Monday, June 29, 2015

Island holiday

We've been away - hence the big gap. Have you missed me? No, I didn't think so. Anyway, we spent a week on Orkney and a week on Shetland and it was lovely. In case you don't know where these are, Orkney is an archipelago off the north coast of Scotland and Shetland is another, considerably further north.
I have so much to say but we only got back yesterday lunch time, since when we've had the grandchildren rather a lot because I missed them SO MUCH! So I'd better go and do some ironing and such things.
This is the main street in Stromness, where we stayed for the first week.

It's a two-way street. We were told that it was made one-way for a while, but the locals objected so it reverted to two-way. You have to look behind you as you stroll along, though cars drive reasonably slowly and don't honk.

Remind me why I live in a city?

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Reading. And trying to keep tidy.

Well, it's been a busy old week since we got back from Harrogate. 

 We've been helping Daughter 1 and her husband to get their house ready to sell. As you can see, they have quite a few books... a family trait. I think Granddaughter may be doomed to have the same problem - though possibly everything will be electronic by the time she has a house of her own. Certainly at the moment she's a tremendous bookworm. This may be partly because she's trying to keep out of the way of her brother's road layouts all over the floor.

If only it were possible to keep it so neat with the children around! (Daughter 1 made the middle cushion cover out of an old pair of jeans (and some white), Thimbleanna.)

And this is my ceanothus. I just love the colour. It's a bit of a nuisance because it's outgrown its space, and though I keep hacking it back after it's flowered, it grows right back again. Currently it's almost blocking the little path along to my compost heap. I have to duck underneath it with cabbage stalks and grass cuttings, and it drops lots of little bits of quite adhesive blossom on my back and in my hair as I go to and fro. Then, though I think I've brushed them off, I've always missed some and they gradually fall off in the house.

But it's such a beautiful shade of blue that I forgive it.

Saturday, June 06, 2015

White lines

Wherever Grandson is at the moment -

- in this case the holiday apartment in Harrogate -

he's perfectly content with some strips of white paper,

with which he designs road layouts (these are the white lines in the middle of the road).

Round the corner...

... oops, these have got slightly kicked out of place...

(which it's hard not to do when he uses all the floors - here, two roads join).

Here's another  junction.

And another hatched area, again slightly scuffed by silly adults.

I wonder what we'll find at the end of the road?

Here he is!

Yes, maybe slightly eccentric. But it's cheap and portable entertainment.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015


We've been away for a long weekend with the family, including my brother and his wife and daughter, to Harrogate in the north of England. It was very nice, though mildly exhausting. We had three apartments among us but congregated in one of them. It's always slightly hard to get ten people plus two small children a) deciding what to do and b) actually getting going. By the time a consensus has been reached, the men need to go to the loo again and the children have removed their shoes and socks. However, we had a trip to Harlow Carr Gardens, which are run by the Royal Horticultural Society and are beautiful. We went there in late summer last year so it was interesting to see them again in early summer (or late winter, according to what you'd think if you were judging by the weather).

Their alliums were spectacular. I have good alliums too but not in such enormous numbers.

They had some lovely Himalayan poppies too.

These aquilegias are a beautiful colour.

Another day we walked in the Valley Gardens. My mum was working in London for the Civil Service when World War 2 broke out so was still in London during the Blitz, which as you can imagine was pretty horrendous. Then there was an opportunity to apply for transfer to Harrogate, a pretty town much nearer Edinburgh (and her parents) and also, crucially, not being bombed. So she and her friend spent the last couple of war years there and Harrogate had a very special place in her affections. She used to talk a lot about the Valley Gardens, which are also very lovely.

I thought about her as we walked. How she would have loved to be with us and to see the babies.

Chaps were obligingly playing with remote control boats in the boating pond. This was quite entertaining. One of them let Grandson have a go, which was very kind of him. Niece held Granddaughter firmly in case she felt like a paddle.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015


We had a lovely day yesterday visiting friends who live in Kilbarchan, over in the west of the country. They took us to the Weavers' Cottage, which is now a National Trust property but which was originally lived in by - surprise, surprise - weavers.  Kilbarchan used to be a weaving village; the work was done on hand looms in people's houses but then mechanisation took over and their skills were no longer needed.

As you can see, the house was built, or indeed builded, by Andrew, John and Jenet Brydein in 1723. No one knows anything about these people now, so I'm glad that they carved their names above the door to prove their existence. I'm also glad that Andrew and John added their sister(?)'s name to theirs. I wonder if they did so because they valued her contribution or because she insisted? Maybe she was their mother, or one of their wives. You can just imagine the three of them standing there, admiring their house and the carving above the door and wondering if that was really how "Janet" should be spelt. Not to say "Bryden".

We then wandered through the village...

... and down this street, where my several-greats-grandfather, a weaver, was killed by a horse-drawn bread van. One wonders what he was doing at the time. Was he lying in the road, the worse for drink? Or did the horse bolt and send him flying when he was wearily crossing the road after chatting to a neighbour after a hard day at the loom?

It's tantalising to have so many incomplete stories... .

Sunday, May 24, 2015



What excitement!

 "I'm hiding!"

Followed by a moment or two...

... of contemplation.

Oh, the joy of being little. Oh, the joy of having little people around. Also, oh, the exhaustion... .

Monday, May 18, 2015

Little L

How I love this little person (well, and her mum also). She wasn't a very early speaker but now she chats non-stop and it's SO NICE. She greets us with such enthusiasm - "GLANNY!!! GWAMPA!!!" - indeed, she's enthusiastic about almost everything. And I know that this won't last for ever and that the woes of the world will dampen her as they dampen us all, but just now, she's such a joy. "Car!" she observes approvingly as she looks from her car seat. Then "Anudder car!" and "ANUDDER CAR!" (What a surprise! on a road!) One of her favourite sentences is "I LIKE it!" This is applied to books, biscuits, flowers, her cuddle blanket... .

Oh, may you continue to LIKE it for a long, long time, little L.