Back to the future

In May I had convinced myself and then decided that this blog had to be wrapped up and parked; to continue blogging I would need a new one. The technicalities of creating a new blog were simple but I was busy with various things and my heart wasn’t in it. I thought I wanted to do something a little more opinionated, a little less travels and days out. Procrastination set in and then some difficult research data collection took precedence and now Hogmanay is upon us. So I created the new site and planned a few posts to fill in the activity gaps between then and now. And then I realised that if we two are now one, the blog could continue in the way that it had done since I’d had the helm. But what about it being part of the research data and the need for anonymity? Over-anticipation as usual – all of the family and friends know about the research and no one has raised any anxieties (plus many of them make their activities and views far more public on Fbook). There are a few links that will need to be sorted for professional reasons but otherwise I’m back on the original (and best) blog. And before I finish this post for that was the year that was, I’ve made the missing posts, appropriately back-dated.

Apart from the monumental decision to kick-start the blog, the only other notable December events were the enjoyment of free scones at the National Portrait Gallery cafe – already a favourite place and a scone worth having, and a weekend chez Margaret in Glasgow with the pussy cats.

Because Bob has been so very poorly, autumn trips planned to London and Glasgow hadn’t happened but I really needed to go through to Glasgow for a festive visit. The weekend before Christmas was mutually convenient and so I bundled the cats into their baskets with all necessary accoutrements and off we went. We had a great time catching up with Jane’s family and the pussy cats thoroughly enjoyed central heating that comes on in the afternoon having been preceded by the gas fire. So much so they were quite reluctant to come home to the flat which had been come rather cooler than usual in our absence (although according to the darling siblings it’s Baltic anyway). But we were soon warmed up (Agnes) and none the worse for the excursion (Bob). Since our return though, Bob has had a wee turn necessitating a slug of her special cat opiate which then meant a quick visit to see Simon the vet. I had hoped we would get to the agreed check up in January but didn’t want to risk problems when opening hours are reduced. More pills, this time something for her heart which continues to race along as well as the steroids and the water pill. And more opiates in case she feels wonky again. So we’re all set for Hogmanay and a good new year.

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Arts and crafts in airts an pairts

Colinton is a notable place to live with its strong Robert Louis Stevenson connection because as a boy he played in the garden of Colinton Church where his grandfather was minister. Recently, a new statue of RLS as a boy has appeared outside the kirk gate and we are promised narrative panels and an ornamental archway for the long steps (as romped up by Jane). But there are other artistic ironwork connections in the form of ornate railings at 25 Bridge Road designed by Phoebe Traquair. She is better known for the decorative friezes in the Mansfield Traquair church, and for her illustrations to Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s ‘Sonnets from the Portuguese’. The church is sometimes open at the weekend and more often during the festival in August. A autumnal November Sunday promised to be quieter and I could meet a friend for tea afterwards. Obviously the images are of religious themes but Phoebe was also very good at arts and crafts style embellishments and so the decorations and side panels more to my taste. Definitely worth a visit but the brochure suggesting it as a wedding venue would have been rather gaudy to Phoebe, who coincidently is buried at Colinton Church.

The craft visit was to the curious Cockenzie House (and Gardens) in Port Seton.  A place that I probably would not have bothered visiting if it hadn’t been hosting Scotland’s Tapestry. It was the last weekend of the exhibition so the tea room was very busy but we did manage some tepid soup and toasties adorned with the side salad only seen in Scotland (minuscule, wilted and not intended for consumption). However, The Great Tapestry of Scotland is most definitely worth a visit, especially if it’s hung somewhere you can really appreciate the panels. The design is consistent and well considered while the needlework way beyond my capabilities (I did do some tapestry a long time ago, no fancy stitches but generally better than my knitting). There’s really too much to see in one visit as there are 160 panels depicting Scotland’s story from it’s geological origins to the present day. The exhibition wound its way through a number of rooms with about a dozen panels in each but it was hard to see them especially when competing with the more myopic. I happened to spy the book of the tapestry on a chair and actually saw more from that than trying to edge around the pondering pensioners.

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More bits and Bob

When we arrived back from the Belgium trip, Bob was clearly not well. They were both well cared for while we were away by a new cat lady, Jenny, as Aileen was on holiday herself, but I had been worried before we left as she wasn’t looking great. Jenny dutifully sent texts each evening to reassure me that she was no worse but I knew she had lost a lot of weight – more than 2 kilos. She’d seemed fine when we’d gone to France but then had another dose of harvest mites and then ear mites necessitating the dreaded ear drops with the inevitable head-shaking.

Simon the vet did a full blood panel (£100 worth of the same tests Jane used to have every week) which was inconclusive – her liver was enlarged but not much else so he treated her cholangiohepatitis and we crossed fingers. Not much improvement and now ascites or dropsy (seen this before in a human …) so a wee water pill and continue the steroids. Agnes, however, is in fine fettle and very happy to eat any food that Bob doesn’t fancy. She looks like a wee fat barrel beside Bob, and is renamed Miss Piggy or Piglet depending on her demeanour. Bob and I persevered and then one morning her legs are wonky – she couldn’t walk, her feet were cold and she was in obvious pain. I feared the worst and made an appointment with Jenny as it was Simon’s day off. A saddle embolism is common in poorly older cats and can be treated with analgesics and anticoagulants but Google was not encouraging. After a fraught weekend of palliative care for cats complete with pussy opiates and me on the calming passiflora drops, she slowly, slowly improved. We still don’t really know what’s wrong – she has a tachycardia (fast heart rate), ascites and is moderately breathless but she’s not for giving up so we soldier on, quality not quantity as usual.

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International rendezvous

Rose and Sly came for their annual visit of mother, opticians (varifocals are wonderful for the nearly fifties) and unusually Belgium. When Wilf was asked what he would like for his fiftieth birthday in February, after a little thought, he wanted R & S to visit the batiment. Being the chief logician, I spent some happy hours in the preceding months getting a good deal of the Newcastle – Amsterdam ferry, and then planning the route through Holland via the Frans Masereel printing centre at Kasterlee just over the border into Belgium. But before such jollifications we had enjoyed a cycle ride to Swanston and the beach at North Berwick.

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We started with a proper north east England fish and chip lunch in Whitely Bay before a comfortable commodore class crossing with picnic tea washed down with lashings of beer. We had lunch in a bar in Kasterlee where Rose was surprised to find that in Flanders it’s Flemish (Dutch) or English spoken and not French. Our few days passed all too quickly with outings to Ghent, Geraadsbergen and a Sunday brocante in Brussels; a bit too much of a whirlwind visit for the Belgians.

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And then we were back in Edinburgh belatedly visiting mother the day after her birthday. We also managed a trip to the Mackintosh House at the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow and then a cup of tea with Margaret.

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Bits and bobs

August in Edinburgh is an odd month if you are a resident – the festivals are in full swing, there might be something worth seeing and you don’t really want to be away when there’s so many folk about. Early on I went to visit the Royal and the Western; hospital orientation visits for the research with one of my supervisors. It was all fine except the tricks the memory plays – we were to meet at the front entrance to the Royal but I waited for 20 minutes at the wrong front entrance. Supervisor in full uniform kept waiting in a draughty doorway while muggins is by the shops … I blame poor signage and trying to design a major teaching hospital to be something else at a later date. Fortunately no harm done and supervisor was as forgiving as ever.

Festival highlights were confined to the Peter Doig exhibition (not really my thing) and an excellent Japanese production of Kafka’s Metamorphosis – excellent but not to the taste of the Guardian. Margaret came to stay for the weekend and while she visited a friend in Dalkeith, I went to a conference in Glasgow; go figure.

When I was in France I had attempted to ride one of the old bicycles that I don’t think had been ridden since Jane and I last visited in 2008; the tyres were borderline as were the brakes and forget comfort or gears. And since roof racks are thing to far (or high) I decided I needed a bike that both fit in the car and have full size wheels for a better ride. We’d had folders before and they were good but had wee wheels and felt a bit flimsy. It seems there are now a number of full size folders and although a bit of a compromise in performance better than no bike or an ancient affair many years short of a service. The prices range from the modest hundreds to over a thousand for the slick American models. Modest functionality is fine with me and so Joe Tern was duly purchased and kitted out with a proper rack, better pedals and a woman’s anatomical seat (it’s all in the width and padding for the sit bones).

Now all I needed was an outing that justified a folding bicycle. Perhaps the visiting Margaret would care for an excursion to Loch Katrine. And so it was we drove to the Trossachs, boarded the Lady of the Lake, me with bicycle, M with picnic basket. We had a lovely cruise and lunch up the loch, I then hopped off at Stronachlachar while M sailed back. I pedalled like mad and managed to get around the loch in just over an hour to a very surprised M who felt sure I would be much longer. Very pleased with the bicycle – slightly stiff to ride but comfortable, good gears and disc brakes – and it was a lovely day out.

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French feline farce

For some reason I decided that it would be a good idea to take the cats on holiday with me to Brittany. Actually, I know it’s because I like their company and I thought they would like staying in the cottage at Bodelzi with access to the interesting French countryside. But as they do not care being holed up overnight on a ferry and going via the preferred Eurotunnel was a detour to far, I decided we would take the fast crossing from Portsmouth to Cherbourg. All fine in theory but in practice 10 hours in the car, overnight in a hotel and then another 4 hours in France. Too far to be cooped up in a cat basket so I made an arrangement for them to sit on the back seat on the conditions that they wore their harnesses and I provided a water dish and a litter tray. We started well with everyone in their appointed place, all calm like. But then Agnes was bored and climbed on to the parcel shelf so she could shout at passing lorries; then she got out of the harness and so the journey progressed slowly and noisily. I had trouble finding a pet-friendly hotel that doesn’t just mean dogs but eventually found a somewhat dilapidated place by the old dock yard in the middle of Portsmouth. We were all unloaded, in the room (very hot, can’t open windows wide as they’ll go exploring) and relatively settled; Bob serene on the bed, Agnes cross and patrolling.

I retuned the telly so I could watch the exciting Mont Ventoux stage of the Tour de France while having my tea and a beer. Then all was quiet, no shouting or thudding but where was she? In my initial check of the room I had noticed that the ‘en suite’ was an ancient bath and the loo had an integral macerator with a wee gap beside it … I searched the room, under the bed (don’t go there) behind furniture, in cupboards, then the bathroom – elle avait disparu! I became convinced, partly because there was a distant, plaintive miaow, that she had squeezed herself behind the loo and thence under the bath. I managed to remove the fibreglass panel and was dismayed to see a large hole under the bath … @£$%^&! A fraught hour passed as I tried sticking my arm through the hole, calling her, then being calm and trying to eat my tea in the hope she would just reappear. In the end, I thought I’d better go and confess to the nice chap on reception … he advised calmness and patience – there was nowhere else she could get to and she would come back herself (good theory but this was Agnes, queen of pantomime). I went for out for a walk and to assess the back of the building in case there were holes in the wall (yes I can be that neurotic). Back to the room, no cat, have coffee, watch telly, be calm. Then a thud and a louder miaow – tada, madam has returned, somewhat dusty and still cross. Porter at reception advised that cat is back; bathroom door firmly shut for the night. The next morning I was running the bath when in she came suggesting that she show me her trick. It was quite simple – the wash hand basin was set in to a long piece of kitchen worktop (no expense spared on furbishing the room) and there was an equally long panel underneath. What I had failed to notice in my cat-proof check was the gap in the partition; when I stuck my head  an entirely contained channel in which an inquisitive cat could hide was revealed. Agnes had been in the bathroom all the time … I didn’t tell reception when I went for breakfast and we then hurried off to the catamaran.

Thankfully, the week in France was relaxing with good weather and some great outings. Wilf and Gelise came down from Belgium to join Lynda and me for some meals out, a trip to a vide grenier (posh, over-priced jumble sale) and even a day at the seaside – Gelise and I had a swim, Wilf doesn’t do water. The return journey was less eventful, despite Agnes’s best efforts, and the hotel a better choice both for comfort and breakfast. Definitely worth the effort, not least for the excellent wine bargains and other food items. For added holiday entertainment value, one should always travel with a feline companion and a sense of humour.

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Orkneyinga saga

Margaret happened to mention a bus trip to Orkney which she quite fancied but it was 8 nights away and it didn’t quite suit. We had been planning to take her (along with Switzerland which she thinks is a euphemism for being put down but we meant Interlaken and our favourite places) so I proposed a personal charabanc with appropriate accommodation and preferred eating arrangements. Before long we were booked on the ferry from Scrabster and had five nights at the wonderful Atlantis Lodges (Jane and I had stayed there and loved it). The only small blot was the need for a night in a B & B on the way back because of ferry times but I found something half suitable in Golspie. I booked cat lady for their majesties and drove through to Glasgow so we could make an early start the following morning. We had a glorious run up the west side through Glencoe with lunch at Nevisport in Fort William, just as Jane would have wanted. The ferry crossing was calm with the usual spectacular views of the Old Man of Hoy; one and all delighted. Within half an hour of our arrival in Stromness we were pulling in to the car park in Finstown. Although I had stayed at the lodges before it was always downstairs with one bedroom and not the upstairs version with two bedrooms and the even more spectacular views across the bay; big skies, sea, a wee island and rolling hills.

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 We had grand time starting with a visit to Kirkwall, stopping on the way for some fishy essentials from Jolly’s (a partan (crab to Sassenachs) for me and smoked trout for M) with lunch in Judith Glue’s excellent cafe, then across the Churchill Barriers to the Italian Chapel. It was the first time Margaret had been in a Catholic place  so it was good that for once my convent schooling was useful and I was able to outline some of the features of such establishments. Then further south to the cliffs at Ronaldsay and a windy walk among the thrift. The next day we did most of the neolithic monuments: Ring of Brodgar, Maes Howe, Skara Brae and the less ancient Skaill House. Lunch was delicious at the recently opened Orkney Brewery cafe housed in the old school. Back to Kirkwall on the Saturday for the Earls and Bishops Palaces, and then a lunchtime concert of Scottish music played by local students in St Magnus Cathedral. In the afternoon we visited the Broch of Gurness.

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Sunday was our last full day and I was slightly concerned it might be just like the Highlands, nowhere open and somewhere short of a warm welcome but not in Scandi Orkney. A bracing walk along the cliffs at Yesnaby (always open) but a very noticeable reduction in seabird numbers from previous visits. The climate is also apparently two degrees cooler on average and so less grain is grown but there are more beef cattle. Lunch at the brewery with a tiny pint for me (that’s a third so no issue driving) and then another walk across the Brough of Birsay. Margaret sleeping and eating well – never a dull moment with me. For our last day I dawdled us to the ferry via Kirkwall (picnic tea for the ferry from Jolly’s) taking time to see Scapa Flow and then Stromness. After another smooth crossing, a forgettable night in Golspie (never, ever serve instant coffee for breakfast), it was full steam to Glasgow but then of course we had to stop at Bruar. But after a quick sortie around Sainsbury’s and M reinstated, I was home by 4pm. Enough time for the cats to have a quick run around the garden before the three of us had a good night’s sleep in a proper wide bed.

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Last Post

So it would seem the posting tardiness is now terminal, more accurately other things got in the way. I have been genuinely busy with the research and distracted by the weather. Life, in the words of Wilf, bimbles along and until today, there’s not been that much worthy to report. Now I find myself reflecting on the past year, how time flies and how life changes as we respond to different circumstances and new ways of being.

This blog has reported three phases of life together: first as we prepared for our civil union, nay marriage in 2005, then as a travelogue of our brief sojourn with a francophone life and finally as we faced Jane’s foreshortening. When I took to the keyboard last May, it was with a certain ambivalence – the blog had become an important news desk of Jane’s progress and its continuation seemed futile. But then I thought at least it would be a record of the solo turn, an account of what I’d been up to and something to reflect upon in later years. It would save some poor soul having to compile a memory book for me should I find myself with mother’s forgetory.

In the past few weeks I have probably written more than I did in the past three years – writing was Jane’s department, it wasn’t that I couldn’t although I came to believe that to be true. But I had lost my voice and was paralysed by the blank screen with its blinking cursor. I could manage wee notes to self, little jottings to jolt the forgetory but even a few hundred words seemed a monumental challenge. So writing a thesis was starting to feel unlikely tinged with a deja vu panic.

Higher education these days is so helpful with all its course for this and workshops for that, it’s a wonder that any real work gets done but then the pressures to succeed and carve a career are much greater than they were thirty years ago. Then there were courses on such stimulating topics as statistical analysis and survey methods. Thankfully after a couple of workshops on writing (all joined up and nice like) and the heady atmosphere of the fashionable narrative turn, the words started to appear. At first it was the over-squeezed toothpaste tube – just wee gobbets emerged but then I found a new tube and squeezed it properly, from the bottom. Whole sentences, then paragraphs and sections were filling pages; before long the target 8,000 had runaway to 11,000. The supervisors cautioned against excess and judicious weeding removed the purple prose.

If the voice is found, why might there be a problem (seem to keep asking questions without even realising it these days …)? In fact, there are two; there’s lots of things I’d like to write about but not necessarily what I’ve been doing or where I’ve been. Secondly, this blog is about to become research data which is not an issue for now but if I have papers published and when the thesis is submitted, I have to ensure the anonymity of anyone mentioned in the blog. And Jane was very fond of ‘name checking’ as she called it so there’s a lot of anonymisation to do. What does that have to do with the thesis, isn’t it just what Jane’s written about? It’s the internet, init. If anything is quoted from the blog, even if it’s anonymised, someone might decide to google it and the blog will be found (it’s called search engine optimisation).

And now a year has passed since that fateful morning when our life together became forever fused. The Victorians favoured a year of wearing black and a sombre life; nowadays life moves on in a tweet – its all said in 140 characters. Such a waste of good prose.

I have spent the day in London, walking the hind legs of more than one donkey and revisiting some favourite haunts as well as some new ones.

I started bright and early with an excursion to Kew Gardens and the retrospective (how apt) exhibition of the work of Rory McEwen at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery. In my usual rush to beat the tourists of the train (so many times was I reprimanded for that particular misdemeanor) that I forgot to cross the railway line. After 10 minutes in the wrong direction, I was laughing at her laughing at me but I still had the gallery almost to myself. The exhibition was exquisite – the botanical equivalent of very dark, very rich truffles – almost to rich with all the vellum. Then back on the tube to South Kensington and a brief visit to the Brompton Oratory. We always lit candles for the fathers passed and I shall always light one for Jane and another was lit in Montreal. Then to Le Pain Quotidien for some Belgian soup because it was really rather cold for May.

Next stop was the Chelsea Physic Garden – a historical, horticultural gem which we had always meant to visit together – the highlight though, was a bird – a very beautiful jay beneath a ginkgo tree. Clearly worth lighting the candle. Finally to the Chelsea Flower Show, all one hundred years of floral festivities. I’ll keep it brief – it’s better and warmer on the telly. The crowds, despite the coolth, were even more seething masses than before. Jane would have not enjoyed it and would have preferred to stay longer in the Physic Garden. And I doubt I shall bother to go again but I’m glad I did today.

I haven’t quite decided what the next blog will be but something will appear before long. It is good to write, to keep a note of things but I need to move on from this one. To commemorate this first year I realised I could now cope with having larger pictures of Jane on the wall. Previously it was small pictures of us that were already about the place but now I have these three in a rather nice Ikea frame on the wall, above her seat on the couch, grinning back at me and keeping the smile warm in my heart.

Glen Affric 2003

Glen Affric 2003

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holland 2010

Holland 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gingko Girl 2011

Gingko Girl 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Brussels Pate and the Fat Cat

The other day a long-standing friend reminded me that I have a tendency to say sorry when there is little need to be apologetic. So this blog post was going to start with an apology for the late arrival of this post but it isn’t. I have a vague notional intention that a post should appear on a fortnightly basis – my life’s not that interesting to merit more frequent postings, not that I’m stuck for things to write about, and my maternal grandmother maintained that everything would be different in a fortnight. And I have found this to be one of life’s truisms. There should have been a post about 10 days ago but I was having an existential crisis with my methodology (gross exaggeration) and mother’s care home so felt obliged to resolve those issues.

Anyway, enough with the waffle – I’ve been away to Brussels for the weekend and it was très bien. The occasion was the launch of the album (proper vinyl of course) of the soundtrack for le film: FatCat, all music written and mostly performed by the brother, Wilf Plum. But the adventure started on Thursday with an afternoon train to King’s Cross then a quick scoot to St Pancras and a packed Eurostar to Brussels. My carriage seemed to be full of Flemish businessmen from Antwerp and some ladies from Lille. They enjoyed each other’s company and a number of bottles of champagne. I had thought I would have to find my own way from Gare du Midi to the little apartment I had booked but of course brother was there to meet me and Gélise was outside in the car for a speedy getaway. The little apartment actually belongs to their insurance man, Phillipe, who Gélise was at school with. Officially, it is La Conciergerie, henceforth Dee’s wee flat in Brussels, wee flat for short. To make a wee flat you need one medium sized room with a high ceiling that is then divided vertically into a downstairs living room and an upstairs bedroom. The living room undergoes further shrinkage with the essential addition of a well appointed shower room and best of all an Ikea kitchen in a cupboard. Posing as two double units, it contained a fridge (wee of course) two burner hob, microwave, sink, poubelle and all other necessities. The living room has a sofa bed which was very handy as W & G thought they might have a night in Brussels … more of that in a minute.

So once we were at the wee flat, all checked in, wifi enabled and enjoying a late night beer, instructions and ticket were issued for attending the gig – no help  needed setting up, so enjoy the day in Brussels. It was very late and very cold when I eventually got into bed. The next morning I figured out how the heater worked and after a hot shower and breakfast, set off for visits to various shops and areas, some with fond memories while others were new finds. After an as always delicious lunch at an Exki I decided to visit the Kandinsky and Russia exhibition. Essentially, Kandinsky goes to Moscow to study law and economics, then decides to be a painter, is inspired by colourful Russian folk art and becomes abstracted. It was very interesting and well curated. I also found the many extracts from Kandinsky’s book ‘Concerning the spiritual in art’ quite stimulating.

After a lonesome beer in a quite bar I met a friend for a Turkish pide (pizza) – delicious as ever. Then a quick walk through the red light district (necessity over desire as it was the shortest route in the cold wind) to the gig in the Ateliers Claus. Wilf was in fine form and dress, the were many friends from both the Batiment and Amsterdam. Back stage a band of besuited musicians with a heady that usual heady mixture of excitement and nerves. Then all were assembled on stage and they were off! Biased as I am, I did think the gig was excellent and I was (and am) immensely proud of my wee brother, his many talents and the warmth of so many fellow musicians and friends. P1040088.jpg P1040089.jpg P1040100.JPG

By the following afternoon they had all recovered (I’d been up and out from early on); Wilf and Gélise came back into Brussels to spend their planned night with me in the wee flat. But not before we went out for dinner at a charming restaurant, l’Huitrière – croquette crevettes, lobster and Belgian chocolate music – divine.

Sunday morning and it was time to catch the Eurostar. I had allowed sufficient time in London to nip down to the very excellent Walk-in Backrub in Neal’s Yard for 10 minute shiatsu session – well worth the walk. Once back at King’s Cross, a final surprise was the train waiting to whisk me north: the 007 liveried Skyfall train. It being Sunday, Mr Bond was off as were the cocktails but at least the passengers were stirred not shaken.

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Spring Unsprung

There have been a few signs of Spring in the garden: shoots from the many bulbs I planted, the Hamamelis mollis in flower and Iris George has bloomed. Jane would be particularly pleased with the flowers – last year we visited the Hamemelis collection at Kew. Previously we planted Iris George in the cemetery at East Wemyss with some of my father’s ashes at the family plot. DSCF2279.JPG DSCF2301.JPG

 So things were progressing nicely with some warm, sunny days until this weekend when it snowed, sleeted and snowed some more. Thankfully it wasn’t freezing so although the roads and pavements were pretty slushy on Sunday morning by the afternoon all were clear thanks to the combined efforts of thawing and City of Edinburgh Council.

Despite a snowy start to Saturday morning it was clear by 11 and I set off on my planned birthday outing to East Lothian. First on the visit list was the Museum of Flight at East Fortune. If I’m honest old airfields don’t really do it for me but I have wanted to see Concorde up close since I once saw it flying low near Prestwick. Apparently the airport was used by BA to train Concorde pilots. The aeroplane is iconic and impressive from the outside but the interior was dull, dingy, cramped and a bit of a disappointment. It looked strangely dated with no seat screens, standard loos and only the mach display to remind passengers of flying through the sound barrier. But the inflight menu was more luxurious and there was apparently plenty of free drinks and cigarettes to enjoy during the short flights.

I did visit two of the other hangars and was struck by the boxy, ugliness of some of the early commercial planes and the fragility of aircraft. Interiors had been stripped out leaving skeletal carcasses that accentuated the very thin layer of metal between people and airspace. Although in fairness the more recent aircraft had more curves, stylishness and looked a bit sturdier. But I prefer trains – great big solid thunderous beasties with their wheels firmly on the track.

Next stop was North Berwick for the now traditional visit to the Buttercup Cafe for lunch, a brief flaneur through the town and a walk with paddle on the beach. By now it was sunnily overcast, there were dinghies and kayaks in the bay and all would have met with Royal approval so I enjoyed it anyway despite the heart twangs. Fortified by a bowl of split pea and potato soup (an odd but tasty combination) and the last plain scone (alas no treacle ones) I wandered through the town finding a few wee items including a small ethnic rug for the cats to practice their claw sharpening on as opposed to the dining chairs. The walk along the beach was great dodging the small children and large wet dogs. On the way back I had ice cream pangs but as I didn’t fancy any of the local outlets felt sure I could drive past Luca’s in Musselburgh without succumbing. As I approached the harbour the usual Mr Whippy van was in position but as I passed it I saw a smaller van behind. It was from Luca’s so that was it, had to have a small vanilla 99 and no sauce thanks. Wickedly delicious and a fresh, crispy cone. 

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Spring had sprung and according to the weather forecast should be back on course by the end of the week. It had better be because the grass is going to need cut before too long.

 

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