The other week a friend was pondering what advice she should give her grandchildren to help them navigate their way through life, an area way beyond my area of expertise.  I suspect that drink had been taken because I’m not even sure that one of the children is in double figures, so who knows what advice, relevant or not, wise or not, will stick?  Annoyingly enough the question is still sticking with me and I keep thinking about it, searching for a suitable answer.

Spend time with friends; take pleasure in simple things; rejoice when you take your much-derided bathroom to the tip (remembering that you’re lucky to have a bathroom with running water and an inside loo); learn to read, for pleasure as well as learning; make sure your local library stays open;  keep breathing; embrace numbers (!); look after your feet; drink good wine; look up to the sky; listen to your granny…

That should do it.

For nearly eight and a half years I’ve been moaning about my bathroom, not because it’s bijou (tiny but not remotely elegant) but because I made bad choices, didn’t really like the shower (the dreaded quadrant) and loathed the basin (cheap and nasty and made of stuff that required real dedication to keep it looking semi respectable; it’s only virtue was its size:  small).

It’s the small things that make me happy…[thanks to Barry for the pic]

At last, after all that complaining and prevaricating, the plunge has been taken and earlier this week, I chucked my bathroom on the tip (no one wanted it) and the sainted Barry is transforming the space.  It’s ridiculous how pleased I am.

Magic in the making. Thank you Barry.

Last week I took the train up to Scotland to meet up with some friends from university.  We’re all 70 this year (well, one of us hit the three score and ten last December), so we decided it was time for a get-together and it couldn’t have been more fun.  We haven’t changed a bit – well, of course we have but the characters are still the same, the essence is still there – and we had a ball.

We revisited old haunts, including Arthur’s Seat (as exposed and windy as ever), the Pollock Halls of Residence, McEwan Hall (graduation for some but not for me; it’s where I gave blood – literally), Moray House (for some of the teachers among us); and 36 Warrender Park Terrace, where some of us shared a flat, 92 – or was it 96? – steps up.  We were fit in those days, not least thanks to those stairs and the fact that we walked everywhere – or cycled.  I had a bike but now I can’t for the life of me imagine how I coped with the hills and the cobbles – and the rain!

One of my better efforts, with everybody looking happy and at the camera.

It was more than breezy on Arthur’s Seat, so we didn’t go all the way to the top and we don’t know if the bride and groom got married up there or elsewhere.  We were too busy trying to stand up to ask.

Yes, it was hard to stay upright.


Who knows how far the wedding pair climbed but as you can see most people were well wrapped up; the bride must have been foundered*.

Was there ever more sage advice than “Ne’er cast a clout until May is out”?  This April’s showers have been more like downpours and there was frost on the car the other morning.  One of my gardening friends said that she wouldn’t even consider putting in the bedding plants until her mother’s birthday – June the 9th.  Even I should have my pots ready by then and the borders weed free….

Sometimes, late at night or in the early hours of the morning, the blog’s brain, such as it is, starts to fade and words are hard to come by, so the dictionary is a constant companion and so is the trusty Roget’s Thesaurus, the third edition.  The dust jacket is a bit tatty, held together with yellowing Sellotape but it still does the job and I wouldn’t be without it.  So many thanks to Peter Mark Roget (1779-1869), physician and philologist, author of the Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases and a graduate of the University of Edinburgh.  It was news to all of us.

There were lots of plaques to distinguished graduates dotted about and I’m sure Dr Elsie Inglis would have been delighted – and perhaps surprised – to find a quadrangle named in her honour.  She died in 1917 and was the founder of the Scottish Women’s Suffrage Federation and Scottish Women’s Hospitals and it’s hard to imagine that she was popular in all quadrangles during her lifetime.  With elections looming, we members of the monstrous regiment must remember to vote.  Elsie would surely insist.

I’m ashamed to say that I’d never heard of Elsie Inglis, so I’ve made a note to look her up and discover a bit more about her.  Wonder if she’s made it into Wikipedia?

Finally, it’s been a while since Lichfield Cathedral’s spires have featured in the blog, so see if you can spot them here, against a brilliant blue sky that lulled us all into a sense of false security….It wasn’t long before our historic potholes were brimming with rain water.


*An Ulsterism meaning chilled, suffering from exposure.