Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Durham and the deluge

Why were we in Durham, you ask? (Well, you didn't; but I'll tell you anyway.) We were there for a late celebration of Mr Life's 65th birthday, which was an especially momentous one in my mind because his father sadly died at the age of 64, when our son was 12 days old. Ever since then - so for over 28 years - it's been my ambition to get Mr Life past this age. Success!

All of our children and their spouses and also my brother, his wife and offspring met up. We chose Durham because it's about half way between Edinburgh and London/Cambridge, where the southern contingent live. We stayed at the Radisson Blu Hotel, which we thought was very good - modern, comfortable with very helpful staff. There were also big red swivelly chairs in the reception area, which most of us enjoyed sitting in at various times.

We did quite a lot of this sort of thing.

The younger ones went swimming in the hotel pool. Granddaughter was so exhausted by her first swim that she fell asleep before she could get dressed.

On the Saturday afternoon we visited the Cathedral (very impressive, with variously-patterned pillars which I greatly liked). The youngest members of the party decided to snooze through this.

Most of us posed for a photo. It was beginning to rain.

As we got back to the hotel, the rain was quite heavy and it struck us that the river was getting rather high. The hotel is the building on the left. We hoped that the river wasn't going to burst its banks. We stood on the footbridge and watched the water whooshing downstream, carrying lots of big branches and two dead sheep. Oh dear.

Very soon, the water started to spill on to the road outside the hotel. Hmm, we thought.

This was the view from our room about ten minutes later. Yes, that's the road on the left side of the fence.

Meanwhile we enjoyed a meal in our private room ... on the ground floor. (Look at that flip chart on the wall at the back. I felt I ought to be giving a lecture. But I didn't have any felt markers with me.)

Grandson, in his smart shirt and trousers, played with his tactahs between courses. Fortunately the hotel is up a flight of steps from the road, but the water was still rising.

Oblivious, Granddaughter - wearing her party dress - beamed at Son.

The water stayed - just - on the other side of that flowerbed.

See it lapping the foot of the hotel steps?

The view down the street at 11 pm.

By about 12.15 am, the water started receding and by 8 in the morning it looked like this. I'm not sure I would have parked my car there, though.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Home again, home again...

We have been away: here - Durham...

... and here - Sandringham, one of the Queen's little places. (We visit Sandringham about every two years and I always slightly wonder if perhaps I ought to have made more effort to get Prince Charles to marry me. Just for the gardens, you know. Not the official visits or the posh frocks.)

And now we're back. You know that way when you come into a lovely tidy house and dump your holiday things and all of a sudden it's a bit of a mess? With no food in the fridge? So I'd better go and do something about it.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Spring and steroids

This is not my garden, though that's also looking good at the moment with all the spring flowers. The photo is of a flowerbed in Bruntsfield Links on the way home from piano the other day. It's been so cold that everything is very late this year, but at last we have lots of colour.

It's still quite chilly, though. Today has been reasonably sunny and when you're in the sun you think, ah yes, it's really quite a warm day. Then the sun goes behind a cloud and you change your mind.

Well, I mustn't witter on because we have a visitor arriving tomorrow and there's nothing like guests to make you look critically at the state of your skirting boards.

The visitor, who is American, has brought some cunning cat treats with little pockets in them for you to insert your cat's pill. She says that her cats eat them happily so I'll try one on Sirius tomorrow.  The latest diagnosis is asthma and he's on steroids. He seems (fingers crossed) much better. At the moment I'm still grinding his pill up, mixing it with Greek yogurt and then wiping the goo on his paws. He now sighs when he sees me coming but obligingly allows me to smear him and then licks it off. But the pocket-treat idea sounds much better.

Off I go to wield a damp cloth.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Mr Life: OAP

Thank you so much for your kind admiration of our hall. I would like to take full credit for it since I had the idea of knocking down that bit of wall. However, I have to admit that ... umm ... I didn't have any practical input. Stevie and George did the building, Mr Life did the decorating and the floor chaps put the floor down. I supplied encouragement and cups of tea and afterwards did a bit of dusting. I also found the spare wallpaper, forgotten in a cupboard, which meant that we could make the remaining bit of wall match the rest of the hall without having to redo the whole lot. (It's a sort of blue-ish green, Lynley.)

Today is Mr Life's 65th birthday (yes, hasn't he worn well? it's the way I've pampered him over the years). He got a watch and some railway books and Grandson got a sandpit.

 He liked it.

You can see by his hooded top and corduroy trousers that it wasn't exactly blazing hot summer weather.

The sandpit has a roof to keep the sun off him...

... or as the case may be, the rain.

Sunday, May 12, 2013


The little hall project is finished at last. Above - before, looking down the stairs.

And - after. I like it much better and only wish that we'd done it earlier in the 24 years we've been in this house. I've been thinking about it for about 20 of them.

I've looked through about forty million pictures on Picasa and can find very few of the hall in its previous state - really only the one in my top picture. Clearly we never lingered there before. I'm not sure that we'll exactly be holding parties there now but if we did, it would seem more spacious..

This is taken from the other direction, towards the front door. You can just see the banister at the foot of the stairs, to the right of the bookcase.

Anyway, we seem to have been in some chaos for some time, what with brick dust, plaster dust, paint, wallpaper, sawdust... but now we're getting tidied up. I think Grandson appreciates the clearer surface for wheeing his cars up and down. The cats aren't so sure.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Car Teddy gets an outing

I'm frequently aware of the possibility that the passing reader might not find my grandchildren quite so endlessly charming as I do, so I thought - in the interests of balance - I'd post a couple of my less successful photos of them. Above, Grandson rather overdoes his effort to smile nicely for the camera...

 ... and here, Granddaughter can't believe that I'm going to take yet another photo of her.

So that allows me to slip in a couple of pictures of Grandson walking in the Botanics on Tuesday carrying his teddy - how cute is that?

This is Car Teddy. He's supposed to live in the car, for journey amusement, but got a little outing instead. And miraculously, he didn't get dropped during our two-hour walk in the gardens. After this walk, Granny was exhausted and Grandson seemed perfectly fresh. People kept enquiring if he was a boy or a girl. Maybe teddy-carrying isn't very macho.

As you can perhaps see, Tuesday was when summer began in Scotland. And ended. Today (above) was grey, with a chilly wind blowing off the sea when I met up with my friend Joyce in Queensferry. I would not have liked to be painting the Forth Bridge today (or, let's be honest, any day. I am not a person who likes a challenge).

Joyce is very involved in the community and, among other things, in the ongoing building of a cycle track. Again, I myself (being a wimp) would not care to be cyling over the carefully-constructed lumps, but I'm sure they'll be very popular with the young of the village.

Joyce indicates further lumps.

This looks like a nice safe ride but you can't see the precipice just to the left of the photo. Argh.

Sunday, May 05, 2013


Granddaughter decided to wear something really feminine yesterday. I wonder what she keeps in her pockets?

She and Daughter 2 had a bit of a chat.

Today we fished out a 25-year-old copy of "Spot's First Walk" and Daughter 2 read it to Grandson. He really...

... really enjoyed it. Even on the fourth reading. He likes books. "Words," he says gravely, pointing at them.

In a quiet moment, he perched on his chair and looked at "Ant and Bee" - another book we bought for our children when they were little. My brother and I had had a copy of this when we were children. "Smile for Granny," I said, and he did.

Then he returned to the important matter of his book.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Dear Little N

Dear little N,

We had such a lovely day today. You won't remember a thing about it when you're bigger so I wanted to write about it so that I, at least, would remember. I collected you at 10 and we went to the Botanics. The rhododendrons and azaleas were lovely, though to be honest you were more interested in the -

- tac-tah that we came across. You inspected it thoroughly. "Blue," you said (though this may just have been luck). "Wheels." Can't argue with you there.

Inspection over, we trotted on and saw -

- another tac-tah. It was our lucky day.

You wandered round - making sure that I was following you - the wild bit that someone has labelled "Fairy Wood". We didn't see any fairies. It seems to me only yesterday that this was a formal rose garden - but look at the height of those trees already. I may have preferred the roses but you seemed to like the trees and wild flowers.

Then you ducked under this cord that's supposed to keep people out of this bit - where your favourite patch of dead leaves is. Ooops. I couldn't see any danger so I wondered if maybe they didn't want feet there, spreading some disease of trees. Having had this thought, I didn't want to go into the area myself. On the other hand, you weren't rushing back to me but instead were happily walking to and fro among the rustly leaves. However, just as I was about to go and retrieve you, you returned of your own volition.

And, after a further walk (this time without your jacket - it had got warmer) we went back to the car...

... and home for lunch. Later, you had fun in the garden with your bike. What happens is that you climb on to it (first taking the toys off the seat) and Granny runs round the garden pulling you along by that strap. She's quite looking forward to the point at which your legs get just that bit longer and you can push yourself along. Look at my scarified grass. It's a bit bald. Let's hope it thickens up.

And then Auntie Daughter 2 arrived back for a few days and read to you...

... several times.

You're learning new words every day. I think my current favourites are "Okey dokey" and "All wight". You haven't yet learned to say "No". I expect you will.

You're such a delight, little N. I'm aware that when you're older, I'll just seem like an old lady and possibly a bit of a nuisance so right now I'm savouring every moment I spend with you, enjoying all the cuddles and giggles and feeling awed at the way you're learning about your world.

You'll never know how much I love you until... well, I suppose until you're a grandfather yourself.