Thursday, December 29, 2016

Comings and goings...

So Christmas came and went, very pleasantly. Daughter 2 arrived first and decorated the Christmas cake.

Then my brother, his wife and offspring arrived from down south, and Son-in-Law 2 and Son, Daughter-in-Law and their baby also joined us from up north. Daughter 1, Son-in-Law 1 and their children were also here most of the time, though not sleeping in our house (fortunately, since the house was by then slightly full)

- like this -

and generally speaking, there was a lot going on but it was lovely.

Then Son and DIL and baby went away,

the rest of us went out for various walks

(Granddaughter the Elder had by this time decided that it was TOO WINDY (though in fact it wasn't - she DOESN'T LIKE THE WIND, which is unfortunate since she lives in Edinburgh, which is quite a windy place) - and had returned to the car with her father.)

and Grandson found a Big Waterfall.

Today, Daughter 2 and I went round to Daughter 1's to play with the children while their parents got ready to visit Son-in-Law's family in Worcester; and then they went; and tomorrow, alas alack, Daughter 2 departs back down to London. And then it'll be just us and my brother and his wife. They're staying till the 2nd. And then there will be us two... .

Still. It's been nice.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

'Tis the season...

Well, I think that's us organised for Christmas, apart from the final touches to the cake, which Daughter 2 traditionally decorates in an elaborate and architectural manner. She arrived home last night (hurray) and my brother and sister-in-law arrive later today. Son-in-Law 2 will get here on Friday. Then on Saturday, we should be joined by my nephew and niece and also Son, Daughter-in-Law and the baby, Granddaughter the Younger. Daughter 1, Son-in-Law 1 and their two will also be around, but not actually sleeping here, which is just as well since, as it is, 10 people living in our four-bedroom, two-bathroom house will make it a trifle full. However, it'll be fun.

Of course, I wish that my mum and dad could come too. Dad never saw any of the little ones. Mum knew Grandson until he was one. What a change she'd see in him!

We never knew that, inside that little head, there were thoughts forming about traffic lights, road signs, road markings and layouts and the important distinction between pelican and toucan crossings.

Thinking of you, Mum and Dad. Happy Christmas to all bloggy friends!

Monday, December 19, 2016


Just like any granny, I find our little people endlessly fascinating. Grandson spends a lot of time drawing road layouts, or - a fairly new development - railway layouts, as above. But the other day he decided to draw a picture of his mum. She was at work at the time, so his dad produced this picture of her on his phone.

And Grandson drew this.

I was surprised at the detail: eyelashes and all. He's not Michelangelo but it doesn't seem too bad for a five-year-old's first attempt at a portrait.

I went Christmas food shopping today (there will be 14 of us on Christmas Day). I was a bit worried that it wouldn't all fit in the fridge and freezer but it did, just. I had to remove some frozen plums to make room for other things, so I made a plum and apple loaf. Just as I was spooning the mixture into the tin I realised that I'd missed out the baking powder and then it occurred to me that I'd used plain flour instead of self-raising, so I put it back in the bowl and added a bit more baking powder than the recipe had suggested and gave it a good stir. I think it'll be okay. If not, I suppose it can be a base for a trifle. Or something. I had been quite pleased with my efficiency today, up till that point.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

A winter's day

Granddaughter Elder and I went to the Botanics. We had lunch in the café.

"What about an egg sandwich?" I suggested.

She thought about this. Then she said helpfully, "What about - a cake?"

She was very busy. She swung on the low branch of her favourite tree.

She chatted to a robin.

She watched moorhens on the pond.

She looked at seagulls in the sky.

She kicked...

... the dry leaves.

Granny had a wonderful afternoon. (And Granddaughter Elder got her cake.)

Monday, December 12, 2016


This year Daughter 2 once again sent us a parcel full of 24 little gifts for Advent. So kind.

For example... These were specifically for Mr Life and me.

But on Fridays, when the children are here from lunchtime onwards, her parcels are really for them. For example, last Friday's gift contained decorate-them-yourself penguin biscuits. One penguin somehow turned out to be beakless; we don't think the beak got eaten mid-assembly but anyway it had to have a substitute, a chocolate snowball.

Today's gift was a little polar bear ornament. Grandson cuddles two toy polar bears in bed so this one went home with him to join them.

There's lots still to do, but at least the tree's up.

Monday, December 05, 2016


The walking group set out on Saturday from East Linton after an excellent, if not perhaps healthy, brunch at the Linton Hotel. It was a mild, still, overcast day; somewhat muddy underfoot for quite a lot of the way.

We walked inside Hailes Castle, which evidently looked like this in 1240...

but has deteriorated somewhat since then. Well, you would, wouldn't you?

One of the less muddy stretches.

People had brought mulled wine and mince pies. It would have been rude to refuse.

Seven miles later (tramping through mud is more tiring than dry walking) we got to Haddington. The river hadn't a ripple. It was about four; night was beginning to fall.

We admired St Mary's Church on the other side of the river and then went into The Riverside to have Christmas dinner. I'm not sure that we'd worked off our brunch, mulled wine and mince pies by then but... anyway, it was a lovely day.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Star dust

A few days ago, while Grandson was at school, I took Granddaughter L to the museum. We sat at the front of the bus and she drove it. (Not really.)

We had a snack and then she carefully examined the Lego version of the museum, pointing out where all the things in the model are in the actual museum.

Then we went to the Discovery Room. She dressed up as an explorer to look into the cases.

Then she dressed up as a deep sea diver who might be about to go on an Arctic expedition (so was wearing a furry hat).

There's a good view out of the windows.

Then she examined the half-globe which you spin to show how the atmosphere moves more slowly than the earth. I'm not sure that she totally grasped this. Mind you, I'm not sure I do either.

It's such fun to spend time with her, and so easy to have charge of just one child.

Later, she murmured meditatively under her breath, "We're all made out of star dust." This surprised me somewhat. Daughter 1 tells me that there's a video at the museum in which the narrator says this. Evidently it's one of Carl Sagan's sayings. I hope he would be pleased that someone was listening.

Monday, November 21, 2016

A foreign country...

A few months ago, I bought a bound volume of 1925 "Good Housekeeping" magazines. The book sits on my desk and every day while I'm waiting for my computer to chunter itself into readiness I read a few pages. I was born in 1950 - only 25 years after these magazines appeared - and yet they seem to portray a different world from the one I remember from my childhood. But the past 25 years seem to have passed in a flash.

The above advert for knitting wool, for example, with its references to Granny's "shrewd old eyes" and "gnarled and seamed old fingers" - so flattering to grannies! But one of my grannies was only 55 when I was born and I imagine this was the case for many grannies in the days when women tended to have babies at a younger age.

And I know it's an advert, but - attitudes to housework have possibly changed somewhat. This text may have been written by a man - you think?

And as for this one - if only it were that simple. It makes me think of my grandfather, who was very interested in medical matters - he was a vegetarian in the 1930s, for example, which was very unusual then. He was a great advocate of wholemeal bread, which was again quite unusual among Scottish people at that time. But he didn't claim it as a cure for cancer!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Boys and girls

Daughter 1 tries hard not to treat her children gender-stereotypically. I'm not sure that this has totally succeeded. Yesterday, Grandson asked to play with my collection of old pennies. "I'm going to use them as cobbles for my roads," he said.

"I'm going to use them as flowers," said Granddaughter L.


Today, we asked if they would like to go to the Glasgow Museum of Transport. Grandson was very keen. "There won't be any bunnies or butterflies like you would like," he remarked to his little sister (who has never shown huge interest in either of these, as far as we can remember). She was instantly indignant:

"I want to go to a museum with bunnies and butterflies!!!!!"

A long time later, we got there. Vehicles everywhere. "Are there any bunnies?" she asked, looking round hopefully.

There were traffic lights, though. And Granddaughter L liked it too.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Was that really a good idea?

I don't usually mention politics here, but like many of my Facebook friends (some of whom are also bloggy friends), I'm shocked by the American election results. I realise that I'm not American and that some people are happy with the new President and - what do I know? - it may turn out ok. I'm trying to reassure myself that the time will come when it'll all be a footnote in history anyway. (Then I suddenly wonder if I'll still be alive at the end of another possible eight-year presidency. I would like to live to find out that things turn out better than we're fearing. I'm feeling quite well at the moment... .)

But what is there to do other than to go for a walk through the autumn leaves

and pin Mr L's railway quilt, prior to quilting it? I must remember never again to make a border with fabric consisting of images in little squares surrounded by slightly inaccurately-drawn black lines. This required a lot of fiddling.

Now I'm going to listen to Haydn's Creation to encourage thoughts of the sublime.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Activities for small people

Son and Daughter-in-Law have been here with their baby to coincide with Daughter 2's weekend visit, which has been lovely - Daughter 1 and her family also came. Daughter 2 helped Grandson make a tube train on his recent visit to London and today she helped him make a station. She is a good aunt. There are lots of signs involved also.

An adjacent overground was constructed.

Son read to Granddaughter L.

He is very enamoured of his baby.

Grandson is continuing to dictate stories for his father to write down.

Grandson: ... Den [then] the farmer decided to feed his animals because it was nearly tea time. Den -"
SIL [interrupting]: Don't keep saying "then". Try to say something different like "next" or "after that".
Me: And can you say "THen" and not "den"? Dens are where foxes live.
Grandson [with an all-right-but-whose-story-is-it? look on his face]: NEXT the farmer went to feed the foxes in their - DEN... ."

Granny: 0
Grandson: 1