cheeky attitude - usually pronounced "bisom" in this case. But I'm sure neither of these meanings is relevant here.

Anyway, I must go and practise some rather tricky carols which I'm singing in a concert tomorrow. It's the second Saturday running - two different choirs - when I've sung in a carol concert. And next week I must do some shopping!