Saturday, July 22, 2017


The Edinburgh branch of offspring are away just now, which leaves us with spare time. We had a little trip to the Botanics, where the herbaceous border (my spiritual home) is now getting back to its full glory. It was infested with perennial weeds and so a quarter of it at a time was left empty for two years to get rid of these. This meant that for eight years, there was a blank bit. This seemed endless when it started (would I live to see the bed back to its fullness?) but as time does, it whizzed along and now it's all filled up again and, presumably, weedless.

We went up town, had coffee in a Costa and admired this rather fine cupola. Neither of us could think of what the building had been before its Costa-ing.

We walked home by the scenic route along the river.

So peaceful, and yet so near the middle of the city.

Then yesterday we had a day train trip to Berwick and walked along the city walls.

There was a little art gallery with an exhibition of the Scottish Colourists, such as these paintings by Peploe, either of which I'd be very happy to get for Christmas, hint, hint.

My photo is a bit blurry but in fact, the light on the silver jug is beautifully painted.

We then walked along the river

and admired the meadow planting in the Coronation Park.

(We've also been, you know, changing beds and cleaning and sorting things out. It's not been unadulterated fun.)

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Now I am six...

Grandson is now 6!!!! 6!!!!! How can that be? Daughter 1 made him this card, in which the red and green men from a pedestrian crossing decorate the inside of their box, wrap presents and make a cake for him.

It's been beach weather. If it looks windy, that's because it was. But it was also hot. Well, Scottish hot.

We needed a new nail brush, so I looked for one in the supermarket but couldn't find one. So I asked a passing Tesco chap and he led me to the shelf, where there was only one nail brush and it was pink. He handed it to me. "Oh," I said, "thank you very much but it doesn't match my bathroom." He looked at me, clearly trying to process this and failing. I don't think he'd spent much of his life worrying about coordinating colours in the bathroom. "Thanks anyway," I said politely, and departed before I had to explain myself further.

Shortly afterwards he rushed up to me with a big smile and a packet of three nailbrushes: two purple and one pink. "I found these. They're three for a pound," he said triumphantly. "The other one was a pound for just one." He was so pleased that I thanked him, took them and then spent ages trying to find where he'd got them so that I could put them back on the shelf, all the time furtively looking round for him so I didn't hurt his feelings / make him think I was completely mad.

Our bathrooms are a) white with blue and yellow and b) white with blue and green. They're both coming up for 20 years old, so it's not as if we're the sort of people who rip things out all the time but come on, you can't have a pink or purple nailbrush in a non-pink bathroom, can you. (Can you? Is it just me...?)

I found one in another supermarket. £1 for just the one, but worth every penny.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Visting Auntie E

We returned yesterday from a week in Norfolk with all of our children and their spouses and children, and also my brother and his wife and family. There were 15 of us in total, ranging from 11 months to nearly 70 (four months to go, dear big brother) and the reason we went to Norfolk is so that my unmarried 92-and-a-half-year-old aunt could meet the youngest members of the family for the first time - and, realistically, possibly the last time.

For complicated reasons which I've discussed before, she lives in this wonderful house in an equally wonderful garden, and we've had many fantastic holidays there, starting when Son was nearly 3, Daughter 2 was newly 6 and Daughter 1 was nearly 8. It's a bit of a trek from here; because of that, we used to go every second year, but now Mr L and I usually go every year because it's so lovely and we're very fond of my aunt. She's my father's younger sister and is now the last of that generation.

Because there were so many of us, we didn't actually stay with her this time, but took a house nearby. However, we visited her every day - not all of us every day, since she's very deaf and can hear much better in small groups. However, the first and last days we were all there.

When the children were small, her friend used to give them rides round the garden in a wheelbarrow, so of course this tradition had to be continued with the grandchildren. Her friend is now in his 70s, so we exempted him from being the driver. Instead, Son first took Grandson and his own baby daughter - above.

Then Son-in-Law 1 took over for his two children. It's not as easy as it looks - I had a little go - because the wheelbarrow has a strong urge to tilt sideways and tip out its passengers.

After this, Nephew took his sister for a spin...

and then his girlfriend.

Our aunt was very thrilled that we'd all made the effort to visit. She's been very good to us over the years - so many lovely holidays! - so we were delighted to do so (though it took a bit of organising). Though she's very contented with her lot, she's religious and has been saying for some time, "I'm happy to go to heaven any day" and we've been saying, "Not till after July!" However, happily she managed to stay alive till our visit and indeed looks very well for her age. Maybe living somewhere idyllic keeps you young? It seems to work for the royals, doesn't it?

Thursday, July 06, 2017


The weather has been mixed, as suggested by these two views from the museum. They very much typify British, perhaps especially Scottish, weather. It can be lovely. It can be less lovely. The photo above: March. The photo below: June. Bear this in mind if you plan to come to Edinburgh - which I recommend. Bring a mac.

I still prefer either to HOT, however. 

Should you have 13 minutes 37 seconds to spare, I recommend that you click on this - - to get a cheering little film about people who have fish surnames.

It will make you feel better about the direness of some aspects of life.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017


Well, doesn't life whizz by? Happy Independence Day, America. It's also my birthday - 67, argh - and the children decorated my cake. Grandson stuck in the HAPPY candles and Granddaughter-the-Elder, who can't spell, did the BIRTHDAY ones. Grandson thought it was very funny that she put them in randomly and shook his head wryly at the ignorance of the young.

And they sang to me.

Grandson has now finished Primary 1. How on earth did that year go so quickly? (see above). This is the card that he made for his teacher. Aah. I hope he continues to love, or at least like, his teachers.

She has a pony tail.

And from this pile of leftovers in February - with some red and blue self-colour additions -

I've now finished this for Grandson. It wouldn't win any prizes - I put fleece on the back, which made it difficult to quilt apart from in quite large stitches -  but it's warm and it features traffic lights and road sign shapes, so I'm sure Grandson will like it well enough. I do like stripey binding.

Now to start a cot quilt for Daughter 2's daughter, due in October. Fortunately (considering my rate of progress) the baby won't at first be in a cot. I'll probably have it finished before she graduates out of her Moses basket.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Cap Of Maintenance

Last Wednesday it was forecast to be 34 degrees in London, which is 93 point something. We had planned to go and see the diary exhibition at Somerset House (and did actually go the next day - very interesting) but then we suddenly thought: we are free agents; we don't need to go anywhere; we can just stay in the flat with all the windows open. (Poor Daughter 2 had to go to work, but fortunately she can walk there.)

So that's what we did. We lounged around and read our books and watched a bit of television. These are the husband's feet, not mine. It was actually very pleasant and peaceful.

What was on television was the State Opening Of Parliament, which I've never watched before, having been a working woman and then a retired woman with better things to do. But actually it was riveting in a way - the slightly hilarious way of thinking: what on earth must other nations think of us, with all that pageantry and silly cloaks and hats and things IN 34 DEGREES??? Velvet! Ermine! Wigs! Crown! (though the Queen didn't actually wear the Crown; she had a flowery hat).

Here's the throne on which in due course she sat, with Prince Charles by her side, to read out The Queen's Speech, which was all about what "my government" plans to do. I must say, she's in good nick for 91. She wouldn't exactly get a place in the Royal Shakespeare Company for the excitingness of her delivery, but she managed it all without faltering and never turned over two pages of her little booklet at once.

The best bit, however, was when things were processed in: the Crown (ok), the Sword (well, I suppose it's traditional) and then the Cap Of Maintenance.

The Cap Of Maintenance? Why had I never heard of the Cap Of Maintenance? It's a velvet and ermine sort of pudding basin, originally given to Henry VII by the Pope. I can't believe that this is the original one - it looks too pristine. Anyway, here it is, being borne in on a stick and solemnly handed from one chap to another.

And here it is, having done its duty of... sitting on a stick... being reverently taken out afterwards to its private car.

Why do I not have a Cap Of Maintenance? Wouldn't it improve life (on cooler days)? You'd heave the vacuum cleaner out of the cupboard to do a bit of cleaning, first popping on your Cap Of Maintenance, and the happy hours of Maintaining would fly past. Then, when appropriate, you'd pass it on to your husband to do a spot of DIY. So useful. (Actually, since his retirement, I've passed on the vacuuming to Mr L; he hasn't reciprocated with the DIY. Wisely.)

Daughter 2's husband has been in Toronto for some weeks with his theatre group, Showstopper. This bit of her mantelpiece shows a slice of their lives: a scan of the future Granddaughter-the-Youngest; a Showstopper leaflet; a little house (she's an architect);  my parents' silver (plated) teapot and a plant.

Sunday, June 25, 2017


While in London, we visited the Summer Exhibition, which was as usual full of works of art which bewildered us - as well as others which we enjoyed. This, for example, I liked - I admired the sentiment (you just have to go on, don't you?) though I've just discovered that it's a quote from a Beckett novel, so it's not original to the artist. The background is very intricately painted: it looks like tiny rolled-up pieces of coloured paper stuck together, but it's not. So I admire the neatness and the industry. Would I, however, pay £35,000 for it? Hmm.

This looks, as Son-in-Law 1 said when I sent its photo, like Grandson's blackboard when he's rubbed out what he's written. It's just as blurred as it looks here. It's called "Ancestor Worship" and could be yours for £128,000. I have no idea what it's about.

This one was beautifully painted, so I admire it, though wouldn't want it in my sitting room.

It seems to feature lots of Mickey Mouses. Mice. I can't remember what it cost, but this one...

called "Red Over Black In Charred Frames", was £24,000. It didn't seem universally popular among the visitors.

This was a tiny and (to my mind) beautiful woodcut.

I love the way this is painted though don't understand it.

And these faces - now, that's my sort of art.

This was interesting: lots of actual buildings put in an imaginary landscape. I think it's beautiful and strange. It was in a lightbox, which does give it an arresting luminosity, though again it would look odd in my hallway.

I do wonder what future generations will make of some of the art produced at the moment. But then I also wonder if I may be missing something. Can all these experts really be completely wrong in an emperor's-new-clothes fashion? What are they seeing that I don't see?