slow lane life 3

slow lane life 3

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Cheese, haggis, and thermal vests

I'm off to Scotland tomorrow, to stay with my sister for a few days. She has returned from her Greek island and its unseasonably hot weather (lunching in a bikini by the sea last week!) to Glasgow and its sub-zero temperatures. She will be there for over a week, so we shall repeat last year's delightful visit, do our mutual Christmas shopping (so much easier to take the gift recipient with you, rather than guess at what might be a successful present) and generally enjoy each other's company.

We shall also complain about the cold outside, and I shall complain about the heat in the shops. It's traditional.

Her husband remains on the island, caring for innumerable cats that they have rescued and cared for over the years. So many of them now belong in the house with them that they can't travel together any more, but many more live in colonies and are fed daily as well as checked up, healthwise. A true labour of love.

The Gardener, bless him, will stay here and care for our crew, as well as ferrying me to and from the airport. I shall ring him each evening and ask penetrating questions about what he's having for dinner - if asked retrospectively, I find the answers to be rather vague, and heavily weighted towards cheese....

Me, I shall be eating whatever I like, hearty Scottish fare, designed to keep out the cold. Glasgow has some wonderful places to eat, and I take a break from my largely-vegetarian regime. Haggis may feature. What, you don't know about haggis? Och, how shocking. Read on: HERE.

Back next week, with photos. 

Friday, 25 November 2016

Not shopping

I wrote a post this morning, having a good old moan about the deluge of excitable unsolicited emails I've been receiving for days, each peppered with exclamation marks, large capitalised lettering and a general sense of urgency. So irritating, I thought; I'll shop when I choose. Leave me alone.

Black Friday. What on earth is that about? Such unsubtle marketing to drive us into hasty purchases of stuff we probably didn't need, that probably wasn't a bargain anyway, and that we would probably look at sourly after Christmas, overdrawn and sick of our sudden increase in material possessions but no corresponding storage space, muttering "Why? Why?"

But then I deleted it, because I couldn't keep it short (moaning has to be brief, or people go glassy-eyed) and neither could I ignore the many worldwide social, economic and ethical issues that accompany our materialistic excesses at this time of year. Too much to write about this morning! Easier to look at my own consumerist tendencies rather than rail against other people's.

So instead, I will think about a little radio interview I once heard, in which the Dalai Lama had been taken round a supermarket (I know, a surprising sort of visit for a spiritual leader to make), emerging empty-handed. He was asked if he hadn't wanted anything in there?

"Oh yes!" he replied, with his characteristic laughter, "I wanted many things! But I didn't need anything."

A lovely lesson from a lovely man.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Third attempt

A few days ago, I drafted a blog post about how I was trying to manage a period of bleak hopelessness. You know, how the world is going to hell in a handcart, that sort of thing. Doom, gloom, depression, despair. On a really bad day, Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in attendance. 

I left it in draft, feeling slightly better for having expressed my deep gloom and anxiety in words, and without passing them on to other people; I don't know about you, but sometimes talking to other angry, upset, scared people doesn't help at all, and just amplifies my own misery. And as these grim periods will, the feelings of despair faded. 

"This too shall pass" (which I once heard said in Gaelic, sounding utterly beautiful) is one of those immensely helpful phrases to keep in mind when I'm feeling low, because of its profound accuracy.

Later, I deleted all that I had written for my blog, and wrote a more positive account, about the haven of home, the reassurance of domestic life, Four Horsemen on the horizon rather than at my elbow.

I even put some cheerfulness into the next post, with photos.

And Blogger ate it. Didn't leave a scrap to show I had ever been there, glooming and unglooming over the keyboard for over a week.

Oh drat. Start again.

So here are some photos, without the previous accounts of my fluctuating emotional state to accompany them.

Looking round my home this morning, on a dark wet day, I wanted to show what was comforting and reassuring. This is what I saw:

The Gardener, cheerfully painting an ugly (not old, not original) black beam in the small cramped kitchen, whose ceiling now looks higher for its beam being changed to a watery grey-blue. He had earphones in, and sang along (tunelessly, as one often does with earphones in place) to something unidentifiable; tomorrow he will do the final coat and then move on to other pressing painting jobs. 

Cats glued to their heated pads, sensibly avoiding venturing out into the rain, whiling away the hours until dinnertime. What a life.


Cups of tea and slices of buttered home-made Blacksmith's Tea Loaf for elevenses. I baked! I haven't baked for ages, and had forgotten how much I enjoy it. This is one of those tea loaves that improves with keeping, and on day 3, was just right.

A little set of cleaning tools ordered for Baby E. He loves to chase the broom or the vacuum cleaner at home, and is a high-speed crawler; if you are the one doing the sweeping, you find yourself overtaken and your efforts seriously hampered by a small but determined 'helper'. He's going to love these. 

They prompted me to find a very old photograph of Baby E's own father, aged about two, also 'helping' his Grandma as she scrubbed the tiled hall; he preferred to sweep the pavement:

The post came; an order of tulips, which if all goes to plan, should yield containers in the Spring filled with these beauties:


Christmas presents, mostly books; I can't share what they are, but they are serious and informative, offering a wider and more balanced view of what is going on in the world than the biased reports of our hate-filled media. I think the recipients, serious and well-informed themselves, are going to be pleased.

And so the day went on, placidly, purposefully, and really rather productively. I didn't set foot outside at all, as dark, wet and windy is not my ideal weather, but I sorted through cupboards and trunks, found the Christmas decorations - and the lights all worked! - and the gift I had put away safely (i.e. forgotten where I'd put it) for my sister, whom I will be visiting in a week. The Gardener walked the dog, I made dinner, and we lit the wood burner. Cats forsook their heated pads to join the dog in front of the fire; we toasted our toes. We had a FaceTime call with the family, Baby E pressing up against the computer, fascinated by the small on-screen image of his Grandpa, and we all looked forward to Christmas, when we will be together, here.

I feel better. Home is where the heart is; my heart is always in my home. I know the Four Horsemen are out there somewhere, rattling their ghastly weapons and threatening to ride forth, but here in our little haven of a half-painted cottage, today was pretty tranquil, cheerful and - dare I say it? - almost optimistic. 

Hoping you all have something or someone to help you feel grounded and secure in these uncertain times.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Moving on

Autumn seems like a good time to be shedding old blogs. 

And so my old blog (SSL II) will be shut down at the end of the week, and I'll be blogging from this one for the foreseeable future. 

You may not notice any difference, of course, apart from the absence of family photos; the split infinitives and other grammar felonies will still be here, the fuzzy photos, the erratic postings, and the general burbling on about nothing in particular. 

If you're intending to stay, you might like to update your blog-reading list to show the new name, for anyone who missed my notice-to-move and arrived too late to find me. (That feels like a very egocentric and conceited thing to ask!) And if you want me to list your blog, and spot that I haven't (it's such a laborious process!) just let me know. I've been a bit of a slacker in both reading and blogging, but promise to Do Better now.

The cats also assure me that they will keep their own blog going, although, in my opinion, it consists chiefly of empty promises - I blame the heated pads that have proliferated in the house and kept them glued to sofa and chairs the moment the weather turned autumnal. 

Monday, 7 November 2016

Being Grandma

Back home now. Phew, what a hectic few days, being the emergency Third Pair of Hands for poorly Baby E! A long-lasting heavy cold, chickenpox and then another episode of bronchiolitis is a lot for a little 13-month-old to bear and for his anxious parents to cope with. I was glad to be of help.

But he's on the mend now, thanks to the thorough assessment and treatment offered by King's College Hospital Children's A & E Department, and within a few days I was able to return home, exhausted and grateful to have a change of clothes and shoes, a glowing wood burner and my own bed waiting for me, after a lovely welcome from The Gardener and the animals.

I'm still tired. Grandmas may be useful, and an unending source of love and support, but they don't get any younger!