Monday, August 21, 2017

Things we like to do

Granddaughter-the-Elder and I had a trip to the Botanics on Thursday. She seems quite interested in plants, unlike her brother. (Me: This plant is called a penstemon. Grandson: Were there street lights when you were a little girl?)

Granddaugher-the-Elder is also very, very keen on books. She can't read yet, but sits for a long time telling herself the stories from books that she's had read to her.

Grandson prefers doing things.

I fished out some of our children's old toys, and the little ones enjoyed playing with Sticklebricks

- Auntie Daughter 2 is good at building things -

and the Shuffly Castle.

Son-in-Law 2, the actor, is in Edinburgh performing in the Fringe, and he read "Flat Stanley" to the children. I don't think they quite realised how good his reading was - lots of different voices and accents - compared to the usual standard of performance around here, but they certainly seemed to enjoy it.

This morning, when I took this photo of the garden, I realised that the light had a slightly autumnal quality. But it's very mild and there are still lots of flowers. It'll be August for ages yet. (Won't it?)

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Gardens and more gardens with some antiques and general indulgence

We've just come back from house-swapping to York, which we've done before, with the same people. House-swapping is great in some ways. You get a free holiday - well, free if you don't count all the lunches out and entrance fees for stately homes and so on - and you know someone is looking after your house so that it's not being burgled, and you know they're watering your plants and so on. It's also good when you come home and find that all the cleaning and tidying you did before you went (because you don't want your swappees to think you're a slob) is still more or less as you left it.

The down side is actually achieving this state of total cleanliness and tidiness all at the same time, while getting ready to go away. Not that packing takes very long these days - a few clean pairs of underclothes and a couple of shirts, some books and away we go. It was much harder when we used to house-swap with three children in tow.

York is a lovely and interesting historic city, so we had fun wandering round and looking at antique shops (I didn't buy anything - go me) and also Goddards, the former home of the Terry family (very desirable indeed, now owned by the National Trust). Chocolate was clearly a very profitable product. Our holiday was enhanced by Daughter 2, who joined us for the weekend. Her baby is due in October, so we had fun buying some little things for Granddaughter 3.

We visited Harlow Carr, the RHS Yorkshire garden, which was slightly past its best but still pretty lovely.

It's built on sloping ground, which gives wonderful vistas.

Then yesterday, Mr L and I went  to Breezy Knees, which is a WONDERFUL garden near York: privately owned and attached to a garden centre. This is our third visit. The owners have a quirky sense of humour!

See below...

But the best thing about it is the planting - so many beds of herbaceous perennials, many of them still blooming even in late summer.

I took dozens of photos. Herbaceous plants are my very favourite kind and, if I had their acres, I'd plant them up just like this (only without the orange ones; I don't like orange). Alas, I have a little garden; but I pack it with plants.

Today we visited Alnwick Castle Gardens, where we've also been before, but it was slightly disappointing because it was definitely too late in the season. Our previous visits have been in, I think, June or July, when they're stunning.

And after a walk to Barter Books - where we bought only three books between us - yes, we were impressed - we came back.

It was a lovely little break - more restful than going away with all the extended family as we did to Norfolk, delightful as the extended family is. However, back to porridge and old clothes, as my mum used to say. (She died five years ago yesterday, as I'm only too aware. I wish she could see her great-grandbabies.)

Back to Zumba tomorrow to work off some of those holiday carbs!

Saturday, August 05, 2017

It's all go...

It's been very changeable weather here: lovely one moment and wet the next. The children and I went to the Gallery of Modern Art and had a cake and a look at the art (Granddaughter-the-Elder thinks surrealism is scary and I'm inclined to agree) and played in the garden.

This is an art installation but the children think it's like a bus shelter and again - it's hard to disagree. But it's fun to take silly pictures using its mirror glass.

Home for a rest and time with literature.

Yesterday a bloggy friend, Pixiemum, visited on her way north from the Midlands. It was lovely to meet her. And look what she brought for Grandson and Granddaughter-the-Elder! Washi tape with roads printed on it and a working traffic light, for Grandson...

and a bunny with a complete set of outfits - all made by Pixiemum - for Granddaughter-the-Elder!

So extremely kind and so extremely popular!

And today we all - including Daughter 2, who's up for the weekend - went up north for the (official - the real one is on Monday) first birthday of Grandddaughter-the-Younger, the Unbloggable But Very Beautiful Baby. She's starting to walk unaided - so talented!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Things to do while you're grannying

They're back. We went to Vogrie Park and slid on the slide. (Well, they did.)

And bounced on the bouncy thing. And so on.

Much busyness happened in the sand pit. Grandson narrated his sand-road-mending: "They had to make a new road because there'd been a CATASTROPHE on the old one. They dug and they dug and they dug until they DEFINITELY knew they'd found the sewer."

The garden is in full bloom. Stick around, summer.

Later, they made "chemicals" with water, mud and grass.

Then we had races round the garden. "But don't worry, Granny. Elderly people aren't expected to run very fast."

Inside again, much railway construction took place.

Life is no longer so peaceful. But I do love them.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Things to do when you're not grannying

Ah, the days of idleness when the grandchildren aren't here... . It absolutely POURED on Saturday and Sunday (ah, the guilt when tourists have come for a weekend in Edinburgh in such weather!). But on Monday, there was a change to unbroken sunshine so we went to Swanston Brasserie and had coffee and a cheese scone looking out at the golf course through this window. I see why people might want to play golf, because courses are usually in beautiful settings. I might be tempted if it weren't for the necessity of hitting little white balls instead of just having a nice walk.

We then wandered past Swanston Village and up into the hills.

This is only about 20 minutes' drive from the house and you can hear distant traffic from the bypass ...

 but otherwise you could be in deep countryside.

There's the city below, ending abruptly at the road. Arthur's Seat, our main city hill, is on the horizon and the sea is beyond.

Being a horse here seems like a good life till you consider the drenching rain of the previous two days.

And eventually we walked downhill and then back up to the car park and normal life.

I've started cutting out a cot quilt for Daughter 2's baby, due October. The baby's room is white with red curtains and a striped rug in different reds and blues. It's such fun choosing the fabrics (with her) from my (oh dear) stash. (The red isn't really as scarlet as it looks here.) I'll sew these squares together as in the photo and then cut the nine-patches into quarters before sewing them together again in a different configuration. (Clear??) With my usual slight inaccuracy (despite all my best efforts) how could anything go wrong?

(Yes, Anna and Toffeapple, I did vaguely look out for Anne in Berwick. But I didn't see her. )

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.)